Fandom: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TV), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes/Sam Wilson, Sambucky
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Sam Wilson, Helmut Zemo, Sarah Wilson (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Hurt/Comfort, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, everything is the same but zemo didn't get arrested, zemo's love language is cooking, Established Relationship, bucky has an epiphany in a fishing shop, Domestic, bucky learns what "home" is, pontiac firebird my beloved, remember the staring problem? buckle up buttercup, Sugar Daddy Helmut Zemo
“Bucky,” Sam calls.
“Can I kiss you?”
The easiest answer would be yes.
Bucky needs it as a reassurance that everything is and will be alright. Sam needs it for the same reason. They don’t do good with physical touch, missed the lesson about affection or slept through it, but they’re trying to make up for every lost occasion, kiss and night. When the sun shines on them and they need a shoulder to lay their heads on, they’re both there.
But there’s a point where love comes disinterested and genuine, so much so that two men get a little scared and need a minute to act upon it. This is one of those moments.
Bucky drops his hands at his sides, “No.” he says.
or: Captain America, Bucky Barnes and one of the most dangerous men on earth take a break from the world and learn that talking about their feelings isn't really that bad
I’ve been thinkining While I don’t write fanfic, I do maladaptive daydream. I do write letters to help deal with it. Do you guys want to see my letters I write? cuz they’re love letters to Loki, Zemo, or any fictional crush I have at the moment.
Plus i’ve been thinking of starting to write this story I have had for years about Arthurian legend(spefically the desdeants of it falling in love...)
This fucking episode. *deep breath* This... This episode is where I'm expecting to get some serious hate. Let me just get this out of the way right up front:
I. Hate. Zemo.
I do not find him sympathetic, or funny, or charming. I find him creepy and annoying. I did not like him in CA:CW and I do not like him in TFATWS. If you are pro-Zemo, you are not going to like my version of this show from here on out. Just find something else to read and don't bother me about it. You've got the actual canon, so go enjoy that.
Got it? Good. Now, on to the main event!
Episode 3: The Power Broker
First of all, Sam doesn't let Bucky walk in there alone. No matter Bucky's (flimsy and nonsensical) argument, Sam's like "hell no. I go in with you, or you don't go in." The main reason for this isn't to keep Bucky from breaking Zemo out of prison (with decent writing, he would never do that) - it's so that Sam witnesses Zemo taunting Bucky with/about the trigger words. because Zemo is a piece of shit.
Since he doesn't know the full story, Sam is confused, but he files this interaction away to ask Bucky about later. He's listening to Zemo acknowledging that Bucky was "not conscious for most of [his] imprisonment" (which, yes, clearly refers to the time he spent frozen, but can also mean while he was under their control as TWS/"The Asset" - also, key word: imprisonment) and when he calls Bucky a means to an end, Sam scowls, looking ready to go off on him, but he waits. They've got more important issues.
Neither of them entertains the thought of breaking Zemo out for even a nanosecond. He does that shit himself. And literally the only reason I'm sticking with him getting out at all is because I want to address some truly egregious moments linked directly to him in the show. Zemo makes them think he's setting them on the trail when really he's just sending them to his motor pool. Bucky and Sam are confused until they see Zemo in his stolen guard uniform, then they're both angry and want to ship him right back to prison, but he strikes a deal with them: "My help for my temporary freedom. Creating super soldiers cannot be allowed to continue; let me finish my work, and then do with me as you will." He has no intention of going quietly back to prison, obviously, and they're not stupid enough to believe otherwise, but they believe they can keep him on a short leash, so they agree for now. Anything to bring down the Flag Smashers and whoever created them.
