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Walk The Fire

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Chapter 1


The tiny brunette stands in the doorway of the retro styled gym for a moment just watching as Steve Rogers "AKA Captain America" pounds the punching bag with all his brute force.  The first time she had seen him in action was a sight to behold.  It was no wonder that men like her grandfather and her boss Agent Coulson were so in awe of him.

“Letting off a little steam I see.”  Gloria watches with mild amusement as Steve startles just a bit at the sound of her voice. 

“Ma’am…I didn’t notice you there.  I suppose I was lost in my memories again.”  Steve walks to his duffle bag and begins to unwrap his hands as Gloria follows him.  He seems more agitated than usual.  His broad shoulders are rigid with unresolved tension.

“Are you up for your lessons today?  I’m sure Agent Coulson won’t mind if we cancel.  I can always come back another day.”  Gloria smiles softly not wanting to further agitate the first avenger.  The tiny Latina has learned to gauge the captain’s moods after spending so much time with the man.

“I’m fine Miss Ria. I just need a moment to clear my head and get cleaned up.” Steve gathers his things and makes his way quickly to the locker room to take a quick shower.  He didn’t like being unkempt when a pretty lady was around and Gloria is a very pretty lady.

Gloria drags a folding table from the corner and two chairs.  She sets them up before laying out several books, magazines and newspaper articles as well as her laptop.  Her boss Agent Coulson has personally asked her to help Steve Rogers acclimate to the new world around him. 

On top of her regular duties as Agent Coulson’s personal assistant, or as Tony Stark likes to refer to her as Phil’s mini Pepper, would now include spending several hours each day taking Steve out of his comfort zone and into the real world as well as catching him up on what has transpired in the years following his crash into the artic.

Steve showers and dresses quickly in his typical slacks and tucked in button up shirt outfit reminiscent of what he use to wear back in the day.  Steve grabs his duffle bag and makes his way back into the spacious gym.  Gloria has already set up the table and chairs and is sitting and reading something on her laptop as she waits for him.

Steve watches her for a moment.  He remembers the day he first met the tiny brunette.  Six weeks ago Commander Fury had stop by to check up on him and Gloria was with him.  She was there to gather any information for Coulson and to get whatever Steve needed to be comfortable in his new life.  She was to handle all his shopping and errands until he felt comfortable enough to make his way out and about in the city.

At first glance Steve thought that S.H.I.E.L.D had sent her to try and mess with his mind.  Gloria looked like those pin up girls in the pictures that his buddies kept in their racks.  Her shapely hour glass figure was hugged perfectly by her black and pink wiggle dress.  A dress aptly named for the way her rounded hips swayed as she walked closer to Steve.

The captain couldn’t take his blue eyes off of her.  She was a living breathing pin up complete with vibrant red lips, soft barrel curls and a large pink orchid placed delicately in her glossy black tresses.  Steve seemed to be mesmerized by the rich honey irises of her large doe eyes lined with a simple black cat eye and framed by thick black lashes that kissed the tops of her rounded cheeks.

Fury promptly interrupted his not so subtle appraisal of the young woman before him.  The intimidating spy made the simple introductions and Steve had still been at a loss for words as he noted the modern touches to Gloria’s retro style.  A small sparkling stud stood out just under the left side of her full pouty red lips, a Monroe piercing she had called it.  The captain had also noted a tattoo of swirling letters adoring her right collar bone.

A bonding moment between herself and her sister.  The simple phrase "Chance made us sisters…love made us friends" etched into the smooth caramel skin on the front of her shoulder.  Gloria just smiled softly as the shock of a lady having ink and piercings on her body was evident on the captain’s handsome face.  Steve had been just as taken aback when she had simply said she had several more in places he was not privy to.

“You sure clean up nice, soldier.” Gloria’s raspy soft voice brings Steve from his thoughts.  A slow smile spreads across his face as the diminutive beauty waves him over to the small card table.

“Sorry for my rudeness earlier.  You look very pretty today Miss Ria.”  Steve enjoys the way Gloria’s face lights up when she smiles. 

The Latina beams and runs her small hands over her soft black and white polka dotted swing dress trying to smooth away any wrinkles.  When she first met Steve she had to assure him that S.H.I.E.L.D was not making her dress this way.  Gloria has always loved the pin up girl and rockabilly style of dressing.  Everyone who has ever met her has always told her she was an old soul. 

“Thank you.  So did you get the chance to look over the books and movies I left you yesterday?”  Gloria knows that the people outside of S.H.I.E.L.D think she is nothing more than a glorified secretary but she takes her job seriously.  Agent Coulson chose her for a reason.

