“Well look whose bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning.” Tony comments as Natasha stumbles in the room; her bedhead sticking out in several directions, her bags prominent under her eyes and the clothes on her body hanging loosely. She hadnt gotten any sleep last night.
Bruce, Thor, Pepper and Clint turn around and Clint cringes at the sight of his partner. Thor and Bruce throw her a sympathetic glance. “Yikes! What happened to you ‘Tasha? You look like you just got hit by a bus.” She opens her mouth to throw a deadly threat at him, but it ends up being cut off by a large yawn. She closes her eyes and runs a hand through her hair to attempt to tame it, even in the slightest bit, and opens them again to find a cup coffee being handed to her. Attached to the coffee cup is a familiar hand. Looking up she gives Bruce a grateful smile.
“Don’t let listen to him. You still look beautiful.” Bruce says, his cheeks being tinted a slight pink. “Here, you look like you could use this.” He thrusts it into Natasha’s hands, taking her elbow and leading her to the table where breakfast has been laid out in front of her.
“Lady Romanoff, may I ask what happened to you? You look as if you did not get any rest last night.” Thor inquires pushing her plate closer to her.
“I didn’t. Steve kept me up.” Natasha admits greedily drinking down her hot coffee, unaware of the hot liquid burning her esophagus.
“Why?” Clint asks concerned.
“Nightmares.” Natasha says sharing knowing look with Bruce.
“Why didn’t you wake me? I could’ve stayed up with him.” Bruce questioned. “or any one of us? We would’ve helped in order for you to get some sleep.”
Natasha waves him off, taking a bite of her eggs. “I could handle it, you guys didnt need to woken up. I just wish I had gotten more sleep than I did.” Clint raises an eyebrow in silent question. Sighing Natasha puts her elbows on the table and rest her head on the heel of her hands. She stays like that for a couple of minutes and the boys are almost certain she fell asleep on them, she opens her eyes and mutters. “3 hours.”
“’Tasha, seriously you could’ve waken me up.” Bruce insists shaking his head. “I’ll be there to cover for you if you needed it.”
“What was the point? I was already there with him, I can handle a couple less hours of sleep. It’s nothing I haven’t done before.”
Bruce opens his mouth to protest, but Natasha sighs in relief when the elevator door opens and Jane and Darcy walk out. Thor grins broadly before standing and striding over to the two girls. “Jane! Lady Darcy!” Clasping a hand on Darcy’s shoulder and snaking an arm around Jane’s waist, Thor leads them to the dining room where the other Avengers currently occupy the table. “Good morning to you both.” Thor continues, “How did your first night at the Avengers Tower fare?”
“Very well.” Jane says with a shy smile. “Miss. Potts, Mr. Stark-“
“Mr. Stark is my father.” Tony interrupts waving off her formalities. “Call me Tony.”
“And me Pepper.”
“Well, Tony, Pepper,” Jane says drawing out their names as if testing it on her tongue. “Thank you so much for your generosity. Your Tower is beautiful.”
“I love my room.” Darcy says being blunt. Jane rolls her eyes, before taking her seat with a sigh.
“Well Darcy, if you like your room,” Pepper starts with a smile, “Your going to love the indoor pool.”
“There’s an indoor pool.” She asks in awe.
Tony scoffs, “Of course there is. This wouldn’t be a tower with an indoor pool.”
“Awesome. I’m going to hit that later on today.”
“Hold on a moment, ma’am.” Bruce says holding up a hand. “You and Dr. Foster still need to hold your end of the bargain for this mission. And you also need to meet Steve.”
Natasha sighs in exasperation. “He went back to sleep 2 hours ago.” Natasha complains.
“Let him sleep.” Jane assures placing a hand on Natasha’s shoulder tentatively. “I heard that you and him didn’t get a good night sleep and I wouldn't want him to lose any chance he has at a good rest.”
“But I wanna meet him! He looked so adorable last night.” Darcy winces, but gets shut up by a glare from Jane. “I’m hungry.”
“Good thing. Bruce made breakfast. Only it’s not as good as when Steve use to make it, but it has sufficed for a couple of weeks.” Clint says, sliding two plates over.
“No wonder it tastes good.” Natasha says as realization dawns on her. “If Clint, Thor or Tony cooked it, we’d be dead from food poisoning.” The three boys frown at the red head that simply ignores them and stands to go refill her cup.
