Home Sweet Home (Rumlow X Reader) Chapter Thirtyone

Chapter Thirtyone – You Were There For Me!

Brock parks his car by the side of the road. Leans his head back against the seat. Then he takes a deep shuddering breath. “I love you too”. You did say that, right? You chose tonight, of every night, to tell him that. He closes his eyes, swallows hard. What did he do? Not only did he not man up to tell Jack what he was doing, he fought him, in front of you. That was so not called for. God how he wished he could go back in time and do that part different. It’s Jack for fucks sake. His best friend. Brock takes another breath thinking back. 

St. Mansfield Texas 1989

Brock kicks a small rock down the sidewalk. He didn’t have to take this route home from school. But he liked to walk through this neighborhood. To look at all the nice houses, daydreaming about how it would be to actually live in one of them. Those houses with big Gates in front of them, and nice yards, big cars and new bicycles. How it could be if he just dared to go into one of those big beautiful parks, and actually sit on one of the benches there. Maybe even pick flowers he could give to his mom. 

Brock sits down on a bench on the sidewalk across from the park, just looking at it. Contemplating if he should or could go in at all. It wasn’t that it was closed or anything. But he just felt out of place. His clothes was well used, and his mom couldn’t afford the really good stuff. He was used to that, it was the life he lived. And he would never admit to his mom that he was envious of the other kids. Those kids that could go to private schools, and had new clothes and bicycles. 

Loud voices and laughter from inside the park makes Brock run across the street and into the park without even thinking. He sees them right away. Four or five kids around one little boy. The boy can’t be more than 6-7 years. Like his little sister Becca. The kids around him rips his backpack off him, and throws it into a water pond. The boy cries for them to stop, but that only serve for the other kids to laugh at him. 

– Can’t your mom just buy you a new one. 

One of the other kids says, then there’s laughter again.

Brock feels his blood boiling. 

Two of the kids take a hold of the boy, and are about to throw him in as well. Brock can’t just stand and watch any longer. 

– Hey!

He shouts, earning everyone’s attention. 

– Five against one is unfair!

He continues, walking towards them. The kids now running in every direction, except for that little guy. He picks up his backpack from the pound, looks at it, as the water drips from it, sniffling. 

– Are you okay?

Brock asks, kneeling in front of the boy. 

– It was brand new…

The boy says, as tears start to run from his eyes. Brock swallows. Thinking about all the times his mom had to wash his backpack so he could continue to use it. 

– Maybe it just needs a bit of washing? I can ask my mom to help.

He says. Trying to calm the little boy down. 

– I tried to run away from them…

The boy continues, as a fresh wave of tears run down his cheeks. 

– Want me to follow you home?

Brock asks, offering his hand to help the boy up. The boy slowly takes his hand. 

– I’m Brock!

Brock says, as the other boy gets up to his feet. 

– Jack Rollins!

The boy answers. 


Brock leans forward, leaning his face into his hands. Then his whole body tenses up. He desperately tries to keep his tears back, but to no avail. His whole body shakes. How could he let this happen? To you! To Jack! What had he done? Ruining all your lives. Dissolving a friendship that had lasted almost his whole life. Jack even enlisted because of him. So they could face that together, as friends. And now… He went behind Jack’s back in such a matter that it would never be the same again. Maybe he should’ve let Jack kick his ass back there in the house. Maybe he shouldn’t have fought back. 

Brock gives himself a couple of minutes after he’s done crying, before he starts the car. He makes a split decision to go to Sam and Michael’s place instead of going home. He needs someone to talk to. And Sam was the best choice, given that she already knew about you. It might even be good to finally open up to Samantha again. It’s been way too long since he last did that. 


– No, Aaron, you can’t have a candy bar for supper!

Samantha tells her 6-year-old, as she sits him down at the kitchen table. 

– Chocolate Milk?

Both Aaron and Lucas ask at the same time. Samantha looks at them, and smiles. 

– Okay. But don’t tell daddy. It’ll be our little secret. 

She tells them, sending a quick glance towards the study room, where Michael is working on his computer. He was a computer programmer usually working odd hours and from home. Samantha didn’t complain, Michaels job helped to give them a comfortable life, and she was thankful that her two boys didn’t have to grow up poor, like she did. 

She had just placed a glass of chocolate Milk in front of each of her boys, when the doorbell rang. A quick look out the kitchen window at her brother’s truck, told her that it was Brock at the door. A smile dances on Samantha’s lips. It wasn’t common that Brock showed up unannounced, and it was a welcomed sight. Even if Samantha wouldn’t admit it out loud, she missed her brother. The brother she had before the war. The brother who opened up to her. 

