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: 1948
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?
Numb. It was the only way to describe the feeling you had waiting for Steve to get back from returning the stones. The wound of Isabella being taken from you paired with the sheer bone-deep exhaustion you had from work had pushed you into a level of depression where you were just working on autopilot and not feeling anything at all. You’d wished that there had been more time between Isabella leaving and Steve returning the stones because on top of the fact you needed to grieve with him, you couldn’t help but think something terrible was going to happen and he’d get stuck in the past or worse be killed and you’d have no way of ever knowing.
You were sure the kids were picking up on your feelings too. They were quiet and withdrawn most of the day and Jacob kept breaking down into tears. It was understandable. He’d lost his sister too, and with his dad at work along with you barely emoting, it was bound to affect him strongly.
Thankfully shortly after lunch, Ryan showed up. You hadn’t realized how badly both you and Jacob had needed to see him after Isabella had been taken. Jacob spent the rest of the afternoon clinging to his older brother.
When the elevator opened and Steve, Sam, and Bucky stepped out, the relief that washed over you was palpable. You barely even noticed how grubby Steve was or the full beard he had grown in the 5 hours he’d been away. Nor did you fully take in that Sam was carrying a large shield-shaped leather bag.
You threw yourself into Steve’s arms, wrapping your arms around his shoulders and nuzzling into his neck. “Oh my god, I was so sure you weren’t coming back,” you sobbed. Only a moment after you hit, Jacob slammed into Steve’s legs.
“Hey, hey now,” Steve soothed. “I’ve only been gone for a few hours.”
“Oh yeah?” you snarked, pulling back and running your hand through his beard. “What’s this?”
Steve chuckled softly and picked up Jacob who buried his face in his father’s neck. “Okay, I’ve only been gone for a few hours for you,” he kissed your cheek, the scruff of his beard tickling you as his lips brushed over your skin. “I’m exhausted though, honey. Can we sit?”
“Of course. Are you hungry? We can order in,” you said, pulling back and leading him toward the couch.
Steve smiled fondly at you. “That sounds good, let’s just sit.”
He paused to hug Ryan before he sat. Steve hugged the teen like he hadn’t seen him for months and had worried he might not have ever seen him again. You sat on one side of Steve, and Ryan sat on the other, while Jacob perched on his lap. Sam sat down on one of the single sofa chairs with the bag propped against it, while Bucky and Callie sat on the other couch. Alice had been coloring at the coffee table between them when you approached and she picked up her picture and took it to Bucky who picked her up and put her in his lap to look at it.
“You know what I feel like?” Steve said. “Fried chicken with just all the sides. I feel like I need as many calories and flavors as I can get.”
“We can do that,” you said. “FRIDAY, over order please?”
“I’ll send an order in right away,” she replied.
You turned back to Steve. “So – talk. What happened?”
“There’s not a lot to say. I guess I was gone for a month,” he said.
“Though it was thirty seconds for us,” Sam added. “Pressed the button and he was neat and tidy and clean-shaven, less than a minute later he reappeared all beaten up and with a huge beard.”
“Some of them were easy. The ancient one was just waiting for me to take the Time Stone,” Steve explained. “Some were trickier. It was a lot harder getting the tesseract back where it belonged given they were now on alert for someone looking like me. Navigating the palace on Asgard was hard when I didn’t know where I was going – that place was a maze. The worst was the power stone, I was confused with Quill and was nearly arrested. There was a fight. I’m okay obviously. Then I stopped and had that made -” he gestured at the bag beside Sam.
“What is that?” you asked.
“Well,” he said and took a deep breath. “While I was out there returning the stones I had this realization that with all the changes in the world, the sorcerers and gods and women who can breathe in space and punch through spacecraft, that maybe what the world needs isn’t a supersoldier. What they need is someone to look up to. Someone that can inspire them, and I don’t know if I’m the one that should be that anymore. Besides; I don’t think I have it in me anymore. I want to just be Steve Rogers; husband, father, and part-time counselor. So – I had a shield made for Sam.”
“Really?” you said, looking over at Sam.
He patted the bag. “Yep. My very own shield. I’m not sure I want to be Captain America though. That’s a pretty big shadow to be under. But I have the shield.”
“Wow… this is huge. Congrats, Sam!”
“Don’t congratulate me yet,” he laughed. “But thank you.”
You turned to Steve and cupped his jaw. “I am so proud of you.”
