Author Topic: Organized Chaos  (Read 634 times)

Steve Rogers

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Organized Chaos
« on: February 22, 2019, 07:27:41 PM »
((Please note that this scene includes some brief adult content.))

Dinner time in the Rogers' household was often chaotic, but it was organized chaos. With a family of seven, the kids had their fair share of chores, which consisted mainly of setting the table and feeding their various pets. The older children helped the younger children, and except for some occasional grumbling and minor disagreements, dinner time usually ran like a charm. Steve and Lucy wouldn't really have it any other way, and though they weren't strict disciplinarians, the children seemed mostly happy to cooperate. Still, a new baby right next door was an exciting event and had even the smallest of the Rogers' children excited.

"Jamie," Steve said, for perhaps the fifth time. "Use your fork, son. You're making a mess."

Steve was right - there was a lot of mess tonight, and it was entirely because everyone was over-excited. "All right," Lucy suddenly announced. "Everyone stop eating and put your hands on the table." She demonstrated, making eye contact with each of the children until they actually did it. Even the twins made a creditable attempt, wide-eyed and grinning at Mama's sudden assertive calm. "Now," Lucy said in as soothing a tone as she could manage, "we are going to sit silently for one minute and imagine all that twitchy energy dribbling out of us through our toes."

"But Mama, I'm using a fork!" Martin pointed out helpfully, holding up said fork to make his point. He was the eldest, after all, at nearly eleven years old and thought he should be exempt from scolding.

"Mama said everyone, Martin," Steve reminded his son, setting an example by putting his fork down and setting his hands obediently on the table.

Lucy smiled at her eldest reassuringly. They'd talked about things like this, that she needed him to go along with her in front of his siblings more often than not. "All right, smalls," she declared. "Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let it out through your mouth, and dribble all that energy into the floor for me."

"When can we go see baby Lia?" Jamie asked, as he wiggled in his seat, clearly more than a little over-excited. "She's got aw'most the same name as you, Li!" he declared with a grin, despite his mother's directions.

"Jamie, are you listening to your mother?" Steve asked, gently. Martin nudged his brother's arm, who blinked in surprise and turned his attention to Lucy.

"Oh, sorry, Mama," he said, rubbing his nose instead of taking a deep breath through it.

Lianne shushed her brother at the same time as everyone else seemed to, beaming across the table at him. The twins, on the other hand ... Sarah was inspecting a fascinating bit of mashed potato on her palm, and Natalia was scratching her head with her spoon, but they were both quiet, so that was good enough.

Lucy chuckled softly, letting Jamie calm down a little bit. "All right, are we all calm?" she asked quietly. "We'll go and visit Colin and Nat tomorrow, but not all at once. There are a lot of us, you know."

"There's seven of us!" Jamie declared with a grin. "See? One, two, t'ree ..." he started, pointing at each one at the table in turn. "Do the twins count as one or two?" he asked, uncertainly, wrinkling his nose in confusion.

"Two, darling," Lucy assured him, signaling that everyone could start eating again now things seemed to have calmed down. "They're not one person, they're two people."

"Okay, Mama," Jamie said, agreeably, going on with his counting and pointing around the table, until he ended up with himself again.

"Jamie, fork," Steve reminded his youngest son, handing him said fork, so that he could eat his dinner with some semblance of civility.

"Li already seen her," the boy pouted, but the pout was short lived.

"What did she look like?" Martin asked, curiously. "Does she have red hair?"

Lianne shook her head, swallowing her mouthful and taking a drink from her glass before she answered. "She's all scrunched up and red like an angry strawberry and her hair is blonde like Jamie's, only thinner and lighter, and she smells like baby powder."

"All babies smell like baby powder," Martin pointed out, before taking up a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

"You remember what the twins looked like when they were born?" Steve asked his children, though his question was mainly aimed at Lianne.

"Was I scrunched up like an angry st'wawberry, Papa?" Jamie asked as he, too, shoveled mashed potatoes into his mouth.

"A little bit, Jamie," Steve replied, smiling at the memory of his son's first days of life. "Most babies look like that when they're born."

"But why?" Jamie asked. He was in the "but why" stage of childhood these days, it seemed.

"Because they have to squeeze out, Jamie," Lucy explained, rescuing Steve from a potentially embarrassing conversation. "You know when you squeeze through somewhere and your face gets red because of the effort you made? It's almost exactly the same thing, but a newborn baby's body takes a couple of weeks to recover from being born."

Lianne licked her fork, looking over at Martin. "Auntie Nat's all skinny again, too."

"That's because the baby isn't inside her anymore," Martin reasoned, logically, though there was actually a little more to it than that.

In the meantime, Jamie was still puzzling over his mother's explanation. "But where'd the baby get squeezed out of?" he asked, wondering if the process was a little like pooping, but that didn't seem right, for some reason.

Steve smirked, but said nothing, gesturing to Lucy with his fork to field that question.

Lucy bit her lip, trying not to laugh before she answered Janie's question. She had discovered that answering fully more often than not made him stop asking, just in case the answers got worse. "You remember when the twins were in my tummy?" she asked her youngest son with affectionate amusement. "I had to squeeze them out one by one through a special hole between my legs."

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2019, 07:29:43 PM »
Jamie's eyes widened at his mother's answer, and his mouth formed a silent "Oh." That was almost more information that he needed or wanted, and which made him wonder what kind of special hole his mother had that he did not. Martin furrowed his brows, as if he, too, was trying to sort that out or maybe he just didn't want to think of his mother that way.

Steve cleared his throat. "Luce, can you please pass the green beans?" he asked, from the other end of the table, hoping to change the subject.

Lianne was just as mildly traumatized as her brothers, her mouth hanging open as Lucy calmly passed the beans over to Steve. "He did ask," she defended herself cheerfully. At least the Rogers children would never be able to say they had been lied to.

"Can I see?" Jamie blurted innocently.

"Jamie!" Martin warned, nudging his brother again, and lowering his voice to a whisper as he leaned close to his brother. "That's private."

Thankfully, Steve didn't drop the green beans at their youngest son's request. "Jamie, you already know boys and girls are different," he reminded the boy. The boy had seen his twin sisters being diaper-changed, after all.

"No, darling, the contents of our underpants is not something that we show off to other people, is it?" Lucy reminded him fondly. "But speaking of showing off, what's this I hear about you getting two achievement awards in one week, Martin?"

"Yes, Mama. Sorry, Mama," Jamie said, feeling momentarily contrite, though it wouldn't last.

Martin actually blushed a little as the conversation turned to him. "Oui," he confirmed quietly, just a little embarrassed, but proud, too. "One was for being helpful, and the other for good spelling."