Opening the door to Brock’s batted features makes Samantha gasp in surprise. 

– Oh, Brock!!

She says, brows pitch in concern. 


She yells to her husband, earning the attention of both her boys, who both hurried out into the hall to see what all the commotion is about. 

– Uncle Bro… Ooooo

Lucas says, looking at Brock with big eyes. 


Aaron yells, running to get his dad. 

– Lucas, can you go into the kitchen and eat your supper?

Samantha asks her youngest son, as she gives him a loving pat on the head, making sure he actually leaves, before she turns to Brock. 

– Brock! What happened?

Sam asks, sending one more look towards the kitchen, before she takes a better look at her brother. 

– Well…

Brock starts, then he shrugs. 

– Let’s put it this way! I’m definitely not invited to Friday BBQ tomorrow…

He continues, shrugging again. Samantha gestures for him to walk into the living room. 

– Oh, Brock! 

She says again, before Michael finally shows up with the first aid kit. 

– Whoa! Who died?

Michael asks, when he sees Brock, then he hands the first aid kit over to his wife. 

– My pride…

Brock answers dryly, as he sinks down on the couch. He takes another deep breath. Michael disappeared into the kitchen to get Lucas ready for bed.

– He actually hit you?

Samantha asks, as she sits down next to her brother. 

– Someone hit uncle Brock?

Aaron asks, as he takes a seat in a beanie bag. 

– Aaron..

Samantha says, looking at her son. 

– It’s okay, Sam.

Brock informs her. Samantha gestures that Brock can explain. She knows that Brock can find the right words to describe this. Aaron gets up from the beanie bag, and sits next to Brock on the couch. 

– You see, Aaron. I love this girl.

Brock starts, then he takes a breath, forcing his tears back. 

– She hit you?

Aaron asks, with wide eyes. 

– No, Aaron. She didn’t hit me.

Brock continues. He looks back at Samantha for a second, as to make sure he can continue. 

– There’s this other guy. And he loves her as well. Probably more than I do.

Brock says, clearing his throat, waiting for Aarons reply. 

– You fought because of a girl?

Aaron asks, surprised. 

– Yeah.. You could say that.

Brock says, with a little smile from the little boy’s obviously innocent approach to this. 

– That’s a stupid reason to fight!

Aaron says, folding his arms over his chest. Earning a small laugh from both his mother and Brock. 

– Yeah… You’re right. It is!

Brock replies, smiling to Aaron. 

– You could just do rock, paper, scissors!

Aaron continues. Earning a smile and a loving chuckle from Brock, and a happy laugh from his mom. 

– That’s what I did, with Caleb in my class, when he wanted to hug Andrea, at the same time I did.

Aaron continues with an enthusiasm that only a 6-year-old boy can have. 

– I won!

He adds, before he leans back on the couch, theatrically showing off his win. 

– Okay there Don Juan!

Michael says, as he comes up behind Aaron. Michael slips his arms under Aarons, before lifting him up. 

– Time to brush those Pearly whites. 

Michael continues, placing a kiss on Sam’s cheek as she gets up as well. Brock looks at the love exchanged between his sister and his brother in law. God how he wishes he could have that with you  But that picture seems really far away right now. 

Samantha disappeared into the kitchen. And Brock can hear her taking out glasses from the cabinets, and getting something out from the fridge. He leans back on the couch, and takes another deep shuddering breath. 

Samantha stops in the door, two red wine glasses in one hand, and a bottle in the other, she takes in the sight of her brother, leaning back on the couch, staring up at the ceiling. She can’t help but think back. 

Brock had enlisted fresh out of high school. The weight of the world on his shoulders even back then. After their dad left, even before Rebecca was born. Brock had taken on the task as the man of the house. He had to grow up way too fast, and he had chores that no boy his age should’ve had. He helped around the house, helped with homework, helped with everything. And then… Then he enlisted. Of course Samantha, who was only 18 months younger than Brock, was old enough to understand that the US Armed Forces went to war, but nothing much happened after he was done with Basic training. That was until that day. The day is etched into Sam’s memory, like a painful burn. September 11th 2001. Everything changed that day. Samantha feels like her life, and her family’s life is before and after September 11th. And Brock… Oh, how she wished she knew, like really knew, how that day changed Brock. 