Jane’s about to thank Bruce for the food when a loud cry is heard throughout the room making everyone jump from the sudden sound, and Natasha and Bruce freezes what their was doing. The sound, unfamiliar to Jane and Darcy, makes the two girls cringe.
The sound causes all the Avengers to stand from their spot. They turn to move, but Bruce and Natasha both shake their head. Within a second, Natasha and Bruce are out of the room rushing to Steve’s room to calm the distressed child leaving the others standing in the dining room.
Steve was trapped in a horrible nightmare- possibly the worst he's ever had. He couldn’t force himself out of this one. This was he was paralyzed and all he could do was watch his nightmare unfold in front of him. No amount of screaming, or struggling would do anything. His only option was to watch.
His mother was in a hospital bed, doctors surrounding her, blocking her from Steve’s view. But Steve knew who it was by the connection he felt towards the person laying on the table. A mother/ son connection that was brought together as soon as he entered her womb. A connection so strong that no one could break it.
Steve tried screaming for them to move, to let him pass, but he as soon as he took a step in her direction, she moved farther away from him. As if he wasn’t making any progress trying to reach her, like he was glued to his spot and was helpless. The doctors didn’t acknowledge him, as was as if he was invisible. Nonexistent. However, his mother did notice him. From the doctors that blocked them, Steve made eye contact with his coughing, sick mother. She reached a hand out to him, through the many doctors, her body shaking visibly and Steve does the same. Hoping, by some force, that he is able to hold his mother’s hand. “Momma.” He called. She coughed harder, the bed shaking under her weight and the doctor’s moving in sync with one another as they moved with faster and more furious actions.
His mother opens her mouth to say something, but something between a squeak/ cough interrupts her speech and all Steve can make out is, “Ba…” She tries again, “Baby.”
“Momma.” Steve winces helplessly, tears streaming down his face. He desperately wants to reach her, to have her hold him, but he knew that if he took a step towards her, she’d be pulled away again. He didn’t want that to happen again because than it would really break him.
“Momma… l-loves you.” She stutters, her voice breaking and quivering. “S-Steve… momma l-loves you.” She whispers, her voice seeming to become softer and softer with each passing words.
Steve’s eyes widen when he notices her eyes start to close. “Momma?” He calls, his body shaking from fear.
“Love you…” His mother manages to get out before a doctor places something over her mouth, efficiently cutting off her speaking, but increasing her coughing. Steve watched with frightened eyes as the doctors moved around his coughing/ wheezing mother who tries with all her might to gather breath for her hungry lungs. It isn’t until moments later that she stops.
Everything stops and the doctors disappear leaving her laying on the hospital bed alone. Her chest stills and her eyes close completely.
“Momma,” Steve urges nervously. He takes a tentative, testing step in her direction and sighs in relief when she isn’t pulled away. Not wasting a minute, Steve rushes to his mother’s beside, tears streaming down his face. Jumping on her bed- with much difficulty- Steve grabs her arm and starts shaking her. “Momma. Mommy, wate up. Wate up! Pease, pease wate up!” Steve begs, his voice starting to increase with every plead and beg that comes out of his mouth. “MOMMY! Pease! Get… up! GET UP!!” He cried, his shaking coming to halt and body sliding off the bed and onto the floor. The last thing he hears before waking up was the sound of a heart monitor going flat- lined.
Steve jerked awake with a slight gasp and looked around frantically. He was left alone. He's never left alone. He opened his mouth and the first things out of his mouth were instant, “’Tasha!! Booce!!” He screams out, voice cracking and breaking in places. “’TASHA!!” Steve screams louder.
Natasha and Bruce slam open the door to his room to find Steve sitting straight up in bed, chest heaving heavily, blanket clutched tightly in his fists and tears running down his face his red and sweaty face. Small arms reach out to them instantly when noticing them standing in the doorway. Natasha crosses the room in 3 large strides, scooping the child up in her arms. Bruce follows immediately, coming to stand by Natasha’s side, a hand on Steve’s shoulder. Steve’s fist ball up Natasha’s shirt and he buries his face into the crook of her shoulder, muffling the screams that follow suit. Natasha’s hand come up to cradle the back of his head as she rocks him softly. “Ssh, ssh, ssh. It’s alright, it’s okay.” Planting kisses on his forehead, Natasha starts walking the vicinity of the room, holding Steve tightly to her. She tries her hardest to ignore the sounds coming out of his mouth and calm his furiously shaking body. Steve holds onto her even more tightly, starting to hyperventilate as he tries to catch his breath. “Baby, baby, baby, ssh, It’s okay. I’m here, Bruce is here. Your safe.” Natasha whispers coming to stand by Bruce’s side so Steve can clearly see Bruce’s face. Reaching out a hand, Steve grasp Bruce’s shoulder tightly in his own, closing his eyes tightly.