Steve smiled and reached over to pat his son on the shoulder. "Good job, Martin. I'm proud of you, son."

"That's wonderful, Martin," Lucy joined in with the praise, genuine warmth spilling over as she smiled at her eldest fondly. "And Cole is coming over on Friday, isn't he?" Cole had been Martin's first friend here on Rhy'Din, and the friendship was still going strong.

"Oui, Mama," Martin confirmed again, smiling a little shyly at the praise. The question sort of went without answering, as he and Cole exchanged regular play dates on Friday afternoons after school. "Can I show him the tree house this time?" he asked, though that meant taking his friend to the Storms' house and the tree house that their father had built in the backyard.

"As long as you clear it with the others, of course," Lucy promised him. "Lir should be coming out of his winter hibernation soon, so be prepared to warn Cole about how big he's got."

Across the table, Lianne was opening her mouth to talk to Steve. "Papa ... why did Auntie Liv and Uncle Johnny make Bella not get pregnant again?"

Martin nodded obediently. "I will!" he promised, as his sister posed a question to their father.

"Uh ..." Steve murmured with a forkful of green beans halfway to his mouth. The kids never failed to keep him on his toes with their questions. "Maybe that's a question you should ask them, but I think they probably think Bella is getting too old to have puppies," he said, though he wasn't sure if that was entirely true.

"But she made Kiki and Beast and the others and she was fine," Lianne objected.

Lucy rolled her eyes, leaving that one to Steve. He'd left human reproduction to her, he could handle animal bits.

Steve frowned, sensing he wasn't going to get any help from Lucy on this one. "Yes, but ... Aunt Liv is having twins, and as you know, twins are a lot of work, but so are puppies. It takes a lot of time and energy to take care of them, and so, they decided that Bella wasn't going to have anymore," he explained, hoping that answer would suffice.

"But doesn't Bella want more puppies?" Lianne asked, addressing this question to Martin. She had absolute faith in her brother's ability to communicate with any animal, even if sometimes it resulted in her being pinned to the bed by both Thor and Kiki because Martin thought it would be funny.

"Bella doesn't mind not having more puppies, Li," Martin confirmed for his sister. "She misses Fliss though," he blurted before thinking better of it.

"Is Fliss and Lucas gettin' married?" Jamie blurted his own question, one he'd been contemplating for a while, but which had only come to mind at the mention of Fliss.

"Maybe you should tell Fliss that," Lucy suggested to Martin gently. "She and Bella were very close when Fliss joined Liv and Johnny's family; without Bella, Fliss might not have come out of her shell at all. Bella still means a great deal to her." She glanced at Jamie with a wider grin. "And yes, they will get married at some point," she told the youngest boy. "But not yet."

"Is they gonna have babies, too?" Jamie asked further, once his mother had confirmed that the pair would be getting married at some point.

"I don't know," Lucy told him. "But it's really none of our business if they do or if they don't. You don't have to have babies to be happy."

"Unc'a Tony doesn't have babies and he's happy," Jamie pointed out, before shoveling another forkful of moussaka in his mouth. Unfortunately, most of it fell off his fork onto the floor, but Kiki was right there to scoop it up.

"Concentrate on getting your food into your mouth, love," Lucy reminded him gently. "Not everyone has children, and that's fine. Fliss and Lucas are still very young; they have plenty of time to decide if they want to have children or not."

"But if they're getting married, aren't they old like you and Papa?" Lianne asked innocently.

Steve smirked at his daughter's innocent question. "Oh, yeah, we're ancient," he murmured. At least, one of them was, but it wasn't Lucy.

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2019, 07:30:07 PM »
"Cole says you're almost one hundred years old," Martin said, though he felt bad about ratting his friend out. "He says you could be my grandfather."

Steve's smirk faded. He knew this question was bound to come up sooner or later. "In a way, Cole is right," he told the boy. "You remember how I told you I was frozen at the bottom of the ocean?"

Lianne nodded, absentmindedly yawning as she put her fork down on her plate. "You said that Mama's papa was looking for you and he couldn't find you," she said, prompting more of the story.

Lucy glanced at Steve, hoping this wasn't too close to home for him.

Steve smiled over at Lucy, from across the table. If he'd been closer, he'd have taken her hand. "That's right, Li-Li," he said, glancing back at the children. The story of his past didn't bother him so much anymore, now that he'd had a happy ending. "Well, I was frozen there for a really long time. Years and years before someone finally found me. So, if you count the years from when I was born, I'm pretty old, but if you don't count the years when I was frozen, then I'm not much older than your mother," he explained, hoping they'd understand.

"Is that why Uncle Tony calls you a 'Capsicle'?" Martin asked, with a frown of his own.

"Yep, that's why," Steve confirmed, without further explanation.

"If you don't count the years Papa was frozen, he's actually younger than me and Aunt Liv and Uncle Johnny," Lucy told them with a smile. "And Uncle Tony has no tact, so don't worry about that, Martin."

Martin arched his brows at his mother's statement before turning to give his father a harder glance. He didn't look much younger than his mother or much older either.

"What's tacked mean?" Jamie asked, before his brother could pose any further questions.

"It means he doesn't know when to stop talking," Martin said, giving his younger brother another nudge.

"Tact, T-A-C-T," Lucy corrected, well used by now to recognizing when a word was being missaid. "It means that he often says things without realizing that he might upset people with what he says."

"Did it hurt your feelings when Un'ca Tony called you a 'Capsicle', Papa?" Jamie asked, real concern in his face for his father's feelings.

Steve shrugged. "It did once, but it doesn't anymore. It's what kind of person you are on the inside that's important, not what people say about you, Jamie," Steve explained.

Relieved that the conversation didn't seem to be upsetting her husband, Lucy turned her attention to wiping twin toddler faces and hands clean, turning her end of the table into a giggling, bubble-blowing eruption of silliness now the eating was over.

Jamie nodded, though he wasn't too sure what that meant. Thankfully, he was quickly distracted by the silliness going on at the other end of the table. Martin looked like he had a few more questions for his father, but Steve shook his head at the boy, silently telling him now was not the time.

"Did you know they named the baby after you?" he asked Lucy, completely changing the subject.

Lucy's reaction was beautiful. Her head snapped up, her eyes blinked wide, and she stared at her husband in shock. "What?"

Lianne let out a loud cackle of laughter. "Mama, you look like the thing, the rubbish bear we found!"

"Like a raccoon!" Martin chimed in, giggling along with his siblings at the look on their mother's face.

"It's true," Steve said. "They named her Alia Lucia," he told her with a big grin. It wasn't really his news to share, but Lianne was bound to spill the beans sooner or later.

