The prompt: #19. Historical Alternate Universe
Point of honesty: I'm not a huge fan of Historical AUs, probably because I studied history. So, I was slightly at a loss for what to write. I mentioned it to franztastisch and she sent me some suggestions. One of which was a Steve/Bucky story set during the Easter Rising in 1916 - because franztastisch knows what I wrote my MA thesis about. ;) She then went on to suggest that I make it Steve/Bucky/Peggy, because it's fun to throw in a British love-interest when you're writing about Irish nationalism... and also threesomes, yay!
In the interest of time, I've made the Steve/Bucky/Peggy ship already established. Also, I realize that it's a bit unbelievable that a woman would live with two guys in 1916 in a Catholic country, but you'll just have to cut me some slack - I'm hoping that I've kind of hand-waved it enough.
So, I present to you my MA thesis in fic form!
(Steve/Bucky/Peggy, pre-serum Steve,pre-Winter Soldier Bucky, Historical AU)
Easter Monday was chaos. They didn’t know what was going on, there was gunfire downtown and word spread quickly that the post office was occupied. Bucky made Steve stay in their apartment, while Bucky ventured out into the city to make sure Peggy was alright. They knew she wasn’t working at Easter, but she still lived close to where the fighting was happening, and as soon as Steve heard rumours of Irish Nationalists, he worried they’d hear an enemy in Peggy’s voice where there wasn’t one.
He had made it halfway downtown himself, when he met up with Bucky and Peggy, coming the opposite direction. Bucky gave him a disapproving glare, but Peggy didn’t seem surprised to see him and only smiled, immediately reassuring Steve that she was fine.
“Peggy’s going to come stay with us for a few days,” Bucky announced, and it was only then that Steve noticed the bag that Bucky had slung over his shoulder. “I’ll bunk in with you and give her my bed.”
Steve’s eyes widened, worried about how people might talk – a fine woman like Peggy living with two fellas by the docks.
“There are some buildings on fire,” Peggy explained. “There’s a lot of smoke, and if the wind blows the wrong way-“
“The air is fresher by us,” Bucky continued. “And that’s the story – you know how too much smoke is bad for the lungs. It’s just for her health and safety, that’s all. All anyone has to know, and if someone implies differently, well, I’ll show them what I think of that.”
“I will first,” Peggy smiled.
Steve nodded. It wasn’t like Peggy had lung problems like he did, but he didn’t want her downtown either, and he knew she didn’t have any other friends or family in the city.
“The British will send more troops,” Peggy continued as they walked, concern and uncertainty in her voice. “It might get worse before it gets better.”
“What I want to know is what on earth those idiots are thinking...” Bucky said, glancing over his shoulder at the smoke rising from the city.
“Whatever they’re doing, they definitely shouldn’t be doing it on Easter of all times,” Steve shook his head.
The rebels held the central post office for a week, before they surrendered. The rumours didn’t take nearly as long to spread.
“I hear they’re in league with the Germans...”
“I hear it’s those Sinn Fein folks...”
“I hear their socialist...”
“It was Patrick Pearse and the Republican Brotherhood,” Bucky said, when Steve told him the rumours that he had heard. “A couple of fellas at the docks knew one of the boys who tried to take the college... he’s arrested now, they think, ‘cause he hasn’t been back to work since it happened.”
It was May before the newspapers started publishing again, but they hardly cleared anything up. The Times blames the Germans, and the Independent blamed Redmond, and the Journal blamed the British for their ineffective rule. The leaders were to be executed – Steve wasn’t too fond of executions, certainly just prison would be better, after all, they’d surrendered in the end. Peggy approved of the executions though, because in the end her apartment had been too smoked damaged to return to, and she’d opted to stay a few more weeks with Steve and Bucky. Bucky joked that in that case they should be sending the rebels thank-you notes. Peggy rolled her eyes and gave Bucky a glare, but as soon as Bucky’s back was turned she gave Steve a smile and a wink.
“They say they’re going to start talks for Home Rule,” Bucky said one night, as he returned from the docks.
“I thought we had to wait until after the War,” Steve replied, surprised.
“They’re stepping things up, due to the rebellion and all,” Bucky replied.
“Well that’s something good that’s come out of that mess then,” Steve said.
“Not the only thing good,” Bucky smiled. “I’m quite enjoying our new roommate too.”
“You’re just lucky Steve is such a gentleman,” Peggy replied. “Otherwise no one would believe that I’m a proper lady who keeps to my own room, and I’d have to move out for the disgrace of it.”
Bucky grinned wide. “Never have I been more grateful for people judging Steve on his looks. ” Bucky nudged Steve. “Gentleman, eh? If only they knew...”
Steve just blushed.
The next day, they arrested Bucky.
“He had a feeling this might happen,” Peggy told Steve, who was nearly frantic with worry. “When they started arresting the other dockyard boys-”
“He had nothing to do with it!” Steve argued.
“I know that!”
“Then why did they arrest him?! He didn’t do anything – they can’t just arrest him!”
