The elevator doors lets out a loud “bing!”, before the doors open to reveal Pepper standing there holding an over excited, hyper active 2 year old. The child is practically vibrating with excitement as he searches around for two people in particular when they round the corner into the common room. As soon as his eyes set on the back of Natasha’s head and Bruce’s labcoat, a loud high pitched, “’Tasha! Booce!”, fills the silence of the dead quiet room.
Natasha turns instantly and Bruce looks up, forgetting about the two statues still, pale brunettes sitting on the couch. Just as soon as she turns, Steve takes off running for her, a large grin on his chocolate covered face. Small, sticky fingers reach out for her and Natasha scoops him up from under his butt, planting a kiss on his forehead, being mindful of the chocolate covering his body. Steve squeals with excitement and reaches out to grab a strand of Natasha’s hair, but she pulls away just in time to not get chocolate in her hair. “Woah there little man. Not so fast.” Natasha states, grabbing a hold of his wrists. “Your filthy, you need a bath.”
“No bath!” Steve frowns putting his hands on his hips shaking his head.
Natasha copies Steve’s movement with a frown of her own. “Yes bath!” Steve giggles at Natasha’s frown before tugging on her arm.
“I want down.” He says. When Natasha places him on the ground, Steve takes off for Bruce and jumps into the scientist lap momentarily startling him. Bruce’s arm wrap around Steve’s torso immediately so the child doesn’t fall and he offers him a smile after quickly composing himself. “Booce give me bath?” Steve asks innocently.
Shaking his head chuckling, Bruce stands with Steve in his arms. “Yes I’ll give you a bath. Come on.”
“’Tasha come?” Steve says motioning for her to follow.
“I'll be there is a second Steve.” Natasha assures taking her previous seat again in front of Darcy and Jane. “I promise, go ahead with Bruce.”
“Otay.” Steve says just before Bruce rounds the corner and heads towards his room.
Turning back to the two girls on couch, Natasha raises an eyebrow waiting patiently for the oncoming of questions. The room is silent for a while, even Tony and Clint are surprisingly quiet and Thor looks anxious waiting for his friends to recover. It’s a while before they do and Darcy is the first one to speak.
“That was… Steve?” Natasha nods. “Captain America?” She nods again. “Are we talking about the same super soldier that was defrosted from the ice less than a year ago?”
“The one and only.” Tony replies.
“So let me get this straight,” Jane interrupts. “You-“ she says pointing at the genius. “made some sort of machine that magically turned Captain Rogers from a 25 year old to a 2 year old. Now people are after him hoping to drain him of his blood in order to duplicate the super- soldier to create an army of super soldiers. Using those soldiers, they plan to take over SHIELD and the government.”
“Ding, ding, ding.” Tony says placing a finger on the tip of his nose. “You got it right on the dot.”
“And you’re here to help Dr. Banner in the research department to see if you can find anything that will help us during this.” Natasha says looking at Jane. “You can help her.” She addresses Darcy, “but… are you good with kids?”
Before Darcy can open her mouth to say something, whether to protest or say yes, Jane interrupts. “She loves kids. She a kid herself.” Darcy frowns at her before shrugging in agreement.
“Great, if a mission is to arise that would require all five of us and Jane and Pepper are busy than you will be put in charge of taking care of Steve.” Natasha decides.
“Woah, you should feel honored.” Clint tells Darcy. “Nat is very protective of our miniature Captain. She barely trusts us to take care of him,” Clint says pointing at Tony and Thor. “And she’s known us for years.”
“Only because you can barely take care of yourselves.” Natasha rebuts shaking her head. “But Darcy I must inform and warn you that if something were to happen to Steve on your care, the consequences will be dire and I hope you never will get to find out what happens to you if Steve is hurt or taken.” Natasha threatens, her voice dark and low, but her face blank and neutral. Darcy gulps, biting her bottom lip nervously before shaking her head.
“It wont happen.” She says, her voice shaking.
Natasha smiles at her before placing a hand on her shoulder and standing up. “Good, than we wont have a problem. Dr. Foster, you and Bruce will begin research down at SHIELD’s lab tomorrow morning. Darcy, I will introduce you to Steve after he wakes up. He doesn’t like strangers so try and be friendly. I apologies if he’s shy and distant tomorrow. Don’t take it personally, he just hates new people. Stark show them to their new living quarters and I will see you both tomorrow.”
And with that she turns and exits the room heading to Bruce's bedroom.
(Meanwhile with Bruce and Steve)
"Arms up." Bruce commands watching as Steve raises his arms, the child giggling happily to himself. Smiling, Bruce grabs the hem of Steve's shirt and pulls it over his head as fast as he can.
Getting over the initial shock of being blinded for a moment, Steve's eyes catch into something floating in the air beside him. A dust bunny floats a couple centimeters in front of his face and Steve makes it his mission, as Bruce takes off his pants, to catch it in his hands. As the child occupies himself with trying to catch it, Bruce goes into the bathroom to start his tub and get his stuff ready. Giggling at the dust bunny, Steve blows at it aiming to make it go higher so he can try to catch it into his hands. The blow does nothing except make Steve drool over himself in the process. He grins a toothy grin and runs a chocolaty hand through his hair efficiently making himself dirtier.
