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: 2069
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?
To say the morning after the blip was hectic would be the biggest understatement of the century. As well as having to feed, clothe and entertain over seventy children with just the three adults, the phones started ringing. Everyone who had reappeared to find their children missing as well as everyone who had children reappear in homes they no longer lived in were all being directed to call you. The lines were in use constantly making it difficult for you to call out and see if any of the old employees or volunteers might be able to come in and help to ease the strain on not only you and the other women but also the phones so that you could get the work done to reunite these children with their families.
You were on the phone feeding a baby a bottle when Steve, Bucky, Sam, and Callie showed up with the children. Steve made his way to the office with just Alice, Jacob, and Isabella and the three children ran at you, hugging you awkwardly while you spoke on the phone.
“Mommy, mommy,” Jacob and Alice both chanted in unison.
You stroked their hairs and kissed both their heads as you listened to the man on the phone mid panic about trying to track down his children.
“Trust me, sir,” you said. “I am in the exact same position as you. I can only tell you that I need to hear back from the government regarding what the policy is with reuniting parents with children who have been adopted out.”
“But I never agreed to adopt my children out,” the man at the other end of the phone shouted.
“I know that, but you were declared dead,” you replied as calmly as you could. It was a conversation you have had several times already this morning. “In the meantime, if you can gather whatever paperwork you have and send me an email at the address I said. I promise, as soon as I am not being inundated by calls I will make the necessary calls and get all this underway.”
“I just want to see my children,” he said. “Can’t you at least tell me who has them?”
“Not over the phone,” you said. “Not with no proof of who you are and without either an official policy or permission from their parents. I promise you though – send me the email and I’ll work on getting you back to your children, but there is nothing I can do over the phone with you right now. Okay? I promise. Send the email.”
“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!” the man shouted and hung up. You disconnected the call and the phone immediately began ringing again.
“FRIDAY, you’ve heard the spiel a few times now, can you answer all the calls looking for children by parents who were blipped with that. They need to email me with relevant proof of who they are and the address we would have found the children. That we need permission from the adoptive parents of official policy,” you said, sitting back in your chair and rubbing Alice’s back. “Actually if you could just field the calls too. Let me know who I’m about to talk to and what they want before I pick up?”
“Of course, anything I can do to help,” she said.
The phone went silent and you sighed in relief. “A little under pressure, honey?” Steve said, coming over and kissing your cheek.
“You can say that,” you sighed. “I’m sure there are parents who would like to collect their children but the phones have been going non-stop and we’ve only had maybe ten get through and only one has made it in to collect them with the right ID. We have so many little ones right now and not enough people to take care of them, let alone all the other shit going on.
“Ma’am,” FRIDAY said. “I can call people on the old employment and volunteer list.”
“Shit,” you sighed, making Jacob start chanting the word shit over and over. “I am so frazzled. Of course. Thank you. Anyone on the list that you can get in.”
“Callie is here now,” Steve said. “She’s a little more together today. And maybe Ryan can come in and help. He’s with his folks right now, but they…”
“Of course… yes, good idea, can you call him?” you asked.
“Yes, honey,” he said and scooped the infant you were holding out of your arms. “I’ll take him too. Bucky, Sam, and I can stay. At least until things are a little less overwhelming. I think we might need to help out in the streets though and we have to work at getting those stones back.”
“I understand,” you said, feeling very much like you were about to cry. “Whatever you guys can do. I’d appreciate it.” You looked down at the kids and smiled. “Hello, my darlings. Did you sleep okay?”
“It was hard without a bed,” Isabella said.
“I know. I think we’ll stay here for a while. And you can all have your own beds and be together,” you said. “Just for a bit.”
“Like before?” Isabella said.
“Yeah,” you agreed. “A bit like before. Do you want to go play with some of the other kids?”
“You’ll be here?” Isabella asked.
“Of course, Bella, and if you want to stay in the office with me you can, but I have so many phone calls, so out there with the kids and dad will be so much more fun,” you explained.
She seemed to think about it for a moment and nodded. “Okay, come on J.J.,” she said, taking his hand and leading him out of the room. Alice looked from you to them and cuddled you before chasing after them.
“Alright,” Steve said and kissed the top of your head. “Page me if you need me. I’ll go out and help with the kids.”
Steve left the room and you turned back to the phones, picking up the receiver. “Line one is a Mrs. Christine Delany, her children blipped the police directed her here to find them.”
“Great. Thanks, FRIDAY,” you said, pressing connect on line one.
