The front door slams, making everyone inside jump. Annie, their seventeen-year-old daughter, has to rock six-month-old Wren so that she will stop crying. James and Sarah, thirteen-year-old twins, look up from their argument as Grover face plants on the table over his homework. Talia shushes the seven-year-old dog while Natasha, the mother of the crazy bunch, quickly says goodbye to her eldest child and hangs up the phone. “As you were…” she whispers to the frozen kids. They quietly go back to studies and homework while Annie puts Wren in her high chair and Sarah stands up to turn on the stove.
Natasha wanders to the front hallway, seeing a coat thrown angrily over the couch and boots kicked off in another corner of the sitting room. When she walks up the stairs and, following the sound of heavy breathing, she almost jumps when the sound of crashing come from the master bedroom.
Swear words she will never repeat in front of her kids are being muttered from inside the room as she pushes open the door. “Honey…?” she calls out in a hesitant voice.
“I’m sorry,” is the whispered response as her husband appears in her sight, shards of an old vase from Italy she’d gotten on their honeymoon in his hands. “I’m sorry.” She shakes her head and leads him to the sink, where she washes off the clay dust and small cuts, kissing each one before placing a Band-Aid on it.
“Sweetie, what happened? I’ve never seen you this upset,” she whispers as she wraps her arms around him. “Is everything okay?”
“I got fired, Nat,” he murmurs into her hair as he pulls her closer. “They let me go because they don’t have the money anymore.” She looks up at him, her eyes shining in the ambient light.
“It’s gonna be okay, Steve,” she tells him as she reaches up on tiptoes to kiss him softly on the mouth. “Now, come downstairs before the kids break the kitchen.”
“But how’re we gonna make money now?” he asks, making her pause and turn around. His hair is mussed up and she smiles at the endearing pout on his face. She steps back over to him and takes his hand in hers, intertwining their fingers.
“I can go to work until you find another job,” Natasha smiles at him. “They’re hiring down at the local library, and I saw a ‘Help Wanted’ ad for a bar waitress at the Brewery.” When she sees the look of worry on his face as he looks down at her unscarred hands— he never lets her do any of the heavy lifting around the house— and shakes his head. “Don’t shake your head at me, Mr. Steve Rogers,” she reprimands, shaking her finger at him, “or I will personally tell Catnip that you have peanut butter in your hair.”
“Okay,” he smiles at his wife and kisses her once again, slow and soft, before they head downstairs to their large family.
“Sarah, will you please keep your stuff on your side of the room!” Annie’s shout echoes through the hallway later that night. Natasha brushes some hair from her eyes and, with a tired smile, walks calmly down the hallway to deal with her two middle daughters.
Steve chuckles as he closed Grover and James’ door, both boys sound asleep. ‘Maybe being a stay-at-home Dad won’t be all that bad,’ he thinks as he kisses Talia goodnight before meeting his wife at the door of their bedroom. “Is everyone asleep?” he asks. She nods. Opening the door to their bedroom, the woman giggles when she found Catnip curled up at the end of the king sized bed.
“I’ll be right in, love,” Natasha tells him as she goes to wash up. After finishing her nightly routine, she walks back out of the bathroom and leans against the wall, soaking in the sight of her relaxed husband. Steve has curled up with Catnip laying her head on his chest, both of their eyes closed and tranquil. At his snore she snickers and quickly undresses and slithers into one of Steve’s large T-shirts. The redhead slips into bed, curling around both husband and dog.
“Don’t forget that naps are at nine, okay?” Natasha reminds him as she holds the keys to the Ford Mustang in her hands. “And Talia’s usually the first one up so start the breakfast at about six.” The fiery haired woman bites her lip, worrying the skin between her teeth as she looks up at her bedraggled husband.
“Nat, do you really think this is a good idea?” he asks, his voice husky from sleep. “I can always get another job.”
Natasha shakes her head and kisses him lovingly on the lips. He can feel her smiling and her jade eyes are shining with happiness when he pulls away. “I can do this, Stevie,” she reassures him, “trust me, alright.” He nods, a pout on his lips. She tries to kiss it away before turning around and walking out of the house with a huge smile on her face.