After the title, we cut to Raynor on the phone in her office. She's agitated, fiddling with things on her desk. "No, sir," she's practically growling, "it was disrupted. - Walker did! - It's not my fault your new attack dog got off-leash!" She pauses, huffs, and says more calmly, "No. Of course not. I'm sorry. - Well, I don't see how, with the new Cap strutting around barking orders! - What am I supposed to do? Tell Captain America in front of a dozen witnesses that he can't have his predecessor's favorite pet because we're not done reprogramming him? I didn't see that going over too well. I made a call. - No. No, no, no, we can still use him. The work's not finished, but he still trusts me. He'll be back." A pause as she listens. Angry again, she snaps, "What do you want me to do, shove a tracker up his ass? He'll be back, and we'll pick right back up where we left off! - Don't worry, sir, the Asset will be fully compliant and ready to use soon. I'll make sure of it. - Yes, sir. You, too." She hangs up and tosses her phone on the couch, grumbling, "Dick."
Cut back to Sam, Bucky, and Zemo getting going on their trip to Madripoor. On the plane, Sam wants to talk to Bucky about what he's learned so far, but doesn't want to bring it up in front of Zemo... until the notebook incident reminds him that Zemo already knows more about Bucky than he does.
After Zemo's line about the list, Sam angrily corrects him: "You mean people HYDRA used The Winter Soldier to hurt." When Zemo shrugs and his response is basically along the lines of "what's the difference" Sam is like "oh hell no."
"Those words you were reciting at him," he reminds Zemo, "what were they, Russian? They clearly meant something. They were supposed to do something. What are they?"
"Sam, let it go," Bucky pleads, unable to look at either of them. "It's nothing."
"You wanna drown in your guilt, that's fine," Sam snaps, "but make sure it's for the right reasons." He turns back to Zemo, who's smiling at this exchange because he's a monster and thinks Bucky's suffering is fucking funny. "I asked you a question, Zemo. What did those words do?"
"They activate the Winter Soldier programming," Bucky grudgingly admits. He doesn't want to talk about it, but he's sure as hell not going to let Zemo speak for him. "Or, they did, before the Wakandans got all that shit out of my head."
"It's a shame," Zemo says with a smirk. "Imagine the possibilities that come with perfect obedience."
"I think you mean 'slavery'," Sam growls, "and I think you're in the wrong crowd to be looking so pleased about it. Remember that we can send your ass back to prison any time."
"Of course," Zemo agrees, but with an arrogant smile that shows he doesn't believe for a second that these two have any real power over him. Still, he bides his time and sits back quietly, watching Bucky fidget with the notebook.
Sam turns back to Bucky, seeing his discomfort; he won't let the topic go, though, not yet. He just softens his tone. "So, they 'activated the Winter Soldier'? What exactly does that mean?"
Bucky shrugs, still not looking up. "Pretty much what he said - perfect obedience. What little consciousness they left me between cryo and the chair was squashed down, locked away. And I did whatever I was told, exactly the way they told me to."
It finally clicks. He'd had his suspicions before, of course, but now Sam gets it. Visibly horrified, he stares at this quiet, broken man, and finally sees the truth of what he'd been through for 70 years: "They stripped away your autonomy. Shit, Bucky, they didn't even let you be a person. That's..." He swallows, looking like he'll be sick any minute. "That's awful, man. I'm so sorry." When Bucky tries to shrug it off and downplay it again, Sam gets angry. "Look at me!" He waits; it takes a few seconds, but Bucky reluctantly looks up and is surprised to see just how upset Sam is on his behalf. "It wasn't your fault. None of it. When Steve said you didn't have a choice, I had no idea... You really, truly had no choice; not even the ability to choose. That's horrifying."
"I doubt it would make much difference to the people he's killed," Zemo points out snidely. "Or their families. Let's ask Tony Stark, shall we?"
"You shut the hell up," Sam growls. He watches Bucky flinch and make that face - the face he's starting to really fucking hate - that says he agrees with Zemo. Bucky still can't see things the way Sam does; he still feels the guilt and shame, and even when he himself pointed out his lack of agency under HYDRA, it didn't click for him that Sam is right, not Zemo.
