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Take A Chance On Me

Chapter Text

Taking a drag on your cigarette, you looked out over the New York City skyline. The air on the balcony of Avengers Tower was cool, and with the terrace doors closed you could barely hear the music coming from the sky lounge.

“You know those things will kill you, right?” a deep voice rumbled behind you.

Looking over your shoulder, you smiled. “Wow, Captain, that is brand new information. You should totally do a PSA about that. It will give Peter something to think about the next time he’s in detention for blatantly flouting school rules.”

“Ha ha. You’re hilarious.” The entire team liked to tease Steve about the Public Service Announcements that he’d filmed shortly after coming out of the ice. It was something that Sam and Bucky, in particular, were not likely to let him forget any time soon. Peter Parker had seen all of them so many times during his regular bouts of detention that he could recite them word-for-word.

Steve came and stood next to you, crossing his arms over the railing, the breeze ruffling his blond hair. “What did Tony do this time?”

Stubbing out your cigarette, you turned to your best friend. “What makes you think Tony did something?”

He quirked an eyebrow at you. “You only come out here and puff on those things when you’re pissed off with Tony, which seems to be happening with alarming regularity nowadays. Come on, Y/N. Spill.”

Sighing, you shrugged. “Just the usual. He starts pretending that I don’t exist the moment some perky blonde walks into the room.”

It was ridiculous. You knew it was. Tony wasn’t even your boyfriend, not anymore. The two of you had been on and off for the better part of the past year. He had finally broken up with you for good over a month ago, telling you that he couldn’t possibly commit to you because he wasn’t ready to settle down. Since then, he had slept with what felt like every single eligible (and some not-so-eligible) female in New York, and you had to stand there and watch it all, pretending that it didn’t hurt.

It might not have been so bad if he hadn’t continued to flirt with you as well. That false sense of hope that your relationship would be rekindled kept being ignited, only to be snuffed out a short time later when a new pretty face caught his attention. You finally understood how Pepper Potts had felt, and why she now resided in California, running the company from the offices of the West Coast division of Stark Industries.

You and Steve continued to stand side by side, looking over the twinkling lights of the surrounding buildings. Eventually, Steve broke the silence. “You know you’ve always got me, right?”

You leaned your head on his shoulder. “I know, Steve, and I appreciate it.”

He wrapped one of his large arms around your shoulders, pulling you into his chest. Pressing a kiss to your hair, he said, “As interesting as it is out here, I’m pretty sure it’s more enjoyable inside.”

“I don’t know, Steve. I’m quite liking the whole not watching Tony pick up another random woman thing.”

“I’ll distract you. What’s a best friend for if they can’t take your mind off your troubles?” He held out a hand, and eventually you placed your much smaller one in his. Squeezing your fingers gently, he smiled at you. “Come on, doll-face. We’ve got a party to enjoy.”

********************************************

“Glad to see you join us again, doll,” Bucky whispered as you sat on the sofa next to him. “I was worried you were gonna do somethin’ stupid while you were out there.” The old-fashioned term of endearment that Steve and Bucky used for you always warmed your heart.

“I’m fine, Bucky. Steve’s taking care of me.”

“About damn time,” the dark-haired assassin muttered. You frowned in confusion, but didn’t dwell too much on the comment. Bucky was often cryptic and mysterious. It was part of what made him an interesting person to talk to.

Steve came back from the bar, a bottle of your favourite beer in his hand. Taking it with a smile, you thanked him. He responded with a sweet smile of his own. “No problem, sweetheart. I figured you could use a little something to rehydrate. Sulking is thirsty work.”

As soon as Steve was settled on the sofa, on the opposite side of you to Bucky, you rested your head on his shoulder and sighed with contentment. He was always so warm, and his presence always gave you comfort. He wrapped his arm around you and pressed another kiss to the top of your head, steadfastly ignoring the smirk that Bucky directed at him. Taking a sip of the Asgardian mead that Thor had poured for him, Steve desperately tried to ignore the hammering of his heart as he sat next to you.

How long had he been in love with you? He honestly couldn’t remember. It seemed like it had been forever. Certainly, he’d had a crush on you from the instant he met you. Your bright smile, beautiful eyes, bubbly personality, and the hearty belly-laugh you let out whenever you found something funny had attracted his attention when he first saw you. You were intelligent, feisty, funny and beautiful, and yet you were also the biggest tomboy he had ever met, preferring beer to champagne and sports over shopping. You swore like a trooper and cried over Disney movies. You were a mass of walking contradictions and he adored all of it. Everything about you had captivated Steve right from the start. He’d craved your friendship, at the very least, from the moment you had joined the Avengers nearly eighteen months ago.

The fact that you were a formidable addition to the team certainly didn’t hurt either. You were just as effective a sniper as Bucky, as deadly accurate as Clint, and as cool under pressure as Natasha. You were equally as lethal with a pistol at close range as you were with your sniper rifle. You could change the clip in your gun more quickly than anybody he’d ever seen, and could take down three opponents before most people had finished with their first target. The speed with which you took aim and fired was simply astonishing, thanks to the enhanced abilities that had manifested themselves into lightning-quick reflexes when you were a teenager. Your skill had earned you the nickname ‘Trigger’, and you had saved the life of every member of the team at least once during missions, a fact for which they were all truly grateful. You followed orders diligently, only questioning those in charge if something seemed out of the ordinary or went severely against your moral code.

You were also steadfast and loyal, and had very quickly won over everyone with your immediate and fierce devotion to the team. Even the normally standoffish Natasha found herself letting her defences down around you.

The main reason that Steve cared so much about you, though, was that you had never seen him as Captain America. You didn’t see him as an American icon, or a relic from another era, or a national treasure, or even as a hero. You had never fangirled over him, or tried to get to know him because he was famous, like many of the newer S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits did. None of that mattered. To you, he was just Steve. When not on missions, you treated him as if he was just a regular guy, rather than a superhero. He could be himself around you, and you never expected him to be anything else but your friend. It meant more to him that just about anything.

The only thing that would mean more was if you felt the same way about him as he did about you. And he knew that could never happen.

Steve hadn’t felt this strongly about someone since Peggy Carter. He’d had a few short-lived romances since coming out of the ice, but he’d felt nothing serious for anyone until you came along. But just as he was working up the courage to tell you how he felt, Tony Stark had swooped in and taken advantage of your very obvious attraction to the billionaire. So Steve had kept his feelings tucked away, and concentrated on being the best friend he possibly could to you.

It saddened him every time you cried on his shoulder over something Tony had said or done to upset you, and yet he couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride that you had chosen him, out of everyone else on the team, to seek comfort from. Every time Tony hurt you, Steve was there to pick up the pieces of your broken heart and try to put it back together again. He would watch cheesy romantic comedies with you, or argue with you for hours about baseball, or just sit with his arm around your shoulders as you both sat in companionable silence while reading in the common room. Then, just when he felt that you were finally over Tony and he could make his own feelings known to you, Stark would come seeking your forgiveness and you would run back to him with open arms. And Steve would have to be content once again with just being your friend.

Heaving a huge mental sigh, Steve finally nudged you. “Hey, doll-face. How about we kick some asses at pool?”

You gave your friend a huge grin, your entire being lighting up as if from within, making him fall in love with you just a little bit more. “Captain, you sure do know how to show a girl a good time.” 

********************************************

Steve vs Sam pool 

“Aw, man, why did we agree to play against you two again?” whined Sam, watching in dismay as you once again sank the eight ball.

“Because, my dear Samuel, you never could say no to a pretty face. And we all know that Steve has the prettiest face here,” you deadpanned, revelling in the loud bark of laughter that erupted from the Captain. He high-fived you in congratulations for yet another victory.

“Also, you always seem to forget just how good she is,” Scott added from the sidelines. “She never misses a shot, remember?”

Rhodey and Sam had indeed forgotten just how accurate you were when playing pool. Scott was right; you never missed. If you ever did miss a shot, it was always deliberate, with the intent of making things as difficult as possible for your opponent in order to have them send the white ball exactly where you needed it for the very next shot.

Tonight, however, after Rhodey had broken in the first game and then missed an easy setup, you had methodically pocketed every striped ball – for reasons which had never been made clear, Steve always refused to play spots – while the Colonel and Sam looked on miserably. After the loss, Sam had immediately declared that it should be the best out of three. The remaining Avengers, with the exception of Tony who was otherwise occupied, had watched on with amusement as the two men tried to keep the horror from their faces when they realised that they were being comprehensively beaten. They had not sunk a single ball in the final game.

“Gentlemen, you know what you need to do.” Steve smirked at his two friends, who glared at him in response.

The rule in the Avengers Tower was simple. When playing pool, the player or team that lost a game without sinking a ball had to strip themselves of every article of clothing, then run a lap around the sky lounge in all their glory. It was an inviolable rule. No exceptions. Every member of the team had suffered under this rule at one point, including Clint and Nat – everybody apart from yourself, who had yet to lose a single game since joining the team. Even Steve had been on the receiving end of the punishment once, and the photos that Peter had posted on the Avengers Instagram account afterward had very nearly broken the internet. Approximately seventy percent of the world’s population, including yourself, had been very appreciative of those pictures.

“I am a Colonel in the United States Air Force. I should not have to be subjected to this sort of humiliation,” Rhodey declared with as much dignity as he could muster under the circumstances.

“Suck it up, Rhodes. You lost fair and square. Clothes off. Now.” Maria Hill appeared unmoved by their plight.

Sighing in defeat, Sam and Rhodey stripped themselves of their attire and then ran buck naked through the sky lounge, to the amusement of some of the guests and the abject horror of others. Bucky and Pietro were rolling on the floor, crying with laughter. Peter was busy taking photos to upload later. Nat, Wanda and Maria wolf whistled in appreciation. Bruce was explaining to Thor and Loki just what had happened, causing the two Gods to grin widely. Even Vision had a smile on his face, although it was not entirely clear whether the android truly understood what was going on.

“Anybody else want to challenge us?” you asked hopefully.

“Oh, no. None of us are drunk enough to be that stupid.” Director Fury, who enjoyed watching the suffering of others as much as the rest of the team, knew better than to be on the receiving end of defeat at your hands.

“Cowards.” You started to set up the table for another day, while Steve put away the chalk and pool cues.

“Good game, doll,” Steve complimented you. “As always.”

“Well, I had an excellent partner, as usual. I couldn’t have done it without you, Cap.” You smiled at your best friend, and he preened a little under your praise.

“How about another drink?” he asked, holding his arm out.

Looping your arm through his, you let him lead you to the bar.

Chapter Text

Tony Stark eye roll

Tony was finding it difficult concentrate on what Nicole – Narelle? Nadia? Nina? – was babbling about. He didn’t really care what she was saying; he had just been trying to provoke a reaction out of you by attaching himself to the nearest available Avengers groupie for the night. Normally, his outlandish flirtations with other women would send you into a blind fury, causing you to create a big scene in front of everyone and then leave in a whirl of righteous indignation, which then meant that obviously Tony would have to follow you and beg for the forgiveness which you would eventually give him.

Tonight, however, that didn’t seem to be working.

It had been over a month since he had broken things off with you once again, because he suspected that you were angling for a bigger commitment than he was willing to provide. This time, however, you actually seemed to be taking him seriously. In the past, whenever he’d called an end to your relationship, you would come running back to him the minute he hinted that he might still be interested in you. He always felt slightly guilty about it, knowing that you deserved better than what he could give you, and yet he was honest enough with himself to admit that he was too selfish to give you up entirely. Your affection was like a drug to him. He craved your attention. Tony would test the limits of your patience, knowing in the back of his mind that you would always take him back once you had gotten over his latest indiscretion.

Only this time, it looked like you were finally moving on. With Steve fucking Rogers of all people. Of course Captain fucking Perfect was there, waiting in the wings to rescue the damsel in distress. He was always there, ready to catch you when you fell.

God, how Tony wanted to hate him. He wanted to hate all six-foot-two of that blond American beefcake, with those bulging biceps and blinding white teeth and old-fashioned charm that made everyone swoon with delight. He wanted to hate him because of how much Howard Stark had obviously cared about him. He wanted to hate him because of how much everybody else hero-worshipped him. Underoos idolised Capsicle almost as much as Iron Man, much to Tony’s disgust. He wanted to hate him for being such a goddamn Boy Scout.

And he just couldn’t hate him, no matter how hard he tried. Because Steve Rogers was just so gosh darn nice. As all-American as apple pie, and just as sweet. It was sickening, really.

To make matters worse, you absolutely adored the man. Almost from the moment you joined the team, you had claimed Captain America as your best friend and the two of you had been pretty much attached at the hip ever since. You shared a love of beer, sports, Disney, dogs and Sergeant Barnes – all things that Tony detested. It had taken nearly six months for anybody else to even register on your radar.

So Tony had, with his usual pig-headedness, decided to win you away from Steve. At first, it wasn’t because he was really that interested in you. It was simply that you didn’t appear to pay attention to anybody except Steve, and that was completely unacceptable. It became a competition, and Tony always played to win. Tony had flirted and flattered and showered you with attention, and eventually you had become smitten. Tony basked in the victory, and eventually started to feel something akin to fondness towards you. It would never be like the love he’d had for Pepper – nobody could ever replace Pepper – but it was something, and that should have been enough for him.

Until he realised that you still cared about Steve. Despite becoming involved with Tony, you continued to cultivate your friendship with Rogers. No matter what Tony did, Steve was always there, lurking in the background. If Tony cooked dinner, Steve would offer to help you set the table. Whenever Tony picked a movie for team movie night, Steve always sat next to you so that you could share his popcorn and soda. If Tony made an obscure pop culture reference, the Captain asked you to bring him up to speed so he understood what was meant. At paintball or laser tag or any sort of team building exercise, Steve always picked you to be on his team.

Talk about a third wheel.

You didn’t seem to mind the constant attention from Steve, either. In fact, you seemed to enjoy his honest companionship more than you appreciated the expensive trinkets and baubles that Tony gifted you with. Naturally, this meant that rather than trying to navigate your relationship in order to grow it beyond something sexual, Tony retaliated by employing his usual trick of pretending that he didn’t really care in the first place. He’d focus his attention on some other woman, pretending that he didn’t know who you were, and push you away. Right into the arms of Steve fucking Rogers. Every. Single. Time.

And tonight, you were totally ignoring Tony, lavishing all of your attention on Steve. The two of you had cuddled up on the sofa for at least half an hour whilst chatting, then partnered together to trounce Rhodey and Wilson at pool, and now you were laughing uproariously at something Capsicle was saying. Probably a grandpa joke.

It was as if Tony didn’t even exist. Really, what did a man have to do to get you to notice him?

