Finally watching Once Upon a Time after years of begging from my husband, and I just made it to Jefferson's first episode.
Hubby: Oh, you found your guy?
Me: *grinning because I have the best husband* Yeah
*Jefferson walks around making threats and standing way too close*
Hubby: He really is kind of a creep, isn't he?
Me: *shrugs* That's kind of Seb's thing
5 notes · View notes
Summary: Steve and Peggy have a baby. Ups and downs. LOTS of Steggy. Mostly cute/ heartfelt moments, one or two upsetting/stressful moments.
Pairings: Steve Rogers/Peggy Carter, Edwin Jarvis/Ana Jarvis, Howard Stark/ Maria Stark
Warnings: miscarriage, difficult pregnancy
Peggy turns over, staring at the ceiling in the darkness. She turns her head to look in Steve’s direction. His slow rhythmic breathing lets her know he’s still asleep. She looks back at the ceiling, taking a deep breath. She picks idly at her fingernails while chewing on the inside of her cheek.
“Steve?” she asks quietly.
“Hmm?” He barely moves.
“Steve, I’m late.”
“Late for what?” He answers, groggy, “It’s the middle of the night.”
She’s quiet for a moment. “Me, Steve. I’m late.”
“Oh.” He mumbles, barely audible.
“Oh!” He turns on his lamp, flips over to face her and props up on one elbow. “How late?”
“Just over a week,” she sighs.
Steve climbs out of bed and makes his way to the safe in their closet. He sets two small vials on his nightstand, strapping what appears to be a wristwatch around his palm. With the press of a button, a red and white suit materializes around him.
“I’ll be back in a minute.” Steve grabs the vials and inserts one into the side of his suit. He rolls the remaining vial in his hand and whispers to himself, “Last one.”
In an instant he disappears into thin air. Peggy watches, unimpressed. At this point, nothing really surprises her. She takes a deep breath, laying back down. She listens to the clock count out the seconds as they pass.
Twelve clicks later, Steve reappears. The suit folds back into the watch, revealing his smirk. He tears open a small pink box and passes Peggy the contents as he removes the watch and places it back in the safe.
“Pee on that.”
“Excuse me?” She looks at him wide-eyed. “Steve, what-” She turns the stick over. “What is this?”
He rolls his eyes, tossing her the box. “Just do it, please.”
She skims over the writing on the box. “I don’t need to go.”
“Then start drinking water. You woke me up at,” he looks at the clock, “three AM. You’re peeing on that stick.
He walks into the small kitchenette and fills a glass of water. He nearly drops it when he turns around and crashes into her. “Jesus, Peg. Don’t sneak up on me like that.” He raises an eyebrow. “How did you even manage that?”
She giggles, “It’s like four steps from here to the bedroom. Not much room for detection.”
He gives her the glass, and she takes a small sip. She smiles at him before raising the glass to her lips for another sip. Steve puts a finger under the glass, lifting the bottom. “I’m not waiting up all night for you to finish that.”
She takes a breath after drinking half the water. “Fine.” Another breath, and she finishes the glass, passing it back to Steve.
Twenty minutes and two and half cups of water later, Peggy paces the four steps across their bathroom. “This is from 2023? Shouldn’t it be instant?”
Steve chuckles from his place, leaning against the sink. “It’s a chemical reaction, Peggy. Not much we can do about it.”
She rubs her hands up and down her face, stepping over Steve’s feet as she paces. “We are not- Steve, we can’t- We, we don’t know anything about that serum.” She begins running her fingers through her hair. “What if it causes complications? We don’t know what it’ll do to a baby. What’s going to happen to me?” She wraps her arms around herself, breathing deeply. “Oh, god, Steve, how could we be so careless? Howard’s stupid pill didn’t work. I told you we couldn’t trust that bloody thing!”
“Peg, calm down. That pill worked for almost five years. Something must have happened.” He shakes his head. “Besides, we don’t even know if I can pass this on to my kids.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yes, you’re pre-serum genetics are much more comforting.”
“Okay, that stung more than a little.”
“We had a plan.” Her eyes water, and her voice is choked. “Howard’s still researching the serum. In another year or two, he could have had answers. But, right now…” She takes a deep breath.
Steve’s watch beeps twice, and Peggy stops pacing, staring at him eyebrows drawn together, eyes wider than he’d ever seen them. She stands in front of him and reaches a hand out for the test sitting on the counter.
“I’m going to be sick.” She draws her hand back. “You look.”
“We’re going to be fine.” Steve laughs and lays his hands on her arms, rubbing them gently. “Hey, look at me. It’s going to be alright.”
She nods and lets out a shaky breath. He releases her and turns to look at the pregnancy test.
One. She counts the seconds silently. Two. He doesn’t say a word. Three. “Oh, for the love of Christ! Get on with it.”
Steve smiles, “We’re going to need a bigger apartment.”
Peggy’s breath catches, and her knees give out. Steve catches her and lowers her gently to the floor, cradling her against his chest.
“What are we going to do?” She blurts out, breathless.
“We’ll figure it out.” He kisses the top of her head. “We always have.”
“We’re not ready,” she chokes out past the lump in her throat, “Steve, I can’t- I’m not- I can’t do this.”
“You’re not alone, Peggy. I’m with you through the whole thing.” He soothes, stroking her hair.
“No, I mean,” her voice trails off. “What if, I…” Again, she falls silent. “I’m not a super soldier. What if-” Her voice cracks. “What if I can’t? If something happens, Steve.”
“Peggy,” he whispers, pulling her back to look in her eyes, “I would never blame you for that.” He pulls her back into a tight hug, letting one hand slide to her belly. “We’ll ask Howard to run some tests, keep researching. We’ll do everything we can for the baby. And if it turns out to be impossible for you to carry a super-soldier,” he swallows the lump that forms in his throat, “Well, then, I’m still with you.”
She nods, nuzzling further into his chest.
“I know it’s not exactly what we planned,” Steve speaks softly into her hair, “but I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Peggy pulls back to study his face. When she sees his big, goofy grin, she lets out a few choked laughs. The tears that had already gathered in her eyes spill over onto her cheeks. She pulls him into a kiss. “We’re having a baby.”
He nods, leaning his forehead against hers, and whispers back, “We’re having a baby.”
“Howard, it’s been two months! How can you not know anything new?” Peggy yells, advancing quickly across the room.
“I think I know how you got pregnant,” Howard says proudly.
Peggy stops moving and blinks slowly, rolling her eyes. “How many doctorates did it take to figure that?”
He laughs with a smirk. “No, I mean, I think those antibiotics you were taking for that dog bite reacted with my pill, rendering it…well, useless.”
“Howard, you have approximately eight seconds to tell me something useful.” She storms toward him.
Howard backs away just as quickly. “I’m not clairvoyant, Peg. I can only run tests.”
Steve grabs Peggy by the arm, holding her back.
She struggles against his grip. “Then run more. Better ones this time.”
“It’s not that easy. Your blood tests are normal, if that helps. Your hormones are adjusting normally. Weight gain is healthy. Activity levels appropriate. At least according to what I’ve read.” He answers more confidently now. “I have to work with what I have, and what I don’t have is a medical degree. I can’t just look through a window and-” He whirls around and runs to his desk, scrambling through notes and medical journals. “I might have an idea.”
Steve and Peggy look at each other and wait. Howard begins scribbling furiously and mumbling to himself.
Finally, Steve huffs dramatically. “Care to share with the class?”
Howard looks up, grinning. “Not yet. I’ll let you know when I have something.”
“Howard, I want to know right bloody now! If you think-”
Steve leads Peggy out of the room. “You have to calm down.”
Peggy turns on him, growling, “Don’t tell me what to do, Rogers. If I hadn’t listened to you two months ago, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Steve’s forehead creases as he furrows his eyebrows, and the corners of his mouth turn down. “Well, I don’t think that’s very fair.”
Peggy’s face drops, and her voice falters. “I didn’t mean- Steve, I just- I just-” She inhales sharply. “I just don’t know what I’d do if- if I-” She trails off, looking away.
"No, no, no.” Steve takes her chin and turns her face back to him. “Don't- Please don’t cry."
She leans into him, sniffling. “I’m sorry. But I can’t lose her."
Steve smiles, “Oh, her, huh? What makes you so sure?"
Peggy shrugs. “You disagree?”
Steve smiles, “I’m a super-soldier. It’s definitely a boy." He kneels down, putting a hand on her belly. “You're going to my best pal. We’ll play baseball, build a treehouse, race matchbox cars, wrestle in the living room, break a few things.” He glances up to catch Peggy's smile.
“Delightful.” She teases before pulling him up. “Do you think Ana has anymore of that shepherd’s pie?”
He laughs, “Would you like to go ask?”
She nods sheepishly. “And maybe she can make some of those odd little cookies.”
Steve cracks a smile. “You’re going to be trouble when Thanksgiving gets here.”
Peggy paces by the front door, glancing at the clock. “Steve, we’re going to be late for our meeting with Colonel Phillips.”
He dashes out of the bedroom carrying one of Peggy's coats. “Please wear a second coat.”
She rolls her eyes. “I’m pregnant, not ill.”
“And I'd like to keep it that way.” He holds the coat out to her.
“If I wear this, can we leave?”
He nods, helping her put it on. As he slides the coat onto her shoulders, he turns her around to kiss her.
She gasps quietly, dropping a hand to her stomach.
“What’s wrong?” Steve lays his hand on top of hers, searching her face for signs of discomfort.
“Nothing. I think-” Peggy laughs. “I think she has hiccups.”
Steve lets out a breath, dropping to one knee. He leans his cheek against Peggy’s stomach. “Don’t scare me like that, little guy.”
Peggy helps him stand up. “Let’s go. I’m burning up in here.”
Once they're in the car Steve glances her direction. “You really should consider cutting back on these meetings.”
“Steve, it’s a dinner meeting. There's nothing I do better right now than eat,” she laughs, “except maybe sleep.”
“So, you should be sleeping, not working.”
“This whole ‘SHIELD’ business was your idea!”
“That was before the baby.”
“Darling, it’s just paperwork. And I’m hardly even showing. I’m still perfectly capable of working.”
Steve frowns, eyes on the road. “But you’ll slow down in another month or two?”
She smiles, patting his shoulder. “We’ll play it by ear.”
When they arrive at the restaurant, Howard is already seated with Colonel Phillips in a corner booth. Steve takes both Peggy’s coats before approaching the table. When he motions for Peggy to slide in, she shakes her head.
“I should probably sit on the edge. I’m sure I’ll be making more than one trip to the loo,” she laughs.
He nods and climbs in, laying their coats between himself and Howard. “Gentleman.” They nod in response. “I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”
“Just sat down.” Phillips answers gruffly. “It seems Sergeant Barnes is running late as well.”
Howard smiles, “Has that man ever been on time, Steve?”
Steve shakes his head. “Only if there was a pretty girl waiting on him.”
“Well, what am I?” Peggy jumps in.
Steve’s face reddens as he takes her hand, “My very beautiful wife.”
Peggy rolls her eyes. “You’re going to make me sick.”
As Howard and Phillips continue chatting, Steve leans over to Peggy and whispers, “Maybe tonight we only eat off our own plates?”
Peggy glares at him, answering through gritted teeth. “Do you have any idea what's happening inside me?”
“Hey, I'm not asking you to eat less.” He raises his eyebrows and the pitch of his voice. “We have money, Peg. If you're hungry, just order something else.”
“James doesn’t mind.”
“Honey,” Steve laughs, “I promise you he does.”
Peggy glances up at the sound of footsteps. “Well, speak of the devil.”
Bucky smiles, “Sorry I'm late.”
Peggy fakes a pout. “Steve said it's because I'm not pretty enough for you.”
Bucky shakes his head. “You should know better than to believe anything that punk says.”
Peggy smiles as Bucky slides in next to Howard. “Shall we begin?”
“Come on, Peg, let’s at least order drinks.”
“Steve won't let me.” Peggy scowls. “Something about twenty-first century healthcare.”
Steve glares at her, laying his hand on top of hers. “It’s not good for the baby.”
Peggy rolls her eyes. “He traveled through time, and now he thinks he knows everything.”
Howard laughs. “I could run some experiments if you want.”
“No, thank you. The last thing I want is to prove he's right.”
Laughter erupts around the table as the waiter lays a basket of bread on the table. He’s turning to leave when Howard waves at him.
“Scotch on the rocks.” He looks around. “Anyone else? First round's on me.”
Bucky orders the same, and Phillips orders a whiskey. Steve passes reluctantly after Peggy digs an elbow into his ribs. Peggy just asks for coffee.
Phillips stares at her open-mouthed. “In five years of Army service together, you never had even a taste of joe.”
Peggy shrugs. “She’s half American.” She nods down to her abdomen, reaching for a roll.
Steve smirks. “And he's developing quite the taste for a good dark roast.”
Phillips rolls his eyes, while Bucky chuckles.
Howard scribbles calculations on a napkin. He snaps his fingers before looking up. “Peg, can you come over after the new year? I think I figured something out, and you're going to like it.”
“What could you have possibly figured out in two minutes on that tiny scrap?” Peggy blurts out.
“It's a surprise.” He smirks. “But you're going to like it. Both of you.”
“Sure, if that's what you want.” Steve sighs. “Just remember what happened last time you promised Peggy answers and couldn't deliver.”
Bucky whistles, shaking his head. “That's not a position I'd want to be in, even before the hormones shot through the roof.”
“Those are sights I will never forget.” Phillips laughs. “Stark going headfirst over his own worktable.”
Howard’s lips press into a line. “Yes, we all love a good ‘angry Peggy’ story.”
“I’m not overly fond of them.” Peggy adds with her mouth full, taking another roll.
The waiter returns with the drinks and asks if they’re ready to order. Before anyone else can answer, Peggy rattles off an appetizer, a soup, and a pasta dish.
“I guess we’ll have to be,” Steve chuckles, “Peg, what else would you like to try?” He follows her suggestion and orders baked chicken, even though he’d much rather have a steak.
As the others take their time ordering, Peggy glances at Steve, picking at the bread on her small plate. “You don’t have to do that. I can eat my own food.”
“And I’m very confident you will.”
She elbows him softly. “You should get what you want.”
He leans over to kiss her cheek, brushing a hand across her lower abdomen. “I already did.”
“You’re trying to make me sick, aren’t you?” The pink in her cheeks betrays her cool façade. “When I get back, we should get to work.” She addresses the whole table before making her way to the bathroom.
When she returns, she’s pleased to see the men flipping through files and picking at the roasted cauliflower she had ordered. When she takes her seat, she’s hit by a strong smell of hot parmesan cheese. She shifts in her seat trying to ease the churning in her stomach. She lifts her coffee mug, inhaling the aroma.
Steve sees her squirming and wraps an arm around her shoulders, squeezing gently. He leans in, brushing his nose against her ear. “Everything alright?”
She nods, using the smell of fresh coffee to push away her nausea. “What’s first on the agenda, boys?”
She sets the mug down to pick up the top file in the stack in front of her.
“We’ve got to draft a decent proposal. Barnes can’t write for shit.” Phillips drops the file back to the table.
“Barnes didn’t volunteer for this remember,” Bucky chimes in, setting his drink down. “I think the one who started this should do the heavy lifting.” He eyes Steve.
“Howard’s the one with connections. He knows how to talk to these people,” Steve argues back.
Howard jumps in before Steve can finish. “Peggy’s the obvious choice. Everyone knows-”
“Don’t you dare.” Peggy’s glare turns icy.
“The last thing Peggy should be doing is more work.”
She raises an eyebrow and purses her lips at Steve. “Peggy would be glad to do it.”
Phillips clears his throat. “Kids, if I may? I was suggesting we just work on it right here.”
They swap glances and nod.
“Steve can take notes.” Bucky grins. “Isn’t it great being voluntold to do things?”
Peggy swaps the file for the soup the waiter had just brought, as the smell of cheese starts to turn her stomach again. She leans over Steve's shoulder to read along.
“Are you sure you're okay?”
“Peachy.” Her smile is unconvincing. “Just some mild discomfort. Nothing I can't handle.”
By the time their meals arrive, Peggy has made another bathroom trip, and they’re nearly halfway done with the proposal.
Peggy grabs her coffee when the waiter sets down Howard’s steak topped with blue cheese crumbles and sautéed mushrooms. Leave it to Howard to order two of the most fragrant ingredients in the restaurant. She breathes deeply, willing her stomach to settle. She finds mild relief when Steve’s chicken is passed in front of her, overpowering everything else.
When her pasta is set in front of her, she’s hit with an overwhelming earthy scent. It could only be the truffle oil she had been so excited about. She tries to hold her breath until the waiter leaves, pushing her bowl toward the center of the table. She swallows hard, leaning to Steve.
Her voice is barely a whisper against his ear. “I don’t think I can eat that.”
Before he can answer, she’s out of her seat with a groan and halfway across the room. Steve jumps up to follow her, Bucky trailing behind.
“Steve, what’s wrong?” Bucky grabs Steve shoulder to stop him.
“That’s what I’m trying to find out. Just go sit back down, I’m sure she’s fine.” He pulls out of Bucky’s grip.
Steve follows Peggy around the corner and stops outside of the bathroom. He leans up against the wall opposite the door and waits. Two women walk in together. An elderly lady exits. A couple exits the men’s restroom and turn bright red when they see Steve chuckle to himself. Two waiters pass through the hallway three minutes apart.
When a woman in a black dress exits, Steve hears retching through the open door. He steps forward and throws his arm up, holding the door open. “Peg?”
A weak hum is the only response.
“I’m coming in.”
“You can’t,” she whimpers.
“Don’t tell me what to do, Rogers.” He kneels behind her and rubs her back.
She smiles and leans back against him, smudging her lipstick as she wipes her mouth. “I’m sorry.”
“You should be.” He brushes his fingers through her hair, getting them caught in her curls. “Everyone’s worried. You let us believe you were fine all night.”
“I was. Mostly.” She relaxes deeper into his hold, too exhausted to care that they're sitting on a bathroom floor. “It was that bloody truffle oil.”
She dry heaves at the thought, letting out a whimper.
“Oh, I'm sorry sweetheart.” He presses a kiss to her damp temple. “That was always such a treat.”
She sniffles, bracing herself against Steve's shoulder to stand. She walks slowly to the sink and turns on the water.
Steve walks up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and resting his chin on her shoulder. “Are you okay?” He meets her eyes in the mirror.
“Yes, darling.” She turns her head to nuzzle into his cheek. “I'm just going to freshen up. Would you mind doing something about that smell?”
He chuckles, “Of course.”
When Steve gets back to the table, he assures everyone that Peggy is fine and asks the waiter to put the pasta in a box. “Stark, finish those mushrooms before she gets back.”
When the waiter returns with the box of food, Steve asks for more rolls and orders another bowl of soup. Which are delivered to the table just as Peggy returns.
She slides into the booth and kisses Steve's cheek. “You didn't have to do that.”
He smiles. “I know you're hungry.”
She looks at the box next to Steve and raises an eyebrow. “You can't eat that in the apartment.”
“Just eat your bread.” Steve rolls his eyes.
Peggy lays on the Stark's living room couch, while Howard fiddles with a strange looking machine. Steve hovers behind Howard with a smile, trying to confirm his suspicions.
Howard wheels the machine over and starts it up with the press of a button. “Alright, Peg, lift your shirt up.”
“Howard, that didn’t work when I was bleeding out. Why would it work when I’m fully conscious?”
Steve perks up from his seat in the armchair. “Wait, what?”
“Long before you, pal,” Howard snickers, “Actually, it was the mission that made you possible.”
“I suppose I’ll have to hit you harder this time,” Peggy laughs.
“No, I still remember it.” He rubs his jaw, opening and closing his mouth twice. “I’m serious, though, lift your shirt.”
Steve smiles, “Just do it, Peg.”
She pulls her shirt up reluctantly, exposing her small, but noticeable bump.
“This is going to be cold.” Howard spreads a clear gel across her skin, prompting a sharp inhale from Peggy.
She giggles, “Way to go, Howard. You gave her the hiccups.”
“At this point, I think he’s just screwing with you, Peg.”
Howard turns on the screen attached to his machine and lifts a small handheld device wired into the machine. He presses it firmly against her stomach.
Movement flickers across the grey screen as Howard moves the device across Peggy’s skin. He stops when he sees a large black spot with small grey blurs in the center.
“I got to be honest, Peg, I don’t really know what I’m looking at. Just that-”
Peggy gasps, “That’s her.” She grins, looking at Steve. “Darling, look.”
Steve moves to kneel beside the couch. “I know, honey.” He presses a kiss to her temple. When the image jumps, Steve cracks a smile. “He does have the hiccups.”
Peggy lets out a giggle that brings a few tears with it. “That’s her.”
Steve resists the urge call the baby a boy and nuzzles into Peggy’s hair instead. “Yeah, baby. I know.”
As the image on the screen moves and stretches, Peggy squirms on the couch. Steve rubs her shoulder, watching her adjust.
Howard pulls back and the screen goes dark. “Does it hurt, Peg?”
She shakes her head. “Can we see her again?”
“I have a meeting with Phillips, but I think Jarvis can handle this.”
Peggy tilts her head to one side. “You’re meeting without me?”
Howard takes his jacket from the closet, calling for Jarvis. “Weapons demonstration. Army business.”
Peggy nods as Jarvis enters the living room. “Oh, lovely. It worked.”
Peggy quickly wipes at her cheeks before turning to Jarvis with a smile. “I suppose Howard didn’t have a way to test it without me.”
Jarvis snickers, “Actually, he’s been attempting to map his own abdominal organs.”
Steve scrunches his nose. “Why in God’s name would he want to do that?”
Jarvis shrugs. “Science.”
“Would you like to see him?” Steve beams up.
Jarvis takes the seat Howard had been using and prepares the machine. “Let’s see what we can find.”
“You’re in luck,” Peggy adds, glancing at Steve, “She’s quite active today.”
“I think he just realized he can move.” Steve watches Peggy closely as she readjusts. “Kept Peg up all night.”
“I don’t mind,” she sighs absently, focused on the image that just appeared on the screen.
Steve can’t help smiling at her. The way her eyes crinkle at the corner every time the baby moves makes Steve’s heart stutter. It’s hard to believe she was a wreck on the bathroom floor just a few months ago. He looks up to the screen with a chuckle; it’s just black and grey blurs to him, but she seems to understand it somehow.
He leans over, mumbling to Jarvis, “Edwin, what am I supposed to be looking at here?”
“This here,” he points at a round, grey blur, “I believe, is her head.”
Jarvis sighs, “Can you decipher the rest?”
Steve shakes his head, looking back at Peggy. “It’s alright. She can.”
Feeling eyes on her, Peggy looks up. “What?”
“Nothing.” Steve flashes a smile. “Hungry?”
“Oh, Ana is making palacsinta for lunch. It’s-”
“I know what it is. Would she mind two extra mouths?”
Steve laughs, taking a towel from Jarvis to clean the gel on Peggy’s stomach. “Really more like three.”
Jarvis cleans the equipment and pushes it into a corner. “I’ll call and let her know. She’ll be thrilled.”
Just as they walk up the driveway, Ana walks out the front door. She always seems to know when they arrive.
She meets them on the sidewalk, throwing her arms around Peggy. “How is she?”
Peggy pats Ana's back, sticking her tongue out as Steve passes. “She’s just learning how to move.”
“That’s so exciting,” Ana beams, walking into the house with Peggy. “I made some more of those kolache cookies you like.”
Steve looks over Jarvis's shoulder. “Ana, that’s very kind, but Peggy’s supposed to cut back on the sugar.”
Both women glare at him, and Ana waves a hand. “Her body knows what it needs. If she wants dessert, she should have dessert.”
Peggy looks at Steve biting her lip. “I should always get dessert.”
His cheeks go pink, and he lets out a chuckle as he follows Jarvis into the house. He can hear meat sizzling on the stove. The smell of grilled onions, mushrooms, and beef hits him like a wall. He takes a deep breath of the delicious smell. He turns quickly to Peggy, smile fading.
Her eyes are closed, and one hand rests on her bump. Steve rests a hand on her waist.
“Peg, we can go if you’re not feel-”
A smile spreads over her face. “Ana, that smells fantastic.”
Steve steps back with a chuckle, looking at Jarvis. “Just yesterday, she made me eat outside because the onions made her sick.”
“Ana has a way with these things.” Jarvis smirks. “You’re both welcome to come over anytime she’s not feeling well.”
“Do you think she could convince Peggy to sit down more?”
Jarvis smiles and nods to the dining room. Peggy is sitting down with her feet propped up. She’s explaining Howard’s new machine to Ana, while snacking on blueberries.
Jarvis takes a step toward the kitchen, but Steve grabs his arm. “If you make her stand up, I will put you through a wall.”
The two men take seats in the living room. It only takes twenty minutes for Ana to finish lunch and call them into the kitchen. Peggy moves her feet and prepares to stand.
Steve lays a hand on her shoulder and plants a kiss behind her ear. “Sit. I’ll fix you a plate.”
She tries to stand, his hand pressing down on her shoulder.
“Please,” he adds softly. “You’re doing all the work. I want to help.”
She sinks back into the chair with a smirk. “Only if you’re going to help me later too.”
“You have more hormones than you know what to do with, huh?” He kisses the hinge of her jaw before leaving. When he returns with a plate stacked with crepes, he whispers, “Eat fast and you won’t have to wait for later.”
Her breath catches, and her face flushes. She bites her bottom lip and cuts into her food, taking a large bite. She glances across the table at Steve the entire time, his eyes dark. She can feel her chest flushing as she loses control of her breathing.
After her last bite, she stands abruptly pushing her chair back. “I’m so sorry, Ana. I’ll have to take a rain check on those cookies. Steve, we need to go.”
Ana looks her over, stifling a laugh. “I would have to agree.”
“Ana!” Jarvis scolds from his seat.
“Please, Edwin, we’re all adults.”
Steve hurries Peggy through the living room and out the front door. They make their way across the expansive lawn to the Stark’s house. They walk in the back door, and Steve retrieves his car keys from the hook.
“Let’s get you home.” He walks toward the front door.
Peggy follows a few steps behind. “Steve.” Her plea comes out more whiney than she intended, but it gets his attention. “Howard’s gone to a meeting, and Maria is probably resting upstairs. You know how she gets.” She closes the distance between them, the swing of her hips more exaggerated than normal.
“What are you getting at?” He leans down and brushes his lips against hers.
Her eyes flit to the door on their right and she bites her lip. “This house is so big. No one will know.”
He presses his lips to hers as he opens the door. “Ladies first.”
His hand on her back sends shivers up her spine. Once inside the garage, she turns to face Steve. He backs her up against the wall with a heated kiss. As his lips move down her neck, he can feel the vibration of her soft moan.
He growls in response, lifting her off the ground. One hand on her thigh and one braced against the wall, he leans into her again, leaving a trail of red marks across her skin. She tugs at his hair. Her head rests against the wall, baring her neck for Steve to kiss and nip at.
“Steve,” she whimpers when her belly prevents her from pulling herself closer to him, “this isn’t going to work.”
He chuckles, puffing warm breath across her sensitive skin. “Alright, baby.” He sets her down and looks around. “Hold on.”
Peggy giggles as Steve opens the door and they walk back into the house. He looks at her amused. “I can’t believe you said-” He clears his throat when he sees Jarvis carrying a laundry basket through the foyer.
Peggy’s laughter cuts short and she yanks her sleeves down to cover the fingertip bruises already forming around her wrists. “I think you’ve got squirrels, Mr. Jarvis.”
Steve can’t tell whether she doesn’t know about the trail of small, fresh bruises down her neck and collar or if she doesn’t care. She’s committed. “We heard something scampering around on our way through and decided to have a look.”
Jarvis raises an eyebrow and pinches his lips together. “Yes, I believe I heard something as well. Quite the creatures we’ve got in there, hm?”
“Quite.” She agrees with a smile. “They’re clever little bastards too. I’m afraid they’ve scuffed up the paint on the hood of Howard’s Jaguar.”
“And busted the taillight on the Aston Martin,” Steve adds quietly, looking away.
“Right.” Peggy nods.
“Pity. Those were Mr. Stark’s favorite to take out joyriding.”
“Mine too.” Steve smirks over his shoulder as he leads Peggy out the door.
Steve follows Peggy out the door with a huff. “You promised you’d take it easy.”
Peggy maneuvers carefully into the passenger. Her cute, little bump had quickly become a full, pregnant belly. “I said we’d see. I feel fine, Steve.”
She shifts in her seat, hiding the discomfort of all the extra weight on her back. It’s really starting to hurt. And she’s confident her boobs could not possibly get bigger. But the worst part, by far, is the tiny foot jabbing into her lowest ribs. It never ends.
Steve huffs again as he backs out of the parking spot.
“Howard and I are just schmoozing some senators. I’ll be sitting the entire time.”
“I just wish you could have rested more before we go look at houses today.”
“Steve, I am perfectly capable of a little light walking.”
“I guess you’d better find a one-story.” She winks at him.
Steve reaches over and lays a hand on her stomach. “Is someone getting too heavy for Mommy?”
“I knew you were heavy.” She takes a deep breath. “But I honestly had no idea something the size of a squash could weigh so much.”
Steve laughs. “Well, he had a big breakfast.”
“It wasn’t that big.” Peggy glares.
“You ate more than I did.”
“So, you’re the standard for acceptable portion sizes?”
“What? No, Peg-”
“You’re the only one allowed to eat?” She pushes his hand from her belly. “Fine. I’ll just eat salads from now on. And water.”
“I was just-”
“I’d hate to get too fat for you, Captain.”
“Peg, you’re not fat.”
