Author Topic: Marching Home  (Read 62 times)

Steve Rogers

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Marching Home
« on: November 03, 2019, 04:54:55 PM »
The grounds of Maple Grove had become a bustling place over the past few years, still as safe today as it had been when it was first established. With the Grangers making their disparate homes across the sprawling estate, inviting close friends to join them in calling the Grove their home, it was only a matter of time before one of the larger buildings found a new purpose. And that purpose was The Rogers Foundation School for Gifted Children.

Humphrey Granger had been more than happy to gift the former mansion for the project and, indeed, was delighted with his honorary position on the board in exchange for his generosity. With teachers for academia as well as the control and use of powers, Steve Rogers' pet project was well and truly off to a flying start. They had specifically sought out children under eleven years old, whose abilities came from a genetic mutation rather than a magical source, including the Storm and Rogers children as a matter of course, and with a tacit agreement with the Xavier School on Earth to forward young children to them while encouraging teens in the other direction, they had the support they needed on both sides of the portal.

The class sizes were small, as they naturally would be, not more than seven at the very most and even then, only during the basics such as English, Science, Mathematics. Working on powers was often a case of one teacher to a pair of pupils, or even one on one, depending on the abilities in question. And unlike the Xavier School, the pupils of the Rogers School could go home each evening. At four o'clock every weekday afternoon, Maple Grove saw a procession of parents coming to collect their children after a long day of study and fun.

And at that same time each weekday afternoon, Steve was there to see the students off with a smile and a wave and sometimes even a hug, genuinely fond of each and every one of them. Teaching, he'd found, came almost as natural to him as breathing, and he'd often wondered why he hadn't thought of doing it before; but then, he'd been too busy being Captain America then.

"Captain Rogers!"

A small girl stopped halfway to her mother, turning back to come and hug his leg with a big grin. "Fank you for not yellin' when I blowded up my sammich."

Steve's initial reaction was to dismiss the little girl's gratitude with a wave of his hand, like it was nothing, but that wouldn't teach her anything. Instead he went down on one knee, so that he was almost at eye level with her, a friendly smile on his face.

"It was an accident. I'm sure you'll do much better next time!" he said, in hopes of encouraging her. "Go on home and I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

She beamed at him, nodding happily, and scurried off to join her mother properly this time.

"Well, aren't you the most adorable headmaster ever?" a low voice drawled behind him, and Nat came into view, pulling her hair out of the braid she wore it in when she was teaching. She smirked at her friend. "All wooby over happy smiles."

Steve moved to his feet as he watched the girl dart off, as if it was his personal responsibility to make sure every child got home safely. He mirrored Nat's smirk as she joined him, taking no offense at her good-natured teasing.

"I like to see them go home happy," he told her with a light shrug of broad shoulders.

"You did good, Cap," she assured him, nodding as she spoke, one hand rising to wave off the kids still clambering into cars. "This place is pretty amazing."

"I didn't do it alone, Nat," he reminded her, settling a hand on her shoulder. He'd had a lot of help, not the least of which was from the woman standing next to him. "We're doing a good thing here. A worthwhile thing," he said, though they both knew that already.

"Maybe tell me that again on a day when your nephew hasn't realized he can, essentially, fly," she suggested with a grin. That physical lesson had gone in a direction she had not been expecting. "Alyona's coming in tomorrow to work with the empathetic kids, right?"

"Alexei can fly?" Steve echoed, though he supposed he shouldn't be all that surprised by that, considering the boy seemed to be telekinetic. Of the four children the Avengers had saved from Hydra, he'd always thought Alexei had the potential to become the most powerful of them, so long as he was properly trained. Steve blinked out of that thought to answer her question. "That's the plan. She's probably bringing Nik with her. They're inseparable these days."

Nat shrugged. "I think I need a few one on ones with that kid to get the full body TK under control," she admitted, smiling at the prospect of seeing Alyona and Nikolai again. "Lianne needs to be in that group," she added. "Pretty sure her self-healing thing is indicative of empathetic healing developing."

