As a newbie to the fandom, are there any fics that are considered must reads? There are so many on ao3 and I'm not sure where to begin.
*updated January 2017*
I’m not gonna say any of them are must reads, since you shouldn’t read a fic you don’t like for the sake of me so these are the ones that I see both highly acclaimed and widely discussed in the fandom:
4 Minute Window (E) Speranza WC:24127
“Look, if they catch me,” Bucky muttered, “they’re either going to kill me or they’re going to put me in a box with a little window and—Steve, I can’t.”
What it says, 5 times Steve Rogers ended up in jail (with and without Bucky) + 1 time all of the Avengers got arrested with him.
Ain’t No Grave (M) spitandvinegar WC:86k+ (WIP)
It’s six in the morning, and Steve is heading out on a run when he nearly trips over a bouquet of sunflowers on the front steps of his brownstone.
For a second paranoia takes over, and he kicks the flowers a little, waiting for them to explode. They don’t. They also came with a card, which he picks up. The front of the card has a tasteful picture of the Brooklyn bridge at sunset. It’s very nice and sedate, like the kind of card you would buy to give to your boss. On the inside someone has written a short message in big, shaky block letters.
I AM SORRY FOR SHOOTING YOU.
Steve sits down hard on the steps.
‘This is not my fault,’ Tony lies. ‘It was supposed to be a joke! Christ.’
‘Thanks to your joke,’ says Coulson, ‘we now have a code three-four-delta, with the variable being a Russian immigrant. We’re checking his background right now, but it might take a while. Meanwhile, I suggest you civilian-proof the Tower. If any SHIELD intelligence is compromised, I will hurt you.’
Yes, this is the story where the Winter Soldier is a Russian mail-order bride. Everything goes about as well as you’d expect.
Here is the truth about Captain America and the Howling Commandos that every World War II historian must come to accept at one point or another: we will never know everything. We won’t even come close.
So much was lost with the untimely death of Captain America. While the man beneath the uniform sunk to the bottom of the North Atlantic, the myth lived on, only to grow bigger and more unwieldy as the years went by. Now, it is near impossible to tell fact from fiction, to separate out truth from propaganda.
In 1943, the Howling Commandos wrote goodbye letters to be given to their loved ones in the event of their deaths.
In 2014, Sharon Carter finds those letters in a tin can in an abandoned HYDRA base.
“He couldn’t remember when he first started feeling the pull. Perhaps it was too long ago, or perhaps it had been gradual, something that crept up on him. But by the time he was sixteen, Bucky knew that the axis of his world spun around Steve Rogers in the worst possible way.”
Inspired by finding out that in the prequel comics for Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve and Bucky are in art class when the news breaks about Pearl Harbor.
Hands of Clay (T) Mhalachai WC:200k+ (WIP)
James Barnes leads a busy life as a single working father in New York. But when his childhood best friend Steve Rogers falls back into his life, James will have to re-learn what love, friendship and and family are really all about.
“The question the entertainment world is asking themselves today is… Who is Steve? Hollywood superstar Bucky Barnes was spotted at a wrap-party last night, serenading someone named Steve onstage. Not only was Barnes more than a little tipsy, but he also sang a song from the Disney Channel Original Movie that started his career–a bold move, considering the fact that he always dodges questions about it. But who is Steve? Why did Bucky leave the club alone? What does this mean about the rumors of a relationship between Barnes and his co-star Natasha Romanoff? And is everyone’s favorite poster boy gay? All this and more after a quick message from our sponsors!”
Steve lets SHIELD think he and Bucky were boyfriends so they’ll let him see the Winter Soldier in medical.
Steve Rogers turning up at Tony’s door in the middle of the night might be a bit out of character, but it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. Stranger things have happened.
Steve Rogers turning up at Tony’s door with an amnesiac assassin - who may or may not have some of Tony’s personally designed hardware attached where his arm should be - well that’s just far too interesting to turn away, even if Tony is trying to avoid all things S.H.I.E.L.D these days.
Steve takes in Bucky’s betrayed look and Sam’s confusion, follows Sam’s gaze to the pile of mangled fruit in the trash can. Sudden comprehension fills his face.
“Oh,” he says. “Bucky found out about bananas.”
In which an American icon is mourned. But probably not the one you’re thinking of.
Not Easily Conquered-series (M) dropdeaddream, WhatAreFears WC:71225
In 1945, Steve Rogers jumps from a nosediving plane and swims through miles of Arctic Ocean to a frozen shore.
In 1947, Steve Rogers marries Peggy Carter.
In 1966, the New York Times finds the lost letters of Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes.
It all starts because Steve is too dumb to handle his smartphone.
A wrong number AU in which Bucky Barnes doesn’t enter Steve’s life (meaning: Bucky wasn’t born until the eighties, but Steve is still Captain America) until Steve accidentally dials the wrong number. Wherein there is a lot of texting, some advice via Natasha and Darcy, a bit of pining, and a first date in an amusement park. Oh, and on top of being a disabled veteran, Bucky is a professional catwalker. Literally.
