In the aftermath of the Battle of New York, Police Commissioner Frank Reagan was still having a tough time believing it. His ma had called him and insisted she was right (Pop had insisted in the background that his mother was getting dotty in her old age) but as he watched the videos he was hard pressed not to believe. Stunningly, unbelievably, it looked like Steve Rogers was alive.
Steve was dusty and disheveled from helping city crews removed the damage and debris left over from the battle. He trudged up to his apartment building, automatically noting the black SUV parked in front before he stopped short at the man standing on the sidewalk out front. The man noticed him at the same time and straightened up, as tall as Steve but older (well, biologically anyway), dark hair, mustache, wearing a nice suit, distinguished and vaguely familiar to Steve.
“Uh, hi. Can I help you?”
The man held out his hand. “Captain Rogers, I’m Police Commissioner Frank Reagan.”
Steve automatically shook his hand, his mind going a mile a minute. “Call me Steve, please. What can I do for you, Commissioner?”
The man smiled, “Call me Frank. Do you mind if we go in? You look like you’d like to clean up.”
Steve turned and went up the steps, aware that the commissioner was on his heels. He gave a distracted hello to his neighbor before unlocking his door and going inside. He went to drop his things by the laundry hamper before turning to the man standing in his living room.
“Okay, as far as I know I haven’t broken the law yet,” he challenged.
The older man smiled and dipped his head. “I know this is strange but let me explain. My mother is Rebecca Barnes Reagan.”
Stunned, Steve stared before he blurted, “Becca married that punk Henry Reagan?” He remembered the black Irish kid that had been sniffing around Bucky’s sister’s skirts before he and Bucky had left for the war. He was pretty sure Bucky had read him the riot act about treating his sister with respect.
Laughing, the man suddenly resembled people that Steve remembered. “Hey now, that’s my pop we’re talking about.”
“Sorry,” Steve apologized, then grinned. “You musta got your height from his da. They’re still here?”
Frank nodded. “Still kicking. I was going to ask if you’d like to go and see her. Mom’s ordered me to bring you over but don’t feel obligated.”
Steve yanked his dirty t-shirt over his head and dumped it on the floor. “Give me 5 minutes for a shower and we can head out.”
Frank turned slightly, the younger (older?) man tickling his funny bone as he stripped right there in front of him. Can’t take the military out of the boy. “I’ll even give you ten.”
In the SUV Steve ignored how Frank’s driver kept shooting him looks in the rear- view mirror. “Where do they live?”
Frank settled back after shooting the kid in front a look to mind his own business. “Still in Brooklyn. Mom and pop live with me, in the same house pop bought after the War. He joined the Marines after you and Uncle Bucky left. She wouldn’t marry him until he came back.”
Steve laughed. “Oh, she was like her ma. Independent to the point of being bull-headed. You shoulda heard how Mr. Barnes would complain that the women wore the pants in the family.”
It was hard to reconcile this young man with the strong Brooklyn accent to the same man who had known his grandparents personally. Frank had a million questions.
They arrived at brownstone and at the top of the stairs stood an elderly woman with short, curly white hair and deep laugh lines held out her arms and Steve bounded up to her and enfolded her in a tight hug.
“I’m so sorry, I lost him,” Steve sobbed into Frank’s mother’s shoulder, almost bent in half, blonde head against her own wet, wrinkled cheek. Frank’s eyes burned slightly as his mother hushed the younger (older) man, hugging him just as tightly. His dad was at a doctor’s appointment and had no idea Steve was there.
After a few minutes Rebecca Barnes Reagan pushed Steve back and he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his eyes and blow his nose.
“You’re an idiot, Steven Grant Rogers. We never blamed you.”
Steve laughed a little thickly. “~I~ blamed me.”
Rebecca rolled her eyes “Of course you did, Saint Steven. You never did see a burden that you didn’t want to hoist on your own skinny shoulders.”
“Hey!” Steve complained but grinned when she punched him in the shoulder.
She pretended to shake her hand, “What did that science experiment do to you, Stevie?” She led him over into the living room and Frank followed them quietly. He was fascinated by the dynamic of the two contemporaries. His mom was beaming and he couldn’t wait to poke his dad about her being right.
