Author Topic: Christmas Steve  (Read 440 times)

Lucy Rogers

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Christmas Steve
« on: December 24, 2016, 09:22:49 AM »
'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Oakcroft
Laughter rang out from cellar to loft
With stockings and presents laid out with due care,
There was hope running wild that soon Dad would be there
Yet as the day darkened, and nighttime grew near,
Not a footstep or whisper could anyone hear
Cuddled up with their mother, the children all sighed
It wouldn't be Christmas if Daddy had lied ...


Lucy had hoped so much that Steve would make it home during the day on Christmas Eve, knowing that his obligations on Earth were as pressing as anything else happening. But it was Christmas. The children had been so patient, so understanding of all the time he had spent away from them over the past months, but Lucy knew that missing Christmas would be unforgivable. Still, she tried to keep the day upbeat, keeping Jamie and Lianne busy with cookie decorating and last minute present wrapping, and putting Martin in charge of sorting the contents of his siblings and father's stockings to be filled later on.

But as the evening wore on, and they lounged together on the couch, reading those seasonal stories and poems together, she knew the dreaded question was looming. It had to be asked, and she didn't have an answer.

Thankfully, she wouldn't have to answer the dreaded question, "Will Dad be home for Christmas?" as Steve finally managed to drag himself away from whatever had been keeping him at Avengers Mansion and return home to Rhy'Din. He'd never really had any reason to be sneaky at home, but he knew how to be stealthy, and it was that stealth that allowed him to slip quietly into the house without anyone being any wiser - except for the dog. He'd no sooner stepped inside than Thor was there to greet him, wagging his tail and demanding a greeting. "Thor, quiet. Down boy," Steve whispered, as he ruffled the dog's fur.

In the lounge, the little family were none the wiser, wrapped around each other as they watched the snow falling outside, illuminated by the festive lights strung up around the windows. Somehow, they had all managed to get in close contact with Lucy - she was sandwiched between Martin and Lianne, with Jamie dozing on her lap, wrapped around the bump that housed their unborn baby sisters.  With one hand stroking Lianne's hair, the other arm wrapped around Jamie, and her cheek on Martin's hair, she was singing softly, hoping to put off the question she didn't want to answer.

"... if reindeer really know how to fly; And so I'm offering this simple phrase to kids from one to ninety-two; although it's been said many times, many ways ..."

As quietly and carefully as he could, Steve crept into the kitchen, Thor happily wagging his tail as he followed at his master's heels. Steve smiled as he tip-toed toward the living room, seeing his little family gathered close together on the couch, waiting for Dad or for Santa or both. He watched them quietly a moment, his heart full of longing, having missed them more than words could say. It wasn't until Lucy reached that point in the song that his voice joined hers, "Merry Christmas to you."

"Papa!"

Barely was the musical phrase out of his mouth than Steve was charged by at least two children, Jamie and Lianne tugging each other off Lucy's lap to stumble over themselves in a mad rush to say hello to their father. Lucy gasped, surprised and delighted to see him, far slower to rise than anyone else. Far more emotional, too, though hopefully the children were not going to see the tears in her eyes. If they did, she'd blame it on the twins.

A third voice joined in, but instead of "Papa", Martin exclaimed, "Dad!" As much as he wanted to join in the charge, he turned to tug Lucy off the couch, a wide grin on his face. "He's home," he declared, knowing how worried she'd been, even if she'd tried hard not to show it.

Steve laughed as he was practically tackled by two out of three of his children. "Sorry I'm late. Uncle Tony kept insisting on yet another glass of eggnog," he explained, though that was only half-true. True enough that he wasn't lying.

"You missed the carols and the cookies and the wrapping and you're home and we missed you, Papa!" Lianne was exclaiming, burrowing into Steve's arms to hold on tightly.

Lucy's smile was close to radiant as Martin helped her up, wrapping her eldest up in a warm hug to kiss his hair. "He's home," she agreed softly. "Go and say hello."

Steve swept Lianne and Jamie up into his arms, kissing them both on the cheek more than once with a loud smacking sound. "I missed you, too!" he told them both. While he made no promises about how long he was going to stay, he wouldn't miss Christmas with his family for anything short of a disaster.

"You, too, Mama," Martin replied, smiling warmly up at her as she hugged him close. And then, he was gone, charging toward the door to tackle his father in a rare hug. "Welcome home, Papa! We missed you." His tone of voice told Steve they'd been worried without coming right out and saying so.