Lucy blinked for a moment, a smile beginning to twitch at her lips - more because of her children's amusement at her expression than anything, to be fair. "Why would they do that?" she asked Steve, amazed. "I thought they'd name her after their parents or something."

"I ..." Steve started, with a quick glance at the children, as if to check if they were paying any attention. "I don't think either of them were especially close to their parents," he said, aware of Colin's background, as well as Nat's. "Okay, kids! Time to clean up. You know the drill!" he said, changing the subject again, at least for now

"Who's helping the magnificent monsters tonight?" Lucy asked, moving to release the twins from their high chairs.

Lianne wiped her mouth clean and wriggled down, offering her hand. "I can take Tally, Mama."

"I'll take Sarah!" Martin was quick to volunteer. Jamie was really too small yet to do much to help with his little sisters, except maybe to entertain them. The kitchen once again became a place of organized chaos as the older children helped the younger children, and Steve cleared the table, while Lucy supervised.

As the last of the debris left on faces and hands was washed away, Lucy grinned at the little collection of people. "Okay, so ... jammies on the twins, Jamie gets half an hour on the tablet, Lianne gets ready for a bath, Martin does something enjoyable and relaxing. Right?"

"Right!" the children echoed in response - or at least, some of them did.

"Can I watch TV, Mama?" Martin asked, which was unusual since the boy usually had his nose buried in a book.

"May I," Steve corrected from where he was rinsing dishes and filling the dishwasher. It had taken him a while to get used to the device, but he had finally admitted it was faster than cleaning up after a family of seven.

"Of course you may, petit," Lucy assured him, hoisting one twin onto her hip and leaning down to hold the hand of the other. "Was there anything in particular you wanted to watch tonight?"

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2019, 07:30:32 PM »
"May I finish watching the nature show I started?" the boy asked politely, making sure to use the proper word this time. English wasn't his or Lianne's first language, but they were both quick learners.

Lianne was already scampering up the stairs to set out her pajamas and special bath time toys, Jamie waiting patiently to have the tablet started up and given to him so he could play his games for a little bit. After dinner was always relaxing time for the Rogers, because otherwise Lucy and Steve might actually go insane.

"Yes, sweetheart," Lucy assured her eldest. "Get comfortable - I'll join you once I've dealt with your sisters."

"Why don't you go join him?" Steve interjected, now that the dishwasher was almost loaded. "I'll take care of the girls."

"Mama, are we gonna have another baby, too?" Jamie asked as he waited for his brother to start the tablet up for him.

"Are you sure?" Lucy asked, though she didn't object as she handed off the twins to Steve. He and Lianne had far too much fun together at bath time for her to deny them that. "I'll feed the animals, then." She kissed Steve's cheek fondly, looking down at Jamie. "We might, one day," she told her youngest son. "Why, would you like another baby?"

"I'll feed the animals," Martin volunteered. After all, Kiki belonged to him, and he'd promised to take care of him.

Meanwhile, Jamie nodded absently as his brother handed him the tablet. "But only if it's a li'l brother. We got enough girls."

"Thank you, Martin." Lucy stroked his hair as he stepped past, drawing Jamie into the living room as two dogs and a cat appeared from various places in the house at the sound of food being poured into bowls. "It's impossible to say for sure that if we have another baby it will be a boy, Jamie," she told him gently, easing down onto the couch. "Are you saying you wouldn't love another little sister if that happened?"

Jamie frowned thoughtfully at the tablet, as if he might find the answer to that question there somewhere. "But it's only me and Martin. It's our turn to have a brother," he reasoned, looking up at his mother with innocent eyes. Wasn't having a baby like ordering a pizza? Couldn't you order what you wanted?

"But doesn't that make you and Martin extra special?" Lucy pointed out. "What about Alex, too? He's the only boy right now, and we don't know if Auntie Liv's twins are going to be boys or girls. Do you think he minds?"

"No, I guess not," Jamie replied, that thoughtful frown back on his face. "Do you like boys or girls better?" he asked, curiously, not quite realizing he was putting his mother on the spot.

Meanwhile, Steve had disappeared with the twins, Martin was feeding the animals, and Lianne was getting ready for her bath. There was no one else there to answer his question but her.

"I like people," she told him with a smile, wrapping her arm around him. "If someone is a boy, that doesn't mean I'll like them more or less than if they are a girl. I like the person you are, not the fact that you are a boy. I wouldn't mind another boy or another girl, because I love my children very much."

"You love me as much as the twins, Mama?" Jamie asked, as he got squished. He wasn't the baby anymore, and though he might not say so, there were times when he missed his mother's attention.

"Of course I do, sweetheart!" She tugged, pulling him up onto her lap to hug him tight and kiss his hair. "Love doesn't run out. The more people you love, the bigger your capacity for it becomes. I didn't stop loving you when Martin and Lianne arrived, and I didn't stop loving any of you when Sarah and Tally were born. My heart got bigger so I could love all of you the same way."

"I love you, too, Mama!" Jamie exclaimed, turning awkwardly on her lap so that he could fling his arms around her neck to hug her tight. "You're the bestest Mama ever!" he told her, which was quite the compliment coming from a five year old boy.

"And you're the bestest Jamie ever!" she countered, snuggling him tight for a long moment, planting a kiss on his cheek for good measure. "What do you think, is it time we went to the shelter and found a pet for you to give a forever home?"

Jamie's eyes widened, surprised by his mother's question, but excited, too. "Really? For me?" he asked, obviously not having expected this, but then Martin had Kiki and Lianne had Cherie. He had wanted a pet of his own for a while, but thought his parents would tell him he was too little.

"Really," Lucy assured him with a smile. "You're big enough to look after an animal now. Unless you don't think you are?" She tilted her head, knowing perfectly well he would defend his right to have a pet to the death.

"I'm big enough, Mama!" he insisted. Sliding off her lap to show her just how big he was, he stood on his tiptoes to make himself taller. "See?" She couldn't deny he was a little tall for his age, but then, he was the son of Captain America. "I'm almost as big as Martin already!"

Lucy chuckled, letting him show off without spoiling his perception. "You are the perfect height for your size," she promised him affectionately, stroking his hair off his face. "So ... tablet time. And I need to check on how Martin's doing with the animals, because that Cherie is a sneaky little miss."

"Can I get a pet dragon, like Alex?" Jamie asked impulsively, shaking the hair back from his face as his mother tried to brush it aside. If Alex could have one, why couldn't he?

"Lir isn't a pet, Jamie," Lucy told him gently. "He's a wild dragon who made a connection with Alex and chooses to live nearby. If Lir chose to leave tomorrow, nobody could stop him and nobody could bring him back if he didn't want to come back. He's a friend, not a pet."