“Yes, I am,” she whines, “I had three slices of toast, four eggs, two bowls of cereal, a ham sandwich and an entire grapefruit for breakfast.”
“That’s fine, honey. You’re growing- A ham sandwich?”
“While you were in the shower.” She nods with a sniffle. “I’ve gained twenty-five pounds. Everything is swollen. I haven’t seen my toes in a week. And I- bloody hell!” Her hand darts to her back. “She won’t stop kicking my ribs. I can hardly breathe without searing pain.”
Steve pulls into a parking space and takes her hand. “I’ll give you a massage tonight.”
“I don't want to be pregnant anymore, Steve. It’s exhausting and annoying and emotional and hard and, and I just want to sleep again.”
“Peggy.” He wipes the tears off her cheeks. “You are so beautiful.”
“You’re just trying to make me feel better.”
“Well, yes, of course. But I mean it. Eat as much as you want. Cry as much as you need. Because this,” he leans across and kisses her belly, “you and him. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
She sniffles with a chuckle. “Look at me. I’m a bloody wreck.”
Steve puts on a smile and imitates her accent. “You’re my bloody wreck.” He looks back to her belly. “Now, quit making Mommy cry. We have work to do.”
After Steve helps her out of the car, she gives him a kiss before they walk inside. Howard waves them over to a corner booth. He lets out a low whistle as they approach.
“The little tyke had a growth spurt, huh?”
Peggy glares at him as she waits for Steve to slide into the booth. “Sod off.”
“She’s a little sensitive today,” Steve whispers.
Peggy groans sitting next to Steve. “She’s not deaf, though. You prat.”
Howard looks between them, eyebrows raised. “So, this is what it’s like?”
Steve shrugs. “Sometimes. You just never know.”
“Well, I would like to see you create life in nine months and not be a knob about it,” she snarls, “I think I’m doing quite well.”
“You are going to turn on the charm before the congressmen arrive, right?” Howard chuckles.
“Howard, would you prefer I break your right hand or your left?”
“Easy, dear.” Steve rubs her shoulder.
Peggy rolls her eyes.
“I asked because-”
“Oh, you are too sweet.” An older woman approaches the table, resting her hand on Peggy’s stomach. “How far along are you?”
Peggy grits her teeth. “Far enough that I don’t enjoy being touched.”
“Peggy,” Steve’s tone is scolding. “I’m sorry, she’s British.”
The woman walks away with a glare and a huff.
Howard takes a breath, “Maria’s pregnant.”
Peggy raises her eyebrows. “On purpose?”
“Well,” Howard laughs, “I’m not one to be outdone. Even by the good Captain, here.”
Steve cracks a smile. “That’s great, Howard. Congratulations.”
Peggy scoffs. “Maria’s in for a real treat.”
Steve gently kicks Peggy’s ankle. “There are many more good moments than bad.”
Peggy smirks. “Like the foot rubs.”
“The first time you feel him kick, you’re going to wonder how you ever lived without the little fella.” Steve glances at Peggy sideways. “And when she talks to herself because she thinks no one is listening and wants to keep him company, you’ll wonder how you got so lucky.”
“Sometimes, Steve thinks I’m asleep, so he tells her how much he already loves her and asks her to go easier on me.”
“He grows a little every day.” Steve looks at Peggy’s belly, then meets her gaze. “And she gets a little bigger. And every time you look at her, you realize you’re another day closer to finally seeing that little guy.”
“At the same time, you begin to doubt if she’s ever going to come out.”
“And you wonder how in the world you’re ever going to let them know how much you love them.”
Peggy smiles sweetly at Steve, her eyes searching his. And the world seems to fade away. Howard leaves for the bathroom to spare himself the awkward moment.
“Keep it up, soldier, and I might just find something more useful to do with my sleepless nights.” She bites her lip.
Steve kisses the hinge of her jaw. “Now that sounds like fun.”
“Hello, Mrs. Rogers. I thought Mr. Stark was joining us.”
Peggy turns away from Steve, cheeks flushing. “Yes, Senator Brandt. He’s just freshening up.”
After lunch, Steve and Peggy meet a realtor to tour houses.
Peggy takes a seat on the steps and leans her shoulder into the wall. She can hear Steve talking with the realtor upstairs. She shifts uncomfortably and rubs her stomach. “Come on, little lady. Don’t you ever sleep?”
As Steve and the realtor come back down the stairs, she struggles to stand. Steve rushes down the stairs to help. “Peg be careful. You’re center of balance is different now.”
“Oh, thank you,” she grunts, “I hadn’t noticed.” She looks at the realtor. “Could we have just a moment, please?”
She nods, “Of course. I’ll wait in the kitchen.”
After she leaves, Peggy turns to Steve. “You said no stairs.”
“You’re not going to be pregnant forever. I didn’t want to disqualify entire houses just because they don’t work right now.”
“Well, the last three houses had two floors, and I’m exhausted now. So, I guess you can look at the single stories while I nap in the car.”
“Oh, Peg, don’t be like that.”
“Steve.” Her tone doesn’t invite argument. “I have had a super-soldier kickboxing with my liver since breakfast. I’m tired. I’m sore. I’m hungry.” She shakes her head. “I’m done.”
“Okay,” he nods thoughtfully, “well, did you like any of the houses we looked at today? Besides the stairs.”
She shrugs. “Maybe the one in Eagle’s Landing.”
“You want to be in a neighborhood? I kind of always thought we’d have a lot of land.”
“Oh, no Steve. That cabin was too outdated. What about the townhouse?”
“Peg, that’s barely bigger than what we have now. What’s wrong with a fixer-upper?”
She glares at him. “I’m five months pregnant. The only thing I want to be fixing is pancakes.”
“Fair enough.” Steve chuckles. “Well, what’s wrong with this one?”
Peggy looks around. “I don’t know.”
“But you don’t like it?” Steve asks dejected.
“No.” Peggy shakes her head, blinking back the tears that welled up suddenly. “There’s just something wrong.”
Steve sighs. “Alright. We’ll look again next weekend.”
Peggy lets out a whimper. “We’re never going to find a house.”
Steve pulls her into a hug. “Yes, we will. It just takes time.” He lifts her chin to look in her eyes. “This isn’t just some temporary apartment. This is our home. I want it to be perfect for you.”
She nods, leaning into him with a sniffle.
Steve rolls over, stretching his arm out to wrap around Peggy’s stomach. When his hand hits the sheets, he slides further toward her side, sweeping his hand along the bed. When he still can’t find her, his eyes fly open, heart racing. He throws the blankets off, sitting up. When he sees light shining under the bedroom door, he slowly makes his way down the hall.
Peggy jumps with a loud gasp when she turns to see Steve leaning against the wall. The tub of ice cream and spoon drop to the floor with a clatter. Peggy groans, pressing against her side.
Steve rushes to her. “What’s wrong?”
“She’s really strong and doesn’t like loud noises.” Peggy takes a breath, squatting to clean up the mess.
“Go, sit. I’ll get this.” He helps her stand before getting a towel to wipe down the floor. “Can’t sleep?”
“I can.” Peggy eases herself into a chair with one hand braced against the table. “She can’t.”
Steve shakes his head, taking a seat in front of her. “That’s the third night this week.”
“I don’t think she likes the new place.” Peggy waves her hand around the kitchen.
“Or maybe,” Steve raises an eyebrow.
Peggy points a finger at him. “Don’t you dare blame the coffee or I’ll have a glass of wine to help me sleep.”
Steve raises his hands in defeat. “Alright, alright. It’s the house.”
Peggy laughs briefly and falls silent, rubbing her eyes. “I’m so tired.” The sentence is nearly a sob. “I’m supposed to go in front of Congress in seven hours. What am I going to do?”
He stands up slowly and offers her his hand. “You’re going to come lay down with me and get some rest.”
“I can’t.” She lets him pull her up to standing. “She won’t be still.”
Steve rubs her stomach softly. “He’ll calm down. Even if you can’t sleep, you need to rest. Relax.” He walks beside her down the hall. “If we need to, we can call Buck. He can handle a couple senators.”
Peggy stops with a groan, grabbing Steve’s arm. “Say something else.”
“What?” He gives her a blank stare. “Like what?”
“Anything. I don’t care. Just something.” He stares at her, mouth opened, and eyebrows raised. She sighs, “Sing something.”
He chuckles before humming a familiar tune that has Peggy cracking up.
“Who will campaign door-to-door for America? Carry the flag shore to shore for America.” He chokes back laughs between lines
Soon Peggy is in tears, waving a hand for him to stop. “The Star-Spangled Man doesn’t do well under pressure.”
“That’s why he always has a plan.” They finish walking back to the bedroom. “It’s the only thing I could think of without thinking.”
“You still know it after how many years?”
“I heard it so many times. Shows, rehearsals, the radio, kids in the street,” he groans. “So, were you just trying to embarrass me or was there a point to that?”
She settles into a semi-seated position on the bed. “She likes your voice. She calms down to listen to you.”
Steve’s eyes brighten and crinkle at the corners when he smiles. “Why didn’t you just say that? Come here.” He sits beside her and bends down to kiss her bump. “I’ll always talk to my best pal.”
He slides his arms under her shoulders and knees, lifting her off the bed. He repositions her so she’s laying down more. She pulls into his side and sighs heavily. He kisses her forehead, wrapping an arm around her back and laying a hand on her belly.
“Get some rest. I’ll keep the little guy company.”
Peggy closes her eyes and lets Steve’s soft, soothing voice lull her to sleep.
“Peggy, please let me help you.”
“I don’t need it.” She struggles to stand up from the couch. “See? I’m ready to go,” she adds breathless.
“Honey,” Steve treads lightly, “you’re wearing two different shoes.”
She drops back onto the couch with a heavy breath. “It took me so long to get them on!”
“I really wish you wouldn’t wear heels.” Steve kneels in front of her and slides her shoes off. He sits down beside her, wipes a tear from her cheek, and kisses her temple. “Which one did you want?”
She sniffles, running a hand carefully through her hair. “The red one.”
Steve leaves and comes back with a matching pair. “Sweetheart,” he slips them on for her, “I hate watching you struggle.”
“Steve, I’m pregnant, not an invalid. I can take care of myself.” She pushes on his shoulder to lift off the couch. It takes her a few tries before Steve helps.
“I know that, Peg. Everyone does.” He wraps an arm around her waist and walks her to the car. “But it’s not fair. That’s my baby too, and I want to do something.”
She grabs his forearms to lower herself into the car. He eases her down and pulls the seatbelt out far enough that she can reach it. He makes sure she’s situated before shutting door and getting in the driver’s side.
He looks over at her before starting the car. “I clearly can’t help you grow the kid. So, please, just let me help you.”
She studies his face, eyebrows pinched, lips turned down, eyes full of concern. “I’m sorry, darling. I didn’t realize.”
He nods and puts the car in reverse. “It’s okay.
She takes Steve’s hand and brushes her lips along his knuckles. She smiles sweetly against his skin. “I could use some more help getting around at home.”
He smiles at the road. “Anything you need.”
“Sitting down and standing up. Doing dishes. Taking a shower.” Peggy glances down. “She’s just so heavy.”
Steve chuckles. “He’s going to be strong.”
“She already is.” Peggy rubs her back. “She’s not fond of being confined by my ribs.”
“I’m sorry, honey.”
When they arrive at Capitol Hill, Peggy waits for Steve to open her door and leans heavily on him as she stands. He waits for her to catch her breath before holding out his elbow. She takes it, shifting her weight so most of it is on his arm.
“My feet are so swollen,” she whispers as they pass a security guard.
Steve chuckles, turning toward her. He bends down and sweeps her off the ground. He pulls her up close to his chest with a grunt. “Better?”
“This is not what I had in mind.” She lays her head against his shoulder without protest.
He carries her through the parking deck and into the building. When he sets her down in front of the security checkpoint, he takes an exaggerated breath. “You weren’t kidding about being heavy.”
She smacks his arm, harder than she meant to. He winces and rubs the spot.
Peggy kisses his jaw, too tired to reach up to his cheek, before walking through a metal detector. She waits on the other side, watching as Steve makes his way through. Once he’s put his belt back on, she takes his arm and they turn to continue their trip.
An alarm blares behind them. Steve turns to see the lights on the closest metal detector flashing red. Peggy yelps, pulling hard on his arm. He flexes to hold her weight.
“Steve,” she gasps out between labored breaths. She’s holding her side and slowly falling into a crouch. Her face is flushing quickly, sweat beading around her hairline, but her hand is cold against his.
“Someone call an ambulance!” Steve lowers her gently. “Are you okay?”
“No.” She grinds her teeth and tears spill over her cheeks. “It hurts.”
“Is it- Peg, are you- Are you in-”
“No,” her breathing is ragged and shallow, “something’s wrong.”
He helps her sit on the floor, pulling her back against his chest. She shivers against him. “Just keep breathing. I’ll call Howard.”
“No. Real doctors.” Peggy scrunches her face and pushes harder against her side. Pain shoots through her abdomen and around her back.
When Steve hears sirens approaching, he scoops Peggy up and carries her out to the street. He’s standing outside when the ambulance pulls up. The paramedics open the back door and start yelling at Steve when he tries to climb in.
“You can’t lift her. Get out of my way.”
The two paramedics exchange glances before allowing Steve past. As soon as he lays her on the gurney, they step in attaching wires and asking her questions. She struggles to speak and squirms on the bed.
“I’ll have Phillips send one of the doctors from Project Rebirth to meet us at the hospital.” Steve combs his fingers through her hair once and steps back.
Peggy nods, gasping. “Can’t breathe.” She gestures to her heavy midsection.
The two men help her turn onto her side. Her relief, though slight, is visible as she takes a deep, shaky breath. They slide a mask over her nose and mouth, telling her to breathe deep.
When Steve hangs up the phone, he listens in to what the medics are telling Peggy. Judging by the tears pouring down her face and her quivering lips, she’s not hearing any of it.
“…isn’t typical pain for a miscarriage. The bad news is that this isn’t a typical pregnancy.” One of the men looks at Steve. “I assume this is your-”
“Yes,” Steve snaps without looking away from Peggy. “So, what is wrong with her?”
The other man takes a deep breath. “Symptoms match acute appendicitis.”
Steve’s gaze snaps to the man who answered his question. “Wha- what does that mean?”
“Her appendix is-”
“I know what it means. I meant, what happens next.”
The other medic glances up from prepping an IV. “If it hasn’t ruptured, antibiotics and rest.”
“And if it has?” Steve watches the medic's hands move, quickly sliding the needle into Peggy’s arm.
“Keep still.” He stretches her arm out along her side, looking back at Steve. “She’ll need an appendectomy.”
The two paramedics discuss options before settling on a treatment plan.
“Her blood pressure’s dropping. I’m concerned about shock. She needs a vasopressor,” the older man commands.
“What about the fetus?”
“Just do it.”
The younger man prepares the syringe and injects it into Peggy’s IV. The older medic observes her vitals. He seems satisfied with the response and returns his attention to his partner.
“Let’s give her a low dose narcotic.”
The younger man stops what he’s doing and eyes the older man. “She’s pregnant. Very pregnant.”
“And that doesn’t matter if she’s dead.”
The younger man doesn’t budge.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to know when it’s time to break some rules.” The older man sighs. “She’s crashing, quickly. We need to manage what we can. The pregnancy has a much better chance if we don’t have to break out the defib.”
After a beat of silence, the younger man nods and prepares another syringe. He passes it to his partner, who administers the dose. Within minutes, the tension in Peggy’s face eases and her breathing normalizes. Slowly she opens her eyes and smiles weakly at Steve.
“Besides,” he looks at Steve, “I have a feeling this pregnancy is a little sturdier than what we’re used to.”
Peggy groans when they drive over a pothole. “Steve?”
“I’m so sorry, darling.” She chokes back sobs. “I don’t know if-”
“Stop it.” His voice is firm. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“It hurts so bloody much,” Peggy whimpers quietly, “I can’t feel- I can’t feel anything else.”
“It’s alright.” Steve swallows hard, easing the tightness in his chest. “I’m sure it’s fine.”
The paramedics exchange concerned glances but say nothing. The rest of the ride is silent except for Peggy’s whimpering and Steve’s occasional soothing. The hospital is a flurry of activity. The ambulance is overtaken by organized chaos the moment it arrives.
Peggy screams with the jolt of the gurney being wheeled out the back door. She reaches a hand out for Steve. He takes it, jogging beside her, and reassures her that everything will be better soon. She squeezes his hand tighter with every bump and jostle.
They move down a large hallway, approaching doors at the end. A nurse looks over her shoulder at Steve, “You can’t go any further.”
“That’s my wife and child,” Steve growls.
“I understand, and we will keep you updated, but you cannot go any farther.”
They come to a stop outside the doors. Steve doesn’t move.
“Look, Captain, you can try to intimidate all you want. I understand there’s no way for us to really make you do anything.” She takes a breath. “But the longer we wait here, the worse she gets.”
Steve looks at Peggy. Her face is tense and red. Her free hand is pressed firmly into her stomach, and her body is shuttering with sobs. He slowly drops her hand and kisses her head. “I love you.”
Peggy twists around to look at him as they push her through the doors. For the first time ever, Steve sees terror flash across Peggy’s face as the doors swing shut. He can hear her screaming for him until a nurse escorts him to the waiting room.
He paces the floor as the clock ticks by every minute at a painful pace. He visits the nurse’s station twice, asking for an update, which they didn’t have. He examines a vending machine with no intent to buy anything. He makes a cup of coffee, just to occupy his hands and mind. He takes a seat and flips absently through a sports magazine. He watches the flow of people through the emergency department. His heart clenches when he sees a young mother desperately trying to comfort her feverish toddler.
He stands and paces again, avoiding the scene with the toddler. The TV newscaster’s voice washes over him, the dull drum of the unprocessed words easing the anxiety in Steve’s mind. Steve finally sinks into a chair on the opposite side of the room from the toddler. He rests his head against the wall and closes his eyes. He takes a deep breath, forcing his muscles to relax.
The opening of the double doors catches his attention. He jumps up, looking for a familiar face, someone who had taken Peggy. A young boy on crutches laughs as his mom follows him through the waiting area. They leave with a quick wave and thank you to the staff.
Steve sits back down. Deep breaths. Relaxed muscles. Eyes closed. Heart hammering. Thoughts running rampant. Instincts screaming to be with Peggy.
Doors open. Steve jumps up. An unfamiliar doctor walks out. Steve sits back down. The process continues for what feels like hours. By the time Peggy’s doctor comes out, Steve has stopped caring. He doesn’t even open his eyes when the doors open.
Steve jumps up, nearly knocking the doctor over. “Is she- Are they- How are they?”
He lays a hand on Steve's arm. “They're both just fine. We performed an emergency appendectomy. We expected complications given the complexity of the situation, but they are recovering as well as can be expected.”
Steve lets out a long breath, sitting down. He leans forward, combing a hand through his hair. “Thank God.”
“Your doctor arrived just as we put your wife under. He’s monitoring their vitals now. Your wife's oxygen levels are still low, I'd like to keep her here for a while.”
Steve nods. “When can I see her?”
“When she wakes up. Should be less than twenty minutes, now.”
Steve settles into his seat, actually relaxing for the first time since Capitol Hill. He closes his eyes and focuses on his breathing. Everyone is safe. By some miracle, they both pulled through.
It's not long before a nurse is leading Steve back to Peggy's room. She's curled on her right side with an oxygen tube under her nose. Her eyes flutter, not really opened or closed, when he enters the room. He kisses her hair.
She hums softly, leaning into him. Without opening her eyes, she taps lazily on her lips. He leans down and leaves a kiss on her lips.
She smiles. “You taste like coffee.”
He chuckles, “How do you feel?”
She opens her bloodshot eyes. “Fantastic.”
“I bet. It looks like they've got you on some pretty strong stuff.”
She hums her agreement. “I should do this more often.”
Steve sits in the edge of her bed. “You definitely should not.” He lays down behind her, draping an arm over her side. “I was so worried.”
“She's finally sleeping.” Peggy runs a hand across her belly.
“Then you should too.” He kisses behind her ear.
“That tickles,” she giggles, looking over her shoulder at Steve, “You are so handsome.”
He chuckles. “I’d have to be to catch such a gorgeous lady.”
“You know what would be fun right now?” She gives him a lopsided smirk, drawing her bottom lip between her teeth. “My skin is all tingly and sensitive.”
“You just had an organ removed. I don’t think that’s on your 'safe activities' list.” He combs his fingers through her hair.
“It’ll be alright.” She sticks her bottom lip out and rubs her hand up his side. “I know you’re still wound up from all the excitement.”
“Peggy, you’re still hooked to a heart rate monitor. Do you know what happens if your heart goes too fast?”
She glances at the line, already spiking, on one of the screens. “Since when do you mind a little company?”
He shutters as she draws her thumb across his lips. “Tell you what. Get some rest now, while you can. Later, when the little guy wakes up, I’ll help you get back to sleep.”
Peggy nods and closes her eyes, relaxing against him. Steve presses lightly at her belly, alarmed at the stillness. He moves around pressing into different areas until Peggy takes his hand. She turns over, leaning against Steve more, and places his hand on the right, underside of her belly.
He waits, finally feeling the smallest push against his palm. It’s followed by slight pressure under his fingertips, and it’s gone. Peggy moves his hand again, more to the right, and the pressure is back. He sighs as he moves his hand to track the movements.
Peggy was right, he’s certainly not the gymnast he was yesterday. He seems to be slowly stretching out and turning over in his sleep. Steve chuckles against Peggy’s neck. Movement is movement. He pulls his hand away and helps her roll back onto her side.
“I thought I was going to lose both of you.”
Peggy snuggles into him. “Can’t get rid of me that easy.”
Steve returns from his jog barely sweating. He stretches on the front porch, hoping Peggy was still asleep. He took the short route today so he could make her breakfast and lay in bed with her a little.
When he opens the door, the smell of sizzling bacon hits. He can’t help but smile; she beat him to the punch. He walks into the kitchen to find eggs, bacon, toast, tomatoes, and beans sitting covered on the counter. No Peggy. He makes his way to the bedroom, listening for movement.
He opens the bedroom door, still no Peggy. His heart rises as he enters the room. He knows it’s a ridiculous thought, but he scans for signs of a struggle or forced entry. “Peggy?”
There’s a groan from the bathroom. With a sigh of relief, Steve hurries toward the sound. “What the hell happened?”
Peggy looks up at him from the floor, rubbing her head. “I don’t know.” She pulls her eyebrows together and shakes her head slowly. “I was making breakfast and I started feeling a little weak. I came in here to run a bath.”
Steve takes a knee, checking her over. “You look alright. Are you hurt?”
She shakes her head. “Just a little dizzy.”
“They said to keep an eye on your blood pressure.” He raises an eyebrow at Peggy. “Were you standing the whole time the food cooked?”
She doesn’t answer.
“Peggy.” His eyes meet hers. “You have got to quit doing so much.”
“I’m bored, Steve. I need to do something.” She groans as Steve pulls her to her feet.
“Bedrest.” He waves toward the bed. “If you need to walk around the house and stretch a little, fine. But I don’t want you out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time.”
“Steve, I’m going stir crazy in here.” She eases onto the bed.
“I don’t care.” He pinches the bridge of his nose, sitting beside her. “Doctor West specifically said you need to limit your activity. Unless you want another organ rupture.”
Peggy rolls her eyes. “It was the alarms, Steve. She didn’t mean to kick me so hard, and she certainly didn’t know that was my appendix. It won’t happen again.”
As if on cue, Peggy grabs Steve’s arm, doubling over. She squeezes his forearm hard enough to bruise an average man and presses a hand against her back.
Steve helps her ease back against the headboard. “I know you want to act like you can handle this, but it’s killing me, babe.” He tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “You’re in so much pain. Even when he’s still, he’s so heavy it hurts you. And the scar from surgery is still so sensitive.”
“You heard Doctor West; my stitches healed in record time.” She brushes her fingers across his cheek. “Steve, I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not.” He pulls her hand from his face and kisses her fingers. “And don’t you dare say ‘minor discomfort.’ Your body is already working too hard, stop adding problems. Just, please rest.”
She nods thoughtfully. “Will you bring me something to eat?”
Steve leaves the room with a chuckle. He pours two cups of coffee and fixes three plates full of food: one for him, two for Peggy. And she’ll probably still want more. He grabs a tray from a cabinet and carries everything to the bedroom. He sets the tray down beside Peggy and sits down with her.
She takes a plate and rests it on top of her belly. “Can you change the channel, darling?”
Steve grabs a strip of bacon before walking across the room. “Tell me when to stop.” He flips through channels slowly; glad he moved the TV set in from the living room.
After cycling through all the channels twice, Peggy sighs. “Just leave it on the news. There’s nothing good on during the day.”
Steve turns the volume down and sits back on the bed. He takes a deep breath. “I know you’re uncomfortable, and it’s not fair. But, please, Peggy, stop fighting me on this.” He chews a bite of eggs before taking her hand. “I am so worried about the two of you.”
“I know, darling.” She sets her plate on the side table and leans into him. “Sometimes she just can’t be still, and it hurts so much.”
“So, call me. Let me walk with you. I’ll rub your shoulders or your feet. I’ll talk to him or rub your belly. Whatever you need but stop putting yourself into risky situations.”
She’s quiet, watching Steve eat. She picks at the food on her plate but doesn’t eat much. When he’s finished, she looks up at him. “Could you help me with the bath?”
He kisses her forehead firmly. “Of course. Would like me to get you a book?”
She nods. “And the memo from Philips.”
He turns on the water in the tub and takes the dishes to the kitchen. He’s not even out of the hallway when Peggy lets out a long scream. He drops everything in his arms and sprints back in.
Peggy’s sitting on the edge of the bed, eyes squeezed shut. “Walk with me.” She eases off the bed, pressing into her left side.
Steve takes her right arm. “What’s wrong?”
“Contraction.” She grits her teeth and starts walking. “They’ll pass.”
Steve takes her arm, carrying as much of her weight as he can. He guides her carefully over the broken dishes in the hall and takes her out the back door. They take several slow laps before Peggy begins breathing normally again.
She nods. “Those were worse than before.”
“Well, we’re getting closer.”
“Steve, I’m barely at thirty weeks.” She shakes her head. “It’s too soon.”
“Honey,” he kisses her forehead and jerks back, “Shit! Don’t move, babe.” He throws the back door open and runs into the house.
Peggy heaves a sigh, waddling slowly after him. She can hear him cursing while she makes her way down the hall. By the time she gets to the bathroom, she’s breathing heavily. She leans against the doorway chuckling.
The bathtub is full to the brim and Steve is on his hands and knees mopping the floor with towels. He tosses the soaked towel in his hands onto the pile next to him and turns around to get a dry one.
“Mother fu- Peg? You were supposed to wait for me to help you.”
“Yes, well, you can’t expect a woman to wait around all day.” She winks at him before bringing him a dry towel.
“I can’t believe it.” He rubs a hand down his face. “We’ve barely been in the house a month, and I flooded the bathroom.” He spreads the towel on the floor and walks back to Peggy. “After I get this cleaned up, I’ll fix your bath.”
She shakes her head. “Don’t worry with it. I think I’d rather take a nap.”
“I’m sorry, Peg.” He rests his head on her shoulder, forcing her to lean on the wall for support. “I can’t believe I did that.”
“It’s fine, darling.” She combs her fingers through his hair. “Just a little water.”
He nods against her shoulder before straightening up. “Let me at least help you get back to bed.”
He walks her back to the bed and helps her undress. She lets him lift her onto the bed. After he gives her a kiss, she snuggles under the heavy blanket. He turns to walk back into the bathroom.
“You’re not going to stay with me?” She asks through a yawn.
He looks back at her eyes fluttering closed and smiles. “I’ll clean up later.” He climbs into the bed and nestles close against Peggy’s back.
When she wakes up, she rolls onto her left side to face Steve, but he’s gone. She sits up slowly and looks around. When her vision gets blurry, she leans back against the headboard and waits for the room to stop spinning. When she stands up, she wobbles a little, but stays on her feet.
She checks in the bathroom, but Steve isn’t there. She smirks at the discoloration along the bottom of the cabinets before heading to the hall. She finds Steve eating a sandwich and reading the paper at the kitchen table.
He lays the paper down and pushes his chair back when he hears her come in. “I didn’t want my growling stomach to wake you.”
“My own stomach did that.” She takes a bite of his sandwich and closes her eyes with a hum. “Peanut butter.”
“Do you want me to make you one?”
She shakes her head. “But you can make you one.”
“Oh, I see.” He reaches for the sandwich, but she pulls it away. “That’s mine.”
“As is this.” She points at her belly. “I’m taking the sandwich.”
She finishes the sandwich and gets a glass of water.
“You should be in bed.”
She sets the water down and walks over to him. “Maybe you should take me then.” She straddles his lap and leans in to kiss him. “You’re going to have to meet me halfway, darling.”
He closes the distance between their mouths with a laugh. She nibbles at his lower lip, drawing out a sigh. He pulls her away. “You’re supposed to be resting.”
“Oh, no.” She bites her fingernail. “Did I misbehave?”
“As much as I love where your head’s at,” he chuckles, “we are definitely not doing that while you’re pregnant.”
“But I can’t relax.” She looks up through her eyelashes.
"That much, I can take care of." He wraps an arm behind her and pushes off the table with the other, standing up. “You're on top."
May 7, 1950
Peggy paces the living room, clutching her side. The pain has kept her awake for the last hour. And it’s getting worse. The last wave nearly brought her to her knees. She feels the pressure build under her ribs and looks at the clock.
“No, no, no.” She braces herself against the couch. “Steve!”