Gloria may look like she belongs as a receptionist at a tattoo parlor but she has a master’s degree in public relations with a minor in world history.  She was top of her graduating class from the University of Buffalo.  While she may not be a genius she certainly has a high enough IQ to stand out and an uncanny ability to handle the weird and unexpected.  This is why when Agent Coulson had been on the lookout for some new recruits to bring to S.H.I.E.L.D he luckily stumbled upon the talented young woman.

Agent Coulson offered her a job starting out as his assistant and eventually being groomed to be the liaison between S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers.  Her job is to make sure when the Avengers are assembled that they are taken care of and kept on task.  Gloria’s first assignment is Captain America.

“Yes Ma’am.  The nineties seem like an interesting time for a swing music revival.”  Steve was pleasantly surprised to discover that the music and style of dance he last remembered had made a comeback.

“Oh…yeah I fell in love with swing after watching Swingers and Swing Kids.  I totally learned how to swing dance in high school because of those movies.  I guess that’s when I started dressing like this too.”  Gloria’s slightly raspy voice always makes Steve’s stomach flip.  She’s an intoxicating mix of modern and vintage.

“I never learned how to dance.”  Steve says with a touch of regret and sadness lacing his words.  Gloria takes in his melancholy face and knows that his mood change has to do with some unfinished business.

“I could teach you if you would like to learn.”  Gloria watches as several emotions play out over Steve’s all American boyish face. 

“I…I would very much appreciate that Miss Ria.”  Steve smiles despite the awful pang in his chest.  The ghost of the woman he once promised his first dance to seems to loom in the back of his mind.

Gloria quickly gets up and takes a sleek smart phone from her black clutch purse and connects it to the small Wi-Fi speakers she brought with her. Steve watches her closely and suddenly the dulcet tones of Moonlight Serenade carry through the spacious gym.

“Glen Miller…I’m surprised.”  Steve stands as Gloria softly strides right up to him.  She’s wearing four inch wedged heeled black Mary Jane’s and she still only reaches the middle of his chest.

“I like all types of music Cap’.  We’ll take it slow and work our way up to full out swing.”  Gloria takes Steve’s large hand in her small one and leads them out to the middle of the gym.  Gloria has to contain her smirk as the fearless Captain America suddenly looks like the shy kid he once been.

Gloria wordlessly takes Steve’s hand and places it gently on her waist.  Steve marvels at how perfectly his hand fits the indent of her soft womanly waistline.  Just as smoothly Gloria takes his other hand in her own small one and places her free hand on his broad shoulder.  As the music softly plays the tiny Latina gently leads Steve in a simple box step.

He follows her movements like an obedient soldier and he stumbles just briefly before his inhuman reflexes catch up with him.  After a few minutes of swaying softly to the music Steve becomes more confident and chances a look down at Gloria.  He can’t help the blush rising in his cheeks as he notices the ample cleavage peeking out from the dip of the neckline of her pretty dress.

Gloria smiles widely at the sheepish look on Steve’s face.  He looks like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  Gloria ignores his bashfulness and places his other hand around her waist and gently lays her head on Steve’s sculpted chest.  They continue to move back and forth as if they were two middle school kids at a dance.

Steve swallows roughly and Gloria can feel his heart racing in his chest.  “You smell really nice…like oranges and fresh rain.”  Steve doesn’t know why he says that but his mind can only register the softness of her curves pressed close to his body and the smell of her glossy black curls.

Gloria lifts her head and looks up at the captain with an unreadable expression.  She knows she’s supposed to keep these meetings with Steve strictly professional but the time they have spent together has made it impossible to not feel something for the man holding her in his strong arms.

Coulson is going to have a conniption fit if he ever finds out how much in over her head she is in with Steve.  It’s taken all her will power not to kiss him on several occasions.  It’s not like she went into the assignment expecting to feel this way.  It just slowly and ordinarily crept up on her. 

After spending hours talking with him and taking him to movies, dinners, museums, and shopping it was inevitable that feelings would start to bloom.  Steve is always a gentleman with Gloria.  He never lets her pay for anything even if it is on S.H.I.E.L.D's dime.  The Captain opens doors for her and stands when she walks into the room.  Steve may have not been consciously trying to make her fall for him he just naturally did.

The music keeps playing soft jazz tunes but the two of them have stopped swaying to the beat.  They seem to be locked in their own personal bubble as they look at one another intensely.  Steve watches as Gloria’s honey colored irises dilate as she blinks softly while her thick lush lashes kiss the tops of her smooth cheeks. 

Steve tightens his grip on her soft fleshy waist and instinctively leans down as he watches Gloria bite her bottom lip softly.  That simple action sends an unfamiliar thrill down the captain’s spine.  He pulls her up gently till she is standing on the tips of her toes and her lips are barely touching his.

