When Steve goes to visit her in the maternity ward, Natasha is holding her baby boy in her arms, and she is crying. She is not sobbing- she is just not the type- but tears are streaming down her face nevertheless. Angry tears.
“Ehy.” Steve smiles a little as he sits at her bedside, and with a single finger skims over the brown hair of the new-born baby boy; he opens his eyes a little, and it breaks Steve’s heart a little, because it’s like looking at a damn picture of his best friend- his late best friend.
Seeing her baby’s eyes seems to make Natasha even more madder- and from the looks of her, Steve guesses that, if the baby weren’t in her arms, by now she would have already broken something. Minimum.
“He was an idiot. Seriously, what was he thinking? Going at war with the Inhumans…” She simply says, without looking at Steve, not even for a second. She closes her eyes and clenches her teeth, but as soon as she does so, the baby starts sobbing, and she bumps him a little, trying to soothing him, and calm herself down so that he wouldn’t be too upset.
Steve shakes his head. “Bucky may have been many things- but he wasn’t a cold blooded murderer, Nat. He wouldn’t have destroyed those cocoons if there were Inhumans inside. There must be something they are not telling us.”
Natasha takes a big breath, and for the first time since Steve entered in her room, she turns to look at him. “What if they come after us as retaliation?” It’s not what she really means- she is a grown-up super-spy, born into the Red Room, trained since WWII by people like The Wolverine- she can handle herself. What she really means is, what if they come after him?
Steve would like to tell her that she is wrong, that Medusa and the Royal Family aren’t like that, but he knows all too well that he can’t; they are royals, and they think themselves better than the rest of the world- a world that they think is theirs for the taking and ruling. Especially Medusa- someone they used to consider a friend. Besides, they know all too well that many of her subjects refuse to answer to her, thinking, believing that Maximus’ orders are given for the well-being of Attilan, that his orders are words that the Queen can’t utter for political reasons. Like when Karnack destroyed Stark Tower, not caring about innocent lives. Like when Lash destroyed facility after facility belonging to Tony, not considering that his employees had no qualm with the Inhumans, nor place in the war.
No, he thinks. He wouldn’t be too surprised if they were to ask for Bucky’s baby. It used to be a tradition in the ancient times, after all: claiming and rising the infant children of the enemies, so that no one else would dare to oppose the winner, fearing losing their biggest treasure- their progeny.
Steve sighs, his eyes a little glassy as the baby seems to want to play with his hand a little. “Nat...what if…” he runs an hand through his unruly blond hair, and sighs. “No one knows of this baby- only us and Tony. Not even Hill….”
Natasha knows immediately where this is going- Steve doesn’t have to end the sentence; they may have never had a relationship in the past, just danced on the edge between friends and something more, but this is how much they know each other. “I can’t ask you this.”
“You are not asking- I’m offering, Nat.” Steve shrugs, with a million-watt smile printed on his face- like what they are talking about could be the most normal thing in the world. “Nat… Bucky and Sharon are gone. If we don’t tell it- no one will ever know. Unless you’ve already signed the birth certificate. Which, knowing you, I doubt.”
Natasha sighs, her eyes suddenly sad and filled with regrets. “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to keep him- not after what they did to James. But… I can’t leave him, Steve. Not when he looks just like his father.”
Steve knows all too well what she means: the father’s name on the birth certificate is still blank; if he signs it now, no one will ever know that he isn’t the baby’s father- they’ll think that he and Nat have finally given up to temptation, crossed the line between friends and something more, that they’ve looked for comfort in each other after having lost people dear to them- Steve Sharon, and Natasha James.
“Are you sure Steve?” She asks as he holds her hand.
Steve, simply, nods. “Nat, I’m not saying we have to get married, or whatever. I just want to give this baby my surname, and help you out in rising him. That’s’ all.”
Nat rises her eyes from her baby, and stares at Steve. Grinning and happy and satisfied, like he already knows that he has won her over. It’s almost scary, but it’s in moment like those that she thinks that Steve has spent way too much time in Logan’s company, because that grin is all Logan- their late friend, not the one living at the Jean Grey Institute right now. And she doesn’t know why- but she has the distinct feeling that she has just signed up for troubles, and definitely much more than giving her son a father with a clean past and no political enemies.
“So… how are you calling him?”
“Rogers. James Ian Rogers…” Nat sighs, not sad, though. “Ian like your late son- and James like two of your best friends. James – my James- has always been there for you- saved you countless of times back in the war. No one will ever think that, in truth, it’s his father’s name he is carrying.”
“You’re not regretting this, Nat.” Steve squeezes her hand, and kisses the brown mass of soft and talc-scented hair of the baby. “Trust me, you’ll never regret this.”