"Sorry," Steve replied again. "I got away as soon as I could."

Jamie wrapped himself around Steve's leg as Lianne gave Martin a turn at hugging their father, clapping her little hands as she bounced happily. It was the perfect Christmas present, to have Papa back with them again. No amount of novelty sweaters could replace him. "Did you bringed Santa?" Jamie asked hopefully, looking up at Steve with big blue eyes that were just like his.

"Santa doesn't come until very late at night when you're sleeping, Jame," Steve reminded the little boy with a chuckle. It was hard to hug Martin back when his arms were full of Jamie and Lianne, but that didn't stop Martin from hugging his father around the waist. Steve laughed again, unable to move, surrounded as he was by his children. Even Thor was barking in welcome. He did manage to lift his gaze to Lucy's, blue eyes sparkling suspiciously. "It's good to be home." It was strange to think of Rhy'Din as home, but it wasn't so much the world or the city or the house that defined home as it was wherever his family was.

"It's good to have you home," she smiled in answer, trying to conceal her sniffles for the sake of the children. "Jamie, why don't we go and make Papa something nice to drink and you can pick him out a couple of cookies?"

Mollified, despite his disappointment that Steve hadn't brought Santa with him, Jamie wriggled down from his dad's arms to seize Lucy's hand and pull her into the kitchen.

"I have it on good authority that Santa will be here later," he assured the other two.

Though Martin had stopped believing in Santa some time ago, he went along with the charade for the sake of his younger siblings. "We were worried you might not make it home for Christmas," the boy told him.

"Have you ever known me to break a promise?" Steve asked, setting Lianne on the floor and crouching down so that he was almost at their level.

"No, Papa," Martin replied gravely.
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Lucy Rogers

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Re: Christmas Steve
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2016, 09:23:27 AM »
Steve drew them both in for a hug, holding them close, burying his face in first one head of hair and then the other and breathing them in. "There is no place I would rather be than here with you," he told them both. "Now, no more worries and no more tears. It's Christmas, and we're all together, and we're always going to be together. Even if I have to go away sometimes, I will always come back. Promise."

Cuddled in close, Lianne sighed happily, glad that Papa was home for Christmas. A thought occurred to her, and she raised her head, glancing furtively toward the kitchen before whispering loudly, "Did you bring Mama's presents?"

Steve smiled at his daughter's question and laid a finger against her lips. "Yes, but no telling. It's a surprise," he whispered. And that wasn't the only surprise he'd brought with him - he'd brought back a sack of presents that was big enough to almost rival Santa's.

Cheering happily, Lianne squeezed Steve tightly for a moment before backing off. "You are wearing your shoes in the living room," she informed her father disapprovingly. "I made a picture and Martin helped! Where did we put the picture?" Her eyes turned inquiringly to her big brother, demanding to know the location of their handiwork silently.

Steve laughed. It was just like a woman to scold him and want to please him all in the same breath, even if that woman was a tiny one like Lianne.

"Mama put it on the refrigerator," Martin replied, pronouncing the word one syllable at a time.

"Why don't you fetch the picture while I take my shoes off?" Steve asked. There was also the question of that sack on the porch he was going to have to hide somewhere.

"Okay, Papa!" Nodding happily, Lianne grabbed her brother's hand and dragged him into the kitchen to find the picture they had heavily decorated together earlier that day. It was mostly glue and glitter, but there were discernible shapes that might have been stars and reindeer in the shining chaos. Jamie was given the honor of carrying it back out of the kitchen - Martin, on the other hand, had the distinct privilege of carrying a tray of hot cocoa, with Lianne carrying the plate of cookies behind him. Because Lucy needed a moment, caught between roiling hormones and sheer, unfettered relief on seeing Steve home and safe when she had been so worried all day.

While the children were fetching the drawing, Steve took off his shoes and his coat and made sure the Christmas surprises were well hidden on the porch for later. By the time he was finished, the children were there to present him with the drawing and with the hot cocoa and cookies. As happy as he was to be home, Steve frowned to find Lucy still hadn't joined them. "Where's your mother?" he asked, unable to hide the concern on his face, worrying she was either angry with him for not calling or that something was wrong with the babies.

