Bucky slipped on a baseball cap over his head as he got dressed that morning. He was determined to have a good day. No more feeling sorry for himself, at least for today. Today was his baby's birthday.
Her third birthday.
He took one last check in the mirror and pronounced himself good to go. He'd change later, of course. But the jeans and t-shirt we're good for helping set up a party. A party his baby deserved. And everyone was going to be there.
Tony was gracious enough to let them host it at the tower. They'd ended up having a long conversation about what had happened. Bucky had a lot of respect for Tony. He was smart, and literally tried to protect them all. Most of all, he got Jane the help she needed after the incident, and absolutely adored Brooklyn.
Brooklyn called him Uncle Toto.
Tony in turn admitted that he had come to respect the man that Steve had talked so much about. Learning about the actual death of his parents, especially his mother, it was too much to take on, and he snapped. But after a long talk with Pepper and an even longer talk with Jane, he'd come to realize the actual people at fault were the ones they all shared a common hate for. Hydra.
And Tony more so than any of the Avengers, knew what it was like to be desperate and have your mind messed with. It was about survival. And the guilt that followed was something that they would have to work through.
Together. As a family.
Jane and Pepper were really close. It made sense that he and Tony would have to work out their differences eventually. He just never assumed it would be so fast.
And now Pepper was pregnant with a little girl, and the ladies had plans for them both to be best friends. Knowing the women the babies probably would be.
Like they had a choice.
Bucky shook his head in amusement as he heard Brooklyn's excited chatter on the baby monitor. She was staying the next room over in between their bedroom and Steve's, in the apartment they we're all sharing, including Sam and Darcy. While the apartment was big, five adults and a toddler we're enough to make it seem a little smaller.
Eventually he and Jane would get their own place, but he was doing better now with all the support around him. It was good to have Sam on hand for support. And Steve on hand to beat the shit out of him when he needed it.
Even Darcy's "modern-world technology" lessons we're helpful.
Of course Jane was there for him in every way, just simply being Jane. A shoulder to lean on. An ear to listen. Someone to hold him when he had yet another nightmare.
And then there was Brooklyn. His bright, blue eyed, little angel, with enough spunk and determination, and lack of self-preservation that Bucky, had she not looked exactly like him, would have been convinced she was Steve's daughter.
He was convinced God had a sense of humor, giving him another 'Steve-like,' tiny human to take care of. But she was so precious and precocious and full of life, that more often than not these days he was convinced that he must have done something right in a past life to deserve such an amazing gift.
Brooklyn had escaped her bed, of course, again, and was playing with a stuffed bear that Erik had sent her, that she had affectionately named Dog.
Bucky leaned on the door frame and watched her for a few minutes. He'd promised Jane he'd get her dressed and fed this morning. She had been running all week, spoken at three different conventions, and planning their baby's party, that a little sleep in was definitely deserved.
"What are you doing, Princess?"
She gasped and looked up at him, her blue eyes bright and shining, the way they always did when she saw one of her parents. Like he and Jane were rock stars or something. Like they were her whole entire world.
War and ice and death and time had separated him and the love of his life. But time gave them something more miraculous then either of them could have ever imagined.
Jane could have easily given her up, and he would forever be grateful for his girl's strength and the fighter she was. Brooklyn was magic.
"I paying, daddy. Dis my Dog," she held up the bear to him as he crouched down. He inspected the bear with an intensity that told her that her conversation with her daddy was the most important thing in the world.
"I think Mr. Dog needs a bath."
She wrinkled her nose in that cute way that reminded him of Jane when she tried a food she didn't like. "Bears don't take bafs."
"It's your birthday today. Did you know that?"
She nodded and smiled. "I dis many," she held up two tiny fingers, and he gently helped her put up another one.
"You're this many. You're three whole years old."
"I older than my mommy, huh daddy?"
He chuckled and lifted her easily into his arms, "Not quite, Princess. But you're definitely getting closer."
He helped her dress. He picked out the outfit that they got her. It was a white onesie shirt with with a pink, purple, and green decorated number '3' on it with a tutu that matched all the colors in her shirt. He helped her put on her strappy sandals and braided her long hair so it wouldn't get in the way when she played.
He was getting use to actually having a little girl, and he was loving it.
He lifted her up and put her on his hip and carried her out of the bedroom.
Darcy was already up and cooking. Which was pretty normal. She considered herself the "dorm mom," whatever that meant. Apparently it meant that everybody's laundry was always clean and folded, the main room in the apartment was always clean, the bathrooms were clean, and there was always food, readily available.
No wonder the punk had a huge crush on her.
"Hi Brooklyn," she squealed at the little girl. Brooklyn absolutely loved her aunt Darcy. And He did a little bit as well. She'd been there for Jane when he couldn't be, and he'd always be grateful. Her snark was endearing, and her 'mothering' was necessary for their little family. She kept Jane fed and watered when he didn't have the strength.