"Oh," Jamie mumbled quietly, a small frown on his face. "I'll have to think of something else then," he said, a little disappointed that he couldn't have a dragon. Would it be too much to ask for a puppy, like Martin, he wondered.

"Why don't we go to the shelter, where they have more than just cats and dogs, and see who you decide you like when we're there?" Lucy suggested, glancing to the door as Thor padded in arthritically. The poor elderly Husky had been at the mercy of the Prescotts' Coco for most of the day; he definitely needed the rest.

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2019, 07:30:50 PM »
"Okay, Mama," Jamie said, agreeably, trusting his mother to help him choose a pet sometime soon. "C'mere, Thor!" he said, patting a spot on the floor by his side as he flopped down on the floor. "You can sit by me while I play on the tablet."

"Good boy." Kissing his hair, Lucy pulled herself up onto her feet, carefully stepping over Thor to return to the kitchen. "And how are we doing in here? Did Cherie get into the dogs' food again?"

"She tried to, but I held her on my lap, until they were done," Martin informed his mother. At the moment, the cat was taking a bath, as if she had to wash up after eating. "Can I take Kiki outside?" he asked. "He needs to do his business."

"Of course you can, petit." Lucy seemed to spend most of her time giving permission for one thing or another, but she didn't mind it so much. "I'm going to pop across and leave dinner for Natasha and Colin in their fridge, so I will come out with you."

It was no great secret that the boy had an affinity for animals. Though Cherie actually belonged to Lianne, Martin seemed able to almost read the cat's mind, hence, he often knew how to handle her when no one else did. "Thor is getting old, Mama. He is not feeling well tonight," he informed her sadly.

"What do you mean, not feeling well?" Lucy asked softly, pausing to give him her full attention. "Do I need to take him to the vet, or should I do it tomorrow when you're all in school?"

"Non, he's not sick. He's just ..." Martin frowned, searching for the right word as he waited for his mother at the door, Kiki at his heels. "He's sore," he said, at a loss for a better word to describe what the old dog was feeling.

Taking up the box of food, Lucy moved to join him at the door. "He's aching," she translated for him. "Is it very bad?" she asked as they stepped out into the darkness together. "Do you think maybe we need to get him some medicine to help with the pain?"

"Maybe," Martin replied with a shrug, still frowning. "He is very old, isn't he, Mama? I wish there was a way we could make him young again." He grabbed Kiki's chain and crouched down to attach it to his collar. "I wonder what he was like when he was a puppy."

"He is a very old man now, oui," Lucy agreed quietly, smiling at the ease with which Martin handled the animals. "But we've given him a good home, and a lot of love, and that was the reason you chose him, wasn't it? He loves you very much, petit. But you are right - we will have to say goodbye to him soon."

Martin was quiet a moment as he moved to his feet, Kiki's tail thumping in eager anticipation. "I don't want to say goodbye," he said quietly, not trusting his voice and not daring to look at his mother, or she might see the tears in his eyes.

"Oh, darling ..." She wrapped her arm about his shoulders, hugging gently even as they moved down into the garden. "It's the one thing that no one really has a choice over. Everyone has to say goodbye sometime. Do you remember when we had to say goodbye to Peggy? I didn't want to say goodbye, I wanted to keep her with us always. But that would have been cruel. She was very old, and her body was starting to break down, which meant she was in a lot of pain even when she didn't say so. But just because we can't see her anymore doesn't mean she's not here, watching over us."

Martin frowned thoughtfully. He wasn't sure what he believed, but his parents seemed to believe there was another kind of existence that awaited you after you died. "What will happen to Thor when he dies?" he asked uncertainly. Did dogs go to heaven, too?

"I don't know, petit," Lucy told him honestly. "Auntie Liv believes that everyone becomes energy when they die, and they join the energy that makes the plants grow and new babies born. I like that idea."

"But if that's true, how can Aunt Peggy watch over us?" he asked, even more confused. "Papa says that good people go to heaven, and bad people go to hell. Thor is a good dog, isn't he, Mama? So, wouldn't he go to heaven, too?"

"Thor is a very good dog," she agreed in a gentle tone, lost in this conversation. "And if Papa's right, then yes, Thor will go to heaven too. But no one really knows what happens after death. It is a mystery, and one that people like to believe will be good to them."

"If Papa hadn't been frozen, he would have died, wouldn't he?" the boy asked. As the eldest, he worried sometimes that something would happen to his father or mother, leaving him in charge of his younger siblings, though now that they were in Rhy'Din, he worried less than he had before. He knew firsthand what bad people were capable of and felt safer here than he had back home on Earth, though he thought there must be bad people here, too.

"Yes, love, he would have." Lucy had never seen the need to lie to her children, though she was careful with the truth when it touched on some subjects. "We were very lucky that he didn't die then." Her fingers stroked through his hair. "What's hurting my petit?"

Martin shrugged, unsure what was bothering him. He was a happy boy, for the most part, but he still had nightmares sometimes and he still worried something bad might happen to his family. "What will we do without Thor?" he asked, looking up at his mother with tears in his eyes, though it was hard to tell if he was truly worried about Thor or something else.

Lucy was quiet for a long moment, holding his gaze in the gloom as Kiki snuffled around by his feet. "We'll miss him," she told him quietly. "But we'll be happy that we gave him a good life, and that he taught us how to look after Kiki, and how to look after each other. We'll look after each other, Martin."

What he was feeling wasn't much different from when Aunt Peggy died. He knew when Thor was gone, he would never see him again, even if he did go to heaven and watch over them from there. But this was Rhy'Din. Wasn't there some way they could save him? "It's not fair," he said, turning to wrap his arms around his mother's waist and bury his face against her. "I don't want him to die."

Holding the box of food carefully out of the way, Lucy hugged him to her with one arm, knowing she couldn't really instill her own philosophy on death into a young boy who hadn't encountered it up close the way his doctor mother had. "But would you want him to live forever?" she asked him gently. "With his bones aching the way they do, and not being able to run and play the way he wants to because his body can't cope with it?"

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2019, 07:33:24 PM »
"Non," came the boy's muffled reply. "I wish he was a puppy again. Then he could run and play and live a long time," he said, before turning silent. It didn't much matter to him that the dog had already lived a long life; he wanted him to live a long life with them.

"Is that what he wants, petit?" Lucy asked him in a soft tone, stroking her fingers through his hair. "He might be ready to go. It is his life, after all. We can only make the decisions that are best for him."

Martin nodded. If anyone knew what Thor wanted, it was him. He knew the dog wanted to be young again, but also knew he'd lived a good long life. "He likes it here with us," he told her, sniffling as he stepped back to wipe the tears from his face. "Papa will miss him, won't he?"

