The Pain in Serendipity – A Captain America Fanfic
Buy me a ☕
Character Pairing: Steve Rogers x F!Reader, Bucky Barnes x Steve Rogers (possible polyamory in future).
Word Count: 2749
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 had been pacing the room for the past fifteen minutes. Isabella’s birth parents were on their way and Steve wasn’t home yet. Not to mention you already felt overwhelmed by everything that still needed to be done. It was only the day after the blip and you had a large group of children in your care who had blipped back into a world where their parents had moved on and now were waiting to be reunited with them. You were being inundated with calls from parents who had blipped back looking for their kids who had all been legally adopted in the time their biological parents were gone. It was getting to be too much for you to handle but if you didn’t do it, then who would?
You were just about to call Steve again when he burst into your office. He was in full uniform though missing his shield due to it being destroyed in the battle upstate. “I’m sorry. It’s a real mess out there and I think the phone networks are clogged. I got the message from you but I think you’d sent it an hour before. The timestamp didn’t match.”
You ran into his arms, wrapping your arms around his waist and burying your face in his firm chest as you began to sob.
Ever since you first met Steve, he’d had this ability to be the steady hand that let you feel your emotions, and they all came pouring out of you now. You were glad all the kids were out in the common area playing games because you would have hated them seeing you lose it like this.
Steve held you, rubbing your back in soothing circles. He didn’t shush you or tell you not to cry, he just let you get it out and as you cried yourself out he sat down and pulled you into his lap. “Okay, sweetheart,” he soothed, wiping the tears from your cheeks with his thumbs. “Isabella’s mom and dad are coming? How long have we got?”
You shook your head. “I don’t know. No time. They could be here now.”
“I’ll tell you when they arrive,” FRIDAY interjected.
“Thank you, FRIDAY,” Steve said and looked into your eyes. “Okay. Well, let’s try and think about this as a good thing. This is her mom and dad -”
“We’re here mom and dad,” you argued, covering your eyes with your hand as you fought the urge to cry.
“I know. Of course, we are. And we always will be,” he said. “But that’s true for them too. I know you don’t want to keep her from them. I know that’s why you’re so upset right now.”
“I don’t want to,” you agreed. “But what if they take her today. What if they never let us see her again.”
“Honey, they’re her parents too,” Steve said. “We have to hope they want what’s best for her, and that’s for all of us to be in her life. Let’s just wait to meet them before we completely break down.”
You nodded and grabbed some Kleenex, wiping your eyes and blowing your nose.
“What have you been telling the other parents who have been blipped?” Steve asked.
“I’ve been getting them to email us. It’s harder because it involves tracking down their current adoptive parents. Plus I don’t want to make any definitive statements about what is and isn’t allowed when there’s been no official word about it,” you said.
“So -” Steve said. “Maybe that’s what you say to them today. That you don’t want to keep her from them. That you hope for her sake and ours we can all be active in her life, and that until you hear word on the actual policy she needs to stay with us, her current legal guardians. But – I assume they’re also homeless too – so we can offer them one of the old Avengers apartments and then they can be close too and it’s not like you’re actually keeping her from them.”
You took a deep breath and nodded. “Yeah. Okay. I just have such a bad feeling.”
“It’s okay. It’s normal to expect the worst after what we’ve been through,” Steve said. “Do you want to take a moment? Have a glass of water and wash your face?”
You nodded again and stood up, going into your bathroom, you drank straight from the faucet before washing your face and coming back out.
“The Ricci’s have just cleared security,” FRIDAY announced. “They’re on their way up.”
You went back out into the common area. The first thing you noticed was that neither Sam nor Bucky were there. Steve must have left them out doing crowd control where there was rioting. The number of kids had dropped again, leaving what looked like around twenty of varying ages. It was a much more manageable number and you assumed, even taking into account that some people might have left the country by the end of the week all the kids would be back with their parents, and then you could focus on the issue of reuniting the blipped parents with the children who had been raised in other homes.