She can hear him moving almost immediately. He’s in the living room in under a minute. “What’s wrong?”
She breathes heavily as the spasm subsides. “The contractions are worse.”
“But we’re still five weeks out.” Steve puts an arm around Peggy’s waist as she doubles over.
“I don’t think,” she grabs his other arm, squeezing tighter by the second, “she cares.”
Steve looks at the clock. “Okay, eleven twenty-seven.” She eases her grip. “That was about thirty-five seconds.”
“Walk with me?”
Keeping his arm around her waist, he grabs her elbow and walks down the hall with her. “How long have you been up?”
“A little over an hour.” She shrugs. “I tried to sleep through it, but they’re so strong. And, I swear, she’s fighting it.”
“It’s alright, babe.” His voice is calm and steady. “Just breathe.”
“You fucking breathe. I’m going to die.” She snaps, doubling over again.
Steve cranes his neck to look at the clock around the corner. “Damn it.” He looks at Peggy and walks her toward the wall. “I have to go look at the clock real quick.”
She lets out a yell as he runs into the living room and calls back, “Eleven thirty-five.” He runs back in, and she’s still curled up in pain. “I’m going to get my watch, let me know when it passes.”
As he exits the room, he sees Peggy slowly straightening up. “Maybe thirty-seven, forty seconds.”
“They were more than twenty minutes apart at dinner,” she pants.
Steve shakes his head. “Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?”
“I could handle it.”
He stops walking and stares at her. “Peg, how long have you been having contractions?”
“Regularly? Just since lunch.”
“When did you go into labor?”
She winces. “Yesterday afternoon.”
“Margaret Elizabeth.” He drops her hand. “How the fuck could you not tell me that?”
“I didn’t want to worry you.” She leans into the wall with a heavy breath. “There was nothing- Bloody Norah!”
Steve checks his watch. “That one was fast. Only five minutes.”
“I’m fine.” She takes a deep breath. “That wasn’t as long.”
“I deserved to know.” He gives her a harsh glare. “You’re not alone. Stop acting like it.”
They take several more laps up and down the hallway. Each pass goes faster, and Peggy stands up straighter. After fifteen minutes, Peggy looks at Steve. “I think they might be over for now.”
“Do you think you can sleep?”
“Oh, God, yes.”
For the first time that night, Steve notices her bloodshot eyes. He kisses her forehead and helps her into bed. “Wake me up the second they come back.”
He’s woken by Peggy’s squirming. “How bad?” He reaches over and rubs her shoulder.
“Long,” she breathes out through gritted teeth.
“Okay,” he grabs his watch, “I’ll time the next one.”
“Help me up.” She struggles to sit up.
Steve pulls her up before climbing out of bed. She slides off the bed, leaning heavily on him. They walk up and down the hall, just as before. Peggy’s contractions are five minutes apart. She straightens up from a particularly painful contraction and begins walking with Steve again.
When she stops, Steve looks at her. “Are they over?”
“Steve,” she takes a shaky breath, “I think my water just broke.”
“Shit. Stay here.” He rushes down the hall, then sprints back to her. “Do you want to sit on the couch while I get your bag?” She shakes her head, and Steve is off again. He comes right back. “Do you want me to walk you to the couch for support?”
Again, she shakes her head, and Steve hurries toward the bedroom. When he turns back to her, she growls, “Just get the bloody bag.” She yells as she doubles over.
It only takes Steve five minutes to get her things and call their doctor. He lays a towel in Peggy’s seat, helps her in, and buckles her seatbelt for her before sitting behind the wheel. He cuts eight minutes off their drive to the hospital.
“Can you walk?”
She nods and climbs out of the car. Steve helps her walk to the front desk in the emergency room. She leans against Steve’s arm as he argues with the nurse over getting into a room.
Peggy lets out a bloodcurdling shriek as she crouches to the floor. “Steve,” she gasps, “Steve, help.”
He sits on the floor beside her, taking her hand. She squeezes his hand until he groans.
“You’re doing great, honey.”
Peggy eases her grip and takes deep breaths. She stands with a groan, leaning against the counter. “Listen here, you daft twat. You have about five minutes before I take my clothes off, room or not.”
Steve looks at her, face going pale. He turns to the nurses, “I’m sorry. She’s just- she’s not- she won’t do that.”
“Shut the bloody fuck up, Rogers.” Peggy glares at him, digging her fingernails into the counter. “I’ll do whatever I goddamn please.”
“Peg, you’re not thinking clearly. Let me-”
“And you’re not pushing a cantaloupe out of your- Mother of Christ!” She pulls on Steve’s shoulder, digging bruises into his bicep.
“You’re going to want to find her a room. She’s just getting started.”
Steve paces around the waiting room with her. After her the next contraction accompanied by a stream of screams and curses, they put her in a room. The minute the door is closes, she begins stripping her clothes off. Steve rushes to help her, begging her to slow down.
“Why do you want your clothes off so badly?”
She stares at him. “I am very uncomfortable, Steve. Everything hurts. I can barely breathe. There’s fluid leaking out of me. And quite frankly, I’m just tired of dealing with it.”
When Steve helps her into the bed, she curls up on her side. Steve adjusts the bed to a reclined, seated position, so can still breathe while laying on her back. She goes through three more contractions, nearly breaking Steve’s hand, before a doctor comes in.
“Hello, Mrs. Rogers, my name is-”
“Epidural,” she groans, leaning into Steve’s arm, “now.”
The doctor chuckles, picking up a phone on the wall. After a quick call, he turns back to Peggy. “Mrs. Rogers, I’m Doctor Walker. I’ll be working with you until Doctor West arrives.” He rolls his chair closer. “Do you mind if I take a look?”
She nods, and he lifts the top sheet.
“Your water has broken, and so far, you’re at about four centimeters. Still quite a ways to go.”
“You’re joking.” She tosses her head back into the bed.
“I’m afraid not, Mrs. Rogers. But the anesthesiologist should be here shortly.”
As Walker leaves, Steve takes him by the arm. “I assume you’re aware of our…unique situation.”
“If you mean you’re Captain America,” he says, “then, yes, I’m well aware.”
Steve nods with a half-smile. He returns to Peggy’s side just as another contraction wracks through her. “Hey, just a little longer, honey. You’re doing great.”
“Oh, cut the rubbish, Steve.” She glares at him. “I’m not a dog.”
“You want honesty, then? You’re being a-”
“Just shut up,” she groans reaching for him, “and hold my hand.”
She goes through four more contractions before the anesthesiologist walks in. “Good morning, Mrs. Rogers.”
“Oh, fuck off.” She tightens her grip on Steve’s hand and throws her head back against the bed.
Steve looks at the doctor with wide eyes. “I’m so sorry. She’s not normally this bad.”
“Not a problem.” He shakes his head. “I’ve seen worse.”
“Mrs. Rogers,” he raises his voice over her groans, “you have to hold still for me to do an epidural.”
Steve watches her writhing on the bed. “What if she can’t?”
“Then she’ll have to breathe her way through it.” He pauses for Peggy to let out another scream. “I can’t put a needle in her spine unless she’s perfectly still.”
When the pressure around Steve’s hand eases, he looks down at Peggy. “Honey, can you be still for just a few minutes?”
“I can try,” she answers weakly. “Just hurry.”
She rolls onto her side and curls up. She takes deep breaths and holds Steve’s hand tightly. As she feels her abdomen tighten, she closes her eyes. “Are you almost done?”
Steve looks across the room at the doctor. He barely has the local anesthetic prepared. Peggy groans and starts squirming while they exchange glances. The doctor shakes his head.
Steve leans down to kiss Peggy’s hair. “Sweetheart you have to be still.”
Her body stiffens with a groan. As whimpers escape her throat, her muscles start trembling. “Steve, I can’t.”
The anesthesiologist approaches the bed. “I can’t so anything with her like this. I could hurt her.”
Steve tries to coax Peggy back into stillness while the anesthesiologist stands ready to inject the local anesthetic. The door opens slowly and Doctor West enters.
“Cap.” He nods at Steve.
Steve tips his head, not shifting his focus from Peggy. West walks over to the anesthesiologist and speaks softly. Steve can hear them discussing the epidural and other options. Finally, as Peggy releases Steve’s hand again, West turns to them.
“Do it now.” The anesthesiologist skillfully guides the needle into Peggy’s back, causing her to wince. “We’re going to take care of you, Carter. Just be as still as you can.”
She takes a deep breath and looks up at Steve. His face is tense, eyes focused on the doctors. When he feels her tug at his arm, he crouches down next to her. He kisses her fingers and rests his forehead against hers.
“I know we talked about two.” Her voice is wet. “But, Steve, I don’t think…I don’t think I can do it again.” She clenches her jaw and squeezes his hand.
Steve cups her cheek with his hand. “Sweetheart-”
“Steve,” West commands, “hold her still.
Steve jumps up, laying across Peggy. He pins her down as best as he can without hurting her. She struggles against him as the contraction builds. She whimpers relentlessly, her fingers closing tight around Steve’s hips.
When West nods to Steve again, he leans back, letting Peggy wriggle free. He squats back down, combs a hand through her hair, and looks into her eyes.
“Neither can I.”
Steve brushes the hair out of Peggy’s face until her breathing slows. Her muscles relax, and she sinks into the bed with a tired smile. She rolls onto her back with Steve’s help, and smiles at the anesthesiologist.
“I could kiss you right now.”
“I don’t think your husband or my wife would appreciate that,” he laughs. “My name is Alan Reynolds. If the pain starts coming back, call me. Sooner is better than later.” With that, he leaves the room.
“It’s nice to see you conscious again, Peggy,” West smiles.
“Oh, but the appendectomy was just like old times.”
“Except you weren’t bleeding out, and Steve wasn’t yelling at me the entire time.”
They all share a laugh, before West continues.
“We’re going to put you an IV to make sure you stay hydrated. I’ve cleared you for any pain meds you may need.” He glances at Steve. “Even with all the research from the war, I have no idea how the serum will affect you. But if it does, you’ll need all the drugs they can find.”
“Can I sleep?”
“Absolutely. The nurses will be in soon to set up a contraction monitor. Then get some rest.”
When he leaves, Peggy pulls Steve into the bed next to her.
“You should call James and Edwin.” She leans into his shoulder.
“After you fall asleep.” He takes her hand. “How do you feel?”
“Much better. It’s bearable now and getting better.”
“Good. You should get some rest. You’ll need it later.”
She smiles but shakes her head. “We need to talk about names.”
“Yeah,” he lets out a chuckle, “I guess we should.”
“If it’s a boy, I want to name him Michael.” She focuses on her fingernails.
“I think that’s perfect.” Steve kisses her head. “And for a girl?”
She shrugs and smiles, “Bucky is an adorable nickname for a girl.”
“Bucky isn’t an adorable nickname for anyone,” Steve snickers, “The only reason it stuck is because he hated it so much.”
They’re still laughing as the nurse comes through the door. Steve recognizes the face. She definitely witnessed the meltdown in the lobby.
“You seem much happier.” The nurse laughs, prepping the machine she wheeled in.
Peggy’s cheeks heat up as Steve hides his face behind his hand.
“Damn it, Carter, we need you to push!” West yells from his place at the corner of her bed.
“That’s what I’m bloody doing!” She screams over the discussion of the dozen doctors that had been deemed necessary for a safe delivery, “Steve make him stop yelling at me.”
“If that were true, I wouldn’t be yelling at you.”
“I’m trying.” She squeezes Steve’s hand, her whole body shaking. “I don’t like this any fucking more than you do!”
“Try harder. You’re in the home stretch.” One of the three obstetricians urges.
Peggy glares at him. “Just do your goddamn job and get it out of me!”
“Blood pressure rising,” a nurse states calmly.
"Steve," Peggy pants, glancing up, "Steve, I can't do this."
"Yes, you can." He shakes her hand. "You're doing great."
"Keep pushing." Walker jumps in.
"No, I'm not." She drops her head back. "It's too hard."
"Carter!" West yells again. "Let go."
She grits her teeth through a contraction and drops back onto the bed. "I'm so sorry, darling." She reaches up to stroke Steve's face. "I can't push anymore."
The nurse looks at West and shakes her head.
Steve strokes her sweat-dampened hair. “Try and calm down. Do you want some water?"
Peggy nods weakly and waits for Steve to retrieve her cup. After a long gulp, she clenches her fist around Steve's hand and squeezes her eyes shut. "I can't," she whimpers, pressing against her back, "do it."
The doctors begin discussing possibilities with increasing ferocity.
“I have an OR ready if we need it.”
“She doesn’t need an OR, she needs to push.”
“Peggy, can you hear me?”
"Yes, you can." Steve's voice barely breaks through the rest.
“Is preeclampsia a concern?”
“At this point a sneeze is a concern.”
Peggy shakes her head, whimpering.
“Blood pressure spiking.”
"Peg, look at me." Steve takes her by the chin and bends down to look her in the eye. "You are the strongest woman I've ever laid eyes on." He runs his thumb over her cheek, wiping away sweat. "You can do anything."
She studies his face, eyes boring into Steve's. She takes a slow, deep breath and nods.
“Get them out,” Peggy growls at Steve.
Steve smirks. “Everyone out. West and Walker can stay. The rest of you need to go.” Steve’s voice booms above the chaos.
The pulmonologist answers, “Mr. Rogers, we really need all the help we can get with such a-”
“Bull shit. Everyone is here to see the first, and possibly only, birth of a super-soldier.”
Peggy clenches her fingers around the rail on the bed, squeezing her eyes shut with another scream. “Get out!”
Doctors and nurses begin filing out of the room without arguments. With the door open, Bucky can be heard cackling in the hall. In less than two minutes, the room is nearly empty. All is quiet except for Peggy’s groans.
“Breathe, honey. Don’t need you passing out.” Steve kisses her hair, squeezing her hand gently in the seconds between contractions.
“Shut up, Rogers.” She groans, “You put me here.”
“Good, Peggy. Finally making some progress,” Walker says calmly.
“God, I’m going to throw up.”
Steve combs through her hair with his free hand. “Not much longer, now. You’re doing great.”
“Go to hell.”
After twenty more minutes of soothing from Steve, Peggy zones out. Her face is red and covered in sweat, and she has steadily tightened her grip on Steve’s hand for the last ten minutes.
Walker finally speaks up. “Alright, I think this is it. Just one or two more pushes.”
Peggy inhales deeply through her nose, jaw clenched, and tosses her head back. She releases Steve’s hand briefly before letting out a grunt that quickly turns into a scream. She crushes Steve’s hand hard enough to make him groan.
Just as she releases Steve’s hand with a loud gasp, West looks at Steve. “Cap, you want to cut the cord?”
Steve smiles, “I’m alright.” He leans down to kiss Peggy’s cheek. “You did it, baby.”
She smiles weakly, reaching up to move the strands of hair plastered to her face. Steve laughs, not taking his eyes off Peggy until a cry erupts from the foot of the bed.
Steve’s eyes dart to Doctor Walker. Peggy leans forward briefly, unable to hold herself up. Steve clears his throat, helping Peggy sit up right.
“Which one of you wants to hold your daughter first.”
Steve meets Peggy’s gaze and nods. He steps to the side, so Walker can pass the baby to Peggy. He sits down next to Peggy. As the two doctors leave the room, Steve leans over to brush a finger over the baby’s cheek.
“What do you think about Sam?” Steve forces the question past the lump in his throat.
Peggy lets out a wet laugh. “Samantha is British enough.”
Steve glances at Peggy. “Samantha Michelle.”
“He meant a lot to you.” She beams at him. “Wilson?”
Steve nods, focused on Sam. “He’s a good man.”
He watches Peggy cradle Sam, leaning down to rub noses with her, and his chest tightens. Peggy’s hair is a mess, and her face is flushed. Her eyes are bloodshot with dark circles underneath, but her smile is the brightest thing Steve has ever seen. She’s radiating pure joy, her face glowing from euphoria.
He leans forward, kissing Peggy’s forehead. “Can I?”
She nods, and Steve leans in closer. They carefully swap Sam, Steve pulling her tightly to his chest. “Hey, baby. I’ve been waiting a real long time to see you.” He chokes back the closing in his throat.
When she nuzzles into him, the wall breaks. He lets out a quiet, choked laugh as tears spill over his cheeks. He lifts her up and drops his forehead to hers. “I will never let anything happen to you.”
He glances back at Peggy. She’s grinning at him with tear stained cheeks, crinkling the corners of her eyes. “You are so beautiful.”
She smiles, moving closer to Steve. He puts his arm around her, leaning back. Peggy curls into Steve, closing her eyes. She mutters a quiet “I love you” before relaxing into a half-sleep.
“Hey, Buck, you want to come in now?” Steve calls into the hallway. “Just be quiet. Peg’s trying to sleep.”
“Sure, but the whole gang’s here now.” Bucky peaks his head in the door. “You sure you’re up for that?”
Peggy’s eyes flutter open and she nods. “Just for a moment.”
“Jeez, Peg, you look like hell.” He opens the door fully and waves everyone inside.
Peggy raises her hand in Bucky’s direction, extending her middle finger.
A light flashes, and Jarvis appears from behind a camera. “Ah, yes. A heartwarming shot of mother and…”
Peggy rolls her eyes, allowing Steve to fill in the blank. “Daughter. Samantha Michelle.”
Howard strolls in with Maria leaning heavily on his arm. Her free hand rests against her back, supporting her growing belly.
“Aw, Peg, I’m hurt,” he laughs, “Didn’t name her after me.”
The camera flashes again.
“Edwin, please.” Peggy swats at the camera. “You heard Bucky; I look like hell.”
“Nonsense.” Ana steps forward, patting Peggy’s hand. “You’re glowing.”
“Ana, please.” Peggy smiles, “If I look anything like I feel, I don’t want to see a mirror.”
“Steve, lean down a tad.” Jarvis holds the camera ready.
Steve obliges, taking in the chaos as he smiles proudly. After the flash, Jarvis turns to take a picture of Bucky laughing with Howard. Steve looks down at Sam, somehow sleeping through it all. He kisses her nose and whispers, “This, all the crazy and all the chaos, this is our family.” He takes another look around. “And you’re going to love them.”
2 notes · View notes
Steve Gets a Life (Chapter 2)
Pairings: Steve Rogers x Peggy Carter, Original Female Character x Tony Stark
Summary: After a decade of thinking he’d never be a family man, Steve finally has everything he always wanted, white picket fence and all. Steve deals with the realization that his daughter is dating Tony Stark. Sam and Tony discuss their relationship.
*Originally posted on AO3.*
“No, no, no. Absolutely not.” Steve paces across the kitchen.
“Steve,” Peggy sits at the kitchen table with her feet propped up in a chair, scanning through a personnel file, “What is the problem? Tony is a lovely young man.”
“You don’t know the Tony I knew.”
“I thought you were friends.” She sets the file down and scans over another document. “You spoke so highly of him.”
“Well, that’s what you do when someone dies saving the universe.” Steve takes a long breath and leans against the kitchen counter, “He wasn’t always a ‘good’ man. He was very much like his father when he was younger.”
“This isn’t the Tony you knew.” She signs the bottom of the document.
“He’s still Howard Stark’s son, Peggy. Is that who you want with our daughter?”
“So you’d like to hold him responsible for the mistakes of his father?” She says in an accusatory tone, picking up another file.
“Our daughter is alone in her bedroom with a Stark.” Steve’s frustration begins to show. “And you can’t even be bothered to look up from that stupid paperwork.”
“Steve,” She takes a sip of her tea, “we lost three agents last week. This ‘stupid paperwork’ is the approval for their final awards. There are more important things than Sam getting help with her science homework.”
She stands and brings her mug to the sink. “If it really bothers you so much, use your super-hearing to eavesdrop.” She teases.
“I don’t have super-hearing,” he mocks back, “It’s just enhanced.”
“Do you want to know what they’re saying or not?”
He’s quiet for a moment before he relaxes and takes the clean mug from Peggy, drying it off.
“That didn’t take long.”
“They’re talking. I’ll start to worry when they stop.” He jokes.
“I know you’re worried about her.” She rubs his arm. “I am too, but Tony has been Sam’s best friend for longer than they can remember. Is there really any other boy you would trust more?”
“This isn’t ‘friends’ anymore.” Steve sighs heavily, pinching the bridge of his nose. “But you’re probably right.”
She smirks at him. “Of course I am.”
Steve tenses, crushing the mug in his hand and sending ceramic shards across the kitchen.
Peggy shields her face with the file she had just picked back up. “Bloody hell!”
Steve, just as surprised, begins cleaning the mess. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…I just…I wasn’t paying attention…I was...sorry.”
She sits back down, taking a deep breath to calm herself. “I don’t think this working from home thing is going to work for me.”
He dumps the remains of the mug in the trash, and then saunters over to her. “Oh, but I really like it.” He brushes her hair out of the way and kisses her neck.
She giggles, pushing him away, “Steve, I have work to do.”“Sam, pay attention. We have a test tomorrow.”
“Tony, we’ve been studying for hours.” Sam complains.
“It‘s been twenty minutes. Maybe.” He rolls his eyes as she crashes back on her bed pretending to be exhausted. “Sit up. I’m not the one who needs help.”
She sits up and glares at him playfully, “I wouldn’t need help if someone hadn’t convinced me to skip Chemistry and meet him behind the gym today.”
There’s a loud crash in the kitchen, and Peggy yells “Bloody hell!”
Tony flushes, smirking. “Well, it wasn’t too hard since you hate the hard sciences.”
“Yeah, I’m not a nerd like you.” She shoves his arm.
He doesn’t react. His expression is somewhat tense, and he appears to be lost in thought.
“Tony? I was just joking.” Sam adds cautiously.
He looks up and chuckles, “No, I know.” His expression turns thoughtful again. “Sam, I really took a risk asking you to meet me today. I honestly didn’t think you would.”
“Please don’t interrupt.” His voice is shaky. “Or I may never make it through.” He takes a breath and continues, “But I think it paid off.”
She smiles silently.
“So, I would like to take another one, and ask to take you out to dinner on Saturday.”
Her smile fades, “Tony, I can’t.”
He looks away disheartened. “We should get back to -”
“We do family dinner every Saturday, no exceptions. Captain’s orders.”
He laughs. She’s hated the “Captain America” cliché since middle school.
She continues, “Can
we go out Friday?”
He grins, “Yeah, I can do Friday.”
He runs his hands through his hair and his shoulders relax as he starts breathing again. “Do you maybe want to go to the drive-in after?”
“So, you got into my bed, now you’re trying to get me in the backseat?”
His whole face turns red. “No, Sam, I didn’t mean…that’s not what… you know I…”
“You clearly haven’t heard how ‘uptight’ I am,” she jokes gloomily.
“Hey, forget about that asshole.” He takes her by the chin and looks straight in her eyes. “He’s an idiot.”
She smiles, studying him. She leans in slowly and kisses him softly. He holds her there for several long moments. It’s a calm, innocent kiss.
When he finally pulls away, Sam says quietly, “I like that.”
Tony takes a long breath and lets out a shaky, “Mhmm.”
Sam giggles quietly, “I’m going to need some food if you’re going to make me study. Do you want anything?
He thinks for a minute, “Popcorn?”
“I don’t think that’s really brain food, but it’ll work.”
Sam walks down the hall and rounds the corner into the kitchen. “Oh, gross.”
Peggy’s sitting on the counter. Steve is standing in front of her kissing her neck.
He chuckles and rests his forehead on Peggy’s shoulder. “Why did we have a daughter again?”
Peggy laughs, “Well, it wasn’t on purpose, dear.”
“It wasn’t on purpose, dear.” Sam shoots back mockingly, distorting her face, “The most reckless man and impulsive woman in America accidentally made a kid. Go figure.”
Steve chuckles again, “Peggy, I think you hurt her feelings.”
Sam rolls her eyes and retorts with a slight British accent, “You’re both tossers.”
“Samantha Michelle!” Peggy yells as Steve helps her down.
Sam grabs a bag of chips from the pantry and walks back to her room.
“You know you have your own bedroom.” She calls over her shoulder.
“We have our own house.” Steve yells back.Sam shuts her door behind her.
“I thought you were making popcorn.” Tony looks at the chips confused
She groans, “Change of plans.”
The Untouchable Avengers (2/3)
Summary: MCU characters, no powers, set in 1920s. Soulmate AU- everyone is born with the last words they'll hear from their soulmate written on their body. Most people have two soulmates, platonic and romantic. I imagine it being white like a scar, but that's not really important.
Warnings: Gun fight, gunshot wounds, kidnapping
He turns when he hears Peggy’s voice. “Hey, baby doll.” Noticing Wilson is no longer around, Steve wraps an arm around Peggy's waist and pulls her into his chest. “What can I do for you?”
She smiles, pink tinging her cheeks. “Are we still going dancing tomorrow?”
“I'll see you here at eight.” He smiles so wide his eyes crinkle at the corners.
As Wilson rounds the corner with a strange man, Peggy pulls away. “Don't you dare be late.”
Steve’s face pales. He snags her wrist as she turns. “Please say something else.”
“What?” Her eyebrows pull together as she studies Steve’s face.
“That’ll do.” He drops her wrist.
“Alright.” She answers skeptically before flouncing away.
“Everything alright?” Wilson glances in Peggy’s direction as he rejoins Steve.
“Yeah, of course.” Steve tears his eyes away from Peggy’s back seam stockings. “What about you and that fella?”
“He’s new in town.” Wilson shakes his head. “Needed some pointers.”
Steve narrows his eyes. “You’re new in town.”
“What I told him.” Wilson shrugs.
Steve studies him, but Wilson offers no further information. “Well, I hope you gave Pepper a good review.”
“Glowing.” Wilson chuckles.
As they emerge from a bakery at street level, Wilson waves down a taxi, exposing the writing on his wrist again.
Steve clears his throat. “That's an interesting soulscript you got there.”
Wilson's head snaps to Steve, and he jerks his sleeve down. “Yeah, I suppose yours are better?”
“I didn't mean-” Steve raises his hands as Wilson climbs into the cab. “Sorry I asked.”
“It’s- its fine.” Sam huffs.
They finish the ride in silence, staring out their own windows. When they exit the cab, Wilson pauses outside the station. He jingles his pocket watch, looking at the ground.
“He was my partner. Best friend, really.”
Steve stops with a grand on the door and turns around. Sliding his hands into the pockets of his trench coat, Steve takes a step toward Wilson. Wilson doesn't look away from the sidewalk.
“Riley. He- we were responding to a mugging.” Wilson's stiff hat twists as he shakes his head, toeing a crack in the pavement. “It’s a lie. He said it wasn't my fault, but I should’ve seen it coming.” He looks up slowly. “That's the point of having a partner, right?”
Steve looks up the street. “Coulson was my partner for a long time. He'd just been reassigned when he got clipped.”
“So, you had nothing to do with it?” Wilson scoffs. “Thanks for the help.” He pats Steve's shoulder as he pushes past.
“It’s hard to lose a partner.” Steve says as Wilson opens the door. “But that don't make it your fault.”
“Look, if you can't handle that, you don't need to be in the city.”
“I'll be fine.”
Steve slams his hand against the station door, preventing Wilson freedom opening it. “Survival is different here. You got to keep your head on straight.”
“I got it.” Wilson's gaze bores through Steve. “Now, move.”
Steve shakes his head and steps back. That kid’s going to get himself killed.
Tony slouches behind his desk crunching numbers in the dim, yellow light. The raid last week set production back. They’d have to run an hour extra every day this week to fill their orders. He smothers his cigar in his ash tray and drags a hand down his face. If he doesn’t make the quota, he will be getting a call from dear old dad.
Sure, bootlegging is lucrative, but it’s a gamble. And losing puts you on the bad side of the wrong people. His grandfather, for instance, does not like being disappointed. Especially by someone in the family.
A commotion from the warehouse downstairs interrupts Tony’s musings. Glass crashing, tables scraping, and men shouting echoes off the concrete walls. Tony walks to the door, tugging his vest down. As he reaches for the handle, a man in denim coveralls bursts in and knocks him back.
“Sorry, boss.” A large hand pulls Tony up by the shoulder. “Cops are outside. You got to go.”
Tony jerks his head in a nod and waves to the fire escape. The man rushes through the office and out the window. Tony peers out the door for Bruce. Half the men have filed out the backdoor, the other half jammed themselves in in a mad dash for freedom.
No sign of Bruce. Tony turns back to his office, hoping his partner made it out. He grabs his hat from the desk and climbs out the window. When he hears “Hands up! This is a raid!” from inside, he slides down the ladder and makes his way to the end of the alley. Ducking through a loose board in the fence between buildings he emerges on the street behind the warehouse. No cops in sight.
He scans the clusters of men. Some he recognizes, others he doesn’t, but he’s sure they all came out of his warehouse. Still, with no sign of Bruce, Tony heads to Pepper’s. Whether to meet Bruce or warn Pepper, he doesn’t know yet.
“Steve,” Peggy whines, tugging on his wrist, “I don’t want to sit here all night. You promised me dancing.”
“Just a minute, doll,” he says into his highball.
“You said that twenty minutes ago.” She takes the drink from his hand and finishes it for him.
Steve chuckles, watching the feather in her beaded headband flutter as she tips her head back. She’s absolutely breathtaking in her beaded, knee length dress. The strapless top shows off her shoulders, just like the night he met her. Her red lipstick still glistens against in the hazy light, despite having had several rounds of drinks.
He fastens the top button of his tuxedo coat and stands, holding out his hand. When she takes it, he drops back to the lounge chair and pulls her into his lap. “Just let me look at you another minute,” he grins. “You’re gorgeous.”