"All sniffly," Jamie informed him, his mouth already full of cookie as he nestled down next to Martin, poring over the picture he hadn't seen properly yet.

Lianne looked up at Steve. "Mama said she would only be a minute."

Sniffly didn't sound good, but he didn't want to alarm the children by making a fuss, so he only nodded his head and joined the children on the couch.

"She's okay," Martin assured his father as he very carefully set the tray down on the coffee table. "She was just worried."

"I'm sorry," Steve apologized again. "I didn't mean to worry you all."

"Is Aunty Tasha all right now?" Lianne asked, dipping her finger into each of the cups to find the one that was cool enough for Jamie to drink. "Mama said that she was the one who called for you this time."

"Aunty Tasha is just fine," Steve assured her, offering no further explanation and leaning over to take a look at the picture his children had made for him. "Oh, that's very ... sparkly, isn't it?" he asked as he admired the picture and tried to discern what it was supposed to be a drawing of. Martin was making a face as he watched his sister dip her finger into each of the cups.

Lianne stuck her tongue out at Martin, finally locating the right cup and picking it up to give it to Jamie who, true to form, downed half of it before realizing that it was warm. Giggling at her little brother's chocolate mustache, she claimed her own cup and nestled in beside him, pointing out the special shapes on the glittery picture.

There was one thing about glitter - it got everywhere, and by the time Lianne was finished pointing out the various shapes and explaining what they were, all four of their hands and faces were sparkling with traces of glitter as the picture had been passed back and forth. "We'll have to hang it up in a place of honor," Steve said, knowing that place of honor would probably be the fridge again. "Why don't I go do that while you drink your cocoa? I'll be right back," he told them, touching a kiss to the top of each child's head before he moved to his feet, careful not to upset the cocoa and cookie tray.

"M'kay." It was Lianne who answered, smiling innocently up at him as she cuddled into the couch with Martin and Jamie, enjoying their cocoa and cookies together.

Lucy was still in the kitchen, obsessively wiping down surfaces as she struggled to get her emotions under control. The last thing she wanted to do was show Steve wet eyes, especially on Christmas Eve.

"It's okay, Dad. We'll keep an eye on Jamie," Martin volunteered for both himself and his sister, though as the eldest, he felt it was really his responsibility to watch out for his two younger siblings. He was also old enough to know that his mother needed a little consoling, and that their father was the only one who could do it.

"I won't be long," Steve promised, ruffling Martin's hair affectionately before making his way to the kitchen.

When he got to the kitchen, his wife was leaning on the counter, apparently looking out through the window, but on closer inspection, she was just staring into space, trying desperately to calm down. "This really isn't appropriate, Lucille," she was informing herself quietly. "It's Christmas Eve, stop being a cry-baby and go enjoy it with your family, you ridiculous woman."

And suddenly there were two strong, warm arms wrapped around her waist and two soft lips kissing her cheek. "Don't cry, Luce. I'm home. Everyone is safe. Johnny and Liv will be joining us tomorrow, and we'll all be together," he reminded her gently.

She almost jumped, startled to find him right there even as she leaned back into his arms. "I'm sorry," she apologized softly, resting her temple against his for a long moment. "It's just ... it's been a long day, and I couldn't face telling them you might not make it. And now you're here, and safe, and ... and I'm crying, this is stupid!"

"I promised I'd be home in time for Christmas," he reminded her again. "Did you really think I'd miss it?" he asked, brows furrowed, though she couldn't clearly see his expression with her back turned. "I'm sorry I'm late. I wanted to surprise you, not make you upset," he told her, feeling horribly guilty, and unable to hide it from his voice as he spoke.

"I'm not upset!" She twisted about in his arms, sliding her own about him. "I'm not upset," she promised, in a slightly calmer voice. "I'm happy, and I'm relieved, and I'm hormonal. I was like this with Jamie, remember? You caught me crying over a toilet roll advertisement because the puppy was so cute. We're in for another few months of that, I'm afraid."
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Lucy Rogers

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Re: Christmas Steve
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2016, 09:24:03 AM »
He frowned doubtfully at her, knowing that was true, but it was also true that he'd been late getting home and he knew it had upset not only her, but the children, too. "I tried to get away sooner, but Tony insisted on ..." He glanced toward the doorway as if to make sure the children weren't listening. "He sent me home with a pile of gifts for the kids. Johnny and Liv's, too," he told her, lowering his voice to a whisper, so the children wouldn't overhear.