“Daddy, isn’t you going work too?” a small high pitched voice asks from behind him. He turns around to see his three-year-old daughter rubbing the sleep from her eyes and her stuffed animal in her arms.
“Nope,” Steve says with a smile, swooping down to pick up his daughter. “I’m gonna be hanging out with my favorite child all day.” A whine comes from behind the two standing in the doorway. Steve sees Sarah with crossed arms glaring at him, Grover and James just behind her.
“I thought we weren’t allowed to have favorites in this house?” Sarah glares. Grover copies her while James just rolls his eyes and sits on the floor.
“Sarah, don’t start with me, okay?” Steve runs a hand through his hair and groans. He can see his wife beaming at him in his head, her happiness at the thought of finally going to work making him uneasy.
“I hungry, Daddy,” Talia complains, rubbing her tummy with a pout.
“I’ll eat at school,” Sarah mumbles and pulled her twin behind her, before Steve stops them both at the door.
“No you’re not.” He looks sternly at Sarah, who brushes a strand of golden hair from her eyes. Her brown eyes are narrowed before she turns on her heel with a groan and goes back to her room. “Come on, guys, let’s eat.”
He’d sent off his children to school: after harassing Annie enough to get her up and dressed, after trying to cook breakfast and failing miserably, after packing a pathetic excuse for lunches.
“Daddy, Birdie made an oopposie,” Talia announces as she comes in the room. Steve sighs and stands up, following his youngest daughter to where his six month old is sitting on her floor. Something pink is stuck in her hair.
“Talia, why is there bubblegum in her hair?” he asks, running a hand through his own with the stress. The three year old just giggles, screaming as Steve stands up and chases her out of the room. He spends almost an hour trying to get the gum out of Wren’s hair and yet another hour cleaning up the kitchen. Talia, being only three, has decided it’s a good idea to feed Catnip the whole bag of dog food, “because she looked hungry, Daddy.” The Dalmatian sits there with a huge wolfish grin on her face as Steve cleaned up the excess food.
When the rest of the kids get home, the house gets even crazier. Usually, when he gets home at five o’clock, the house is quiet and Natasha’s rocking Wren to sleep in the La-Z-Boy chair next to the TV. But now that Dad’s home instead of Mom, the kids think it’s okay to go crazy.
James and Sarah start fighting over who gets to watch television first; Annie’s upstairs in her room talking on the phone quite loudly with her boyfriend, Hayden; Steve didn’t even know she had a boyfriend. So while Talia’s chewing on her blanket on the couch, Steve shouts at Grover to come out of the bathroom because he’s making a mess of the floor; Grover denies it and comes out covered in what looks like a full tube of squeezed toothpaste.
Wren begins to cry, wanting her afternoon nap. Steve sighs and sits down in the comfy chair near the TV where Sarah and James have finally given up. Well, they have to because Steve takes the remote from them and puts on the History Channel, something the twins hate but can deal with. Something’s poking into the blond man’s behind, so when he reaches under him, he realizes he’s sitting on one of Natasha’s sweet potatoes. Boy will she be mad.
′And it’s only Monday,′ Steve sighs as he pinches the bridge of his nose and closes his eyes, placing Wren on his chest. She snuggles against him, wiggling for a moment, before she fists the front of his shirt and promptly falls asleep. Taking a few deep breaths, Steve finds himself joining his daughter in dreamland.
Natasha throws her keys into the bowl by the front door, just in time to catch her eldest daughter (currently at home) singing in the kitchen. When the red haired woman goes to check on what all of the noise is about, she finds Annie cooking mac and cheese. Nowhere in the room does she see Steve, but Annie looks up at her and smiles.
“Mom, you’re home!” the brunette beams. The twins and Grover imitate her, all throwing the woman grins. “God, and not a minute too soon!”
“Yeah, Daddy gonna be big twouble,” Talia says, her tiny smile warming her mother’s heart.
“What happened?” Natasha asks, looking to Annie for answers. As the oldest currently residing in the house, it’s Annie’s job to take on the role of nanny when Natasha isn’t around. Even if Steve is. “He screwed up on his first day?”