She smacks his chest with her clutch. He takes it, smiling at her trill of laughter, and the pink creeping into her cheeks. He hadn’t danced since high school, and he would do his best not to start tonight. Not in a full tuxedo with stiff wingtips, and the most beautiful woman he’d ever met watching.
“I knew I should have gone with Jimmy instead.” She crosses her arms.
“Hey, now, kitten. Don’t get carried away.”
She grimaces. “He’s much more fun. Knows how to show a lady a good time.”
“He knows how to show her something.” Steve rolls his eyes. “Look, I promise-” His eyes dart to the door where a large man has barricaded the door. He nuzzles at her neck. “Play along. Do you have your weapon?”
She buries a hand in his hair and giggles. “Of course. I always do.”
He brushes his fingers up her cheekbone and smiles, noticing one of Clint’s regular arrestees in the corner. “We’ve been locked in. I got two potential hostiles behind you.”
She glances over his shoulder, then locks eyes with him. “Three behind you.”
He slides his hand up her thigh. “Let them make the first move.”
She wraps her arms around Steve’s neck and winks at a passing waiter. “You just going to keep feeling me up until then?”
Steve’s neck heats up. “Can’t say I’m not enjoying it.”
Peggy smirks at him briefly before snatching his pistol from under his coat. Shots erupt from all directions, followed immediately by screaming and chaos.
He slides her weapon out of its holster and aims at the man near the door. “It’s a revolver?” he yells, glaring at the gun in his hands.
“Oh, what are you whining about now, Rogers?” She squeezes off two more rounds at a man ducking behind the bar. “You’ve got two men and six rounds. Get it done.”
“Shit!” Peggy grabs Steve’s shoulder and throws herself to the floor, bringing him with her.
They lay on the ground face to face. Their panting is drowned out by the rapid fire bursts of submachine gun shots coming from the bar. Bullets whizz over the couch, too low for either one of them to move.
There’s a click and silence. Peggy springs to her feet, weapon at the ready, and fires three more shots.
“Clear.” She lowers the handgun and helps Steve up.
“For now,” he huffs. “We got to get to the office.”
She nods and leads the way to the stairs, pushing through the mob trying to get out the door.
“Peg,” Steve pinches his eyebrows together, “were you shot?”
She reaches over her shoulder, wiping at the blood dripping down her back. “I’m fine.”
“That’s not what I asked.” He grabs her elbow as they reach the foot of the stairs.
“I didn’t realize you were dumb enough to need an answer.” She jerks her arm away, knocking herself off balance.
“You’re losing a lot of blood.” He rushes up the stairs after her.
“That’s not the priority here.” She leans against the rail waiting for him to catch up. “There may be reinforcements.”
He takes off his coat as he approaches. She looks pale, even for this lighting. He drapes it over her shoulders, and she turns unsteadily.
“We have to get,” she brings a hand to her head as she continues up the steps, “to Pepper.”
“Peggy, slow down. You’re going to pass out.”
“No, I’m n-” She stops suddenly, reaching for the rail and missing. “Yes, I am.”
She stumbles sideways, and Steve lunges up three steps to catch her. He carries her to Pepper’s office and, after convincing Pepper to open the door, lays her on the loveseat. After using Pepper’s homemade first aid kit to staunch the bleeding, Steve lays his coat back over Peggy.
“What the hell?” he whispers angrily.
“You think I know?” Pepper’s face turns brilliant red. “First, Tony calls and says they raided his warehouse. Now, my lounge is being shot up.”
“Tony’s- No,” Steve shakes his head, “that doesn’t make any sense. Barton’s working tonight.”
“What do you want me to say?” She raises her eyebrows. “That’s what happened. He called me from a pay phone said he was heading this way.”
“I need to get to the station and find out what’s going on.” He glances at Peggy. “Can you?”
She nods. “Tony’s bringing a whole squad of men. We’ll be fine.”
Steve nods to her and makes his way back downstairs.
The precinct is quiet. Only a few stragglers left, clacking reports out on their typewriters. Thick, stale smoke fills the building, obscuring the lights and preventing Wilson from taking a full breath.
Wilson stretches in his seat, yawning. “So, where’s Nat?”
Barton looks up from his newspaper. “I don’t know. Probably either doped up or barneymugging some big shot by now.”
Wilson raises his eyebrows and turns his attention back to a file on his desk. “Sorry I asked.”
“Things a lot different in Harlem?” Clint chuckles.
Wilson smirks, “Not particularly. Just expected better from you lot.”
“Oh, so you’re a bluenose.”
“Call me whatever you want.” Wilson smirks, “I married the preacher’s daughter, and she’s a choice bit of Calico.”
Clint grins, dropping his feet to the floor, and leans his forearms against the desk. “Oh, yeah? Got a picture?” He turns when he hears footsteps. “Hey, Steve. Just in time. Sam’s going to show- whoa! Hey!”
Steve drags Wilson out of his chair and pins him to the wall. “Who are you working for?”
“Steve, what are you-” Clint jumps to his feet and sprints across the room.
Wilson pulls at Steve’s arm.
“Tony was just raided. Saw half his employees in lockup on my way in, Bruce included.” Steve leans more weight into his arm. “Someone shot up Pepper’s. Peggy took a hit to the back.”
“What?” Clint glares at Wilson before turning back to Steve. “Where is she?”
Steve shakes his head. “I left her with Pepper. She’ll make it, but she’s not good.”
Clint looks Wilson dead in the eyes. “Did you have anything to do with this?”
“Wha- no.” Wilson shoves Steve back. “I’ve been here all night.”
“Who were you talking to at the bar yesterday?” Steve yells. “Who the hell-”
“I told you.”
“Bushwa.” Steve presses Wilson back into the wall. “Who was it?”
Wilson glances between the two men and drops his shoulders. “Don’t- look it’s not-”
“Talk, Wilson.” Clint crosses his arms.
“He’s with the Bureau. Odinson.”
“What the f- Jesus, Wilson. Why in God’s name-” Steve and Clint yell, throwing their hands in the air and shoving objects off of desks.
“Listen!” Wilson yells. “He’s not cleaning up. He wants to get Pierce.”
Steve throws a fist into the concrete wall, cursing at the crunch of his knuckles. “What did I tell you? Huh?”
Wilson straightens his tie and clears his throat. “You said leave him a-”
“I said leave him alone,” Steve shouts, spinning back to face Wilson. “Now, Peggy’s unconscious on Pepper’s couch, Bruce is locked up, and who knows how many people were caught in the cross fire.”
“It wasn’t me. We haven’t even looked into Pierce yet.” Wilson drops into his chair. “Odinson came to me because I’m new blood. He wanted me to find other detectives we could trust.”
“Oh yeah! I’m sure it has nothing to do with you poking around with a fed.” Steve glares.
Clint raises two fingers timidly. “Actually, Steve, this one might be on me and Nat.”
Steve turns to look at Clint, entirely red-faced.
“The bank robbery. We traced it back to Pierce’s gang.”
Steve studies Clint’s face. “Bring Nat in.” Turning to Wilson, he sighs. “Congratulations. Looks like you’ve got yourself a team.”
“What were you doing with Carter tonight anyway?” Clint lifts an eyebrow.
Steve stares daggers into Clint, but softens into a smirk. “If I wanted you to know, you would've been invited.”
Thirty minutes later, Nat walks through the front door, letting it clang shut behind her. Her shimmering red, floor-length evening gown brings out the orange in her hair. The elegant beaded comb holds her chignon in place. She tosses her clutch onto her desk and lifts herself to sit on the edge. Her knees peek out the slit in the gown as she crosses her legs.
“Sorry to, uh, break up your date,” Steve says, glancing at the deep red marks up her neck.
She shrugs, tugging on her necklace. “She was a flat tire anyway. Had to do something to shut her up.”
Wilson coughs up coffee, nearly spilling the cup he had just poured. “Sorry. Just- Didn’t realize…you…”
Nat tilts her head with a chuckle. “Depends on the day.”
She nods along as the men fill her in. Taking a bag from under her desk, she turns her back and shimmies out of her dress, still asking questions to clarify the situation.
As she slides into her work heels, she looks at Steve. “So Bruce is in the big house?”
“You two work on a plan to raid Pierce’s joint.” She turns to Wilson. “Let’s go make some paperwork disappear.”
With Chief Rhodes's permission, the new team began meeting in “Odinson's office,” which was Pepper’s office. Since no one wanted the cops involved, cleanup was quick. The lounge was reopened in a week, and the team moved their meetings downstairs. The bold dance music was more than loud enough to cover their scheming.
“I’m just saying,” Bucky gulps down a shot, “I don't think it's smart to go after his primetime warehouse.”
“What part of this is smart?” Steve scoffs.
Clint lifts a cigarette to his mouth. “I’m surprised you care about smart after what happened to Carter.”
“What happened to Carter is why I want to be smart,” he growls.
“Buck's right. We need to be strategic. Peg can't take another hit like that, and we can't afford to forfeit the manpower by benching her.”
“Not to mention,” Peggy takes a seat across from Steve, “Peggy is capable of choosing her own cases.”
“We should just be glad Big Tony didn’t start a gang war,” Odinson adds from the corner.
“Why are we happy about that?” Bucky groans.
“Because innocent people get caught in the middle.” Wilson waves a waiter down and orders a second round for the table.
A silence settles over the table as the waiter distributes drinks. Bucky and Peggy glare at Odinson. He’s the reason they’re all in this mess.
Odinson raises his glass. “You’re a brave group.”
“Not particularly,” Clint mutters, “you just backed us into a corner.”
“This is an honorable endeavor.” Odinson continues as though nothing was said. “It is risky, but with this one mission, you seal your names in history.”
Everyone raises their own glass with exaggerated groans and eye rolls, when Pepper interrupts.
“Nat's on my phone. She said it was urgent.”
Clint exchanges a concerned glance with Steve.
“What’s she into now?” Steve half-jokes.
Scraping his chair back, Clint stands. “Don’t know. She was going on a date.”
Pepper takes his seat and watches him rush up the stairs. “You boys got a plan yet? Tony can’t hold his grandfather back forever.”
“Yeah, I think we’ve got something that’ll work.” Steve leans back with a cigarette between his teeth.
A laugh rumbles from Bucky’s chest. “Speak for yourself.”
“Give it a rest, James.” Peggy holds her hand out for Steve’s lighter.
“This plan will work.” Odinson leans in, his broad chest covering half the table. “It’s a proven tactic and-”
“Listen, golden boy,” Bucky nudges Steve with his elbow, “we know this town a little better than you. And we don’t like your damn plan.”
“I never wanted to be involved.” Steve narrows his eyes at Wilson. “Normally, we’d just bust a few of Piece’s thugs and make sure they never got out. Let Big Tony and Howard handle the rest.”
“But, here we are.” Bucky downs another shot.
Pepper watches the men banter, sipping on a cocktail a waiter brought moments after she took a seat. Her eyes follow each speaker. Steve and Bucky are skeptical, but neither speak openly about the depth of their concern. Odinson and Wilson are boldly optimistic, though she can see reluctance in the back of their minds. She shouldn’t have asked Tony to mitigate the Stark family’s reaction. It only put her friends in more danger.
She perks up when she sees her office door swing open. Barton slams it shut behind him and leans against the railing. Even from across the room she can see his knuckles turning white, his face already red. He slams an open palm against the rail before turning down the stairs.
She jumps to her feet. “My office. Now.”
The men look up, confused. Bucky is the first to follow. The rest rise together and shuffle after them.
When Pepper meets Clint on the stairs, she turns him around quickly. “We’ll talk in private.”
He relaxes slightly at her comment, but his shoulders remain tense, his fists clenched.
Pepper pauses briefly in her doorway, continuing with a deep breath. Her phone lies in pieces at the foot of a wall. Most of the items that had been on her desk are now scattered across the floor. The fist sized hole in the wall tells the story on its own.
“Forget the fucking warehouse,” Clint growls. “I want him dead.”
“Barton,” Steve snaps as his eyes wander.
Pepper waves a hand. “Clint, please just tell us what happened.”
Clint drags a hand down his face. “He’s got Nat.”
“What?” everyone shouts, continuing with various lines of questioning.
“She got all frantic on the phone, saying something was wrong, and the line went dead.”
“Was she still at home?” Steve asks.
Clint shakes his head. “Payphone. It was real loud, and I heard the door slam open before it cut out.”
Bucky shakes his head. “Do you know who she was going out with tonight?”
“Jack.” Clint shrugs.
“Rollins?” Pepper’s eyes go wide. “Tony said he’s the one who arrested Bruce.”
Wilson looks up from his shoes. “No, that’s not right. Me and Nat saw the booking record.”
“Well, Tony was there, Sam.” Pepper leans back in her chair. “I’m pretty sure he knows.”
“He’s Rumlow’s partner, right?” Peggy steps out of the corner.
Steve and Clint nod.
Peggy sighs, “When I was cleaning up with Pepper that night, I found his badge in the rubble by the bar.”
“Why the hell didn’t you say anything?” Clint turns on Peggy. “Either of you? Seems like very important information.”
“Easy.” Steve grabs Clint’s arm and pats his shoulder. “It doesn’t matter now.”
“Look, with all due respect to your lady, we need to keep moving with the plan.” Odinson circles the room. “We can’t throw all our hard work in the trash.”
Even Wilson throws an icy glare at the agent.
“I don’t want to go after his business. I don’t want to send a message.” Clint advances, coming toe to toe with Odinson. “I want him dead.”
“Let’s not get emotional.”
Clint grabs his collar and shoves Odinson into the wall before turning to the door. “And you aren’t going to stop me.”
“Clint,” Steve runs after him.
Two days later, everyone gathers back in Pepper’s office, Bruce and Tony included. Clint has been talked off the ledge, and everyone is more levelheaded.
Pepper holds up an envelope. “This came for Tony today.” She looks around the room before dropping it on her desk, exposing the grainy photo she’d been concealing as they assembled.
Tension builds as the image soaks in. Nat tied to a chair, her elegantly beaded gown torn along the edges. The poor quality makes it difficult, though not impossible, to discern the bruising around her neck and blood dripping from her nose. Her hair falls in knots past her shoulders. Despite her black eye and swollen lips, she still manages to give the camera a “screw you” look.
Tony tosses a newspaper on Pepper’s desk. The cover page matches the one in Nat’s picture.
Steve steps forward and traces his fingers over the headline. “If she's still alive-”
“She's not,” Clint bites.
Bruce steps forward, examining the paper. “Clint, this is today's paper. She-”
“She's not.” He growls, meeting Bruce's eyes. “Or maybe she is, but it doesn't matter.”
“What,” Bucky scrunches his face, “in God's name does that mean?”
“She won't be.” Clint slumps into one of Pepper’s armchairs. “We can't save her.”
“Clint,” Peggy makes her way across the room and lays a hand on his arm, “what aren't you telling us?”
“There was a struggle,” he sighs. “She was screaming and fighting. And-” He turns his arm over, revealing his soulscript peeking out from his rolled sleeves. “The last thing I heard was her scream ‘let me go.’” He shakes his head and clenches his fist. When he speaks again, his voice is raw. “I told her it’d be alright.”
Tony swallows hard. Silence blankets the room. Clint stands, shrugging Peggy’s hand off. No one moves to stop him from exiting the office.
Steve looks at Wilson. “Maybe you should talk to him.”
Wilson takes a deep breath and heads for the door, unbuttoning his sleeve.
Bucky glances around the room. “So, we're going to kill him, right?”
Steve opens his mouth, but Odinson talks over him. “We stick to the plan.”
Steve locks eyes with Bucky and gives him a small nod.
Peggy glances at Steve and winks. “Then, I’ll go talk to Wanda.”
“Well, you don’t give me orders, pal.” Tony pulls at his sleeves. “I’m calling in some guys from upstate.”
Odinson agrees. “If what you’ve told me turns out to be true, I wouldn’t hate to have backup.”
“That’s the smartest thing I’ve ever heard you say,” Pepper quips, sitting behind her desk. “Now, out. All of you. I have work to do.”
Pairings: Steve Rogers x Peggy Carter
Summary: Steve's return to Peggy in 1945 at the end of Endgame
“Peggy, this is my choice.” Click.
Howard glances at Peggy, finger resting on the pause button. “He didn’t ever give you coordinates?”
“Actually, Howard, he did. I just fancied a game of hide and seek.” Peggy glares at Howard across the table. “Keep rolling.”
“Peg,” Howard’s voice is soft. “I’ve listened to this recording a hundred times. There’s nothing there. No background noise, no autopilot warnings, no clues. Nothing.”
“You’re not a well-seasoned analyst trained to find intelligence in the most unlikely of places.” Peggy’s voice is level, but curt. “Play it.”
“We could both use some fresh air." Howard sighs, “Let’s go above deck. You can help me look.”
“Anyone can spot a plane wreck. I need to stay here.” Her eyes turn glassy.
“I’ve been out here a while. Take it from me.” Howard lays his hand over hers. “You can’t function like this. Take a break with me.”
She rips her hand away with a growl, “Play. It. Now.”
Howard shakes his head. “I’m going to keep looking. I really wish you’d join me.”
He turns and climbs the stairs to the main deck. When he’s out of sight, Peggy presses the play button.
“I’m going to need a raincheck on that dance.”
“Alright. A week next Saturday at the Stork Club.”
“You got it.”
“Eight o’clock on the dot. Don’t you dare be late. Understood?”
Peggy swallows the last of her scotch and slams the glass down on the bar, signaling the bartender for another. She feels ridiculous, sitting there in her red dress. The whole thing is absurd, waiting for the man she just spent two weeks searching through ice for. Unsuccessfully.
And yet, here she is. An hour early. With pristine curls. Leaving red lipstick stains on a fresh glass. Entirely hopeless. Moments from tears.
A young soldier with a devilish grin takes the seat beside her. “What’s a lovely dame like yourself doing all alone in a joint like this?”
“Not looking for you.” She snarls.
He chuckles, “Come on, doll. No need to play hard to get, I’m already interested.”
She downs her drink in one gulp, not allowing herself to wince at the burn. “The only thing I came here for is a decent drink.” Her eyes dart to the beer bottle in his hand, and her tone turns patronizing. “So, run along, then.”
“Alright, kitten,” he gives her a wink, “this drink’s on me. How about we talk again after.”
She rolls her eyes with a dramatic sigh. “I am more than capable of buying my own drinks. Now, leave.” Tired of the games, she locks eyes with him. “Get up. Walk away. Before I embarrass you.”
He snatches his beer off the counter and slides off the stool with a comment under his breath. She throws a two-finger salute at his back.
“Never thought I’d miss the bloody war.” She mutters to herself, taking a sip from her new glass. “At least those twats knew better.”
She glances at the clock and drops her forehead to the countertop. Seven fifteen. She could leave right now. She should. But she knows she won’t because despite losing everything to the war, despite the pit of despair in her stomach, there's still something. A tiny seed of hope, a dream more than anything, one she dares not allow to take root. She knows the moment it does, what remains of her life will come crashing down around her.
Or maybe it’s simply because her quarters are cold and dark. Lonely. The small room has too many memories and not enough future. She kept his duffle bag after the last mission. It wasn’t much, just a few shirts, a spare uniform, and his sleeping bag. His scent had faded quickly, barely noticeable now. When she returned from the search and rescue mission, she buried her face in his undershirt just to smell him one more time. Though she’d never admit that to Howard or anyone else.
She chokes down a sob with another sip. She holds the warm liquid in her mouth, letting the taste ground her. She takes another drink, relishing the burn on her tongue and down her throat. This is a pain she can handle.
As she lifts the glass for a third sip, Howard pushes through the crowd. “Someone sitting here?”
Peggy turns to him unamused. “Oh, sod off.”
He takes the seat and orders a scotch. “You know me better than that.”
Not one to sit alone, crying into her drink, Peggy smiles at the bartender. “Make this one a double. On Mr. Stark.”
Howard smirks at her. “Finally going to take me up on those drinks?”
She finishes her drink with a smile. “You can’t keep up with me.”
“Tonight, I’d have to disagree.”
Peggy scoffs, shaking her curls across her shoulders.
“You’re not the only one who misses him, Peg.” He frowns into his drink. “I was his friend. I was part of every mission he was on. I was supposed to find him.”
Her face softens. “You're right. I just-”
“Yeah. Me too.”
“He spent two years running their missions. Playing their games. And they couldn't even spare him two weeks.” She struggles to contain a sob.
Howard takes a long drink before rubbing her shoulder. “When the war's over, we'll look again. As long as you want.”
They finish their drinks in silence. For once, she’s grateful for his presence. She tells herself it’s because he intimidates the young bucks, but she knows she doesn’t want to be alone.
“Another round?” Howard glances at her from under his brow.
Peggy nods. “One more.”
“Only one? Agent Carter, you’re losing your edge.”
“I’m debriefing the Colonel first thing.”
“So, the whole bottle then?” Howard lets out a sad laugh and waves to the bartender.
“There’s not enough in the world to get me through that report.” Still, she takes the bottle and fills her glass nearly to the brim.
“You know, you’re a pretty miserable drunk.” He takes the bottle from her.
She nearly snorts. Steve would have heartily disagreed. “You’re not exactly jolly either. It’s refreshing, actually.”
Again, they fall into a comfortable silence. Neither acknowledging their utter failure. She couldn’t save Steve, and Howard couldn’t find him. The two people closest to him had let him down so completely.
“It was his choice.” Peggy empties the bottle into her glass with a deep breath.
Howard nods silently, laying cash on the bar. “Let me give you a ride back to base.”
She shakes her head. “I’m going to stay just a bit longer.”
Howard glances at the clock. Seven forty-five. “Peg, this can’t be healthy.”
“Tomorrow, before I’ve even had a drop of tea, I tell Colonel Phillips, the Commandos, Senator Brandt, and half of Army Research that Captain Steven Grant Rogers is officially dead. Missing in action with no hope of recovery. Tomorrow by lunch, Dugan will bring me his personal belongings to sort through for anything of intelligence value. Tomorrow evening, I will read his condolence letter before mailing it to Rebecca Barnes, because she's the closest family he had left.” She turns away from his knit eyebrows and puffy eyes. “So, just give me tonight.”
“Yeah. Alright.” Howard’s voice is tight as he walks away.
She turns her attention to her drink. She swirls the glass, watching the brown liquid move smoothly with every twist of her wrist. Absorbed in her own thoughts and memories, she loses track of time. Somewhere between ten and thirty minutes must have passed when the room goes quiet and someone clears their throat behind her.
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Some big shot officer is going to try his luck. “Just don't. Not tonight. I am not in the mood.” She picks her glass up, ignoring the hand on her shoulder. “I came here for a drink. I don’t need an escort to the barracks or another round on you. I don’t care for a chat, and I certainly don’t want to dance.” She takes a breath to continue.
“And to think, I came all this way.”
She drops her glass. It shatters on the edge of the counter, spraying shards across the bar and into her dress. The pieces clink onto the ground as she stands up and whirls around.
Disbelief, joy, relief, and comfort flood through her when she sees Steve’s face.
She throws a fist into his jaw. The whole bar gasps.
Steve rubs his jaw. “Not quite what-”
“How long have you been back?” Peggy demands, face flushed. “Couldn’t phone? Or radio? Couldn’t find a single way to tell me you were alive? For what? So you could have this bloody moment?”
“Well,” he grins at her, “you know how I like to be dramatic.”
“Christ, Rogers, I swear.” She shakes her head leaning into him. “You’re an arse.”
He embraces her, nuzzling into her hair. “You owe me a dance.”
“You owe me a double shot of scotch.” She buries her face in his chest before anyone can catch a glimpse of the tears streaming down it. “Top shelf.”
Steve pulls her away, wiping her cheeks. He leads her to the dance floor and asks the band to play something slow. He leans down to kiss her forehead.
“I thought I lost you.” Her voice is unsteady.
He begins swaying to the music, his arms wrapped around her waist. “I could never leave my best girl.” His eyes glisten, tears threatening to spill.
She smiles up at him. “Steve, I don’t understand. We looked-”
He shushes her gently. “I’ll explain everything later, I promise. Right now, just dance with me.”
She lays her head against his chest and wraps her arms around him. “I thought you didn’t know how to dance.”
“We'll talk later.” He holds her snug against his body until the song ends.
When she looks up at him again, tears flow freely down her cheeks, but a smile covers her face. He leans down, pressing his lips to hers. She stands on her tiptoes, fingers curled around his lapels, deepening the kiss.
She pulls away, breathless. “Walk me to my quarters?”
“I thought you weren’t in the mood.”
She quirks an eyebrow up at him. “If you don’t remember the way, Captain, I can walk myself.”
“Sweetheart, that’s not a path I’d forget in a million years.” His eyes sparkle at the comment. “But, I made other arrangements for tonight.”
“Then what are we waiting for?”
He holds out his arm, and she takes his elbow. He leads her out of the Stork Club and waves down a cab. He opens the door and wraps an arm around her after he settles in. She curls into his side, breathing in his scent, different somehow.
He hums into her hair.
“If you ever crash another plane, you’d better crash it well. Because if I find you, you’re death will be neither quick nor painless.”
He grins, “I would expect nothing less.”
When they arrive at the high-rise, Steve takes out his wallet and groans. “You got to be shitting me.” Credit cards.
Peggy raises her eyebrows. “Language, Captain.”
He hangs his head with a chuckle and turns to Peggy, cheeks burning pink. “This isn’t going to make much sense to you, but,” he licks his lips, “I don’t have any money. Can you…”
Peggy opens her purse, drawing her eyebrows together. She takes out a handful of change and passes it to Steve. “You owe me.”
Steve pays the driver and turns around, smirking at Peggy. “I intend to pay that bill in full very shortly.”
“Don’t take too long. I charge interest.” Her sultry demeanor falls when Steve wraps his arms under her backside and lifts her into the air. “Steve!” She giggles leaning against his chest.
He kisses along her collar bone, carrying her to the side of the building before setting her down. He presses her back against the wall and nips at her neck.
He smiles into her skin at the sound of her whine. After he kisses her neck once more, sucking hard enough to leave a bruise, he pulls back and looks at her.
“Steve, we’re not in the field anymore. We’re not undercover. I want a bed. Not the woods or some back alley or an elevator. A bed. With blankets. Maybe a bath.”
Steve smiles, “Anything you want.” He takes her hand and leads her inside to the elevator. He presses the button for the penthouse apartment, appreciating her quiet gasp.
Peggy gapes at the entryway. She drops Steve’s hand to explore the different rooms. When she finds the bedroom, she throws her bag into the corner and falls back into the bed.
“Steve, this is magnificent.” She rolls over, burying her face in pillows. “Everything is so soft.”
Steve stands in the doorway. “You like it?”
She nods, grinning. “How did you-”
“A favor from an old friend.”
She slides off the bed and turns her back to him, wiggling her hips. “I could use some help with the zipper.”
He’s behind her in seconds, tugging the zipper down to the dimples in her back. He watches her slide the sleeves off her shoulder and leans in to kiss her neck. “Let’s talk interest.”
She smirks over her shoulder. “I prefer to keep rates low.”
He wraps his hands around her waist and turns her to face him. He lifts her by the hips and sets her down on the bed. He slides her shoes off one at time, tracing his fingers up her ankles.
She giggles, “Not that low, Captain.”
He kisses the inside of her ankle and gazes up at her with dark eyes. “Tell me when to stop.” He kisses her other ankle and brushes his lips a few inches up her calf before pressing his lips deep into her skin.
Peggy moans. “You’re getting warmer.”
He kisses the same spot on her opposite leg and repeats the process until she falls back, squirming under his touch. He leans forward, hovering over her, and presses his lips to hers.
“You have no idea how much I missed you.” She kisses him again, tugging at his hair.
“I think I do,” he chuckles, breathing in her perfume. “I missed you too.” Exactly what he remembered.
Peggy wakes up alone in the middle of the bed and sits up to see the sun coming through the curtains in the bedroom.
“Damn.” She falls back onto the bed. “No sense in hurrying now.” Philips has certainly either sent out a search party or fired her already.
A chill runs up her spine and she pulls the blankets around herself. She sits back up, carefully hugging the sheets to her body, and looks around the unfamiliar room. “Damn.” She must have gotten so sloshed she actually went home with one of those officers and convinced herself it was Steve. Howard was right; she’s losing her edge.
When the boys find out she woke up in a stranger’s bed, she will never hear the end of it. She chuckles to herself. She can already hear all her own jokes being tossed in her face. Then again, they probably won’t, not today.
She hears the shower turn off and looks for her clothes. It doesn’t matter what happened last night, last night was- Her chest tightens. She chokes back the drunken memories and pulls her garter belt over her hips. Last night is over, and she’s leaving with what’s left of her dignity. And preferably before her mystery suitor returns to the bedroom. She tugs her dress over her head and moves to the mirror.
“Oh, bloody hell.” Her makeup is a mess, eyeliner smudged down her cheeks and lipstick well outside the bounds of her lips. Her hair hasn’t looked so unruly since she spent two and a half weeks sharing a single bathroom with the Commandos in that bombed out hangar. She’ll just wash her face in the kitchen and fix herself up back in the barracks.
With a quick nod to herself, she rolls one of her stockings up. She lifts her dress and takes the clips dangling from the garter belt. The bathroom door creaks open, allowing steam to creep in. Peggy huffs, squinting into the light in the doorway.
“Peg, you’ve seen me-” Peggy darts into his arms and pulls his head down for a kiss. “I should go missing more often.” He presses gently against her hips, pushing her back.
“You most certainly should not.” She tosses her curls, or whatever remains of them, side to side. “You weren’t there. I thought it was a dream.”
Steve raises an eyebrow as she clips her stocking, “I’m barely gone two weeks and you go home with somebody new?”
She swats his shoulder. “I’m just happy you’re real.”