“I heal pretty quick now,” Steve said, a little bashfully. “No more asthma or pneumonia every fall and winter.”
Frank had grown up with stories of how his uncle Bucky had worried himself sick whenever Steve had gotten sick, to the extent that the local priest had been called for last rites more than once.
Rebecca looked over at her son. “Well, what do you think?”
Her son smirked. “He asked me if you’d married that punk, Henry Reagan.”
Blushing, Steve accepted the second whack from Rebecca with a laugh. “Hey, we didn’t think he was good enough for ya.”
“I’ll have you know he served over in the Pacific during the war. He was on Tarawa and almost got his fool head blown off by a kamikaze but made it home. Then he joined the police department after the war,” she said tartly.
Steve looked over at Frank with a grin. “An Irish cop, what do ya know.”
“It’s a tradition,” Frank agreed comfortably.
Steve’s phone buzzed and he pulled it out of his pocket to look at it in annoyance. “I’m so sorry, I have to go,” he said, reaching over to grab Becca’s hand in apology.
Frank got to his feet but Steve waved him off. “I’ve got a ride, they’re waiting for me outside.”
Rebecca got to her feet as well and pulled Steve in for a hug. “You will eat Sunday dinner with us. One o’clock, don’t be late mister.”
Pressing a kiss to her cheek, Steve smiled, “I’d be honored. I’ll see you Sunday!” He left in a rush, looking more cheerful than he had.
Frank smiled fondly at his mother. “Well, you know I’ll be there. I’ll make sure Linda knows we’re going to have company.”
“Don’t tell anyone who,” Rebecca ordered with a mischievous smile. “I want it to be a surprise. Make sure you get the albums out after church for me.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Frank said, giving her a good-bye kiss. Once in his SUV he sighed and wondered again at how the world was changing.
“Everything okay, sir?” his driver asked as they pulled out.
“Fine. Did Captain Rogers get his ride?”
“Yes, sir. A black Maserati pulled up. I wouldn’t swear to it but I think it was the Black Widow driving.”
Frank hummed thoughtfully. He had a lot to think about.
Natasha glanced over and was pleasantly surprised to see how bright Steve looked. “What were you doing there?” she asked, her hands firm on the steering wheel as she steered through afternoon traffic.
“Visiting some old friends,” Steve said. “Where are we going?”
An obvious change of subject but Natasha accepted it gracefully, for now. “A little clean up. There are some Chitauri weapons that need to be collected.”
“SHIELD couldn’t do it?” he asked peevishly.
Now Natasha was surprised. “We are SHIELD.”
“As long as I’m off on Sunday,” Steve retorted firmly. He wasn’t going to disappoint Becca again.
“I think that should be fine,” she replied, her mind already buzzing. She needed to do some snooping.
The Avengers were seated around the table, minus Thor as he was back on Asgard. Nick was reading something on his padd while he waited for Stark to arrive. He observed the group, his attention going back to Rogers as the young man fiddled with his pen. Romanov had said she was looking into the ‘friends’ that Rogers had visited but he was awaiting the report.
Stark swept in, only slightly grease covered which was a miracle.
“Hey, Capsicle! How do you know the Commish? Inquiring minds want to know.” Tony flopped into a chair across from the younger man, waggling his eyebrows.
Everyone looked at Steve who sighed and rolled his eyes. “The Reagans are old family friends. Bucky’s sister married Henry Reagan after the war and the current commissioner is her son. I was visiting Becca. Not that it’s anybody’s business,” he finished firmly.
Nick was very interested, but he was wary of using the connection. He needed to stay on the police commissioner’s good side because he believed that the attack by the Chitauri and Loki was just the tip of the iceberg. Help from the local police made his job that much easier.
“Can you get my traffic tickets deep sixed?” Tony asked with a grin.
“NO.” Steve replied flatly, but his slight smile indicated that he knew Tony was yanking his chain.
Nick cleared his throat. “Let’s get down to business, shall we?”
Sunday found most of the Reagan clan in the house, Frank sitting at the kitchen table with his father while Linda and his mother fussing over the meal. Frank turned the page of the newspaper he was hiding behind, ignoring the glare from his father. His father hated not being in the loop and their mystery guest was driving him around the bend.
