Cap An ‘Merica Crackers
Darcy had never meant to become a mother of a three year old at the age of twenty-seven. She’d resolved against early motherhood ever since she had attended that special class in the fourth grade where the boys were taken into a room and watched a film about how it was TOTALLY okay for them to start growing hair in previously hairless places, and the girls were taken into the library and shown a film telling them that they’d be (probably heinously) bleeding for a few days a month and that meant they had to spend a lot of money on things to stop the bleeding. And deal with cramps. And also they would be getting the strange hair in new and exciting places, too. And also, they had to be careful around boys after the bleeding started because you could get into trouble .
The state of sexual education in America was pretty shitty, to be honest.
Darcy didn’t want to get into trouble. So she did what she had been doing since she was five years old, namely she obsessively asked questions and did research and read books and realized exactly what she would have to do in order to not wind up as one of those poor girls who had to go to school, raise a baby and work at a job in order to make it through.
She didn’t want to start having kids until she was at least thirty. And she’d done so well in that goal, too.
But when her best friend, her foster sister who she had managed to land in a house with when she was eight showed up on her doorstep (technically Jane’s doorstep at Culver) three years ago with a baby on her hip and tears in her eyes, Darcy had no choice. When Anna passed from ridiculously aggressive cancer, Aiden was suddenly hers .
There was no way Darcy could let that beautiful little boy land in the same system that had been so cruel to her and Anna throughout their childhoods. So Aiden became hers, and wonderful Jane finally took a generous Tony up on his offer, moving to the upstate New York facility for stability and a real home that didn’t involve a hotplate and a lumpy futon bed.
Darcy used the small amount of money leftover from Anna’s life insurance and her own meager savings to buy the smallest shack of a house two miles away from the Avenger’s facility. Aiden had a yard, a swing set, and a room that Thor had helped paint, complete with glow in the dark paint that lit up every night with the nine realms.
She hadn’t wanted to be a mom before she hit thirty, but when she looked at the little man proudly picking out his Captain America t-shirt for the day, turning to her with a big grin on his face and the natural tight black curls on the top of his head in dangerous need of a shape up, she saw her best friend staring back at her in those dark brown eyes. And she knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she had made the right decision.
“Aidey, what do you think about asking Colonel Rhodes to take you to his barbershop this weekend?” Darcy asked cheerfully. Rhodey had been introduced to Darcy and her son at Tony’s monthly ‘You Work Here, I Need to Get to Know You to Make Sure That You Are Not a Spy for my Enemies’ dinner. Rhodey had taken one look at Darcy, then one look at Aiden, the contrast in their skin tones very telling, then patted the boy’s growing afro as he clung to the newly introduced super hero’s les.
He’d taken Darcy and Aiden to his barbershop twice since then, and Aiden loved it. He loved his Uncle Rhodey the most (something that rankled both Thor and Tony). Darcy appreciated the assist, and she appreciated that while Aiden’s dad was nowhere to be found, the boy would still have men in his life that would be great examples. Even if he hadn’t managed to meet his favorite heroes of all yet.
“FLYIN’ INNA SUIT?” Aiden asked with excitement.
“No,” Darcy said flatly.
Maybe the men in his life weren’t all great examples. She’d caught Aiden flying around with Rhodey, Thor, Tony and Vision so far. Honestly, she was kind of glad that Sam Wilson was off on a six month long leave of absence with Steve Rogers. The boy had clung to the other Avengers well, and had them wrapped around his little finger. He didn’t need more of them (especially those capable of flight).
“We are going to go work in the garden at the facility today,” Darcy said cheerfully. “Are you sure you want to get your Cap shirt dirty?”
Aiden looked down at his shirt thoughtfully. Steve Rogers was in an action stance on the front, his trusty shield at the ready. He thought about it for a full thirty seconds before shrugging and reaching for his Falcon socks and Jane Foster sneakers. They were regular sneakers, but he and Jane had covered them in Sharpie doodles that were meant to look like the diminutive astrophysicist along with glittery gold star shaped stickers.
“Cap An ‘Merica gets dirty, Mama,” Aiden said knowingly, trotting over to her and handing her his socks and shoes before plopping right down on his butt and holding his right foot up in the air expectantly. “It’s a-okay, peaches.”
“Stop repeating the things that Mr. Tony says!” Darcy reprimanded as seriously as she could when she was still trying to bite back laughter. She failed and had to turn her face as a snort of laughter escaped.
Aiden sensed this and giggled as he waved his foot up and down at his adoptive mother. She recovered quickly enough and got his socks and shoes on in record time.