“Do you need reassurance?” Steve leans in, wrapping his arms behind her shoulders. He nuzzles up her neck and whispers in her ear, “Because I have a few ideas.”
She smiles, “I have to meet with Colonel Phillips.”
“It’s covered.” Steve sits on the bed and pulls her against his chest. “Howard informed Philips this morning that you were up all night interviewing me for potential intelligence I may have discovered during the mission."
“Still. I didn’t pin up my hair last night. It’ll take me hours to fix it.” Her eyes glint. “Maybe tonight.”
Steve hangs his head. “Alright. I’ll get dressed and call for a cab.” He begins gathering his clothes and looks back up at Peggy sheepishly. “Can you…”
Peggy smiles, “Yes, Steve, I think I can swing another taxi.”
Steve rubs a hand down his face. “Peg, I’m so sorry. I wanted this to be perfect. I can’t believe-”
“Steve,” she quiets him with a kiss, “I’m just glad you’re home.”
“Steve, I really have to go to work now.” She leans back against the door, turning the handle.
“But I missed you.” He tugs at her wrist.
She pulls away stumbling backward out of the cleaning closet. “I missed you too.”
She turns around, nearly knocking Howard over. They both take a step back. She tucks a loose hair behind her ear, glancing at Philips, and wipes at her lipstick. She gives her coat a sharp tug and clears her throat.
“Captain.” She nods to Steve and walks down the hall in the direction the men had come from.
She walks into the SSR office, flips on the coffee maker, and sits at her desk. Taking a deep breath, she smiles to herself looking through files that accrued in her absence. She’s barely cracked open the first file when laughter bubbles up in her chest. She’s a grown woman and federal agent; she has no business messing around in broom cupboards. And yet- She allows a quiet chuckle to herself, biting her fingernail.
“What’s got you all giggly?”
“Oh, Wilson.” Peggy jumps. “Nothing really. Just remembered a joke my mum used to tell me. You wouldn’t get it.”
“Because I’m a dumb American?” Wilson raises an eyebrow, opening his desk drawer.
“I was just going to say American.” Peggy laughs, pulling a teabag from her drawer and dropping it in her mug. “What are you doing here? I assumed the entire agency would be fielding senators and scientists all day.”
“Smoke break.” He places a cigarette between his lips and holds the pack out.
She shakes her head, carrying her mug to the coffee maker. “I’ve catching up to do.”
“Great.” He flicks his lighter. “The Howling Commandos have been ringing our phones off the hook since Stark made the announcement this morning.”
“I can handle the boys.” She chuckles lifting the coffee pot. “Oh, bloody- who’s responsible for this?” She holds up the pot, deep brown liquid sloshing over the top. “This is my coffee machine. Mine. You gentlemen have three for whatever monstrosity you want to run through them. Mine is strictly for hot water so I can have a few cups of this sad, American excuse for tea. I ask for one thing in this office.” She slams the pot onto the table. “One bloody thing, and you tossers can’t even manage that.” She snatches the pack of cigarettes and lighter from Wilson’s desk. “I’ve changed my mind.”
“Just dump it out and brew another pot.” He blows out a puff of smoke. “I thought MI-5 sent us their brightest.”
She rolls her eyes and leans on the desk next to him. “It’s been contaminated.”
Wilson holds the cigarette between his teeth, and turns his back to Peggy. When he turns back, he gives her a small origami rose. “I’m sorry for you loss.”
She snickers taking it from his hand. “You’d better keep that little talent a secret.”
“Carter,” Philips walks into the room, “I understand you may need a smoke after the late night you had, but we need you in the conference room.”
Peggy stands up, pulling the unlit cigarette from her lips and thanks Wilson, leaving it on her desk. She takes three large steps to catch up with Philips. “Need me to intimidate a few of the scientists from downstairs, sir?”
“Congressmen, actually,” Philips chuckles. “They want to speak with you and Stark directly.”
“Has been medically cleared for duty and has already found a seat between Senators Brandt and Pierce.”
Peggy pull her eyebrows together. “Was the medical exam really necessary?”
Philips rolls his eyes, “You're not there only one who wants to get their hands on him, Carter.”
“That’s quite enough, Colonel.” She opens the door to the conference room. “We have guests.”
Peggy and Philips take seats around the table, and Philips opens the meeting.
“Before we begin, as head of the Senate Security Committee, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask. Has Captain Rogers been thoroughly debriefed?” Senator Pierce glances at Philips.
“Certainly.” Howard smirks, “And probably more than once.”
Steve’s cheeks turn a deep pink and he shifts in his chair. Peggy glares at Howard.
Philips clears his throat. “Captain Rogers has been assisting Agent Carter in decoding key pieces of intel from the mission.” The smallest smirk plays on his lips. “I understand he's been working quite diligently, no stone unturned. Right, Carter?”
Peggy watches Steve sink into his chair. She smiles at Philips. “Yes, sir. I'm rather impressed with his results. He’s been very thorough.”
“So, Agent Carter, would you say you're satisfied?” Howard chuckles. “Captain Rogers is cleared for this meeting?”
By now, Steve's whole face is red, and it's quickly spreading down his neck. Thankfully, the senators are so concerned with each other, no one seems to notice.
Peggy gives Howard a curt nod. “Yes, and I think it's time to stop discussing this, in favor of a more substantial topic.”
Howard concedes, and Steve’s face slowly returns to a less alarming color. The rest of the meeting goes without incident. Although, Senator Pierce notices the flush in Steve’s cheeks and asks to have the air turned down. When they leave the conference room, Peggy ushers Steve across the hall into a small office.
“I thought you had work to do.” Steve raises an eyebrow, running a hand up the curve of Peggy’s waist and under the edge of her jacket.
“Should we give you a minute?” Dugan’s voice comes from the back corner, followed by several chuckles.
“Boys,” Peggy smirks, “I told you I’d make time for you."
Steve breaks into a grin as the Commandos circle him, making jokes and slapping his shoulders. “A minute won’t do, gentlemen.”
“It did when you took Carter to that shindig in Lucerne.” Morita looks around the group for acknowledgement.
“We were undercover,” Steve glares.
Gabe smirks, “Yeah, we heard.”
Steve whirls around, “It was an act.”
“We were all on comms that night, Cap. Give it up.” Dugan squeezes his shoulder.
“Peg, some help here?” Steve tosses her a pleading look.
She leans against the wall, smiling. “You got yourself into it, Rogers.” She curls her tongue over her front teeth and raises an eyebrow. “Repeatedly, if I remember correctly.”
The Commandos let out whoops and whistles, shoving Steve between them. He breaks away and pulls Peggy tight against him.
“Not a night I’ll easily forget.” He leans down, stopping inches from her lips.
She pulls away, patting his chest. “Boys, get your fill. The Captain has another meeting in ten and that will be the last you see him this week.”
“Philips can’t work him around the clock, Carter.” Monty speaks for the first time since they walked in.
Peggy throws a devilish grin over her shoulder as she opens the door. “Like I said, last you’ll see him.”
Steve grins at the door closing behind her.
Peggy walks briskly back to the SSR office. She has eight and a half minutes to brew a tolerable cup of tea. She nods to the agent in the corner as she walks to the coffee stand. After dumping the contents of her coffee pot, she sets the coffee maker back up to run a fresh pot of water. While she waits, she makes her way back to her desk and plucks the cigarette from the center.
“I didn’t think you smoked, Carter.”
She smiles, pulling the cigarette from between her lips and releasing a puff of smoke. “Only when people I can’t punch question my competence.”
“Meetings with Congressmen?”
“As far as the eye can see.” She blows out a ring of smoke and watches it dissipate.
“How did a non-smoker learn to do that.”
She shrugs, releasing another ring. “How did you get out of babysitting duty, Dooley?”
He smiles, removing his feet from the desk and dropping his paper. “Loretta’s going to pop any day. Can’t leave a senator without an escort if I got to beat feet.”
“A week in the Arctic will really scramble a lady’s brain.” Peggy’s eyes light up. “Have you picked a name?”
“I'm thinking something classic like William or Anne.” He waves a hand and rolls his eyes. “The missus wants to be unique.”
Peggy chuckles, taking her mug back to the coffee pot. She makes a stop at Wilson’s desk, dropping her lipstick stained cigarette butt into his ashtray, before she continues to the coffee stand. She pours water into her mug and takes cream from the refrigerator.
“You going to marry this one, Carter?”
Peggy nearly drops her mug as she turns. “Who?”
“You know who,” Dooley snorts. “Look at you, blushing like a schoolgirl.”
She looks at the floor and smiles, feeling the heat in her cheeks. “Haven’t given it much thought.”
“Yeah, sure.” He props his feet back up on the desk.
Replacing the milk, she turns to leave. “I have less than two minutes to get back to the conference room. So, if there’s nothing else?”
He waves her off, lifting his newspaper.
Peggy hurries back down the hall, taking a siip of her tea. She grimaces; it tastes like coffee grounds. She sets her tea down in the conference room and ducks into the office where she left Steve. To her dismay, Stark has found his way into the little reunion. She’s barely squeezed through the door when he winks at her.
“Steve said you liked the pillows. I can have Jarvis bring some out for you, if you want.”
Peggy’s eyebrow pull together. Her eyes widen as she looks from Howard to Steve. “You took me to the Stark penthouse?”
The room falls silent.
“Steven.” She ignores the stares. “Grant.” She takes a step toward Steve. “Rogers.” She glares up at him. “Did I spend the night in Howard Stark’s bed?”
“Well, not the whole night,” Steve laughs weakly.
Peggy rubs her forehead, turning away. “I’m going to be sick.”
“It’s better than getting bed bugs from a rat infested motel.” Howard grabs her at the door.
“We have a meeting with the SSR Research Team, ” she sneers pulling her arm away.
Steve shoves his way out the door. “Peggy, what did you want me to do?”
“Take me back to my quarters as I suggested.” She corners him against the wall, whispering angrily.
Steve rolls his eyes, “Right. Because the gate guards never would have recognized me.” He sniffs at the air. "Have you been smoking?"
"Yes, what does it matter?" Her face goes stern again. “You could have gotten your own place.”
“I couldn’t even pay for the cab!”
Peggy huffs. “How long did Howard know?”
“I ran into him on my way to the Stork Club. I didn’t mean to tell him before you. I swear.” He shakes his head. “I wanted you to be the first to know I was alive, Peggy. I love you.”
She gives him a blank stare. “You what?”
“I, um-” He smiles when he sees the corners of her mouth twitch. “I love you, Peggy Carter.”
She smiles so briefly, Steve almost missed it. “Let’s go, Captain. We’re late.”
When they enter the room, Peggy and Howard take seats on opposite sides at the front of the table. Steve sits next to Peggy, and Philips sits along the back wall away from the table. The banter from the previous meeting continues, turning Steve a lovely crimson. When Peggy mentions the quality of Steve’s intelligence gathering, he kicks her ankle under the table.
Peggy looks up. “Excuse me?”
“If Rogers found such significant information, shouldn’t we know about it?”
She should’ve known better. SSR Research has worked more with Steve than any other department in the Army. They’re too familiar with the situation to miss the innuendos.
“Well, yes, Doctor Andrews. I intend to write a report for proper dissemination.” Peggy smiles sweetly.
“Just a sneak peek, then.” He narrows his eyes.
Peggy shoots Howard a death glare. He went too far. Philips clears his throat quietly. Howard opens his mouth.
“Sergeant Barnes is alive.”
“What?” Peggy’s head snaps to Steve, while Howard chokes on his coffee and Philips nearly falls out of his chair.
Quiet murmurs fill the room.
“HYDRA must have found him after the mission on the train.” Steve stares intently at the center of the table. “I don’t know where, but they definitely have him.”
Howard looks across to Peggy. “That can’t be possible.”
“It shouldn’t be, no.” She shakes her head. “I planned that mission. The drop alone…” Her voice trails off.
“Not to mention the cold.” Howard rolls his chair around the table to sit next to Peggy.
Steve’s face is blank. His eyes are distant.
“Steve,” Peggy clears her throat, blood rushing to her cheeks, “Captain Rogers, how can you be sure?”
Steve doesn’t look away from the table. "I saw him."
The whispering turns to discussion to argument. "It's not possible...Why would Cap lie... If you saw him, how can you not know where he is... That doesn't mean he's still alive... It doesn't make sense..."
“Gentlemen,” Philips silences the room, “clearly Captain Rogers is not ready to discuss this revelation. We will reschedule this meeting.”
When no one moves, he stands and raises his voice. “That will be all. Enjoy your evening.”
When everyone has filtered our, Howard closes the door. Philips, Steve, and Peggy are the only others in the room. He returns to the front of the room and rests his arms on the back of a chair.
Philips moves to the seat across from Steve.
“Steve?” Peggy takes his hand rubbing her thumb across his knuckles.
Slowly Steve looks at each of them, landing on Peggy. He swallows hard. “We need to talk.”
5 notes · View notes
The Untouchable Avengers (1/3)
Pairings: Tony Stark x Pepper Potts, Peggy Carter x Steve Rogers
Summary: MCU characters, no powers, set in 1920s. Soulmate AU- everyone is born with the last words they'll hear from their soulmate written on their body. Most people have two soulmates, platonic and romantic. I imagine it being white like a scar, but that's not really important.
It's mostly gen with a few implied, canonic romantic relationships
Warnings: Mild gun violence in part 2
Steve and Bucky sit at a small table in the back left corner of the large, hazy bar room. The floor bustles with activity. Patrons hurry in, out, and around, dancing to the smooth jazz from the live band. The cabaret singer would be starting soon. Waiters rush from the kitchen to the bar to the tables and lounge areas, carrying drinks and light snacks. The bar tender, a thin, silver-haired young man, moves in a blur, filling orders as fast as they come in.
Steve tosses his fedora onto the table next to Bucky’s newsboy cap, shimmies out of his suit coat and slides his thumbs under his suspenders before relaxing in his seat. He loosens his thin tie and rolls his sleeves up, leaning his forearms on the table. “So, you’re on a case?”
Bucky crosses one leg over the other and leans back, stretching his brown sweater vest tight across his chest. He pulls out a cigarette, nodding. “Pepper thinks someone’s skimming cash.”
Steve nods, lighting Bucky’s cigarette before taking out his own. “So,” he takes a drag and puffs out a cloud of smoke, “then where’s this partner of yours?”
“Undercover,” Bucky chuckles. “How goes the art?”
Steve lets out a deep laugh. “I wouldn’t call suspect sketching art.”
Bucky opens his mouth to answer, but gets distracted by a woman walking by, one of the cabaret dancers. Her feathered skirt comes to mid-thigh and her loose, sleeveless top shows off her strong shoulders. A beaded band across her forehead reigns in her dark, chin length finger waves.
“Hey, doll.” Bucky snags her arm and pulls her toward the table. “My pal, Stevie, here wants to know what you’ve got under that dress.”
Steve’s face flushes, sending heat down his neck. “I- I didn’t-”
She smirks and edges around the table. She perches on his knee and drapes an arm behind his neck. Taking his hand by the wrist, she guides him up her thigh, just under the hemline of her dress.
He clears his throat when his fingers brush the cool metal of her sidearm. “Buck, you’re an ass.” Before pulling away, he glances at the single line scrawled across her thigh. I’d hate to step on your toes.
It’s a shame. It doesn’t seem to match the Don’t you dare be late on his left shoulder blade. The We’re there, punk on his calf was easy to match to Bucky’s You said end of the line on his bicep.
“Anymore questions?” She winks, standing up. As she leans across the table, she whispers, “You see anything out here?”
He shakes his head.
“The girls are clean too. The singer, Wanda, says they don’t even see the money until pay day,” she sighs, glancing back at Steve. “Peggy.”
Steve shakes her hand. “You never mentioned your partner was a dame.”
Bucky shrugs. “Must have slipped my mind.”
She skirts back around the table. “Like hell. Legs are the first thing you notice in a room.”
“You’re going to give yourself away.” He pulls her into his lap with a grin.
She shoves his chest, pushing herself to her feet. “Get off of me, Jimmy!”
Steve raises an eyebrow at Bucky. “Why’re you always throwing gals at me?”
“She’s not interested in me.” He shrugs. “You might as well take a swing.”
“She’s not the one. Why waste our time?”
Steve leans back in his chair and waves a waiter down, ordering them both drinks.
The redhead drops the long, floppy bow tie she’d been fumbling with and turns to look at her partner, her wavy chignon brushing her neck. “What, Barton?” she asks the brown oxfords blocking his face.
He groans, pulling his feet off his desk, and bends over to fix the cuff of his pants. “You ever worn Tony about the raid?”
“Course I did.” She tips chips her chin back, propping her own low heel oxfords on the desk. “I know how to do my job.” Her wide-legged trousers bunch under her ankles.
Barton raises both hands, exposing the script across his forearm. Let me go.
“Just checking. I’d hate to run out of booze tomorrow night at Pepper's.”
“Would you quit worrying about that and focus on this bank robbery.” She pulls her dainty cigarette case from her handbag.
“What do you want me to do, Romanov?” He twists the cufflinks at his wrists. “I sent the prints to the feds last week.”
“I don’t know.” She slides her suspenders onto her shoulders as she stands up through her cloud of smoke. “You want to hit the street again? Maybe a beat cop saw something.”
“I doubt it.” He snatches the silver case from her desk. “But maybe we can bust up a druggie while we're out.”
Nat grabs her fur coat and grey beret and follows Clint through the station. “Should we call in Barnes and Carter?”
“Not a chance,” he snorts. “You know Chief Rhodes doesn't like PIs.”
She nods, sliding behind the wheel. “We can shake them down tomorrow night.”
Steve shrugs his trench coat off as he enters the empty precinct. It’ll be another hour before the other detectives come in, and the smell of coffee ekes its way through the stuffy joint. He makes his way across the floor, taking his hat from his head, and stops short as his desk.
“Can I help you?” Steve eyes the man seated at his desk. Tall. Cheap suit, vest, no coat. Dress boots- interesting choice.
He stands, extending his hand. “Wilson. Or, uh, Sam. Take your pick.”
“Doesn’t really answer my question.” Steve’s eyes dart to the Homburg cap on his desk.
Wilson snatches it up. “My apologies. Chief told me to wait for you. Said you’re always in early.”
“So,” Steve narrows his eyes. This guy is something. “What can I do for you?”
Wilson tilts his head, answering slowly. “I transferred from Harlem.” The chain on his pocket watch jingles as he slides his hands into his pockets. “The detective opening…”
Steve nods with a grunt. It was about time Rhodes filled that spot. Pierce's goon squad took Coulson out over a month ago. “How long were you in Harlem?”
“Three years.” Wilson moves out of the way, letting Steve have his desk back. “Got a little one on the way. The missus wanted me off the beat.”
Steve smoothes his tie down as he sits. “So, this is your first day as a detective?” A rookie is the last thing this department needs. “You’re here early.”
“I had the midnight beat in Harlem. Couldn’t sleep anyway." Wilson drags a chair next to Steve’s desk. “You got a case?” He leans his elbows on his knees.
Steve shakes his head. “I mostly work with witnesses. Sketch up the perp's face.” He pulls a carton of cigarettes from the top drawer and drops them on his desk. “The mobsters around here got pretty bold when ol' Al came into town.”
Wilson raises his eyebrows, pulling at his tie. “You fellas chasing Pierce?”
“Hell, no.” Steve flicks his lighter and takes a deep breath, letting smoke out as he talks. “And unless you got a tommy gun hidden somewhere in that vest, you better not let anyone else hear you say it.”
“So, you’re just going to keep putting away street thugs?”
Steve nods. “That’s the job.”
“But Pierce is here.” Wilson, waves smoke out of his face. “We could get him.”
“Listen, Sam,” Steve takes a set of cufflinks from his top drawer and clicks them into his sleeves, “you seem like a good man. Leave Pierce alone.”
“Cut the head off.” Wilson inches closer to Steve. “That’s how you beat these guys.”
“Your wife didn’t drag you off the beat to chase Pierce. You want to see that baby, right?” Steve taps the cigarette between his fingers.
“But if we don’t-”
“Just forget about it.” Steve holds his cigarette in his teeth and begins pulling sketches from his drawers. “Why don’t you go through the department mug shots and see if you can match any of these.”
Wilson takes the stack and heads, begrudgingly, to the big house. Steve takes the top file off a tall stack and dials the first phone number in the report. He spends the next three hours contacting witnesses and scheduling interviews for the week.
His line goes dead in the middle of a call. He spins around to see Nat leaned against the wall, spinning the cord. She drops it on the floor and stands up straight as Clint shuffles around the corner, dragging Wilson with him.
“Found this dewdropper hanging around the clink when we booked a bootlegger.” Clint lets Wilson go to adjust his shoulder holster. “Said you sent him over there.”
Steve smirks, standing to plug his phone back in. “Yeah, he’s Coulson’s replacement.”
“So, what’s he doing on the other side of the house?” Nat tips her head back to look out from under her newsboy hat.
“I told you.” Wilson glares between the pair.
“Yeah, yeah.” I love you peeks out from Clint’s collar as he stretches. “Mugshots. You find anybody?”
Wilson holds out a handful of sketches.
Nat snorts. “Is that all? Hey, Barton, we better hit the street again.”
“These goons must he outwitting us.” He flips through the images. “Look, Nat, someone put Little Joey Corello away.” He flashes her a sketch from the middle of the stack.
“You don’t say.” Nat
perks up, gold bangles clattering as she unfolds her arms. “We’ll have to pay him a visit before he flies the coop. I owe that piker a few broken bones.”
“If you go necking with the warden, he’ll probably let us take Little Joey for a ride.” Clint cracks his knuckles.
“Come on.” Nat smacks his arm. She glances over her shoulder, heels tapping on the concrete floor as she walks away. “We’ll see you at Pepper’s for lunch?”
Steve throws her a small salute and turns back to the sketches.
After they’re gone Wilson glances at Steve. “What’s the story there?”
“She had Corello on racketeering last year after two weeks undercover, but he busted her up pretty good and got away.”
Wilson lets out a whistle. “She’s the kind of broad I wouldn’t piss off.”
Steve grins. “Corello's in ‘the family.’ A cousin or something. He gets pinched occasionally, but he’ll be out before tomorrow morning. Romanov’s been waiting, a long time for this.”
“I guess so.” Wilson reaches across Steve’s desk to set the papers back down. “What do you want me to do with the ones I matched?”
Steve skims over the words on Wilson’s wrist. Not your fault. “Set them over here. I need to- Actually,” Steve opens his drawer, hefting folders out. “You can update the files. Look for matching sketches and make a note of their booking date.”
Wilson nods, taking the pile with a groan. “So, what’s Pepper’s?”
A lively saxophone punctuates the air with other brass instruments quickly joining in, filling the room with bold melodies. Wisps of smoke waft up from the tables, covering the stale smell of last night’s ashes. A copper-haired young woman bumps into Wilson’s chair.
“You didn’t say this place was a speakeasy.” Wilson’s eyes dart from one corner to another as Peggy excuses herself from the table.
“Well, where’d you want to eat?” Steve raises his eyebrows.
“I don’t know,” he shakes his head. “A diner.”
“Can’t get liquor at a diner. Speaking of.” Bucky leans back in his seat and waves an arm at the bar tender.
Peggy returns to the table with a drink in one hand and a smoking cigarette in the other. “Wanda, come sit.” Peggy motions to the copper-haired woman and turns back to the group. “You’ll love her. You,” she points at Bucky, “behave.”
Wanda strolls over, her long strand of pearls swinging with her steps. Her short, straight bob makes her appear even younger than she is. “What do you need, doll?” She must be from the Bronx; the accent gives her away.
Peggy tips her chin up to see out from under her cloche hat and runs a hand down her loose skirt before taking a seat. “Just thought you ought to meet the gang.” Her rings glint in the light as she sweeps a hand around the table. “Don’t mind the two lovebirds on the end. They’re on the brink of cracking a bank robbery.”
Nat and Clint look up and wave. Clint uses his free hand to steady his holster.
“Is Rhodey going to join us?” Bucky asks lightly, taking a whiskey from the tray a waiter brings by.
“Not today.” Clint shakes his head, offering Bucky a smoke. “Got some feds coming into town.”
Wanda smiles at the group. “I hate to intrude on your lunch plans.”
“Why?” Steve nods to the seat between Clint and Wilson. “We got an extra chair now.”
As Wanda thanks them and takes her seat, Wilson leans toward Steve. “Don’t you think this is…I don’t know, hypocritical?”
Steve chuckles, “Because we bust bootleggers and raid juice joints every week?” When Sam nods, Steve answers, “You got some learning to do.”
Wanda searches through her small purse and curses before looking to Sam. “You mind if I bum a fag.”
“I don’t smoke.” He holds up his hands. “That stuff’ll kill you.”
Steve stifles laughter while Peggy and Bucky give him a blank stare.
“Oh, god.” Nat rolls her eyes, passing Wanda her silver case. “You’re not one of those gemstone healer freaks, are you?”
“No, no. None of that.” He chuckles. “I haven’t touched a cigarette since my wife got pregnant, and I’ve never felt better.”
“Just wait until the second one,” Clint says over his glass. “You’ll pick it back up.”
Peggy looks across the table, smashing her smoldering cigarette butt into the ashtray. “How is Laura these days?”
“Let’s just say there’s a reason I’m taking extra shifts,” Clint snickers.
Nat shoves her elbow into his ribs before taking her lighter back from Bucky. “She’s not that bad.”
“No, she’s fantastic.” He smiles. “The three rugrats are monsters, and they’re driving her mad.”
As everyone laughs, a dark-haired man in a sweater and glasses approaches the table with three unmarked bottles. “Delivery,” he grins, setting a bottle in front of Steve, Clint, and Nat.
“We can always count on you, Bruce.” Nat immediately cracks hers open and compliments the contents. “Where’s Tony?”
Bruce jerks his head toward the office in the corner on the second floor. “He’s squaring up with Ms. Potts.”
“I’ll bet he is,” Bucky sneers.
Peggy chokes on her champagne, and Nat adds, “Is that what he’s calling it now?”
Holding his cigarette to the side, Steve leans over to Wilson. “Tony’s sweet on-”
“Yeah, I got it.” He nods, pushing Steve away.
Bruce glances at his watch and then at Nat. “Thanks for the heads up. We had to clear out pretty quick.”
Nat holds a hand out, rubbing her fingers together. “You got anything extra for me?”
Bruce turns his pockets inside out. “Next week, kitten. Promise.”
Pepper emerges from the office, hair pulled into a tight bun, pencil tucked behind her ear. Her brown pant suit swishes with every step. Her string
of pearls bounces against her matching vest. She approaches the table languidly, laying a hand on Clint’s back. “How are the drinks, ladies and gentlemen?”
“Fantastic as always.” Tony walks up behind her. “We only brew the best. As a matter of fact,” he takes the bottle from in front of Steve and turns to a waiter, “have Quick Silver over there mix something up for the table.”
“Hey,” Steve watches his whiskey leave and glares at Tony, “you better have an extra bottle laying around somewhere.”
“Easy, big guy.” Nat slides her whiskey across the table. “You can share mine for now.”
“I got a poker game running upstairs,” Pepper grins. “Five car stud, any of you interested?”
“Not today,” Steve swirls his glass. “Got to get back to the station.”
“Because, you got feds coming in?” Wanda looks at Clint through a thick cloud of smoke.
Pepper nods and excuses herself from the table. “Business to run and all.”
Clint nods to Wanda, “I blame the new guy.”
“You think they’re here to clean up your act?” Wanda raises an eyebrow.
Nat purses her lips and tips her chin up. “Why would you think that?”
“I heard the Bureau’s cleaning house.” She shrugs, tucking her lace-gloved hands into her elbows. “Figured they were branching out.”
“About damn time.” Bucky slams his glass down. “Your department’s crooked as my aunt Edna’s back.”
“Hey, now,” Steve furrows his brow, “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“I would.” Clint straightens up so quickly, his whiskey nearly sloshes over the edge of his glass. “We definitely got a few on Pierce’s regular payroll, not to mention the moonlighting hitmen.”
“Somebody really ought to bump him off and be done with it.” Peggy shakes her head and takes a drink.
Steve slams a hand on the table. “The hell’s wrong with you?” He glances over both shoulders. “You looking for a shiv between the ribs?”
“Relax, Rogers.” Peggy waves a hand and fiddles with her bow-tied scarf. “Pierce isn’t allowed here. Tell him Wanda.”
“Pierce won’t touch us.” Wanda stirs her drink. “We’re covered by a bigger family.”
“Bigger than Pierce?” Wilson nudges the ashtray toward Steve and leans toward Wanda.
“Stark.” Nat blows smoke through her nose. “You think Big Tony wouldn’t put his grandson’s sweetheart on the protected list?”
Barton looks up. “Kind of a ‘no hit zone.' With Stark's new Manfredi tie, Pierce wouldn’t dare touch this place.”
“Don’t mean someone won’t follow you home. He has ears everywhere.” Steve drops his butt into the tray and stands. “And you ain’t in the family, doll.”
Peggy smirks, picking up her glass. “Where do you get off thinking you can call me doll?”
“I know where you keep your weapon.” He double checks the clip on his shoulder holster before lifting his coat from the back of his chair. “Wilson, we got work to do.”
Wilson follows Steve across the dining room, blinking smoke out of his eyes. As he rounds a corner, he bumps into a tall, blond man. “Sorry, Steve. I wasn’t-”
The two-tone wingtips are certainly not Steve’s. He drags his eyes up the crisp three piece suit, derby hat in one hand, umbrella in the other.
The man hooks the umbrella over his wrist and claps Wilson on the shoulder. “Detective." A toothy grin spreads across his face. "That's a new title, right?”