It takes a while, but finally Steve is calmed down enough to breath properly and actually loosen his mad iron- grip on both Natasha and Bruce. Sitting down on his bed, Natasha places Steve on her lap and lets him lean against her, planting kisses on the top of his head. Bruce kneels in front of them, a hand on Steve’s tiny knee as he gives him a small genuine smile. Caressing his cheek, Bruce lets Steve lean into his touch and nobody says anything for a while. They give the child a minute to think. It’s silent as both Natasha and Bruce let Steve bask in the comforting silence and the reassuring touches of both adults. Letting his little mind relax, Steve raises a hand to wipe his running nose, but Bruce stops him and pulls out a handkerchief. Wiping his nose, Bruce peels Steve away from Natasha. The child welcomes the incredible warmth of Bruce’s arms. Steve closes his eyes and lets out sharp intakes of breath, his mind whirling from the memories and fading pictures of his dream.
After a couple of minutes, without warning, Steve turns to look Bruce and Natasha in the eyes and says bluntly, his voice showing no emotion. “My ma’s dead.”
It wasn’t a question- it was a statement. One that told Natasha and Bruce that they had no chance of lying to Steve because it was one of all knowing, undeniable truth. Like he’s known it for a while, but just now has the courage to voice it out loud. The statement caused the two adults to grow speechless. They had absolutely no knowledge of what to say to the upset 2 year old. Steve knows his mother is dead, but the question remained… How?
The silence that came after his statement made Steve look down with a sigh. Everyone he loved always went away. Now he really was all alone. Of course, he had Natasha and Bruce, but… they aren’t his parents. They aren’t his real mom and dad because no one can ever take their place in his heart. More tears run down his face, as he buries his face in Bruce’s chest, his shoulders shaking with his sobs. Bruce may not know what to say, but he knows what to do. Wrapping his arms around Steve’s shoulder, he coos and shushes the child to try and calm him down. Of course, his efforts would be more worthwhile if he or Natasha knew what to say.
Taking his head out of Bruce’s chest, he looks out at the starry sky beyond his window with glassy eyes, looking to the sky and God for answers. God would know what to do. His momma always told him if he were confused, angry or upset, to look up at God and ask him what he should do because God had all the answers. He would help guide Steve because God would always be there in the dark moments. Steve couldn't help, but wonder if that was still true. Is God still looking after him? After all, how could a God who loves him so much take his momma away? Did God still love him or did he abandon him too?
Before he could start to cry, Jane, Darcy and the other Avengers appeared in his room. Jane is carrying a dingy, blue familiar blanket in her hands. A flash of recognition passed through Steve’s eyes, and a tiny smile appeared on his face. Pulling away from Bruce, he leans slightly over his arm to look closer at the blanket. Jane smiles sweetly at the baby before tentatively walking up to him. "I think this belongs to you." She whispers handing over the blanket. He took the soft object into his hands and rubbed it against his cheek. Tears spring in his eyes instantly when he sniffs the scent of his mother’s perfume. Suddenly he was at peace. “Momma…” He whispers longingly. Looking up at the women that gave it to him, it surprises everyone when Steve willingly reaches his arms out to her. Especially Natasha and Bruce.
Steve doesn’t trust new people easily and this new found trust in Jane is what shocks everyone. Looking over at Natasha for confirmation, Natasha nods her head in agreement. Reaching down, Jane gently takes Steve in her arms and places him on her hips. Steve wraps his arms around her neck, a small smile on his face. “'ank you.” Steve thanks the women whom handed him the blanket.
“Your so welcome Steve.” She said giving him a hug back. Looking back down at Natasha, she and Steve share a knowing look before she stands and grabs him back from Jane.