Annie spoons equal amounts of mac and cheese into bowls for each of her siblings. “Um, well, first off, he tried to make breakfast, which he can’t do for, um, bullcrap.” She puts the first bowl in front of Talia. “He made bologna sandwiches for lunch, which he knows we all hate.” The next bowl goes down in front of Grover. “He wasn’t watching Talia, like he should have been, so now Wren has a little bit of gum in her hair and Catnip won’t stop licking the fuzz on top of her head.” A steaming bowl is placed in front of James. Sarah promptly steals it and sticks her tongue out at her twin. “Oh, and he fell asleep and none of us have been able to wake him up.”
“Good to know,” Natasha nods. She watches as Annie grabs two bowls, one for herself and one for James, who hasn’t stopped glowering at Sarah since she started eating. “Thanks for being such a big help, Annie.” The woman places a kiss on top of the older teen’s forehead.
“No problem, Mom,” the brunette reassures her mother, before she smirks. “But if this becomes a regular occurrence, then I’m going to expect payment.”
“Not sure I can promise you that,” Natasha says with a smile, “but you won’t have to do chores anymore.” Annie beams. “I’ll go wake up your father now, see if he can remember anything beyond the haze of crazy I know you all are.” Her kids just smirk mischievously in response to her statement.
“So, how’re you holding up being a stay at home dad?” Steve looks over to see Jane, one of his friends, coming toward him. He’s been trying to watch the football game, but Wren’s being squirmy in his arms and he can’t focus. Jane’s smile is wide when she sees him struggling with the baby in his arms.
“It’s definitely not what I was expecting,” Steve answers, watching as little Wren burbles and reaches out to tug on Jane’s hair. The woman is holding her own baby, a boy named Percy. “So, how’s Thor doing? Been holding up at school without me?” His longtime friend, Thor Odinson, is definitely one of his odder friends. Always speaking as if he’s back in olden times, the kids he teaches get a kick out of it. Maybe that’s why he’s the most liked English teacher in the school.
“He misses his lunch buddy,” she admits. “But I think he also misses his friend.” She watches as he looks from Wren to where Grover is trying to tackle someone. Actually, that someone is Jane’s own daughter, Piper. Seeing as they are only in fourth grade, the school decided to save money and make the elementary school sports teams coed. “Maybe you guys should come over for dinner sometime? We haven’t seen the Rogers in our backyard for a cookout in a while…”
“Maybe,” Steve nods. “I’ll have to ask Nat if she’s not working those days.”
“It’s weird to think of her as a working girl now,” Jane admits, bouncing Percy up and down in her arms. “I mean, I’ve seen her behind the bar a few times and she looks really happy.”
“Yeah, but the kids are a handful now that she’s home,” he tells her, trying to keep his hold on Wren. It makes him thank the heavens that Talia has decided to be agreeable today, actually wanting to go to daycare instead of throwing a fit when he tells her she must.
“She was always the one to control them with an iron fist.”
“Yes, but you’re learning, Steve. It’s not just something you can know how to do in a day.”
“I wish it was. You know, Nat told me to go to the PTA meeting tonight at six, but I’ve got pick Sarah up from soccer at four and drive her to ballet, Grover and James are going to Scouts at five-thirty.” He shakes his head. “And then I’ve got to pick them all up an hour after their activates start. I’ll never make the meeting.”
“Yes, but if she can do it, so can you.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Steve grumbles.
He makes it to the meeting right at the end of the first half.
The next day, Steve finds himself standing in front of the supermarket with a bemused expression on his face. Annie chuckles from beside him, watching as his eyes scrunch up and he glares at her. Wren burbles in Annie’s arms and Talia’s holding onto her pant leg.
“S-oppin’?” Talia asks, big blue eyes wide and excited.
“Yeah, Tali, we’re gonna teach Daddy the finer points of grocery shopping.” Annie’s jade green eyes are filled with mirth as she pats the little blond girl on the head.
“Come on,” Steve grumbles, pulling a cart from the line, and placing Talia into the front of it. She giggles and pulls at his shirt, making him look down at her. “What is it Tal?”
“Can we get candy?” she whispers conspiratorially. “Mommy usually makes us get veggies.” She makes a disgusted face. “Yuck!”