“Tony, did you hear me?” A petulant voice broke through his consciousness.

 “What?” He turned his gaze back to his companion, who was looking at him with what seemed to be annoyance. “Sorry, Natalie, what did you say?”

She glared at him. “It’s Nadine. You haven’t heard a goddamn word I’ve said all night, have you?” She followed Tony’s gaze towards the bar, her eyes narrowing in understanding. “Oh, I get it. You’re just using me to try and get someone else to notice you.”

“No, baby! Sorry, I was just a bit distracted. I’m totally listening to you now.”

Nadine extricated herself from Tony’s arms. “Whatever. I’m going to try my luck with Thor.” She wandered over towards the huge Asgardian, leaving Tony standing alone. Sighing, he turned his attention back towards the bar.

Good grief, now you were practically sitting in Steve’s lap. You had never sat that close to Tony, even when you were together. That small spark of jealousy that Tony had always felt towards the super-soldier suddenly flared into a blazing white-hot fury. God, he was sick of America’s golden boy stealing everything from him. His father’s attention, the command and loyalty of the other Avengers, and now you. It was the last straw. Tony downed his drink and stalked over to the bar.

********************************************

 Steve Rogers

“So then the kid looked at me and said, ‘How do you afford stuff, Captain Rogers? You don’t have a real job’, and I just looked at him and said, ‘Kid, my bank account was never closed. It’s been accumulating interest since the 1940s. I’m fucking loaded’. And then his brain broke because I said a no-no word.” Steve grinned as you choked on your drink.

“A no-no word? You call swearing no-no words? Oh my God, you are such an old man!” You had tears in your eyes from Steve’s description of the first time he swore in front of the youngest Avenger. You would have paid good money to see Peter’s face. Everybody always had the mistaken impression that Steve never used bad language. They all seemed to forget that he had been in the army. In reality, the man swore more than all of the other Avengers combined.

“Actually, Peter is the one that calls them no-no words. I’ve just stolen that phrase from him. It seems appropriate for Captain America somehow.”

You snorted. “Great, first you use bad language words in front of the kid and then you steal from him. It’s almost as if you used to be a juvenile delinquent or something.”

The two of you were seated at the bar, facing each other, your knees between Steve’s as he rested one large hand on your thigh. The closeness felt nice. His presence was comforting, as always. His bright blue eyes twinkled with laughter. “Hey, remember that time we all picked names out of a hat and traded outfits and pretended we’d been body swapped by Loki to mess with Tony?”

You shook your head at the memory. “I still can’t believe that was your idea. You are such a shit-stirrer.” You giggled at the recollection. “Although Scott did look fantastic in Wanda’s skirt. He’s got great legs.”

Steve’s grin grew even wider. “And yet Tony would never believe any of you when you told him. He’s still convinced that Clint thought it up.”

“It’s that sweet, innocent face of yours. It lets you get away with everything.” You patted his cheek fondly, and were startled when he nuzzled his face into the palm of your hand, pressing a soft kiss there. He looked at you with an expression you’d never noticed before on his handsome face. It was one of absolute adoration. “Steve? What are you…?”

He grabbed both of your hands in his, staring at you earnestly. “Y/N, sweetheart, I need to tell you something.” He took a deep breath, but before he could speak, you heard a sarcastic drawl behind you.

“Well, doesn’t this look cosy." 

********************************************

Tony noted with some satisfaction that you looked slightly guilty as you jumped away from Steve. It looked like he’d arrived just in time. Otherwise you might have made a monumental mistake, like actually kissing goddamn Captain America. No way was he going to let that happen.

“Baby, I know you like older men, but seriously, isn’t a hundred-year-old virgin kind of pushing it?”

Steve’s jaw twitched in annoyance, causing Tony to smirk slightly. It was always fun to get under his skin. Made him seem more real somehow, less perfect.

“Tony, what do you want?” you asked with some asperity. “Did your bimbo have to get home in time for curfew?”

“I just wanted to see if you wanted to go somewhere so we could spend some quality time together. We haven’t caught up in a while.” He looked at you expectantly.

“I was actually having a great time with Steve, until you so rudely interrupted us.” You crossed your arms over your chest and glared at your former lover.

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure Spangles is a stunning conversationalist. But I’m pretty sure I can liven things up for you for the rest of the night.”

“Tony, you made it very clear that you are no longer interested in being involved with me. I was only ever another notch in the bedpost for you. So, sorry, but no. I don’t need any more of your kind of excitement. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Steve and I were in the middle of something.” You turned your focus back to Steve, effectively ending your discussion with Tony.

Wait a minute. Were you dismissing him? Were you honestly trying to say that you would rather spend all of your time with Capsicle, instead of him? This was not how things were supposed to go. Reflexively, he reached for your arm. “Y/N, listen to me…”

You shook his arm off angrily. Steve was immediately on his feet, hovering protectively over you. Always the knight in shining fucking armour. “No, Tony. You listen to me. I am not your plaything, the toy that you can just toss aside when someone else captures your attention, and then come back to once you’ve lost interest in them. I am done. In the words of Taylor Swift, we are never, ever, ever getting back together.”

Afterward, Tony could never satisfactorily explain why he reacted the way he did. Partly out of hurt at your rejection, partly from guilt at knowing that you were correct, partly from a need to lash out at you for once again choosing Steve over everybody else. But for the rest of his life, he wished that he had done things differently.

“Yeah, well, I don’t want second best anyway,” Tony snarled at you. “No matter what America’s Golden Boy tells you, you will always be everybody’s second choice.”

The sudden silence was deafening. It seemed as if every single person in attendance had ceased their own conversations at the exact same instant and were now listening with morbid fascination to the scene that was unfolding in front of them instead.

“What the fuck, Tony?” Steve growled.

“I beg your pardon?” you hissed.

“How does it feel knowing that you will never be anybody’s first choice? You’re the fall-back, the substitute, the one we go for when there’s nothing else left, what we settle for when we have nothing else to choose. You’re the cheap knock-off brand that people get when they can’t afford the real thing. Pepper is Harvard, first class; you’re community college and economy. Is it any surprise that I don’t want to be with someone who isn’t good enough?”

Rhodey stepped in, trying to diffuse the situation. “Tony, I think that’s enough.”

“Oh, no, Colonel. It seems like he’s just getting started. Please, Tony, continue.” Tears of hurt and anger glittered in your eyes. “I’d just love to hear what else you have to say.”

Tony continued, having already backed himself into a corner that he didn’t really know how to get out of. “You’re not even the most critical member of the team. You’re the second best sniper after Barnes. Notice how Cap always picks him first for every mission? Because he’s the best. Barnes will always be his first choice. Not you.”

The others gathered around, watching the soap opera in front of them with avid interest.

“And don’t ever think he could love you the way he loved Peggy Carter. Now that was a classy woman. There is absolutely no way you could ever compete with someone of that calibre. You will always be the substitute for what we really want. After Pepper. After Barnes. After Peggy. You will always be second best. And second best just isn’t good enough.”

Your hand twitched, but before you could even think about reacting, Steve’s fist connected with Tony’s jaw.

Chapter Text

Rhodey found you in the kitchen early one morning. He sat next to you at the dining table. “Hey, Trigger, how are you doing?”

You shrugged listlessly. Rhodey’s smile faltered. He was very fond of you, and felt terrible about how his friend had treated you a few nights ago.

“You know, I’ve been friends with Tony forever, and I’ll stand by him through just about anything. But I’ve got to tell you, that night, he was way out of line. If Steve hadn’t punched him, I was damn well going to.”

You shrugged again, playing with the food on your plate. “Whatever, Rhodey. It really doesn’t matter.” Shoving your untouched meal away from you, you hastily stood up. “I don’t feel well. I’m going back to my room.”

Rhodey sighed as he watched you walk away. Damn you, Tony, he thought to himself. Tony had done plenty of stupid things in his life, but treating someone like you the way he had may just have been the stupidest thing of all. He just hoped that Captain Rogers could fix it.

If anybody could make things right for you, it would be the Captain. 

********************************************

You ignored the determined knocking on the door of your apartment. Perhaps if you pretended you weren’t there, whoever was trying to get your attention would go away. Then you could get back to wallowing in self-pity in peace. Burrowing under your blankets, you continued to pretend you couldn’t hear them.

Eventually, though, you heard your front door click open. Frowning, you peeked out from your blanket nest and found Steve standing in the doorway of your bedroom, a worried expression on his face.

“Dammit, I never should have let FRIDAY give you access to my rooms,” you grumbled.

Each Avenger residing within the Avengers buildings had the authority to approve or deny access to whomever they wished in their own living quarters, whether in the Tower or the New Avengers Facility. Access was via simultaneous fingerprint and retinal scan only, as voice recordings could be manipulated fairly easily in a building where more than half of the team had extensive hacking skills. It allowed everyone to maintain a small sense of privacy in a team full of snoops, as well as being a fundamental security measure. There wasn’t much point in having a top-notch security system if people could go wherever they wanted without restriction. Steve, Nat and Clint were the only ones allowed unrestricted access to your apartment. Everybody else needed your permission to enter. Even when you were dating, Tony hadn’t been allowed in unless you said so.

Steve Rogers

“You’ve been holed up in here for the past four days, doll. Everybody is starting to get concerned. Wanda ordered me to come and check up on you because your thoughts are keeping her awake at night.” Steve sat on the edge of your bed, giving you his patented Eyebrows of Disappointment. They worked on most people, but luckily you’d developed an immunity to them over the past year and a half.

“Nobody needs to worry about me. It’s not like I’m worthy or anything,” you mumbled.

Steve sighed. He knew you were prone to bouts of anxiety – the pressure of being a world-class sniper sometimes took a heavy toll on you – but he had never seen you so despondent before. “Jeez, Stark really did a number on you this time, didn’t he?”

“But what he said was true, Steve. He never did love me as much as he loved Pepper. And you do always choose Bucky before anybody else when it comes to missions. And I could never measure up to someone like Peggy Carter. Tony’s right. I’m not good enough.”

“That’s fucking bullshit and you know it. If you weren’t good enough, Fury and Coulson wouldn’t have chosen you to be an Avenger in the first place.”

You buried yourself even further beneath your blankets. Your voice was muffled. “I shouldn’t be an Avenger at all.”

Steve ripped your blankets away from you, ignoring your howl of protest. “Y/N Y/L/N, you listen to me. You damn well are good enough to be a part of this team, and you are more than worthy of being an Avenger, and I will follow you to the end of the line, you got that?”

You blinked. To the end of the line was Steve and Bucky’s thing; it had been since they were kids. Did you really inspire that sort of loyalty from him? Sitting up slowly, you pulled your legs to your chest. “Do you mean that, Steve?” you whispered.

He gathered you to his chest, almost crushing you with the ferocity of his embrace. “I mean it, doll. To the end of the line.”

Pulling back, he looked into your eyes. “I don’t know about you, but I feel like some rocky road ice-cream while watching Disney movies. Sound good?”

You gave a small smile. “Sounds good.”

********************************************

“Hey, Steve?”

“Hmmmm?”

“Could you tell me about Peggy?” you asked softly.

Steve looked down at you, a perplexed look on his face. “What do you mean?”

You wriggled out from his embrace, causing him to whine a little. He’d pulled you onto his lap earlier so you could watch The Lion King while he held you, and you’d appreciated the proximity to his comfortable chest. But now you sat cross-legged on your bed, looking at him sadly.

“I know all of the official stuff. You know, how she helped to found S.H.I.E.L.D. and that sort of thing, but I don’t really know anything important about her. I want to understand why she meant so much to you.”

Steve nodded in understanding. You were feeling vulnerable after Tony’s barbs the other night, and needed to make sense of your friendship with him.

“Well, where do I start? I think Peggy was the first woman besides my ma who ever saw me as being worth something. She saw past the scrawny, chronically ill kid and saw me, the real me. She saw more in me than most people did.”

He smiled in remembrance of his first true love. “She was the first person besides Bucky and Dr Erskine who thought that maybe, just maybe, there was more to me than meets the eye. You remind me a lot of her, you know.”

“Really?” you asked with some surprise.

“Not physically, of course. You’re different to Peggy in that respect. And yet, you have so many of the qualities that I admired in her. You’re strong, and stubborn, and independent. You don’t take any crap from anyone, and you stand up for what you believe in, regardless of whether it’s a popular opinion or not. You fight for what you think is right, even when others tell you it’s wrong.”

He pulled out his old compass, and showed you the picture of Peggy that he had kept all these years. His fingertips brushed yours briefly when you took it from him, and you felt a small jolt at the touch. However, Steve didn’t react, so you managed to convince yourself that it was just static electricity.

“You are steadfast, and loyal, and courageous, just like Peggy was. And you see me as more than just what the serum made me. You see me as Steve, as an actual person, rather than just as Captain America. Peggy did the same.” He paused briefly, then added, “I think Peggy would have liked you a whole lot.”

You gazed at the faded photo of the beautiful brunette. “She was lovely. No wonder you cared so much about her.”

“I didn’t care about her just because she was beautiful,” Steve admonished.

“I know, Steve. I know you’re not that superficial. That’s not what I meant.” You sighed. “I just meant that she sounds like she was a wonderful person. Someone who inspires that kind of love and loyalty must have been pretty special.”

“She was.” He gave you a pointed look. “You’re pretty special too, you know.”

You made a dismissive gesture, but he continued. “I mean it, Y/N. You’re my best friend in the whole world, besides Bucky. I would do anything for you, go anywhere with you. All you have to do is ask.”

Tears filled your eyes, and Steve pulled you back onto his lap as they threatened to spill over. You buried your face into his neck, inhaling his comforting spicy scent. Steve always smelled like cinnamon for some reason. “Thanks, Steve.”

He kissed your temple. “I used to think Peggy was the love of my life. Maybe she was, in my old life before I crashed the plane. But since coming out of the ice, I’ve found a whole new life. You are a really significant part of that. You’re bright, and beautiful, and fucking amazing. You are my best girl, Y/N. Don’t you ever forget that.”

You blushed at Steve’s words, even as you tried to remind yourself that it didn’t mean what you thought it did. The implication of being Steve’s ‘best girl’ was obviously different now than it was in the 1940s. Back then it would have meant that he wanted to marry you. Now, it just meant that you were his best friend. That’s all.

You didn’t understand why that thought hurt so much. 

********************************************

Steve had insisted that you both spend the rest of the day sitting in bed watching rom-coms to cheer you up, and had refused to let you move from his side. He kept his strong arms around you, and you felt safe and protected within his embrace. For some reason, being held by Steve always felt like being home.

