The Pain in Serendipity – A Captain America Fanfic
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Character Pairing: Steve Rogers x F!Reader, Bucky Barnes x Steve Rogers (possible polyamory in future).
Word Count: 1976
Warnings: angst, blip stuff
Synopsis: When Thanos snaps his fingers it takes your daughter and Steve Rogers’ first love with it. Together you pick up the pieces, falling in love and building a family together. Finding serendipity in your shared trauma. When opportunity comes to bring back those who are lost comes with the risk of more loss for you both. Is it worth taking the risk?
You were thrust out of a restless sleep by your phone ringing. Keeping it on silent was not an option with the job you had, even now, five years after the event kids would have panic attacks and call up, or something would happen that an adoptive parent would need help with. It was much less common now, but even still it never went on mute. It didn’t matter that yesterday was one of the most emotionally and physically exhausting days for you since the incident. You kept your phone on.
You sat up and reached out blindly, only briefly making note that it was 2.11 in the morning. “Hello?” you said sleepily.
The male voice on the line sounded both exhausted and on edge as he said your name.
“Yes, that’s me,” you said.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry for calling you so late,” the man said. “This is officer McKenzie from the Brooklyn PD. I’m sure you’ve noticed what’s happened with everyone being brought back.”
“Yes, sir,” you said as Steve sat up beside you and fumbled on the light. “The Avengers did it.”
“That’s right. Well, the reason I’m calling is I got your name from the files for the Stark Foundation Displaced Children Fund. You were in charge of housing and rehoming kids after the dusting, correct?”
“That’s right,” you said. “Have people been coming to you trying to find their kids?”
“Well, yes,” he replied. “But that’s not why I’m calling. We’ve had a bunch of kids dropped off who have appeared in their old homes only to have a whole new family living there. We’re not the only precinct. We were able to get some back to their parents, but not all and as you can imagine, we’re a little overworked with all the other things going on right now. Not to mention – a police station is no place for little kids.”
“Of course,” you said, sitting up so your legs swung over the side of the bed. “How many are we talking?”
“There’s about a dozen here,” the officer said. “Between infancy and late teens. But we’re not the only precinct. It’s a problem all over.”
“Of course,” you said. “Okay. Well, I have no way of collecting them, but I’ll head over to the old Avengers Tower now. It’s where the foundation headquarters is. It’s set up for lots of kids. Are you able to bring them to me?”
“Of course, ma’am,” he said. “How long before you get there?”
“I don’t know. Maybe if you could give me an hour. I might have to call in some staff too and most of them lost kids, so now with this…”
“…blip?” he suggested.
“Yeah. Well, they might be a little occupied,” you said.
He laughed but there was no joy in the sound. “Them and me both. I’ll let the other precincts know and we’ll start bringing them around.”
“Any ID or information with them would be great,” you said. “We have DNA testing but not all kids are genetically related to their parents. It’ll help if we have some kind of identifiers.”
“We’ll do what we can, ma’am. Thank you.”
The officer disconnected the call and you forced yourself out of bed. “What’s happening, sweetheart?” Steve asked, blearily.
“Bunch of kids have shown up alone in homes other people live in,” you said as you started getting dressed. “Cops are gonna bring them to the tower, so I’m gonna need to go in.”
“Honey, isn’t there anyone else?” Steve asked. You turned and looked at him with your eyebrows raised. A signal clearly saying ‘you can talk’. He dropped his gaze with a smile and shook his head. “That’s fair,” he said. “Do you want me to go in with you? Surely you can’t do all this alone.”
You moved quickly, putting your knees on the edge of the bed and cradling his jaw. “No. No, Steve. You have to be here when the kids wake up. They are going to freak out that I’m gone. You might even need Callie to help you with Alice because she’s currently in a house full of complete strangers, sleeping on the floor in a pile of blankets. You need to be here to make sure they know I’m not gone for good. Then you can bring them to me in the morning. I think I’m going to have to start sleeping there. I don’t know…” You paused and tried to think of how this was all going to work with the current random selection of people under your roof. Ryan still had college but who knew what the dorm situation was like. His parents had no home. Callie had no home. Bucky and Sam had no home. “I don’t know what you’re thinking – I know you have other things you need to do but maybe if you, me, Callie, and the kids stay at the Tower until this is all under control. Sophie and Nick can stay here until they get their own place, and maybe – your friends can too? Or they can come to the Tower. I guess it’s up to them.”