“Maybe if we get everything Mommy needs, and still have time before we have to pick up Sarah from soccer club and James from science club, maybe we can go down to Lucky’s and get some ice cream,” Steve says with a smile that falls when he pulls out the list Natasha gave him. It looks as thick as a book and, when he unfolds it, finds it to be one page folded many times, but with things on the front and the back. “Why do we need so much stuff?”
Annie rolls her eyes and takes the sheet of paper from him. “Because you have six kids at home, a dog, and two adults, who all like different things.”
“Okay, but why do we need this much?”
“Ohmigod, Dad!” Annie throws her hands up in the air. “We are all growing kids and you can eat three servings of a meal by yourself. So we need a lot of food.” She pinches the bridge of her nose. “See, this is why I should have gone by myself.”
“Annie, we only have one car,” Steve argues.
“Yeah, but I can get this done much faster,” the seventeen-year-old retorts.
“Let’s just go so we can get ice cream!” Talia breaks into the argument, groaning in that adorable way of hers. Annie and Steve laugh, the older sibling leading the way into the daunting supermarket, intent on making her father understand the finer points of food shopping.
“Kids, the brownies are ready!” Steve shouts as he hears the beeping of the oven. As soon as he enters the kitchen, his jaw drops. There’ smoke coming from the oven, and he can’t imagine what the brownies look like. Opening the oven, the blond man coughs as smoke pours out. The fire alarm begins to scream, making him wince. The kids stampede into the kitchen, excited for their afternoon treat, yet they stop when they examine the scene. Sarah blinks from her place at the front of the group, Grover and James share matching glares, while Talia’s lower lip wobbles. Annie walks in from the other entrance to the kitchen holding Wren in her arms, the baby wailing at the sound of the alarm.
“Dad, I wouldn’t call those brownies,” Sarah says with a grimace as Steve pulls out what looks to be a platter of asphalt. The blond man flushes and smiles as five sets of eyes watch him.
“Look, read all of the instructions and did everything the box said,” Steve held up the box of brownie mix, trying to show his kids that he hadn’t messed up that bad.
Annie grabs the box from him and smiles. “How long did you cook the brownies for, Dad?” she asks.
“As long as the box says to cook it,” he responds. “An hour.”
“Dad, you’re supposed to start off with 30 minutes and then keep checking it with a toothpick to see if it needs more time,” Annie informs him, putting Wren down in her high chair so that she can put on gloves and take out the charcoal cake. “Still, we can forgive you because it is your first time trying to bake something.” She reaches up to pat her father gently on the shoulder. The older man doesn’t move, just watches as Annie calmly washes the dish as if she’s done it a hundred times. The rest of the kids scatter again, going back to their work and play, while he sits down next to Wren at the table.
“You’re so calm about this,” Steve says, voice filled with admiration for his second eldest. “I mean, I was freaking out, but you… you handled everything.” His eyes were almost shining. “My little girl’s almost all grown up.”
“Wow, Dad, really?” Annie teased as she came to sit on his lap like she had as a little girl. “Getting sentimental over burnt brownies… wait until Mom hears about this.”
“I’ll miss you so much when you go away next year,” Steve mumbles as he wraps his arm around the seventeen year old and smiles at her, “but you’re more than ready to take on the world.”
“You’re gonna kill me with all that sweetness, Daddy.”
“I don’t think I can handle one more week,” Steve says from the bathroom, watching as Natasha dries her hair with a towel. She’s sitting on the bed with one leg curled up underneath her, the other dangling off the side of the bed. She’s watching Steve through the mirror, her jade eyes soft in the dim lighting of the room. She’s just gotten home from a long shift at the bar and looks exhausted, so Steve really shouldn’t complain, but he needs to get the weight off of his chest. “I mean, Annie’s been such a big help, but it gets crazy when you’re not here.”
“I’m really likin’ the fact that you’re experiencing what I went through every day,” Natasha tells him with a smile. “At least you’re getting them now, but imagine them all being younger and more unstable. I mean, having Sarah and James as little tots was a nightmare in itself.”