Samantha closes her eyes for a moment  Trying to remember her brother’s eyes before deployment. November 7th 2001 he left for his first tour in Afghanistan. And that glowing life in his eyes left with him. Brock came back, but that light, that life, that was left behind, in the rubble of the Afghan Villages, the dust in the deserts, in the now long gone military camps, amongst the endless rows of tombstones at Arlington Cemetery. Samantha was so unbelievably proud of her brother, but she hated what the war had done to him. And she hated how the US government treated or didn’t treat other Veterans who didn’t have the same opportunities that Brock had. For all she cared The President could burn in hell for what he sent those young boys and girls into, without caring for them when they got back home, marked for life, by what they’ve seen and done. But she would never tell Brock that. 

Samantha feels tears sting her eyes, and she forces herself to stop her line of thoughts. She takes a deep breath, before walking into the living room. She places the bottle and the glasses on the table, before she sits down in an armchair, lacing her fingers together, contemplating what to say to Brock to break the heavy silence that suffocates the room. 

– You want some wine?

She finally says. Forcing herself not to touch the subject of his batted features. 

– Look like you could use some..

She continues, before she opens the bottle, and pours a glass for both Brock and herself. 

Brock isn’t saying a word, it’s like he disappeared into himself, and shut the world out. 

The room is cloaked in a thick silence, tension hanging heavily in the air. Samantha sits across from her brother, who’s perched on the edge of the couch. His elbows rest on his knees, chin heavy on his fists, and she can see the weight of remorse etched into every line on his face.

-He trusted me… he trusted me, and I let him down.

Brock murmurs, his eyes glazed over with a mix of sorrow and self-loathing.

-That’s not true—

Samantha begins, but Brock scuffs, cutting her off. The air is laden with the raw emotion emanating from him.

-Isn’t it, though? He trusted me around his daughter, and I ended up falling in love with her. My guys trusted me, and look where that got them. They’re fuckin’ dead, Sam.

Brock says, running his fingers through his hair. Each stroke seems to bear the weight of guilt and despair, as if he’s trying to physically scrub away the sins that haunt him.

-James doesn’t have his dad because of me. I took that from him.

Brock says, tears welling in his eyes. He takes a shaky breath, the weight of guilt bearing down on him.

-I took that from him.

He repeats, the words heavy with remorse, as tears escape down his cheeks. His emotions wrestle within him, leaving him feeling unworthy of your love. The visible struggle is evident in the tight clenching of his fists as if desperately trying to grasp something slipping away.

-I don’t deserve her love.

He mutters to himself, the weight of self-condemnation echoing in his voice. The haunting thought that you might be better off without him lingers.

In his mind’s eye, Brock envisions himself as a storm, unpredictable and destructive, ready to let you down just as he did others. The fear of becoming the source of your pain gnaws at him, turning the love he feels for you into a bitter pill to swallow.

-I’ll only let her down too.

He confesses, the weight of perceived failures pressing down on him. The idea that he could disappoint you heightens his internal struggle, leaving him torn between the longing to love you and the fear of causing you hurt.

As Brock wrestles with these thoughts, the room seems to constrict around him.

Samantha takes a deep breath, watching her brother’s pain unfolding before her. She moves closer, gently placing her hand on Brock’s shoulder in an unspoken gesture of comfort.

-Brock, you can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. James’s situation, the loss of his dad—it’s not your fault.

She reassures, her voice soft and comforting. 

-Life throws challenges at us, and sometimes they’re beyond our control. You didn’t take anything from him intentionally.

Brock looks up, seeking solace in her eyes. Samantha continues, 

-You’re human, and humans make mistakes. What happened in Afghanistan, what happened between you and YN —it’s not solely on you. She knew the risks too, she knew what might happen. We can’t change the past, but we can choose how we move forward.

She gives his shoulder a reassuring squeeze, underlining her words. 

-Blaming yourself won’t fix anything. You’re more than the sum of your mistakes, Brock. You have the power to change, to grow, and to make amends. But you need to forgive yourself first. 

Sam continues, knowing fully well that that task is a hard one to take on. She can’t even begin to understand how it feels like to fight a war. The only thing she knows about that time in Brock’s and their family’s life is how hard it was to sit at home, watching the news, hoping and praying that their son and brother would return home safely. 

– How am I supposed to do that, Sam? They’re dead because of me! Jonas, Amanda, Christian, William, Felicia, Miles, Peter…

Brock’s voice breaks. Miles and Peter had barely turned 18. It was their first tour. They both shared similar backgrounds as him, and they enlisted because they needed the money, and it was their only way to “see the world”. College wasn’t an option for them, because of the economic situation of their families. Miles wanted to become a teacher, and Peter; he dreamed about becoming a paramedic. Had they survived they would’ve changed the world. Two good kids, with their whole lives in front of them. Now the only thing left of a life cut short, was two Stones out of a thousand at Arlington, with their names and rank on. It should’ve been his name on one of those Stones. Brock would’ve given just about anything to switch places with them. 

