On April 15th Steve finds a baby on his doorstep.
He trips over it as he’s heading out to buy groceries, landing flat on his face and nearly jumping out of his skin when he hears a soft “buh!”
Things have been calm since Thanos, but he’s sure the universe will come up with some new tragedy to throw everyone’s way, though when he twists around and onto his feet, fully prepared to attack it isn’t a new tragedy.
It’s a fucking baby.
The baby looks up at Steve with big brown eyes and pulls it’s fists from it’s slobbery mouth to hold them out to Steve.
There’s a baby on Steve’s doorstep.
Steve can handle this.
He scoops the little thing up out of the basket- an actual wicker basket!- and curls his arms around it firmly before striding back into his apartment and making a call.
“Baby,” Steve says into the phone the minute Natasha picks up.
“Why Steve, I didn’t realize we were at the pet name stage yet.”
“No, Nat, there’s a baby. On my doorstep. Well, now it’s in my apartment, but I found it on my doorstep.” Steve holds the baby as securely as possible, then relaxes his grip as much as feels safe, suddenly terrified of crushing the little thing.
He has the sudden urge to hold it as far away from him as possible just in case it’s breakable.
Oh god, it’s probably breakable.
“Are you- Are you laughing?” He demands as his brain catches up with the sound of Natasha goddamn Romanoff laughing hysterically.
“I’d never.” Natasha says, though she lasts only a half a second before she’s in hysterics again.
“You’re a horrible person and I’m calling Sam.” Steve says before hanging up on her.
Sam shows up less than an hour after Steve texts him for help.
“Holy shit, that’s a baby.” Sam says.
Like Steve would lie about a baby.
“Why would I lie about a baby?”
“I don’t know man, your old timey sense of humor is pretty terrible.” Sam says as though Steve is just hanging around, cracking god awful jokes all the time. Which he’s not.
Jeeze, a guy makes a couple jokes about living through the depression and suddenly everyone thinks he’s got a terrible sense of humor.
“My sense of humor is fine,” Steve says, and then, “What the hell am I supposed to do with it?”
“For starters, maybe don’t call it an it.” Sam suggests, scooping the baby up from where Steve’s laid it down in a mound of blankets and pillows shaped into a nest.
“What am I supposed to call it then?” Steve asks, genuinely hoping Sam has the answer.
“Beats me,” Sam says with a shrug, pulling the baby’s diaper forward a little, “She’s definitely a girl though. Which you should be thankful for.”
“‘Cause, man, I’ve been peed on by enough of my nephews to know you changing a baby boys diaper would just end in tears for everyone.”
Steve shudders and mentally thanks whoever left a child on his doorstep for at least leaving one that (probably) won’t pee on him.
After Sam leaves Steve takes Baby Girl, who he’s been calling Baby Girl for lack of anything better to call her, and goes to the nearest Target.
It shouldn’t be that hard to find the necessary things, but Steve finds himself almost immediately stuck staring at diapers, frozen with panic over choosing the wrong one.
“First time shopping for her?” A voice suddenly asks from beside Steve.
Steve thinks he should absolutely be excused from not noticing the young woman’s approach when faced with what feels like hundreds of options for diapers alone.
“Uh.” Steve says, and Baby Girl squeals a little and waves her arms from Steve’s grip.
The woman seems to take that as answer enough, because she carries on easily, this time seeming to direct her words to Baby Girl, “Oh wow, you’re such a cutie aren’t you?! Look at all that beautiful hair! How old are you little miss?”
“Uh.” Steve says again, and then because the woman seems to be waiting for an answer he takes a hopeful stab in the dark and adds, “Six months?” It seems like the right sort of age. Nice and solidly in the middle.
“So big!” The woman says and Steve suddenly worries he shot too low, but the woman doesn’t seem to question it and instead asks the question Steve hadn’t even realized he was dreading, “And what’s your name sweetheart?”
“Uh.” Steve wracks his brain and then blurts out, “Ella! Her name is Ella.”
If anyone asks Steve is absolutely blaming it on the fact that he and Bucky have been skyping and streaming movies they’d missed over the years and last time had been Cinderella. He can’t be blamed that that’s the first thing he thought of.
It’s as good a name as any for his doorstep baby though, so he might as well run with it.