Steve nodded in agreement as he started back toward the school to close up for the day before heading home for the evening. "What about Maria?" he asked of the Storm's daughter, who couldn't speak but also seemed to possess some form of empathic power.

"I figured she was already in the group," Nat said, shrugging lightly. She couldn't help grinning at the sight of Liv ambling across the lawns with the gaggle of Storm and Rogers children who were too small for school yet. "And Alyona made a point of learning to sign for her."

"I'm sure she is," Steve admitted, unable to keep track of every student and every class. And if she wasn't, he'd make sure she was. He frowned a little at the thought of little Maria, whose plight always concerned him more than the others, though she seemed perfectly happy and well-adjusted, despite her tragic past. "You'd think she'd be the telepath," he murmured aloud, though who knew what it was Hydra had intended. That frown didn't remain long though, as he, too, caught sight of Liv coming to collect her children from school.

"You're like a mama duck and her ducklings!" he called over to her, a silly grin on his face.

Liv laughed, letting the toddlers run willy-nilly toward the school, secure in the knowledge that everyone there would pick them up if they fell. "The sooner they're big enough for a creche, the better!" she called back cheerfully.

"We call it daycare, Liv," he corrected her with an amused grin. Fortunately, he'd spent enough time in England to understand what she'd meant, but it amused him to no end to correct her.

"You Americans and your simplistic terms," she countered, still laughing as she reached them. "I take it the fearsome four are still in there somewhere?" She nodded to the school - chances were they were either crowding around Colin in the computer lab, or getting under Lucy's feet in the infirmary.

Steve Rogers

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Re: Marching Home
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2019, 04:55:19 PM »
"Where else would they be?" he asked, that smirk still on his face. Admittedly, he was smiling a lot more these days, now that he'd found his niche. He'd always be an Avenger, but he needed to feel useful here in Rhy'Din, too.

Nearby, Nat was lifting her own daughter up onto her hip with a kiss to the chubby cheek, listening avidly to the burble of nonsense being shared as she headed into the school in the wake of the twins.

Liv chuckled. "And she thought she would never relax into being a mother."

"She doesn't give herself enough credit. She never has," Steve said regarding Nat. At least, where being a wife and mother were concerned. She was more than confident of her skills as a spy and assassin, but if Steve had to guess, he'd say she was a lot happier in her new life as a wife, mother, and teacher.

"Neither do you," Liv commented, bending to scoop up Bessie before she landed hard on her knees. "You okay there, Bets?" The little girl grinned and nodded, skipping along beside them as they entered the school.

"You sure you aren't calling the kettle black there, Liv?" Steve teased, one arm nudging her lightly, a smile on his face. He frowned a little as Bessie took a brief tumble, but she picked herself up quickly enough again. Kids really were a lot more resilient than adults gave them credit for.

"I'm getting better at it, excuse you," was Liv's defensive response, spoken again with a bright smile. That smile softened as she went on, "I promised Johnny I would. I always keep my promises."

"I'm just teasing. You're doing good, Liv," he assured her, offering her a brotherly smile. "We're a sorry lot, aren't we?" he asked, chuckling a little at his own self-criticism. "But we're doing better every day." He took the stairs two at a time, before pulling open the doors to let them all back inside.

"Every day in every way," Liv chuckled, watching as Steve's twin girls and Jamie hustled around and between their father's legs to get into the building ahead of him. "I have no idea how you handle your mad house of children, by the way. Ours is a cake walk by comparison."

He would have liked to have greeted each of the children with a hug, but he'd learned the hard way not to distract them or it would take even longer for the bunch of them to get home. Steve chuckled as the children wound their way around him, as though his legs were nothing more than tree trunks rooted in the ground. "I wouldn't say that. You guys have a full house of your own, and you have to handle Johnny besides."

"Oh, and you don't have the same problem with Lucy at all," his sister-in-law said in amusement, listening to the echo of little footsteps through the empty hallway. "Sounds as though they're making a beeline for the infirmary. So, Mr. Rogers ..." And here she paused to bite down on the giggle she knew would just confuse him. "How did the school day treat you?"