– I don’t know, Brock. I wish I did. But I think the first, and most important thing you can do, is to realize that you’re not the one to blame for what happened in Afghanistan. 

Samantha says, softly. Looking at her brother. In one way she wants him to finally cry, to open that door. But at the same time she’s pained by Brock’s heavy emotions. It’s tormenting him to keep it all bottled up like this. It must be a slow painful torture. And Samantha secretly hopes that his love for you, is what he needs to finally open up. 

– I lied to him. I told him that he would be okay. That everything would be okay. 

Brock finally says, after another long silence. Samantha looks at him, hoping he’ll continue talking. That he’ll finally let at least some of his suffering out. Pour it out on me, Brock, she thinks. 

– Miles… He.. He died in my arms. And I told him that everything would be okay. I knew that it wouldn’t. The better part of his lower body was blown up. He just kept screaming for his mom. And I lied to him, on his death-bed; I lied to him, Sam…

Brock says, and then he can’t hold his tears back any longer. The images of that day are etched into his memory; Like God himself wants to punish him for his mistakes. Samantha puts her arms around Brock; and they cry together for a while. Brock because of his overwhelming feelings of guilt and remorse, and Samantha because her brother finally opened up; because he’s finally crying, finally letting it out. 

Michael stops in the door, watching as his wife runs soothing circles on her brother’s back, comforting him. He knows how hard this has been on both of them. Michael and Samantha were highschool sweethearts, so he had been a part of the family for years. Witnessing how Brock deteriorated after the war. And that vicious hag of a woman he had been engaged to didn’t exactly help the matter. Michael had a deep profound respect for Brock. His determination to care for and protect his family and his country; and everything he’d given up to do so. If it were up to Michael; he’d drape the American flag around Brock’s shoulders like a superhero Cape. The country and the whole world needed more people like him. 


Jack pauses outside the door to your room; listening to your sobs. He forces himself to not knock, he should probably leave you alone right now. This is not the right time to try to talk some sense into you. So instead of knocking he continues into the bathroom. After stripping down to his boxers, he turns on the shower. As he slips his boxers off he takes a look at himself in the floor to ceiling mirror. The scars on his upper body is a reminder of  hard learned lessons, memories of a friendship that took him to corners of the world he never thought he’d ever visit. Now, he’d been to Europe several times growing up; Italy, France, Spain The UK. He had been to almost every state in the US, and Mexico was also a frequent travel destination. But Iraq and Afghanistan, that was something entirely different. 

Afghanistan August 2008 

Jack puts his hand over his pocket with your picture one more time. Two more months, two more months and he can go home again. It was getting worse by the minute over here, and all he wanted was to get back home safely; so he could hold you again. He was thankful that he could be home during the holidays, and that he could be there for you on your 5th birthday. 

It was hard being here, to see all the suffering. He especially felt for the little ones; those who couldn’t defend themselves. Every time he saw them, his thoughts went to you. Just the other day, he encountered a child soldier. The boy couldn’t have been more than 11, maybe 12 years old; Maybe not even that. When he had to point his rifle at that little boy; it made him feel powerless. What was he actually doing here? It didn’t always seem that the US Armed Forces even helped. They still got attacked left and right. No place felt safe, and Bin Laden was still not captured or killed. Maybe they just made things worse. At the same time he knew why he decided to go. September 11th was a turning point. And Jack wanted to stop them, before they did it again. Never again; not in your lifetime. That was what he kept telling himself. That was the whole reason he enlisted; well, you and Brock. He wanted to protect you both. After everything Brock had done for him, when he was growing up; this was the least he could do in return. 

– You’ve said that for the last two tours Jack!

Brock tells him. And it takes a second or two before Jack realizes that Brock just answered a statement he doesn’t even remember making. This whole situation is messing with his head. 

– This time, I mean it, Brock. YN is almost five years old, and all she knows about me is that I’m constantly leaving to fight someone else’s war.

Jack replies. Now, that might come off as hard. But he was sick and tired of this. And being away from you as much as he was; it was getting harder and harder as you grew older. He puts his hand protectively over his pocket again, at least he could have your picture with him wherever he went. 

– Two more months. Two more months, Jack. Then we can both get out. Now, focus on the mission. And don’t get us killed out here!