Wilson narrows his eyes, but returns the shoulder embrace. “Mr…?”
“Agent.” The man opens his coat briefly, and a gold badge flashes. “Odinson. And I've got a job for you."
1 note · View note
Burn the Ships (Chapter 2)
Warnings: Gun violence
Sokovia is a wreck. Protests fill every street. You’re constantly surrounded by armed guards. Ever since Ultron, no one in Sokovia wants anything to do with Stark. Unfortunately, Tony was a very branded man, and every piece of equipment the Foundation has comes with a Stark Industries logo emblazoned on the front. You manage to make it to your hotel with only a few scrapes and bruises. One of your guards took a baseball bat to the knee leaving the airport, but the crowd thinned out as you drove, and most of the rest of your team is unharmed.
You look at the new guy, worry written plainly across his face. Normally, you’d never bring a volunteer to a place like this, but funds are tight. His chest heaves with deep breaths, and his hands still look shaky.
“Welcome to Sokovia,” you smile, tearing off your bulletproof vest.
The sound of Velcro tearing apart fills the room as the others follow your lead. Watching you seems to remind the volunteer that he’s wearing a vest, and he begins pawing at the sides. “Is it always like this?”
You take a deep breath, watching the steam come off your body. “Only since Ultron.” Even in Sokovia’s moderate climate, those vests are suffocating. “Hopefully, we can repair some of that damage this week.”
He nods, and Jack holds up a bottle of merlot. “Who needs to take the edge off?”
The volunteer looks around nervously. Several people raise their hands or voice their agreement.
“Jack,” you grin, “what would I do without you?” You glance at the security team, noticing their less than eager expressions. “Agent Hamilton, would you gentlemen prefer something stronger from the bar?”
The senior agent looks up, smirking. “You always knew how to read a room, ma’am.”
“Alright, have your men sweep the suite, and then you can go for the night.” You wave a hand toward one of the bedrooms as you walk into the kitchen, glancing at the volunteer. “Greg, you want something?”
You take your glass and make your rounds, sliding through the door adjoining two suites. Usually, you’d have your own room, and the rest of the team would double up. Being in Sokovia, security wants to keep you all close. You take a seat at the table in the next room, and half the team follows. The other half, mostly assistants, huddle in the living room.
You take out a notebook and look across the table at your PR Director. “Lynn, you want to start?”
“Not particularly,” she laughs. “We haven’t had a presence in Sokovia for nearly a decade. I don't expect to be received well.”
As you motion to your swollen cheek, Jack passes you a towel full of ice and retreats.
“I think we’re passed begging received well,” you chuckle, pressing the ice pack to your face.
Lynn continues discussing her plan for rebranding Stark Industries in Sokovia. The Volunteer Coordinator jumps in when they begin discussing high publicity events, and the representative from Logistics almost has a breakdown ranting about how they couldn’t possibly obtain enough supplies.
After three hours of arguing, you send everyone downstairs for drinks. The truth is, no one is going to agree, and you need time to consider the options. You walk them to the door, and collapse on the couch. Leaning your head on the back of the couch, you let out a long sigh.
You look up when someone taps your shoulder. A glass of white wine appears next to your cheek.
“I know you prefer moscato,” Jack says softly.
You take the glass and swirl it under your nose. “Do you just break into my apartment and snoop around?”
“It’s called putting away groceries, and you gave me a key.” He passes you two ibuprofen tablets and massages your tight muscles.
“So, that’s why I always have something for dinner,” you muse jokingly. You don’t let yourself sink into his touch, no matter how nice it feels. “You didn’t want to grab a nightcap from the bar?”
“You look like shit.” He presses a thumb into a knot in your neck and taps your shoulder. “I'll order you some takeout. You take shower. It's going to be a long week.”
You groan as you get to your feet. You'd be lucky if it was only a week.
You’re incredibly unlucky, as it turns out. The week rolls by with little progress. Meetings lasted well into the night, and Lynn was pissed. Her job grew harder every day. You finally understood why your predecessor pulled the plug on the relief effort after Ultron. Sokovian disdain for anything Stark related runs deep. It’s beginning to look like it always will.
The free clinic you opened downtown receives only a handful of visitors and countless threats. After a group of teenagers pulled knives on the nurses, security added a metal detector to the entrance, which did little for appearances. You refuse to allow them to carry weapons openly, even Jack. The few local volunteers you had quit because of threats to their families. The outlook of your little expedition was not good.
“How’s Wanda doing?” You drag a hand down your face, mumbling into your cell phone. Your “office” is simply a desk in the corner. Not even a back corner, the only place you get cell service is by the large window along the front wall.
“Well, she’s still at the farm,” Clint chuckles over your phone.
Your eyebrows pull together as you open a file on your tablet. “Was she a flight risk?”
“For a while.” You can picture him shrugging on his end. “She took it all pretty hard.”
“Yeah,” you sigh, closing out of Wanda’s record. “I really could use her out here.”
“She’s nowhere near ready.”
“I know,” you sigh. “We’re outsiders. Maybe if she made a statement in Sokovian, they’d-”
“Y/N,” Clint’s tone ends your train of thought, “I don’t think you get how bad she is.”
“I know.” You glance at the empty coffee mug on your desk. She’s about as far from being cleared for duty as Bucky.
“You don’t.” A door squeaks open and slams shut on Clint’s end. He talks softly. “She keeps talking to Pietro when she’s alone. When I ask her about it, she says she’s just remembering old times.”
“What?” You shake your head, standing to refill your mug. “You think she’s hallu-”
Glass shatters amid screams. You drop to your knees, feeling like you’ve been punched between your shoulder blades. Jack rushes to your side, weapon drawn. A few agents secure the employees, and the rest flood into the street.
“Oh, mother of God.” You lean into Jack. “It burns.”
He snakes his arm around your waist and guides toward the emergency exit in the back. “Yep. Keep moving.”
“What the hell?” You look over your shoulder, trying to discern the situation from among the chaos.
“You wearing your vest?”
“Yes.” You follow Jack thoughtlessly, feet moving without commands from your brain. You can barely hear anything over your heart pounding in your ears.
Your rental car waits at the curb at the end of the alley behind the clinic. Jack clears the alley before ushering you out the door and into the vehicle.
“Hotel,” he barks, slamming the door shut.
“They’ll get there when they get there.” He grabs your shoulders and twists you to face the window, sliding your vest down your arms. “You’re the face of Stark Industries right now. You’re the primary target.”
He jerks a radio from his belt, and static crackles as he holds down a button. “Get Strange to the hotel, pronto.”
You turn to look at Jack, but he pushes you back around.
“Jack, answer- Jesus Christ!” You drop your forehead into the window. “Stop it!”
“Can’t.” He presses harder against your back.
The pieces fall into place. “Was I-”
Your eyes go wide at the confirmation. “How bad?”
“It’s a good thing you stood up when you did,” he smiles. “You’ll be alright, but it’s probably going to hurt like hell.”
“Great.” You grit your teeth against the ache spreading across your shoulders and the burn under Jack’s hands.
“Hopefully Strange has some anesthetics or something for you.”
You let out a morbid chuckle. “I personally nixed those. Too expensive. We weren’t supposed to be an ER. Vaccinations, antibiotics, stuff like that.”
“Well,” Jack offers weakly, “it won’t get infected.”
You choke out a laugh through the increasing pressure on your back. “What exactly happened back there?”
“I don’t know much more than you.” The pressure releases as Jack inspects the wound, muttering mostly to himself. “Can’t really see anything through the shirt.”
“What?” You glance over your shoulder, wincing with the new renewed pressure.
“We’ll just have to wait for Strange to take a look.” He shakes his head. “We’re pretty sure it was just a guy on the street, realized he couldn’t get a gun past security and took the best shot he had.”
You reach for your vest as the car approaches your hotel.
“Leave it.” Jack brushes your hand away. “It’s been compromised. Just run fast and keep your head down.”
Jack steps out of the car first and shields you as you climb out. He wraps an arm across your shoulders and pushes your head down. You cradle your left arm as you make your way into the lobby as quickly as possible, which isn’t very. The ache in your shoulder has only deepened, and your entire back feels like it’s on fire.
Once inside, Jack lets you stand up straight, but still keeps an arm around your shoulders.
“Does it always feel like a billion knives being pushed through your skin?” you ask as the elevator door shuts.
“No.” He takes a deep breath and lets you go. “Sometimes you don’t feel anything.”
“Well, lucky me.” You lean your right shoulder against the wall.
“I don’t think the bullet hit your shoulder, but the impact might have fractured it. A few inches to the right, and I’d be carrying you right now.” He eases you upright and supports your weight as the doors ding open. “All things considered, you are pretty lucky.”
The dampness spreading down your back makes it difficult for you to believe that. You take a deep breath and set your eyes on the end of the hall. The farthest room from the elevator was a great idea from a security standpoint, but right now it just seems impossibly far away.
When you’re halfway to your room, Jack shoves you into the doorway to your left. You groan at the jolt of being slammed into the door. He draws his sidearm and advances down the hall. You hear several punches land and lean away from the door. You see a muzzle flash and jump back against the door bracing for the crack of the shot. Another punch, and Jack stumbles back to you.
You reach a hand up to his bloody cheek. He takes your wrist and pulls you down the hall. “Let’s get back to your room before another fanatic comes out of the woodwork.”
You nod and follow him, stepping over the knife in the middle of the floor. Glancing at the body on the ground, you manage to croak, “Is he-”
“Unconscious. Come on.”
He urges you down the hall and pulls a key card from his pocket. Once inside, he instructs you to change into a robe so he can inspect your wound. You sit down at the table and slide your left arm out of the robe, letting his fingers trail across your back.
“I’ve seen worse.” He prods around the edges of the bullet hole. “The bleeding slowed, at least.”
The skin is sensitive and tight. You flinch away, groaning and pawing at his hands. “Stop it.”
“You stop it.” Jack swats your hand and reapplies pressure with a towel he must have gotten from the kitchen. “I’m doing my job.”
“Jack.” Heat races through your body, and you feel sweat bead on your forehead. White encroaches on the edge of your vision. “I don’t feel good.”
“Yep.” He slides a trashcan in from the kitchen.
You grab the edges and bend over, retching loudly. You vomit with much more energy than you thought you possible at this point in time. “I need to lay down,” you groan hanging onto the edge of the trashcan.
“Yeah, sure, after-” A knock on the door interrupts, and Jack stands up to answer it. “-Strange fixes you up.”
You lay your head on the table, groaning to yourself.
Jack mutters with another security agent in the doorway. “I’m going to get another room. She’s not safe here.”
The other agent grunts an agreement and takes his post by the door.
Strange walks up and drops a bag on the table. “How do you feel?”
“Like I need a nap.” You glare up at him.
“You want me to give you another dose before I get started?”
“Please.” You wave toward the bedroom. “In my makeup bag.”
Strange shuffles around in the bathroom and returns with a vial in hand. He takes a syringe from his bag and begins filling it. “How long has it been since you used this?”
“The day after we landed,” you answer slowly, retracing the previous week.
“A regular dose?”
You nod weakly.
“I’ll give you double.” He taps the syringe and pulls a rubber band tourniquet from the bag.
You turn your arm over, as if preparing for a blood draw, and prepare for the burn. Strange ties off the rubber band and presses on the crook of your arm.
“Is this where you usually self-inject?” He raises an eyebrow, glancing up at you.
You shake your head.
Wiping a spot with alcohol, he gives you the injection. You immediately tense, all your muscles contracting. And it’s over.
You take a deep breath and roll your head side to side. The skin on your back tingles, and your heartrate skyrockets. Your breathing comes easier, and the nausea subsides.
“Is she diabetic?” Jack comes around the table to sit in front of you.
You glance at Strange and shake your head slightly.
“Yeah, something like that.” Strange begins working on the bullet still lodged in your trapezius.
Jack glares at you. “These are things I need to know.”
“I can handle it.” You take the granola bar he holds out to you. “This isn't your job, you know.”
“My job is keeping you alive. Until today, you were my biggest threat.” He nudges the granola bar back toward your face.
Your snicker morphs into a grunt, and Strange drops a piece of metal onto the table. Jack picks up the disfigured scrap and rolls it around in his palm.
“That’s the bullet?” you breathe out.
“Hollow point.” Jack nods and holds it back out to you. “Amazing what something as soft as the human body can to a piece of metal.”
You hiss while Strange prods around. “Isn’t that what a hollow point is supposed to do?” He’s not gentle by any stretch of the word. Every move is deliberate.
“You know a little something,” Jack smirks.
“Not really, I- shit!” You drop your head to the table. “What the hell, Stephen?” He doesn’t treat you like the word “fragile" is stamped on your forehead. He has a job to do, and he does it.
“I have to close the wound,” he answers flatly, tugging at the sutures. “You vetoed any pain meds stronger than Tylenol.”
“We don’t have the- money.” You grit your teeth, but don’t even attempt to pull away. You spent so long waiting for Bucky that every touch, no matter how small, felt so good.
“You need to get back to the states.” Strange ties off the thread and backs away.
“I thought you said I’d be fine.” You look between the two men.
Strange nods. “You need imagining so we know what the damage really is. And you're sure as hell not going to a Sokovian hospital.”
You look at Jack’s stern expression and drop your shoulders. “Fine.”
“Until then,” Strange continues, “I want that arm in a sling.”
You offer a choppy nod, the new sutures pulling at your neck. “You said we have Tylenol?”
Strange tosses you a bottle before closing his bag. “Get some rest.”
You stand and make your way to a bedroom and drop onto the bed. You whimper when your back slams against the mattress. You’d been working with Strange for over a year, and never once found yourself wondering what else his hands could do. Damn Barnes.
“Strange says you can’t get those wet for at least 24 hours.” Jack sets a bottle of pills on the nightstand and tosses a sling onto the bed. “Antibiotics. You need to take two tonight.”
“I feel like shit.” You sit up, wrapping the sling around your neck. “A bath would have been nice.”
“You can take one, just don’t get the stitches wet.”
You shake your head, realizing someone took your hair out of its ponytail. “Too much work.”
“Get some rest, while I pack your shit. Then I’ll help you clean up the blood, at least.”
“What are you getting at, Jack?” You glance at him as you sink into the pillows.
“Nothing.” He kicks open your suitcase and walks to the closet. “I’ve been there. It sucks.”
You watch him fold your clothes not so neatly and tuck them into your luggage. Letting your mind wander for the first time, you barely hear his monologue.
“… a lot with SHIELD. Hell, saw a lot before SHIELD…”
You wonder what Bucky would have done if you’d let him come. He has more training than Jack, maybe he would’ve seen it coming.
“…nice to have help…”
He hasn’t been back in the field since being the Winter Soldier. Chances are just as good that he would’ve lost it. This is probably the best-case scenario.
“…weird, but I’m still here…”
Yet, you still wish you’d let him come.
“So, seriously, if you need anything, I’m happy-”
“Jack?” This is a bad idea. “Would you lay down with me?”
He freezes, staring at you. “What?”
“I just-” you take a breath, pressing a hand against your head. “I’m a little high strung.” That’s it. You just need some security so you can sleep.
He narrows his eyes, but nods. “Yeah, of course.” He climbs onto the other side of the bed and wraps an arm around you.
You pull in closer to him, grounding yourself in his warmth. Slowly, you begin to hear the rest of your team trickle in and pull you back to common sense. You shift away from Jack and groan. He turns to watch you ease to your feet.
“We should get up.” You go to the bathroom to change out of the robe.
“Yes, ma’am.” He chuckles, picking up right where you interrupted him.
“Come on, Jack. Don’t be-”
“I get it.” His eyes dart to the door when you emerge in your gym attire. “Go show everyone you’re alright.”
You make your rounds, assuring everyone it was only a flesh wound. One of the security agents hands you your phone, which you must have dropped in the flurry. You have twelve missed calls and twenty-three unread texts, all from Clint. Typing out a quick reply, you chuckle to yourself. He’s going to be pissed when he turns on the news tomorrow.
When Strange tells you to wind down, Jack grabs your bags from the bedroom. You call everyone’s attention and explain that you’ll all be returning home tomorrow afternoon. They need to pack their bags and be ready to leave by 10:30 in the morning.
With that, Jack escorts you to your new room two floors below. You sit on the couch and click on the TV. You wonder if the media has covered the attack yet.
Jack walks in front of the TV and whistles. “I don’t speak Sokovian, but they don’t look too upset.”
“Shouldn’t everyone be in a different room?” You look up at Jack with heavy eyes.
“Not enough vacancies.” He carries your bag to the bedroom as he finishes, “You’re the priority.”
You drag your good hand down your face and groan. “This was a terrible idea.”
“Getting shot? I’d have to agree,” he laughs, scanning your face for any hint of relief.
You just glare. “This whole thing. We shouldn’t have come.”
He pinches his eyebrows together. “What changed your mind?”
“Look at us,” you pout. “I put everyone at risk for nothing. They don’t want us here.”
He sits down beside you and rubs your shoulder delicately. “You couldn’t have known they’d go to these extremes.”
“Bucky did,” you mumble, slumping back against the couch.
Jack takes a deep breath. “He didn’t see it coming. He’s just very cynical.”
You snicker halfheartedly. “Who were they?”
Jack groans. “An extremist group. Happy warned us. They’ve made attempts on Tony before.”
Your face drops, and you look away, tamping down your anger.
“Did you want to clean up a little?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Your struggle to keep your voice level.
“What?” He tugs at your shoulder, trying to turn you back around.
“About this group,” you snap pulling away from him. “Don’t you think that would have been helpful information in my decision to intervene here?”
“We didn’t think they’d make an attack at home.” Jack watches you pace across the living room. “They like to keep these things in our backyard, not their own.”
“These are things I need to know.” You glare at him.
“You would have changed your mind.” His voice is so calm.
You scoff, “Of course I would.”
“You didn’t make anyone come here.” He locks eyes with you, determined to hold your attention. “They followed you because you believe in what you’re doing, and they want to help.”
“How does that make a difference.”
“I’ve known you for more than five years now,” he adds softly. “If you hadn’t tried, you would never forgive yourself when Sokovia falls. You needed the deniability.”
You tear your eyes away from his and walk into the bathroom. All Bucky had done was try to keep you from going. He wanted you to be safe, sure. But you weren’t made of glass. Hell, you’d just been shot and were still standing.
Jack follows you, waiting outside the door. When the shower turns on, he knocks quietly. “Come on, you’re not supposed to be in there. You’re going to get an infection.”
You unhook your sling and carefully pull your shirt over your head. You inhale the steam, letting the warmth clear your mind. “What’s your game?”
He leans his head against the door. “My what?”
“Why do you help me so much?” You need to know. Your head tells you it’s his job, but a piece of you hopes it’s something else. You really need your head to be right.
“I don’t have a game.”
You wait. Good. It’s just a job. That’s good.
“I-” He lets out a nervous laugh. “I believe in you too. Just like everyone else here.”
You drop your head, turning off the shower, and slide your bra off. Wrapping a towel around you, you open the door. “Will you please help me wash the blood off?”
He nods, waving you over to the bed. You lay face down and unwrap the towel, leaving you in just your gym shorts.
“Strange did a decent job around the entry site.” Jack walks to the bathroom and soaks a washcloth with warm water. “But the rest of your back is a mess.”
You brace for the pressure on your sore muscles, but he just drapes the cloth across your back and returns to the bathroom. The tension slowly eases as the steam seeps into your muscles. You relax into the soft bed, your eyes fluttering closed.
He spreads the new washcloth across your lower back and begins rubbing at the dried blood on your shoulders. “Why did you hire me?”
You turn your head to look over your shoulder. “What?”
“No one else would.”
“I’m not one to judge on past mistakes,” you smirk into a pillow.
You let yourself laugh. “Barnes.”
The light pressure begins to soothe your muscles. The ache is barely noticeable now.
“I get it, you know?” He moves down to your lower back. “How he feels. Being manipulated. Looking back and knowing it was wrong.”
“Jack, I don’t think it’s quite the same.” You rotate your neck slowly.
“I know, but just-” He waves a hand in the air. “Knowing you can’t go back. You want to get past it, but no one will let you.”
You listen silently, running through possible motivations for telling you this. You hardly notice that he isn’t cleaning your back anymore, just massaging it, being careful not to come too close to your wound. You should tell him to stop, but it’s so relaxing, and his hands are so warm.
“It’s taken me ten years to get here. Barnes will come around.”
“Yes,” you roll your eyes, “I always wanted to start a brand-new relationship at forty-nine.”
“Fair enough.” His hands freeze as if he’s just become aware of his own actions. He wraps your towel around and tucks it in at your back. When you manage to turn yourself over and sit up, he’s waiting with your t-shirt in hand.
You take it and, with your back turned, slide it over your head. You turn on the bedroom TV and let Jack help adjust your sling.
“Almost ten years,” he mumbles standing behind you, “and I still have to prove myself.”
You turn to face him, kneeling on the bed. This is a bad idea. “As far as I’m concerned.” You brush your thumb up his cheek and smile. A very bad idea. “You don’t have to prove anything, Rollins.”
Damn it, Barnes. You lean forward, pulling his face to meet yours. His lips are just as warm as his hands.
4 notes · View notes
Steve Rogers Gets a Life (Chapter 1)
Pairings: Steve Rogers x Peggy Carter, Original Female Character x Tony Stark
Summary: After a decade of thinking he’d never be a family man, Steve finally has everything he always wanted, white picket fence and all. It’s 1967; Steve and Peggy have been married for 20 years. But Steve is thrown for a loop when their teenage daughter brings home a new boyfriend.
This story takes place in the alternate timeline created when Steve chose to stay in 1945. There will be significant differences in this world and the MCU.
*Originally posted on AO3.*
Steve walks up the sidewalk, excited to be home after a two-week mission. He opens the front door, puzzled to see the hallway light on this late at night.
“Sam, please talk to me. I just want to help.” Peggy’s voice echoes weakly down the hall.
As Steve rounds the corner, he sees Peggy sitting on the floor outside Sam’s room, resting her head on the doorjamb. She looks even more exhausted than Steve feels.
“Rough day?” Steve asks starting down the hallway.
Peggy barely lifts her head and doesn’t answer, but opens her eyes.
He holds his hand out to help her up. Once she’s on her feet, he pulls her into a hug. “What happened?”
She lets out a deep breath. “I don’t even know. She came home from school and locked herself in her room. She was supposed to have a date tonight. I suspect that has something to do with it.”
He kisses the top of Peggy’s head. “Alright, I’ll take it from here. Go get some rest.”
As she walks off, Steve calls after her, “Hey, I missed you.”
“Good,” she smirks, “When you’re done talking to Sam, I’ll see what I can do about that.”
He lets out a little laugh and takes a deep breath, trying to clear his head.
He grabs a pencil and notepad from the junk drawer in the kitchen and sits down to sketch a small puppy pawing at a door. It was the same thing he drew when Sam was six and wouldn’t leave her treehouse because the boys wouldn’t let her play Army with them at recess. He brings it down the hallway and slides it under Sam’s door with a soft knock. Then he waits. Just like he has done every time she was upset for the last ten years.
As more and more time passes by, he leans up against the door. It had been ten minutes; she should’ve opened the door by now. He slides down the wall, until he’s sitting on the floor resting his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. He listens to the clock in the living room tick by five more minutes. It must be bad. She’s never taken this long before.
Just as he’s beginning to wonder if Sam has fallen asleep, the lock on the door clicks. He jumps up and slowly turns the doorknob.
“Sam? I’m coming in, honey.” He slowly edges his way into her room.
She’s already retreated back to her bed, where she’s sitting in the corner, knees pulled up to her chest.
Steve grabs her sketchbook off the desk as he walks in and holds it out to her. It takes a few moments, but she accepts it.
He walks back to the desk, grabbing a cup of pencils and a second sketchbook from the bottom drawer. He sits down at the foot of her bed, passes her the cup, and begins to draw silently.
When he hears a snap, he looks over at Sam who tosses her broken pencil on the floor and grabs another one. Steve watches her closely as she aggressively shades the lion she’d been working on for a week.
Snap. She tosses another pencil to the side.
When she reaches for her fifth pencil, Steve grabs her hand and pulls the sketchpad from her lap.
“I don’t want to talk,” she growls, not looking at him.
Steve answers softly, “That’s fine, but you’re not just going to sit here and break things. We put a lot of money into your art supplies; you’re not going to destroy them because you had a bad day.”
She yanks her hand away and sits back in the corner of her bed fuming. Steve continues drawing silently.
When he hears a faint sniffle, he sets his sketchbook on the floor and scoots up to sit beside her. She immediately leans into him, burying her face in his chest. He wraps his arms around her and gently pulls her in closer.
“Come here, baby.” He strokes her hair as she cries. “It’ll be alright.”
After too much time for him to estimate has passed, Sam begins to regain control of her breathing.
“He said he loved me, daddy,” she whimpers.
Steve’s heart drops and he pulls her in tighter. “I’m so sorry, baby.”
“He was supposed to take me out tonight,” she gasps, still in tears, “But this morning, Donna said she saw him sneak out with Karen last night. When I asked him about it at lunch, he said I was too uptight for him.” Her sobbing grows so strong, Steve can barely make out the rest. “We’ve been together for two months,
daddy. How could he do that?”
“I don’t know, baby.” His voice is raw.
“Why didn’t he just end it with me? How did I miss it?” She takes a deep breath, seeming to reach some kind of realization. “I found a cheerleading skirt in his car three weeks ago. He swore it was his sister’s. God, I’m such an idiot!”
“No, baby, you just see the good in people.”
As her crying subsides, she takes a deep breath and asks hoarsely, “Why wasn’t I good enough?”
“Sam, I don’t think I have to tell you what he was looking for, and that makes you too good for him.” He pushes her away and lifts her chin. “Look at me. I don’t ever want to hear you say that again. Understand?”
She nods, sniffling again and leans back to hug him.
After several more minutes, she eases her grip. Steve slowly pulls away “You want me to stay longer?”
Her lips twitch up into the tiniest smile, “No, I’m gonna go make a sandwich.”
He kisses the top of her head. “I love you.” He walks to the door and pauses, looking around. “And clean your goddamn room.”
She grins at him, wiping the tears from her cheeks.
He smiles as he shuts the door behind him. For some reason, hearing Captain America curse always cheers her up.
He walks down the hallway and opens his own bedroom door. The lamp on Peggy's nightstand is still on even though she's asleep in the middle of the bed. Steve groans. She's wearing his favorite nightgown and her red, silk robe. Her hair is perfect; she had even touched up her makeup.
He laughs to himself. He'd never understand how he deserved her, but he certainly wasn't one to question a good thing.
He leans over the bed carefully, trying not to wake her, and kisses under her jaw.
When she smiles and leans into him, he whispers, "You know what silk does to me."
She rolls over, looking at him. "Why do you think I’m wearing it?"
He laughs, "Go back to sleep, gorgeous. I can wait until morning."
She bites her lip, crawling over to him. "Well, that makes one of us."
He can't stop himself from beaming. "God, I love you."
She lets out a quiet yelp when he picks her up. She wraps her legs around his waist. He kisses her, turning around so he can sit on the edge of the bed.
She pulls away, breathing hard, "I love you too."
In the morning, Peggy rubs her foot on Steve's leg, watching him read the paper. She smiles as she sips her tea. He always scrunches his nose when he finds something unpleasant.
Sam walks straight past them and into the kitchen.
Peggy perks up, grateful Sam has finally left her room. "Good morning, love. Feeling any better?"
"Not particularly, mom. Thanks." Sam bites back. She takes her coffee out to the front porch without another word.
Peggy lets out a frustrated sigh and lays her head on the table. "What am I doing wrong? I just want her to feel better."
Steve walks around behind her, gently pulling her back up. He begins rubbing her shoulders. "Who is that boy she's been seeing?"
"He told her he loved her."
"They've been dating for a couple months, now. That's not terribly odd for sixteen-years old." She rolls her head from side to side.
"Well, he's been screwing a cheerleader for at least three weeks."
"Oh." Steve can hear the heartbreak in Peggy’s voice. "My poor baby."
"He blamed Sam. Called her uptight." After a short pause he added, "Although, I can't say I'm incredibly upset about that."
"It's better than her being loose!"
"She's clearly in pain."
"Oh, she can't hear me."
Peggy cracks a smile, "I suppose you're right."
Sam spent the rest of the day avoiding them. The only meaningful conversation between the three of them was over dinner. After which, she did the dishes in silence and went to bed.
As usual, Peggy and Steve are in bed reading, when Peggy says, nearly in tears, “I’m a terrible mother.”
Steve drops his book and looks at her. “What are you talking about?”
“I sat outside her door for six hours yesterday. I only left to make her dinner, and she wouldn’t even eat it. And you came home and got her to open that door in less than half an hour. You had the whole story an hour after that. The only thing I’ve done is upset her further.” Tears begin falling over her cheeks.
She leans into Steve as he pulls her into his chest. “Peg, you are the best mother I’ve ever seen. No one else in history has raised a super-soldier. Ours is not only still alive, but relatively well-adjusted. She’s sixteen. She’s going to be a nightmare from time to time, but that doesn’t make it your fault.”
She sniffles, “That’s not it. Samantha’s always been a little shit. But this is different, Steve. She’s really upset. Her world is falling apart, and I can’t do anything about it because she won’t talk to me. A mother is supposed to be the first person a girl talks to about boys. I just want to help.”
She feels Steve playing with her hair as he says softly, “She’s feeling a lot right now. Very strong, very raw emotion. She’s never been through something like this before, and she doesn’t know what to do. She’s not ready for help yet. She doesn’t want to feel better. She needs to hurt for a little while. She has to process everything. That’s what dads are for. Give her a little time. I promise, when she is ready, you’ll be the first person she comes to for help.” She feels the warmth of his kiss on top of her head. “She needs you, Peggy. Probably more than she needs me.”
