Living with the Avengers

Chapter Thirty

The chain snapped and Steve's punching bag flew. He winced as it thudded against the padded wall, and slid down. Sand leaked out of a hole in it.

Unwinding the bandages on his hands, Steve winced as he realized how hard he'd been hitting the bag. His hands were red and aching.

He had a bad habit of going into a trance when he boxed. Sometimes he would remember the war, other times New York. It wasn't uncommon for him to see a haunting face every time he blinked. This particular time, the causes were two teenage girls.

Steve couldn't count how many people he'd held dear to him over the years, and he probably couldn't even remember all those be had lost. Still, the loss of those girls, those girls that had been like daughters to him, was devastating.

He never expected to get attached to them like he had. And yet, now it was strange going back to life before they came.

Now, we'll never see them again. He sighed as he hung up another punching bag and rewound the bandages around his hands.

Steve knew he wasn't the only one hurting. All of the Avengers were grieving, but none of them could quite express how they felt. There was a dark gloom over the little family of superheroes that nobody could break through.

The only thing that could possibly bring the sun out was the return of the girls, which Fury had made explicitly clear was impossible.

The Avengers had been called on a mission a few days ago, just to separate a gang war nobody else could get between, and they fell apart. Tony nearly crashed through a building, Natasha was slow, Steve was brutally beaten up while distracted, Clint missed his target and Hulk... Bruce almost couldn't keep him under control.

The future, from where they stood, looked very bleak.

Steve landed a punch in the bag, and it slammed into the ground. For good measure, he kicked it. He put his face in his wrapped hands and sat on the bag. By then, Steve should have been used to loss. Bucky. Hundreds of troops. Unnamed soldiers. Peggy. After waking up, he'd spent months just trying to cope with the fact that he'd lost everything.

It was hard to believe that during only a few short weeks he had grown to love the girls as if they were his daughters. It was infuriating, saddening, and disappointing. He hadn't even gotten to know them that well, but it was tearing him apart not seeing their faces every day at the dinner table. He missed driving them to school, he missed Carter's sarcasm, he missed Laynie poking fun at him with Tony, he missed them. He wished he could relive every second he spent with them. He wished he could hug them again.

Just one more time.

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