by Pixie Child
Rebecca Kaplan has never had cause to seriously question her abilities as a parent or the choices she made in that roll until now. She is a successful psychologist, conceders herself to be healthily self-aware and has three happy, if somewhat rambunctious, boys. She admits there have been rough patched in the past, just as she knows there are sure to be more in the future, but that's normal. She'd have cause for concern if there weren't difficulties.
Sixteen years ago, when Rebecca and Jeff decided to start a family, they both agreed their children would come before anything else and neither of them had ever felt it was too much of a hassle balancing their careers and their family. They chose positions that allowed them to put their children first and neither of them have any regrets about it.
But when Captain America shows up at their door, something deep inside Rebecca freezes. She knows Billy is safe -as illogical as it is, she believes just as all parents do that she would know if something happened to her baby- but she also knows something is very wrong and it isn't something she will be able to fix.
"Thank you for the tea, Mrs. Kaplan." Captain America says evenly, but his eyes are fixed on something behind her. His lack of eye contact makes Rebecca feel sick. She's met this man before and to say he was unfaltering or unyielding would not do him justice. She knows whatever he has come here to say, it will be paramount. Rebecca is terrified.
Rebecca can remember that particular Saturday morning as clearly as if it happened this morning. Billy was eight years old and they were already going to be late for Jeff's mother's birthday. She was standing in the doorway, blocking her oldest son's escape. He stomped his foot and scowled at her.
Rebecca sighed. "No, Billy."
He tugged the fabric tighter around himself. "But why not?" He demanded obstinately.
"Billy, we've already discussed this." She told him. "Your cape is acceptable to wear around the house, at costume parties and on Halloween. It is not okay for school or family gatherings."
"Ignoring, for the moment, the likelihood of it causing you to be ostracized by your peers and leading to antisocial tendencies, costumes are not appropriate for a family reunion."
"I hate being in this family!" He yelled, clearly trying to manipulate her into changing the rules.
"Well, I'm sorry about that, Billy Kaplan. But you are just going to have to get over that, because we are the only family you have. When you're older, you're welcome to look for a new one if you still feel that way, but until then, you need to do as I say." She pointed towards his room. "Now, please, go put your cape away so we can leave."
Billy did as he was told, although he stomped the whole way to his bedroom. Rebecca pressed her palm to her forehead and sighed again.
By the time Billy remerged, Jeff had come back inside to see if he could help. "Ready to go, son?" He asked.
"I'm getting a new family when I'm old enough." He announced, still scowling, and pushed his way past them and out the door. "One that'll let me wear my cape to family stuff."
Jeff arched an eyebrow at her. She shook her head. "It's not important." Rebecca murmured as they followed. "Normal childhood development."
Later, that night when they came home and were in bed, she told Jeff the whole story and he'd agreed with her. Now, though, after hearing about the Scarlet Witch, lost souls and reality-altering magic, Rebecca isn't sure of that anymore. She told her son he could find another family and he did.
"Now, look," Jeff begins and she is grateful he can speak because she is having a hard time just remembering to breathe, "I don't care what evidence you have, nothing you say can convince us that Billy is anyone other than our son."
"Mr. Kaplan, I am not saying Wiccan isn't your child." Captain America says, looking taken aback. "But it seems as though he may be more than that."
"He really put them all in comas?"
"But no one was hurt." Jeff presses.
"No, no one was hurt," the Avenger says, "but they could have been. Your son acted without conscious thought and they could just as easily have ended up dead or erased from existence."
"Billy wouldn't--" Rebecca starts, but she's interrupted by her son coming home.
"--self." Billy's eyes go wide when he sees Captain America with them.
"Son...?" Jeff says calmly, giving Billy an opening, but her oldest child doesn't say anything.
"Is it true?" Rebecca asks just as evenly. She's raised her boys to know that they can tell her anything without judgement. It doesn't matter if it is true, she will always love him. Billy still doesn't speak, but he doesn't run either. "Oh, Billy, come here." She holds out her arms and he comes to her. "We'll work it out." She whispers to him, "It'll be alright." And this man in their house may be the most well-know man in history, -for all Rebecca cares, he could be the Christian Devil himself- but that doesn't stop her from glairing daggers at him when he opens his mouth to contradict her. Whatever the source of his abilities may be, he is still Billy Kaplan and Rebecca Kaplan is his mother. And she will fight against everything in this life and the next for him.
Rebecca is already missing Billy less than an hour after he's left for the Avengers' Mansion with Captain America. She leans back into Jeff. "Our baby's gone." She whispers, mostly to herself. Her husband tightens his arms around her.
"He'll be home soon." Jeff susurrations into her hair, low and soothing. "He's still our son. Nothing can change that."
"Of course he is." Rebecca says hotly, "And anyone who says otherwise will have to answer to me."
"No, honey. Not you, us." He says. "We're a family. Families can't ever be separated, only expanded. Don't forget, Ted's with him. And he's no more likely to let anything happen to Billy then we are."
Rebecca laughs a little at that. "Probably less. We were mean parents, we used Bactein when Billy got hurt. Theodore carries around one of those 'ouch-free' creams they make for small children."
"We couldn't ask for a better future son-in-law." Jeff agrees. "He's defiantly one of the family."
"Mm-hmm. They all are, in a way. The Young Avengers are his and that makes them ours." Suddenly, Rebecca jerked up. "His family is ours."
"Once this is all sorted out, I'm going to have a dinner party."
"For The Young Avengers?" Jeff asks.
She gives him a withering look. "For Billy's other family."
"You want to have Magneto and Quicksilver over for a dinner party?"
"You're insane." Jeff says in disbelief. But he's smiling.
Family. It's what matters most, and for all the hassle, Rebecca wouldn't change hers for anything.
~ Pixie Child