Running feet made mom holler about running in the house and Henry hid an automatic wince at his wife’s yell.
“Sorry Grandma!” Danny’s kids cheerfully called back.
“So, dad.” Jamie smirked at his father, wincing as Linda smacked his fingers for stealing a carrot off of one of the plates that had been carefully arranged. “Is it a new girlfriend?”
“Nope,” Frank replied. He flipped his paper again.
“You might as well stop trying,” Danny complained. “Don’t you think I’ve already asked?”
“Yeah,” Jamie smiled at Danny, “but I’m cuter.”
Linda burst out into laughter as Danny went after his brother, adding to the noise and chaos. Erin rolled her eyes as her brothers mock wrestled.
“Hey!” Mom snapped. “Take your roughhousing outdoors!” she scolded but then smiled as the doorbell rang.
“Frank, please get the door,” she ordered and he obediently hauled himself to his feet, aware that his dad was on his heels.
“I’ve got it,” he said, and threw a look over his shoulder at the family. “Don’t crowd me,” he ordered and went to let their guest in.
Steve hovered nervously on the front porch, flowers in his hand. He was in a dark blue button down and khaki slacks and still had his leather jacket on for the ride on his motorcycle. He didn’t realize his hair was slightly ruffled from the ride over.
The door opened and Frank Reagan smiled, “Hey Steve, come on in.”
Stepping inside, Steve was immediately struck by the amount of people in the house, all peering curiously into the entryway.
“Steve!” Becca pushed through and came up for a hug and a kiss. She accepted the flowers, smacking him slightly and making him laugh. “Henry, take Stevie's jacket,” she ordered.
Steve slipped out of his jacket and held out his hand. “Hi, Steve Rogers,” he said, tongue in cheek.
Henry shot his wife a look before taking the proffered hand. “Don’t be a punk, Rogers.” Steve laughed and yanked the older man into a quick hug.
This started a round of introductions, the awestruck kids, young and old alike welcoming him into the dining room.
Frank sat Steve between his grandmother and his son Jamie. Erin, Nicky, Linda and Danny were bringing dishes to the table while Steve and his mom caught up since they’d seen each other on the previous Tuesday.
“It looks great,” Steve praised and Becca beamed at him.
“It’s Ma’s roast lamb recipe, though you know during the depression no one could even afford a piece of mutton, much less a leg of lamb. “
“Beans,” Steve agreed sagely and he and Becca completed, “For breakfast, lunch and oh boy, for dinner.” Henry snorted a laugh, shaking his head at what was obviously an inside old people joke.
Once everyone was seated, Henry looked at Steve. “Would you say grace, Steve?”
Steve looked uncomfortable but nodded seriously. Becca put her hand on his and he closed his eyes. “Bless us O God as we sit together. Bless the food we eat today, Bless the hands that made the food, Bless us O God, Amen.”
“Ah, I hadn’t heard that one in many a year,” Becca said, smiling at the memory.
“That’s what ma always prayed,” he said with a responding smile, both of them lost in memories of days past.
Henry cleared his throat and started passing dishes. “So Steve, the announcement that you were alive after all of these years was met with some skepticism. It was decided that they’d found some shmuck to pull off a con.”
Frank wanted to groan but Henry yelped because his mother had apparently kicked him beneath the table.
Steve smothered a smile as he ladled gravy over the mound of steaming potatoes on his plate. “Yeah, I get that a lot. To be honest, I’m just as surprised as everyone else.”
Danny’s son Jack, all of eleven and proud of it, asked, “Mr. Rogers, did you really punch Hitler?”
The adults at the table laughed and Steve smiled at Jack. “Call me Steve, please. No, it was an actor when I did the USO tour. But I did punch the Red Skull.”
Becca smiled. “Speaking of the USO. Bucky sent a bunch of stuff he collected about your USO shows. I have them in an album. It was a surprise to see you all big when you were such a little thing.”
Steve wrinkled his nose. “You don’t appreciate my pain. It was terrible, Becca. But the showgirls were nice.”