It's too much, too soon. Sam sees that and decides to change the subject, to give Bucky some time to process. He nods at the notebook, and they have their little Marvin Gaye debate, where Sam is over the top about it on purpose, because Bucky needs the distraction.
Of course, Zemo ruins it by opening his big mouth again and reminding Bucky of more trauma: his time fighting in WWII. That's why Sam latches onto the bit about Madripoor; to keep the focus not only on the task at hand, but off of Bucky's past that he clearly still can't cope with.
"James... You will have to become someone you claim is gone."
Sam is officially ready to throw Zemo out a window. 😂 The only reason he doesn't jump to Bucky's defense again and basically tell Zemo to fuck himself (in a PG-13 way 🙄) is because Bucky's, as Sam pointed out in ep2, a grown-ass man, and because he's just learned how few decisions this poor man has been able to make in his life. Sam doesn't want to come across as another "handler," deciding everything for him, even if he does think this plan is stupid and needlessly cruel.
At the bar, when asked if he wants "the usual", Sam just casually waves the bartender off like "nah". Zemo already said they had business to attend to, so it's not like anyone would be suspicious that now's probably not a good time to be doing weird shots lol. (wtf even was that? I'm not sure I want to know, but...what part of the snake did he drop into that drink?)
Sam's not an idiot (I'm really so sick of this trend of turning intelligent characters into morons because the writers can't think of any other way to move their plot along) so his cell phone has been off this whole time. No sudden call from Sarah to put them all in danger. There was really no point to that, anyway; Sharon likely would have killed Selby for talking about Nagle with or without the excuse of "saving" Sam and Bucky. I mean, it's not like they know who fired that shot, ever.
"They cleared the Bionic Staring Machine," Sam still jokes, but he follows it with, "and they think he's a mass-murderer."
"They think?" Sharon stares at him incredulously. "Didn't he kill pretty much everyone he's ever met?"
"Wow." Sam glances back at Bucky. "She really is awful now." To Sharon, he adds, "You met Steve; do you really think he'd have defied 117 countries to protect someone evil?"
"He did it for Bucky," she points out. "Let's face it - Bucky could blow up half the planet, and Steve's loyal-to-a-fault ass would still take a bullet for him."
"You know I'm sitting right here, right? I can hear you."
"Look, I don't think you're evil, Bucky," Sharon assures him. "But I know you killed a lot of people for HYDRA."
"I'm not denying it."
"He didn't have a choice," Sam snaps, glaring at them both. "But we're not getting into that right now. My point is, the government's afraid of Bucky, and they still pardoned him. All you did was steal something. I'm sure they can be persuaded to see reason."
"The day the US government sees reason," Sharon quips, rolling her eyes, "is the day I sprout real wings and fly off into the sunset."
"Careful, Icarus," Bucky mocks with a smirk, "the sun and brand new wings don't exactly go together." Then he shrugs and glances at Sam. "But she's not wrong."
At the party that night, it takes a few minutes (grumpy old man Bucky's not sure how to feel about the music lol) but a peek of pre-war Bucky comes out to play: they were told to "blend in", so he dances. At first he's just bobbing around alone looking stoic and out of place, but soon he's smiling and dancing between two attractive people - one male, one female. Sam is surprised, but before he can tease him for it, Sharon comes to get them all. Even she's a little "wait what?" at Bucky having a little fun lol. (recovery is not linear, guys. trauma doesn't mean "perpetually miserable, no fun, doesn't even know how to smile." in my TFATWS, Bucky gets his lighter moments; real ones, not humor at his expense)
When they find Nagle, Bucky's the one who notices and opens the secret door, while Sam keeps an eye on Zemo. Bucky catches Zemo trying to grab that gun; closes the drawer on his hand before opening it and taking the gun away. "Nice try." Nagle tries to get away while there's only one person watching him, but Sam catches him and forces him back into his seat. With a bruising grip on the back of Zemo's neck, Bucky drags him back over to where he and Sam can both keep an eye on him. Nagle is killed in the shootout as they're trying to escape; Zemo still runs off, blows shit up, and comes back with the stolen car so he's not totally useless.