“Let’s pack snacks for our day, buddy,” Darcy lifted him off of his feet and settled the little boy on her hip.
“YES!” Aiden hugged at Darcy’s neck with chubby hands. “M AND M’s!”
“No,” Darcy shook her head.
“ICE CREAM SAMMICHES!” Aiden suggested excitedly.
“Nope,” Darcy denied him again. “Try something that will help out the good guys in your little man tummy. Remember, Dr. Cho talked about that last week at your checkup. Candy and sugar are yummy, but your super heroes in your body need the good guy helpers like vitamins and stuff.”
“ Yuck ,” Aiden whispered. Darcy poked his belly a little and he wriggled in her hold. “Okay, Mama, orangies.”
“We can do that,” Darcy nodded.
“Cheesers?” Aiden asked hopefully.
“Sure, that sounds yummy,” Darcy agreed. Aiden seemed to be on an orange colored food kick. And she knew what was coming next.
“And Cap An ‘Merica Crackers!” Aiden shouted in excitement.
Aiden got a devilish little smile on his face. It was generally agreed upon in their little home that if Darcy slipped up and swore, then Aiden was allowed to swear as well. He had decided this when his first word at fourteen months had been Fuck . And he had repeated it for twenty-four hours straight. Tony had found it delightful .
“Iiiins and giggles,” Darcy sighed. She put Aiden on one of the kitchen stools and began to assemble the snack bag that was now more important than the diaper bag (Aiden had taken to the potty very early, much to Darcy’s delight). Oranges she could do. A little insulated plastic container that had Captain America’s shield as a lid was filled with cheddar cheese cubes.
The crackers though...She reached up into the cabinet and pulled down a box of cheez-its crackers. Family sized box. Just a normal red box.
“NO! MAMA! NO!” Aiden screeched right in her ear. “Cap An ‘Merica Crackers!”
“Aiden, buddy, the store is all out of Captain America cheez-it's,” Darcy sighed. It had been a promotional idea done a few months after Sokovia had happened. It was amazing what a little positive PR could do for the Avenger’s image. All you had to do was plaster attractive, heroic faces on the most commonplace of kitchen staples, and suddenly you had an eighty-five percent approval rating with the public pollsters.
Pepper Potts was a damned genius when it came down to it.
But even she couldn’t keep the stores stocked with Captain America cheez-it's a whole two years after they were released. Darcy knows because she had begged Pepper to have more made when the local stores ran out. And the online ebay reserves were sold out (thanks to Darcy) and had already been consumed by the three year old boy that was very close to a melt down in her kitchen.
“Mama! Cap An ‘Merica Crackers!” Aiden whined, big fat crocodile tears brimming in his deep brown eyes. “Please, Mama, please .”
“Aidey, these taste just the same as Captain America cheez-its, I promise,” Darcy tried reasoning.
It hadn’t worked six months ago when she had made the mistake of buying the family sized box of regular cheez-it's and it wasn’t working now. The Captain America crackers were the same cheese crackers that Darcy had purchased, but the plain ones didn’t have the design of the famous shield or a cartoonized face on any of them and apparently, that made them inedible for the three year old boy. Aiden began keening in sorrow and mourning and Darcy felt her stomach flip over in compassion. She just wanted to give her amazing boy what he wanted.
She did have one option.
She ran for her cell phone and pressed number four on her speed dial. (One was for Jane, Two was for Pepper, Three was for Rhodey and Four was for Tony, something that Rhodey held over his head whenever he could).
“Tiny manager of my labs, tiny thorn in my side,” Tony answered after the fourth ring. “You aren’t working today. And I’m in the Apple Gigante, doing some kind of weekend charity thing...I’m totally not trying to build something that might collapse the universe, so you have no reason to be calling me.”
Aiden chose that moment to let out another loud wail of pain.
“Holy shit, is that Aiders? What’d you do to him? What’s he need? Should I suit up? FRIDAY---”
“No, Tony, no suiting up,” Darcy said quickly. She sighed. “You said you could get me more crackers.”
“Oh ho ho ho hoho, how the tides, they have turned, tiny pain in my fabulous backside,” Tony taunted. “Are you ready to pay the piper, lassie?”
Aiden screeched about Cap An ‘Merica some more and it sent chills down Darcy’s spine. He was her son. He was the last piece of her childhood best friend left on this Earth and he deserved to be happy. And Tony said he’d find her more crackers. Enough to last a year, and by then, Pepper swore she could get the manufacturer to do another release.
“I will allow you to set me up on one date with this guy,” Darcy whispered. “But you are to be suited up during said date, and you will rescue me if it is awful.”