“Oh what a cute name!” If the woman seems to think anything is off she doesn’t show it, instead tapping the tip of Ella’s nose like it’s something particularly adorable. Steve has the sudden urge to hide Ella behind his back so that the lady can’t get to her.
“I used these ones for mine.” She says after a moment of Steve standing there awkwardly, and then she’s shoving a package of diapers into Steve’s chest and Steve? Well Steve would let this strange woman bop Ella’s nose all she wanted just for that.
During the occasions when Steve isn’t visiting Bucky in Wakanda, and Bucky’s not visiting Steve in Brooklyn, they skype every other day at precisely 3 am Steve’s time. Sure, they skype other times when they can catch each other, and they text back and forth endlessly, but every other day at 3 am is scheduled. It’s as reliable as clockwork.
It’s also pretty much Steve’s favorite part of the day.
It’s a little more stressful when trying to juggle a screaming infant and connect the call on his laptop at the same time.
Bucky’s face appears, taking up almost the entirety of the screen. There’s confusion there for all of a moment before he breaks into hysterical laughter at the sight of Steve bouncing and making soothing shushing noises at Ella.
Steve shoots him his most unimpressed look, though it’s hard when at the sound of Bucky’s laughter Ella goes suddenly silent and swivels her head to look at the screen with wide, wet eyes.
“Who the fuck gave you a baby?” Bucky asks, incredulous. Steve’s not fooled though, Bucky looks like he wants to reach right through the screen to pick up Ella.
“Buh!” Ella says, clearly in agreement with Bucky.
“I don’t know.” Steve says, still absolutely mystified. “She showed up on my doorstep and apparently it’s been deemed that Captain America is the most trustworthy person to have an infant so nobody’s taking her.”
“This is what happens when you become a science experiment and then sink yourself in the ocean Rogers, people start thinking of you as a paragon of virtue and shit.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to swear around children, Buck.” Steve says mildly, petting at Ella’s hair a little like she’s a cat. She doesn’t seem to mind, so he keeps doing it.
“She’s a baby, she doesn’t understand a word we’re saying.”
“Buh!” Ella says again.
“You got anybody there helping you figure this shit out?” Bucky asks, suddenly sounding a lot more serious. Steve suspects that if Steve were to say no he’d be on Steve’s doorstep in a matter of hours, but Steve also knows that Bucky likes his little life in Wakanda. He can’t ask Bucky to take a break from that, from everything he has there, just to come help Steve take care of a baby.
“Yeah. Scott’s bringing over a bunch of Cassie’s old stuff tomorrow and gonna give me a crash course. Sam’s got a sister who’s sending him over with a bunch of stuff too. Natasha hasn’t stopped laughing long enough to help.” Steve says instead of the ‘ Dear god no, please come help’ that wants to bubble up instead.
“The fact that your support system for this is Scott Lang and Wilson is a little worrying, but it’s better than nothing I guess.” Bucky says, seeming more than a little begrudging to admit that. Bucky and Sam had come out of the soulstone with what seemed to be an understanding that they more or less like each other as people, but they’re also going to spend the rest of their lives giving each other unending amounts of shit. It seems to be a pretty solid arrangement.
Ella shrieks and gets a solid grip on Steve’s ear, clearly not okay with Steve and Bucky paying more attention to each other then her.
Steve yelps and thousands of miles away in Wakanda, Bucky laughs at his pain.
Scott gives Steve at least four boxes worth of random baby things, but Steve’s favorite is already the carrier.
Ella screams nearly every time Steve puts her down and Steve has come to the realization pretty early on that he really needs his hands for certain things. Like making Ella’s bottles, or feeding himself, or answering his cell phone when Tony Stark calls to laugh for three and a half minutes straight before Steve hangs up on him.
The baby carrier is Steve’s savior. He just straps Ella into the thing and goes about his business. It means she has more or less constant access to Steve, and the ability to do things like grab at his face or curl her tiny fingers into his shirt collar and tug at it relentlessly, but it also makes his life so much more peaceful.
And if he’s honest, which he is, it also cuts down on his worrying by at least half. He has this weird, terrible fear that she’s going to choke on something and die when he’s not looking and this way she’s always right there where he can keep an eye on her.
“I’m screenshotting this.” Bucky says the first time he catches Steve wearing Ella on videochat. Steve’s at the Farmer’s Market, ostensibly to get supplies for the baby food Ella’s doctor says she should be ready for, but in actuality he’s mostly there because of the free samples.
