St George, UT
Walking out of his motel room, Steve really wasn't surprised to find Director Fury standing beside a big black SUV waiting for him. He was surprised he hadn't seen him sooner. It had been nearly two months since Loki and the Chitauri invasion.
"I'm being recalled, sir?" He stated more than asked.
"Not today, Cap," Fury assured him. "This visit is a little more personal. Have you eaten yet?
"No, sir." He gestured towards the small restaurant attached to the motel. "The food was pretty good here last night."
Fury nodded leading the way. They were soon ensconced in a booth in the back; no one within easy hearing distance. Neither spoke as they looked over the menu. The waitress came by after a minute.
"What can I get you, gentlemen?"
"I'll have the Blueberry pancakes with bacon. Coffee, black, please," Fury ordered.
"And for you, sweetie?" She asked looking at Steve.
"I'll have the Country Breakfast, please. Medium steak and eggs over easy. Whole wheat toast, a glass of orange juice and a glass of milk, please." He closed the menu holding it out to her. He'd debated getting more but he suspected this was going to be one of those conversations that didn't sit well.
"Alrighty. I'll be back with your drinks in just a moment."
Once she'd dropped them off and left again Steve took a deep breath. "Why are you here, sir?"
Fury leaned back in the booth regarding him for a moment before pulling a file folder out of his jacket. He placed it on the table but kept his hand on top of it. "After we found you and it was discovered that you were still alive Coulson immediately began putting together dossiers for everyone he thought you might ask about, He was very thorough." Fury's lips twitched in a hint of a smile before sobering again. "You never asked about anyone though."
"I... It..." Steve sighed running a hand through his hair, his eyes haunted. "When you told me how long had passed; when I saw how much the world had changed... I couldn't... I didn't want to know how many of my friends were dead and buried, sir."
"Believe it or not I do understand. When you're ready those files will be waiting for you. This file, however, requires immediate attention. Despite the fact that he'd died only three days prior to your crash Coulson created a dossier on James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes." He paused at Steve's sharply indrawn breath.
"Why would... I don't understand. I already know everything about Bucky."
"True, but what you, and I suspect Sgt Barnes as well, didn't know is that he had a son."
"What?!" Steve half-shouted then blushed when everyone else in the restaurant looked at them, He leaned towards and angrily hissed, "Bucky was never married."
Fury let out a brief huff of laughter. "No he wasn't." Flipping open the folder, he withdrew an old black and white photo, sliding it towards Steve. "This is Elena Harris. Recognize her?"
It took a moment, she was older than when he'd met her but it was a night he'd never forget. "She... She was Bucky's date to the World Fair. That was the night I met Dr Erskine. She and Bucky?"
"It wasn't as uncommon as you think," Fury said almost gently for him. "A lot of single men were going off to war and there were a lot of single women who were watching their prospects of marriage and children dwindling away. She did try to contact him several times during the war. I'm not sure about before but once he joined the Howling Commandos it became standard procedure for all mail to be screened and since he never said he had a girlfriend her letters were dismissed as attention-seeking." He paused when the waitress arrived with their food, waiting until she was gone again to continue speaking. "She gave birth to a son, James Anthony Harris, almost nine months after Barnes reported for duty to the 107th." Fury pulled out another photo passing it to Steve. It was a military photo of a young man who was almost the spitting image of Bucky. The uniform was a bit different though.
"This is Bucky's son?"
"Yes. He joined the Army, serving in the Korean War where he was killed in action. He was survived by Elena Harris, a wife and a son, Anthony Alexander Harris. The wife died a couple years later of pneumonia and Elena raised Anthony. He too joined the Army and served in the Vietnam War."
"Let me guess, he's dead as well," Steve said bitterly, the food he'd eaten tasting like ash in his mouth.
"As a matter of fact, yes. He and his wife Jessica died in a car crash the night before last. Anthony's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. He was driving while extremely drunk," Fury explained at Steve's confused look. "The point of bringing all this up is due to certain...things he'd noticed Coulson put an alert on the file. I was notified as soon as their son Alexander was admitted to the hospital. He was in the car with them and is currently in a coma."
"Is... I mean... He'll be alright, won't he? He'll wake up?" Steve felt the fear curling in his stomach; to be so close to this last unexpected link to his best friend only to have it snatched away might be too much to bear. He'd seen too many men during the war with head injuries who'd gone to sleep only to never wake up again.
