The Pain in Serendipity – A Captain America Fanfic
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Character Pairing: Steve Rogers x F!Reader, Bucky Barnes x Steve Rogers
Word Count: 2136
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?
Resilient. It was probably the word that best described you. Change hurt and sometimes it felt like you were broken and there was no way you would ever really be happy again. Then slowly those happy moments returned and became more common until they outweighed the grief and the sadness and stress you were carrying, and you could once again say you had a happy life. That life – and the happiness that surrounded it might be completely different to the one that came before, but it was happiness. You might break, but you were always able to pull yourself back together and find something new.
This new life was strange in so many ways. Your closest friend lived in a two-bedroom annex you’d built in your backyard with Jacob, a boy you both considered a son. You lived in the house with your husband and his boyfriend – a man you were quickly starting to think of as your boyfriend too, and your daughter Alice. Your oldest son Ryan was away at college, and your other daughter Isabella was gone, taken by her biological parents. It was a strange family setup where their links of biology were rare with only you and Alice, and Callie and Jacob sharing them, and where there seemed to be far too many parents than you’d normally find. Yet, while you still missed Bella and grieved for her every day, you had found happiness again.
The house had begun to work like a well-oiled machine. In the mornings you woke up after Steve and Bucky and would come downstairs to the smell of pancakes or bacon and eggs that Bucky had made and Callie and Steve working together to get Jacob and Alice ready for school. When you, Callie, and the kids were ready to go, you’d walk them to school before taking the subway into the city for work. Steve and Bucky found different ways to fill the day. Steve was running counseling groups and Bucky had government-mandated therapy which had him doing things like trying out new hobbies and figuring out a way to come to terms with the things he’d been made to do in the past. On days they weren’t doing either they would work on the house together or Steve would paint while Bucky played video games. One or both of them would pick the kids up and then when you and Callie got home from work, dinner would already be started.
On weekends Ryan would sometimes come over. Sometimes he’d bring his biological parents with him. There would be trips to the zoo or the museum or playdates with friends. You’d hang out at home, just being together, or take a walk in the park. It was unusual, but it worked and each day it felt more normal and more like family.
Months passed and a routine had been set when you received a call at work from Steve, sounding a little panicked.
“Honey – do you think you can come home early?” he asked.
You sat up straight, your heart starting to hammer in your chest. Your mind immediately latched onto the worst possible outcomes. These days, after everything that had happened in your life, your mind always went to the negative. You pictured one of the kids hit by a car. Someone kidnapping one of them. A new mission dragging Steve away despite the fact he’d retired. Steve and Bucky deciding they didn’t want you to be part of the relationship anymore. “What’s happened?” you said. “Is everyone okay?”
“Yes. Sorry. I should have led with that. Everyone is fine. We’re all here and safe,” he said. “In fact – so is Bella.”
You thought you had misheard him and for a moment there was a lag between your ears and brain. If you’d been a computer, you’d have had little spinning rainbow disks in your eyes instead of the blacks of your pupils. “I’m sorry – what?”
“Bella is here,” he repeated. “Can you get here soon?”
“I’ll get an uber,” you said. “I’m on my way.”
The whole trip home you felt like you were buzzing. You hadn’t even thought to ask why she was there. You wondered if the Ricci’s had had a change of heart or if something bad had happened to them. Your stomach turned itself into knots as you considered all the possibilities.
When the car pulled up outside your house, you barely even waited for it to come to a full stop before you jumped out and dashed to the front door. Bucky met you in the hall, kissing your cheek as you came inside. “They’re in the yard,” he explained.
“How is she here?” you said, not even slowing your pace as you headed toward the backdoor.
“Uh – well – apparently she ran away from school,” Bucky said.
You stopped dead and turned, staring at him with your mouth agape. “She what?”
“She said she came out of class after school and was supposed to catch the bus home, but instead she went to the subway and caught the train here,” Bucky explained.
“Do the Ricci’s know?” you asked.
“Yeah. Steve called them right away. They weren’t happy but they agreed to let him bring her home at six. That’s when they both get home from work. They said if she’s not there at six, they’ll call the police and report her as missing.”
You let out a breath. Your hands were shaking and your head felt slightly fuzzy. The knots in your stomach were twisting around forming a hard ball that sat heavy in your gut. “Okay,” you said. “Okay… Until six.”
“Go on,” Bucky said, giving you a little nudge. “Go see your daughter.”
It was the kick you needed to spur you into action again. You rushed out the back to find Isabella playing on the swing set with Jacob and Alice. She really was getting too big for it these days but with Steve going from one child to the next pushing them, she looked nothing but delighted.
“Mom!” she shouted when she saw you, jumping off the swing and running to you. You crouched a little and caught her as she slammed into you, hugging you tightly.
Tears broke immediately as you hugged her as hard as you could. “Oh my god, Bella,” you mumbled through your tears. “I missed you so much.”