Yeah he was definitely working on that.
"Of course! The birthday girl gets the sweetest things on her birthday!" She motioned for Bucky to sit her in her high chair. "There's a bib over there on the counter. Tie it around her, will you? I don't want her to ruin her pretty outfit."
Sam mumbled something about not getting special treatment for his birthday last month, good naturedly.
"Quit your belly-aching," Darcy piped. "Do you see this little girl? Do you see this beautiful baby? How can you not just want to give her the world." Darcy kissed Brooklyn's cheek and placed a plate of cut up pancakes with a little syrup, and scrambled eggs on the high-chair, tray. "When you have a baby this cute, I'll make it the same thing."
"You first," Sam snarked back, laughing.
"Believe me, I'm trying. If tall, blonde and delicious would ever decide to make a move. I'm working for a blonde hair, blue eyed one if these little things."
Steve blushed to the root of his hair and the adults all laughed. Brooklyn was too busy eating her food with her fingers to notice.
Bucky filled his plate and kissed Bucky's cheek. "Thanks for this doll. You saved me some time."
"It's your first birthday with her, I figured you want a little more one on one time with her. Plus, this breakfast is tradition, isn't it munchkin."
No response. The little girl was busy smashing her pancakes. Many times he wondered if the serum they had experimented on him with, before Steve had rescued him, had been passed on to his daughter. He didn't know if they would ever know. But if her appetite was something to go by, and her small size, he would have to say yes.
Bucky turned to Steve. "Punk, please tell me you didn't get my kid a puppy."
"I can't tell you that. She has to be surprised when she opens her present."
Sam smirked. Darcy giggled. And Bucky sighed. Steve was a horrible liar. "Punk, I swear. If you got her puppy, you're taking care of it."
"Hey! She's my niece! She deserves to be spoiled!"
"Well spoil her a different way. Get her a trike."
"She already has one," Steve shot back.
Bucky sighed, again, and looked up when Tony knocked on the door entrance in the kitchen. "Sounds like a serious conversation." He walked in and kissed Brooklyn on then top of her head. "Happy Birthday, little bit. I love you."
The adults in the room smiled as she used one of her sticky hands to touch his cheek, "Wuv you, Toto," then turned back to her food.
"I came to tell you that the commons is cleared out from any 'Avengers' related stuff and ready to be set up for a Princess Wonderland. The caterers are setting up and ready to get cooking. And apparently Jane nixed the clown idea."
"Ooo yeah," Darcy grinned. "Janie hates clowns."
"Remind me to thank her. That was one of Pepper's worst ideas," Tony shuddered and sat down, grabbing a pancake of his own. "Where is the beaming mama, anyway?"
Bucky cleared his throat. "She's still asleep. Figured she needed it.",
Tony nodded. "Honestly she probably does. Things are settling down and finally starting to feel normal around here."
No adult around the table could deny that.
"Clint never brings his little Hawkeye's around, so little Brooklyn is going to get the best there is from Uncle Tony."
"Not a suit," Bucky growled.
"No not a suit, Barnes."
"Why do you not sound convincing?"
"Because I'm not trying to be convincing," Tony quipped and the conversation was done. Secretly they all worried about the Hydra threat. It was still out there, they all knew, but they never talked about the elephant in the room. That's probably why he and Jane never talked about getting a blood test done on Brooklyn. If they were able to manipulate him, who had years of experience and understanding, what could they do to a blank slate.
Tony worried about it too. If a suit could protect their child from possible threats then so be it. He could use all the help he could get.
Besides it was better than a damn puppy.
Tony pushed his plate aside, "That was damn good, Lewis. I love it when you cook." Darcy beamed at the compliment. "Can you watch the Little Bit, though? I need to borrow the Super Soldiers and Sam for setup."
"Hey," Sam interjected.
Darcy looked at him. "On your left." She laughed.
Sam looked indignantly at Steve. "Did you tell everyone about that?"
"He told me," Bucky quipped.
"Me too," Tony laughed. "And Pepper. And Jane was there too. And Thor. And that Sif girl. And Bruce. And Clint was there too with Laura."
Sam put his head on his arm and groaned. "One of these days, I'mma get me some if that serum."
"Well," Darcy tossed her hair to one shoulder. "Good luck with that, Sammy. Now go help Tall, dark, and delightful and tall, blonde, and delicious, will you?"
"What's my nickname?"
"You know what? That's some messed up stuff right there, Lewis. So messed up," Sam grumbled all the way to the door as Steve clapped his shoulder, following the other guys.
"Maybe she's got a friend.
"Shut up, Rogers!"
Bucky had never seen a more elaborate birthday party in his life. There was an inflatable castle. A chocolate waterfall, which scared the shit out of him. There were lollipops sticking out of sod that was brought indoors to give it an outdoor feel. Tables and chairs were set up, and a huge cake was on a table near the front that was almost as tall as him. Jane had said most of the cake would be donated, so that made him feel a little bit better about the extravagance.