He furrowed his brows at her, never quite getting the joke. Everyone seemed to smirk a little when they called him that, but he still hadn't figured out why. "The day treated me fine, Mrs. Storm. How about you?" he asked, though calling her that didn't seem to elicit the same bit of humor. "You might want to know that your son has apparently figured out he can fly."

"Oh, dear." She sighed, shaking her head as her smile gentled. "It was only a matter of time. I think I'm going to have to borrow Martin to make sure that Lir knows not to let Alex go too high."

"Or you could get some rope," Steve teased, imagining Alex as a kite. "It's probably a good thing Peter and Lyneth go to Harker's, or they'd have the whole school flying."

"Oh, good god, none of us could handle that," Liv laughed, still following the sound of toddler chatter. They were definitely in the infirmary, which meant the older four were probably in the computer lab with Colin.

Steve chuckled again before turning serious. There was really nothing he took more seriously than the children's safety. "You can borrow Martin whenever you want. You know how fond he is of Alex," he assured her.

"We need never worry about our children being lonely, that's for certain," she agreed warmly. "They all act like siblings, no matter which house they sleep in."

At this point, Jamie came back into view, barreling toward Steve with his arms outstretched. He had evidently got his hug from Lucy, and now it was Steve's turn.

"It's good for them and for us," Steve agreed, laughing as Jamie came rushing toward him for a hug. He swept the little boy up into his arms, kissing both cheeks and hugging him close. "How was school today, kiddo?" Steve had never been shy about giving his children affection, even in public.

"We did writin' and numbers and I got a sticker, look!" Jamie proudly showed off the bright sticker on his chest that declared him to be a gold star speller.

Liv grinned as she and Bessie continued on their way toward the infirmary, both of them eager to see their own twins.

"Wow, that's awesome! See what I meant about practice?" Steve asked, beaming a proud grin at his son as he followed Liv toward the infirmary to collect the rest of the children. Jamie had been complaining about spelling being boring, so Steve had made a game of quizzing the boy, until he got all the words right.

Beaming happily at the results of doing homework with his Daddy, Jamie grinned. "Can we do more?" he asked hopefully, as the sound of his little sisters clambering all over Lucy made themselves known.

"Sure, but let's wait a few days until you have some new words. How about we play a family game instead?" he asked, hearing the twins babbling even from here. "Your choice." Because the boy deserved a reward for getting that gold star and for all his hard work, even if he did think it had been a game.

Jamie gave him a rather familiarly cheeky smile. "Can we play poker for sweeties?" he asked innocently. Lucy had warned Steve that letting Nat teach their children poker was going to get weird.

"Poker, really?" Steve asked, brows arching upwards in surprise, though he had been warned.

Steve Rogers

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Re: Marching Home
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2019, 04:55:37 PM »
"Let's see what your mother says," he said, copping out like every dad did when he didn't want to make an unpopular decision.

"M'kay."

Nodding, Jamie tucked his hand into Steve's to finish the walk into the infirmary. When they got there, it was to find one calm corner, and one definitely not calm corner. The calm was Liv, Bessie, and the youngest set of twins, cuddling quietly on one of the beds. The not calm ... Lucy was flat on her back on one of the other beds, with Sarah lying across her face, and Natalia rummaging in her pockets, both little girls cackling with glee.

Steve paused in the doorway, having a hard time stifling his laughter. "Um, girls? I think your mother would like to be able to breathe, if you don't mind," he said, trying hard not to sound like he was either amused or angry.

Jamie snickered next to him, glad he wasn't the one causing problems for Mummy this time. Natalia was the one who looked up guiltily, snatching her hands out of Lucy's pockets as her mother flailed. Sarah, on the other hand, just turned her head, shifting just enough that Lucy's mouth came into view. "Dada!"