Frank smirked at his pop and he wiped his mustache with his napkin. Henry had been sure that Steve was an imposter, and this was showing the older man that he’d been wrong.
“So, what does everyone do?” Steve asked, feeling a little like an animal in the zoo. He took another bite of the delicious roast leg of lamb that Linda and Becca had cooked.
“Pop is a retired police commissioner, Danny is a detective, Linda is a nurse, Jamie is a lawyer turned beat cop,” Frank said, pointing in turn, “Erin is a lawyer, and everyone else is supposed to be in school.” He gave the grandkids a look over his glasses, making them giggle and protest that they weren’t skipping.
“Are you named after Bucky?” Steve asked Jamie. He could see a little of his friend in this man who was the same age, but separated by generations.
Jamie looked at his dad and Frank nodded. “Well, he’s named after my brother, who was named after Bucky.”
“James died in the Army too,” Henry said evenly. “Vietnam.”
Steve looked down at his plate. “I’m so very sorry. We thought that we were fighting the war to end all wars.”
“What have I told you about taking everyone’s burdens, Saint Steven?” Becca snapped. Steve looked at her like a startled deer and flushed slightly at her words.
“Uncle Joe died too,” Nicky said.
Steve looked at Frank who elaborated. “Joey was my son who died in the line of duty.”
“We’ve lost one in every generation,” Becca said softly. She smiled as Steve put a hand over hers on the table, their shared pain clear on their faces.
Danny huffed out a breath, “Well, now I’m depressed. I’m getting more rolls outta the kitchen.”
Rolling his eyes, Jamie got up and grabbed the almost empty bowl of green beans and followed Danny. “Gran, do you want more wine?” he asked.
“Please, Jamie darling,” Becca replied.
In the kitchen Danny huffed out a breath and shook his head at Jamie. “Get a load of that guy. He’s unreal.”
Jamie shrugged as he snagged the bottle of red that sat on the counter. “I can’t even imagine what he’s going through. He’s lost everyone, Danny. Yeah, we’ve lost family and it’s been terrible, but he lost ~everyone~ he knew. And he’s my age, well, sort of.” He felt like there was a noticeable haze of grief around Steve Rogers.
Danny snorted and dumped the rest of the rolls in the basket. “Yeah, okay,” he muttered before going back in. Jamie took a breath and followed.
Over dessert, which was a peach tart with whipped cream that Steve loved, Nicky looked over at Steve a bit hesitantly. “Steve, can I ask a question?”
Steve stopped trying to see if there was any more whipped cream on his plate. “Okay,” he said encouragingly.
“How did you meet grandma Becca?”
“I was there when she was born,” he said, shooting her a mischievous smile.
Becca smiled at the memory. “I like this story.”
Steve chuckled. “So, Mrs. Barnes was in labor and most babies weren’t born in hospitals then, so she sent Bucky over to get my ma who was a nurse. We all trooped back and ma went in to check on her and Bucky and I stayed in the kitchen waiting for Mr. Barnes who was at a union meeting. Apparently she’d been in labor all day and didn’t know it and soon after we got there Becca was born. Ma had Bucky and me get sheets and towels and boil some water and when we got to go in Becca was in ma’s hands and Bucky toppled over in a dead faint.”
“Bucky fainted?” Frank asked in surprise.
“Like a redwood tree, boom!” Steve confirmed gleefully. “Ma, she just shook her head, made me sit on a chair and handed me Becca.” He smiled fondly at the 87 year old. “She was screaming her head off but ma said she was healthy as a horse, just tiny. ”
“Well, to be fair I was early,” she responded.
“And late to everything else,” Steve replied by rote, echoed by Henry and obviously something they’d said many times before. The rest of the family cracked up.
Becca laughed and shoved Steve’s arm. “I hated when Bucky said that!”
“Shoulda been on time once in awhile, shouldn’t ya?” he teased.
Frank snorted because the mother he knew was fiercely efficient but thought time bent to her will.
Steve found the family Sunday dinner invitation was open ended and often he’d end up there if he didn’t have a mission. He slowly became friends with Danny, Erin and Jamie and won Henry over as he and Steve had in depth conversations about the war. He had a family again and he was grateful every day.