"Yes, he probably will." She stroked the tears from his face affectionately. "But Papa has us to comfort him, just as you have us to comfort you."

"Merci, Mama," the boy said, thanking her for being there, for understanding, for comforting him, and especially for loving him. He was old enough to know that if it wasn't for her and his father, he and Lianne and the others would not have the life they had now.

"You are very welcome, petit." She bent to kiss his hair. "Now, you and Kiki do his business while I nip over to Nat and Colin's, and when I come back, we can curl up on the couch and finish watching your show. Deal?"

"Oui, Mama," he replied, like the dutiful son he was. There had been times back in New York when he'd been afraid to go outside alone, but here in Rhy'Din, he wasn't afraid anymore. He knew that was because of his parents, too. "Allons, Kiki!" he called to the dog, and the pair darted away, the boy leading the way, the dog's tail wagging happily.

Lucy watched him for a long moment, mentally making a note to get Steve to talk to Martin about letting go of Thor at some point soon, just to reinforce that extending life just because you can is not good enough. Then she ducked through the hedge, jogging up to the Prescotts' silent house to leave them dinner for later.

Once Kiki had finished his business and Lucy had delivered the Prescotts' dinner, they returned to the house to find Steve and Lianne downstairs with Jamie, the twins tucked into bed. It wasn't long after that the other children were being tucked into bed, too, leaving Steve and Lucy to relax alone for a little while before they, too, gave in to sleep.

Lucy sighed as she curled onto the couch, deliberately pressing close to Steve's side. As much as she was Mama and gave out affection all day, she loved the quiet of the evening when she could give and receive affection on an equal footing with her husband.

"Martin's going to be the end of me with his difficult questions," she murmured.

Steve's arm went around her to hold her close as she curled against him. This was his favorite time of day, too. There was a strange sense of contentment in spending a little quiet time with his wife after a long day, the children all sleeping safely and peacefully in their beds. This was their time to spend together, however they wished, sometimes just quietly talking, like now, but he hadn't expected this turn in the conversation.

"What kind of questions?" he asked, brows furrowing in concern. He knew Martin felt a special bond with Lucy, even if he wasn't her son by birth.

"He's worried about Thor," she said softly, tilting her head to meet his eyes. "He doesn't want the dog to die, and he wants reassurances about what happens after death. I don't believe anything happens, I can't give him that reassurance."

Steve was silent a moment. He'd known Lucy didn't share his beliefs, but it had never really mattered before. Now that they had children, they needed to decide what they were going to teach them about life and death and what comes after. "No one really knows what happens after someone dies, Luce. It's a matter of faith," he reasoned, but she knew that already.

"I know. I've never really needed to believe in anything happening afterward," she admitted thoughtfully. "But I can't just tell our children that everything stops. It feels cruel."

"You don't think there's anything after someone dies? Nothing at all?" he asked. This was a conversation they'd never really had before. "What about Peggy? What about ..." No, he wasn't going to mention any other names. They weren't people she knew anyway. Just old friends. Or was it that she just didn't know?

Lucy considered it for a moment, offering up a faint smile. "There are things that I know, and things that I don't know," she told him. "I know that the body is just a machine, and whatever makes a person who they are leaves it before death. I don't know what happens after that. I've never had a faith."

"Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I've always believed you go on afterward. I'm not really sure if there's a heaven or a hell, but I can't believe God would create us and give us life just to have us die, without anything coming after," Steve said, reaching over to stroke her hair. "I know. I'm old fashioned. You don't have to tell me," he added with a faint smile.

"I never said that," she laughed softly, nestling closer to him. "But maybe you should talk to Martin about it sometime soon. I don't think it's going to be long before we have to make that decision for Thor."

Steve frowned at the reminder that Thor was getting old. "We've given him a good life. We can be thankful for that," he said, practically echoing what Lucy had already told Martin. They'd given Martin and Lianne a good life, too. All of them were orphans, including Steve and Lucy, and even Thor.

"We can," she agreed, glancing over to where Thor was snoring in his basket near the fire. Kiki and Cherie were upstairs with Martin and Lianne, but Thor didn't do stairs anymore. "But he is in constant pain, even with the medication. It's no quality of life."

Steve frowned, as he followed her gaze toward the dog. "I'll talk to Martin tomorrow and make an appointment at the animal hospital," he said sadly. It looked like it was time to say goodbye to yet another friend.

"I think Martin's the one who needs to make that decision," Lucy said thoughtfully. "But we need to lead him to it. It's a part of owning a pet that he needs to learn."

"It's part of life," Steve said with a sigh. "I'll talk to him ... tomorrow," he repeated, as if he needed to say it again so that he'd actually do it, as much as he didn't want to. Death was part of life, and helping their children understand was part of being a parent.

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2019, 07:33:47 PM »
"Thank you, love." She craned her head to kiss the corner of his mouth, hugging close once again. "On a lighter note ... Jamie wants to know if we're going to have another baby, and if so, can we make it a boy this time."

Steve smiled, never tiring of her kisses, and glad she had changed the subject. "No pressure there," he said, chuckling in amusement. "And how do you feel about that?" he asked, considering they had five children already, two of them not out of diapers yet.

"I feel that the twins need to be older and capable of actual conversation before we go through all that again," Lucy told him with a grin. "I don't want to be trying to explain to a three year old again that the bump is not the enemy."

"Mmm," Steve murmured thoughtfully, shifting on the couch so that he could wrap his arms around her and pull her against him. "We already have five. Are you sure you want more?" he asked, leaving that decision to her, since she would have to be the one to carry another child and birth him or her. And what if it was twins again?

"We should probably have that conversation in a couple of years," Lucy pointed out, looping her arms about his neck as she bopped his nose with her own. "Would you like another child?"

"I think you know the answer to that question," he replied quietly, touching a tender kiss to her lips. "But if you don't want to go through all that again, we could just adopt. Give another orphan a happy home."

"We could," she agreed with a gentle smile. "I think, when the time comes, it's a conversation we should have as a family, though. The children are capable of deciding whether or not they want a little brother or sister, and they are our priority over a hypothetical sixth child."

"Right," Steve agreed, looking a little concerned. "Am I being selfish? I mean, we have five kids already. We have to stop sometime," he reasoned aloud with a light shrug of his wide shoulders. He didn't think it was selfish to want to give a child a good home, but they needed to think of the children they already had, too.

"Steve, it's never selfish to want to give a child a safe home," Lucy assured him quietly. "But we have several children, and they have to be our first priority. If they agree, when we come to it, then of course we will have another child, one way or another. But it isn't something that needs to be rushed."

"No, we should probably get the twins out of diapers first, huh?" he asked, the smile returning to his face. No matter how many children they had - adopted or not - he'd always love each and every one of them equally, and even when they were all gone from the nest, he'd still have his Lucy. "Have I told you lately that I love you?" he asked, pulling her close.