"Oh ..." Despite her best efforts, the information that Tony was finally embracing his role as brother and uncle just made Lucy weep a little bit more. She was laughing at herself at the same time, though. "Oh, for goodness sake, Lucy!" Laughing, she reached for a tissue to dry her eyes. "Since when am I so sentimental?"

Steve wasn't sure why she was crying and laughing at the same time. Was she upset? Was she laughing at him or Tony or herself? Had he said or done something to upset her, or was it just hormones? He turned her to face him, taking the tissue from her hands so that he could dry her tears. "Honestly, I think he's kind of lonely."

"Liv invited him to dinner with all of us tomorrow, but he said he had plans," she told him, smiling as he dried her tears. "Is it safe enough for us to take all the kids to the mansion and visit on Boxing Day, do you think?"

"Maybe he just doesn't want to intrude," Steve suggested, though he wasn't really sure about much of anything where Tony Stark was concerned. There was something sad and lonely about him, more so when Pepper wasn't around.

Lucy's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "We'll go and visit on Boxing Day," she said firmly. "All of us. The mansion is safe enough, and there's a portal set up there now, anyway. Besides, it'll be good for the others stuck in that big old place to have some company for a little while, too."

"And how do we explain it to the kids?" he asked, though he'd never been one to keep secrets from them, especially knowing what Martin and Lianne had been through. But there was a sentient computer to explain, as well as a spy turned assassin, among other things. "Do you think Thor celebrates Christmas?" Steve asked with a smirk, as he considered the other members of his Avengers family.

She snorted with laughter. "If he does, that would be hilarious," she admitted, leaning into him fondly. "And the kids know enough not to ask too many questions. Nicholai has been cleared of the triggers that made him hostile to you, so he's no immediate threat. It'll be good for all of them to see something approaching normal for the season."

Steve chuckled at the irony of Lucy's statement. "There's nothing normal about spending Christmas with the Avengers, Luce," he pointed out, relieved she was smiling again. "Should we rejoin them before they come looking for us?" he asked, touching a kiss to her brow.

"I did say approaching," she pointed out with a warm smile, rising onto her toes to kiss him properly. She'd missed him while he was away, and though she knew there was good reason for his absences, it still made her ache to be away from him for too long. "Welcome home."

"It's good to be home," he replied with a smile, returning her kiss, his arms around her waist. He wasn't sure if he was fighting a losing battle against Hydra or not, but he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he just let them win without a fight.

A chorus of quiet giggles interrupted them from the doorway, where their darling children were peering into the kitchen, each wearing a familiar grin as they watched their parents kiss.

Lucy very nearly blushed, eyeing the trio in amusement. "And what is so funny, may I ask?"

"It's the kissing," Steve replied, knowing good and well what it was the children were giggling at. "You know what happens to little children who spy on their parents when they're kissing?" he asked the trio, with an almost straight face.

Eyes wide, Lianne shook her head, but for once, Jamie was way ahead of his older brother and sister. With a shriek of laughter, the two year old spun away, cackling at the top of his lungs as he ran as fast as his little legs could carry him in search of somewhere to hide from the tickles.

Steve couldn't help but grin as Jamie shrieked and ran away. It seemed to take a minute for Martin and Lianne to react. Martin assumed he was too old for retaliation of the tickling variety, but it seemed his father disagreed as he swooped toward the pair with the intention of picking them both up and carrying them off in search of Jamie.

Thor bounded into the kitchen to join in the bundle of bodies before Steve managed to whisk them out of the room, deliberately getting in the way purely because it was fun. It wasn't often that the elderly dog did something like that, but when he did, it was always worth it. Laughing, Lucy followed after the stumbling, cackling group, pausing to reassure Cherie, who was a little weirded out by all the noise.

By the time the fray was over, Steve was sprawled on the floor in front of the Christmas tree, tackled and held down by three small children, one elderly dog barking in excitement. It was a little crazier than the usual evenings in the Rogers household, but it was full of fun and laughter.

Lucy had kept well out of proceedings, settled on the couch with Cherie making the most of free access to the bump, which provided a surprisingly comfortable perch for the young cat these days. "All right, small people, time for jammies and teeth," she told the kids warmly. "I love you dearly, but not enough to put up with tired tantrums tomorrow because you didn't get enough sleep tonight."

