I seriously zero-ed in on the negative, mostly because I get frustrated by how little attention Steve’s issues and flaws get. So that write-up is very one-sided. Steve isn’t just his depression, frustration and self-loathing. He’s a lot of things.
Like I shot down a few positive qualities that people tend to give him that I don’t agree with. I don’t think he’s good with people. I think he struggles with people and not in a shy way, but in a ‘I can think of seven million rude-ass things to respond with and only five that are only mildly-rude so maybe I should just keep my mouth shut’ way.
I don’t think he’s so inherently good that he doesn’t struggle doing the right thing or being a nice person. That’s what I meant about him not being a ‘good person’, and I really shouldn’t have put it like that because Steve is a good person. He’s a very good person. The thing is he has to try to be good, he puts a lot of effort into being good and he holds himself to very strict, very high standards and I just don’t think he’d do that shit if being good came easy. Steve has too much anger and frustration and depression for it not to be a struggle. It’s hard not lashing out when you feel that shit. Its hard to juggle forward momentum with acceptable verbal responses, but Steve does it because in his mind, its what he has to do, otherwise he’s wrong, or more wrong than he already is. That struggle is what makes him a good person, because he consistently has to choose and he consistently makes the ‘right’ choice. Steve is good, but its not inherent in the way people like to portray it. He isn’t only full of good opinions of people and he does think about what would be the easy way out and what would be the most beneficial for him, fuck everyone else. He just makes the choice to put himself last despite whatever else he thinks. The point being he thinks that shit in the first place.
Steve struggles with people, but that doesn’t mean he’s awful to be around. He does his best to hide all the shit inside him, right? So he tries to be as pleasant as he can. And although he’s not very pleasant, considering pre-serum his default is quiet and sullen looking, he’s smart as a whip and has a sharp sense of humor which can be v. attractive. He may only know how to speak in snark, but people like snark and he’s very good at choosing when and how to express himself. He’s good at choosing the right snarky thing to say at the right time, he just waits for those times. That’s why I roll my eyes when he gives Tony shit for always having an answer because hAHAHA STEVE YOU ARE exactly the fucking same in that regard. You always have an answer when people push at you and its always the best thing you can come up with at the time and you can come up with some doozies.
And when he’s comfortable, talking comes easier and by the time he’s Cap, he’s used to snarking with people Not Bucky and doing it in a socially acceptable way. He tries to play light. Taken at face value, that’s attractive.
I don’t think Sam or Bucky pity Steve. They think the shit he holds himself to is pretty unfair and that he should give himself a break, but they also respect how hard he tries and they respect his box because they know he needs it and its just part of who he is. They like him for who he is; imperfect, smart, funny, creative, caring. They like helping him feel at ease with himself, to help him crack open the door to the box, or even just help him feel less constrained by it.
Sam and Bucky (pre-first avenger) are both better people than Steve is, and I mean inherently. Things come easier for them and they both know that and both respect Steve because they can recognize he’s having to try. I don’t think either of them have a hero complex. Sam helps people for a living—helping people is what he goddamn does and it isn’t for a sense of pride or superiority, its because he’s a fucking angel. People need help and he’s good at giving it and it makes him feel fulfilled. I’m sure he takes pride in his work but it’s a result of his work, not his reason for it. Bucky cares for and puts himself out there for Steve because he thinks Steve deserves that, he thinks Steve is worth that. Its something he can give him and he’s certain Steve should have that kind of loyalty. He’ll champion Steve especially because it seems like no one else will. Bucky knows all the ways Steve goes under appreciated (how hard he tries and how stubborn he is to keep going being chief among them) and it burns him up inside that this kid who has so much inside him is going unnoticed and has been convinced he has to stamp all that fire down to get by. Bucky wants Steve to be happy because not only does he like the snarky little shitlord that he is, but he also sees his potential and wants to help Steve reach it however he can. Usually he’s just making sure the kid stays alive long enough to get there, because that’s the help Steve will accept.
So like Steve? He’s an unhappy person. But he does his absolute best not to take that out on anyone but himself. He puts the comfort of others before his own and he’s damn good at articulating (if heavily censoring) himself, so he’s not too hard to be around so long as you don’t expect him to be very energetic. He’s not used to having conversations with more than one or two people at once and he’s certainly not used to being the center of those conversations—he would avoid both of those things as politely as goddamn possible. If you can’t handle snark, he’s not gonna talk to you much and what he does say will probably be as polite as he can make it, but if you think snark is charming and can appreciate his wit, you’ll probably have a good conversation and he’ll be far more open to it. Steve’s a good guy, he’s just not very good at making himself happy so he’s honestly kinda shit at making other people happy, too. But he still tries. Steve fucking tries