You had fallen asleep halfway through Sleepless in Seattle, cuddled up against his broad chest. Steve would quite happily have stayed that way for the rest of his life, but his sense of chivalry insisted that he return to his own quarters, at least for tonight. He tried to shift you without waking you up, but you wrapped your arms around his torso and growled at him.

“Where do you think you’re going, mister?” you grumbled sleepily.

“Um, back to my room? I didn’t want to wake you.”

You shook your head. “Uh uh. No way. You are staying right where you are.” You squeezed him even more tightly, clinging to his torso much like a koala clings to a tree in order to emphasise your point.

“Y/N, what are you doing?”

“I’m taking you hostage. You are super comfy and I don’t want to move.”

Chuckling softly, Steve tried to loosen your grip, which only made you hang on to him even more determinedly. “Sweetheart, I really should go.”

You gave him your best puppy-dog face, which he always found difficult to resist. “Steve, please stay. Your pecs are the most comfortable pillow I’ve ever had, and listening to your heartbeat is extremely comforting. Besides,” you whispered, “I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts right now. I need you to help keep me out of my own head.”

Steve’s resolve melted instantaneously. “Are you sure? We’ve never stayed in each other’s quarters overnight before.”

“I’m sure, Steve. I trust you implicitly.”

“OK. Well, I’ll go set up the sofa then.”

You snorted. “No way. You’re way too large for the sofa. Your legs will be dangling over the edge. You’ll look like a wolfhound trying to fit into a bed designed for a chihuahua. This bed is plenty big enough for the both of us.”

Steve’s ears reddened at the thought of sleeping in the same bed as you, however innocently. “Y/N, I’m not sure that’s a good idea…”

“It’s a great idea. I can make a wall out of cushions to keep you on your own side if you're really that worried about keeping my virtue intact.”

You were rewarded with a smile. “I don’t really think that will be necessary. I promise I will keep my hands to myself.”

“You are such a goody two-shoes,” you teased. Snuggling back up to the super-soldier, you sighed with contentment. “Thank you for promising to still respect me in the morning.”

“I’ll always respect you, doll. You know that.”

He felt you nod sleepily, already drifting back to slumber thanks to his steady heartbeat. Steve kept his arm wrapped around your shoulders, idly trailing his fingers up and down your arm.

“Love you, Steve.”

He froze, hardly daring to breathe. Had you really just said what he thought you said? It had been barely a whisper, and yet to Steve it had sounded as if you had shouted it from the rooftops.

Looking down at you, he noticed that you were fast asleep, and mentally groaned with frustration. Fucking typical. Of course you said the words he most desperately wanted to hear while you were asleep.

Pressing a kiss to your hair, he whispered, “I love you too, Y/N. More than you know."

As he drifted off to sleep, Steve made up his mind. He needed to let you know how he felt about you as soon as possible. He didn’t want to miss another chance at happiness.

Chapter Text

“Remind me again why we always go to a karaoke bar on our day off?” Bruce asked plaintively.

“Because we get to be drunk in public without judgement, and watch Thor try to sing show tunes, and deep down you know you love it,” replied Nat, nudging his shoulder with hers. He smiled softly in agreement. Bruce really was quite fond of karaoke, despite his protests.

“Y/N, are you getting up there tonight?” Wanda asked, hoping that you’d feel better if you let your hair down. “I’ll sing something with you, if you want.”

“Thanks, Wan. I’ll see how I go. Maybe tonight I’ll just sit back and laugh at all of you murdering great pop songs.” The others often told you that you had a great voice, and usually you were easily persuaded to get on stage and sing your heart out. But tonight you just weren’t feeling it.

Tony had offered to get the first round of drinks, so naturally everybody ordered the most expensive cocktails they could find. You and Steve had immediately agreed to get a pitcher of margaritas each.

“So, did you want to sing something? I might actually get up there tonight if you want me to,” Steve offered.

You shook your head. “That’s sweet, Steve, but you don’t have to do that. I know how much you hate making an exhibition of yourself.”

“I’d do it for you,” he said sincerely.

You pressed a kiss to his cheek, causing him to blush furiously. You felt an enormous wave of affection wash over you for this lovely man who you had the honour of calling your best friend. You don’t know how you would have coped after the horrible things that Tony had said a few weeks ago, if it hadn’t been for the support Steve had given you.

“Well, I might take you up on that, if I can get enough margaritas into both of us.”

Steve clinked his pitcher against yours, giving you a wink. “Drink up then, doll.” 

********************************************

“Have you found anything you want to sing yet, Trigger?” Pietro asked hopefully. He always loved hearing you sing.

“Nothing yet, Speedy. I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for tonight.”

“Disney is always good,” suggested Peter.

“Or something from a big Broadway show. You do a great version of Cabaret,” added Scott.

“We could always do a duet,” Tony said. He had not quite given up hope that you would forgive him for his less-than-pleasant behaviour a few weeks ago, but as he had yet to actually formally apologise, forgiveness was not likely to be forthcoming in the near future.

You laughed when Clint responded by saying, “I’ve heard breakup songs always bring the house down.”

You gave Tony a pointed look when you said, “Oh, definitely. I might get up there and sing Since You Been Gone.”

Nat smirked. “You could always do Dua Lipa’s IDGAF.

“Or These Boots Are Made For Walking,” Bruce suggested helpfully. Tony got the hint and made no further suggestions that you sing with him.

Steve elbowed you. “Look, Bucky and Sam are actually onstage together.”

“How the hell did that happen? Did one of them lose a bet?”

“I might have threatened to lock them in a room together and not let them out until they could learn to play nicely with each other.”

“Very mature.” You nearly snorted your margarita out of your nose when the two of them started singing I’ve Had the Time of My Life from “Dirty Dancing”. It was hysterical, with Bucky and Sam both playing off each other and going completely over the top for their performance. The crowd went wild when they actually did the dance routine, complete with Bucky lifting Sam into the air at the end. Everybody knew that their love-hate relationship was much more bromance than frenemy, even though neither of them would admit it.

It ended up being yet another fun karaoke session.

Bruce sang It’s Not Easy Being Green, to the amusement of the team and the confusion of the other patrons. Clint gave a great performance of Sweet Home Alabama; Tony sang a Frank Sinatra number as per usual; and Scott absolutely murdered I Want To Know What Love Is. Pietro gave a fun performance of Call Me Maybe, Thor and Loki sang Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better and Peter Parker surprised everyone by giving a flawless version of No Diggity.

Wanda and Nat eventually managed to convince you to get onstage, and the three of you brought the house down with your rendition of No Scrubs.

While you were onstage, Steve flicked through the songbook and was hit with a sudden flash of inspiration. Fuck, yes. He had finally found his song. 

********************************************

“Where’s Steve?” asked Bucky.

“I haven’t seen him for while,” you admitted. “I assume he’s gone to get a drink.”

You craned your neck towards the bar, trying to find your friend in the crowd, when the host announced the next act.

“Well, folks, this should be an interesting performance. Our next singer is the one and only Captain America, with a very unexpected song choice. Let’s hear it for Captain America!”

All eyes turned to the stage in awe. Steve never sang at karaoke night, preferring to leave the showing off to the more extroverted members of the team.

Steve stood on the stage, scratching the back of his neck. It was a nervous habit of his, one that you found adorably awkward. His deep blue eyes searched the crowd until they found yours, and his nerves seemed to dissipate somewhat. You gave him a thumbs up in encouragement.

Taking a deep breath, Steve spoke to the eager crowd. “Hey, everyone. Um, I don’t usually sing in front of people, so I apologise now if I am completely shit. But, um… Well, see, there’s this girl…”

Wolf whistles and a chorus of “Oooooohs!” were heard from the audience. Your heart clenched. Steve was interested in someone? And he’d never told you? That hurt, for some reason.

Steve continued. “She’s been through a rough patch recently, and I just wanted to let her know that I’m always going to be there for her, no matter what. Well, anyway, I finally found a song that says exactly what I want to tell her, so hopefully it helps her to understand just how much she means to me.” His eyes remained locked on yours. “Y/N, this one’s for you, doll.”

The pop strains of ABBA’s Take A Chance On Me started playing, which made you wonder just who had introduced him to the Swedish supergroup. Probably Clint, as a joke. Which meant, naturally, that Steve would embrace them enthusiastically.

Chris Evans singing

If you change your mind, I'm the first in line
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down
If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try

Take a chance on me
(That's all I ask of you honey)
Take a chance on me

 

You sat stock-still, focused on the stage with your eyes wide in amazement. You didn’t register the stares from the other people in the karaoke lounge, wanting to check out the girl who had stolen Captain America’s heart; you ignored the knowing smirks of Nat, Bucky and Sam; you tuned out the snarky comments from Tony and the squeals of excitement from Thor, Peter and Wanda.

The only thing you could hear were the words that Steve was singing. His deep baritone should have meant that the sugary lyrics sounded completely ridiculous, and yet it somehow worked, in a weirdly sweet way.

 

We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we're together
Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better
'Cause you know I've got
So much that I wanna do, when I dream I'm alone with you
It's magic
You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair
But I think you know
That I can't let go

If you change your mind, I'm the first in line
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down
If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try  

Take a chance on me
(Come on, give me a break will you?)
Take a chance on me

 

What the hell was happening? Was Steve Rogers telling the entire world that he had feelings for you, via an ABBA song? What the fuck even was your life?

 

Oh you can take your time baby, I'm in no hurry, know I'm gonna get ya
You don't wanna hurt me, baby don't worry, I ain't gonna let ya
Let me tell you now
My love is strong enough to last when things are rough
It's magic
You say that I waste my time but I can't get you off my mind
No I can't let go
'Cause I love you so

If you change your mind, I'm the first in line
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down
If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can't you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)

Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa ba-ba
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can't you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me

 

The crowd roared their appreciation as the song came to an end. Steve gave a perfunctory bow and then swiftly rejoined the team at the table. He stood directly in front of you and smiled at you shyly. “So, what did you think?”

You blinked, and then said the first thing that popped into your head.

“I think you’re a massive idiot.”

A fraction of a second later you grabbed his shirt collar and pulled his head down, smashing your lips onto his in a brief kiss. But before he could even begin to respond, you jumped back as if you had been burned. Then you let out a squeak, before very bravely running away, leaving Steve staring after you with a dazed expression while everyone else tried to comprehend what they had just witnessed.

Chapter Text

Things had been more than a bit awkward between you and Steve after the karaoke night.

Well, more accurately, you had been more awkward. You suddenly seemed to have developed a heightened awareness of your best friend, noticing the moment he entered the room, finding yourself focussing all of your attention on him and studying every minute detail of his features.

You’d always known that Steve was a good-looking man. A person would have to be blind not to notice just how ridiculously attractive he was. Tall, broad-chested, the shoulder-to-waist ratio of a Dorito, with a heart-stopping smile and fanfiction blue eyes framed by disgustingly long eyelashes. He reminded you of old-fashioned Hollywood heartthrobs like Cary Grant or Gregory Peck.

But you had never before found yourself actually feeling physically attracted to Steve. It wasn’t his looks that had endeared him to you. It was his sweet personality, his old-fashioned charm and gentleman-like manners, his tough but fair moral code, and his unexpectedly dirty sense of humour that had drawn you to him like a magnet from the moment you had met him.

However, since that night at the karaoke lounge, you had found yourself thinking almost constantly about him. You suddenly noticed every glance, every gesture, every comment, and analysed every single little detail to try to determine just how long your best friend had harboured feelings for you.

Looking back over every interaction you’d ever had with Steve, you realised that the signs had always been there, but they were subtle enough that you’d never really paid attention to them before. The way his eyes always found yours no matter where you were in the room. The special smile that he reserved just for you. How he went out of his way to seek you out at every function.

Steve always opened the door for you when you went to get coffee together; he always pulled your chair out when you went to your favourite diner for lunch; he always offered to pay, even though you insisted on paying for your share. But you’d assumed that it was just due to his upbringing. He was simply being the gentleman his mother had raised him to be. Wanda had been insisting for ages that you were Steve’s favourite, because he never did any of those things for the others, but you’d laughed off the suggestion as playful teasing. Now you understood that she’d been telling you, with her usual subtlety, just how deep Steve’s affection for you ran.

Your best friend was in love with you. And you were beginning to suspect that perhaps you cared for him as more than just a friend, too.

You were in serious trouble.

********************************************

Your friendship with Steve had always been casually physical. You had no issue with sitting with your legs draped across his lap, or snuggling up to him on the couch, or playing with his hair as he lay with his head on your lap when watching a movie. You would quite often hold his hand whenever the two of you walked around New York City in your free time. You’d freely given him kisses and cuddles – always strictly platonic, as you did the same with everyone else – and would regularly leap onto his back and demand that he give you a piggyback ride, usually when you’d had too much to drink and your legs no longer worked properly.

However, since the karaoke night, you made a point of avoiding physical contact with Steve as much as possible. The easy affection you’d shared now seemed strained, all because you were embarrassed that you’d kissed him.

Steve had thought non-stop about that kiss since it had happened. He’d replayed every nanosecond of it in his mind. He wished fervently that he’d kissed you back, but he’d been in such a state of shock that you’d actually kissed him in the first place that by the time his brain had caught up with what was happening, you’d already beaten a hasty retreat.

He needed to get things back to the way they’d been before. Now that he had a glimmer of hope that you reciprocated his feelings, he was more determined than ever to win your heart.

So now, whenever he saw you, he made a point of touching you. A pat on the shoulder where his hand lingered just a fraction of a second longer than necessary, a hug that lasted slightly longer than usual, brushing a strand of your hair behind your ears… and whenever he sat next to you, he made damn sure that his leg pressed against yours, or his arm was around your shoulders, or his pinky finger would inevitably end up linked with yours. He felt the spark of attraction every time he touched you, and he had a strong suspicion that you also felt it, although you very carefully maintained a neutral expression and acted as if nothing had happened.

It was getting to the point where he was desperate to kiss you again. It took every ounce of restraint he had not to grab you whenever he saw you so that he could kiss you until you both saw stars. Especially every morning when he saw you shuffle sleepily into the kitchen, adorably dishevelled and in those tiny sleep shorts and singlet that you always insisted on wearing instead of pyjamas. It was beginning to wear down his resolve to always be a gentleman around you.

Steve glanced at his calendar and realised that tonight was game night. That meant darts, table tennis and, of course, pool. He had a sudden thought, and grinned to himself when he realised he had the key to getting you to go on a date with him.

You were never able to resist a challenge, and he was damn well going to give you one.

********************************************

 Chris Evans blue check shirt

Steve had been driving you crazy all night. Putting his hand on your back, lingering there, tracing patterns up and down your spine, all while pretending that he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Making suggestive comments with a perfectly innocent expression on his face, knowing that it was making you grind your teeth in exasperation. Leaning in close to whisper to you, so that his lips brushed the shell of your ear when he spoke.

