The title may be a mouthful, but this fic is one of the most amazing fanworks I’ve read in quite some time. United States v. Barnes takes on the the post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier trope of Bucky facing trial for crimes of treason, terrorism, and murder in a truly fascinating way: from the POV of a variety of forms of social media.
We at LGG&F are no strangers to mocked-up Avengers media, but this story takes any number of cakes. The formatting alone must have been a labor of love: the story is told in two-column news stories, centered, script-style courtroom transcripts, text messages in alternating boxes, tweets complete with blue-colored hashtags and shortened bit.ly-style links, and a variety of other methods. The amount of html code that went into the raw text probably rivals the story itself in word count.
The story these various bits of media tells is that of a courtroom drama. Neither side is attempting to argue that the Winter Soldier is not guilty of many crimes; rather, the prosecution argues that Bucky was cognizant of the atrocities he was committing, while the defense maintains that he is a POW brainwashed into performing the actions he did, and is not personally responsible for the Winter Soldier’s crimes. As witness after witness—from various experts to Natasha, Tony, and Steve himself—take the stand, we see the reactions of the nation via tweets, news stories, and emails. Bucky’s defense attorney is none other than Peggy Carter’s grandson, and the prosecuting attorney is none other than a love-to-hate-him courtroom-drama-stereotype of the lawyer from hell, constantly badgering and overstepping bounds in attempts to prove his side:
COYLE: I’m coming to that. Captain Rogers, in 1943, you mounted a one-man suicide mission into enemy territory, at night, knowing full well the risks of walking into enemy territory with as little training as you had received. You also knew that in doing so you were endangering the very body of Project Rebirth, of which you had been the only subject. Is that correct?
ROGERS [very pale]: Yes.
COYLE: This was an enormous risk. It is now a well-documented fact that Sergeant Barnes was among the men you liberated that night. Several of those who were present have since stated that you were so committed to finding your friend as to leave them to make their way out on their own. You went further in to look for him. Is that correct?
ROGERS: It’s correct.
COYLE: You took that risk then. In fact you kept taking it for the following eighteen months. Sergeant Barnes was a Howling Commando strike agent under your direct command, and after his death it was not two days before you put your plane down in the Arctic Ocean. I’ll ask again, Captain Rogers: what was the nature of your relationship with Sergeant Barnes?
[long silence; whispers]
ROGERS: I — [softly] I loved him. [clears throat] I love him.
BARNES: Steve —
KRILL: Silence, please. Captain Rogers, you do remember that you have sworn to say the truth, the whole —
ROGERS: Yes. [steadily] I know.
KRILL: Mr. Barnes, please, be seated.
This story has a million perfect parts: Steve’s heartbreaking confession on the stand; Jim Morita of the Howling Commandos testifying, the testimony and support of the other Avengers, interviews with everyone from queer-history-focused scholars to Peggy Carter and more. As always, I’m deeply, deeply emotionally invested in queer Steve Rogers and all the implications and ramifications that headcanon comes with, so the effect that his (and Bucky’s) being bullied into coming out/coming clean about his feelings by the prosecution has on the trial and the media is fascinating to me. (The fact that it has a happy ending doesn’t hurt either.)
You can check out this delightful story here at the AO3; at roughly twenty thousand words, it’s an excellent diversion for an hour or two of free time.