“It’s martial law, Steve,” Peggy said. “They can arrest whoever they want – and he told us, he told us that some of the men down at the docks knew one of the rebels... it’s enough, it’s association-“
“But Bucky didn’t know him! Why arrest Bucky?!”
“Do I look like the mouthpiece of the British government!” Peggy snapped.
Steve stopped short.
“No,” Steve said, contrite. “I’m sorry, Peggy.”
“I’m upset too,” Peggy said. “But... Bucky and I talked about this the other day, and we... we knew it was a possibility and he wanted me to tell you not to worry, that he’s left enough money for the rent, and that... that I’ll...”
“I can look after myself,” Steve interrupted, already knowing what Peggy was going to say. It wasn’t true, of course, Steve had been working for the Journal, but their offices were destroyed in the rising at Easter, and they hadn’t been able to hire him back yet, more than that though, all the rebuilding efforts in town raised too much dust for Steve’s lungs.
“Of course,” Peggy said. “But... just until you find work, I’ll continue to pay rent for using Bucky’s room.”
“You don’t even use Bucky’s room,” Steve sighed.
“It makes a very extravagant closet for my dresses,” Peggy smiled. “He’ll be home before we know it, Steve. Don’t you worry.”
They arrested Steve two days later.
He had seen it coming, once they arrested Bucky – if it was about associations, well, where do you stop?
Luckily, Peggy was home when they came for him. She tried to argue with the officers, using the fact that she was British as proof of Steve’s loyalties, but orders were orders and Steve had to go with them.
They were kind though, obviously Steve was no match for them, so they weren’t worried about him putting up a fight. They let him say goodbye to Peggy, while they stood a respectable distance away, keeping an eye on him.
“This isn’t right, Steve,” Peggy whispered.
“Maybe they’ll send me to the same place as Bucky,” Steve said, trying to smile. “If they do, I’ll give him your love.”
“I’m not sure they allow that sort of thing,” Peggy winked.
Peggy turned serious again, glancing over her shoulder, as though taking in all of the city, or possibly all of Ireland. “If I have to leave before you two get back, I’ll take your things with me. I’ll leave an address with the landlord or a neighbour so that you know where to find me.”
“Don’t leave,” Steve pleaded.
“I don’t intend to,” Peggy smiled, “but just in case, I don’t want you to lose your sketchbooks.”
“I wish I could kiss you,” Steve said, glancing at the officers waiting to take him away.
“Me too,” Peggy smiled.
Steve kissed her on the cheek politely and let them take him away.
Bucky was not happy to see him. Or, rather, he wasn’t happy for long.
They did send him to the same prison as Bucky, and when Steve walked onto the courtyard and Bucky saw him for the first time, Bucky smiled so big that it was like the sun had come out from behind the clouds. But, almost as soon as the smile appeared, it vanished, as Bucky realized that Steve was in prison.
“Those bastards!” Bucky said. “How could they-“ then suddenly he groaned and covered his face. “This is my fault. I’m so sorry, Steve – I’m so sorry. I told them – I tried to tell them not to take me away, that I had to say and look after you... and I told them you were my friend and they must have thought- Oh god, I’m an idiot.”
“Associations,” Steve had to agree. “Don’t worry about it, Bucky, if they were asking questions down at the docks, well- everyone knows you and I live together. It was only a matter of time.”
“Goddamn idiots,” Bucky swore. “I can’t believe they put you in here. It’s not a good place for- it’s not...”
“I’ll be fine,” Steve tried to assure him. “I’m healthy right now, and hey, I hear we at least get fed regular.”
“If you can call it food,” Bucky muttered.
“I’ll be okay, Bucky. And they’ll let us go, they have to – we didn’t do anything,” Steve said.
Bucky shook his head.
“It’s not right, this isn’t right,” Bucky argued. “I think those fellas – the Sinn Feiners – they might have had the right idea after all.”
“I thought you said it was Pearse and the Brotherhood who-“
“Same thing,” Bucky shrugged, even though Steve didn’t really think it had been the same thing at all – but maybe it was now. “I’ve been talking to some of the other fellas in here, and we get the news – apparently the Home Rule talks aren’t going well, they think we’re going to lose Ulster. Can you imagine? Is Ireland really free without Ulster being free too? Redmond’s messing it all up if he loses Ulster – I think maybe they had the right idea, we should have just taken our country back by force, that’s why the British killed them, I bet, because they knew they were right...”
Steve let Bucky ramble, as his thoughts whirled back to Dublin, back to Easter, back to Peggy... it was hard to tell what was best for Ireland, what was best for them, or whether his priorities should lie with his country, with Peggy, or with Bucky, who was now sounded like a rebel himself... yet he hadn’t been that way before he was arrested at all. It was hard to tell what was right anymore, but Steve couldn’t help but feel like both the rebels and the British had gotten it wrong – because if mere bloodshed could maintain a nation’s peace, the squeak of a mouse would not be heard in Ireland.*
*The last line, starting at "if mere bloodshed..." is taken from an editorial in the Freeman's Journal, from May 10th, 1916 (page 2). (Sorry, me=historian, therefore must cite.)
I actually reread my entire MA thesis to write this, by the way, so that I could get things right.