"Mmm, not in so many words," she admitted, quite content to be pulled close. She never minded when Steve gently asserted himself affectionately. brushing the tip of her nose to his as she smiled. "But you have so many ways of telling me without words."

"I try," he said, with another frown. Though he did his best to show he loved her in any way he could, they were often both so busy between work and home and family, it was hard to know sometimes whether he was successful. At least, they always tried to make time for each other, even if it was only an hour or so before bed. "You know what we need?" he asked, not waiting for her to answer. "A date night. Just you and me."

Her expression warmed into a soft smile as she held his gaze, a teasing light touching her eyes. "Are you asking me out, Captain Rogers?" she asked with a playful glint in her eyes. "Should I dress up and book a hotel room for the evening?"

"Yes, Mrs. Rogers, I think I am. How about dinner and dancing?" he asked. It had been a long time since he'd taken her on a proper date and well overdue. The trick was trying to find someone who'd be willing to watch five kids under the age of ten.

"I think that sounds wonderful." Lucy beamed, nuzzling a soft kiss to his lips. "It's been too long since we got dressed up for each other." In fact ... the last time might actually have been that New Year's Eve Natasha had organized for them back in New York, years ago.

"I'll try not to step on your toes, but ..." He trailed off a moment, an almost boyishly flustered look on his face. "None of those disco places. I can't dance like that." In point of fact, he could hardly dance at all, but he'd at least learned how to slow dance a little.

"Maybe we should take a dance class," she found herself suggesting, blinking in surprise at the sound of her own voice. "I mean ... neither of us is really a dancer."

"A dance class?" Steve echoed, brows arching upwards. Apparently, for some reason, he'd either never thought to suggest that, probably once again due to the fact that they were always so busy. "Would-I mean, would you like that?"

"I think it could be fun," she admitted, "but if it's not something that appeals to you, then don't agree to it, love. That self-sacrificing streak of yours does not apply when trying to decide where you want to spend time with your wife."

"No, I-I think I'd like that," he admitted, a little embarrassed that he hadn't thought of it himself. It would probably only be a few hours a week, at most. They could handle being away from the kids for a few hours, couldn't they? "Who will we get to watch the kids?" he asked, the first thought that crossed his mind.

A wicked little smirk touched Lucy's face at the first name that popped into her head. "Tony?" she suggested innocently. It would only be for a few hours once a week, after all.

Steve chuckled at his wife's suggestion. "You are evil, you know that?" he asked, though he only meant that figuratively. "Are you hoping it will convince him and Pepper to have kids or not to have kids?"

"Nope," she promised. "It'd be good for him. He seems to think his only value as an uncle is in throwing expensive presents at the kids; spending some time with them might convince him otherwise."

"Yeah, but there are five of them now, and two of them are still in diapers," Steve pointed out. Martin and Lianne didn't need much supervision, but Jamie and the twins were another story.

"So he can bring Pepper with him," Lucy said with a shrug. "I mean, Fliss and Lucas could do it, but if they can, then Tony should be able to, right?"

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2019, 07:34:58 PM »
"In theory, yes," Steve replied. There had been a time when he'd have thought Fliss and Lucas were more mature than Tony, but the man was growing on him. "He's a late bloomer, but he does seem more responsible these days."

"I think Pepper's wearing him down." Lucy flashed her husband a fond grin. "You never know, they might actually pick a date within the next decade."

"He's not getting any younger," Steve pointed out, and neither was Pepper. "Okay, how about it we give them a try, but we have Liv and Johnny on stand-by, just in case they get into trouble," he suggested, though he was sure if Pepper was there, she would keep Tony in line.

"I'm sure that would work," she agreed, delighted that Steve was prepared to go along with this. It wasn't that she didn't love her children, but she knew perfectly well that Tony would rather rip his own leg off than let harm come to a single hair on their heads.

"He's bound to ask why," Steve said, frowning again, as if he was worried what his snarky brother-in-law might say about them taking dance lessons. Still, that had never stopped Steve from doing anything before, or from giving Tony a piece of his mind.

Lucy considered him for a moment. "Would you be open to letting me gently manipulate him if he does ask?" she queried innocently. "Nothing awful, just ... guilt him into it if he looks like he's going to say no on principle."

"Gently?" he echoed, chuckling again. "You are welcome to manipulate him anyway you want, gently or not," he said with a grin, the corners of his eyes crinkling in amusement.

"I'm not deliberately antagonistic around him these days," Lucy defended herself laughingly, poking at Steve's ticklish side in retaliation for the tease. "He'll do it. His manhood is at stake if he doesn't."

He laughed, only in part because of her tickling, and grabbed hold of her hand to stop her from continuing. "I'll take your word for it," he said. "I'm not sure I want to know what you have in mind." Mostly because he didn't want to get blamed for instigating her.

With her lips parted in a wide, bright smile, Lucy preened triumphantly, leaning close to kiss him once again. "I love my husband," she murmured affectionately, glad they'd come to a decision together.

"Will you still love me when I step on your toes?" he asked, leaning closer, a soft smile on his lips as his forehead touched hers. He might be Captain America, but the super soldier serum didn't do much for his skill as a dancer.

"Always," she promised, smoothing her arms around him once more as she settled close. "Because I know you'll catch me when I fall, and nurse me back to health, even though I am a terrible patient."

"I think it's you who catches me most of the time, Luce," he murmured against her hair, as he held her close. He seemed in no hurry for the moment to end, and yet, they couldn't stay there forever. "I still want to take you on a date though," he told her quietly.

She smiled, tilting her head back to share the expression with him fondly. "So where should we go?" she asked, curious to know what really appealed to him. "What would you like to do, sweetheart?"

What he really wanted to do was show her around Paris, though the "City of Lights" had certainly changed over the years. He wasn't even sure he'd recognize it, but so long as the Eiffel Tower still stood, it would always be Paris. "I still like the idea of dinner and dancing," he admitted, even if he wasn't the best dancer.

"We'll do that, then." Her smile softened as she relaxed against him, nestling closer once more. "We should make more time for each other. I'm sorry I didn't think of it sooner."

"Me, too," he quietly admitted. "You know, someday I'd like to take you to Paris," he added after a moment. It might have been nice to surprise her, but they didn't have any secrets, and if he really wanted to take her someday, they were going to have to figure out how to make it happen together.

"I've never been to Paris," she murmured back to him. "Never been to France. The furthest I've ever traveled from England is Rhy'Din, and that doesn't really count."