"He'll be fine, Cap," Fury reassured him, once more seeming to read his mind. "Medicine has come a long way since the 40's and the doctors expect him to make a full recovery once he wakes up. They expect that to happen within the next couple of days."
"With his parents gone who will take care of him? What other relatives doe he have?" Steve asked, hope pushing aside the fear.
Fury grimaced. "The only living relative he has is an uncle on his mother's side. Frankly I wouldn't let that man have custody of a rock nevermind a kid."
"I know I'm not a blood relative but if his uncle is that bad would it be possible for me to get custody of him? I can get an apartment somewhere. I'll get a job. I'll do whatever it takes to prove I'd be a good guardian," Steve insisted.
"I thought you'd say that. All the paperwork is in here for you to take full guardianship of one Alexander Lavelle Harris, age 16. If you really want a job outside the Avengers we can find something for you to do but, frankly, between your back pay and what SHIELD pays you there's really no need. As for being a good guardian... You're a national fucking icon, Cap. I'd be shocked to find someone who would say otherwise." Fury rose to his feet putting enough money on the table to cover their food and the tip.
"Sunnydale is about 10-11 hours from here. I've told the agent we have in place to expect you by tonight. Oh, say hi to Stark for me."
"Uh, yes, sir," Steve agreed bemused. He knew Stark had a home in California so he supposed it was possible he'd see him. Once the Director was gone he dropped his gaze to the file on the table. He still couldn't believe it. Bucky'd had a son. Steve smiled sadly. They'd had a couple of conversations about what their lives would be like after the war. Getting married. Having kids. Once more Bucky had started without him.
Opening up the folder, Steve absently picked up his fork to continue eating as he read. There was a note on the first page from Fury saying the bulk of this file was on Alexander. there were more indepth files on the rest of the family back at SHIELD. Steve frowned looking at the thickness of the file. By the time he got through the entire thing Steve didn't know if he wanted to cry, punch someone, or hug the stuffing out of Alexander. If even a fraction of what was in this file was true, Bucky's grandson or not, Steve probably would have killed Alexander's father himself.
"Everything okay, hon?"
Steve looked up to find the waitress, her nametag said Hallie, standing next to his table holding a pitcher of orange juice.
"Oh, uhm, yes, just some unexpected news. I guess I'm a little...," Steve shrugged unsure of what he wanted to say.
"Overwhelmed? Completely understandable," she said refilling his glass before sitting down across from him. He stared at her in surprise. "It's not every day that you find out your dead best friend had a son and now his great-grandson is in a coma and an orphan for all intents and purposes."
"How... Were you... Are you a SHIELD agent?"
"Hardly," she laughed lightly. "I'm something much much older than that. Let's just say I've had an interest in seeing Xander's life improved for awhile. Unfortunately I have certain... restrictions I have to work within otherwise the world would be a very different place. I do have to say had I been able to consult on his case I couldn't have picked a better guardian than you for him. He's found a purpose for his life but he won't get the support or the training he needs in Sunnydale. You and your friends will be good for him."
She slid out of the booth but Steve grabbed her arm before she could walk away. "Who are you? How do you know all this?"
"There are more things between heaven and earth, Horatio, than man has dreamt in his philosophy. Shakespeare is a bit overused," she shrugged, "but still true. You've faced aliens, worked with and against Norse Gods, and are yourself a man out of time. Is it hard to believe there things out there that might defy conventional definitions?"
"I guess but that doesn't answer my questions."
"No, it doesn't. Let's just say I give justice to children who need it. Good luck."
And just like that she was gone. Steve blinked. One moment she was there the next she simply wasn't. Deciding he was better off not thinking about suddenly disappearing waitresses who knew more than they should, he gathered up the file and left the diner. He had a long way to drive and he still had to pack before checking out.
Not quite ten hours later, a little before four in the afternoon, Steve rolled into Sunnydale. It looked like an idyllic little town, like something out of a picture book, but underneath there was a faint current of something that made Steve uneasy. He'd originally been considering trying to stay in Sunnydale if that was what Alexander wanted but now he wasn't so sure. Thankfully it didn't take long for him to find the hospital. Parking his motorcycle, he noticed an expensive looking car a couple spots down. He wouldn't have paid it any attention except for the license plate.