All of their neighbors think that Steve and Bucky are dating.
Our Golden Age (E) augustbird WC:147825
Wherein Bucky is the crown prince and Steve still becomes a hero.
Schrödinger’s Romance (M) InTheMiddleOfNowhere WC:19K (underage, rape/noncon)
“It could be a relationship, it could not be. You can assume either until you see for sure the results.”
We all know those moments. Those moments when your family all gathers around you and asks “So, do you have a boyfriend yet?”. Bucky knows these moments all too well and, quite frankly, he’s sick to death of them. Unfortunately, being a 21 year old college student makes it harder for him to come up with excuses, and with Christmas coming up he needs to think of a way out fast. A chance encounter with a stranger through an old library textbook could just be the kind of miracle he needs to make it through the holidays with his last shreds of sanity intact.
There wasn’t anything left to salvage. That’s what Fury believed. It would have been a kindness to put him down.
When SHIELD finally releases Bucky from custody, he is not the man anyone expects him to be. The ruthlessness of the Winter Soldier is gone, replaced with a seemingly child-like wariness as he struggles to communicate his warped understanding of who he is and what was done to him. But with Hydra scrambling to regroup, SHIELD takes dangerous measures to secure Zola’s algorithm to use against them, and Steve is dragged back into battle, forced to weigh what’s best for Bucky against what’s best for the fate of the free world.
Then Bucky is abducted.
Steve races to recover his friend before the man who was Bucky is gone forever, but the rescue stalls, he starts to crumble under the weight of everything he has lost and everything the war has taken from him.
Meanwhile, Bucky confronts a terrible piece of ex-SHIELD tech that was in development long before Project Insight, but in order to survive, he must decide who he is going to be: the vulnerable Bucky Barnes or the indomitable Winter Soldier? It turns out there might not be as big a difference as everyone seems to think.
“What do I do?” Steve appealed into the phone. “I’m freaking out.”
There was silence on the other end of the line. It lasted so long that Steve pulled the receiver away from his ear and frowned at it. Pay phones were old. Maybe this one wasn’t working despite the obvious dial tone when he picked up.
“Ok,” a stranger’s voice said over the phone. “First acknowledge the fact that you dialed the wrong number, but be quick about it because my cab is a few blocks away from my own plans and I’m about to drop some truth bombs on you.”
Steve Rogers at 100: Celebrating Captain America on Film (gen) eleveninches, Febricant, hellotailor, M_Leigh, neenya, tigrrmilk WC:10228
“Heil Hydra,” the enemy agent shouts.
“Heil this, motherfucker,” says Captain America, shooting off a rocket.
Steve and Bucky find out Hollywood has been busy since they went away. A historical survey, including but not limited to: one set of exploded genitals, a brief interlude in France, Mel Gibson and other masterworks of casting, eight Academy awards, several dinosaurs, and something Tony Stark has ominously dubbed “the masterpiece.” Art included.
Today, Peter was honest-to-god going to see Captain America himself up close, in person, and not from a rooftop or tiny crevice like a creepy stalker fanboy.
Even better, he was going to watch Steve Rogers make history by soldiering his beleaguered way through the most intensely awkward and honestly ridiculous press conference in the history of ever– jaw thrust out and spine ramrod straight. Trying hard to be polite and respectful in the face of adversity.
While a bunch of assholes with cameras and microphones shouted at him about Iron Man’s adolescent dick.
The thing is, Tony quickly realised, there are certain things that SHIELD never told Captain America. Sometimes small things, sometimes big things. But things, nonetheless, that they thought he wasn’t quite ready to know.
When Steve finds out about one of those things during an interview - his reaction isn’t anything like anyone was expecting (except maybe Natasha, because she’s scary like that).
OR, how the world found out about Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes.
This, You Protect (T) owlet WC:64326
The mission resets abruptly, from objective: kill to objective: protect
To be Vulnerable is Needed Most of All (M) perfect_plan WC:118362
Steve is a shy comic book artist and meets his new neighbour, Bucky Barnes.
In which there are awkward longings, meddling best friends, comic conventions, heartache, lemons, video games, dorkiness, dancing and two cute boys.
The one where Steve and Bucky pose as a happily married couple while on a mission for SHIELD, to catch an international arms dealer hiding in a suburban neighbourhood.
United States v. Barnes, 617 F. Supp. 2d 143 (D.D.C. 2015) (T) fallingvoices, radialarch WC:20605
The Associated Press @AP
Winter Soldier set to stand trial for Washington D.C. massacre and treason apne.ws/1og6SWE
When I Put Away Childish Things (M) hansbekhart WC:14367
Bucky gets on a Manhattan bound train around 2:30, heading to 8th St. He watches the Lady far off on Liberty Island as they roll over the East River. The train is crowded and people smile at him, pleased to see a handsome young man in uniform. He smiles back, pleased with the world and everything in it. He wonders where Steve might want to go for lunch. What he’d say if Bucky asked him if he’d ever thought about treating this thing between them as real.
He comes out of the subway a little before 3 o'clock, and the world has changed.