Steve and Lucy had wanted a big family, but the twins had a habit of continually testing their patience. He sighed, letting go of Jamie's hand so that he could rescue Lucy, easily snatching both girls up off their mother and into his arms. The other Rogers' children had never been so full of impatience, at least, as far as Steve could remember. He blamed Nat.

"What exactly are you both looking for?"

Left breathless on the bed and more than a little disheveled, Lucy gasped, laughing at the sight of Steve hoisting the two troublemakers up into the air.

"Someone thought they could get hold of my stethoscope if they pinned me down," she told her husband, sitting up with another smile for Jamie.

"Mmm, I see," Steve murmured thoughtfully. Of course, Liv had been sitting right there and could have easily assisted. He was also pretty sure Lucy didn't make much of an effort to fight off the two troublemakers. "You know what happens when you make trouble for your mama," he warned them both, trying hard once again to keep a straight face.

Natalia's eyes went wide and worried at the prospect of being told off. Her sister, on the other hand, just hugged Steve around the neck and kissed his cheek. "Dada make dinner," she said cheerfully.

Steve chuckled. The only punishment he'd had in mind was ticking them both, but the look on Natalia's face and the smooch from Sarah had him chuckling instead. "You're both lucky you're so cute," he told them, rubbing noses with one and then the other.

"You are both complete pushovers," Liv said from the other bed, cuddling Marnie while Bessie cooed over Izzy.

Lucy snorted, sticking her tongue out at her sister. "Maybe we like the chaos, ever think of that?"

"Says the woman who's married to the biggest kid in Rhy'Din," Steve teased with a smirk. "Shall we go find the rest of the brood?" he asked, but before anyone could answer, he could hear said brood approaching in the hallway. The only ones missing was Johnny and Fliss, who were likely still at work and school, respectively.

"Who's the biggest kid in Rhy'Din?" Colin asked, as he poked his head in the door, the rest of the Rogers and Storm kids flooding the room.

"Papa says Uncle Johnny is," Lianne said confidently, skipping into the room to bounce up onto the bed with Lucy and Jamie. "Are we going home now?"

"As soon as your mom is ready," Steve told his daughter. "Jamie, show everyone your award," he urged the boy, proud of his son for doing so well in school, after something of a struggle at times.

"Wow, a gold star for spelling!" Martin praised his younger brother, giving him a high five.

It didn't take long for the children to gather around Jamie, cheerfully praising him and sharing their own stories about the day they had had. And that, in turn, gave Lucy and Liv the opportunity to pack up the infirmary and secure the youngest twins in a stroller respectively.

Behind Colin in the doorway, Nat chuckled quietly, still hugging Alia on her hip. "If we have any more kids, we're going to have to learn how to do that distraction thing."

"Maybe we should quit while we're ahead," Colin whispered back, chuckling a little to himself. While he was overjoyed to be a father, he wasn't sure he wanted to have such a large family as the Storms or the Rogers. Meanwhile, Steve helped wrangle the kids, zipping coats and shouldering bags.

"Mama!" Alexei said, tugging on his mother's sleeve. "I almost flew today! Just like Papa!"

"So I heard," Liv told him with a warm smile, turning to hug him. "I'm so proud of you! But we need to have a talk about setting down some rules if you're going to start flying around, okay?" She stroked his hair fondly, blinking as Maria waved a hand for their attention.

"Can I fly on Lir next to Alex in the sky?"

"Okay, Mama," Alex obediently replied without hesitation. He took great pride in pleasing his parents, knowing he was lucky to have them, and he was especially close to his mother. "Can we fly on Lir together?" Alex countered, taking up where his sister left off.

Liv chuckled. "Let me talk to Lir about that before anyone goes climbing on him," she suggested. "But you're getting so strong with your telekinesis, sweetheart! And a little bird tells me that you, little miss, are getting a special teacher tomorrow."

Maria beamed happily, definitely looking forward to the special lesson the next day.

"What special teacher?" Alex asked, merely curious, as everyone around him started toward the door, filing out into the hallway to head for home.