“I missed you too,” she said as she hugged you.
There was a chorus of ‘mommy!’ as Jacob and Alice jumped off the swings and ran over to you too, you crouched with Isabella, pulling the other children into the hug too.
“Mommy you’re home early,” Alice said.
“Bella’s here, mommy,” Jacob said. “Bella’s here.”
“I know,” you said, choking back your tears. “We’re going to have to make sure we have lots of fun while she’s here.”
Steve came over and hugged you from behind, kissing your cheek and nosing at your neck. “She ran away from school,” he whispered.
“Bucky said,” you replied, reaching behind yourself to run your hand over his jaw.
“I called Ryan. He’ll be here soon. He was in a class. We thought we’ve got a couple of hours – we could go get ice cream from the bodega and spend some time at the park before we have to take her back,” Steve explained.
“Ice cream!” Jacob yelled, breaking free from the hug and running over to his bike.
“Okay, okay, relax, buddy,” Steve said. He kissed the top of your head and then did the same to Isabella. He picked up Alice and put her on his shoulders. “Come on, Allie, let’s go chase your brother.”
You pulled back from Isabella and pushed her hair off her face, running your palms down her cheeks and neck. “How’s things at home. You settling in okay with your mom and dad?”
She wrapped her arms around her waist and nodded. “Yeah. I know I shouldn’t be here. I know they love me. I just – everything’s different again. I miss you and dad and J.J. I miss my school. I even see a new therapist now and … they said that sometimes parents do things that we don’t like because they want what’s best. But I don’t know why they won’t let me see you and dad. I don’t want them to stop being my mom and dad. I just want you guys to also be my mom and dad.”
You hugged her again. “Steve and I will always be your mom and dad, honey. I promise. You can’t go running away though.”
“I know. I just missed you,” she said.
After Ryan arrived you, Steve, and Bucky took all the kids to the bodega and brought them ice creams, and then to the park to play. It was a strange melancholia that hung over the event, seeping into every moment – even the happiest ones. Especially the happiest ones. Seeing the kids all share licks of their ice cream or hearing them laugh as they charged up onto the jungle gym just made you long for this being how things were, and sad that they couldn’t be.
When the time was up, you and Steve left Alice and Jacob with Callie, Bucky, and Ryan and you drove Isabella home. You tried to keep the mood in the car light but everything felt heavy. There was a cold dread that this time might be the last time you saw Bella. Or at least until she was an adult and could make her own choices. You worried that by the time you arrived the police would be there serving you and Steve with a restraining order or having you charged with kidnapping.
Even when the Ricci’s answered the door and there was no sign of any kind of police presence, you didn’t fully relax.
“Bella,” Julia said, pulling her daughter into a hug. “You can’t do that. You can’t just run off like that.”
“Mom,” she complained. “I told you I wanted to see them.”
“That doesn’t mean you can just run away,” Julia argued.
Isabella went to argue with her but Mark put his hand on her shoulder. “We’ll talk about this later. Go inside so the grownups can talk.”
“You’re gonna let me say goodbye to them, aren’t you?” Isabella said.
“Yes. We will. Just – go inside please,” Mark said.
Isabella huffed and stomped off.
“We didn’t know she was going to do that,” Steve said. “She just showed up at the house.”
“We believe you,” Julia said.
“Look – I think we need to apologize,” Mark said. “When we came back – it was instant. It wasn’t even a second. I was at work and the next thing I know, the whole office had changed and I fell on my ass. Then we found out it’s five years later, our daughter had been raised by a couple of strangers and our house had been sold. We just wanted things to go back to how they were. We never agreed to give up our daughter. We never agreed to sell our house. We were angry and hurt that we missed those years and every time she called either of you mom or dad it was like a knife wound. We thought it would be better for everyone if we just went back to how things should have been. I guess we thought – we thought that the pain of pulling her away from you would heal faster than the pain of having to share time. I guess it was selfish. Bella hasn’t been doing well and her therapists keep saying that the cold turkey method wasn’t the way to go. I guess – I guess we didn’t want them to be right. We’re sorry.”
It took all your willpower not to tell him you told him so.
“So what does that mean?” Steve asked.
“We don’t want her running away again. We do want what’s best for her. I don’t know how we can make this work, but I think she should get to spend time with you regularly. If you’re open to it,” Mark said.
“Of course we are,” you said, trying to hold you back from throwing yourself into their arms. “We’d love that. Thank you. Oh my god, thank you.”
“We should speak to lawyers I think,” Mark said. “Figure out some kind of visitation that will work. But maybe she can spend this weekend with you?”
“Of course. We’d be happy to have her. Her brothers miss her,” Steve said. “We miss her.”
“Come in,” Julia said. “We can tell her together.”
You looked at Steve as you followed them inside. Change was definitely hard but now everyone embracing it, things seemed to be working. It might be a little strange, but strange wasn’t bad at all.