If Steve Rogers was trying to make you spontaneously combust from pent up sexual frustration, then he was doing a mighty fine job of it.

And now, after Clint had once again comprehensively beaten everybody at darts and Bruce had stunned everyone by defeating reigning champion Natasha at table tennis, Steve made a suggestion that had every Avenger staring at him in slack-jawed amazement.

“Are you serious right now?” You looked at Steve, trying to determine if he was pulling one of his pranks. Don’t let the all-American good looks fool you, folks. Captain America is a massive troll.

He nodded. “One game, doll. Me against you. If I win, you go on a date with me.”

Ripples of excitement ran through the team. Did they just hear correctly? Had Cap finally worked up the courage to ask you to go on a date?

You stared at Steve with a stupefied expression. “You honestly expect to beat me at pool? You seriously expect me to take that bet?”

He smirked at you. “Unless you’re scared you might actually lose for once,” he taunted.

You narrowed your eyes at him. He was up to something, you could just feel it. “Fine. But when I win, you need to go to the next Yankees home game with me. In a Yankees jersey.”

If Steve wanted to play dirty, so could you. Steve absolutely hated the Yankees, and the entire world knew it. It would be absolute torture for him to turn up to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, dressed in their gear, and you would enjoy every single second of his discomfort.

“Sure.” He held out his hand, waiting for you to shake on the deal. You shrugged, then shook to make it official.

Nat immediately started taking bets, with most of the team backing you to defeat Steve. Only Clint seemed to think that Cap had any chance of winning. Steve was the only one who ever gave you a run for your money, and had come close to beating you several times in the past.

As you racked up the balls, Bucky looked at Steve in horror. “What did you agree to that for, punk? You know she’s going to kick your ass, right? You’ll be wearing a Yankees shirt before the week is out.”

“We’ll see,” Steve replied, a wicked glint in his eye.

********************************************

It had been a close game, with Steve missing only one shot after he broke, thus allowing you to take control and sink all but the black. It looked like you were going to maintain your undefeated status after all.

Steve stood directly behind you as you lined up your final shot. Looking back over your shoulder, you frowned at him. “What on earth are you doing, Steve?”

He shrugged nonchalantly. “Just checking that you’ve lined your shot up perfectly.”

You snorted with derision. “You’re trying to distract me, and it’s not going to work. Do you honestly think I’m going to miss?”

“First time for everything, doll-face.”

“Never gonna happen, Rogers. I am not giving up the chance to see you in a Yankees jersey.”

You turned your attention back to your shot. However, you suddenly found it exceedingly difficult to concentrate, as Steve had leaned over you and placed his large hands on your hips. Murmurs of delight, shock and surprise were heard from the others, unable to believe the sight before them. Steve Rogers was being handsy and openly flirting with you. In front of the entire team. Wonders would never cease.

“What the hell, Rogers?” you squeaked with indignation.

He gave you a mischievous wink, squeezing your hips, his fingertips digging into your flesh. You were fairly certain you were going to find finger-shaped bruises the next day. “You always say that nothing can distract you. Let’s put that to the test, shall we?” He leaned over you once more, his breath tickling your ear as he whispered huskily, “Pretty sure you’re not going to make this shot, doll.”

You did your best to ignore him. You really did. You were a trained sniper after all, and had years of experience at blocking out distractions, concentrating solely on your intended target. Taking a deep breath, you brought the cue back, and exhaled just as you took your shot to sink the black and win the game.

In the same instant, Steve pressed a feather-light kiss to the back of your neck. It was a mere whisper of a touch, so soft that most people probably wouldn’t have felt it. But you, who were trained to notice the slightest change in direction of a breath of wind, felt it as if you had received an electric shock.

Several things happened at once.

You jumped up with an undignified shriek as if you had been shot, causing your head to crash into Steve’s nose with a loud thump. He fell to the floor with a cry of pain and a gush of blood, as Bruce and Sam raced to his aid.

Your sudden movement caused the tip of the pool cue to rip a massive hole in the felt on top of the pool table, making Tony yell that he was taking the cost of fixing it out of your salary.

You completely mistimed the shot, sinking the white ball and hitting the eight ball with such force that it flew off the table, straight into Thor’s face, causing him to sport an impressive black eye for nearly two weeks.

And you lost the game.

********************************************

You entered the medical bay, arms crossed over your chest. Steve was sitting forlornly on the bed that the medical staff had bullied him onto. He winced as the nurse finished placing the plaster on his nose, but visibly brightened when he noticed you standing in the doorway.

“Despite your best efforts, Captain Rogers’ nose isn’t broken. So he’ll live,” Dr Cho advised you in an amused tone as you came and stood by Steve’s bed.

He grinned at you sheepishly, ignoring the cut on his bottom lip from where the back of your head had connected with the front of his face. “Idn’t dat grade newd? My node idn’t brogen!”

You snorted. “It certainly sounds like it’s broken.”

“It’s just from the swelling. It should go down in a couple of days.” The nurse smiled at you as she turned to leave the room. “You did a pretty impressive job, Agent Y/L/N.”

“I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’m hard-headed.” The nurse snorted as she attempted to suppress her laughter.

Dr Cho gave Steve some pain medication and instructions on how much to take and when, then left the two of you alone. You stared silently at Steve while he squirmed uncomfortably. Your gaze softening slightly as you took in his pitiful expression, you asked, “So are you going to tell me what the hell that was all about?”

“I jud really don wad do wear a Yangees shird in publig. It would ruin my image.”

“Uh huh.”

“I really fuckig hade da Yangees.” The puppy dog eyes he gave you would have worked on absolutely anybody else.

“Is that the only reason you decided to cheat?”

“I didden cheed!” Steve cried indignantly.

“Oh, really? So that little stunt you pulled was, what, just for the hell of it?”

Steve pouted. It shouldn’t have looked as adorable as it did. “You alwayd dell me dat nudding ditrags you. I jud wadded to dee if it wad drue.”

“And that whole thing about taking me on a date if you won? Did you really need to resort to cheating to get me to go on a date with you?”

“Well, dis way you cand day no.”

Smacking his shoulder, you glared at him. “Steve Rogers, if you want to go on a date with me so desperately, then just bloody well ask me!”

Suddenly turning serious, Steve looked at you with a hopeful expression on his handsome, slightly beaten up face. “Y/N, will you plead go on a dade wid me?”

Rolling your eyes, you replied, “If it will prevent you from acting like a complete idiot in the immediate future, then I suppose I can go on one date with you. We can’t have America’s favourite senior citizen being unhappy, can we?”

The smile on Steve’s face could have generated enough power to light up a small country.

Chapter Text

“So where is Steve taking you for your date, Y/N?” asked Wanda curiously. It had been a couple of weeks since the Pool Table Incident, and Steve had only told you last night that he’d finally arranged everything to his satisfaction, and requested that you be ready by 10am the next morning.

“I really don’t know. He won’t tell me anything. Not a single tiny hint as to what we might be doing. Hence why I don’t know what to wear.” You stood in the middle of your room with your hands on your hips, staring at the contents of your wardrobe which were currently strewn across your bed.

“Make sure you shave your legs,” grinned Nat. “You might be getting lucky.” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, and laughingly dodged the pillow that you threw at her.

“I’m almost one hundred percent positive that Steve Rogers, of all people, is not going to expect me to sleep with him on the first date,” you retorted. “But I’d probably better shave anyway. I can’t wear a cute dress if I look like I’m sporting a forest on my legs.”

“Knowing Steve, he will want you to dress comfortably. Maybe he’ll take you on his motorcycle. You’d better wear jeans,” Wanda instructed.

“Good idea.” You rummaged through the items on your bed, and Wanda and Nat offered suggestions as you held up various articles of clothing for approval. Eventually you opted for skinny jeans, a lace knit sweater, chunky woollen cowl and comfy boots, as it was early fall and the weather was starting to get cooler.

 First date outfit

“Are you sure I look alright?” you fretted, as you swiped on another coat of mascara and a slick of your favourite lipstick. Nat had offered to do your hair in a French braid, rather than your usual messy bun, which you had gratefully accepted.

“You look adorable. Steve is going to love you,” Wanda assured you.

“He already does,” teased Nat, pressing a brief kiss to your cheek before pushing you out the door. “Go on. Your Captain awaits." 

********************************************

 Steve on Harley

Steve sat astride his black Harley-Davidson Street 750, looking as movie-star handsome as ever in a plaid shirt, beige trousers and the brown leather jacket that you had been coveting ever since you first saw him wearing it. How unfair, you thought. Nobody should be allowed to look that good in beige. Or plaid.

That megawatt smile was out in full force the instant Steve saw you. “Doll, you look beautiful.” He wrapped you in a warm hug and gave you a brief, chaste kiss on the lips. “You don’t mind going on the Harley, do you?”

“Are you kidding? I’ve been dreaming about wrapping my legs around this beast ever since I laid eyes on it,” you replied enthusiastically.

Steve’s eyes widened. “Really?”

You suddenly realised the implication of what you had said and blushed furiously. “I meant the bike!”

“Of course you did,” he smirked. He handed you a helmet. “Put this on. Can’t have you risking that pretty little head of yours.”

“You never wear one,” you argued.

“That’s because at my age I’m allowed to have a blatant disregard for my own personal safety. But you, my dear, are a different story. I’m not going to let you get on this bike without a helmet. Besides,” he added sanctimoniously. “It’s the law.”

“Yes, sir, Captain Rogers, sir!” You saluted him, giggling as he rolled his eyes in mock exasperation. You strapped on the helmet and then hopped on the Harley behind Steve, trying not to grope him too much as you held onto his waist. You felt his rock-hard abs underneath his shirt, and you had to bite your lip to prevent yourself from letting out a lusty moan at the contact.

“Ready to roll, doll-face?” Steve asked.

“Tally ho, Captain!”

********************************************

“I can’t believe you brought me to an art class! I can’t draw to save myself,” you hissed at Steve.

“Come on, Y/N, it will be fun. You need to get out of your comfort zone.” Steve was already sketching the life model seated in the middle of the room. His pencil practically flew over the paper, and the tip of his tongue poked out the side of his mouth as he concentrated. He had never looked more adorable.

“Yeah, well, when all I end up with after two hours is a stick figure, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

You did your best to make your drawing not look like a cartoon, truly you did, but you were much more accurate with a sniper rifle than a charcoal pencil. Try as you might, you could not make the lines on your paper resemble anything close to the person you were attempting to draw. At the end of the two hour session, you had a picture that could probably have passed as having been done by a toddler.

The person running the class was currently gushing over Steve’s sketch. It was an extremely realistic portrait of the life model, and Steve was very modestly proclaiming it as “not the best thing I’ve ever done.” You emitted a very unladylike snort. Trust Steve to be self-deprecating about what was clearly the best drawing in the entire group. He very graciously signed it and gifted it to the life model, who was too star-struck to do anything except nod in thanks.

The art director came to your drawing next, and very politely deemed it an “interesting interpretation.” You took that to be art speak for “not very good.”

Steve inspected your work, and very gallantly smothered his urge to burst out laughing at your attempted masterpiece.

“I told you I have no artistic skill whatsoever. My two-year-old niece could do a better job than this.”

“No, doll, it’s very… modern. Abstract, even. Kind of reminds me of Jackson Pollock,” Steve said diplomatically.

“Pollock was rubbish. Hey, maybe if I drank absinsthe like Picasso and Dali did, I’d have done a better job.”

Steve grinned. “I’m gonna get this framed and hang it in my living room. It’s a one-of-a-kind Y/N Y/L/N original. It’ll be worth a shit-ton of money one day,” he teased.

You gave another extremely un-ladylike snort. “Steve, I’m pretty sure that Tony would pay you to not have that… thing… anywhere near the Compound. And I wouldn’t blame him in the slightest. It’s hideous.”

“True. But you had fun, didn’t you?”

You grudgingly admitted that you had. “So, where to next, Captain?”

“Hang on, you’ve got a little something…” Steve reached out to cup your face, rubbing his thumb against your cheek. Your breath hitched at the contact. After a few seconds, Steve dropped his hand. “Sorry, you had a smudge of charcoal on your cheek, and I couldn’t let you go out in public looking like that.”

“How noble of you,” you murmured faintly.

“Ready for our next adventure?” he asked, holding out his arm.

You looped yours through his. “Lead on, oh Captain my Captain.”

******************************************** 

It appeared that Steve’s idea of a good time was to inflict as much pain on you as possible. First the art class, and now…

Steve had gotten his tattoo first, and it had given you a small sense of satisfaction to know that he could in fact feel pain, given the amount of wincing that he had done as the tattoo artist decorated his skin. He had designed a symbol to represent each of the original six Avengers, and it was cool in a minimalist sort of way.

 Avengers tattoo

 

“Nearly done. It’s looking really good,” the tattooist smiled. 

“I cannot believe I let you talk me into this.” You looked down at your foot, where the tattooist was filling in the final ring of the small Captain America shield emblazoned there.

“It’s too late to chicken out now,” Steve gloated, causing you to huff out a laugh. This made you jiggle your leg slightly, and the tattooist glared at Steve in admonishment of the sudden movement. After a few more minutes, he put down his needle and nodded in satisfaction at his handiwork.

Cap shield tattoo

“It looks kinda cool, doesn’t it?” You had to admit that the artist had done a fantastic job.

“It looks amazing, Y/N. Besides, this way everybody knows that we are best friends forever,” Steve said.

“Right. Because the fact that we keep calling each other our BFF isn’t enough to convince them.”

“Well, now you can never get rid of me. I’m a permanent part of you. And also, this means that you’ve got bragging rights about how much braver you are than Bucky and Sam. I haven’t been able to convince either of them to get one yet.” Steve leaned over and whispered in your ear. “Your courage is one of the sexiest things about you.” He pressed a soft kiss behind your ear before standing up.

You nearly choked on the breath you suddenly inhaled. Good grief, what the hell had gotten into Steve Rogers? Ever since you’d agreed to go on a date with him, he had been flirtatious – sometimes even outrageously suggestive – and it was turning you on faster than the time in tenth grade when you’ve discovered the spin cycle on the washing machine at the local laundromat.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. Shall we grab a bite to eat?” Steve asked.

You didn’t trust yourself to speak, so you just nodded and followed him back to his motorcycle.

********************************************

One of the things Steve loved most about you was the fact that you were not ashamed to admit just how much you loved food. At the diner the two of you regularly frequented for lunch, you had tucked into a burger with the lot, cheese fries and a chocolate milkshake, and had greedily eyed his chilli dog and onion rings. You had even had the audacity to ask what was for dessert before you were halfway through your meal. Steve had tried not to laugh when you had cheekily stolen some of his onion rings, insisting that food always tasted better when it came from someone else’s plate.

