"Let's Talk Fanfic" is a series that's basically me ranting about (and sometimes analyzing) one of my first literary loves: fanfiction.
A while ago, I read @radialarch’s “The Fallen Son,” an incredible social media AU about an alternate third Captain America movie, which takes place before and after its release. It consists entirely of news articles, film reviews, Tumblr/LiveJournal/Twitter posts, and interviews. Oh, and if that wasn't meta enough, there's even some faux Archive of Our Own entries in there.
The story is pretty simple: Captain America: The Fallen Son is the newest movie to come out in the MCU, and according to the showrunners, "its Captain America will belong to another minority."
Captain America is gay. Captain America is 100%, canon-compliant, recognized by the MCU, publicly queer. And everyone is freaking out about it. All posts featured in the fic are of people reacting to Marvel's installment of the Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes love story, from critics to uber-fans to the actors and producers themselves, who hold the same roles as they do in real life.
So anyway, on to the actual fic. My favorite part about it is the URL and OTP tag two of the fictional Tumblr users use. One of the users is “@thebestpartofme” and one of the otp tags is “#otp: you’re the best part of me.”
All we as readers get is one Tumblr post about the actual Steve/Bucky kiss in Captain America: The Fallen Son, which is mainly just a recognition that yes, it did happen, Bucky was crying, and Steve kissed first. But other than that, we're given no info on how the scene went down. We never see the dialogue leading up to and following the kiss scene, but because of those Tumblr users, it's understood that the scene includes the sentence “You’re the best part of me." But the thing is, we don't need context for the kiss. We already have it.
All shipping aside, it's easy to see how a sentence like this could fit into the actual, real-life MCU canon. It’s not a stretch at all to assume that “You’re the best part of me” could come from Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which I'm guessing are still canon in this canon-divergence AU). I mean, it’s already low-key implied. The MCU wrote Steve and Bucky literally overcoming their graves (note: plural) to be with each other again. They wrote Steve and Bucky to complete each other, to not be able to exist apart from each other.
Plus, not only are they part of each other, the real-life MCU also implies that they’re the best parts of each other. This comes from the way Bucky pulls Steve out of fights, Steve saves Bucky in Azzano, Bucky still loves Steve without him being Captain America, Steve believes in Bucky and Bucky's recovery when Bucky can’t believe in himself, et cetera ad infinitum.
All this to say, this is why “The Fallen Son” is one of my favorite fics and why I think it's one of the most important Steve/Bucky fics period. It taps into the canon MCU and builds this could-be-canon actually successive movie off of that in a more subtle (and arguably important) way than characterization or plot. We don’t need context for the sentence “You’re the best part of me” because we already have that context—not from its fictional world, but from our real world.
(After all that justification, I'm going to be honest: I just want the scene to know who said it! It doesn't matter at all, it's believable either way, but damn if I'm not dying to know. My bet’s on Bucky because we do know that Steve went in for the kiss, but if anyone has also read this and has any ideas, let's talk.)