“Ask your mom,” Bruce said looking up from his computer at the two girls hovering in the doorway of his lab, hesitating to walk across the thresh hold. The girls recognized him as an adult. Someone to ask for permission but “dad” was still a struggle. Lyra hadn’t even known who he was. He’d not been there at all. And Harper, she’d been so little. So desperately tiny. Just starting to get a grasp on the world. And then he’d been gone.
“Mama told us to ask you,” Harper said, “She’s still at the store.” Bruce took off his glasses and stretched, unused to being the authority in the house.
You ran everything efficiently. Without him. For as long as the kids could remember. They knew you. They knew the rules, even if they bent them sometimes. Even if they tested boundaries. “Did your mom tell you when she was coming home?” he asked.
Harper shook her head, “She said she and Auntie Nat were getting lunch.”
Bruce nodded, “Well,” he said, standing up, smiling a little at the wide dark eyes that were looking up at him, “Let’s go see what we can do about it, hm?”
There were happy kid giggles and tiny rapid steps on the wood floors. It made him feel warm. It was so easy to make them happy. Currently, they wanted to make cookies. You’d bought cookie dough when you did the shopping for the week. All they wanted to do was bake said cookies. And eat some. He could do that. It was just cookie dough.
Nat looked up from chasing her last boba around her bubble tea with her straw, “So,” she said, “How’s Bruce doing?”
You smile a little, “He’s… he’s trying. He loves them. Adores them but… Two years is a long time to be gone. Especially where kids are concerned. They grow and change so much… I mean. Last time he saw Harper, she was just barely potty trained. And he didn’t even know I was pregnant with Lyra. Hell, I barely knew I was pregnant with Lyra. I’d just taken the test the day before all the shit started.”
Nat made a soft sympathetic noise and patted your hand, “I’m sorry,” she says softly.
You shake your head, “He just needs time,” you say with confidence you don’t feel, “It’s not like he doesn’t love them… He’s just not had to do daddy things. He’s not had to parent. He’ll get the hang of it.”
“Do you think the house will be standing when you get back?” she asked grinning.
“Neither of them are getting powers yet… and I made sure I left cookie dough where Harper would see it. I’d imagine they’re getting along just fine.” you tell her, taking a bite of your salad.
By the time you get home, shopping bags in hand, the house smells like cookies and the girls are racing around the yard in tutus and pretend wings at top speed, giggling and waving toy magic wands. Being chased by Bruce who’s laughing and scooping them up to tickle them and cover their little faces in kisses when he can catch them. You watch the scene and lean against the doorframe, smiling. This is what he wanted. Giggly little girls and magic sparkles. Sweet kisses and soft curls. When he finally sits in the grass, panting, only to be tackled to the ground by his baby witches, you can hear the distinct timbre of the Hulk’s laughter under his.
Lyra sees you first and climbs off of Bruce, running towards you as fast as her chubby little legs can carry her. Bruce watches the girls race towards you and grins as you scoop them up and kiss their chubby dimpled cheeks, taking a second to inspect them. They’re covered in chocolate and grass stains but happy. Chattering at you about all the fun they had while you were out.
They wiggle out of your arms to resume racing around the yard at top speed and you stand on your toes to kiss Bruce hello. “Good day?” you ask. Bruce smiles and cards his fingers through your hair, watching the silver at your part flow through his fingers. “Yeah,” he said softly, “It was nice… You made good kids.”
“You helped,” you point out, “You were just a little late to the party with Lyra.” He sighs, “I’m still sorry. I just… I was so afraid.” You hush him and kiss his jaw, “Bruce, it’s okay.”
He hugs you close and buries his face in your neck. It feels like home, still, hugging you like this. You smell the same. It makes him dizzy and if it weren’t for his daughters, lurking nearby. Watching. Deciding whether or not to find him wanting, he’d have nipped the spot on your neck that turned your knees into jello. But that was for later. After bedtime stories were read and the girls were fast asleep.
When he had you all to himself again and got time to lavish attention on you. Remind you that you were his.
“Why didn’t you move on?” he asked later, in the quiet. In the rumpled bedding, your head on his chest.
“No one could ever measure up to you,” you say smiling a little, “And it wasn’t fair to make them try.” Bruce cuddled you closer and popped you lightly on the backside, “So you were just going to be alone forever?”
“I knew,” you tell him, “Somewhere in the back of my mind, that you weren’t dead. You couldn’t be dead because if you were dead I’d have felt it… I could get a sense, sometimes, while you were on Sakkar. That you were stuck. Lost… I just had to trust that you’d find your way home to us.” Bruce nodded, “Were you ever angry at me?”
“Only every other minute while I was in labor with Lyra,” you tell him, “You were supposed to be there. You promised me I’d not have to do all this alone and then, you were gone. I had a newborn and a toddler and no you.”
Bruce winced and you sigh, “Please don’t apologize, Bruce. Please. I don’t want you to be sorry. I want you to be here with us. I don’t want you to feel like you’re an outsider.”
“I know,” he said softly. You move carefully to straddle his hips and pin his wrists above his head gently. He smiles up at you and chuckles when your hair brushes his face when you cover him in kisses. “You belong here,” you tell him softly, “You’re mine.”
“Yours,” he agrees, groaning as you sheath him inside you, impatient for him. You kiss him, slowing, licking into his mouth and leaving him with no doubts about what you wanted to happen. “Careful,” Bruce rumbled, “Keep kissing me like that and I’m not gonna stop, Y/N. Not until I put another baby in you.”
You smirk, “Think you’re up to it?” you challenge, teasing him.
He thrusts up, rolling his hips lazily, relishing watching you squirm on him, “I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?”
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