That explained Director Fury's comment now. Sure enough he found the man himself sitting on a bench outside the entrance to the hospital playing with one of his gadgets. Steve was surprised but pleased to see who was sitting next to the genius.
"Tony. Bruce. What are you two doing here?"
"What? You really thought we'd let you deal with something like this on your own? I'm hurt. I thought we were a team?" Tony pouted, slipping his phone into his pocket as he got to his feet.
"I... We are a team. How did you find out though?"
"Tony has all of our files flagged in SHIELD's system," Bruce explained as they fell into step with Steve, entering the hospital. "JARVIS is notified if anyone accesses our file and he notifies Tony if it's important."
"And finding out the unknown great-grandson of your best friend is in a coma in the hospital is important," Tony said, guiding them past the reception desk. "He's in room 36A on the second floor. I already have Pepper looking up schools and doctors in New York. JARVIS is pulling everything he can find on the kid, his friends, his enemies, his frenemies, whatever, and the town in general because is it just me or does this place not give you the creeps? Something just oozes wrong around here."
"You noticed that too?" Steve asked surprised.
"We both did," Bruce confirmed. "The Other Guy isn't happy either but isn't trying to make an appearance either."
Reaching the second floor, they were stopped at the nurses station.
"Can I help you?" One of the nurses asked.
"Hello, I'm Steve Rogers. I'm here to see Alexander Harris? I'm his... uncle, distantly. I have guardianship papers."
She took them with a frown when he held them out. After a moment of close inspection she smiled handing them back. "It's pleasure to meet you, Capt. Rogers. I was not looking forward to his other uncle, Rory Callahan, taking custody of Xander. His room is just down the hallway on the left hand side. He has visitors right now. He's only been awake for a little while so please try not to exhaust him too much."
"Thank you. We will. I mean, we won't."
She just smiled again, waving him off.
They quickly reached the right room, hearing voices as they approached the door. Steve knocked before poking his head in the door then stepping fully inside. The three teens in the room, two girls sitting in the guest chairs and the boy in the bed, fell silent as he entered, Tony and Bruce right behind him. The two girls looked at them a little suspiciously while the boy's mouth dropped open. If he'd had any doubts before seeing the boy in the flesh erased them all. He was practically the spitting image of Bucky at this age. His heart clenched a little at the sight of the casted leg and the white bandages wrapped on his head.
"Uhm, hi," Steve said, glaring when Tony snickered beside him.
"Hey, Wills, I'm not still in a coma, right?" The boy asked, his eyes never leaving the three of them. "I'm not imagining that Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk, well, the Hulk when he's not big and green are standing in the doorway of my hospital room, right?"
Steve blinked when the blonde girl punched Alexander in the arm.
"Oww! What the hell, Buff?" He whined, rubbing his arm.
"I was proving you're not asleep. You know these guys, Xan?" she asked.
"Know of them. Seriously, you don't know who they are? Don't you watch the news or, you know, listen when I talk about stuff?"
"News, no. Yes, I listen when you talk about stuff. Mostly. Unless you're doing one of your geekboy rambles about your comic books. Then not so much. You talked about these guys?"
"Oh! Oh! I remember!" Wills burst out. "That thing in New York with the dimensional rift and the aliens! I did a paper for Physics on that."
"You did?" Tony asked suddenly very interested in the redhead. "Was it any good?"
"I thought so," Wills pouted, "but Miss Morganstern said I couldn't use Hollywood special effects as the basis of a paper. She didn't believe it had really happened."
"Wills," Alexander cut off the redhead before she could really get started. "Uhm, not that it's not super-cool that you guys are here but why exactly are you here?"
"I'm here to see you actually," Steve said. "Since you know who I am that makes things a little easier I guess. See it turns out that you're the great-grandson of my best friend Bucky, uh, James Barnes. When I found out about you and that you'd been orphaned I, well, my boss helped me get custody of you. If you want me to be your guardian, that is?" Steve asked hopefully.
"You, Captain America, want to be my guardian?" Alexander squeaked.
"Yes, if that's alright with you?"
Alexander promptly passed out. The blonde smirked. "That's a yes in Xanderspeak."