By the time Bruce walks back into the he finds Steve in the exact spot he left him, but even more of a mess. "I leave you alone for 2 minutes and you've managed to dirty yourself even more." Bruce says in the voice he reserves for Steve only, an amused smile on his face. Playfully sighing, Bruce scoops Steve up onto his hip shaking his head. "Your lucky your getting a bath."
Steve holds his hand out towards Bruce and stares up at him with wide eyes, "Some?" It takes a while, but soon Bruce realizes that Steve is trying to offer him the chocolate that covers his entire fist.
Laughing Bruce shakes his head going into the bathroom. "No thank you Steve. I don't want any." Only Steve isn't happy with Bruce's answer and frowns at the scientist before reaching out even more. Bruce is about to protest, but a voice behind him makes him jump.
"I'm teaching him how to share." It says. "Pretend to take some, please. It will help with his development and learning process." Turning around Bruce comes face to face with the green eyes and red hair.
Glancing between the two Bruce sighs, gives Steve a smile and pretends to eat some of Steve's chocolate covered fingers. "Mmm, that's yummy. Thank you Steve." Bruce comments. "Okay bath time." Bruce says placing Steve in the tub filled with Luke-warm. Steve shifts uncomfortably in the tub, his hands reaching out to grip Bruce's wrist tightly in his tiny hands as he starts wincing, not liking the water. Bruce starts to grab water with his free hand and run his hand softly down Steve's back shushing him softly. Bruce comforts and assures Steve that he's okay. Looking past Bruce, Steve reaches a hand out to Natasha pleading with his eyes as a hand continues to grips tightly to Bruce.
"It's okay sweetie." Natasha coos coming to sit beside Bruce. "Remember there's nothing to be scared of." She reminds him running a hand through his damp hair. "The water won't hurt you and Bruce and I are right here."
Ever since Steve was turned in a child, all the Avengers realized that the first time they gave Steve a bath, he was scared of the water. Especially if it was cold. Clint found out the hard way.
It takes a while, but Bruce and Natasha manage to calm Steve down to the point where he isn't grasping Bruce's wrist. Hesitantly he drips a finger in the water as if testing it before letting out a loud giggle and splashing both hands in the water wetting Natasha and Bruce in the process. Giggling Steve reaches out to grab his toy ducky waiting patiently, as Bruce and Natasha scrub, clean and wash his body, for his time to get out of the tub.
"Hey Nat. can you hand me his baby lotion?" Bruce asks not taking his eyes off the playing toddler.
"Sure." Bruce doesn't hear or see Natasha leave or enter so he jumps in surprise when the baby lotion is suddenly in front of him, attached to a hand. "Sorry." Natasha chuckles as Bruce reaches up to take it from her hand.
Just as Bruce's hands make contact with the bottle, his fingers skim against Natasha's making her catch her breath and him look up. He opens his mouth to say something until his eyes lock on Natasha's. They're eyes met- his brown and her green- and suddenly there locked in each other's gaze, the whole world seeming to stop around them. It isn't until that moment that Bruce, for the first time since meeting Natasha, has seen how beautiful Natasha really is. Of course, just like any other guy, he thought she was extremely attractive. Whether it was the fiery red head or the piercing green eyes, but he's never realized how gorgeous she really is, even without her unique striking features. It's the way her eyes sparkle in the light of the bathroom and the smile on her face when she's talking or holding Steve that gathers Bruce's attention unlike before. Bruce was a practical man, he knows an attentive woman when he sees one. But never in his years of scientific discoveries has he ever seen anything so exotic, shocking and breathtaking that he's dumbstruck and speechless. It was such an overwhelming and new feeling to him and surprisingly... he likes it. He didn't just like it, he craves more of it. The feeling is so powerful and new that Bruce, even as a scientist and a human being, wants more.
Apparently not only Bruce is dumbstruck at the moment, but even the Russian spy seems dazed by the turn of events. Her eyes glazed over with something that neither her or Bruce can put a name to. Something passes over her face, but it was to quick for Bruce to catch. Neither seem like they want to break their gaze or the moment they seem to be trapped in. And neither do. It's the loud giggle that breaks through their subconscious and the sudden splash of water that drenches their clothes and face, courtesy of Steve, that shakes them from their trance.
Natasha and Bruce jump and Bruce gives a small cough before turning his attention to Steve. "Let's finish your bath so you can get to bed, huh buddy."
"No bed!" Steve says with a smiling obviously playing with him.
Chuckling Bruce starts rubbing baby lotion on Steve's body, obviously ignoring the green eyes he knows is currently piercing through the back of his head.
Natasha continues to stare at Bruce, her mind whirling with many thoughts. To avoid thinking about it any longer, Natasha turns and leaves the bathroom leaving Bruce to tend to Steve while she recuperates from what just happened in that bathroom. Bruce visibly relaxes when he hears the bathroom door close behind him.