Steve politely thanked the waitress who placed a generous serving of apple pie and whipped cream in front of you – “It’s on the house, honey” - together with two spoons so you could share the dessert. He smiled fondly at you, enjoying the sight of you tucking into the delicious pastry with gusto. The groan of satisfaction you gave after tasting it almost brought him undone.

“Can I tell you a secret, doll?” Steve asked.

“Ooooh! I love secrets!” You clapped your hands together and then eagerly leaned across the table. “I’m all ears, Cap,” you said expectantly.

“I actually hate apple pie,” he whispered conspiratorially. He grinned at the shocked expression on your face.

What? But you always eat my apple pie. You always tell me how much you love it.”

“I only eat it because you made it, and I hate to see all of that effort wasted. But if I had my preference, I would never eat another fucking apple pie as long as I lived.”

You slumped back in your seat. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. You lied to me? Captain America lied?

“To be fair, I never told anybody that I liked apple pie. For some reason, people just started assuming that I did, and before I knew it, everywhere I went people were offering me apple pie. It’s like how everybody believes Thor likes Pop Tarts, when we all know that he actually can’t stand them.”

You narrowed your eyes. “Damn fanfiction.”

Steve stared at you in confusion. “Fanfiction?”

You giggled. “Yeah. Stories that fans write about people or characters that they love. They make up all sorts of stuff, and somehow a lot of it becomes canon.”

When Steve’s expression grew even more puzzled, you elaborated. “If something is canon, it means that it is something that has been officially accepted as a fact by everyone. I know for certain that the Pop Tart thing came from a fanfic about when Thor first landed on Earth. The apple pie myth is probably similar for Captain America. I mean, you are about as American as apple pie. At least, that was the official S.H.I.E.L.D. description on all the propaganda they put out after you were discovered in the ice. I blame Coulson for that one.”

His eyes widened in understanding. “Oh! So because Captain America is synonymous with apple pie, then naturally everybody assumes that I love it.”

“I guess so.” You grinned. “Also, you smell like cinnamon, so that probably doesn’t help.”

Steve’s eyebrows furrowed. “I smell like cinnamon?”

“Mm hmm. Appropriate, really, seeing as how you are the world’s biggest cinnamon roll. Every time I hug you, I get the sudden desire to race to the nearest bakery and inhale every sugary treat I can lay my hands on.”

He grinned. “Is that why you workout so hard?”

“Yep. Being best friends with Captain America means that I run the risk of getting fat simply because he always smells so goddamn delicious.”

Something gleamed in Steve’s eyes, causing you to wonder what he was going to do next. You didn’t have to wait for long to find out, as he stood up and threw some bills on the table before dragging you from the diner. Once outside, and before you could fully comprehend what was happening, he grabbed your face in both of his hands and kissed you as if his life depended on it. It was fierce and passionate and breathtaking and very unlike Steve, his tongue swirling in your mouth as if he was trying to devour you.

Just when you thought you were going to pass out from oxygen deprivation, Steve pulled away and rested his forehead against yours, breathing heavily. “Sorry, I just really needed to do that.”

“No need to apologise,” you squeaked.

“Let’s head home. I’d rather not continue this in public,” Steve said, straddling the Harley. You didn’t hesitate to hop on behind him, barely having time to grab hold of him before he raced back to the Compound.

As first dates went, it was definitely one to remember.

 

Chapter Text

When you and Steve returned to the Compound after your date, you ignored the teasing and catcalls and endless questions from the rest of the team, and headed straight to Steve’s rooms.

The first time you’d ever entered Steve’s apartment, you were dumbfounded. The man had been in the army, and he was always so immaculately dressed, that you had naturally assumed that his rooms would be just as neat as he was. You could not have been more wrong. You’d been horrified to find socks strewn all around the room, his bed unmade, dirty dishes everywhere, and had blushed profusely at the sight of his boxers hanging over the lamp next to the bed. He was, quite frankly, disgusting.

Now, though, you were used to his messy ways. He had become a bit more tidy since you’d first met him, as he’d felt guilty about you constantly cleaning up his mess, and therefore made more of an effort to not be a complete slob.

Stumbling over a pile of dirty clothes – honestly, the man seemed never to have heard of a laundry hamper – you dragged Steve onto his bed, and he willingly followed you, his lips chasing yours as you pulled away slightly when you lay down. Your lips had hardly left his since entering his apartment, your hands twined in his hair while his hands gripped your waist. You felt as if you had drunk an entire cask of Thor’s Asgardian liquor. If this was what it was like to be kissed by Steve Rogers, imagine what it would feel like if you had sex with him!

Your brain nearly stopped working at the thought.

Steve’s shirt had come untucked from his trousers, exposing a small expanse of his trim waist and that fabulous six-pack that you had been wanting to run your hands over since this morning. However, the moment you started to turn that fantasy into reality, he stilled completely. Almost as if a switch had been flicked, he stopped kissing you and sat up abruptly.

“Y/N, stop.”

You frowned, not quite believing what you were hearing. “I don’t want to stop.”

You reached for him again, but he grabbed your hands and stopped you. “Doll, we need to slow this down.”

You sat up, giving him a perplexed look. “Why? Didn’t you like what I was doing?”

Steve gave a rueful chuckle. “Believe me, sweetheart, I loved what you were doing. But I think we need to take a step back and just… slow things down a bit.”

“Okaaaaaaay…”

Taking a deep breath, Steve said, “I really just want to do things the right way. So I think it would be best if we finish up here, and join the others.”

“Steve…”

He gave you a warning look. “Y/N. I would really appreciate it if you respected my decision.”

Crap. He thought you didn’t respect him. “I’m sorry, Steve. I was just caught up in the moment. It’s been such a great day and I guess I just don’t want things to end.”

He smiled softly. “We can continue this at another time. Just not now.”

“Alright. Another time.”

He pressed a kiss to your forehead and then wrapped an arm around your shoulders. “Come on, doll. Let’s go show Bucky and Sam your badass tattoo.”

********************************************

For the month following your date, Steve showered you with tokens of affection. He sent you so many bouquets – a new bunch every other day - that you used every vase available within the New Avengers Facility, including from other departments. The entire building looked like a florist shop. Wanda swooned every time you received a new floral arrangement. Bruce complained that his allergies were being sent into overdrive.

You received so many boxes of chocolates that Loki and Thor were more than happy to take them off your hands in order to prevent you from going into a diabetic coma.

The number of stuffed toys he gave you meant that your living quarters now resembled the game booths on the Coney Island boardwalk. Peter was ecstatic when you palmed off several teddy bears to him, as was Scott’s daughter Cassie.

The one thing that Steve would not do, however, was spend time alone with you. He always made sure that at least one other team member was present at all times, whether during training sessions in the gym, or when you were chatting in the common room. Worst of all, he’d invite Bucky or Sam, quite often both of them, whenever you went for a walk, or for lunch at the diner, or to watch movies in your apartment. And whenever he left you for the night, it was always with a brief hug and a chaste kiss on the lips.

It was getting to the point where you couldn’t sleep due to the sexual frustration that was building up inside you. Why wouldn’t Steve touch you? Why did he always insist on having a fucking chaperone wherever the two of you went?

Natasha thought it was hilarious. Wanda was much more sympathetic, and tried to remind you of just how long it had been since Steve had been involved in a serious relationship. “He’s used to doing things differently, Y/N. Just give him some time.”

“It’s been weeks, Wanda! He hasn’t kissed me properly since our first date. He’s refusing even to do that much with me. How much time does he want?” you wailed.

She smiled softly. “A lifetime.”

You turned your stunned expression to your friend. “What did you just say?”

Wanda had the good grace to look guilty. “I didn’t mean to read his thoughts! He’s just… he might as well be yelling them from the top of the Empire State Building. His thoughts are practically screaming at me.” She grabbed one of your hands in both of hers, smiling fondly. “Y/N, Steve loves you so much. He wants to build a life with you. He’s just scared of pushing you away if he shows too much too soon.”

“But the over-the-top gestures he’s been bombarding me with aren’t going to scare me off?” you asked wryly.

Wanda grinned. “He feels that he has to compete with the gifts that Tony gave you when you were together. I think he feels a bit insecure that he can’t provide for you as well as he thinks he should.”

You rolled your eyes. “Good grief, I don’t need a bunch of flowers every day and enough chocolate to run my own confectionary store and fifty goddamn teddy bears for him to prove how much he loves me! I just need Steve.”

“Then maybe you should tell him that.”

You sighed. “Yeah, except that it’s not a conversation that I really want to have with an audience. Steve’s always got someone with him so we can’t be alone together.”

Wanda winked mischievously. “Leave that to me.”

******************************************** 

“Steve? What are you doing here?”

Steve entered your quarters and sat down on your bed with a concerned look on his face. He brushed a strand of hair behind your ear, cupping your face gently as he did so. “Are you alright, sweetheart? Wanda said you weren’t feeling well.”

 Steve white shirt

Wanda, you sneaky witch, you mentally yelled at her. You might have imagined her laughter echoing through the hallway of the Compound. “I’m just feeling a bit… meh.”

Steve quirked at eyebrow at you. “Meh? That’s very descriptive.”

You shrugged. “It’s how I’m feeling.”

“Alright. So why are you feeling ‘meh’?” he asked good-naturedly.

“Well, you see, there’s this guy…”

Steve’s heart clenched. This is it. This is the part where she tells me that she just wants to be friends because she’s interested in somebody else. “Oh, really? What’s he like?”

“He’s pretty great. Kind, sweet, brave. A real stand-up sort of guy. As American as apple pie.”

He breathed a mental sigh of relief. “Sounds nice.”

“Yeah. Except that I’m not really sure that he feels the same way that I do.”

Steve’s forehead creased in a frown. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you see, I’m getting a lot of mixed signals from him. He gives me a lot of nice things – flowers and cute little gifts, really thoughtful. But then he won’t actually spend any time with me. Not without an entourage, anyway. I’m starting to think that maybe he doesn’t actually want to be with me.”

“Y/N…”

“Because my previous boyfriend also gave me a lot of nice gifts, but they didn’t really mean anything because he never really loved me. So I’m wondering if there’s a pattern with the type of men that I fall for.”

Steve groaned. He’d been so busy trying to woo you the way he thought you should be wooed, that he hadn’t stopped to consider that you might feel as if he was treating you the very same way that Tony had.

“What’s wrong with me, Steve? Why don’t you want to be with me? Was our date so terrible that you realised that I’m not actually what you want?” The hurt in your voice was more than Steve could bear.

“Oh, darlin’, no. You are everything I’ve ever wanted.” He scooped you into his arms, pressing a kiss to your temple. “Doll, you’ve got to remember that I’m used to doing things differently. I just want to do things the right way.”

“But what’s the ‘right’ way, Steve? I don’t know what you want from me. After our date, I thought everything was going really well, but since then you haven’t even kissed me properly again. It’s been a month and it’s like we never kissed at all. Was it that bad?”

Bright blue eyes looked deeply into yours. “Absolutely not. It was the best kiss I’ve had in seventy-five years.” He scratched the back of his neck, trying to consider the words necessary to convey his meaning to you. “Y/N, you know I never got the chance to court Peggy the way I hoped to. I crashed into the ice and the next thing I knew I’d woken up in another century. I might as well have been in a whole new world.”

You sat quietly, listening to Steve’s deep voice. You knew that he was trying to tell you something important. You just hoped that whatever it was wouldn’t break your heart.

“I always thought that one day I’d get married, have a few kids. You know, it was what was expected in those days. Even though back then, no dame ever looked at me twice. Especially whenever Bucky was around. Nobody ever noticed me until Peggy.”

Peggy. No matter what happened with Steve, everything always came back to Peggy Carter. You felt an irrational stab of jealousy at the woman who’d captured Steve’s heart all those years ago.

“When I came out of the ice, the world was so different. Everyone had moved on. Except me. I was still mentally in the 1940s, trying to figure out my place in this modern world. A world without Peggy or Bucky, as far as I knew.”

Steve held your hand, interlacing his fingers with yours. “I met a few girls, nice enough in their own way, but they never really wanted me. They wanted Captain America. They didn’t give a rat’s ass about Steve Rogers. But I dated a couple of them anyway, because that’s what you do when a pretty girl is interested, right? You go out, have a few drinks, then give them what they want.”

You heard the hurt and pain in Steve’s voice, and your heart ached for him. “What those girls wanted wasn’t the same thing that I wanted. I wanted to be with someone who liked me for me. They wanted to be able to brag about sleeping with Captain America. So I stopped dating. I swore that I wasn’t going to date ever again, because Peggy was gone, and there was nobody in the world who could ever come close to matching her, so what was the point?”

He gave you a soft smile. “And then I met you. Y/N Y/L/N. A no-nonsense, straight-talking, courageous woman with a smile that could stop traffic and a laugh that could probably be heard halfway around the world. Someone who can drink most guys under the table, and still act like a lady. A girl who swears like a sailor but blushes if I tell a dirty joke. A world-class soldier who is supremely confident when storming a HYDRA base, yet gets confused when a guy tries to flirt with her. The first woman I’ve met since Peggy Carter who saw the real Steve Rogers, and decided that he was worth knowing as an actual person. That has meant more to me than just about anything since I rejoined the world.”

You found yourself looking into Steve’s eyes again as he continued explaining. “You are the first woman I’ve been with that makes me feel anything remotely like what I felt for Peggy. And so I’ve tried to do things with you the way I would have done them with her.”

“But I’m not her, Steve!” you cried in frustration. “I’m not Peggy! I’m me, not some substitute for the life you never got to have.”

“I know that!” Steve closed his eyes and willed himself to control his temper. You didn’t deserve any further pain; he’d already unwittingly caused you enough. “It’s just… I never got the chance to court Peggy. Not properly. By the time we let each other know how we felt, it was already too late. And you are the only woman I’ve met since then that I want to treat the way I would have treated her. You deserve to be courted the right way. To be treated like a lady, rather than a conquest. I don’t want you to think that I just want you for sex, because I don’t. I’m in this for the long haul, and I just wanted to treat you the way I think you should be treated. I wanted to let you know how much I love and respect you. I was raised at a time when you were supposed to wait until you were married before you did any of those sorts of things. I keep forgetting that things work differently nowadays.”

Your heart broke, just a little. This poor, sweet man had, in his own way, been trying to show you how much you meant to him by not actively pursuing you. You cursed every deity under the sun for dealing this man such a terrible hand in life.

“Oh, Steve. The world has taken so much away from you.” You kissed his cheek and then rested your head on his shoulder. “I didn’t realise that by keeping your distance, you were showing me just how much you care about me. I thought it meant that you weren’t interested.”