“Am I interrupting something Miss Gonzalez?” Nick Fury in all his glory manages to break apart the pair before Gloria can do something she will likely regret later.

A flustered Gloria smooth's the wrinkles from her dress and adjusts the small black cardigan she is wearing.  “No sir. I was just teaching Cap here how to dance.”  Nick Fury eyes Gloria menacingly with his good eye.

Steve takes a deep calming breath and tries to steady his racing heart.  He can’t believe he almost kissed Gloria.  Something he won’t admit that he has thought of more frequently as they spend more and more time together.

Fury’s eyebrow arches as he looks between the two.  Gloria fidgets under his intense stare.  “Miss Gonzalez, Agent Coulson needs you immediately.  I suggest you head over to HQ with your go bag.”  Fury’s dismissal is obvious and Gloria quickly packs up her things and disappears without a word.

“Fraternization is frowned upon.  Just so you know.”  Fury watches as Steve keeps his blue gaze focused on the retreating form of the tiny Latina.

Steve takes his eyes off the swinging doors of the gym and looks at Fury with thinly veiled frustration.  “Are you having trouble sleeping?”  Fury can see the tension in Steve that has nothing to do with the pretty assistant.

“Slept for seventy years Sir.  I think I had my fill.”  Steve walks away from Fury and collects the books and other reading material Gloria has left for him. 

“Then you should be out celebrating and seeing the world.”  Fury with his hands clasp behind his back watches the captain closely.

“Isn’t that what Miss Gonzalez is here for? Didn’t you send her here to teach me about everything I missed?”  Steve’s frustration is rising with each passing moment.

“Oh she’s supposed to catch you up on current events but what I walked in on earlier is not a part of her tutorials. It’s not what she is getting paid for.”  Nick Fury’s words are sharp and his duplicitous meaning is not lost on the captain.

Steve swiftly grabs Fury by his shirt and leather coat with both hands and brings him dangerously close.  “Miss Ria is a lady and should be treated with respect a lady is due.”  Fury is impressed with the show of restrained fierceness from the Captain.

“My apologies.”  Fury doesn’t mean the words he says but he does it to placate the inhumanly strong man in front of him.

Steve lets Fury go and goes back to packing up his things.  Fury waits patiently for Steve to calm down enough so that he can continue with his purpose for coming.

“You here with a mission Sir?”  Steve doesn’t even raise his blue eyes to look at Fury.

“I am.” Fury pulls a folder from the depths of his long black leather coat. 

“Trying to get me back in the world?”  Steve zips his duffle with more force than necessary as he eyes Fury with apprehension.

“Trying to save it.” Fury says plainly as he hands Steve the manila folder.

Steve looks at a picture of the glowing cube that got him into this mess in the first place.  The unresolved anger surfaces faster than Steve knows how to deal with it.  Why does it always have to come back to that damn cube?

“Howard Stark fished that out of the ocean when he was looking for you.  He thought…we think that the tesseract can be the key to unlimited sustainable energy. That’s something the world sorely needs.”  Fury almost sounds convincing but Steve knows that S.H.I.E.L.D always has its true intentions hidden.

“Who took it from you?”  Steve hands Fury back the folder and tries to get his overwhelming feeling of dread under control.  The last time he dealt with that cube he lost seventy years of his life and he wasn’t willing to do that again.

“He’s called Loki…He’s not from around here.  There’s a lot we have to bring you up to speed on if you’re in.  The world has gotten even stranger than you know.” Fury smirks a little as the last words leave his mouth.

“At this point I doubt there is anything left to surprise me.”  Steve says plainly, grabs his duffle bag and slings a hefty punching bag over his shoulder. 

“Ten bucks says your wrong.”  Steve ignores Fury.  “There’s a debriefing packet at your apartment.” Fury watches as Steve continues on his way without a word.

“Is there anything you can tell us about the tesseract that we ought to know now?”  Fury follows Steve’s silent form towards the gym doors.

“Should have left it in the ocean.” Steve deadpans as he makes his way out the doors without a glance back to Fury.

“Oh…Captain you should really have a talk with Miss Gonzalez.  She’s not as sweet and lady like as she seems.  Just ask her about the five hash marks tattooed on her forearm.  It’s a very interesting story.”  Fury’s face gives away nothing and Steve just stops for a moment and glares at Fury before leaving.

Fury sighs heavily and grabs his cell.  He dials his trusted right hand man.  “Coulson…you need to have a talk with Miss Gonzalez.  It seems she’s taken a personal interest in the Captain.  It won’t end well if you know what I mean.”  Fury ends the call just as quickly as he begun it. 

Nick Fury isn’t a man to hope but all he can do now is hope that when his team comes together they won’t end up killing each other before they can stop the Asgardian god of mischief from brining war to their world.