Steve laughed at the sighs and grumbles of the three little people straddling him. "You heard your mother," he warned, like any other father would. "The sooner you get to sleep, the sooner Santa will get it," he reminded them, rolling to his side to drop each of them to the floor with a thud. "Go on, shoo!"

"And don't forget to come back down so you can leave out a pie and some carrots," Lucy reminded them fondly as Lianne huffed and threw herself down on her back, reluctant to get ready for bed, let alone actually go to bed. Jamie snickered, toddling over to kiss the bump before claiming Martin's hand for help getting up the stairs.

"What's the matter, ma petite?" Steve asked, as his fingers tickled at Lianne's sides in hopes of making her laugh again, or at least, smile. "Don't you want to see what Pere Noel is going to bring you tomorrow?"

"I don't want to go to ... bed!" The huffing whine turned into another shriek of laughter as she succumbed to tickling fingers, wriggling as she tried to bat her papa's hands away.

"Christmas will come faster if you go to bed," Steve promised, pulling her into his lap as he moved to sit up. "Why don't you go get ready, and I'll come tuck you in and read you a story?" he asked her, hoping he wouldn't have to put his foot down. He was far too soft-hearted when it came to the children. Hopefully, they didn't learn to take advantage.

Sighing, the little girl cuddled into him for a long moment. "'kay, Papa," she said eventually, wriggling out of his lap to go and join her brothers upstairs.

Lucy smirked faintly. "You know, I'm not sure how much of her acting out is high spirits, and how much is jealousy over knowing she's not going to be the only girl in the house come May."
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Lucy Rogers

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Re: Christmas Steve
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2016, 09:24:36 AM »
"There's not much we can do about that," he said, once Lianne had scampered away. "She's always gonna be my Li-Li. They're just gonna have to learn how to share us." He knew it wasn't going to be easy on the boys either, particularly Jamie, to have to share their mother. He wasn't too worried about Martin. He seemed pretty secure with his place as the eldest son.

"I know," Lucy smiled. "And I'm not worried about it, to be honest. It'll be hardest for the first six months, but we'll have plenty of help. Liv's already offered to take the twins whenever we need them to, so we can spend time - proper time - with the others."

"God, Luce ... We're gonna have five kids!" Steve said with a chuckle, as if he was just realizing this. He moved over to the couch, still on the floor so that he could lay his head against the bump where the cat had been resting a moment before.

"I know!" she laughed, stroking her fingers through his hair. Under his cheek, gentle movement suggested that the twins were settling down for the night themselves, more content now that Steve was home and Lucy was no longer tight with worry. "We can do it. Although I might have to have my tubes tied to stop your swimmers from getting me up the duff again."

"Sorry!" he found himself apologizing again. He'd never considered the fact that his "swimmers" might inherit his enhanced constitution, not to mention Lucy's inherited tendency toward multiple births. "One more and we'll have half a dozen," he teased.

She giggled, bending down to kiss his forehead. "Five is quite enough to be going on with, thank you," she chuckled affectionately. "One more than I ever really considered having, to be honest. I never really thought of myself as ever having twins - I was more wishing that on Liv, to be honest."

"They're not far behind us," Steve reminded her, touching a kiss to the baby bump that housed their twins. "I want to be here as much as I can," he told her, feeling torn between family and duty. Both were equally important, but with twins on the way, he was leaning toward family.

"I know you do, love," she assured him. "I promise, I'm not always as shaky as I have been today. I'm so glad to have you home for Christmas, but I do understand the need for you on Earth. I know as well as you do that something is brewing, and that Hydra won't take having their S.H.I.E.L.D. funding removed lying down. But for just a couple of days, let's try to leave all that at the door? For the kids, if nothing else."

"The others can handle things without me for a while once the twins are born," he promised, turning quiet as his fingers were in gentle caress of her baby bump. He promised himself it was the last time he'd mention work, at least until after Christmas. As much as it worried him, thinking and talking about it robbed them of the peace and solace they enjoyed as a family. "Love you, Luce," he murmured quietly, glad to be home.

"Love you back, Steve," she promised him softly, bending her head to kiss his hair. "And I apologize in advance if these two kick you in the stomach in bed - I have no control over your baby girls."

