“Well, we have many children waiting to be adopted,” Olivia remarked, glancing at the two men. “All of them would be so happy to have a new home.”
“Do any...” the man with the metal arm trailed off, fidgeting a little. Olivia watched as his metal arm flexed and she could see how he was once an assassin.
Olivia watched as the two men tuned into each other and smiled softly. They seemed like they were each other's world, no more, no less. She of course knew that one of them was Captain America and the other used to be the Winter Soldier. But the way they were around her and just the little that she had seen of them... she hadn't seen a couple further in love than they were.
Rogers glanced at her apologetically then gently tugged Barnes away from her, probably to have a private conversation. She nodded and gestured to a corner of her office.
“Go ahead. I'll wait,” Olivia said.
Rogers smiled at her then she watched him tilt his forehead against Barnes' and wrap an arm around him.
Olivia turned back to her paperwork, successfully tuning out the hushed conversation before her. The two of them had already submitted the first set of paperwork so they were now coming to see the children. She glanced at her computer briefly, checking to make sure that there were no other appointments on the calendar. When she heard a throat clearing, she looked up to see them both staring at her expectantly.
“May we see the children?” Rogers asked, politely.
“Of course,” Olivia said, standing up and leading the way through a door and down a hallway. “You said on the paperwork that you were open to either a boy or a girl?”
“Yes,” Barnes said. “We don't care about the sex of the child.”
“Or the gender,” Rogers added.
“Or any disabilities that they might have,” Barnes put in, walking alongside Rogers.
Olivia tried not to smile at that but it was a near thing. “My assistant should have gotten the children ready this morning. Ah, here we are.”
Olivia led the two of them through a doorway and into the hall where potential adopters could interact with the children. All the children were assembled, sitting amongst the small tables. The teenagers were all together at one while the younger were sitting, depending on whether they were friends or not.
“Children, these are Steve Rogers and James Barnes,” Olivia called out, studying the children for a minute then turning to the prospective parents. “They are looking to adopt.”
There was silence for a minute then she watched as the children started to mutter excitedly amongst themselves. Her eyes scanned the crowd again, knowing there was one missing but…
One of the older girls stood up and shuffled over to stand in front of Olivia. Madison had been here for a while and was the one to usually know where the younger girls were. Olivia watched her glance at Rogers and Barnes then turn her attention back to her.
Madison looked down at the floor then at the door to the girl's dormitories. “I didn't see her when you knocked on our door. She might...”
Olivia watched as Madison's eyes widened. “Mason and Luke aren't here!”
Olivia stiffened then pulled out her pager and called Madison. Mason and Luke were the oldest boys here and they were also bullies. And Brianna wasn't exactly physically able to get around easily.
“What is it?” Rogers asked, looking down at Madison then at Olivia. Barnes glanced down at Madison then scanned the room, taking in the rest of the children then back to her.
Olivia sighed. “Mason and Luke--”
“They're bullies,” Madison interrupted anxiously. Her eyes were glancing at the door then back at Rogers and Barnes and back to Olivia.
Rogers and Barnes both stilled. Rogers frowned then turned to stare at Olivia, eyes hardening a little. Olivia stared as Steve Rogers turned into Captain America right before her eyes. He didn't have his shield with him but still, the change was visible enough.
“Can we help?” Barnes asked, flesh hand slipping into Rogers' hand next to him.
Olivia glanced down at Madison then at the rest of the children, already pointedly looking at Madison. The young girl returned the look and went to go sit with the others but not before taking in Rogers and Barnes.
“Be careful with Brianna,” Madison offered, giving them a meaningful look then going to sit at a table with two other girls.
“What does she mean by that?” Rogers asked as Olivia gestured for them to follow her. They trailed after her as she went back through the door, passing Micheal on the way. Micheal was one of the other caretakers here so she figured that the children were in good hands with him.
“Brianna Evans came to us with a permanent limp in her left leg,” Olivia answered as they went deeper into the facility. “She has trouble walking fast or far.”
“The two boys that the older girl mentioned,” Rogers started. “She said they were bullies. Was she suggesting...”
Olivia hesitantly nodded. “Some of the older kids here take to bullying Brianna with more enthusiasm than we would have liked.”
“Does she fight back?” Barnes asked curiously as they left the building entirely through what was probably one of the many doors. The courtyard they entered was moderately big and had a few picnic tables then a basketball court and a huge grassy area with a big tree in the middle of it. It was overcast and drizzling out, probably soon to be pouring rain as it was in the middle of winter.
“She's only eight,” Olivia said then led them to where they could yelling near a tree in the courtyard. “But she tries.”
