"Mama, mama, mama!" Steve winces, tears running down his cheek as he buries his face in the crook of Pepper's neck. "Mama, mama!" He grips the fabric of her shirt tightly in his small hands and tugs on her sleeve urging her to hold him tighter. Every so often he'd punch Pepper's shoulder with all his strength that she's certain will leave a bruise. With every punch she'd wrench in pain under his strength, hiding a wince of pain, trying to comfort the distressed child. But, so far, nothing had cheered him up. The only two people that can easily cheer him up and whom he currently wants at the moment are both gone.
Pepper tries her best to comfort the scared child, walking around the vicinity of the room rocking him, bouncing him as she also tries to multitask and comfort Jane sitting on the couch, Thor right seated next to her. Tony and Clint- whom had returned home with Thor as soon as they heard of the attack- offered to take Steve upon noticing her in pain, but she shakes her head holding Steve tighter to her every time they open their arms to the child. Steve doesn't seem to want to leave the arms that are holding him right now either. He shakes his head at Clint and Tony and winces waiting for Natasha to come back.
Thor holds Jane against his side while she cries for her missing friend, guilt filling in the pit of her stomach. Looking up at the Demi-God, Jane blinks away the tears as best as she could, but one manages slip down her face. Using his thumb, Thor wipes it away pulling her closer to his side. Sniffing, Jane curls in on herself, resting her head on Thor's chest. "Jane?" Thor calls making yet another attempt at trying to get her to talk. She hasn't spoken since Tony and Pepper found her in Steve's bedroom, pale white, statue still with a piece of fabric pressed against her chest as she stares out the broken window where, if you look just close enough, you can see a stain of red blood on the window sill. Darcy's blood JARVIS confirmed as soon as Tony got him back on line, still unsure how someone was able to hack into his system and shut him down. It was near impossible to outwit Tony Stark, or at least that what he thought because apparently there is someone who was smart enough-and brave enough- to get into his Tower and leave without a trace. Whoever did this was very stealthy, smart and calculated.
A loud wail fills the silence the minute the elevator’s door open. Everyone turns to see Natasha and Bruce standing in doorway for a second before they rush out, both heading towards Pepper and Steve.
“Steve!” Natasha cries opening her arms for the strawberry redhead to hand him over.
Picking his head up from Pepper’s shoulder, Steve sobs harder “Mama!” He cries leaning his body halfway over Pepper’s arms, the CEO almost dropping him from his sudden lung. As soon as Natasha’s hand makes contact with Steve’s arm, she pulls him out of Pepper’s and into her arm, crushing the child against her chest. Steve makes some sort of sound between a sob, and a gasp when he feels the familiar, warm arms that means his mother is carrying him. He wraps his arms around her neck, taking a handful of red hair as he leans his chin on her shoulder trying to calm his increasing sobs.
“Is he hurt?” Natasha asks the others rocking Steve slightly.
Bruce is at her shoulder, his arms open towards the child who seems to hesitant before reaching out to him. “Give him to me.” Natasha’s arms tighten around Steve, her body becoming tense as her jaw locks. She just got him and she wont give him up for a while. Steve looks back at her confused, his eyebrows knitting together. He mutters a soft ‘Booce’ before laying his head on Natasha’s shoulder. “Nat, I need to see if he’s okay.”
“He’s okay.” Pepper assures taking a seat next to Tony on the couch. “JARVIS made sure of it.”
“What happened?” Natasha demanded, leaning her head against Steve’s tucking his tiny body in her arms.
“We don’t know. JARVIS was shut off and he only caught the beginning when the threat arrived. After he was shut off no one, but-“ Tony nods at the silent astrophysicist, “knows and she hasn’t said a word since we gotten here.” Tony says lowering his voice at the last part. Looking over at her, Natasha notices the glazed look in Jane’s eyes and the tenseness of her body, a small piece of fabric still clutched tightly in her hand.