He laughed at her apology. If that was the most he had to worry about, life was pretty good. "I don't mind. I've been kicked by a lot worse," he told her with a smirk. He turned his face toward hers, leaning toward her so that he could brush his lips against hers, knowing he was taking a chance at being caught in the act again, but not really caring. If their children didn't already know how much he loved her, then it was about time they found out.

She smiled against his lips, stroking her fingertips through his hair as they shared that affection in the soft light from the fire and the Christmas tree. Drawing back, she sighed happily, nuzzling to him for a long moment. "I'll go and get the bits out for Santa," she said. "They won't settle until they know everything is prepared for the visitor." And she was planning on calling Natasha and Pepper, too, just to warn the two most organized people involved with the mansion that Boxing Day was compulsory.

"I'll go see what's taking them so long," he said, a little reluctant to part from her, but once the kids were in bed, they'd have plenty of time to snuggle. He kissed her again, just for good measure, before getting to his feet and helping her to hers.

She needed all the help she could get when it came to extracting herself from the couch these days, but Lucy didn't mind so much. It was only going to get worse before it got better, after all. "Go on, then," she told him fondly. "Mind out when you go into the boys' room - Jamie's been talking about setting up a trap to catch Santa."

"A trap?" Steve echoed, laughing. "I'll consider myself warned." Wouldn't that be funny, especially considering the true identity of Santa. As he headed toward the stairs, he could already hear the children jockeying for spots at the sink so they could brush their teeth.

Lucy chuckled in his wake. The last he heard before he was out of earshot of his wife was her voice as she connected with Earth. "Hey, Pepper - do you and Tony have plans for Boxing Day? Well, now you do ..."

In the bathroom upstairs, Jamie was at the back of the queue, his mouth full of foamy toothpaste, waiting patiently for his turn to rinse and spit. Lianne was hogging the sink, scrubbing her face with her pink flannel and resisting all attempts to move her on.

Even the most perfect children argued sometimes, and when all three of them were excited and exhausted, there were bound to be a few conflicts. While Jamie seemed content to foam at the mouth, Martin was clearly irritated and scolding his sister in their native French.

It was right about then that Steve appeared, using that stealth of his again to sneak up on them. "How's it going? Lianne, you're going to rub your skin raw if you keep scrubbing. Let your brother rinse the toothpaste out of his mouth before he drips all over the floor, please."

"I was just going to, Papa," was his daughter's innocent reply in the face of all the evidence, neatly stepping aside to grab her towel and dry her face as Jamie bounced up to spit his mouthful into the sink and immediately jumped back down again so Martin could have his turn. The toddler turned around to show off his bright smile to his father, raising his hands to be carried back downstairs, however briefly.

Martin looked slightly annoyed as his sister sucked up to their father and Jamie flashed him a grin, but Steve only ruffled his hair again before reaching to pick up the littlest of the Rogers children. "Your mother is in the kitchen setting out a treat for Santa," he told the trio.

"I'll be there in a moment, Papa," Martin promised as he went about scrubbing his own face and teeth and combing his hair. He'd been switching lately between Papa and Dad when addressing Steve, as if he wasn't quite sure which was correct, but Steve happily answered to both.

"So will I, Papa," Lianne piped up, suddenly scurrying out of the bathroom and into her own room. Steve was treated to the sight of his daughter peeking furtively out through her own door, making sure Martin was still in the bathroom, and sneaking across the hall into her big brother's room with a small wrapped package in her hands, which was carefully tucked underneath his pillow before she snuck back out again. Jamie snickered next to his ear, resting his head on Steve's shoulder.
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Lucy Rogers

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Re: Christmas Steve
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2016, 09:25:13 AM »
Steve smiled when he witnessed Lianne being sneaky, but he dutifully kept her secret, even as Jamie snickered in his ear, the little boy's head heavy with sleepiness. "Okay, let's make sure Mama has everything set for Santa, and then it's off to bed!" he said, as he led the way back down the stairs.

Downstairs, Lucy had hung up, the warning shared not only with Natasha and Pepper, but also with Liv, about their imminent invasion of the Avengers Mansion on Boxing Day. She was waiting in the kitchen, the cookies, carrots, and milk all ready to go. "Are we all squeaky clean and ready to go?" she asked, wrapping an arm about Martin as he came close.