Sure enough, Sam warms back up over the next few days. Slowly becoming more talkative and acting like her normal self. Then one afternoon, nearly a week after she locked herself in her room, she walks into Peggy’s office at SHIELD.
“Mom, I can’t do it anymore. I tried to be the better person. I really, really tried. But I see him around school with that slut-face, and I just-” she lets out a low growl, “I’m not dad. I want Michael to hurt. I want to make him bleed, Mom.”
Peggy raises her eyebrows at “slut-face,” but doesn’t interrupt. She smirks as Sam finishes talking. “I knew I had to be in there somewhere.” She takes a breath, dropping some files on her desk. “Now, I assume you’re speaking metaphorically. Although, I can arrange it either way.”
Sam laughs, "Emotionally, will be just fine." She takes a deep breath and sinks down onto the couch. "He doesn't even care, Mom. I just want him to be sorry."
Peggy sits down beside Sam and gently brushes some hair out of Sam's face. "I know, love." She kisses Sam's forehead. "When I get home tonight, I'll show you a few tricks."
Sam smiles and leans into Peggy. "Thanks, Mom."
Peggy wraps her arms around Sam. "Of course, love. I would do anything for you."
They sit there for several moments until Peggy stands up. "Oh, what good is being in charge if you don't take advantage of it?"
She walks to her desk and picks up the phone. "Rose, I'm not feeling so well. I think I'll go home early." She turns back to Sam, smiling. "I’m going to ignore the fact that you should be in school. Have you had lunch yet, love?"
After lunch, Peggy takes Sam shopping for a few new outfits that are sure to get Michael's attention. When they get home, they sit down at Peggy's vanity and Peggy gives Sam some tricks to enhance her hair and makeup.
The next morning, Steve and Peggy are sitting at the kitchen table while Sam is getting ready for school.
Steve takes a sip of coffee. "She's up early."
Peggy smiles, "She has big plans." She gives Steve a stern look, "You are only to tell her she looks beautiful, if you say anything at all.”
When Sam finally walks out, she is the spitting image of Peggy in her Rockabilly phase. Sam’s wearing skin-tight leather pants, a stone washed t-shirt, and leather jacket. She has her hair in messy waves and bright red lipstick.
Steve nearly chokes on his coffee.
“Excellent choices, love.” Peggy beams at her. “That boy’s not going to know what hit him.”
Sam looks at Steve expectantly.
It takes him a moment to regain his composure. “You look beautiful, sweetheart.”
Sam smiles brightly and practically runs out the door.
Steve looks at Peggy. “What did you do to my daughter?”
“She’s just looking for a little revenge, Steve. She’ll be fine.”
Steve stands up abruptly.
Peggy doesn’t even look up from the mission report in her hand. “You’d better not be planning to surveil our daughter.”
He sits back down, making Peggy smile.
“I’m not ready to be a grandfather.” He runs his hands through his hair.
“Oh, you are so dramatic. It’ll be fine. She’s still Sam.”
Sam bursts through the front door after school and throws her arms around Peggy’s neck. “Mom, you are absolutely brilliant.”
Peggy looks at Steve wide-eyed and mouths, “What” as she timidly returns Sam’s embrace.
Steve raises his hands and mouths back, “I don’t know.”
"You’re home a little late, love."
Sam's practically bouncing with excitement. "I was hanging out with friends after school, then I got a ride home." She bites her lip nervously then starts grinning again. "On a motorcycle."
Steve glares at Peggy.
"Oh my God. I need to fix my makeup." Sam wraps Peggy in another hug before running down the hall.
Steve and Peggy stare at each other for several long seconds, then Peggy tilts her head looking even more confused. "Wait, Sam, why?"
As she trails after Sam, there's a knock at the door. Steve opens the door to see a sixteen-year-old Tony Stark with bright red lipstick smudged on his collar standing on the front porch.
“Son of a-”
Burn the Ships (Chapter 1)
Summary: It’s been over a year since the Avengers reversed The Snap. You still remember getting the call from Nat saying they had a plan. It was a long shot, but if it worked, they needed someone to be prepared for the world’s population to double instantly.
That’s how you first met Bucky. It started slow. So slow, in fact, you were certain there was nothing there. Until there was.
Pairings: Bucky Barnes x Reader
*Originally posted on AO3* You can read the prequel to this story here.
It’s been over a year since the Avengers reversed The Snap. You still remember getting the call from Nat saying they had a plan. It was a long shot, but if it worked, they needed someone to be prepared for the world’s population to double instantly. Having worked your way to the top of the Stark Relief Foundation, you were the first person to step in after the Snap. You helped Nat account for the remaining Avengers, Steve set up counseling sessions, the UN organize a world census, and most everything else in the immediate aftermath. In fact, five years later, you joked with Nat that you were just starting to get your weekends back. But you were the only person who could possibly prepare for what would essentially be a global refugee crisis in a few weeks. These people had lost their homes, their families, their jobs. They would need to rebuild their lives, and that would take time.
Your highly sophisticated rehabilitation process included specialized teams around the world to ensure the strongest members of society- the firefighters, policemen, soldiers, Avengers- got the help they needed. You knew first-hand from working with Tony that people like that didn’t stop to help themselves, and no one made them. In fact, your main motivation in reaching out to Steve to lead the New York effort was to force him to participate in therapy. He’d never go to therapy, but he’d help in any way he could. He was one of your weekend meetings. Every Sunday. For five years. It was no surprise when he came to you after the Battle of Earth and explained his plan to stay in 1945. Well, the plan was a surprise. But you weren’t surprised that he asked you to watch out for Sam and Bucky. You didn’t even have to consider it.
That’s how you first met Bucky. It started slow. So slow, in fact, you were certain there was nothing there. Until there was. You thought for weeks that he and Sam were together. The way they argue, it’s still hard to believe they’re not. Sam offered to help as soon as he walked through the door, just like Steve said he would. You insisted he take care of himself first, and when your volunteers started to run thin, you’d welcome his help. Bucky didn’t speak to anyone besides Sam for a month. Not that you could blame him. You’d read his file (you’d read all their files). He’d been the Winter Soldier for seventy years, snapped out of it only to be put back under. He’d only been awake for two weeks when he turned to dust. He had no idea what to think.
Now, you were the one who had no idea what to think. When Steve (Mr. Rogers, as you liked to tease him ever since he got back) said he was too tired to go to the movie you had been wanting to see, he insisted Bucky take you. You were pretty sure he just wanted to force Bucky to make new friends, but it didn’t really matter. After the movie, Bucky drove you home and walked you to the door, just as he would have in 1945. But when you opened your door, he pulled you back and kissed you so hard you couldn’t think straight for days.
That was six months ago.
“I know you grew up in a different time, but goddamn!” You almost laugh, but hold it in. “You could not have possibly gone this slow before.”
He’s barely touched you since. Now, after spending over an hour holding hands and watching Netflix on his couch, it boils over. You know he saw it coming. He could tell something had been bothering you for a while. There’s no way he missed that, even if he is the most oblivious man you’ve ever met.
He groans, rubbing his hands across his face. “I didn’t.”
If nothing else, at least he’s not a liar.
“Then what the hell?!” Your anger turns into pleading, “Bucky, I want to move forward.”
“And I want to let this go.” He growls avoiding eye contact.
“That’s not fair.” You shake your head. “We’ve let it go for months.”
“No,” he scoffs, “just because we haven’t talked about it, doesn’t mean you’ve let it go.”
You lean away from him. “What the hell does that mean?”
“You keep pushing. Throwing yourself at me whenever we’re alone.”
“I would hardly call laying in your lap ‘throwing myself at you,’” you laugh.
“Fine, but my point stands.” He brushes hair out of his face. “You haven’t let it go.”
“You haven’t kissed me in six months!”
“Yes, I have.”
“Once.” You level your gaze at him. “On the cheek.”
He raises his eyebrows and tosses his hands in the air as if his victory is obvious.
"We're not in middle school." You slide over next to him, resting a hand on his knee. “Can’t we make out?”
He doesn’t react.
“I know you want to. I remember the way you kissed me that night.”
“I should’ve pulled you into my apartment, pushed you onto the couch, and-”
“No.” He snaps his head up, looking you in the eye. “You shouldn’t have.”
“Bucky, please,” your begging becomes more desperate, “I’m trying to understand, but I need something. I’m not asking to-”
“Then find someone else because I can’t.” He stands and walks into the kitchen, leaning against the counter.
You look at your hands and swallow hard. You can’t do this anymore. You need real connection and human contact. Your job takes too much energy to spend your free time with someone who doesn’t care enough to even try. You stand up and walk to the door.
“You’re unbelievable.” And you leave.
“Really, Steve, thank you.” You take a stack of folders from the old man sitting across the table from you.
“I may be retired, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help.” He waves his hand in the air. “Even if it is just paperwork.”
You grin. “Well, ‘just paperwork’ is the biggest help.”
“How are things going? You look terrible.”
“Thanks, grandpa.” You shake your head and hand him a new stack of folders. “Busy as ever. You would not believe the hoops I have to jump through.”
He raises an eyebrow in challenge.
You snicker, “Alright, maybe a little.”
“There was too much red tape before the Sokovia Accords,” Steve chuckles.
Steve’s door opens, and your laughter stops short. Bucky nods.
“I’d love to stay and catch up, but my schedule is packed today.” You gather your things and turn to the door. “James.” You slink past him, careful not to touch him at all.
As you shut the door, you hear Steve. “What happened there?”
That’s the million dollar question. What would Bucky tell him about last night’s events? Not the truth, certainly. He doesn’t tell anyone the truth. Not all of it.
The next month passes in a whirl. You see Bucky around the rehabilitation center with Sam or when you stop by to visit Steve. After the first week, he talks to you like nothing happened. Ever. Like you’re old friends. Never anything more. And maybe you weren’t. Maybe that’s why he was so upset when you pushed him.
But it doesn’t matter. You don’t have time to guess what he was thinking or wish it had ended differently. The excitement of everyone’s return is wearing off. Volunteers are burning out faster than they can be replaced. Donations have all but dried up. Governments are tightening passport, visa, and citizenship laws, making it nearly impossible for some people to get home or find work. You’ve been in meeting after meeting for thirty-seven hours straight trying to find solutions. And, today, you’re flying to Sokovia to get a firsthand look at their progress.
The Sokovians have had a rough decade. They were still recovering from the Ultron massacre when half their population disappeared, and now all those people are back. According to reports, they are not handling it well.
As you walk through the rehabilitation center to go home to shower and pack your bag, you hear that familiar voice.
“Hey, can we talk?”
You slow and turn around. “What, Bucky? I really don’t have time.” You must really look like shit because he isn’t taken aback in the slightest.
Technically, according to your “Healing Heroes” program, you have to have time to sit down with any top tier survivors who want to talk. The Avengers, for example.
“Do you want to go out again some time?”
You take a deep breath. “You know what I want.” You turn back around and take another step toward the door.
“Can we go out again sometime soon?”
You stop, a million thoughts running through your mind and not one of them about Sokovia. Okay, maybe one.
You rub your eyes and turn to face him once more, smiling. “I leave for Sokovia in three hours. If the reports are true, I honestly don’t know when I’ll be back.”
“Sokovia?” His face tightens. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
You shrug, tossing your arms out. “They need help too, and no one else is doing it.”
“Maybe I should come.” He looks at the floor before meeting your eyes again. “You could use extra security.”
You feel yourself soften. He always cared too much. “You know I can’t hire you.”
“Volunteer, then.” He smirks.
You raise an eyebrow. “You know that’s not what I mean.”
He nods and stuffs his hands in his pockets. “Conflict of interest and all that.”
“Buck,” you shake your head, “you haven’t gone through any of the steps for clearance. Have you even set the first appointment with a counselor? Been to a single group session?”
He drops his gaze again and goes silent.
“Work on the checklist. We can talk when I get back.”
He nods slowly, and you head home.
You resist the urge to drop onto your couch when you walk into your apartment. You know you’ll never get back up if you do. Instead, you strip off your clothes as you head to your bedroom, leaving a trail behind you. The floor is relatively clear; Jack must have come by and taken your clothes to the cleaner’s. Your suspicion is confirmed when you find your fresh dry cleaning on your bed next to your suitcase.
You let out a deep breath. It’s easy to understand how Tony fell for Pepper. He’s technically security, but you’d probably forget to eat if Jack didn’t leave sandwiches on your desk between meetings.
You take a quick shower and sort through your clean clothes while your hair dries. You have several freshly pressed skirt suits and two pairs of slacks. You pack two sets of heels, a pair of flats, and tennis shoes. You also choose a few sets of workout clothes and some jeans. After packing up your toiletries, you close your suitcase and begin filling a backpack with your work equipment. Laptop, files, tablet, migraine medication, and caffeine tablets.
Just as you finish there’s a knock at the door before Jack walks in.
“You ready to go?”
You smile as you drag your bags to the door. “Yeah, do we have time to stop for food?”
“Smoothie in the fridge.” He winks. “And I grabbed you a salad on the way over. It’s in the car.”
He takes your suitcase as you open your refrigerator. You grin as you take your tumbler from the middle shelf and take a sip. Strawberry mango. Perfect.
“Did you put-”
“Protein powder and chia seed? Yep.”
“What would I do without you?”
“Starve.” He says matter-of-factly. “But not before you got yourself shot.”
“First thing I’m doing when our federal funding gets renewed is giving you a raise.” You sling your backpack over your shoulder and follow Jack out the door.
“So, you and Barnes back together?”
“What?” You nearly drop your keys before you can lock the door.
“Sorry, not my business.” He takes a step back as you turn around. “Just saw you talking on your way out today.”
You snicker, “Do I have time in my schedule to date, Jack?”
“Not Barnes.” He presses the button for the elevator.
“What does that matter?”
“He’s…” Jack hesitates, “more damaged than most.”
“Yes.” You rub your burning eyes.
“He needs a relationship that can focus on him.” Jack sighs, “You just don’t have that kind of time.”
You nod, chewing at the inside of your cheek. It was an angle you hadn’t considered. Maybe the reason he never opened up to you was because you didn’t give him the attention he needed. He deserves a chance to heal from all that trauma. He needs to feel like he belongs again.
Picking Up The Pieces
Summary: Immediate aftermath of I The Snap, then jumps ahead to after the Thanos mission. Reader runs the Stark Relief Foundation and finds herself coping at the bar with Steve.
Warnings: Smut 18+, Language, Drinking to Cope, Psychological Trauma/PTSD
*Originally posted on AO3* Prequel to Burn the Ships
Sirens fill the air. The sounds of shattering glass and crumbling concrete settle into the chaos. The phone ringing in your ear is a bittersweet distraction. Your building miraculously remained intact. You bite your nails as you stare out the floor to ceiling windows at the flames licking up the side of the office building across the street. You don’t know how it happened. You don’t really care. You can see a bus sticking out of the side of the corner diner. Traffic is a mangled hunk of crushed metal and people.
“Clint, fuck,” you gasp. “Thank God. No one else is answering. Do you have any idea where anyone else is?”
“No, I-” His voice is cold and distant. “I don’t know what happened. I was- Lila was just here. And Laura and-”
“Shit.” You turn around the conference room. Alone. Anyone who was still there when their coworkers disintegrated made a beeline for the door. “Clint, I- I’m sorry.”
“They’re gone.” His statement is hollow. “I don’t know what happened, but they’re gone."
“I’m not sure either.” You drag a hand down your face. “A lot of people are gone.”
“Call Steve.” And the line goes silent.
“Great idea, Clint,” you mutter to yourself, voice growing to a yell. “If only I’d fucking thought of that!”
You immediately dial Pepper’s number. No answer, so you redial and redial again. Finally, you hear her breathless greeting.
“Thank God.” You take a deep breath. “Pep, Tony isn’t answering.”
“He’s a little out of the service area.” She lets out a whimper. “I hope.”
“No, no, no.” You run your hand through your hair and glance at a pile of ash. “He didn’t get on that sh-”
“Of fucking course, he did,” she yells. “I don’t know what to do.”
“There’s a lot of that going around.” Your fingers trail through the dust. “I got to go.”
You don’t wait for her response before hanging up. Tony’s gone. Clint’s out of commission. Steve and company are MIA. Your legs shake as you stumble into the wall.
“What the fuck is happening?” you breathe, sliding to the floor. “What the fuck?”
You wrap your arms around yourself, leaning your head against the wall. This isn’t real. It can’t be.
You exit the elevator and trudge through the main lounge. That’s where Tony kept the good booze. You walk through the door, surprised to find Steve hunched over the bar top. He still has on his royal blue rash guard and uniform pants from the mission.
“Tony’s awake.” Your voice is flat.
He nods, not even glancing over his shoulder. “Good.” He throws his head back, finishing his drink. “That’s good. Sure he doesn’t want to see me, though.”
You take the stool beside him and let out a dry laugh. “Using your super-perception?”
“Common sense.” He leans over the counter and picks up another glass, setting it in front of you. “I’d hate to send him back into shock.”
“Steve, that wasn’t-”
“I know.” He fills your glass with top shelf bourbon. “Just trying to lighten the mood, I guess.”
“You gave it a fair swing.” You smile into your glass.
Silence sits heavily between you. Both of you staring into your drinks, neither of you even taking a peek at the other. You take the bottle from Steve and refill your glass.
“You-” You let out a shaky breath. “You’re going to fix it, right?”
He drains his glass and raps his knuckles on the counter before refilling his glass and draining it again. He tosses his head with a hiss. “Honestly, we just played our last card.”
“No,” you breathe, eyes snapping to his face, “you – you’re an Avenger – the Avenger. This is what you do.”
“We’re out of options.” He fills his glass and tops yours off without looking at you. “There’s no new plan, and I don’t have even an inkling of an idea.”
“Steve,” you watch his fingers circle the top of his glass, “the Director’s gone.”
His knowing eyes meet yours. “I’m sorry.”
“I now run the most expansive relief organization on the planet.” Your voice shakes as you continue. “Which is daunting enough under normal circumstances.”
“Tell me about it.” He raises his glass and takes another sip.
You set your jaw. “Right now, I’m more powerful than the President.”
“Yeah,” he sighs. “I know.”
After downing his drink, he finally looks up, meeting your wide eyes.
“So,” you take a long swallow from your glass, “this is it?”
“I wish I had another answer for you.” He shakes his head. “Really fucking wish I did.”
You rest your hand on top of his. “You did more than any of us possibly could.”
He nods, lifting the cup to his lips. You notice the red rim around his eyes and wonder if it’s the loss or the liquor. He clears his throat and takes another drink.
“Tony’s never going to get over Peter.” You pinch the bridge of your nose.
He closes his eyes slowly and draws a deep breath. “Has anyone told his aunt?”
You shake your head. “No need.”
“Shit,” he whispers. “T’challa's gone. Sam too. And-” He drops his head and drags his hand through his hair.
“My roommate,” you add. “My assistant, head of logistics, most of my security detail.”
You both fall into a heavy, though comfortable silence. Three weeks of mind-numbing pain take their toll. You train your eyes on your swirling glass, the amber liquid nearly sloshing over the edges. Steve stares at the wall of bottles behind the bar. You both lost so much and shoved it all so far down for so long. His harsh sniff draws you out of your head. His distant eyes well up, tears threatening to spill over. You hardly recognize each other with your stoic, confident masks crumbling to pieces. Exhaustion and defeat breaks through the cracks.
“I lost Bucky.” His voice is barely above a whisper. “Again.”
“Steve,” your voice cracks.
That’s the third time, now. Fourth if you count cryo in Wakanda. Fifth if you count Azzano. Your own eyes cloud over as you run through the faces of people you lost. Friends, coworkers, former classmates, even distant acquaintances. You drop your face into your hands, shoulders shaking.
“Hey, come here.” Steve’s voice is gruff as he pulls you into his chest. “It’ll be alright. I don’t know how, but we’ll figure it out.”
You curl your fingers into his shirt, tugging at the fabric. “Steve,” you choke out, “I don’t know-”
“It’s alright,” he soothes resting his cheek on top of your head. He tightens his grip around your back. “I don’t either.”
“I watched them,” you gasp. “They just- they just – oh, God.”
Steve nods, resting his chin on your head. “He was right in front of me. I tried to grab him,” he chokes. “Like it would’ve changed a goddamn thing. Like I could’ve stopped it.”
Steve tries to hold it together. You hear the choking sounds in his throat. Your damp hair gives away his tears, an occasional stray drop falling over your forehead. As your shudders ease, you flatten your palms against Steve’s chest. When he straightens up, clearing his throat, you lean back and cup his face in your hands. You search his puffy eyes and lick your lips. Tapping his cheek, you offer a half smile and turn your eyes to the ceiling, squelching the rest of your tears.
“Can we just – can we pretend the last month never happened, and it’s just a Friday night, and we’re meeting up after a rough week?” Your eyes mist over as they search his. “And the whole world isn’t waiting for me and you to put it back together? Just for tonight.”
Steve clears his throat. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard since the Accords.”
You stand and skirt around the bar to stand behind the counter. You set two shot glasses on the bar top and turn to skim the shelves. “Know any drinking games, Captain Rogers?”
“Just drinking as much as fast as we could.” He shrugs. “That quarter game, we had a version of that.”
“That settles it.”
You grab a bottle of beer from the cooler and pop the top on the edge of the counter. You roll the cap between your fingers and press the bottle to your lips. After a small sip, you slide the bottle to Steve and fill the shot glasses with the remaining bourbon.
“Finish that up.” Your eyes flick to the beer in Steve’s hand. “You need a good head start. Then we’ll play.”
Steve tips the bottle up, chugging the rest. Slamming it down, he holds out his open hand. You press the bottle cap into his palm and slide an empty shot glass between you. After twenty minutes and several shots each, you switch to flip cup.
“This one is a race, Steve,” you giggle. “Maybe you’ll be better at it.”
“What are you getting at” He takes his final shot.
“Super speed, right?” You raise an eyebrow and pour whiskey into a dozen plastic cups.
He smirks, “Something like that.”
You slide the cups to the edge of the counter and make your way around the bar. Steve divides the drinks in half and waits for you to settle beside him.
“You understand the rules?” You grin.
He nods and sinks into a focused crouch. His shirt clings to his muscles, showcasing his pure strength.
You snicker at his antics and face the drinks. “Your mark, Cap.”
When he yells “go,” you both lunge forward, downing the first cup. You hiss and shake your head before flipping your cup. Steve is already lifting his second drink. You’re both tipsy enough to send cups flying in every direction. The humor of the game distracts you both from the weight of your new reality. When your fourth cup hits Steve in the nose, you collapse against the bar in fits of laughter. He calmly finishes his last drink and turns the cup upside down, glaring at you.
“I win,” he pants, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. “Finish your drinks.”
He extends a hand and pulls you up. You stagger to your feet, landing against his chest. He wraps his arm around your waist, stumbling back, and chuckles into your hair. You push away from him and lean against the bar.
“I believe,” you sway as you lift your cup, “you’re handling your liquor much better than I am, Captain.”
“If I take another shot, would that make you happy?” He steadies you with a hand on your back.
You narrow your eyes at him, finishing your last drink. “Two.”
He pours and downs two shots and raises his eyebrows at you, leaning heavily on the bar. “What’s next?”
You level your eyes with his. “Dirty Pint?”
“I’m sorry?” he chuckles.
You stumble around the bar and begin pulling bottles from the shelves. You pour a shot of each into a pint glass until it’s full nearly to the brim. You fish the bottle cap out of a glass and eye Steve.
“Heads or tails?” You flip the cap into the air and watch it fall.
As it spins on the counter, you hold your breath.
“Oh, thank fuck.” You let out the breath when the cap lands right side up. “All yours.”
He takes the glass reluctantly and holds it out before taking a sip. His eyes glitter at your amused expression. The hazy lighting blurs everything but Steve, giving him an enchanting glow.
“Bottoms up,” you grimace.
Slamming the glass down, he swallows hard before coughing and sticking his tongue out. “Fuck, that was awful.”
“Think you’re on my level now,” you mumble. “Shots.”
Steve moves the shot glasses toward you and nods. You take another whiskey bottle from the shelf and fill each glass. “Let’s make it interesting.”
Steve raises an eyebrow.
“A little game of bullshit.” The wrinkles in his forehead deepen. “I tell you a secret, and you have to guess if it’s true. Loser takes a shot.”
He nods slowly and drags his shot glass across the counter. “Okay, shoot.”
You run your tongue across your teeth, humming quietly. “I’m adopted.”
“We all know that’s true,” he scoffs, leaning back.
A smirk spreads over your face. “Drink.”
His mouth drops open. “No, no, no. You were-”
“I was never adopted.” You tap the counter next to his shot glass.
“Well, fuck.” He holds the glass out and tosses his head back. “My turn?”
You nod, pouring him another shot.
“I have an art degree.”
You consider the sketchbooks you’ve seen in his apartment and the paintings on the walls. “True.”
He shakes his head, nudging your glass toward you. “Dropped out when the war started.”
As the night wears on, you learn several more shocking secrets about each other, and a few more mundane facts. Steve’s first job was a newspaper boy. You once shaved the neighbor’s cat on a dare. Birds weird Steve out. You played the clarinet in middle school. Bucky convinced Steve to bring him to art class as a model.
You take your shot, cackling. “Did you paint him like one of your French girls, Steve?”
He pinches his eyebrows together but can’t stop himself from laughing along. Steve calls your bluff about modeling nude for an art class in grad school but takes a shot to learn the name of the Art History major who had the pleasure. Peggy caught Steve lip locked with some high-level secretary. The questions get racier as the liquor goes down.
“I slept with Tony.” Your glassy eyes meet his.
Steve pauses, eyes clearing while he groans. “Please be a lie.”
You raise your eyebrows and push a shot glass toward him.
“Fuck. Really?” He shakes his head before swallowing the gulp of whiskey.
“Let’s call it desperation and move on.”
He smiles, slurring his words. “Peggy was my first.”
You scoff, “Tony was not- oh. Oh shit.” You grin. “I’m pretty sure the entire country knows that’s true.”
Your jaw drops. “Little Steve had some game?”
“Some,” he chuckles. “Exactly three nights worth.”
“Who?” You set your glass down much harder than you meant to.
“Girl from my art class, and it’s going to cost you another shot.” He slides his glass across the counter. “High school valedictorian.” As you tip the glass up, Steve gives you a devilish grin. “And Bucky’s cousin.”
You cough, spraying whiskey over the bar. “What?”
Steve’s eyes glimmer. “He wasn’t real happy about it.” He wobbles as he stands to get a towel.
“Jesus, Steve.” You grin so wide your cheeks hurt.
After mopping up the counter, he rests his elbows on top. “Your turn.”
You chew on your bottom lip, clumsily refilling your shots. When you plant your hands on the counter, you lock eyes with Steve, wiggling your eyebrows.
“You look ridiculous,” he laughs.
“Stop it,” you snicker, unsuccessful in your attempt to control yourself. With a deep breath, you compose yourself. “I used to be a dominatrix.”
He studies your face, squinting into your eyes. “No way.”
A lopsided smile spreads on your face, Steve’s flushed face goes pale.
He swallows his whiskey and groans. “Peggy talked me into a threesome.”
You bite the tip of your tongue, eyes glinting. “I can definitely see that.”
“Fuck.” Steve cradles his head in a hand, reaching for the shot glass. “I don’t remember ever being this drunk, even when I was half your size.”
“That’s why you don’t remember it, Rogers,” you giggle. “I’ll settle for you taking your shirt off.”
He stares at you, eyes widening slowly.
“Come on, Steve,” you beg. “I just want to look.”
“What the hell,” he sighs and pulls his shirt over his head.
You lose your breath at the sight of his chiseled chest. He grins back, oblivious to your rising heartrate. You swallow hard and nod, signaling him to take a turn.
A few questions later, the whiskey bottle is empty and Steve is left in his rash guard shorts. You sway in your bra and jeans, picking out a new drink. You take a handle of tequila and two lime wedges. Setting them both on the bar top, you grab the bowl of salt and return to Steve’s side, gripping the edge of the counter for balance. You pour the shots and look at Steve.
You lick the back of your hand and sprinkle it with salt. He pinches his eyebrows together, watching you pick out a lime wedge. You make a show of licking the salt, taking the shot, and biting your lime. He scoffs and shakes his head.
“If that’s how you want to do it, doll.” He turns to you and holds out his hand. “Show me.”
You lick the back of his hand, watching his reaction through your eyelashes. His already flushed cheeks turn crimson as his breath hitches. After sprinkling the salt on, you raise his hand to his face. He tosses the tequila back and opens his eyes to see you holding a lime in front of his face.
“See,” his lips brush your fingers as he bites the lime, “not how I remember Peg teaching me in France.”
You tilt your head, heat coursing through your veins from the touch of his lips. “What do you remember?”
“I don’t know,” his sly grin steals your breath. “She probably wouldn’t like me showing you.”
“Probably wouldn’t like seeing you shitfaced either.” You give him a once over. “I think we’re past Peggy.”
Leaning over the bar to pick out more limes, he gives you an excellent view of his musculature. You draw your bottom lip between your teeth watching his abs ripple with every movement. He turns back to you, goofy grin in place, blush deepening, and pours a shot.
He tips your head to the side and rubs the lime up your neck. “Open.”
You drag your bottom lip between your teeth before opening your mouth. His fingers skim across your cupid's bow as he wedges the slice of lime in your teeth.