You were babbling and you knew you were babbling but you couldn’t seem to stop. If you stopped talking then things would be real and if they were real they’d start to fall apart. Steve took hold of our wrists and lifted your hands from his cheeks so he could kiss your palms. “It’s okay. We’ll work it out. You go and I’ll bring you clothes and the kids in the morning. I’ll talk to everyone else about what they want to do.”
The reassurance was exactly what you needed because even though Steve was here in your bed now and had done nothing to indicate that he was anything except committed to you, you kept expecting him to leave you for Bucky.
“Okay,” you said and kissed him tenderly. He caressed your cheek and hummed softly and when he pulled away he brushed the pad of his thumb over your lips. “I better go. You make sure you tell them I’m fine. They can call me before they come if they need to.”
“I promise. I’m not going to let them panic,” he said.
The trip over to Manhattan was weirdly chaotic given the time of night. You’d opted to call an Uber because of how late it was, yet even taking into account the time the prices and wait time seemed high. On the drive, police cars were screaming by with their sirens blaring and you passed several spots where groups of people were gathered yelling at each other and in one instance a brawl had broken out. When you’d asked the driver if he knew what was going on, he’d just said he wasn’t sure, but he thought it was to do with people arguing about property ownership and that most of his bookings had been people going to hotels.
You arrived at the tower and there were already police with groups of children milling around the doors. “I’m sorry. It was worse getting her than I thought,” you said.
“We understand,” one of the officers replied. “But if we could hurry this along. We’re needed out there.”
You nodded and let them inside and they all followed you up to the floors the Foundation was located on. You had FRIDAY call staff as you processed the kids as quickly as you could, taking DNA swipes and putting them in files with their ID and any other information either the children or the police could tell you. It was a heartbreaking situation. At least the last time you’d done this part you’d had a team with you to help. Now it was just you, trying to quickly process what ended up being just over seventy kids, one-third of which were under five so that the police that had brought them to you could get back out onto the streets.
When you finally got them all processed you had a room full of scared and crying children and only two other people who had been able to come out to help, both of whom had brought their own sleepy and confused-looking kids with them.
“Hey everyone,” you said, addressing the room as the other women tried soothing babies. “I know that everything is really scary right now. I promise you that we are going to find your families. Right now they’re just not here but I guarantee they’re trying to find you right now and maybe even in the morning they’ll come and pick you up and you can go home. But tonight we’re all very tired and very scared and there’s a lot of you so I need you to help me. If you are older than thirteen, if you have any experience with babies, or if you’d like to help feed some babies, can you go speak to Jane over there? Otherwise, if you can help us wrangle the littler kids we’d really appreciate it. If you’re too tired or too upset, that’s okay. You don’t have to, but we could definitely use the help. We have bedrooms which we’ll divide up by age and gender. Yes – I will take into account if you do not identify as cisgender if needed. Just let me know. If you don’t feel safe with other kids, please come talk to me. We can work around that too. You’re in the old home of the Avengers right now and there’s a very nice robot in the building that will help keep an eye on you and help keep you safe. Alright, kids helping Jane, over there, everyone else, follow me, older kids, follow behind and make sure no little ones get lost.”
It took two hours before you had all the kids in beds with full stomachs and asleep to the point it was just you, Jane, and Malaya, and half a dozen ranging between the ages of twelve and eighteen feeding infants bottles.
“I can’t believe we’re back here again,” Malaya said, wearily.
“I know,” you agreed. “It shouldn’t last as long this time. These guys all have parents out there somewhere. And I’m sure tomorrow we’ll start getting police forwarding them to us so they can be picked up and taken home. I’m more worried about what happens after that. When the parents of the kids we had adopted out start calling.”
“Oh god,” Malaya said. “I was so excited about getting Alon back that I didn’t even think about that. Oh god, your kids. What’s going to happen to them?”
Tears pricked your eyes and you shook your head. “I don’t know. And I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t want to lose them.”
“Are they with Steve now?” Jane asked.
You nodded. “Yeah. Yep. Callie, J.J.’s mom is with them too. She’s a bit shell-shocked. I know she will want him back though, but he doesn’t even know her. I think part of him thinks there’s a ghost in the house with him.”
The two women shook their heads and you sighed, putting the now sleeping infant you were holding into a crib. “We’re here if you need us,” Jane said.
You nodded and looked around at what was now a large group of sleeping babies. “Thanks. I’m sure I’m going to need to take you up on that.” You looked at the older kids with a smile. “Thank you so much for all your help. I bet you’re all exhausted. Let me show you to your rooms.”
There were only a few hours until morning when you’d start getting inundated with calls. You weren’t ready to deal with any of this. It didn’t matter, it was coming anyway, and you were just going to have to weather the storm.