Summary: Steve contemplates life and mortality (a drabble).
In this new and confusing world, Steve is happy to have been given a place within it, no matter the consequences.
The Avengers aren’t just his team, and despite their differences and the arguments that they hash out, he can’t help but let his heart latch onto the very thing he thought he’d lost nearly seventy years ago:
People he can call friends.
People he can call his family.
So while he keeps up a calm, stoic reserve on the field and a relaxed, friendly demeanor off of it, Steve decides that he’d gladly lay down his life for any of them because a life without him is a better prospect in his mind than a life without them.
But Steve Rogers is not a fool. He is not naive enough to trick himself into believing that if he just keeps risking life and limb for his teammates that he will postpone the vulnerability of their mortality. He knows that, one day, most of The Avengers will grow old, and with age comes death.
He’s given a great deal of thought to this, during his sleepless nights where his brain doesn’t seem capable of shutting off and his stomach churns and his chest feels tight from the contemplation. He’s forced to assume that Tony will be the first to go. His co-leader lives each day as if it’s his last as it is, but Steve knows that by doing so the end will only be brought about sooner. He can only hope for a natural death, but liver disease seems all the more likely a fate for Tony Stark.
If Natasha and Clint somehow manage to survive their occupations not only as Avengers but as assassins of S.H.I.E.L.D. long enough to become what most deem an ‘elder’, Steve suspects that the two will die around the same age, if not within a year of each other. Due to their attachment to one another, though unspoken, he simply cannot imagine one surviving the loss of the other for long. Age, then grief, would claim their lives.
The remaining three - Thor, Bruce, and he - would live for quite some time, training new Avengers and fighting side-by-side. Out of their trio, Steve isn’t sure who would be the first to go, Bruce or him. Personally, he prays it’s him.
Steve has accepted this, embraced it even, simply by allowing himself to care for them. He’s accepted the fact that through the years, he will have to watch at least three of his friends age and die. He’s accepted that he will possibly watch their children and grandchildren age and die as well, like some heirloom passed down from generation to generation. He could detach from them, close himself off from them, but he refuses to. He needs them. He needs them more than they need him.
He has accepted it, this inevitable loss, and - though agonizing - he wouldn’t have it any other way.