"Alyona is coming to work with the students whose abilities are more empathetic," Liv explained to him, maneuvering the stroller out into the hallway in the wake of the others. Maria nodded along with her, hand in hand with Bessie and unable to sign for the time being.

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Re: Marching Home
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2019, 04:55:53 PM »
"Oh," Alex murmured, a thoughtful expression on his face. "Is that the pretty lady with the Russian accent?" he asked, as if he had no Russian accent of his own.

"Yes, sweetheart," Liv confirmed for him, doing her best to hide her smile. "Do you think we should invite her to dinner?"

"Can we invite just her?" he asked, not overly fond of the man Alyona was usually found in the company of, but he wasn't too sure why. He didn't want to not like him, but he scared him a little, and though he didn't realize, Alex might be harboring a small crush on Alyona.

"It would be rude to invite just her if Nikolai is with her," Liv told him gently, glancing down at her son. "I know he is a little intimidating, but Nikolai would never hurt you, Alex. He knows I would do something dreadful to him if he did."

"What's intimidating mean?" Alex asked, brows furrowed, as he walked along beside his mother. He wasn't sure what that word meant exactly, but he thought Nikolai was a little scary. Even scarier than the guy who turned big and green.

"Scary," she clarified for him. "I don't think he means to be. He has had a hard life, so he carries it around him like a shield. But he cannot be so very bad, or Alyona would not love him. Don't you think?"

Alex shrugged, frowning a little, a strange pang in his heart to hear that the scary man loved the pretty Russian lady. "What kind of hard life?" he asked, merely curious now.

Liv considered how to phrase this, since she also had Bessie and Maria listening to the conversation as they walked. "The bad men who had you and your sister, they also had him," she told her son. "They took his real arm away, which is why he has a metal arm. They hurt him a lot, and for a lot longer than they had you. He is very lucky to have friends now who will protect him."

"Are we his friends, Mama?" Alex asked, softening a little toward his rival now that he knew the man had suffered even more than they had, but he still thought he was a little scary.

"We don't know him well enough to be his friends, but we can be friendly to him," she said with a smile. "Between you and me, I don't think he knows how to people anymore."

"Then we should invite him to dinner, too, so he can get to know us," Alex said, with a decisive nod of his head, his heart too kind and full of compassion to dislike the man for no reason. He'd learned that compassion from his parents.

"I think that is a wonderful idea," Liv agreed, inwardly exalting at having got Alex to suggest something he had not initially wanted to consider. It was getting easier to parent their little telepath, but she knew he could have looked inside her head to find out what she really thought at any moment. On the plus side, however, trusting Alex to be honorable about how he used his abilities was proving to be quite successful.

Alex beamed a proud grin, pleased at his mother's praise. "Thank you, Mama!" he said, skipping off to join his sister and cousins in their march home, which was just a short walk across Maple Grove.

Steve let the kids run ahead. They needed to burn off some energy after spending most of their day in school.

"This was a good idea, wasn't it, Luce?" he asked, smiling with satisfaction at the way the school was coming together.

"It was an amazing idea, baby," Lucy assured her husband, half an eye on the children running in varying degrees of competence across the grass. She glanced up at him with a fond smile. "Are you happy, Steve?"

Not all of the children were running, of course, but the older ones stopped to help the younger ones, just happy to be free. "Ever since I met you," Steve replied, mirroring her smile, but he knew what she meant.

It had been hard waking up to find the world changed, to find all the people he'd loved were gone, to find that despite his sacrifice, Hydra had not been defeated. But all that had changed in the years since he'd awoken, and in the years since he'd met Lucy. He had sworn never to rest, never to give up fighting until Hydra was defeated. It had taken a long time for him to figure out what his place was in the world - what he wanted to do with his life - once that had been accomplished.

Though he'd always be a hero, always be an Avenger, his place was here now - in Rhy'Din with Lucy and his family and friends, living a simple life as husband and father and teacher, passing along all he knew to the next generation of heroes. He smiled as he looked around, surrounded by those he cared for most, and for the first time in his life, he could actually say he was happy.

Peggy would be proud.