There was a table that Pepper was manning, and making sure to take the name of every guest who brought a gift. And pictures of Brooklyn Barnes everywhere, on the walls, on the tables, on the movie projector.
There was apparently going to be a double-feature for some of the more 'hard-core' party goers.
Jane looked beautiful in her purple sheath dress and heels. Her hair was down, tumbling down her back, and curled. And she held their daughter on her hip as they said hello to more family. His own nieces and nephews had come and meet Brooklyn for the first time a couple months ago, and they were here today, dressed to the nines, and Jane was doing everything in her power to make them feel at ease. Things were still a little awkward between them, so Bucky was grateful for his girl.
The presents we're stacking up, so Tony called the party to order with a clink of his champagne glass. Bucky found his spot beside Jane and took Brooklyn in his arms and she laid against him.
"Attention everyone. Thank you all for coming. It's been quite a year. When we started making plans for this party, we hadn't expected it to be so big. I mean, I adore her. I love her. But she's three years old, so-" the audience chuckled. "My twenty first birthday wasn't this big, Brooklyn." Another laugh. "But anyway. We felt we needed this for all of us. We thank you so much for all the donations. They will all be donated to the Children's Hospital. Brooklyn actually had to stay there for a week when she was little, and they took such good care of her so we wanted to repay the favor."
Bucky looked at Jane, but she was smiling and paying attention to Tony. "I feel like those of us who live here, or are here everyday, we don't get to get together as often as we would like, so that was another excuse to make this party huge. I'm talking to you Clint." Another chuckle. "I think the point in all this is that this year was tough. Really tough. But we made it. We made it through and our family grew. Our family is still growing and that's awesome. The more, the merrier. So join me in raising a toast for one of the tiniest, most adorable human beings ever, who probably has no clue we're talking about her, but that's ok. Brooklyn Barnes," he raised his glass and the adults followed suit. So did the kids with their punch cups. "This one's for you sweetheart. Happy Birthday."
Brooklyn clapped along, just because everyone else was, but she looked genuinely happy. Jane's mom was even there, looking every inch the proud grandmother, as she chatted with his nieces and nephews about Brooklyn's 'early' years. "It was a very long labor. I almost forced her to get an epidural. But she's so stubborn. She delivered right on time."
By the time they got around to the presents, Brooklyn was tired, and more interested in the wrapping paper. Most of it was so pretty and shiny that her parents were about to give up. Until they got to Uncle Steve's gift. The box contained a Australian Shepherd puppy which Bucky tried to be mad at, but Brooklyn's reaction made it absolutely impossible. She squealed and wrapped her tiny arms around the fluffy white and black puppy, and the whole party got quiet.
"You can't just buy her love with a puppy, Rogers," Sam griped.
"The hell I can't," Steve grinned. "What are you going to name her, Brookie?"
Bucky got on the floor with her. "It's yours. You can name her whatever you want."
"Mm. I tink I name hewr Elsa."
Bucky kissed her cheek and Jane leaned down. "I think that's a great name. You should go tell Uncle Steve 'thank you'."
The toddler nodded seriously, as if that we're the most important thing in the world right now, and ran her little girl run to Steve and threw herself in his arms. The super soldier caught her easily and lifted her up. "Tank you, Uncle 'Tevie."
"You're welcome, Brookie, anytime." He sat her back down and she ran back to her new puppy, and her parents.
Darcy walked up behind him and cleared her throat. "So about that blonde hair, blue eyed baby."
Steve got even redder than before.
Bucky rocked his little girl in the recliner as they all sat and watched a movie. She was passed out, drooling on his chest around a pacifier she only wanted when it was nap or sleep time. Elsa was asleep near his feet, and Jane's tiny frame was curled up next to him as Darcy, Steve, Sam, Tony, Pepper, Natasha, Clint and his family, and Bruce all gathered on the sectional watching Willy Wonka. The only person who hadn't been able to make it was Thor, but he'd sent his well wishes.
Jane rubbed a caressing hand over their daughter's back and sighed. "I want another one."
"Baby. After this perfect one, I'll give you as many as you want," he kissed the top of her head. "Name the time and place and I'll be there."
"I'm sure," she giggled.
"We could practice first. Might take me a bit to come off birth control."
"I like to practice, practice is good."
"Mmm," she snuggled back into him. "Are you going to kick Steve's butt for the puppy tomorrow?"
"Naw, he looked down at the sleeping pup," he smiled. "I think if Darcy has her way, I'll get to return the favor."
"With a puppy?"
"No. With a cat. Punk hates cats. He use to be allergic."
"Aww. I love cats."
"Me too, but you know. Paybacks."
She giggled. "First let's make it through Tony and Pep's birth."
"Have they decided on a name yet?"
"Yeah. Morgan. I can't wait. They're going to be such amazing parents."
He smiled in their direction. "Yeah. I'm sure they will be."