"Oui, Mama," Martin replied, slipping back into his native French - a sign even he was getting sleepy. It had been a long day for all of them, full of worry about whether or not their father would  make it home in time for Christmas. Jamie was already nodding off against Steve's shoulder, and Steve sensed Lianne might not be far behind.

Lucy smiled, hugging her eldest fondly. "Let's leave the treats out and then we can get to bed," she suggested warmly, handing the carrots to Jamie, the cookies to Lianne, and the milk to Martin. "There's a table all set up next to the tree."

"D'accord, Mama." Martin beamed at his mother's hug, proud of his spot as the eldest, even if he was taking it a little too seriously, trying to be the man of the house whenever his father was away. Both he and Lianne had been forced to grow up too soon, and Steve wanted them to enjoy the rest of the childhood as much as they could. What better night to be a child than Christmas Eve?

"All right, troops! You have your orders!" Steve teased, blue eyes bright with happiness to be home with those he loved most.

"You heard the captain!" Lucy added, laughing as Lianne marched straight out into the living room like the cutest pink-clad soldier ever created.

She moved with them, making sure everything was set up securely on the table, and the children had the opportunity to admire the tree one last time before everyone trooped upstairs. Kisses and goodnight wishes were shared among the family, and Lucy had one more surprise for Martin and Lianne. She had noticed last year that some of the English carols and songs were unfamiliar to them, and had spent much of the last month making the effort to learn one French Christmas song to send them off to sleep with. Petit Papa Noel was her Christmas Eve gift to the two elder children, even if she did get the words wrong.

As for Steve, his French was far better than Lucy's, but he'd had plenty of practice during the war. Even so, by the time they were finished with the carol, he was laughing along with the children. Foreheads and noses were kissed, wishes for a peaceful night's sleep were given, and blankets were tucked about the children before Mama and Papa crept back downstairs to do whatever it was parents did before they, too, went to bed for the night. In the boys' room, Martin had found something unexpected beneath his pillow and had sat back up in bed to try and figure out what it was.

It was Lianne's furtively hidden package, wrapped in bright paper, and inside was something she had worked hard on keeping a secret for more than a month. A simple picture frame, painted with smiling faces and bright colors by his little sister just for him, and with a photograph of their family inside it - not just Mama and Papa and Jamie and them, but Aunty Liv and Uncle Johnny and their cousins, too, taken by Uncle Tony at a barbecue over the summer. It wasn't much, but Lianne had been insistent on giving it to Martin on Christmas Eve.

Martin had a present of his own for his sister, but it was safely hidden beneath the Christmas tree for morning, and now he was wishing it wasn't so that he could give it to her privately, like she had him. Even so, it wasn't nearly as nice as what she'd given him, and he found himself so touched by her thoughtfulness that he was tearing up. He wished now that he hadn't scolded her in the bathroom and hoped she knew he hadn't meant anything by it. He admired the gift by the light cast from the miniature Christmas tree that was serving as a temporary nightlight - all the people he loved most in all the multiverse were in that photo, but there was no one he loved more than his sister, even if she did irritate him sometimes. Looking over to see if Jamie was asleep, he slipped quietly out of bed and tiptoed his way to his sister's room.

Lianne was trying to settle down to sleep, but it's a little difficult to do that when there's a cat sitting on your face. Cherie had yet to work out that her little mistress wouldn't wriggle half so much if she didn't insist on lying over Lianne's mouth and nose when they first got into bed.

"Cherie," Martin whispered as he crept into his sister's room and carefully picked up the cat to move her off his sister's face. "It is more comfortable here," he told the cat as he set her back down at Lianne's side and paused a moment to stroke her fur. "Does she always do that?" he asked his sister curiously.

Rubbing her nose as she giggled quietly, Lianne nodded, her little hand lowering automatically to scratch Cherie's head as the young cat purred. "Every night," she told her brother with a grin. "I think she thinks it is a game."

"She's just trying to get warm," Martin pointed out, though he wasn't too sure how he knew that. "Do you mind if I stay a while?" he asked, though he was already peeling back her covers to climb inside beside her.

"Non, c'est bon," was Lianne's soft reply, wriggling backwards to make room for her big brother as he climbed in beside her. She tended to drop back into French when they were alone together, purely because it came so easily.

"Merci," he replied, turning to face her, so that they could whisper together in the dark. "I'm sorry about before," he apologized, falling into the French that was their first language and that came easier than English. "I didn't mean to be cross. I was worried about Papa."