“Can do, kid,” Tony promised, sounding like a gleeful son of a bitch. “FRIDAY, send coordinates to Darcy’s GPS system in her car. Take her to the motherload, and coincidentally, her amazing first date with her future husband.”
Aiden was great at road trips. For the first hour he sang himself silly to the alphabet song, and then whatever classical music that Little Einsteins (a favorite show of both Vision and Aiden) had drilled into his head. He’d go through two or three pop songs by memory, hilariously. And then he would just count. He could only count to twenty, so he did it over and over again.
And then some more.
Luckily, that only lasted fifteen minutes before he would drop off to sleep. Aiden had always been a baby that required movement to sleep. No one was better than rocking him to sleep as a little baby than Thor, who seemed to have limitless energy to walk him around and sway him until he fell off into dreamland. When Thor was off world and Aiden was particularly not willing to sleep, Darcy would pop him in his carseat and just drive around until he finally nodded off.
They’d arrived at their final destination, a cabin in the middle of the woods, about three hours later. Aiden was still deep in sleep as Darcy parked her bright red Kia Soul and looked around nervously. She hopped out of the car and left Aiden sleeping in the back seat as she looked around the deserted area Tony had directed her to. She really hoped this wasn’t one of those crazy people who lived alone in the woods and wanted her for the horror movie kind of human companionship. She also hoped that whoever lived in the cabin wasn’t a bunch of cannibals.
“Who are you?”
Darcy jumped at least two feet in the air, because the voice had come from behind her, where she had just been looking seconds ago. No one had been there, and now there was someone there. He was tall, and had shaggy brown locks falling around his face. His handsome, scruffy face, to be sure, but his expression screamed suspicion and danger.
“Uhm...Mr. Stark told me that I could come here and pick up the crackers?” Darcy said hopefully. “He said he made a call.”
“Mr. Stark told you that, did he?” the man questioned. “And here I thought he was just trying to lure us out of here with sending the pretty dames.”
“Uhm,” Darcy reached into her jacket pocket where her Stark upgraded taser was. If she discharged it, the panic button would go off and Tony could potentially be there within ten to fifteen minutes. She could manage to get in the car and get away---
“First he sends Natalia,which makes both me and Wilson very, very happy, and now you?” the man laughed, the sound coming off as genuine and warm, confusing Darcy very much. “A dishy brunette bombshell straight outta Stevie’s best dreams? Stark’s never gonna get us to leave if he keeps sending such sweet things.”
“Natalia?” Darcy blinked. “Natasha? Is Natasha here?”
“Darcy, hands off the taser. James doesn’t take very well to electric shocks nowadays.”
“Who does, Red?” the mysterious James chuckled in a self effacing way.
“Nat!” Darcy exclaimed, spinning around and rushing towards the red head. “You’ve been gone a really long time!”
Natasha smiled as Darcy wrapped her up in a bear hug. Natasha had become one of Darcy’s closest friends and the only reason she wasn’t number two on Darcy’s speed dial was because Natasha never kept the same number for more than a week, the downsides of spyhood. She always checked in with Darcy though, and had been particularly helpful with Aiden since Darcy had landed at the Avenger’s Facility.
“How’s my nephew?” Natasha murmured.
In answer, the little boy shrieked from inside the car, banging his fists against the front window. He had managed to get himself out of his car seat (had been able to do it since he was two), and climbed into the driver’s seat, desperate to get to his mother as if sensing danger.
“Holy shit,” James whispered, his eyes going wide with concern at the baby’s distress. He rushed to the locked driver’s door, ripping it open. And in the process, taking the door clear off the hinges. He dropped to his knees and looked up in concern at the crying boy. “Hey pal, you’re alright, your Ma’s right over there.”
“My car,” Darcy whispered, staring down at the man’s hand who had effortlessly ripped off the door to her car. The arm was bright, gleaming and silver. “That’s Bucky Barnes.”
“Yes,” Natasha murmured back. “You’ll have to forgive him the car door, Darcy. James is not fond of seeing an innocent locked away and distressed.”
“Oh,” Darcy managed to get out. She could understand why seeing a crying child trying to get out of a car so desperately might be a problem. “It’s alright.”
“Fucking Barnes gets away with everything .”
“Wilson, leave it,” Natasha advised.
Darcy looked to Natasha’s right, and sure enough, there stood Sam Wilson, someone she had met only once in passing at the facility. He was a favorite of Aiden’s though. Third to Captain America and the Black Widow.
“My name is Bucky, pal,” Bucky was saying softly to Aiden as he sniffled in the aftermath of his tears. He reached up with his silver hand, taking his shirt sleeve and wiping Aiden’s nose gently. “You’re safe, okay?”