“Steve, this is Jane Foster. Jane this is Steve. Steve, Jane is here to take care of you in case Bruce, Thor, Tony, Clint and I are busy.” Steve smiles shyly from the crook of Natasha's shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’s not going to hurt you. Your going to love her once you get to know her. She’s really smart, and will take good care of you. I promise and you know I would never lie to you. Right?”
“Wight.” Steve says putting his head on Natasha’s shoulder, and with the hand that’s not carrying the blue blanket, he waves at Jane. “Hi.”
“Nice to meet you Steve.”
“And Steve, this is Darcy.” Natasha says pointing to the brunette still standing with the Avengers. Motioning for Darcy to come up, Darcy goes to stand beside Jane, a smile on her carefree face. “Darcy is Jane’s friend and is also here to help take care of you. She’s really cool and fun, you’ll have a great time with her.”
“Oh my gosh! He’s so adorable!” Darcy gushes, reaching out and pinching his cheeks- much to Steve’s dismay. He frowns at her, but smiles after Darcy makes a weird face at him. He giggles and offers her a “Miss. Darcy,” with a nod. “Oh Steve, don’t call me that. It makes me feel old. Just call me Darcy, or Darce, if you want.”
“Otay Darcy.” Steve says testing out her name on his tongue. It’s silent for a few minutes, not awkward silence, but comforting silence. The silence gives Steve enough minutes to think. Something he regrets instantly. The peace was gone instantly and reality smacks him in the face. His momma was dead and he was never going to see her again. Silently, the tears streamlined down his cheeks and he let them flow into his blanket. It was a soul- crushing blow to know that the only person he really loved and known had been snatched away from him. He crumpled forward and wept silently into Natasha’s shoulder, clutching the blanket tightly to his chest. The sight of watching Steve cry absolutely broke Darcy and almost made her cry. But she held her ground and do what she always does best. Change the subject to the distract him.
“Hey Steve, do you like movies?” Darcy asks prompting him to take his head out of his shoulder. He gives her a small nod of his head. “How about pizza? And ice cream?” Steve’s head shoot up at the mention of ice cream. His eyes sparkle with the happiness that he’d lost the minute he woke up. He nods his head enthusiastically, his sadness momentarily forgotten. “Come on than!” Darcy says walking to the door, looking over her shoulder expectantly.
Looking up at Natasha with pleading eyes, Steve points at Darcy clearly asking if he can go with her. “Of course you can Steve.” Steve smiles at her and kisses Natasha’s cheek before she places him on the floor, supporting his back in case he falls over.
Wobbling on his feet, Steve regains balance and rushes over to Darcy. He grabs onto her pant leg instantly to balance himself and looks up at her with big, innocent, pleading eyes. “Uppy?” Reaching down, she hesitantly puts her hands under Steve’s armpits and lifts him up easily. Bringing him to her chest, Darcy looks at Natasha for help. Smiling, Natasha walks over and adjusts Darcy’s arms so that she’s holding Steve properly. “Ice cream!” Steve says once sitting on Darcy’s hip.
“Ice cream!” Darcy repeats with the same enthusiasm before bouncing out of the room. The others can’t help, but laugh.
“Well now that he’s distracted, thanks to Darcy,” Bruce says standing. He turns to Jane and addresses her, “Dr. Foster, I do believe we have work to do.”
“Definitely, but would someone go and supervise Darcy. I trust her wholeheartedly, but… she can be a bit... what’s the word I’m looking for? Reckless when hyper, especially after ice cream.”
“We cant. We’re needed at headquarters in 30 minutes.” Clint confesses pointing at Thor, Tony and himself. “Speaking of which, we need to go. We’re leading a group of agents to go and investigate the tunnel that SHIELD found. Probably wont be back until really late tonight or really early tomorrow. Depends on how you guys see it.”
“Lets go kick some bad guy ass!” Tony cheers rushing out of the room with Clint and Thor following.
Rolling her eyes Natasha says, “I will.” Putting a hand on Jane’s shoulder, she addresses Bruce “Dr. Banner, kindly escort Dr. Foster to her laboratory please. If you both need anything, just tell JARVIS to contact me.”
“And vise versa.” Bruce says walking out of the room with Jane following closely behind. Glancing behind her, Natasha sighs sadly before putting on a brave front and going out into the common room where she finds Steve and Darcy already engrossed in “Scooby Doo” with pizza and ice cream in front of them.