Layering salt over your neck, he glances at you, watching your pupils dilate. Holding you by the chin, he draws his tongue up your neck. You can’t help but smile at the chills he leaves behind. After taking the shot, his eyes land on your mouth for the lime.
The second your lips touch, Steve’s hands at your waist pull you closer. Your hands linger at his hips, grazing his soft skin with your fingertips. His tongue traces the curve of your lips, sending your head reeling. When he finally sinks his teeth into the skin of the lime, you pull away gasping for air. You grin up at him, plucking the lime from between his teeth.
“Captain America did body shots?” You lean back, falling against the bar.
He catches you with a hand at your waist. “Pour another, and I’ll show you a body shot,” he says, voice husky.
When you top off the shot glass, you turn back around, jumping at Steve’s sudden proximity. He wraps his hands around your arms, licking up your chest, and leaves a trail of salt. Tracing his tongue up the same trail, he takes the glass from the counter, swallowing hard. You fumble with the container of limes behind the bar when Steve grabs your chin.
“Forget the fucking lime.” His lips collide with yours before you can disagree.
Your fingers knot in his short hair as he lifts you onto the counter. Your mouths press together, tongues tangling sloppily. His hands roam your body, exploring every inch of exposed skin and quickly dipping under the back of your waistband. The room swirls as you gasp for air, chest heaving against Steve’s.
Muted liquor stings your nose with every hoarse gasp. Your senses swim in alcohol, suspending reality around you. Steve’s warmth is the only feeling on your skin aside from the electric thrill shooting out from his touch. Your jumbled thoughts battle for your attention. Your mind races from Tony to work to loss to Steve. You always land on Steve and the knot of need in your stomach.
You lock your ankles around his back when he sways, and he grasps tightly onto your hips. His nip at your neck, steals your last breath and leaves you moaning for more. You toss your head back and brace yourself against the counter, knocking an empty whiskey bottle over. A swallow of liquor splashes at Steve’s feet as shards of glass spray across the floor.
“You’re going to tear the house down,” Steve pants, lifting you from the marble.
You grind your hips against his, growling. “You have no idea.”
He stumbles, slamming your back against the wall. “You can’t fucking talk like that.” His husky whisper tickles at your ear.
The world tumbles before it fades away. You bring Steve’s face back to yours and tug his bottom lip between your teeth, heat building in your core. His fingers dig into your thighs, his hips pinning you tightly to the wall. Your teeth collide with every kiss, both your depth perceptions completely distorted. Your nails dig into his back, and his stubble scratches along your chest and cleavage.
“Are you going to take me to bed?” You arch your back off the wall, leaning into Steve’s chest. “Or does Captain America always fuck in the living room?”
Steve braces himself against the wall, one hand on either side of your head, breathing heavily. “When I get my legs back under me.”
As evidence, his head falls, knocking into your cheek. You both let out a chuckle, and he hoists you up and carries you down the hall. His fingers work at the hooks of your bra, dropping it to the floor as he kicks his door shut. You paw at his shorts, wiggling them over his hips, and he steps out of them as he drops you onto the bed. His hungry eyes scan your body, drinking in the sheen coating your skin.
The heat of his gaze has you writhing on his bed, twisting your fingers into his sheets. “Steve,” you whine desperately.
With a faint smirk, he turns his attention to your jeans, popping the button easily. His speed and strength consume the last of your attention. When his hands skim up your curves, you nearly come undone in his arms. You drag him to the bed and roll on top of him, turning his chortle into a throaty gasp. Your lips twitch into a devious grin, and your hands spread over Steve’s chiseled muscles.
“The things I’ve wanted to do to you.” Your eyes spark.
Steve’s shoulders pinch together, arching his back off the mattress. You grind your hips down, rubbing yourself against his thigh, and moan at the friction.
He bucks his hips, your name falling from his lips, and flips you over. His hand wraps around your thigh, hitching your knee up to his hip, and lines himself up. Your quiet whimper stops him from pressing fully into you. His brow furrows, and he studies your face.
“I’m fine,” you breathe. “Just dehydrated.”
His breathing hitches, and he pulls away, sliding down your body. He drops a kiss under your belly button and brushes his lips down your stomach. You buck your hips to meet his lips and whine out a stream of curses with his name somewhere in the middle. He hums his appreciation against your thigh and runs his tongue along your folds.
“Jesus Christ.” Heat pools in your core, and you grind your hips down.
He sinks his teeth into your thigh, groaning when you suck in a raspy breath. As he climbs back over you, you push him over and settle on top of him.
“Better?” Steve sighs as you ease yourself down onto him, and swallows hard. “You’re so fucking tight.”
“Three weeks sweeping up a global genocide doesn’t leave much room for recreation.” You clench your thighs around Steve’s waist and gasp when he flinches. “God, Steve.”
A smirk tugs at his lips. “Super-soldier, remember?”
You let out a slow moan, tossing your head back. “God bless America.”
“I think you’re missing a ‘Captain,’” he chuckles, running his hands up your sides to your breasts.
You whimper at him and roll your hips. A shadow falls over Steve’s eyes, making your heart race. Heat rushes to your face, and your pulse beats between your legs. Steve’s hips grind into yours, brushing against your clit. Your eyes roll, jumbled thoughts spinning faster.
“Fuck me,” you rake your fingers down Steve’s chest, “Captain.”
He pulls himself up to lean against the headboard, nudging at your sweet spot. You fall forward breathless and drop your head to Steve’s shoulder. He growls into your ear and lifts your hips, easing out. When you whimper at the loss, he nips along your collarbone and thrusts back into you. The coil in your belly tightens, and your muscles tense. He grins, pressing into you again, and brings a hand between your legs to rub soft circles over your clit.
You gasp erratically, reality flickering away. “If you keep doing that – I’m going to –”
Steve grabs at your ass, using the leverage to deepen his thrusts and knocking you off balance. You brace yourself against the headboard, rutting your hips against him and bursting the tension in your muscles. You bite back a squeal, groaning into the crook of Steve’s neck instead. Your hands fall to his shoulders, digging crescents into his skin, and your hair tickles your cheek.
His grip tightens, and his hands run up your back, sending chills down your spine. Your muscles tense under his fingertips, his relentless pace winding you back up. He wraps your hair around his hand and tilts your head back, attacking your neck. His cool inhale blows over your sweat-slickened skin, and tingles dance down your chest. You take his head between your hands and pull his face to yours, leaving a hot kiss on his mouth.
Steve lurches to meet your lips, parting them hungrily. His tongue darts over your lips and dips into your mouth before he bites your bottom lip. You groan into his mouth, muscles weakening by the second, the tangle of need tightening in your hips. His lips trail down your neck to your collarbone and across your breasts.
You drop your head back and drive your hips into his, panting. “Fuck. Don’t stop.”
The fluid movements of your hips turn to erratic jolts and involuntary bucks. Your face tightens with the coil deep in your stomach. Steve’s arms wrap around your back, pressing you to his chest, and bites into the crook of your neck. The warmth of his skin on yours leaves your head a chaotic mess.
With another thrust, you come undone, collapsing into his steady embrace. Your deep breath fans over his shoulder, and your eyes flutter closed. As the room settles, Steve nips at your earlobe. He sends the world spinning again as he flips you to your back.
“Steve,” you choke, arching off the mattress, “I can’t – fuck yes.”
He hooks his elbows under your knees and snaps your hips together. “Think you got one more for me?”
“Bite me again.” You squirm under him, moaning with every movement.
Steve grins, turning his head, and presses his lips to your calf. His teeth scrape over your skin before digging into your muscle. The gentle ache spreads over your leg, pulling another groan from your chest. You press your hands into the headboard and brace yourself against his pounding. His powerful legs slam his hips to yours with staggering force. His strong hands dig into your flesh, and he grits his teeth, tossing his head to the side. He bites into your other calf with surprising tenderness.
He plunges into you forcefully, tipping you over the edge once more. As the room crashes down, Steve’s grip around your thighs tighten and his strained grunts filter into your hazy mind until everything goes quiet. You stretch your stiff legs and curl them carefully around Steve. When you open your bleary eyes, his goofy grin hovers over you.
“Fuck,” he breathes, dropping his forehead to yours.
You chuckle and pat his cheek. “You’re adorable.”
He leans in, but you turn away, and his lips brush over your cheek, leaving a light kiss in their wake.
“Don’t,” you whisper.
After carefully untangling your legs, he drops onto the bed beside you still breathing heavy. “I must have been doing something wrong before.”
You shrug. “Well, you did it very right just now.”
“My head is still spinning.”
“You’re just drunk,” you cackle.
“That’s new.” He hums an agreement, glancing around the room. “I don’t even know whose suite this is anymore.”
You swat his chest and raise an eyebrow. “Steven Rogers, did you just fuck me in someone else’s bed?”
“It used to be mine,” he says, holding up his hands. “I don’t know what I was thinking – really wasn’t, I guess.”
“You’ve never gotten plastered and hooked up with a stranger. Have you?”
“I –” He closes his mouth. “Not since I had bronchitis and strep throat.”
You raise an eyebrow. “That doesn’t sound smart.”
“Bucky had a theory that a couple shots of vodka would kill the virus.” He shrugs. “And Bucky’s cousin insisted on keeping an eye on me all night.”
“I guess that’s close enough to a stranger.” You shake your head. “You were always good weren’t you?”
He quirks up an eyebrow. “Good at?”
“Being good.” You smack his arm. “Thoughtful, kind…”
“Well, she came down with strep, so,” he shrugs at you, “I guess not too good.”
“That was her choice to make, and you know it.”
His chest rumbles under you with a silent laugh. “I take it you have more experience with drunken hookups than me.”
“It’s fun.” You smirk and wiggle your eyebrows mockingly. “Especially for someone who can’t contract diseases.”
“I don’t think I –”
“My only point was,” you groan, turning onto your side, “it’s not the first strange bed I’ve been in.”
His smile fades as he rolls on his side to face you. “You’re smart, at least, right?”
“Yes, dad.” You roll your eyes
“I’m just saying, this super-soldier thing isn’t contagious,” he says with a chuckle. “You can still get –”
“I’m careful, Steve.” You pat his chest and pull into him shivering.
He wraps his arms around you and rolls onto his back with you on top of him. “I forget what a normal metabolism is like sometimes.”
You snuggle under the blanket Steve covers you with and rub your feet up his legs, snickering. “You’re still wearing socks.”
“My attention was elsewhere.” He watches you rise and fall with his chest.
“And I’m very glad.” You sigh and let your eyes flutter shut.
He wriggles under you and tosses his socks against the wall, somehow managing not to disturb you in the process. You settle against him, absently tracing shapes over his skin. His chest heaves under you, slowly steadying into a peaceful rhythm. As your eyelids droop, you suck in a sharp breath.
His chest vibrates with a hum. His eyes don’t open.
“I’m going to need a lot of help.” You rest your chin on his collarbone and watch his face.
His lips barely move. “For the next six hours, this month didn’t happen remember?”
Your desperation draws his attention, and he turns onto his side, sliding you off his chest. “You know I’ll help however I can.”
You nod slowly. “What if that means handling a whole state?”
“Sounds easier than saving the world.” His lips twitch into a smile.
“Yeah.” You let out breath as you turn over and nuzzle back against him. “Then let’s go back in time again.”
His nose skims through your hair as he snickers. “Happy birthday, kid. Sorry I’m late.”
“Better than never.” Your throat closes as you flash back to a week before Thanos and a week after the surprise party Tony threw at the compound.
You walk into your apartment, exhausted from conference calls and donor meetings. Your heart stops when you see a silhouette staring out your living room window. When he turns around, you almost collapse.
“Steve!” You drop your backpack and rush across the room.
“Happy birthday, kid.” His arms fold around your back. “Sorry I’m late.”
“Better than never.” You pull back and glare at him. “You know, if you subtract the time you were in the ice, we’re basically the same age.”
“Anyone who didn’t see Black Tuesday is a kid.” He rolls his eyes, stepping into your kitchen. “What kind of junk food do you have? We rely entirely on small, local markets now.”
“That depends on how long you’ve got.” You raise an eyebrow. “And if you’re going to start checking in more often.”
His smile falls. “Nat's got the quinjet running in the park around the corner. We can’t stay in the states long. I’m basically already out of time.”
You push past him and begin pulling boxes from your cabinets. “Nat's going to kill me when you hit this sugar high.”
“She’ll get over it,” he snorts, reaching for the desserts.
You drop them into a grocery bag and pull it out of Steve’s reach. “Check. In. More.”
“I don’t ever know where we’re going to be.” He crosses his arms and plants his feet.
“There are aid stations across the world.” You run your tongue across your teeth. “Pick literally any of them. Doesn’t even have to be Stark sponsored – in fact, it’s probably best if it’s not. That was the whole point of the code names.”
“They’ll know me.” He snatches for the bag.
“Send Sam.” You yank your hand away and climb onto the counter. “No one knows him. Give the supervisor your code name and tell them I’ve been looking for you."
“Alright,” he whines. “Just gimme.”
“You know,” you let out a scoff, “you really put the four in a hundred and four.”
“I’m not even a hundred yet.” He rifles through the bag grinning. He looks back up, face softening. “I wish it didn’t have to be like this.”
“Yeah,” you breathe, “and if it wasn’t?”
Something glints in his eyes before his smile falls and sorrow washes over his features. “I guess we won’t know.”
“I’d like to think we will one day.” You reach for a Tupperware container on the counter and pass it to him. “Cake from Tony’s party. You should eat it soon though.”
“I really am sorry I’m late.” He glances down at the box, holding it tightly.
“I know.” You rub his shoulder softly. “I miss you too.”
He looks up to meet your eyes, his face a breath away. “You know I miss you.”
You drag your bottom lip between your teeth, eyes darting to his lips. “You sure you have to go?”
His shoulders fall. “I really do.”
“Tony will probably drop in soon to top off my annual week from hell anyway.”
Steve snickers and turns to the door, smirking when you call him back. “I’ll watch out for them.”
“You left your hat. But take care of yourself too.” You grin, holding out a ballcap. “I’d like to see you again at some point.”
He takes his hat and brushes his thumb over your cheek. “I’d like to see you again too.”
“Does your team know?”
Steve drops his hand and turns the doorknob. “There’s nothing to know.”
You wake up nauseous with a splitting headache and Steve’s arm draped over your stomach. You swallow your cotton mouth and wriggle silently out of the bed, eyeing Steve cautiously. When he groans and turns over, you let out a breath and grab your pants from the floor, dropping them when you notice the broken zipper and button. You sway when the room teeters and slide your bra on. Tiptoeing into the lounge, you snatch Steve’s shirt off the floor and shake the belt off his pants, wincing at the jangle.
“Jesus,” you breathe. “FRIDAY, will you schedule a cleaning service for today?”
The lounge is the epitome of a drunken one-night-stand. Your feet stick to the floor as you dodge the broken glass. Your shirt soaks up rum on the bar top, and you stumble over Steve’s boots as you scoop up your boat shoes. You snap Steve’s belt around the waist, cinching his shirt into a dress. Or, at least, covering all the important parts.
You enter the kitchen and stop short when Nat raises an eyebrow at you.
You clear your hoarse throat. “Girl to girl, can we pretend this didn’t happen?”
“He always had a soft spot for you.” She turns back to her cereal and waves down the hall. “You can borrow some of my clothes. Unless you just enjoy showing off your –”
“Thanks. I’ll look.” You scurry away, face flushing.
You pull on a pair of shorts and one of Nat’s low-cut tank tops before slipping into your own shoes. You leave Nat’s room and catch her voice trailing down the hall.
“She said she had a breakfast meeting.”
“She didn’t mention anything last night.” Steve’s unsteady voice is interrupted by the fridge closing.
“She doesn’t owe you an itinerary.” The annoyance in Nat’s voice is obvious. “I was hoping for a quiet breakfast.”
You take a deep breath and step timidly into the room. “Thanks, Nat.”
Steve shoots her a glare, and she shrugs it off before slinking out of the room.
“We need to talk.” He presses an ice pack to his temple.
You turn to the front door, shaking your head. “No, we don’t. We were drunk.”
“Please.” He dashes across the room and grabs your elbow. “There was more to it, and you know that.”
“There was.” You pull away and open the front door. “There’s not anymore.”
“How can you say that now?” The ice pack crashes into the sink as he watches you leave. “We’ve barely given it a chance.”
You set your sights on your roommate’s car. “It was a drunken mistake, Steve. Nothing else.”
“You’re the one who always wanted to know ‘what if.’” He trails after you, his fingers skimming your hand. “This is it. No more Avengers, no more living underground, no more saving the world. This is our chance at what if – to find out where we really stand.”
You spin around, startling him back a step. “You never answered my calls.”
“When all hell broke loose. I called you over and over.” You pull your eyebrows together.
He suppresses a snort, dropping his hands at his sides. “I was a little busy.”
“I know.” You nod, your voice barely a whisper. “The world was ending, and you were too busy for me.”
“I wasn’t – I didn’t –” He drags his fingers through his hair. “I was –”
“Three days.” Despite your best efforts, your voice cracks.
His face goes blank. “What?”
“I called, and I called, and I worried, Steve.” Tears gather in the corners of your eyes. “People faded to ash, and it took you three days to call me.”
His nostrils flare, and his chest heaves. He clears his throat before speaking again. “I had a lot to figure out.”
“Clint answered on the fourth ring.” You lock eyes with him. “Pepper answered in less than five minutes. Happy made rounds within an hour. We were all scrambling. We made the time.”
“That’s not fair.” He drops his voice, looking at the ground. “I was responsible for my whole team.”
“You’re Captain America,” you nod softly, “and I never held that against you the entire time we were – well, whatever we were. I guess I just assumed when it mattered, I’d at least make your top ten priorities.”
He takes your hand, brushing his thumb over your knuckles. “We have a chance.”
“No, we don’t,” you let out a soft sigh. “One day, the world will need you again, and you’ll go. And I won’t sit on the sidelines waiting for a phone call that won’t come.”
“That won’t –”
“It will.” You drop his hand and cup his face gently. “I don’t need ‘what ifs’ anymore. I know exactly where I stand.”
With that, you say goodbye and kiss his cheek. He locks his jaw as you buckle in and fades away in the mirror as you drive off, gravel crunching under the tires.
5 notes · View notes
Summary: This is what I imagine it would be like if he'd come back with Steve after CA:TWS. This is semi-canon compliant. I just really wanted to write about Bucky being part of the Avengers family.
*Originally posted on AO3* My first Tumblr post. I have no idea what I'm doing.
Bucky groans to himself, reading over the card in his hand. This is why he didn’t play stupid drinking games. Due to the limited availability of Asgardian booze, he and Steve are only allowed one pass every three rounds. Bucky passed on the last round, opting to take a shot rather than sharing his worst nightmare with the group. It could be worse, though. Steve had just spent an entire minute seducing the player to his right, which happened to be Tony. And Tony really knew how to push Steve’s buttons. Bucky almost feels bad for him.
Steve’s the one who roped him into this game. If Thor hadn’t left his liquor behind after the last visit, Bucky wouldn’t have made it this far. Taking a deep breath, he reads the card aloud.
“Let the player directly in front of you sit in your lap for the rest of the game.” He looks up. ”Alright, Nat. Come here.” He unfolds his leg and sits up straight, watching her stand up.
She bites her lip and raises an eyebrow before sauntering over.
It could be worse. He reminds himself, taking a long drag of his whiskey. When she takes a seat on his thigh, he slides a hand around her waist and pulls her closer, shifting underneath her.
“What’s wrong, Barnes?” she chuckles, leaning in closer. “Am I making you uncomfortable?”
Yes. “Not at all,” he growls with smirk. He lets his hand linger on her hip until Barton finishes his poem for Wilson. Uncomfortable isn’t the right word. Disinterested, maybe.
Wilson serenades Hill, who takes a shot instead of sharing her most embarrassing memory from high school. As the game continues around the living room, Bucky shifts again, pushing Nat closer to his knee.
She leans against his chest and whispers, “Sure you’re alright, soldier?”
The corners of his lips twitch as he glances down at her. “I’ve had to pee for twenty minutes, and you’re not helping.”
“Go on. I think I can handle myself,” he snickers, patting his shoulder.
He breaks into a grin. “Yeah, well, you’re cutting off my circulation too. I don’t think I could walk if I wanted to.”
“You are so high maintenance.” She lets out an exasperated sigh. “No wonder you don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Oh, and you’re so laid back?”
“Barnes, I couldn’t be easier.”
He lets out a snort. “Alright, doll.” He presses against her back, signaling her to stand.
When he returns from the bathroom, Sam holds out a full shot glass. “Game's not over.”
Bucky glares at Nat lounging across his armchair. “You’re joking right? It was two minutes.”
Sam raises the glass toward Bucky and shakes his head. Bucky looks around the circle. Nat snickers to herself. Tony grins like an idiot. Steve avoids eye contact.
Clint snatches the shot from Sam and passes it to Bucky. “Rules is rules.”
Bucky points at Sam. “Ass.” He downs the shot and glares at Clint. “Holes.”
Nat moves out of his seat and sits back on his lap.
“No, no, no. I took the shot. You go back to your spot.” Bucky shoos Nat away.
“That’s not how the game works.” Tony wags a finger.
Bucky glances around again.
Steve shrugs. “Rules is rules.”
Bucky finishes off his glass of whiskey and gets up to pour another. On his way to the kitchen, he stops and turns around, Sam has another shot in his hand.
“Just give it here.” No point in arguing. Clearly, no one is going to let him skip out on the “fun.”
The whiskey, as it turns out, was a bad idea. When he leaves for the bathroom after two more rounds, he takes his shot. When he returns, he walks into the middle of “nose goes,” and, of course, loses, forcing him to take a body shot. Off Hill. Neither are thrilled.
Each time a challenge requires him to stand, he takes another shot. When anyone else gets to choose another player to complete a task, they point straight to Bucky. Unless he can figure out a way to keep Nat in his lap, he takes another shot.
They’re not so concerned with the Asgardian liquor supply now.
By the time Hill calls it quits and Pepper has demanded Tony return home, Bucky’s head is swimming. Certainly not drunk, but enjoying himself. It’s entertaining to watch everyone else embarrass themselves, and if watching him
do ridiculous stunts make everyone else happy, then so be it.
“Alright, Romanoff,” Clint gives her a stern look, “last one, make it good.”
She rolls her eyes and leans forward on Bucky’s right thigh to turn the spinner. It lands on dare. Of course. She clears her throat and reads, “Kiss the player directly to your left for thirty seconds.”
She looks across Bucky and smiles at Steve. “Looks like you and me, Captain.”
As she stands, Sam throws a hand in the air. “Not so fast. Nat, would you mind raising your left hand?”
She pulls her eyebrows together, unwinding her left arm from Bucky’s neck. “What?”
Sam cracks a smile. “I believe the card said ‘directly to your left,’ not Buck's.”
Nat glances at her left hand, now resting on Bucky’s shoulder. “Shit.”
Bucky finishes his drink and pulls Nat back down into his lap. “Come here, kitten.” The game’s over. He’s willing to be a good sport. Certainly he can remember something from 1945.
She leans in, closing the distance between them and turns her face to Steve. “You got a timer?”
“Ouch,” Bucky lets out a chuckle. “You know, I used to be pretty good at this.”
“I’m sure.” She snakes her hand behind his head and pulls him back in.
Thirty seconds is a lot longer than he thought. And she’s never been timid. He lets her lead, which is new for him.
His face flushes, and it must be redder than he thinks. When Steve’s watch beeps, Nat pulls away, tugging Bucky’s bottom lip one more time. Steve and Sam stare at them, wide-eyed.
Nat stands up, and Bucky clears his throat. “That’s the game, right?”
As the others nod, he takes his glass to the kitchen. Dropping it in the dishwasher, he proceeds to his room without another word. The bed creaks under his weight as he sinks into the mattress, not bothering to climb under the blankets. He tugs his shirt over his head and drops back. People are exhausting.
He closes his eyes and, before he knows it, wakes up in a cold sweat. Images of Zola and Rumlow and a hundred other scientists and handlers whirl through his mind. He’ll never get away.
Rubbing his face, he pulls himself out of bed and trudges to the kitchen. Absorbed in his memory, he doesn’t notice the light. Nat closes the microwave and turns around, nearly colliding with Bucky.
His hands fly out, grabbing her shoulders before she stumbles backwards. “You know, for an ex-assassin, you’re not very coordinated,” he chuckles.
She taps her fingernails on her mug, her knuckles brushing against his skin. “You know, if you wanted to be close to me, you could just ask.” She raises an eyebrow at him, eyes trailing down his chest until they land on her mug cake.
“Right.” He releases her arms and rubs the back of his neck, noticing for the first time that she’s only wearing an oversized t-shirt. “Sorry. I was- uh- just kind of out of it.”
“Yeah.” She takes a fork from a drawer. “I heard."
He clenches his jaw. “What do you mean?”
“Nightmares like that don’t tend to leave you in a good headspace.” She shrugs, shoving a forkful of cake into her mouth.
“I’m fine.” He clears his throat. “Nothing too bad.”
“You know,” she smirks, “for an ex-assassin, you’re not very good at lying.”
The corners of his lips twitch up and he looks away. “You don’t have to- I don’t expect- I’m fine, really.”
“Relax.” She pats his metal bicep as she skirts around him. “I get them too.”
“No, you-” he shakes his head. “Not like that.”
She narrows her eyes at him from the couch. “Do you remember a man called Ivan Petrovich?” She watches his face tense, nostrils flaring, and nods. “Me too.”
He makes his way around the couch and stands in the middle of the living room. He looks at the floor and rubs his temples before squaring his shoulders and looking in her eyes. “I know you.”
“Like I said, I get them too.” She pats the cushion beside her. “It's why I’m out here eating cake.”
“Then,” he sits hesitantly, “you going to share?”
She holds out her fork, laughing. “Don’t let this get out. I don’t share with everyone.” She leans into his side and turns on Netflix.
“Yeah, well, I don’t cuddle with anyone.” He wraps his arm around her.
“I won’t tell if you won’t.”
After they finish the cake, Nat stretches across the couch, resting her head in Bucky’s lap. He combs his fingers through her hair and props his feet on the coffee table. He focuses on the movement, letting his heartrate slow. As his muscles relax, he sinks into the couch.
Nat doesn’t say a word, just nuzzles against his legs occasionally. Her rhythmic breathing is comforting. The TV screen begins to blur and his head grows heavy. He lifts Nat, careful not to wake her, and maneuvers so he’s laying on the couch with her on top of him. He lets his eyes fall closed and takes a deep breath.
“Hey, Buck.” Nat looks up at him, “did you like that game at all?”
He squints his eyes open, looking at her over his cheekbones. “It was fun.” He waits for her to offer more information. “You seemed to enjoy it pretty well.”
She shrugs. “Yeah, I always like a good family game night.”
“That was not a family game,” he scoffs, tugging gently at a knot in her hair.
She half smiles. “It is when this is the only family you have.”
“Fair enough.” He shifts so he can see her without looking down his nose. “So, you didn’t care much for the game itself?”
She rests her head against his bare chest. “Not particularly.”
“Huh.” He shakes his head. “Figured it was right up your alley.”
“And why's that?”
“I don’t know.” Heat creeps into his cheeks. “You’re always so…”
“So what, Barnes?” She glares.
“You know.” He shrugs and motions to the t-shirt that barely covers her black, lace panties.
“Are you saying I’m easy?”
“I don’t have a clue what you are.” Laughter rumbles from his chest.
She looks up, studying his face. “Do you want to find out?”
She sits up and turns to smirk down at him.
“Nat.” He scoots up to lean against the arm of the couch, bringing them face to face.
“Yeah?” She slides her hands across his chest, pressing her fingers into his skin.
“What are you doing?”
“I have this hunch.” Her eyes trail down his body before meeting his eyes. “You’re not like the rest.”
He stifles a groan as she leans into him. When she nuzzles into his neck, he wraps his hands around her hips, keeping her from moving closer.
“Oh, it’s Romanoff, now?” she whispers before sitting back. She gently takes his face in her hands and locks eyes with him. “Buck- James, I-”
He shakes his head. “Nat, please don’t.”
“No, I need you to know.” They both take a deep breath and a smile breaks across her face. “I’m not interested either,” she snickers, sliding off his lap. “Nothing personal.”
He lets out a shaky laugh and turns to face forward. “How is it not personal? You’re the biggest flirt on the team.”
“That’s how I was trained, Barnes. It’s where I’m comfortable.” She shrugs, looking away. “And also why I have little interest in actually pursuing anything.”
He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and focuses on his hands. “You think you ever will?”
She looks him over, studying his hunched back and labored breaths. She rests a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve been through a lot. Give yourself time to work it out before you worry about anything else.”
“Steve wants me to be alright,” he sighs. “I’m pretty sure he rigged that game somehow.”
“Yeah, he can be a pain that way,” Nat chuckles, “But you’re not.”
“It’s all still in there.” He runs a hand through his hair, leaning back.
“And it will be, maybe forever.” She leans into his side. “Your job is to figure out what ‘normal' is now. Nothing else.”
He slings his arm around her. “What about Steve?”
“Oh, screw Steve.” She waves a hand in the air. “And anyone else who tells you what you need.”
He nudges her elbow. “Is that what you did?”
“No. Barnes.” She jabs him in the ribs. “I told you. Not interested.”
“Alright, alright.” He leans forward to pick up the remote and clicks “still watching.”
He pulls Nat in closer and lets the TV buzz in the background. Nat's right. He has a lot to figure out.
Three episodes roll through, and Nat stands up stretching. “Same time tomorrow?”
He pauses the TV. “I certainly hope not.”
She grins and leaves the room. He’ll see her
again tomorrow night. He’s almost certain.
1 note · View note