“I know, but you’re much better at handling their crazy ways than I am,” he whispers, walking up to the bed and towering over her. She smiles at him and pulls him down by his shirt, twisting the material in her fingers. He chuckles as he leans in to kiss her, arms trapping her inside his embrace, not that she minds.
“I heard you burnt the brownies yesterday,” Natasha mumbles against his mouth, pulling away slightly to smirk at him. “I can’t believe Annie actually let you make them by yourself.”
“I told her I could.” He shrugs. “I wanted to try.”
“Well, she also told me that you were upset that she’s growing up too fast.”
“She is. She’ll be going to college next year. I don’t want her to go.”
“Yeah, without her around to help out, we’ll definitely have trouble.”
“Maybe she won’t want to go far,” Steve’s eyes sparkles as he thinks up impossible scenarios. “She can watch the kids during the day and, at night, she can go to classes.”
“Yeah, and that worked so well with Scarlett.” Natasha wraps her arms around Steve and pulls him to her, cradling his head on her chest. “I know you hate seeing them go, but we’ve got to let them do their own thing. Maybe Scarlett will finally settle down after finding a good guy and a stable job. Maybe she won’t.”
“Well, anyone’s better than that dick she dated in high school.”
“Yeah, that Loki guy was a dick,” Natasha says with a laugh. “And who names their kid Loki anyway?”
“Um, I think it was Thor.”
“Well, anyway, you’ve got to endure the fact that you’re Mr. Mom now until our kids are ready to be left alone or until you get a job and I get fired from mine.”
“Are you planning on getting fired?”
“Only if my boss doesn’t piss me off more than he has,” she responds, her eyes like green fire. “I mean, he practically called me a whore because I have seven children.”
“Well, he’s wrong,” Steve answers with a smile, “We just like having sex.” His scandalous grin makes her body feel heavy and her mind begin to wander. “Lots and lots of sex…”
“Maybe if you’re a good Mr. Mom, I’ll show you what this mom’s learned with all her years of practice.”
“Stop teasing me and go to sleep, Nat,” Steve bumps his nose against her before taking her lips in a scorching kiss. “I love you.”
“Love you too, Cap,” Natasha says teasingly as she rolls over and curls back into his arms. They both fall asleep with smiles on their faces.
“′I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family,‘” Steve groans as he hears the familiar song echoing from the living room to the kitchen. He can also hear Talia singing along in a squeaky voice, Wren babbling from her blanket on the floor. “’With a great big hug, and a kiss from me to you. Won’t you say you love me too?’” The blond honestly wants to smash the TV to pieces. It’s the sixteenth time he’s had to listen to that stupid Barney the Dinosaur song and it makes him want to pull his hair out. But his two youngest love the creepy lizard and he’ll do anything to keep his girl laughing.
The dryer beeps and Steve sighs, rising from his crosswords to check the dryer. “Shit!” he curses quietly as he pulls out a lump of what used to be a diaper. He’d put one of Wren’s Pampers in the dryer, but obviously that hadn’t worked. Well, he’d learned his lesson.
“Daddy!” Talia cries. “More Barney!” Steve groans, but finds himself rewinding the VHS anyway, watching as both his little girl giggle and clap and smile. On the other hand, he notices that Talia’s hands are covered in a waxy substance, and so are the nearest walls.
“Talia, you didn’t,” Steve mumbles as he pulls his daughter to her feet. “Come on, baby girl, let’s get you cleaned up.”
“Kay, Daddy.” She follows him to the downstairs bathroom, where he sets her on the counter and turns on the water. “Did you like the pictures? They’re of our family.” Steve sighs. No, he hasn’t noticed the pictures in his haste to wash his daughter off. But he’ll check them later, after he cleans up his girl.
“How’d you get to the crayons, baby girl?”
“They were right next to the chair, Daddy.”
′Obviously, I need to put the crayons up higher,′ Steve’s thinks as he finishes up with his daughter. She goes back to the living room and sits down next to Wren, who has been burbling and clenching some of the crayons in her hands. ′Not again!′
“Alright, I’ve had enough,” Steve throws his hands up in the air. “I can’t take it anymore! They’re driving me crazy!”