“Bucky?” Aiden repeated.
“Yup,” Bucky nodded.
“You got Cap An ‘Merica crackers?” Aiden asked hopefully. “You a friend wif Cap An ‘Merica, and Aiden need crackers.”
Bucky laughed and nodded, “I am friends with Captain America, and let’s go and look for him so we can get your crackers.”
Darcy followed Bucky, who was carrying Aiden in his silver arm. The boy’s mood had improved considerably. He knew the name Bucky thanks to the cartoon of the Avengers from the seventies that he loved to watch. Bucky then had been a little boy, but Aiden seemed to think he had ‘ growed up ’, and knew that Bucky was Captain America’s favorite friend according to the cartoon.
Natasha and Sam followed Darcy and were quietly conversing about ‘it might be time ’ and ‘he’s definitely ready ’ in regards to Bucky’s development. Apparently Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers had been missing because they had found Bucky Barnes finally and had been spending this time in isolation to break down remaining conditioning and heal pesky memory problems. If Natasha and Sam were to be believed, it had all definitely worked.
Darcy could believe it. He was interacting beautifully with Aiden.
“Rogers!” Bucky called out ahead “Visitors! Cute ones!”
“What in the fuck are you talking about, Buck?” Steve demanded, turning around with an ax in his hand.
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck,” Aiden happily parroted.
“Shiii----ins and giggles,” Darcy sighed. “I just got him to forget about that word like four months ago.”
“Good first impression,” Sam held up two thumbs in mocking at Steve.
“Miss Lewis?” Steve blinked at her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to---”
“Fuck!” Aiden clapped his hands together happily. “Mama, Cap An ’Merica say it so Aiden say it now too.”
“How do you know who I am?” Darcy blinked at Steve curiously.
“You work at the facility, and it’s important to---ahm, keep tabs on personnel?” Steve lied hopefully.
Natasha fished out her phone and sent a text, getting an almost immediate reply. She smirked and nodded. “Tony.”
“Hold on,” Darcy held up a finger. She pointed it at Steve, who had the good sense to put the ax down finally and put his hands on his hips as his cheeks flushed up. “Tony sent me here on the condition that I should be set up on a blind date with a man.”
“He should shower first,” Bucky nodded towards Steve, an unholy and definitely gorgeous smirk blooming on his face. One that Aiden stared at in wonder before he tried to emulate on his own little face to quite a bit of success.
“You came for crackers?” Natasha wondered.
“Cap An ‘Merica crackers!” Aiden squealed in excitement. He was more excited about the idea of the crackers than he was at meeting his hero face to face, apparently.
“The damned pallet of crackers that Pepper sent me?” Steve furrowed his brow.
“Damn Damn Damn,” Aiden parroted back.
“They’ve got Pepper in on this? You guys are screwed,” Sam laughed. “C’mon Barnes, let’s go get the kid his crackers while his future daddy tries not to mess this up.”
Aiden waved at Steve before blowing a kiss to his adoptive mother and soon Darcy and Steve were standing alone in the idyllic wilderness, only a little at a loss for words.
“Tony has been trying to set me up with you on a blind date for two years,” Darcy blurted.
“Yeah, I know,” Steve nodded. “He tried to get me too, and a few weeks ago he finally gave in and told me your name. I was actually---uhm, you know, going to give you a call when Bucky was ready to come home.”
“Because of my name?” Darcy blinked.
“And picture,” Steve admitted. He shook his head and shrugged, “I did read your file all those years ago. I had to approve your...situation. It made quite an impression. Not many younger people would be willing to do what you did for your son. You’re a very admirable young woman, Miss Lewis.”
“Oh,” Darcy nodded. That shy smile of his was some kind of magical kryptonite. She might even thank Tony for all the meddling. “Sure, we can do this date thing, then. Two things though.”
“Yeah?” Steve grinned, taking a step towards her with a sort of green eagerness that was truly endearing.
“You’re going to have to call me Darcy, cause calling me Miss Lewis on a date is too weird for me,” Darcy truthfully admitted.
“Sure, yeah, Darcy ,” Steve continued to grin, looking a little like a kid who had been given a giant bowl of his favorite candy. “I’m Steve, then.”
“I know,” Darcy chuckled a little. His face was on fifty percent of Aiden’s belongings. She sighed and her face was all business, “Two. I seriously need that whole pallet of crackers. No crackers, then no date.”
Steve laughed loudly at that and gave a little self-deprecating shrug. “What would you say if I told you I actually had another whole pallet of crackers in storage in Brooklyn?”