He smiled softly. “I missed you all so much. I want to eat, read the kids some stories, and go to bed with you. Tomorrow we’ll go back home and we can put all this mess behind us.”
You kissed him deeply. For the first time in weeks, you felt hopeful about your future again. Things had been hard, but you had Steve, Callie was willing to share custody of Jacob with you, Ryan was here, and Alice was back. You had a family who you loved and who loved you. There was still grief there but you could make it work.
You pulled back and noticed Bucky watching you, the corners of his lips turned down and a soft crease in his brow. It was time to work out the Bucky issue because as much as you wanted to move forward and be a happy family, he was part of it too.
After dinner, Steve was waning badly. He was obviously exhausted but pushing through because he’d missed everyone so much and wanted to spend time with them. He had gone to read to Alice and Jacob while you tidied up after dinner. Bucky came into the kitchen with a stack of dishes and began to pack the dishwasher as you put away leftovers.
“Are you coming with us back to our house?” you asked.
“I don’t know,” Bucky said. “Sam wants to take a break and go back to Louisiana to see his sister. I have mandated therapy. I might just try and find a place…”
“You know you’re welcome with us, right?” you said.
Bucky let out a slow breath and rubbed his eyes. “I know, but maybe I need to move on. He loves you and it doesn’t matter how he feels about me, he’s chosen. It hurts me to see him with you.”
You went to the cupboard over the fridge and grabbed the bottle of Scotch that was kept there. You grabbed two glasses and poured one each for you and Bucky. “Maybe we should talk.”
Bucky pulled up a seat at the small kitchen table and you sat down opposite him, the bottle of Scotch sitting between you. “You know he loves you, right?” you said.
“And I love him. Which is the whole problem here,” Bucky said. “I am in love with him and I know he loves me but I can’t have him.”
“Bucky,” you said gently. “Back before – before the war even – did you think you would end up with Steve? Not married obviously but a couple?”
He furrowed his brow and downed his Scotch in one go. “No. He admitted. I thought we’d both marry women and I don’t know… that would be enough. That maybe we loved each other romantically but friends would be enough.”
“And after – when he found you again?” he asked.
“It was different. Things were different. For starters, there was no law banning people of the same sex from having sex. We could even get married. I think Steve saw that as a chance for us to get what we were too scared to have back then. But I’d changed. He went to sleep and woke up 60 years later. I lived those 60 years in erratic bursts of torture and murder. I thought at least until I could get the triggers out of my head I wasn’t safe to be around. Then when they took them out, I still wasn’t sure, but deep down I did love him. He was patient with me. He’s always been such a little shit, but never about how scared I was of being with him. Even way back before.”
“So – the world changed and you had changed so you could have something new, and you went for it. And the world has changed and Steve has changed and now…”
Bucky snorted. “Oh god – how do either of you two get anything done when you’re both always putting yourselves last?”
“I just want him to be happy,” you said. “And he never will be if he has to lose you again. He already has four times. Don’t make your relationship be defined by loss.”
“Did you forget I already tried this? That you slapped me in the face?” Bucky snarked.
“I remember being devastated about the upcoming loss of my daughter and while my husband was trying to stop it from happening and I was alone and crying, you kissed me,” you argued. “That wasn’t the time, and I don’t want to cheat on my husband so that you two can be happy.”
“So what? You’re actually okay with us all being together?” Bucky asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m okay with. I just know that all this shit we’ve been through is unfair and I’ve been hanging on by a thread. I know all this happened because Steve wanted to bring you back, so if he loses you again it was for no reason…” you shook your head. “I know that I can’t stand the thought of losing one more person, and if I feel that way, he must feel it a thousandfold because he’s already lost almost everyone he knew twice. And I know that the only way we can maybe all have some version of happiness is if we talk about it.”
Bucky sighed and poured himself a drink. “Have you talked to Steve?”
You shook your head. “Only a little bit here and there. I’ve had a lot of other things on my mind.”
He swirled the amber liquid around in his glass, keeping his eyes on the way the alcohol clung to the sides of the glass rather than on you. “I’ll come with you tomorrow. Just for a little while. It’s not like I have anywhere else to go. But I’m not convinced that he’ll even go for it, let alone it working.”
You reached over the table and took his hand. His eyes flicked up to meet yours and he offered you the smallest of smiles. “The world has changed, Bucky. I think we all should try and take happiness where we can find it.”