Isabella was playing with Jacob, Alice, and two other little girls that were around her age. They were all dressing up and had a row of teddy bears out. You decided to leave them to it for a moment. It would be good for her parents to see her interacting with her siblings.
The elevator opened and a young couple stepped out. Both with the same dark hair and dark eyes as Isabella. You could see her in her mother’s oval face and her father’s straight nose. It made your heart stutter watching them step out and look around with a wild and frantic expression in their eyes. The same expression Isabella had had when she’d arrived after her stay in the hospital due to malnutrition after she’d been alone in her house for a week.
You and Steve approached them. Your heart was hammering and you knew that if this was anyone else for any other reason you’d introduce yourself easily. This was your job. Reuniting children with their family was your job, goddamn it. So why couldn’t you say anything?
Steve stepped forward and offered his hand to them. “Mr. and Mrs. Ricci? I’m Captain Steve Rogers and this is my wife. You spoke with her on the phone. We were the ones that adopted Isabella when you – well – you know?”
They both seemed a little shocked. It made sense. A lot was going on and now they’d just come face-to-face with Captain America and he’d just told them that he’d been raising their daughter. Shit – he was even in his uniform and a little battered-looking. How could anyone compete with Captain America?
“Nice to meet you,” Mark said, and Steve moved to shake Julia’s hand. “Where is she?”
“Just playing,” you said. “Come with me.”
“What are all these children?” Julia asked as she followed you across the room.
“Most of them are children who blipped and their parents had moved house. Some of them are just our children,” you explained. “We’re working at reuniting blipped children with their parents first and then we’ll work on the parents who just reappeared because that’s much more complicated and we need to know what the government decides regarding things like custody.”
“You aren’t just letting the children go back to their parents?” Julia asked.
You stopped dead and took a breath. “It’s complicated,” you said. “We all thought you were dead. Those children – many of them barely remember their parents. Most of them have severe separation anxiety. They were all legally adopted and I don’t know how half the world being brought back to life will change that. Even if I thought it was a good idea to just give all the children back – which in some cases I don’t think that’s the best – I can’t make the call.”
“Wait a second now – we want to take Isabella home with us. She’s our daughter,” Mark said.
You and Steve both looked at each other, identical frowns on your face. “Maybe we should step into the office for a moment,” Steve said.
“We want to see Isabella,” Julia demanded.
“And you will,” he said. “We aren’t going to keep her from you, but we need to come to an agreement, and right now, I don’t want to upset all the children here.”
They looked at each other and Mark’s nostrils flared before both of them began following you to the office.
“Please take a seat. Let us try to explain what’s happened to you and see if we can’t do what’s best for Isabella. Because I know we all want what’s best for her. And that isn’t us keeping her from you.”
They took a seat and you and Steve moved your chairs around to sit with them. “Five years ago, this – monster – decided that the universe was using up resources too fast. He found a way to make anything he wished for to become reality, and rather than wish to create unlimited resources and clean energy or – well anything that would have been actually useful – he decided to wish half the population of the galaxy into non-existence. I tried to stop him. I wasn’t strong enough,” Steve said.
“When it happened, people just began turning to dust. My daughter did – while I was brushing her hair. Then I heard crying from next door. I spent days – weeks even – going from apartment to apartment collecting up orphaned children and people’s pets, as well as turning off stoves and blowing out candles. I saw things that I wish I could forget. And then I was put in charge of this. We collected up children from all over the country and took care of them and found them loving homes because their parents were dead and all over the galaxy there were parents who had lost children who just wanted to love the ones who were now alone. It’s been five years since it happened. One of the children I adopted was only six months old when his mom disappeared. She’s out there helping with this and he doesn’t know her at all. Isabella was six. She had been found in your family home alone, and malnourished a week after you’d disappeared. She spent time in hospital and then she came here and she never let me go. She remembers you both and we did our absolute best to make sure she would. She has a photo of you by her bed. But it’s a memory of a memory. Eleven is much older than six. She’s a completely different person from before. A little preteen who is putting away her toys and getting into things like cosplay. Not only that, she was traumatized by the experience. For years I couldn’t send her to a full day of school because she’d break down screaming, scared something had happened to me. Steve and I have taken her on dates, she came on our honeymoon, because she can’t be separated from us for more than a day without completely losing it. Do you really want to exacerbate that by taking her with you tonight?”