Natasha snickers from her place on the bed. She’s in one of his old V-necks, an American flag emblazoned across her chest. She’s laying over the covers, a book resting on her stomach.
All of the kids are over at friends’ houses for sleepovers. Wren and Talia are already in bed, asleep, from the crazy day they’ve had with their Daddy. “Look, Nat, I know you think it’s funny. But I’m going crazy here! I mean, today Grover tried to flush a roll of toilet paper. Gah! He’s like a little Scarlett all over again.”
“I know, hon,” the redhead smiles up at him. Steve pulls on a pair of sweatpants and crawls over the bed to sit beside her. He pulls her into his arms and she snuggles into him, breathing in the scent of fresh lemon soap and the masculine scent that’s inherently Steve. “But I’m doing great out there. Wren is finally able to sleep through the night and Talia’s almost ready to take that last step to start pre-school.”
“Yeah, but sometimes they don’t even want to listen to me. Annie is the only one that actually complies when I ask her to do something. I just… I’m going stir crazy.”
“Then maybe you should look at a few of these,” Natasha holds a newspaper up to him. There are small rips and tears at the ends, as if Catnip has gotten her teeth in it. “Sorry about the shredded ends.” She looks up at him with sparkling jade eyes.
“S’alright,” Steve puts the classified to the side; he’ll look for jobs later.
“So, we’ve got the night all to ourselves,” Natasha rasps, reminding him of her slight stint as a smoker. Sometimes, when her voice gets low and husky, it turns into a smoker’s rasp. But it doesn’t turn him away from her, it just reminds him of all they’ve been through together. “And I miss you…” Her voice trails off into a whisper, her lips pouting seductively.
“Well, you’ve got me for forever,” Steve breathes against her lips, cupping the back of her head with one hand and putting the other on her hip.
Steve sits at the table in the study, pinching the bridge of his nose. He can hear the TV all the way from the living room, on the other side of the house. “Dad, are you busy?” Annie pokes her head through the doorway. “Grover and James are fighting again and I think Talia might have spilled some of her grape juice on the carpet in the den by accident.”
The blond man shakes his head and groans. “Annie, I’m in the middle of paying the bills: phone, internet, cable. All the stuff we need to survive.”
Annie steps into the room, resting a hand on her father’s shoulder. “I know this is hard for you, but we need you. You can’t stay cooped up in here forever.”
“I’ve only been in here for an hour.”
“Actually, it’s been an hour and a half. A little bit more.”
“Well, time flies by when you’re paying bills.”
“Look, I’ve been learning about this stuff. Why don’t I help you with the math while you go deal with them?” Annie points a thumb toward the chaos that exists outside the study.
“I can’t ask you to do that, Annie.” Steve runs his hands through his hair, his face awash with stress. “Give me ten minutes. Then I’ll be out there.”
“Okay. Fine. See you in ten.”
He gets out there in five.
Scarlett walks up the steps, a huge smile on her face. She waves behind her to the cab driver looking back at her childhood home. “Merry Christmas!” she shouts as the whole family pours out of the house to greet her.
“’Lettie!” Talia squeals, grabbing at her sister’s jeans, her bright blue eyes sparkling with happiness. “You’re back! You’re back!”
“I missed you too, Tal,” the college students says with a grin, swooping down to grab the girl into a swinging hug.
“Looks like the whole family’s finally together again,” a masculine voice comes from behind her. Spinning around, the jade-eyed girl meets the blue ocean eyes of her father. “It’s nice to see you again, Scarlett.”
“Daddy!” she puts Talia down to embrace her father, holding him tightly. She buries her face into the planes of his chest, inhaling the familiar scent of home. “I’m sorry I haven’t been able to talk to you guys lately. I might have gotten a job offer with Marvel.”
“That’s great!” Natasha comes up and hugs her from behind, wrapping her other arm around Steve, gripping his bicep.
Sarah, James, and Grover rush out of the house, slamming into their eldest sibling, all chanting her name over and over again. Squeezed between the three, Scarlett makes a fake gagging noise, leaning down to tickle each one of her three siblings. Annie stands back, Wren settled on her hip and clinging to the front of her shirt.