Brock says, compassionately. Jack doesn’t reply to that with words. He just sends his best friend a nod, before he grabs his rifle a little harder. They’re riding in the middle of a convoi of three vehicles. And this particular route isn’t the safest way to travel, but they were short on time. They were in the middle of an open landscape, easy to see from every direction. He knew he had to be ready to fight. 

– How is it going ba….

That’s the only thing Brock gets to say before bullets hit every surface of the vehicle. Everything happens so fast, that Jack can’t even think. Orders being shouted over the high pitch sound of bullets that fills the air. Taking cover behind the vehicle, fighting back as medics take care of the wounded. 

Jack looks over to his right, making sure that Brock is alright. 

– RPG!!

Someone shouts. The loud whooshing sound fills the air, before everything around him bows up, sending him flying backwards. 

After that, he only remembers bits and pieces; and he’s not even sure if his memories play tricks with him. 

Brock’s voice

Your face

The sound of a helicopter

Jack can’t help but put his hand over his heart; right where he kept your picture, for all his tours. He looks up, letting the water wash over his face; his whole body hurts, and it’s not just from the fight he had with Brock. The hurt and betrayal he feels; from both of you. It’s overwhelming. 

After drying off, and slipping into his cotton pj pants; he takes a good look at himself in the mirror. His face bearing more evidence of the fight than he thought. Wiggling his jaw a bit, to check if everything is okay. Shit, he shouldn’t have done that; Correction, he shouldn’t have done that in front of you. 


When you finally stop crying, you flip yourself over to your back, staring up at the ceiling. “I love you too”. God, why did you choose tonight to say that? Almost like you knew that this was it, that it was over. Your dad would never let you see Brock again. And you didn’t want to be the reason they got into another fistfight. 

You close your eyes, you can’t cry anymore. Your eyes are already so sore that you almost can’t see clearly. In the darkness behind your eyelids you can see it unfold again. Your dad punching Brock repeatedly in his side. Brock grabbing your dad, pushing him across the room. The sound of things falling to the floor, and the angry noises, the sound of fists hitting. And then you, screaming “I hate you!” to your dad. You didn’t hate him. You hated the fact that he got into a fight with Brock, and that he tried to control your life. And you hated yourself for getting you all into this situation. 

You lift up your phone; staring at the screen for a while, contemplating if you should send a message to Brock. You want to, but you have absolutely no idea what to write. What do you write after something like this? What do you say? Do you tell him that this messed you up on a whole new level? Or, do you lie, and tell him that you’re fine? Lie, at least that’s something you know how to do..

Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport April 2023!

The flight from Newark to Dallas Fort-Worth took exactly 4 hours and 16 minutes. You had your carry-on luggage and one suitcase. The rest of your stuff would be shipped. If that would ever happen. It felt both good and strange to be back here. It wasn’t like you left 100%, you did visit during holidays. But to leave your mom back there in New York; it gives you chills. 

You see your dad right away, standing there; tall as a tree, a head above everyone else. You take a breath, pushing everything that had brought you to this moment to the back of your head. 

– Welcome home sweetheart! Did you have a good flight?

Your dad says, greeting you with a hug. 

– Yeah, I had a first class ticket. It was comfortable. 

You reply, trying to sound tired, in the hopes that your dad won’t ask too many questions about why you’re moving back to Texas. 

– Hungry?

Jack continues. He keeps looking at you. You do get that maybe he missed you. But still; in this situation it makes you uncomfortable. 

– You do know that they serve you food in first class, right dad?

You say, with a little smile. It wasn’t that you didn’t want to have dinner with your dad. It was just that right now; right now, you needed to adjust to this new situation. You needed to push everything into that corner of your mind, and lock the door; so you never had to think about it or relive it again. 

– So, how’s Gen doing?

Jack says. There it is. The dreaded question. The question you really don’t want to answer. Not because you don’t know, but because you can’t. You promised. 

– She’s good…. She’s good!

You finally reply.

Lies, all lies…

You take another deep breath. God, why is everything in your life so damn hard? Being with Brock took all those memories away. He made you feel so safe, protected and cared for. And now it was going up in flames. Crumbling around you like the last that was left of a burned down house. And Brock wasn’t here…

You lift up your phone, and start to write a message to Brock. “I need to talk to you”. Then you erase it again. Now is not the right time for this. There’s never going to be a right time for this. And you did make a promise. But if it was one you should keep… You weren’t so sure about that anymore. 

You decide to type out a message to Molly and Jess instead. 

“He found out about Brock! FML!”

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