By the time you finished speaking, Julia had tears running down her cheeks and Mark was scowling. “We don’t want to hurt her – obviously – but what do you propose? We never agreed to let you adopt her. We want to get back to our lives.”
You wanted to snap at him. To ask him what he would have rather happened to his child when her whole family died. Instead, you took a breath and Steve started talking. “I’m sure you have a lot more that needs sorting out. Your home would have had someone else living in it right? Your jobs wouldn’t exist anymore? How about – you and your wife move into one of the apartments here. You can get back on your feet and Isabella can get to know you again. In that time hopefully, we’ll know the legal status of the adoptions, but – maybe in that time the four of us can work out what’s best for her. Maybe that’s moving in with you and cutting ties with us. Maybe we can have shared custody or visitation rights? I don’t know. But know this, we both love her and have been taking care of her for five years. We only want what’s best and we absolutely do not want to keep her from you. Yes – it’s true – we also don’t want to lose her. But above everything, her wellbeing is what matters to us.”
The Ricci’s looked at each other again. “Can we have a moment in private to talk?” Mark asked.
“Of course. Take your time,” Steve said. “We’ll be out there when you’re ready.”
You both got up and left them in your office. Everything was well locked and besides, FRIDAY monitored everything, so you weren’t worried about it being a security issue. Steve wrapped his arm around you as you stepped out of the door and you looked up at him. “I have such a bad feeling.”
“We have to hope that as her parents they understand that we aren’t trying to steal her from them. We just don’t want to lose her from our lives,” Steve said.
You nodded and looked over at her. She was now in the middle of a tea party that along with the children she’d been playing with before, she’d also roped in Ryan and his parents as well as Callie. It was pretty clear from what was going on that she was just trying to keep the younger kids entertained.
Steve pressed a kiss to the top of your head. “I’ve got you. No matter what, we have each other.”
You wondered how true that was given everything. If you lost the kids, how long before he looked at you as a reminder of what you lost and Bucky started looking like a hopeful future again?
You were about to go see if anyone needed any help when the door opened up behind you and Julia and Mark stepped out. “We’d like to take you up on your offer. You’re right, we have a lot of things to work out. But – this isn’t a promise that we’ll agree to anything else. We want what’s best for her too, but she’s our daughter. We get to decide what’s best for her.”
You swallowed thickly and nodded. “Okay, let’s go see, Bella.”
You led them over to where she was playing. Isabella, Jacob, and Alice all looked up at you expectantly and Jacob got up and ran over to Steve, slamming into his legs. “Daddy!”
“Hey, J.J.,” Steve said, picking him up. “Have you been good today?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, patting Steve on the chest where the star lay.
“Mom?” Isabella said, looking up at you, her eyebrows knitted in confusion.
You crouched down to her height. These days something that only involved bending your knees a little. “Hey, honey. Your mom and dad are back. Do you want to say hello?”
She moved slowly toward them, her head tilted. “Are you going to take me away?” she asked.
You could hear the fear in her voice despite the fact she was trying to put on a brave face.
“Not today. They’ve said we can move into one of the apartments here,” Julia said. “Can I have a hug?”
Isabella looked up at you for confirmation. “Whatever you want, honey,” you assured her.
She moved forward a little hesitantly and wrapped her arms around her mother. Mark moved in and hugged them both. You took a couple of steps back to give them room but didn’t leave completely. Steve rubbed your back in soothing circles.
When they pulled apart, Julia was sobbing freely and Isabella looked back at you for further instruction. “Do you want to show them around a bit? You can take them to the cafeteria and to see the pool. We’ll find them an apartment.”
“Okay,” Isabella said and offered her hand to her mother. “Come on.”
You watched her lead them to the elevator, your heart hammering in your chest. You knew they wouldn’t go anywhere with her now, but it didn’t change the fact you were certain that they were going to take her from you soon enough.