“It’s good to be home,” Scarlett breathes, finally extracting herself from the pile of her siblings. Hobbling over to Annie, she embraces the younger girl, laughing as Talia clings to her leg.
“You know, it’s been crazy around here since you left,” Annie comments. “Dad’s been the new housewife while Mom goes to work.”
“Hey!” Steve shouts, coming over to bop the younger woman gently on the head. “I’ve been doing a great job!”
“Dad, you burned the brownies… after leaving them in for like an hour.” Annie rolls her eyes at her father. He throws his hands up in the air, giving up. “It’s so nice to see you, sis.”
Wren burbles from her hip, reaching out with fat little fingers for this new person. Curiosity shines in her dark blue eyes as the new person grabs her, allowing her to grab at hair and a nose and even her ears. The six-month old is fascinated, burbling and poking and squeezing.
“Wow,” Scarlett beams, “she’s a curious little bugger, isn’t she?”
Natasha laughs and takes the baby away from her new toy. Wren whines until Scarlett pulls something out of her backpack. It’s a small stuffed Captain America doll, which makes the baby squeal. Instantly, Wren begins to chew on the toy, drooling all over it.
“Well…” Steve opens the large oak front door, “shall we make our way inside?”
Scarlett rolls her eyes and is pulled through the front door of her childhood home by her siblings, paraded around the house and shown all of the changes.
“You’re my hero,” Natasha feels his arms wrapping around her from behind. His breath is like dragon’s fire on the back of her neck, making her shiver. She sighs and leans back against his chest, her head resting on his shoulder. It’s so quiet where they are. No screaming. No crying or whining or demanding.
“I know,” her voice is a soft breathy whisper as she weaves her fingers through his and rests them both on her stomach. She sighs again, letting out all of the tension and stress from home and smiles up at him. “It’s so quiet here.”
“It’s almost too quiet.”
“Just relax,” he leans back and begins to knead the remaining tension from her shoulders.
It is the first time they’ve been alone in a long time. Scarlett and her boyfriend were watching the kids for the week, leaving Steve and Natasha to go on a little vacation. The last time Natasha calls Scarlett, Annie’s the one who picks up the phone instead and tells them everything is fine. It makes the adults smile, to think that their grown up kids can look after their rowdy siblings. Scarlett had blushed the color of her hair when Steve made an offhanded comment about it being practice for her.
“I know you’ve been having a hard time at home with the kids, Cap,” Natasha pats his bicep lovingly. Steve rolls his eyes at the nickname; the kids, it seem, think him to be almost like Captain America. So they dubbed him Captain of the house. “But I think they love seeing you there. I mean, Grover’s actually stopped doing so many pranks and—”
“He does them when you’re not home.”
“But, how come you never tell me?”
Steve shrugs. “They’re just harmless pranks. Not anything I can’t handle.”
Natasha grumbles, butting her head against the underside of his chin. “You can be such an ass.” Her blond haired, blue eyed husband says nothing, just rolls his eyes at her statement. “Come on,” she says as she spins away from him but keeps a hold on his arm.
Behind them is a small beach house and in front of them is an ocean side resort. They’ve used up a little of their spending money to rest a tiny house on the Pacific, where it always seems to be the warmest. She runs to the house, dragging him with her. He stumbles a few times like a newborn pup and she giggles, which makes him smile.
He thinks of before they were together as they lay in their bed, both stated and tired. Way back when Natasha was called the Ice Queen, because she always dated and dumped, never staying too long in a relationship to really grow attached to anyone. Yet here she is, so many years later, with the guy who used to be the bottom of the metaphorical food chain at school.
“Did you ever think this was going to happen?” Steve asks, brushing a strand of hair from her eyes. “The bottom of the food chain and the top, getting together?”
“Steve,” Natasha rolls her eyes, “there was no food chain, no matter what you thought.” She cups his face in her hands. “I fell in love with your heart, not your looks.”
“’Cause I was super scrawny… I don’t see how anyone could fall for that.”
“I did.” Natasha smiles at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him down to her. “I fell in love with the whole package.”
“Yeah, and we’ve sure got some beautiful kids.”
“Even if they are a handful.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“I love you, Nat.”
“I love you too, Mr. Mom.”