I had no problem with Zemo being the one to kill Nagle; Nagle was the worst and def had to die, and Zemo has never had an issue killing anyone. Where I took issue with this scene was Bucky and Sam being dumb enough to let Zemo wander and get his hands on a gun. Nope. Not happening.
Anyway, shootout! Explosions! Funny banter! The seat thing, which is my favorite nod to CW ever lol... And then the conversation on the plane...
"Yeah." Sam sighs. "Just thinking."
"About how to get Sharon that pardon you dangled in front of her?"
He shakes his head. "About how Nagle referred to 'The Winter Soldier Program" like it was some kind of after school club; like you weren't standing right there. And 'the American test subject' like... Like Isaiah wasn't even a real person." He turns to face Bucky, looking angry and weary. "Makes me wonder how many times... How many times are we gonna run around in the same circles before people learn? And how many people need to get crushed underfoot in the meantime?"
"Did you really just equate me with Isaiah?" Bucky frowns, not sure how to react to that. "That man is a hero."
Sam opens his mouth to say something, but his phone goes off and Zemo approaches at the same time, effectively cutting off their conversation.
When they get to Riga and Zemo tries to guilt trip them over Sokovia, Bucky deadpan reminds him, "Neither of us were involved in that fight."
"I doubt you'd have been much help if you were."
He shrugs. "Probably not. But I like to save my guilt for events I was actually present for. It's a thing."
Zemo laughs. "Fair enough."
#skipping school to work on my what if!zemo fanart #but also having lots of thoughts and feelings about him #like the framing of being in a paramilitary kill squad in civil war is like kind of hilarious as being negative as if #the avengers themselves aren't a paramilitary squad #also like some criticism that's valid but stereotypically western is like #zemo was a colonel that's bad #but like #100% certain zemo was fighting outside influence from corrupting sokovia and was probably very well respected and loved by his people #like sure it's very american to be critical of our military (as we should) but other countries don't necessarily have the same relationship #with theirs #because THEY are fighting US (the amarican military complex) #and i thin that marvel moving forward will have to find a way to talk about the real idealogical fight zemo is preaching #the fight against western and primarily american fascism #and the pov of the small eastern europian countries that constantly find themselves subjugated by them #not coincidentally how those baltic countries have the most of the europian ethnic minority population #including romani and muslim and jewish peoples who actually live and have communities together #and how ALL of this just fucks up everything that our american propaganda has taught us about geopolitics where america isn't the villain #and isn't that just ultimately who zemo is all along? #the fly in the ointment of the mcu morality? #the one to make us question who the heroes and villains truly are?? #to be the watcher of the watchmen #anyways #antifa!zemo
Chapter 12 of mine and Asher’s Winterbaron is fic now up, ya’ll! Featuring EKO scorpion, the inglorious remains of Sokovia, discussions of vodka quality and European football teams, and ‘love’ letters from the Raft!
1. During the mission, he's been in contact with the phone company attempting to get his wife's voicemail back but no luck.
2. Zemo would often play xbox in his son's room to play the games he got for his son and often realized that he would never see him play again.
3. Cooking is Zemo's talent, he often cooked gourmet meals and desserts since he was the main cook in his family, his father suggested he open a restaurant but was hesitant thinking nobody would eat there.
4. Him and His father had somewhat a good relationship but when he was a teenager, his father expected him to be part of hydra.
5. Zemo never thought of himself as a father before his son was born, he was scared and wanted to just run away or divorce his wife but instead he stayed just for her.
6. When his wife and son died, he didn't feel revenge he was attempting to kill himself a day after he found their bodies he wanted to lay beside them but the revenge rushed through him when he saw the avengers leaving like nothing happened.
7. He still holds a grudge against the avengers, he may know what happened to them but he will never forgive them for killing his family but he made an exception towards Sam just for the mission.