After FRIDAY started fielding calls, things got a little easier. When some of the old volunteers and staff showed up it was even easier still. By the mid-afternoon, more than half the kids had been collected by very relieved parents thanks to the system of checks you had in place. The parents of Kai and Lara had shown up at around two extremely grateful to you for taking care of them while they made their way back to the city.
Steve, Bucky, and Sam went out to help the police deal with some rioting that had broken out in the city and you fell back into the routine of fielding calls while you were looking after the kids and sending off emails to children’s services and other government agencies about what to do about custody issues for the kids left behind.
You were just speaking with one of the staff about whether going down and cooking for all the kids was feasible with the number of adults there or whether it would be worth it just to order in, and what the chances are there were restaurants open at all when FRIDAY paged you.
“There’s a call you should take. Line four,” she explained as you went into the office.
“Hello, Stark Foundation Displaced Child Fund, how can I help you?” you said as you connected the line.
“Hello, my name is Julia Ricci. I – uh – I was one of the people who – I guess they’re calling it blipped,” she explained. You knew the name as soon as she said it. There was a photo of Julia with her husband Mark on your daughter’s bedroom wall. This was Isabella’s mother. The woman who could potentially be one of the many threads that were going to tear your family apart. You waited though, not in a rush to move along the moment where she told you that she was coming to take your daughter away from you. “Um… when we came back – our daughter was gone. The police told us we should call you, that you found homes for children that were alone. My daughter’s name was Isabella Ricci. She was four. They picked her up in Queens. The address was…”
You cleared her through. “Yes… I’m sorry. Um… yes, I know Isabella. I …” you paused and took a deep breath, trying to steady your nerves. “Mrs. Ricci… I adopted your daughter.”
There was silence on the other end of the line and while you knew she was just trying to process what you had said but part of you wondered if you’d been disconnected. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say, you hoped it had disconnected so that you had more time to pretend none of this was happening directly to you. Right now, being so busy you barely had time to eat, and with Ryan and Jacob and Isabella all there with you and Steve gone off to do Avengers’ business, it was easy to pretend this was all things that were happening to other people. That those calls had nothing directly to do with you. You could pretend that Ryan would still visit on weekends and for holidays and that Callie might agree to live in a sleep-out at the back of your house so that you both had custody of Jacob. With the Riccis, there was no such hope. You knew you couldn’t keep her from them, even if the government decided all the children should stay with their adoptive parents, you didn’t have it in you to deny them seeing their daughter. So the best you could hope for was that they might agree to shared custody.
“Mrs. Ricci,” you said gently. “Are you still there?”
“Yes,” she said. “I’m sorry. This has all been a lot to deal with. I – can we – I mean -” she paused for a moment and when she spoke again it was very fast and with a slightly demanding tone. “She’s my daughter.”
“I know that,” you said. “Mrs. Ricci, I don’t want to keep her from you. But – you have to understand, she’s been my daughter for the past five years. I did my best to make sure she remembered you and Mark. But she doesn’t remember you very well. And she has severe trauma. She – she was alone in your house for a week before anyone found her. She has separation anxiety and PTSD. And – she calls me mom.”
You could hear the sobbing on the other end of the line and guilt began to mix with the fear you felt. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Ricci. I’m not telling you all that as a way to say you can’t see her, or have her home. I’m just trying to prepare you. I am most concerned about her. She’s been through so much. I don’t want her hurt because of decisions we make, and you need to be prepared, because – it’s been five years. She’s not the four-year-old girl you once knew.”
“She’s my daughter,” Julia sobbed.
“I know. I think we need to come together and figure out what’s best for her. Don’t you?” you said, hoping to god she agreed. “She’s a bit scared about meeting you again. Her brothers – they have both got their parents here with them. She knows what’s going on and it’s confusing and scary.”
“Her brothers?” Julia asked.
“Yes,” you said. “I adopted three of the displaced children. She’s been growing up with brothers.”
The sobbing got louder and despite how guilty it made you feel, it helped keep yours at bay. “We’re at the old Avengers Tower. If you want to come by, we can talk and you can be reunited with her.”
Reunited. You’d chosen the word carefully. It didn’t imply they were just visiting with her and it didn’t imply they could take her either. It just meant they’d get to be with her again. You needed Steve. You couldn’t do this without him, but you had no idea if he’d be back in time nor if you could even contact him given the current state of things.
Julia sniffed and let out a breath. “We’ll come by soon.”