"I know," she assured him softly. "And I am annoying. I don't mean to be, but I know I am." She nestled in next to him comfortably. "Will Mama and Papa still love us when they have the new babies, Martin?"

"You're not being annoying," he disagreed. "Okay, maybe a little, but I didn't mean to scold you." He let her lay her head against his shoulder, finding comfort in her companionship, but then, unlike Alex and Maria, they were related by blood and had known each other since birth. "Of course, they will. What makes you think they won't?" he replied without hesitation, refusing to consider the alternative.

"Because they will have girls, and I won't be the only girl anymore," she replied without needing to think about it at all. "And there will be two of them, and only one of me." It was a needless worry, but one that was playing on her mind. She loved their parents deeply, and the thought of losing their love because they had better girls to love was heartbreaking.
[size=9:7dea4b7eca][color=darkblue:7dea4b7eca][i:7dea4b7eca][b:7dea4b7eca]Prevention is preferable to cure.[/b:7dea4b7eca][/i:7dea4b7eca][/color:7dea4b7eca][/size:7dea4b7eca]

Lucy Rogers

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Re: Christmas Steve
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2016, 09:25:46 AM »
"But Li, they had Jamie before they had us, and they still love us just as much. Papa always says you're his girl. Are you afraid he won't love you anymore?" Martin asked, trying to understand. He had never worried about his place in the family or whether or not his parents loved him, but maybe that was because he was the eldest.

"I won't be his girl anymore, I'll be one of his girls," Lianne confessed. She was too young to feel ashamed of how selfish this sounded, but a part of her felt something, enough not to want their parents to know how worried she was about losing her place in their family.

Martin wasn't sure, but Lianne's worries seemed to have more to do with their father than their mother, for some reason, and he wasn't quite sure how to console her and assure her that nothing was going to change as far as their love was concerned. "You'll be the eldest girl. Our sisters will look to you to help them, like I help you and Jamie," Martin pointed out, hoping that might help.

"Truly?" Clearly that thought had not occurred to her, judging by the way her face lit up at the prospect. "Like ... like Fliss is with Maria and Beth? I-I could be our Fliss?"

"Fliss is a little older than us, but oui ... pourquoi pas? You are good with Jamie, too. He adores you. Anyone can see that in the way he follows you around. And you can help Mama with the babies, the way Fliss helps Tante Olivia," he pointed out further, glad she was seeing things another way now.

"And Mama is like Tante Olivia, and they did not have so much trouble when Beth was born," Lianne whispered wonderingly, a slow smile crossing her face. Pleased with this interpretation, she wriggled about to hug her big brother. "Merci, mon frere. Happy Christmas."

"De rien," Martin replied, hugging her back, glad he was able to help, though he knew there might be more touchy moments in the days and weeks to come. "Happy Christmas, ma soeur. Je t'aime," he offered further, smooching her cheek.

"Je t'aime," she whispered back to him, cuddling in and almost squawking in shock as a small hand gripped her hip. "Jamie!" She giggled at the sight of their little brother trying to scramble up onto the bed with them.

Martin laughed to find Jamie joining them, not wanting to be left out. "Get in the middle so you don't fall out," Martin instructed their younger brother. "But you have to promise to go to sleep, or Santa won't visit!" he told them both.

"Promise," Jamie insisted, kicking his way underneath the covers in between his siblings.

A quiet complaint from the end of the bed suggested that Cherie might be sleeping with Thor tonight, making Lianne giggle quietly as she cuddled down next to her brothers. "Bonne nuit, mes freres."

"Bonne nuit!" Martin replied, making sure both Jamie and Lianne were tucked in before settling down himself, a smile on his face. It was good to be part of a family again and to know they were loved. If there was anything he was wishing for Christmas, it was that it would always be this way for their little family and that nothing would ever change the love and security they shared.

Little did he know that his parents shared that wish. It was the right sort of Christmas miracle ... the kind that really happens, not because of some divine intervention, but through love and determination, and the Rogers had that in spades. No matter what the New Year threw at them, they'd stick together. All of them.
[size=9:7dea4b7eca][color=darkblue:7dea4b7eca][i:7dea4b7eca][b:7dea4b7eca]Prevention is preferable to cure.[/b:7dea4b7eca][/i:7dea4b7eca][/color:7dea4b7eca][/size:7dea4b7eca]