Sighing in relief, Bruce quickly, but thoroughly washes the rest of Steve's body before grabbing a towel and pulling him out. Wrapping Steve's wet body in the his favorite, cozy warm towel, Bruce places him on his hip holding him up with one arm. Using his free hand, Bruce digs the heel of his hands into his eyes before massaging his temple. "What was that?" He whispers more to himself then the child in his arms.
At the sound of Bruce's whisper, Steve looks over at the man holding him with an adorable expression of concern on his tiny face. Turning his body so he's facing the scientist,Steve places both his chubby hands on Bruce's cheek a small smile on his face as if he's trying to reassure Bruce. "Otay?" He asks in his high pitched voice. Even at a small age Steve always thinks of the farewell of others.
Bruce smiles at him, grabbing Steve's hand in
his own giving it a slight squeeze. "Yeah, I'm okay." Steve just
raises an eyebrow, in a silent question. 'Are you sure?' Apparently the small
child doesn't believe him. "Thank you for caring Steve. I'm fine. Come on
let's get you dressed and ready for bed."
When it's time to put Steve to bed Bruce searches for Natasha. She always is the one to put him to bed and without her, it's difficult to get him to lay down in his bed. Steve is already yawning, his eyes drooping slightly as he forces himself to stay awake by the time Bruce locates Natasha. She changed from her wet clothes into a tank top and yoga pants and she put her hair into a messy bun. He finds in her room, starring off into space, lost in her thoughts. He's about to knock, about to interrupt her thinking until he catches the look on her face. It's the same look he has on his face when he's trying to figure out a difficult situation. Trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together until it all made sense. Apparently Natasha wasn't having any luck with it and she frowns in frustration.
He decides to leave her to own her thoughts, that is until Steve closed eyes open and catch the sight of the red head sitting in her bed. "'Tasha!" Steve says as excitedly as his tired voice can manage. Looking up Natasha notices the two standing in the doorway, too lost in her thoughts to notice before, and Bruce looks at her sheepishly, an apologetic smile on his face.
"Sorry. Steve needs to be put to bed." Bruce says holding Steve out to her.
"No, it's okay. Um..." She looks around uncertainly as if deciding something. "Okay." Standing she grabs Steve from Bruce and follows him out of the room.
"I'll be with the others." Bruce says turning to leave until a tiny hand falls on his shoulder.
"No Booce! Come." Steve says curling and uncurling his fist in a 'come here' motion."With 'Tasha and me." He says after a moment when he notices Bruce hesitate. Jumping out of Natasha's arms, Steve wobbles on his legs for a moment and both Natasha and Bruce are convinced he's going to fall. Their arms are outstretched to catch him instantly, but Steve waves them off finally able to balance on his chubby, small legs. Reaching a hand out he grabs one of Bruce's large hands in his own and tugs on his arms in the direction of his room. Glancing over at Natasha, she gives him a shrug before going to walk beside the stumbling child. Bruce follows willingly.
By the time Bruce makes it to Steve's room, he finds the toddler making an attempt to climb on the bed by himself. Natasha stands by his side, a hand out stretched in case he falls. "Need help Steve?" Bruce asks chuckling.
"No. I gots it. I do it." Steve says, grunting from the effort. After a good 5 minutes, Steve finally manages to get up on the bed, with a little push on his bottom from Natasha. "I did it!" Steve says proudly unaware of Natasha boosting him up.
"Yes you did. Good job Steve." Natasha and Bruce say in unison. Bruce comes up to sit beside Steve's bed as he climb in under the covers. After Steve is tucked in, Natasha takes a seat right beside the scientist, brushing back a stand of Steve's hair. When Natasha opens her mouth, the words that come out of her mouth shocks Bruce to an extreme. She's not speaking or whispering to Steve as Bruce assumed she always does when she put Steve to bed. But she's...singing. Singing a lullaby to Steve and by the look on their faces, it’s a known one.
“Where the dreamy volga flows
There's a lonely russian rose
Down upon her knee
Where a baby's brown eyes glisten
Ev'ry night you'll hear her croon
A russian lullaby
Just a little plaintive tune
When baby starts to cry
Rock-a-bye my baby
Somewhere there may be
A land that's free for you and me
And a russian lullaby"
As the song comes to an end Natasha's voices still hangs in the end minutes after she had stopped singing. The room is dead silent and the only sound that fills the room is the soft breathing of the sleeping child beside them. Glancing over at her, Bruce notices a strand of hair has fallen out of her messy bun. Without thinking he reaches out, grabs the strand and tucks it behind her ear, his finger tips caressing her face. Natasha's breath hitches in her throat and she debates on whether pulling away or staying put is the best option. Turns out she doesn't have to decide because Bruce pulls away first. He leans down and plants a kiss on Steve's forehead brushing his bangs out of his face. "Goodnight Steve" Bruce whispers standing from his spot. He nods at the red head, "Goodnight Natasha."
"...Goodnight" Natasha says breathless as Bruce makes his way to the door. Before leaving the room, Bruce nods at her once again, flashing her a genuine smile. Then she's left alone, utterly confused and breathless from moments before as if Bruce's fingertips, when caressing her cheeks, knocked the wind out of her
"What was that?" She demands as if expecting an answer from somewhere, but silence is her only response.