Natasha knows what’s wrong with her before Bruce says it, “She’s in shock.” He says immediately also noticing her unusual behavior and body language. Walking over to her, Bruce lifts her head to level with his own taking his time examining her as Thor moves off the couch to allow Bruce space. After a moment he begins to speak with her, yes or no questions. “Dr. Foster? Jane, can you hear me?” Everyone waits with baited breath for a response, anything that would give them an idea of what world Jane is in at the moment. If she’s with them or in her own little trance. It’s a while before she gives some sort of response, non-verbal of course. She nods her head once, staring into Bruce’s eyes still not entirely here. “Do you know what day it is?” Again she gives a nod. “Where you are?” Nod. “Can you tell me?” Bruce asks. This time she doesn’t respond at all, no shake of the head or nod or anything. Sighing Bruce stands and turns to Thor. “Take her to her room, she needs to rest. If she doesn’t talk tomorrow morning I’ll have to take her down to the medical center and see if anything else might be wrong.”
“What do you mean?” Thor asks slightly worried.
Bruce shrugs, “Some people handle shock differently. Others don’t speak, but still function. Some don’t function or speak. It just depends on the brain capacity and how much they can handle. I’ll examine her tomorrow.” Thor considers this for a moment before nodding and scooping Jane up in his arms. He leaves down the hallway, his footsteps growing quieter the farther he walks.
No one speaks, no one moves. Steve falls asleep somewhere between the silence and now snoozes peacefully on Natasha’s shoulder. She looks over at the others sharing the same worried expression on her face, the same thought running through all their heads. ‘Whose doing this?’
JARVIS is the first person that speaks for a while. “Sir, Director Fury is on the line.” No one says anything, even Tony and when Pepper looks over she finds him very distracted and lost in his thoughts. She has to nudge Tony in order for him to respond to his AI.
“Put him on.”
It’s only a few seconds before Fury’s voice fills the common room at the exact moment Thor steps back into the room. “Your needed.”
“You heard?” Clint asks, already securing his bow and arrows, which seemed to appear out of nowhere, on his back.
“Yes. What happened?” Fury demands.
“No one, but Jane knows and at the moment Dr. Foster is out of commission. She’s in shock.” Bruce explains.
“Figures, well you all need to get down here. It’s urgent and it involved Miss. Lewis.” Fury says leaving no room for discussion on the topic. "We’ve been contacted.”
Natasha bites her bottom lip, instinctively holding Steve tighter to her. “By who?”
“You know who.” Fury states. “They are threatening us.”
Steve stares up at Natasha with pleading eyes, his bottom lip sticking out in a pout. His eyes fill with tears and whimpers escape his partly closed lips. His hand clutches tightly into Natasha's wrist, tugging on her arm urging her to pick him up. He didn’t want her to go. He knew Natasha and the others were leaving, but he didn’t want them to go. He lets out a soft cry, making grabby hands in the air at her.
"Mommy," Steve winces. "I go wif you! I go wif you." Making yet another attempt at trying to get Natasha to pick him up, Steve's tears stream down his face.
Biting her bottom lip, Natasha sighs and bend down in front of the couch. She catches Steve's chin and forces him to look at her, a sad look in her eyes. "I'm sorry Steve, but you can't come. It's okay though, mommy's going to be back. Mommy will be back." She assures the fretful child.
But it's not enough for Steve. "But mama I wan ago wif you. I wan ago."
"You can't baby."
"But your going to have Pepper to play with. Doesn’t that sound like fun?” Natasha persuades, trying to urge Steve to move closer to the CEO whom is currently whispering with Tony in the corner, glancing nervously around her.
But Steve is persistent. He shakes his head, "Mommy,"
"We'll be back," Natasha assures detaching Steve from her body. Placing him on the couch she caresses his cheek giving him a smile. "I promise and you know mommy doesn't lie to you. Your going to have a great time with Pepper. Right Pepper?” Natasha says louder catching her friend’s attention. Giving Tony one last harsh look, she puts on her business mask and allows a fake smile to grace her features.
“Of course!” Pepper exclaims taking a seat beside him. Poking him in the belly slightly, to which he giggles, Pepper smiles down at him. "Steve guess what Tony bought us to play with?” Reaching beside her, Pepper pulls out a bag full of art supplies. Steve’s eyes slightly perk up at the sight of the bag. “Crayons, paint and other kinds of things to draw with. I remember you said you loved to draw, do you still like doing it?" Steve nods, a smile starting to form on his face. Pulling Steve into her lap Pepper wraps her arms around him. "Well, why don't you spend the day with me and we'll watch movies, we'll make drawings, and we'll eat lots of food. What do you say?"