“Believe me, doll, I’m very fucking interested.”

You grinned at him. “I thought maybe you were ashamed to admit that you were really still a virgin.”

He mock-glared at you. “I’m a hundred, Y/N, not fucking dead. I’ve had sex. It just didn’t really do anything for me. The way everybody talks about it, I always thought it was meant to be a pretty big deal, but to be honest I found the whole experience pretty disappointing.”

“That’s because you’re the type of person that needs to feel an emotional connection to the person you’re sleeping with. Your first time should have been with someone who cares about you as much as you care about them. You’re not a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of guy. Not like Tony.” You shook your head. “Before Tony, I always swore that I would never sleep with a guy on the first date. He had to get to at least date number three before I’d even let him feel me up, let alone consider going to bed with him.”

“Dare I ask how long it took for you to sleep with Tony?” Steve asked with some amusement.

You winced as you admitted, “About twenty-seven minutes.”

You were expecting the Eyebrows of Disappointment, but Steve surprised you by bursting out laughing, grabbing his left boob as he did so. He laughed so hard that he fell off the bed. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, blondie.”

He pouted at you, causing you to snort softly before you pulled him to you for a hug. As he was still sitting on the floor, he wrapped his arms around your waist and rested his head against your chest with a grateful sigh. After a few minutes, you pulled away slightly and looked at him seriously. “Maybe we can come to some sort of a compromise?”

“I’m listening…”

“Well, now that I understand your reasons for keeping your distance, I just want you to know that I completely respect your feelings. If you want to take things slowly, then that’s perfectly fine. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t kiss me, or spend time alone with me.”

Steve nodded. “Perhaps I’ve taken it a bit too far. I just didn’t want you to think that I only want you for one thing.”

“I know you don’t, Steve. And I’m happy to take things as far as you feel comfortable with. If you just want to hold hands and kiss me, that’s fine. If you want to fool around a little, that’s OK too. And in the event that you decide that you don’t want to wait until you’re too old to have sex anymore, just know that I am more than willing to take that step as well.”

Steve gave you an appreciative smile. “You mean that? You’re happy to go with what I’m comfortable with?”

“Absolutely. The world has stolen so much from you, Steve. I can give you this one thing. We’ll only go as far as you want to. I love you enough to wait for you.” You caressed his face with your hand, hoping he understood just how much you cared about him.

“But you’re definitely fine with me kissing you?” Steve insisted.

“More than fine. I’ve been dreaming about kissing you again ever since our first date.”

He smirked, even as a blush bloomed across his face. “I’ve been dreaming about doing a lot more than that, doll.”

You smacked his chest, causing his smirk to widen. “Don’t push your luck, mister. Now, if you’ve said everything you need to, I think it’s time you kissed me.”

Steve didn’t need to be told twice.

Chapter Text

“Trigger, get the fuck out of there now!” Steve commanded.

“No! I can take them out, just give me another minute.” You started towards the enemy base, already reloading your Beretta M9.

“Y/N, you need to leave! We have the intel we need. Get your ass back to the Quinjet now!

“Captain, one of our own is still in there and I am not leaving without him!” You heard Steve swear under his breath, but you ignored him as you headed back into the fray. Coming across an enemy combatant as you rounded the corner, you fired your pistol and continued to make your way back to the building.

“Y/L/N, disengage. That’s a fucking order!” Steve yelled in frustration.

“With all due respect, Captain, I am not leaving until every member of this team is safe.” You turned off your comms and ran straight into the line of fire.

********************************************

You practically dragged the rescued S.H.I.E.L.D. agent onto the Quinjet just as the boarding ramp was being raised. Depositing him into a seat, you strapped him in and then helped Sam remove his tac suit so that his wounds could be treated on the way back to the Compound.

Once Sam had things under control, you started to remove your own gear. Steve stalked up to you, his expression thunderous. “What the fuck was that back there?”

Angry Steve Rogers

Returning his fiery gaze with a cool one of your own, you shrugged. “I was doing my job.”

“You disobeyed a direct order! You undermined my command, you jeopardised the safety of several agents, and you very nearly cost us this entire fucking operation!”

“But I didn’t. It was a success, and all of us are safe. I’d say it was mission accomplished.”

“You had no right to disobey me,” Steve seethed.

“Sorry, Captain, but I disagree. There was absolutely no way that I was going to let a member of this team die when I could prevent it. I will not have something like that on my conscience.”

“I should write you up for insubordination,” he snarled. “In fact, I’m going to recommend that you be stood down from any further missions until you’ve had a full psychological evaluation.”

“What the fuck? Why the fuck would you do that?”

Steve continued to glare at you. If you had been a newer recruit, no doubt you would have found his pose intimidating. He towered over you, his hands on his hips, chest heaving with anger and his face twisted with rage. As it was, you were just getting irritated, and you mirrored his stance as you returned his glare.

The rest of the team watched the interaction with fascinated expressions, their eyes bouncing between you and Steve as if they were watching a particularly riveting tennis match. The two of you had obviously had disagreements in the past – no friendship within the team hadn’t at some point or another – but never anything on this sort of scale.

“Y/N, what you did was reckless. You needlessly endangered not only yourself, but other agents as well. Your judgement on the last few missions has been questionable. I’m going to request that you be taken off any upcoming missions until further notice.”

You stared incredulously at Steve. “Who the fuck died and made you Captain?”

“That would be me,” replied Director Fury from the video link in the cockpit. “And I agree with Captain Rogers, Agent Y/L/N. You are to be stood down immediately, pending psychological examination.”

Steve stood with his hand out. “Your badge.”

Trembling with anger, you ripped off your Avengers insignia and threw it at his feet. Then you turned on your heel and stomped to the part of the Quinjet that was the furthest away from him, refusing to look at him for the entire flight home. The twins sat with you, Pietro holding your hand and murmuring in Russian while Wanda tried to soothe your temper by sending calming energy to you.

When the jet landed at the Compound, you raced down the boarding ramp before it had fully descended, and locked yourself in your apartment.

Steve didn’t follow you.

********************************************

True to his word, when providing the debrief regarding the mission, Steve recommended that you be stood down from active duty, and requested that you undergo psychological assessment in order to determine your fitness to return to field work. Director Fury seconded the recommendation, and so you found yourself grounded indefinitely.

The strain it put on your relationship was palpable. You were far too angry and hurt to even look at Steve, and he had no idea how to initiate a conversation with you that didn’t involve bringing up your disobedience. You avoided each other as much as possible, and the others started to wonder whether your relationship – especially your friendship – was now over.

The rest of the team walked on eggshells around both of you, fearing being on the receiving end of your wrath.

It was almost a relief when the rest of them were called away to deal with other matters, leaving you and Steve alone at the Facility. 

********************************************

“I thought I might find you up here.”

You didn’t bother turning around. You could hear the crunch of the gravel underneath Steve’s boots. Why there was gravel on the roof of the New Avengers Facility, you had no idea, but who were you to question anything?

Taking a long drag of your cigarette, you steadfastly ignored Steve as he sat next to you, his long legs dangling over the side of the building. You didn’t miss the fact that he kept a few inches of space between you, rather than the closeness you usually shared.

“I thought you quit,” he muttered disapprovingly.

“The stress of the past couple of weeks made me take it up again.” You stubbed out your cigarette and hugged your knees to your chest, continuing to avoid looking at Steve. “If you’ve come to yell at me again, you can just turn around and fuck off. I’ve had enough yelling to last me a good twelve months, thanks.”

“Y/N, it’s been nearly two weeks. Don’t you think it’s time we talked about it?”

You shook your head. “Nope. All I’ve done since we got back from the last mission is talk. I’ve talked to the team psych and Director Fury and Secretary Ross and the S.H.I.E.L.D. board of directors, and I’m sick of it. That’s why I came up here. So I wouldn’t have to talk anymore.”

Steve sighed. “Y/N, don’t shut me out.”

You turned your incredulous gaze on your team leader. “Steve, you grounded me. You made me hand over my badge. Forgive me if I don’t exactly want to be around you right now.”

There was blissful silence for several minutes as you sat under the stars, wishing that you could be out there amongst them. Maybe if you bribed him with copious amounts of chocolate, Loki would agree to take you with him to Asgard the next time he had to report to Odin. Anything to get away from the Compound for a while.

“Why did you do it?” Steve asked.

“What?”

“Why did you disobey me? What made you go back after I expressly ordered you not to?” Steve didn’t sound angry, just curious.

You shrugged. “I couldn’t leave a team member behind.”

“You could have died.”

“And Agent Quinn would have died if I hadn’t gone back for him. I had to save him, Steve. I couldn’t live with myself if anything had happened to him when I could have prevented it.”

“Y/N, as your Commanding Officer, what you did was reckless and stupid. I was right to call you out. Grounding you was absolutely the correct decision to make based on your actions.”

You felt tears sting your eyes at the rebuke.

“However…” Steve paused, taking a deep breath. “As your friend, I totally understand why you did it. You have such a strict sense of right and wrong, even more than me sometimes. I get why you felt compelled to save him. If I was in your position, I probably would have done the same thing. And as your boyfriend, I have never been more proud of you.”

He paused again, then sighed. “But when we are on a mission, you need to follow my orders to the letter. I outrank you; you are my subordinate, and that wasn’t your call to make. You should have listened to me, Y/N.”

“I couldn’t let him die, Steve. I can’t have that guilt weighing me down. Not again.” You stifled a sob.

Steve frowned at you. “What do you mean, again?”

He felt a flash of panic when he noticed the tears streaming down your face. “You remember that mission I was on in Colombia with Clint and Nat? About six months ago?”

“The drug cartel?”

You nodded. “They’d lined up all of the adult males in the village, ready to execute them because they’d ratted out the cartel to the authorities. I had the kingpin in my sights, and I had the shot lined up. I was ready to take it. My finger had started to squeeze the trigger. And then I paused, because a little boy ran into the line of fire.”

Steve looked at you, saying nothing. He held his breath waiting for you to continue.

“The kid was yelling at them not to kill his father. He stood directly in front of the head of the cartel, pleading with him not to kill his dad. So I hesitated, because I was afraid that I might miss the shot and kill this boy by accident.”

You took a shuddering breath. “And the kingpin smiled and said, ‘OK kid, I won’t kill your papa.’ And then he shot the child instead. He murdered him in cold blood and didn’t even bat an eyelid.” You sobbed, your body shaking. “This kid couldn’t have been any older than seven, and he died because I didn’t do my job.”

Steve gathered you into his arms and held you as you sobbed into his chest. “Oh, sweetheart. It wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes it was! If I had taken the shot when I was supposed to, that little boy would still be alive. I didn’t shoot because I was scared I might kill him accidentally, and he ended up dead anyway. An innocent child died because I hesitated.”

“Oh, baby girl, you didn’t know what would happen.”

“That’s not the point, Steve. I didn’t do my job, and someone died that shouldn’t have. Tony was right. I’m not good enough for this job. I’m not cut out to be an Avenger.”

You clung to Steve as you continued to sob relentlessly, and he tightened his hold on you, pressing kisses into your hair. Damn you, Stark, for putting these thoughts into her head. “Doll, why didn’t you tell me any of this? Why did you keep it to yourself all this time?”

You wiped your eyes with the back of your hand. “Because you’ve already got so much crap to deal with, as the Commander of this team. I didn’t want to burden you further.”

“Baby, me being Commander is exactly the reason you need to come to me with this stuff. I can’t help you deal with things if I don’t know what’s going on with you.”

You shook your head. “You have enough on your plate. You don’t need to deal with my shit too.”

He stared into your eyes intently. “Well, if you won’t tell me as your C.O., you should at least tell me as your boyfriend. I love you, Y/N. I’m always going to be here for you, you know that.”

“I’m a mess, Steve. You don’t need someone like me ruining your life.”

“Y/N…”

You disentangled yourself from his embrace, then stood up and turned away from Steve. “I think I just need some time to myself for a bit. Don’t come looking for me.”

You headed back inside the Compound, leaving Steve wondering what in the hell he was going to do.

********************************************

“What are you saying, Steve? Did Y/N break up with you because you grounded her?” Sam asked in confusion. The rest of the team had returned from their mission that morning, and were stunned to discover that you were still refusing to see Steve.

“No. She thinks she’s not good enough for me. For any of us.”

Loki scoffed. “Y/N is one of the most competent people on this team. She deserves to be here more than most of us.” Steve looked at him with some surprise. He hadn’t realised how much Loki respected you.

Thor nodded his agreement with his brother’s sentiment. “Lady Y/N has most definitely earned her place among us.”

“Yeah, she’s totally awesome!” Peter cried enthusiastically. “She’s kind, and funny, and super nice. And she’s a total badass.” Natasha broke into a grin at the teen’s uncharacteristic use of ‘bad’ language.

Steve sighed. “I know all of this. But Y/N doesn’t agree. She thinks that she doesn’t deserve to be a part of this team.”

“I wonder where she got that idea,” Pietro muttered, glaring at Tony.

Tony threw his hands up in the air. “For goodness sake, how many times do I have to apologise to her for that? I’ve already told her that I was sorry and that I didn’t mean what I said.”

Steve rubbed a hand over his face. “Unfortunately, Tony, she believes what you told her. She honestly feels that she should not be an Avenger.”

“That’s ridiculous! She’s more than earned her place on the team. We couldn’t manage without her,” Clint cried. Scott, Bruce and Wanda nodded in agreement.

While the team were arguing over how to convince you that you belonged with them, nobody noticed one person slip away from the group with quiet determination. 

********************************************

“How did you find me?” you asked quietly.

Bucky grinned. “Doll, I spent seventy years as a super-stealthy Russian assassin. I’ve had a bit of experience at tracking people. Especially when they don’t want to be found.”

“Yeah, well, usually when a person doesn’t want to be found, it’s because they want to be left alone,” you pointed out wryly.

Bucky shrugged. “I’ve never been very good at taking a hint. Just ask Wilson.”

He flopped down next to you on the grass. You were the only person who ever came to the far side of the lake at night – even Loki, who enjoyed the darkness more than most, rarely ventured out here after sunset – but it really shouldn’t have surprised you that Bucky, out of everyone, would seek you out. He understood self-imposed exile better than anyone.

“Doll, you need to come back. Stevie is going out of his mind worrying about you.”

You snorted. “Steve is part of the problem, Bucky.”

“He loves you, Y/N. It’s his job to kick your ass when you fuck up, but it’s also his job to help you get through any difficulties you’re facing.”

