Steve and Natasha's son is having trouble with bullies. He's half Natasha, so he's got fiery red hair, and he's half Steve so of course he wants to fight the bullies who tease him about said hair. Natasha's away on a mission, so it's up to papa Steve to advise their son on what to do.
Natasha’s on assignment for at least another week, if not two. Which isn’t the problem, really. He’s confident in his skills as a father and a caretaker in general. But.
But he is absolute shit when it comes to bullies. Especially when it’s bullies and his son. He’s not exactly surprised by his own reaction, granted, but he could do with a dose of Nat’s calm approach to these sorts of situations.
Mark is picking at his dinner and studying the grain of the table far more intensely than it really warrants. Steve thinks he understands now what he means when he hears other parents gripe about how hypocritical they feel telling their kids not to smoke when they’re sneaking a butt when they need one.
“I’m not going to pretend I didn’t start a lot of fights, and I’m not going to pretend that you shouldn’t stand up to bullies.”
Mark startles out of his thoughts, looking up to his father at Steve’s sudden outburst.
“They think it’s weird.” Mark screws his face up, light smattering if freckles across his nose shifting. “Orange and just.” He huffs.
“Your mother is way better at this than I am. I don’t think you should get into a fight.” Steve holds up a hand seeing Mark open his mouth. “I know I did it. Ask your Uncle where it landed me, more often than not.”
Mark cracks a smile at that. “Bucky says you were black and blue as often as you were blond.”
Steve smirks. “Every day.” He schools his features. “Listen. You got no reason to be ashamed of what you look like. Only 2% of people in the world have hair like you and Mum.” He pauses. “Look. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but sometimes, sometimes envy looks like other things.”
Mark shrugs, spearing a carrot with his fork. “Doesn’t change nothin’ about the jerks at school.”
Steve reaches across the table to smooth his thumb over the spot just above Mark’s shiner. “I need you to stop fighting. Just because you can win doesn’t mean you should fight.”
Mark huffs, exasperated, and sets his fork down to pin his father with a look he inherited from Natasha. “What should I do, then?”
Steve sighed. “You know, my Ma –your grandma- always told me to tell the truth. I always did, and I’m not about to stop now. I don’t know. It wasn’t a lesson I ever learned, not fighting.”
Mark smirked. “So I’ve heard.”
“Sass. –What I mean is, I know I’m supposed to tell you something about compassion and ignoring it or rising above it or that they’re taking their unhappiness out on you and that might all be true but,” Steve lowered his voice as if Natasha could hear him from wherever she was, “I’d still like to Have Words with those kids myself, even though I know the principal already did.”
“Your old man only has so many good speeches in him. Let’s work on this one together.”
Mark studied him for several long seconds before snatching Steve’s phone from the counter behind him.
“What’re you doing?”
“Texting Uncle Bucky.” Mark didn’t bother looking up. “He wanted to know if the day ever came you admitted you didn’t know everything.”