"It's right across the channel," he said, though she had to have known that already. "You can go from London to Paris by train these days. You can travel all over Europe by train," he said, clearly still in awe of these modern wonders, despite it having been a few years since he'd been woken from his deep sleep.

"And into Asia," she agreed softly. "Maybe we should do that in retirement - travel the world like elderly tourists." She chuckled at the thought, unable to imagine Steve ever being elderly in the first place.

"Do you think it's safe there now?" he asked, referring to the threat from Hydra without mentioning them by name. According to A.E.G.I.S., they'd weakened Hydra so much it would take decades for them to pose a real threat, if they ever did. He smiled at her suggestion. "We should do that a lot sooner than that." Then again, would he ever retire, or was he retired already? Sometimes, he wasn't too sure.

"Take the whole family with us?" she suggested in amusement. kissing the tip of his nose. "Our part of it, at least." She didn't engage with his quiet worry about Hydra, pretty much certain that if A.E.G.I.S. knew Captain America and his family were doing a world tour, they'd batten down all the hatches to make sure nothing went wrong.

Steve chuckled again at the thought of that. "That kind of takes the romance out of it," he said, but he wasn't opposed to the idea. It had been a while since the family had taken a real vacation together. "There's always Disney Paris."

She blinked in surprise, a warm smile spreading across her face as she considered this. "We haven't been to any Disney since Liv and Johnny got married," she pointed out. "It doesn't really count for Jamie, he was just a bump."

"Do you think we should wait 'til the twins are a little older?" he asked, though he had learned a long time ago that you shouldn't put things off too long or it might be too late. What was the saying in Latin? Carpe diem. Seize the day.

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2019, 07:36:09 PM »
"Well, they'll be two in a few months, and if we go in summer, they'll be able to toddle about with everyone," Lucy mused. "We'll have to take the stroller just in case, but we can use it to carry all the crap they're going to get us to buy when the girls aren't using it."

"Hmm, and they'll be on summer vacation then, too, so we don't have to worry about school," he added. A slow smile spread across his face. "Have we decided, then?" he asked, knowing all she had to do was say yes, and they'd make it happen.

"Do you know, I do believe we have," she said laughingly. "I rather think we are going to Disneyland Paris in July or August, love. Now you just have to decide if you want to spend your birthday there or here."

"Only if they do fireworks," he said. After all, he had been born on the 4th of July, and fireworks was kind of a must, but he couldn't imagine a Disneyland that didn't do fireworks. "Should we tell them or keep it a surprise?" he asked, arms wrapped around her to snuggle her close.

"Oh, goodness, I have no idea," she admitted with a smile. "Keeping it a secret is tempting, but then telling them means we get to see them get excited as the time gets closer."

"We don't have to decide today," Steve said, though he had a feeling they'd reveal their little secret before long. It was hard keeping secrets when one of your children's cousins was telepathic. Steve chuckled at the thought of that. "Alexei will probably know anyway."

"True," Lucy conceded. "Although we could probably convince him not to share it with his cousins." She had no idea how Liv managed birthdays and Christmas with a telepathic son in the house; Alexei's abilities were growing every day, it seemed.

"So, do we ask Liv and Johnny if they want to go, too, or ..." Steve asked, trailing off. It often went without saying that if the Rogers were going somewhere, the Storms were, too, he wasn't sure how Lucy felt about that. And then, there was the Prescotts. Though he doubted Colin and Nat would want to come along, would they be okay staying back here at Maple Grove without them?

"I think we should mention that we're thinking about it and gauge the reaction," Lucy suggested. "After all, just because we'll be going for two weeks doesn't mean that they would have to stay for the whole two weeks, does it?"

"No, but by then, the newborns should be sleeping through the night," he remarked, regarding Liv and Johnny's twins, who were expected sometime within the next month or so. "You think they'll stop at half a dozen?" he asked, as the anticipated twins would clock in at numbers five and six, respectively.

Lucy chuckled. "I think Liv would mother the whole world if she could," she said, "or at least every orphaned child in it. I think those two are going to continuously have children in their house until they're at least sixty."

Steve realized, too, that the further they extended the invitation, the larger their party could end up. So much for a little romantic getaway. The talk of children had him thinking again though, his thoughts circling back to something she'd said earlier. "I've been thinking, Luce ..." he started, unsure just how to tackle a subject that had been on his mind for a while.

"Mmm?" Lucy tipped her head back to meet his eyes. She, too, had realized that the vacation idea had wandered far away from the original plan, but that didn't mean the original couldn't still happen. She just had to convince Tony he wanted to spend a weekend with his nephews and nieces.

He, too, had realized they could get away to Paris for a long weekend anytime they wanted, so long as there was someone to stay with the kids, but one thought had led to another, as was often the case.

"What would you think about me teaching?" he asked her, without beating around the bush. Ever since moving to Rhy'Din - or more accurately, ever since they'd eliminated the threat from Hydra - he'd been trying to find his place in the world. He was primarily a husband and father now, but he wanted to do something more, he needed to do something more - something meaningful.

She blinked, surprised but not displeased by the unexpected suggestion. Steve as a teacher? It was only too easy to imagine. "I think that's an amazing idea," she told him with encouraging warmth. "What age would you like to teach?"

He chuckled at her reaction, both pleased and relieved she liked the idea. "It's not so much the age as it is the subject matter," he confessed with a sigh, a thoughtful frown returning to his face. "All I've ever been is a soldier," he said, though that was not entirely true.

"That's not true," she told him firmly. "That's a job, not who or what you are. Besides which you're now an illustrator, too. So what subject would you want to teach?"

"I don't know," he said, though he'd been considering the same thing. He could easily teach self-defense classes, but somehow that didn't feel right. He wanted to do something more than that. "Would it sound crazy to you if I said reading? But I don't have a teaching degree. I didn't finish college. I don't really know if I'm qualified."

"Why don't you talk to Dani about it?" Lucy suggested. "You know, Zach's wife? She doesn't have a degree, but she's pretty certain she's going to be a teacher in a couple of years' time. She knows the system here."

"I can do that," he said, familiar with who Dani was, even if they weren't closely acquainted. "Do you think it's a silly idea?" he asked, though he knew she didn't. Now that they'd decided to remain in Rhy'Din, he needed to find a way to make himself useful, besides being just that of a husband and father. "I've been thinking about it a long time, Luce. I don't want to be a cop. If it wasn't for the war ..." He trailed off at that thought. If it wasn't for the war, he probably would never have been offered the serum and he'd probably be long dead by now. So many things had changed because of the serum, but she was right - the serum wasn't what defined who he was as a person.

"I think it's a brilliant idea," she assured him. "You're wonderful with children and teenagers, you're a natural leader, and they listen when you speak. You can imbue anything with enthusiasm and sincerity. I think you will make an amazing teacher, love."