Tears filled your eyes. “He doesn’t understand, Bucky. He doesn’t know how it feels to fuck up so badly that you start to question every single decision you make. That’s all I’ve done since that mission in Colombia. I’m second guessing myself all the time and I don’t know how to stop it.”

It was a sign of just how much Bucky trusted you, and cared about you, that he wrapped his metal arm around your shoulders and pulled you close for a hug. “Doll, we all make mistakes. You learn from them and you move on.”

“How? I feel so guilty about everything. Ever since that little boy died because of me, I feel responsible for every single mistake that occurs if I’m on a mission. Regardless of whether it’s my fault or someone else’s. I don’t know if I can do this job anymore.”

“The fact that it hurts so much means that you’ve still got your soul. And that means that you’re still perfect for this role. The instant you stop caring, that’s when you know it’s time to give it away.”

You gave Bucky a puzzled frown. “What do you mean?”

“Remember I told you once that I remember every single person I killed for HYDRA?” You nodded.

“Well, to most of the world, I was absolutely cold and clinical about every single death I was responsible for. I did what I was ordered to do, without question and without any apparent remorse or feeling. But, deep down, a tiny part of me was screaming that what I was doing was wrong, and was fighting to stop me from doing it. I think that’s the part of me that Steve brought back after we fought on the helicarriers over Washington.”

You’d heard the stories. It was long before you joined S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers, but every recruit knew of the fight between Captain America and the infamous Winter Soldier. They knew that it had been the former HYDRA Asset who had pulled an unconscious Steve from the Potomac River after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., and had then gone on the run whilst trying to recover his memories.

“It took me a long time to accept the fact that I wasn’t really the monster that HYDRA had tried to turn me into. I always believed that because I’d killed all of those people without hesitation, that it automatically made me unworthy of forgiveness. I didn’t feel that I still deserved Steve’s friendship, or anyone else’s for that matter. I mean, Stark still hates my guts, but I killed his parents so I can’t really blame him for that.”

You shook your head. “That wasn’t your fault, Bucky. HYDRA brainwashed you. They forced you to commit those atrocities. We all know that you would never have done anything like that on your own.”

“So I’m worthy of forgiveness, of being a part of this team, of Steve’s friendship, even after all of the heinous things I’ve done, but somehow you aren’t?” He gave you a stern look, which settled into a satisfied smile when he noticed you squirming uncomfortably. “Y/N, you deserve to be here too. Did you mess up on that last mission? Yes. Did you deserve to get chewed out by Steve for not following orders? Big time. Did you deserve to be grounded? You bet your ass you did. But should you be kicked off the team? Hell no.”

“I’m a failure, Bucky. I shouldn’t be here.”

“Bullshit! You made a mistake. Happens to the best of us. We’ve all fucked up at one time or another.” He hugged you again, pressing a kiss to your temple. “I’ve even had therapy to help me deal with the fact that I’m not perfect.”

“No! You’re not perfect? Say it isn’t so!” you retorted sarcastically.

He chuckled softly. “It’s true. I’ve actually felt so bad over what I did in my past that I went and discussed things with Wilson.”

You glanced at Bucky skeptically, and he grinned. “You went to talk to Sam about what you went through when you were the Winter Soldier?”

“Yep. He actually knows his stuff. He gave me a lot of useful tips to help me deal with everything.” He gave you a mock-glare. “If you dare tell anyone that I told you that Sam Wilson is actually good at his job, I will make sure nobody ever finds your body.”

“Your secret is safe with me, Sarge.” You stared out over the lake, enjoying the reflection of the moon on the flat surface of the water. “Do you think he could help me?”

“Doll, I’m positive that he could. You need to talk to someone about what you’re going through, and clearly you don’t feel comfortable enough to talk about things with Steve. Sam won’t judge you or make fun of how you’re feeling. He’ll just listen, and give you advice on how to handle whatever is troubling you.”

You sighed. “I’ll think about it.”

“That’s all I can ask.” Bucky grinned. “And you think Stevie never makes mistakes? Doll, you need to hear about all of the stupid shit he did when he was a skinny punk growing up in Brooklyn. Never knew when to walk away from a fight, but he sure as hell knew how to start ‘em.”

“I already know this, Bucky.”

“Did you hear about the time he threw himself on a grenade to save everyone else in boot camp, before he got the serum?”

You stared at Bucky incredulously. “Steve threw himself on a grenade?”

“A dummy grenade, but he didn’t know that at the time. I nearly killed him myself when I found out.” Bucky laughed at the memory. He looked so much younger and more carefree when he laughed.

Smiling Bucky

“And then there was the time he was on a mission with Nat and jumped out of the plane without a parachute.”

“He did what?!”

You and Bucky passed the rest of the evening by the lake, with him sharing stories of the stupid things that Steve had done growing up, until you started to think that perhaps Steve did actually understand what it was like to make mistakes, after all. 

********************************************

The others looked up with astonishment when you and Bucky walked into the common room together, as it was nearing dawn.

Before Steve could stand up, you’d thrown your arms around his neck and whispered, “I’m so sorry.” He pulled you onto his lap and held you close, murmuring that everything was going to work out fine, while you sobbed into his neck.

Surprisingly, it was Tony that ushered everyone out of the room. “Alright, you vultures. Scram. Give Spangles and Annie Oakley some time to themselves. They don’t need audience participation right now.”

Steve gave Tony a grateful smile, and he returned it with a barely perceptible nod before following the rest of the team from the room and shutting the door quietly behind him.

Steve continued to hold you, rocking you gently and shushing you while you continued to cry convulsively. When you had eventually calmed down, you turned your tear-stained face to his. “I need help, Steve.”

“Whatever you need, darlin’. I’ll help you in any way that I can, you know that.”

You shook your head. “I appreciate it, Steve, but I think maybe Sam would be better. He’s got a bit more experience at dealing with the sort of stuff I’m going through.”

It stung a bit to hear that you didn’t want his help, but Steve nodded. “Alright. Did you want me to set something up with him, or did you want to do it yourself?”

“Could you come with me? Just to make sure I actually go through with it. I promised Bucky that I would.”

Steve nodded. “Sure. I’ll drag you to your appointments myself if I have to.”

“Thank you, Steve.”

He looked at you, still slightly concerned. “Does this mean you forgive me?”

You nodded shamefacedly. “I know that you did the right thing by forcing me to sit out for a while. I was just angry with how things had turned out. But I think the anger was more towards myself. I didn’t realise how much I was suffering after Colombia, and I just let it all build up to a point where I couldn’t handle it any more.”

Steve held you closer, pressing a kiss to your hair as you snuggled into his chest. After a few minutes, you sniffed. “Steve?” you whispered.

“Yeah, doll?”

“Do you forgive me?”

He sat in stunned silence for a few heartbeats. “Y/N…”

You pulled back and stared into his eyes, tears still brimming in yours. “Steve, I need to know that you forgive me. For shutting you out, for not obeying your orders…”

Steve pressed a finger to your lips. “Y/N, there’s nothing for me to forgive. I was the one who was out of line. I completely overreacted to what happened on that mission because I was shit-scared that I was going to lose you. It was completely unprofessional of me. I was not the leader that you, and the rest of the team, needed me to be in that moment. I will never be able to apologise enough for how I treated you.”

“Please, Steve…”

He sighed. “Doll, if that’s what you need to hear from me, then I’ll say it. If me saying ‘I forgive you’ helps you to move forward, then I can give you that. But as far as I’m concerned, you were right and I was wrong.”

Steve felt a weight lift from his shoulders when you giggled softly. “Don’t let Tony hear you say that. You’ll never hear the end of it.”

"I'm also going to recommend to Fury that from now on, you and I only work together on missions where the entire team is required. Clearly, whenever we work together, I can't separate my feelings for you enough to allow you to do your job effectively. My emotions are clouding my judgement. You work really well with Nat and Clint, so I think it would be best if we keep the three of you together as much as possible."

You nodded. "If that's what you think is best. I just want to get back to feeling like I'm actually doing some good with the team, instead of constantly second guessing myself."

Pressing his forehead to yours, Steve whispered, “I love you, Y/N. If you ever need help, just ask me and I'll do everything in my power to get you whatever you need.”

You gave him a soft smile. “I love you too, Steve. So much.”

He kissed you tentatively, and felt an enormous wave of relief when you returned his kiss. Everything was going to be alright. You were finally going to get the help that you needed, and eventually you would be reinstated to active duty. Most importantly, you forgave him for his horrendous behaviour, even though he didn't feel that he deserved it.

Steve knew that the love he felt for you was stronger than ever.  If this incident hadn’t torn the two of you apart, nothing would.

Chapter Text

Things had remained more than a bit awkward between you and Steve for the first few weeks after you’d resolved the argument you’d had following your last mission together. Steve was frightened of saying or doing something to further upset you, and you were still convinced that you didn’t deserve your place on the team or in his heart.

Eventually though, your deep love and respect for each other had allowed both of you to talk things over at length, and you reached the mutual agreement to discuss any future concerns with each other in private, away from the rest of the team, and to help one another as much as possible whenever either of you felt that the stress of the job was becoming overwhelming.

Once that decision had been made, your relationship had become much less strained, and starting reverting back to the playful teasing and easy affection that you had both shared before that disastrous mission. It still wasn’t exactly the way it had been before, but it was finally heading back in that direction, and it was a relief to everyone when you and Steve started to once again become comfortable in each other’s presence.

********************************************

You’d promptly forgotten the action movie that you and Steve had been watching in the common room the minute he started kissing you - tentatively at first, then gaining confidence when you didn’t reject his advances. God, you’d forgotten how fantastic it felt to be kissed by him.

Things were just starting to get interesting when Sam came in. He hastily covered his eyes with his hands before asking in a slightly strangled tone if you could let him know when you were both decent.

“What’s up, birdbrain?” you asked as you casually did up the top two buttons of your shirt, causing Steve to chuckle into your neck.

“Fury’s in the conference room. He needs you for a mission.”

Steve started disentangling himself from your embrace, when Sam held out a hand to stop him. “Not you, Cap. He needs Trigger.”

You and Steve stared at each other for a heartbeat, before you nodded and stood up. Pressing a quick kiss to Steve’s lips, you headed down to the conference room to get the briefing on your first mission in what felt like forever.

********************************************

Steve had never felt so lost in his entire life. Even after Bucky fell from the train, and when he knew without a doubt that he was never going to see Peggy again as the plane was about to crash into the ice, he had never felt so alone as he did at this point in time. It didn’t matter that Bucky was with him now, as well as Sam and Bruce and most of the others. You weren’t at the Compound, and it felt like part of him was missing.

True to his word, Steve had recommended that the two of you remain on separate teams for the foreseeable future, unless every single Avenger was required for a mission. His reasoning was that it would lessen any possible conflict of interest, as well as maintaining professional boundaries between you in the field. As you, Natasha and Clint had proven an effective combination in the past, he recommended that you remain a trio unless the situation called for the three of you to join the others. Fury and Coulson heartily agreed with this recommendation and implemented it, effective immediately.

As soon as Director Fury was satisfied that you were fit to return to active duty, he wasted absolutely no time in sending you out on a mission to eradicate several HYDRA bases that had been reactivated. He had sent you with Coulson, Natasha and Clint, with the order that you were not to return from Russia until the HYDRA bases had been dismantled.

The worst part was that for the duration of the mission, you had to go dark. No communication with the team whatsoever. Which meant that there was absolutely no way of knowing how long you would be gone, or whether you were alright. Or if you missed Steve as desperately as he missed you.

Steve boxing

It had been over two weeks, and Tony was grumbling about the number of punching bags he’d already had to replace in the gym. Peter and Thor were ecstatic with the number of goodies being stress baked at 2am, and Bruce was grateful that Steve had a tendency to iron when he couldn’t sleep – the team’s laundry pile was finally diminishing - although Bruce didn’t really think that everybody’s underwear and socks needed to be ironed. There was absolutely no way he was going to say anything about it, though.

Whenever anybody tried to discuss anything with Steve, however mundane, he would practically bite their head off as he snapped at them in a very un-Steve Rogers-like fashion. He’d even reduced Loki to tears at one stage, causing the rest of the team to vote unanimously to lock Steve in his room until he could learn to play nicely with everybody again. FRIDAY learned some curse words that Tony hadn’t uploaded into her system when Steve discovered that he couldn’t override the lock at breakfast the next morning.

Eventually, though, Bucky and Sam had both had enough. They dragged Steve down to the gym and proceeded to let him beat the snot out of them, tag teaming so that he worked out all of his pent up frustration with a solid workout. When he had finally rid himself of most of the agony in his heart, he was dripping with sweat, breath escaping in great heaving gulps, and collapsed to the floor. Both Bucky and Sam were covered head to toe in bruises.

“Ya feel better now, punk?” asked Bucky, wincing as he sat up, trying to find a more comfortable position.

“Not really. I won’t feel better until Y/N is standing in front of me, and I know that she’s safe and sound.”

Sam groaned. “Well, hopefully that’s soon, because I think it’s gonna take me at least a week to recover from the ass-whooping you just gave me." 

“You’re getting soft in your old age,” Bucky drawled, causing Sam to roll his eyes. They were both surprised when Steve actually let out a soft huff of laughter. It seemed like he didn’t remember how to do that since you’d been gone.

Steve sat up, casting a grateful look at both his friends. “Thanks, guys. I really needed that.”

“Anytime, punk,” Bucky said, gripping Steve’s shoulder with his metal hand.

“Not anytime soon,” Sam whined, causing the two super-soldiers to chuckle again. 

Steve stood up, offering a hand to Sam, who gratefully accepted the assistance. Bucky sprang to his feet unaided, causing another eyeroll from Sam.

“Well, I don’t know about you two, but I definitely worked up an appetite. I’ve got some brownies in the pantry if you want them.”

Two pairs of eyes glinted in appreciation. “How the hell did you manage to keep them out of the reach of Parker and Thor?” Bucky asked curiously.

“I threatened to dismember them if they so much as breathed in their direction. I think the carving knife in my hand helped to convey the seriousness of my threat,” Steve grinned.

“Alright! Brownies, come to papa!” Sam crowed, as the three of them happily headed to the kitchen for a post-workout carb fest.

********************************************

“How long until we arrive back at the Compound, Agent Barton?” Coulson asked.

Clint, who was in the pilot’s seat, glanced at the instrument panel. “I’d say another half an hour, tops. We’ve got a tailwind so we’re making good time.”

Coulson nodded, then headed back to his seat. He grinned at you, noting that Natasha had fallen asleep with her head on your shoulder. “She’s drooling.”

“Oh, hush, Coulson. It was a tough mission. I think she’s entitled to drool a little,” you smiled. You massaged your neck, being careful not to jostle Nat. “It will be good to be home. I miss being able to actually bathe in private.”