“GIVE MY BEAR BACK!”
Olivia grimaced. “They took her bear... This is bad; she loves that thing, carries it around with her always.”
She headed straight to where the three little kids were standing. Mason and Luke were tossing Brianna's bear back and fourth like a game of fetch. Brianna was slowly hobbling back and fourth between them but never quite succeeding in pulling it from their hands. Olivia could see tear tracks on her cheeks as well as tears that were already forming in her light green eyes.
“That's... it's a Bucky bear,” Rogers said, a surprised and fond hint to his voice. He glanced at Barnes and smiled softly. Olivia could tell the minute that the two boys heard Captain America; they stopped what they were doing and looked up at the three adults.
“Mason, Luke, what on earth were you two doing?” Olivia asked. The two boys were both ten years old, definitely old enough to know better.
“Anna had another nightmare last night,” Luke said, pouting. “Woke all of us up.”
“Just because you could hear her from the other side of the wall, doesn't mean you should take her bear,” Olivia scolded, inwardly wincing at hearing that Brianna had had another nightmare. “Now go back into the meeting hall. Micheal will have to talk to you two.”
Olivia watched the two of them sprint off and sighed. “Those two... I swear. They'll probably grow up to be supervillains.”
Rogers glanced at her, raising an eyebrow.
“I was kidding,” Olivia said steadily, then started to go pick up Brianna's bear.
Only for Barnes to beat her to it.
Brianna stood there in front of the tree, reaching an arm out to the tree to hold herself up. She was breathing heavily, her heart racing; she always hated those two. They always cornered her in the play room when she had loud nightmares. And they called her a freak sometimes which triggered her memories of... her past family. The Dursley's never were good memories.
Brianna started and turned to look at whoever had approached her, her eyes widening at the sight that met her. She glanced at where he was holding her bear with his metal arm. The man was crouched in front of her, on his knees. He held out the bear toward her, waiting, studying her. She reached out and grabbed it, pulling it close to her chest. She also tugged on some of her hair to cover up her scar, not wanting him to see it. She saw his eyes follow her hand then go back to looking at her.
“I've heard some not so good things about those bears,” James Barnes commented, glancing at her.
Brianna narrowed her eyes. “That's because people are stupid.”
Brianna turned to look over Barnes' head when she heard an unfamiliar laugh and her eyes widened again. Captain America was standing over with Olivia, smiling at both of them.
“You heard the lady, Bucky,” the leader of the Avengers said. “Guess you'll have to stop thinking that yourself.”
“Suppose I will. Bucky Barnes.”
Brianna watched him hold out his flesh arm toward her. She glanced between his hand and his face then back to his hand.
“Brianna Evans,” Brianna replied, hesitantly shaking his hand then shuffling back an inch or two. Her left leg mostly held then she put her hands behind her back and glanced at the ground, finding the grass under her feet to be very interesting.
“You're quite serious for a eight year old,” Captain America remarked, coming to crouch next to Bucky.
Brianna glanced up at the both of them, looking back and fourth between Bucky and Captain America. “Is it Superhero Day today?”
“No, sweetie,” Olivia strode over to stand next to her. “They're here to pick out a child.”
“Then why are you guys staying around me?” Brianna asked, frowning.
Cap raised an eyebrow. Bucky narrowed his eyes.
“What makes you say that?” Cap asked.
“'Cause I'm no good,” Brianna muttered, pushing her black hair behind her right ear and hugging her Bucky bear tighter. “A freak.”
The three sharp inhales she heard next made her look up again.
“You're not a freak,” Cap said, exchanging a look with Bucky.
“Who has called you that?” Bucky asked, metal arm flexing a little.
“Those boys,” Brianna responded.
Olivia sighed. “Well then. Luke and Mason will be receiving a talking to. Shall we move this indoors? It is rather cold out.”
“Brianna, do you need help?” Olivia added gently, glancing down at her.
Brianna shook her head, blinking her eyes against the pain that had suddenly made itself known. She should have known better to run on her leg; she just couldn't seem to get used to it. It wasn't like any adults in her past life had really helped her when she needed it. “Not really.”
She braced herself on the tree for one last minute then pushed away, sidestepping the two superheros. Brianna watched them stand up and could feel them staring at her and murmuring. But she just started to follow Olivia dutifully, automatically.
When they were just about at the door, Brianna stiffened when her leg got worse. She unwillingly let out a whimper and would have fallen, had it not been for strong arms coming around her. She started to squirm but when she heard Bucky's voice and realized that there was one flesh arm and one metal arm holding her. She then cautiously settled and burrowed into his arms.