“Don’t be an ass.” Steve says, holding his phone with one hand and attempting to fill a bag with apples with the other. Ella is blissfully asleep, snuffling against Steve’s chest and blowing spit bubbles that inevitably soak into Steve’s shirt. Steve’s already getting weirdly used to being covered in baby spit.
“I’d never .” Bucky says innocently. He’s outside with goats bleating away behind him and his hair looks like a bird’s nest, complete with a twig stuck in it. Steve wants to reach through the phone to pull it out.
There’s not exactly a time he doesn’t want to reach through the phone when he’s talking to Bucky though.
“Oh yeah, that musta been some other you being an ass for oh, my entire life.” Steve says, exchanging a few dollars with the nice old lady who runs the fruit stall for his bag of apples and shoving it into the bag over his shoulder.
“Yep. Must be it. Clearly you’ve got me confused with a different Bucky.” Bucky says, grinning wide into the phone.
“Guess I should go find that other schmuck and leave you to your goats then.”
“Nah, I’m taking that idiot’s place. You gotta tolerate me Rogers. True love and all that shit.”
“Right, right, I gotta.” Steve says, feeling his smile stretch his face until it matches Bucky’s.
Steve and Ella are cleaning the kitchen when there’s a knock on the door. Well, technically Steve’s cleaning the kitchen and Ella’s chewing on a teething ring while strapped to Steve’s front, but Steve counts her participation just the same.
“Who’s that Ellabella?” Steve asks, taking the slap of the teething ring against his chest as the answer it is.
“That’s what I thought you’d say.” He says, petting at the top of her head and the curly hair there with one hand as he swings the door open with the other.
Standing on his doorstep with a duffel bag slung over his shoulder is Bucky.
“Aren’t you gonna invite me in?” Bucky asks when Steve just stands there staring at him.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in Wakanda?” Steve responds, stepping backwards to let Bucky into his apartment.
“Goat kids don’t quite compare to the human ones.” Bucky says and holds his hands out in a silent demand for Ella.
Steve wastes no time in freeing Ella from her carrier and letting Bucky take her, not melting one bit when Bucky tucks her into his chest and presses his nose into the top of her curls.
“God, this kid is cute.” Bucky says, smiling at Ella like a goddamn dope.
“The cutest.” Steve agrees, pretty sure he’s looking at Bucky with equal amounts of dopiness. “What’re you doin’ here Buck?”
“Like I said, goat kids don’t compare.” Bucky says, waving a hand vaguely like he can wave away Steve’s question, “And I wasn’t about to let you start some adorable little family without me. That’s against the rules of the Rogers-Barnes Relationship Agreement of ‘35.”
“We coulda- If you’d said something we coulda come to you.” Steve loves Brooklyn. It’s his home and it always will be, but if Bucky even once told Steve he wanted him to live in Wakanda Steve would do it in a heartbeat. Hell, he would have done it a year ago if Bucky didn’t claim Steve’s restlessness in Wakanda was annoying and if he didn’t get his ass back to Brooklyn Bucky would kick it there himself.
“Steven Grant Rogers, like hell are we raising a kid anywhere but Brooklyn.” Bucky says it like to do anything else would be a criminal offense and Steve smiles so hard his cheeks ache. “Stop lookin’ at me like that.”
“I’m not looking at you like anything. This is just my face.” Steve argues, taking a couple steps closer, one hand coming to rest on Ella’s tiny back and the other on Bucky’s hip.
“Stop havin’ that face then.” Bucky says, stepping close enough that Ella ends up sandwiched between them, Steve’s chest to her back.
“You love this face.” Steve says.
“Buhbuhbuh,” Ella says and and slaps at Bucky’s chest.
“See? She believes me.” Steve says, his smile stretching even wider if possible.
“It’s okay, give me enough time with her and I’ll sway her to my side.”
“You can have all the time you want, Buck.”
“Yeah?” Bucky questions, leaning over Ella’s head to press his lips into Steve’s in a chaste kiss, the first one they’ve had in months. If there wasn’t a baby between them Steve’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to help drawing it out. As it is, he lets Bucky pull back quickly with only minimal protest. “What about the kid’s weird guardian? I get all the time I want with him too?”
“I don’t know, my schedule is pretty full.”
“Yeah, Buck, yeah, as much time as you want. You know that.”