"In the meantime, maybe I could start with tutoring," he suggested uncertainly. There were certainly enough kids in and around Rhy'Din who needed extra help, weren't there? Maybe even right here at Maple Grove. He wouldn't be replacing Dani or Zach, just adding to what they were doing augmenting what they were doing already.

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Re: Organized Chaos
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2019, 07:36:32 PM »
"You certainly could," his wife agreed. "You're interested in teaching reading and literature, right? So maybe do a little research about the way analysis of a literary text is taught, and go from there?"

"Well, yeah ..." Steve agreed, though he was thinking along more basic lines, at least to start with. "But what I'm really interested in is teaching someone to actually read, you know? The whole process. Did you know there are full-grown adults who can't read?"

"Oh, I see." Lucy thought about it for a moment. "You could advertise at the library," she suggested. "One on one reading lessons. Actually, probably reading and writing lessons, since it goes together."

"Right," he said, giving that some consideration. "Maybe I'll stop by the library and see if they can help," he said. Make a few inquiries and do a little research. What could it hurt?

"Piper has a few contacts at the library, doesn't she? Maybe she could help, if you need it." Lucy didn't want to take away the impetus of getting something done from Steve, but she wanted him to know there was help around him from people he knew.

"Yeah, she probably does," he admitted, that thoughtful frown on his face again. He wasn't really sure how to go about this, but the library seemed like a good place to start. "You really don't think this is silly?" he asked her again. He'd been fighting for so long, he really wasn't sure what to do without himself when he wasn't.

She raised her hand, curling her fingers to his cheek. "No, I really don't think it is," she promised softly. "I think you've been lost for a long time, and this is the first step in finding yourself again. And that makes me very happy."

What did a soldier do when the war they'd been fighting for so long was finally over? He smiled, encouraged by her reassurance. "You know what makes me happy?" he said, gathering her into his arms and moving to his feet, easily sweeping her up with him.

Lucy let out a quiet squeal, laughing as she was whisked up into his arms, utterly secure in his grasp. "Hot dogs and fireworks," she told him, eyes twinkling with teasing sweetness.

Had he been someone else, he might have teased her further and admitted that was the only thing that made him happy, but Steve was nothing if not honest. "No. Well, I mean, I do like hot dogs and fireworks, but no ... I was gonna say you. You make me happy, Luce."

She blushed, a sweet stain of red covering her cheeks as her smile turned shy for a brief moment. "You always do that to me," she complained affectionately, teasing her fingers through his hair. "I love you, Steve."

"I love you, too, Luce," he said quietly, proving it with a toe-curling kiss, even while he stood there with her in his arms, as if she was as light as a feather. "I could do this all day," he whispered against her lips, smiling softly.

Quite literally toe-curling, as it happened, earning him a delicate shiver from his wife as she tightened her arms about his shoulders. His whisper brought forth a small smile of her own, her answer an enticing murmur that brushed her lips impishly against his. "How about all night?"

"Gotta sleep sometime," he said. At least, she did. He'd gone for days, even weeks without sleeping when he'd had to, though he preferred to get at least a few hours of shuteye every night. He started toward the bedroom, with her in his arms. "I might keep you awake for a few hours though, if you don't mind," he added with an almost playful smirk on his face.

"I can honestly say I don't mind at all," she promised, her face bright with a grin. "Do you promise to ravish me quite thoroughly before I pass out from sheer ecstasy, darling?"

"I think that can be arranged," he said as he started up the stairs to the master bedroom, lowering his voice so as not to wake the kids. There were more than a few advantages to being married to a man whose strength and endurance were off the charts.

Giggling quietly, Lucy curled herself closer in his arms as he bore her upstairs. "I do solemnly swear not to make too much noise," she murmured, drawing her lips along the line of his pulse, teasing with tender affection at his throat.

"That's probably a good idea, unless you want the kids to join us," he remarked with a further smirk as he pushed the door to their room open and carried her inside. The only sign she was having any effect on him was the quickening of his pulse, but it was enough to tell her that he wanted her.

And how she loved to feel his pulse quicken beneath her lips. Steve was still not entirely comfortable with openly showing his desire unless he was assured of absolute privacy, but Lucy had learned all the little signs and hints that added up to it in his manner and means. She'd learned long ago how to capitalize on those hints as well ... one of these days, Steve was going to find himself wound up to breaking point in public.

For a man who had almost limitless endurance, he didn't waste much time. He kissed her again, deeper this time as he carried her toward the bed, sure on his feet, even if he was feeling the effects of her kisses and caresses on his body. He laid her back against the pillows, his lips never leaving hers for a moment.

She didn't let go of him as he laid her down, giving him no option but to lie down with her, wanting to feel his body close against hers. That spark had never wavered, never dimmed, since that first night when she had so confidently deflowered him and inadvertently lost her heart in the same evening. Her hands were still gentle, still confident, still eager to uncover and caress the man she loved.

Neither had any secrets - not anymore - and yet, each time they made love, it was just as tender and beautiful as it had been that first time. Perhaps even more so now that they were comfortable with each other, now that they knew each other so intimately. Steve had always been eager to please, even now that they were married and had kids. He was an attentive lover, who had learned just what it took to please his wife in every way. It showed in everything he did - in the way he kissed her and caressed her, never hurried, always putting her needs and desires over his own.

He had learned, finally, to let her have her own way when she pressed the point, allowing her to put his desires before her own on occasion. Lucy loved to have him at her mercy, to see and feel him give up control just for a few minutes, just long enough to make him come apart under her touch, her kiss. They loved each other in similar ways, but always found that peak within moments of one another when the final climax came.

It might take minutes or hours to get there, but it wasn't so much that final climax that was important as it was the intimacy and the closeness and the pleasure they shared along the way. Each time they made love was a little bit different than the time before. Each time, they learned a little more about each other. Each time was only served to bring them even closer together in love, truly like two halves of one being finding the other again. He never failed to tell her he loved her, whispering the words against her lips, his actions speaking louder than words. For a man who had spent the better part of his life as a soldier, he had the gentlest touch and the sweetest kisses, but he had learned over time when gentleness was needed, and when she required him to be a little more demanding of his desires.

And when they were done, he was there to cradle his usually drowsy wife in his arms as she drifted between waking and sleeping, her fingers tracing tender patterns against his skin as she murmured her own words of love slurred with sleep. Steve Rogers certainly knew how to tuck his wife into bed at night, that was for sure.

"I love you," he whispered, the last words she'd hear before she drifted off to sleep with his arms wrapped around her, his body warm and solid beside her. He had promised to always be there, to always love and protect her, to spend the rest of his days with her, and it was a promise he intended to keep.