“Darcy too?” Steve says, his little head ducking in embarrassment. Everyone would’ve laughed if Darcy were actually here, but no one, not even Natasha, has an answer to Steve’s question. Luckily Tony is a master at making things up in the blink of an eye.
“Actually kiddo, it’s just going to be you and Pep for the day. Darcy went home for a little bit, but she’s coming back.”
“Went… home?” Steve asks cocking his head to the side.
“Yeah to see her family.” Natasha plays along.
“But dis is her home. We her family.” Steve says slightly frowning. Natasha cant help, but laugh poking Steve in the belly yet again.
“Well Steve, Darcy has a momma herself. You know how I’m your mommy.” Steve nods his head. “Well Darcy has one. We all have a mommy.”
“That’s right Steve, so Darcy went to go see her own mommy because she missed her.” Pepper agrees watching his facial expression. He looks like he’s thinking to hard and it’s so adorable seeing his tiny face like that. After a moment he nods understandingly.
"You toming 'ack?" Steve asks Natasha, his large eyes practically pleading with her to, his grip on her wrist tightening.
Placing a kiss on his forehead Natasha answers sincerely, tapping Steve on the tip of his nose. "Of course I am." Steve lets out a cute, bubbly giggle that makes Natasha's heart swell with love.
"Otay, but mommy," Steve says standing from his sitting position on the couch to be at eye level with her. He opens his arms wide, "Hug and tiss?" Steve request with large innocent eyes.
at him Natasha scoops Steve into her arms, giving the child a large big hug.
While spinning around with him in her arms, Natasha plants dozens of kisses
upon his face. "Be good for Pepper," Natasha instructs handing Steve
over to Pepper. Pepper grabs Steve and places the toddler on her lap as Natasha
reaches down to blow a raspberry onto his pudgy cheek. Steve giggles and a
reaches a hand out to playfully slap Natasha's own cheek in response, but
Natasha moves before Steve could try. "And mommy and uncles will be back
soon. I promise." Moving away from the couch and to the elevator where the
other Avengers wait patiently, Natasha blows a kiss to Steve. Steve
reciprocates and waves sadly to the others. Minutes later Steve sits alone
in the common room with Pepper sitting underneath him.
"I gathered you here again due to a message sent to SHIELD from the same unknown source. We weren't able to trace them, but we're trying. They aren't leaving enough clues so we're going out on a limb here. Also with a new motivation to save Miss. Lewis we’re working around the clock to find these bastards." Fury informs standing in front of the room with both Coulson and Maria standing beside him.
"What was the message?" Clint inquires.
Sighing, Fury pulls up a screen and enlarges it for everyone to see. "Keep in mind, we're doing our best to find the leak in our system, but so far we've found nothing and it seems we aren't doing it fast enough. This was sent in to SHIELD early this morning with no sending address." Tony opens his mouth to comment, but Fury holds up a hand. "Listen." He commands.
Second pass with only a static sound filling the room and the screen completely pitched black until... "Greetings Avengers and SHIELD.” A voice booms out of the speakers, the screen still completely dark. “I have sent this message in regards of your Captain, Steven Grant Rogers. This is a warning for you all. I would love to just have a clean hands off whereas you give us the child and we won't hurt anyone. We'll take him and be on our merry way. Although, I hate to inform you but if you refuse, I'm afraid the consequences will be dire. And I’m sure that the Captain, if he were adult sized, would agree with me when I say that you wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt or die. Especially someone close to you and Captain Rogers.” Everyone’s eyes widen as soon as they realize who he’s talking about.
It’s only a minute later that the screen suddenly goes from pitch black to a crappy image of something that the Avengers cant make out. The screen goes from green to white to black for a moment before the fuzziness and the crappiness goes away leaving a very visible image on the screen for them. The Avengers cant help the sudden gasp that leaves their mouths as their eyes take in the sight before them.
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