“Surely that’s not all you miss,” Phil noted dryly.

Sighing, you returned his gaze. “Of course not. But it’s nearly 2am. If Clint’s right, we’ll be landing shortly. I’m not going to wake up Steve at such a ridiculous hour, no matter how much I might want to.”

You missed Steve more than you had ever thought possible. The two of you had been on separate missions plenty of times before, but that was before you had become romantically involved. Prior to this, your close friendship led you to call or text each other if you were in different parts of the world, unless you had to go dark, which was rare. And it wasn’t often that you were separated for more than two weeks at a time. This mission had lasted more than a month, and it had been almost unbearable. You loved Clint, Nat and Coulson – they were practically family, after all – but it wasn’t the same as being in Steve’s presence.

“It’s not like I can even let him know that I’m coming back. Director Fury wanted complete radio silence until we can brief him upon our return,” you reminded Phil.

“Well, I’m sure Captain Rogers will be pleased to see you at breakfast,” Coulson replied.

You snorted. “There is absolutely no way I am getting out of bed before noon. I might not leave my bed for twenty-four hours. I’ve been sleeping on a rock-hard bedroll for the past month. I’m going to enjoy my creature comforts in solitude while I can.”

“I don’t think that’s going to last long, Trigger,” Clint called from the cockpit.

“Why on earth not?”

He pointed. “Because Cap’s waiting at the landing bay.”

********************************************

Steve had been wandering aimlessly around the Compound, once again unable to sleep. He’d found himself unconsciously heading towards the aircraft hangar, when he noticed that a bay was being readied to receive an incoming jet. There was only one plane out currently, which could only mean one thing – you were on your way home. His heart leapt with joy, and he found himself pacing impatiently until he saw the lights of the incoming jet on the horizon.

The loading ramp had barely descended before Steve leapt aboard the Quinjet. He practically yanked you out of your seat, grabbing your shoulders and pulling you towards him. Before you even had time to say hello, he assaulted your mouth with his, kissing you with such ferocity that you thought he had been possessed. His tongue fought for dominance over yours, and he moaned so loudly that you thought the rest of the team would surely be woken from their slumber.

Eventually, he had to cease kissing you in order to allow the both of you to catch your breath. Panting heavily, he rested his forehead against yours, his blue eyes searching yours.

“Wow, Steve, anybody would think you missed me while I was gone.”

He responded with a much more gentle kiss. “You have no fucking idea.”

Natasha smirked. “I’m pretty sure we all have a fairly good idea about just how much you missed Trigger.”

“You know what, Romanoff?” he growled, causing you and Nat to burst into a fit of giggles. Teasing Steve would never get old for Nat.

Coulson looked slightly put out. “You never tell me that you miss me that much when I’ve been on a mission. And I watched you while you were sleeping.”

Steve broke into a grin at that. “I missed you guys, too. But Y/N is my favourite, so I missed her the most.” He had yet to relinquish his hold of you, and you snuggled against his broad chest, inhaling his spicy scent. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, I have some catching up to do with my best girl.”

Not giving you time to protest, Steve hoisted you over his shoulder, keeping a firm grip on your thighs. Ignoring your feeble attempts to escape, he carried you towards your quarters, pretending not to hear your howls of indignation or the snickers of Nat and Clint, who followed behind carrying the team’s gear. When you hit him on the back in an attempt to get him to release you, he firmly smacked your ass and told you to behave, effectively shutting you up due to your shock.

You’d been gone for over a month. Steve had no intention of letting you out of his sight for at least that long. 

********************************************

Steve started kissing you again even before he put you down. His hands roamed all over your body as he began to tug at the zip of your tac suit, almost as if he’d forgotten what you felt like. In between his fevered kisses, he kept whispering how much he’d missed you while you were gone.

Steve kissing

“I missed you too, Cap. But there’s one thing I missed even more.”

He frowned. “You missed something more than me?”

Nodding, you disentangled yourself from his embrace, much to his disappointment. You grabbed one of his hands in yours and laced your fingers with his. Pressing a kiss to the back of his hand, you replied, “I missed my bathtub. Having to wash in a cold Russian river is most definitely not my idea of a good time.”

Steve’s eyes gleamed. “You want me to run you a bath?”

“You bet. The hotter, the better. And I want an entire bottle of bubble bath dispensed into it.”

You flopped down face first onto the bed while Steve went to the bathroom and set things up for you. He poured in a copious amount of your favourite bubble bath, one that smelled like jasmine and vanilla, and he loved the fragrance almost as much as you did. He re-entered your bedroom to find you snoring quietly. With a soft smile, he gently shook your shoulder. “Sweetheart, your bath is ready.”

You nodded sleepily as you rolled onto your back, and he tried not to ogle too much when you stretched lazily, your back arching as you tried to rouse yourself.

“Do you need some help? I could wash your back for you,” Steve suggested far too innocently.

You snorted. “Steve, I love you, but I have had absolutely zero privacy for the past month. I was always in the presence of either Nat, Clint or Coulson, even when bathing. I would kill for half an hour to myself.”

Steve sighed in disappointment. “I just thought…”

You stood on tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I know, and any other time I would jump at the opportunity to drag you in there with me. But right now, I’m far too exhausted – mentally, physically and emotionally – to do anything but try to turn my brain off. But I promise, as soon as I’m done, I will be more than happy to spend the entire night in your arms.”

The promise of holding you all night was enough to placate Steve.

********************************************

Soft music was playing when you eventually emerged from the bathroom, and you noticed that Steve had lit some of your candles and placed them strategically around the bedroom. They emitted a soft glow, and the slight scent of vanilla filled the air.

You leaned against the doorframe. “Well, doesn’t this look romantic.”

Despite the soft light, you could see the blush staining Steve’s neck. “I hope you don’t mind. I just thought it might be nice to have something a bit special for your first night back.”

“If I didn’t know better, Steve Rogers, I’d think you were trying to seduce me.”

He gave you a look that you couldn’t quite identify. “What if I was?”

You blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

Steve came over to you, placing his arms around you. “This past month without you has been absolute fucking torture. It made me realise just how much I love you. I don’t want to waste another minute of our time together. Y/N, I’m ready.”

He kissed you slowly, as your brain tried to process exactly what he was telling you. Pulling away, you gave him a slight frown. “What are you saying, Steve?”

He rolled his eyes. “I’m saying that I’ve waited long enough. We’ve been dating for nearly six months. I’m ready to take the next step in our relationship.” He held your face in his hands, staring into your eyes with those impossibly blue eyes of his. “Doll, I want to make love to you. Now. Tonight.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you doing this just because you think you have to in order to be a ‘modern guy’. I don’t want that.”

“Y/N, I have never been more sure of anything in my entire life. I want this. Let me make love to you.”

This beautiful man, who you adored with every fibre of your being, wanted you. You. You still couldn’t quite believe that what you had with Steve was real. He was more perfect than any man had a right to be.

Caressing his face with your hand, you smiled softly. “If you’re absolutely sure, Steve, then I will do my very best to make sure that our first time together is the way your first time should have been. The first time you made love, it should have been with someone who loves you as much as you love them. You deserved so much better than you got the first time.”

Kissing you tenderly, Steve led you to your bed. He sat down on the edge of the bed, holding your waist as you stood in front of him with your hands on his shoulders. Slowly, he untied the ribbon holding your satin bathrobe closed, so that it opened softly and fell off your shoulders. His eyes widened in surprise when he realised that underneath you only wore a pair of black lace underpants. He looked as if he might faint when he saw your breasts, and swallowed audibly, causing you to giggle softly. “You have seen boobs before, haven’t you, Steve?” you teased.

“I haven’t seen yours.” He reached towards them with a slightly trembling hand. “God, you’re so fucking beautiful,” he whispered reverently. He pressed soft kisses to the column of your throat, causing your head to tilt back so that he could have better access. You wove your fingers into his blond locks, guiding his lips to the places you enjoyed being caressed. Your soft moans of pleasure almost broke him.

Slowly, Steve kissed down your chest, until he reached the swell of one of your breasts. He swirled his tongue around the areola, in ever decreasing circles, but teasingly avoided your nipple. It was torture; sweet, blissful torture. Eventually, you grew impatient and practically shoved your nipple into his mouth. He chuckled softly before sucking gently on it, revelling in the soft moan that escaped you as his hand caressed your other breast. After a few minutes, his lips moved to the other breast, tormenting you in the same fashion as before.

When you couldn’t handle anymore, you grabbed Steve’s face in your hands and crashed your lips onto his, pushing him back onto the bed and straddling him as you did so. He supported himself on one elbow, his other hand twining in your hair as he held the back of your head. You ground down on him, feeling his hardening arousal through his jeans.

Panting heavily, you whispered, “I think you are far too overdressed for the occasion, Captain.”

Steve’s eyes glinted dangerously. Oh ho ho! He gets off on being called Captain! You filed that little titbit away for future reference.

Steve practically tore his t-shirt off in his haste to undress, and you had difficulty in stopping yourself from drooling when you finally got a good look at his spectacular body.

You’d always known that Steve had a great physique – those tight shirts he always wore at training left absolutely nothing to the imagination, and his combat suit did great things for his ass – and yet you’d never seen him shirtless for more than a few seconds before. It was like looking at a Renaissance statue that had come to life. He actually looked like he’d been chiselled from a block of marble. There really is a God, and He sure as shit knew what He was doing when He created Steve Rogers.

Chris Evans shirtless

“Fuck, Steve, you’re like a work of art. Michelangelo himself couldn’t have done a better job at sculpting a body like this.”

You pressed soft kisses to his pecs and abs, and his eyelids fluttered closed as he enjoyed the sensation of your lips on his skin. Slowly, you moved down his torso until you came to the waistband of his jeans. You continued to lick and kiss his stomach as you undid the button and slid down the zipper. Steve kicked off his pants, and you palmed him through his boxers. Good grief, he felt huge.

“So, did the serum enhance everything?” you asked cheekily.

Steve blushed fifty shades of red, which was adorably endearing. “Actually…”

Your eyes nearly popped out of your head. “Are you messing with me right now? You were this big before Howard Stark pumped you full of super-soldier steroids? That thing must have made up half of your body weight!”

He grinned. “It was the only thing Bucky was ever jealous about.”

You stared at him for a heartbeat before you both burst out into hysterical laughter. It broke the tension, and you collapsed against him in mirth, loving the way his chest rumbled when he laughed.

Eventually though, you both calmed down. Still lying atop Steve, you started kissing him once more. His hands caressed your back, drawing nonsensical patterns over your skin. It made you shiver, and you felt him smirk slightly against your mouth. Quicker than you thought humanly possible, Steve had managed to remove his boxers and your underpants in rapid succession. How he did it without ripping either article of clothing, you couldn’t figure out.

Steve stripping

Gently, he rolled you over so that you were lying underneath him. His eyes never left yours, gazing at you in wonder even as he trailed his fingers down your stomach to your core. He stroked you gently, drawing lazy circles over your warm folds until you were slick. He bent to kiss you, thrusting his tongue into your mouth at the same time as he pushed a finger into you, causing you to catch your breath. He thrust his finger in and out a few times, then added a second finger, which made you groan with pleasure. He grinned against your mouth as he pushed yet another finger into your pussy, causing another loud groan.

Smug bastard, you thought. Well, two can play at that game.

You reached between the two of you, closing your fingers around Steve’s impressive length and causing him to gasp softly as you started stroking him in time with the movement of his fingers. He groaned with pleasure at your ministrations, even as he crooked his fingers and found that sensitive spot inside you that most guys you had dated didn’t seem to know existed.

“Oh my God, Steve, right there!” you gasped. You ground your hips against his hand even as he continued to massage that spot, causing your eyes to roll back in your head. You nearly forgot about his cock, until you felt it twitch in your hand, so you starting stroking him again. Soon, the two of you were writhing together in your efforts not to be the first to explode.

“Cum for me, doll,” Steve whispered against your mouth. He moved his fingers faster, thrusting deeper as his thumb circled your clit, until you felt your pleasure reach its peak. Your walls clenched around his fingers, and you cried out as the tension exploded and your legs shook with the release. Almost at the exact same instant, he cried out your name as he came over your stomach. He continued to kiss you the entire time, murmuring your name over and over.

You held each other until your orgasms subsided, Steve’s mouth never leaving yours. Once you were calm, he removed his fingers from your pussy and casually licked them clean, chuckling as you hit him with a pillow. He got up and went to the bathroom, bringing back a damp washcloth. Gently, he cleaned your stomach of his sperm, and threw the washcloth into your laundry hamper. Climbing back into bed, he wrapped his arms around you and pressed a kiss to your temple.

“So, which lucky lady showed you how to do that?” you asked, as you gently trailed your fingers across his torso, taking note of his ticklish spots when he squirmed under your dancing fingertips.

“Well, actually, there’s this very useful thing nowadays called the internet. So helpful,” Steve deadpanned. You rolled your eyes in mock disgust. “Also, over the years I’ve heard in excruciatingly vivid detail all of the things that Bucky used to get up to with the women he dated. I paid attention to what he said worked.”

“Remind me to thank him later,” you quipped, giggling when Steve growled something that sounded very much like Not fucking likely.

Steve made a remarkably quick recovery, because after only a few minutes he began kissing you rather passionately. You felt him hardening again, and looked at him with some surprise. “Already?”

He shrugged. “Super-soldier, remember?”

He kissed your neck, his hands trailing over your body until he reached your core. He groaned when he felt how wet you were. He kept muttering under his breath, the number of expletives leaving his mouth increasing with his passion. “Doll, you’re fucking killing me. You feel so fucking good. God, you are so fucking beautiful. How did I get lucky enough to find someone like you?”

“Steve, has anybody ever told you that you talk too much?” You kissed him again, effectively shutting him up. He continued to caress your mound, and you returned the favour, enjoying the feel of his cock in your hand. Steve had a beautiful cock, and you didn’t think you’d ever get tired of feeling it.

“Are you ready?” he whispered. You nodded, pausing only to reach into your bedside table to grab a condom and hand it to Steve. He ripped open the packet with his teeth and rolled it on, then positioned himself between your thighs. He paused at your entrance, kissing you as he slowly entered you. “Oh, fuck, doll! You feel fucking amazing!”

You gasped, because although it was not an unpleasant sensation, it was a bit uncomfortable as he stretched the walls of your pussy. Steve was a lot bigger than you were used to, so he waited until you’d adjusted to his girth. You gave a small nod when you felt comfortable enough, your eyes holding Steve’s gaze. He pressed a kiss to the tip of your nose before capturing your lips once more with his.

Then, slowly, Steve began to move against you, and you moved your hips to meet his. You found a steady rhythm, with him thrusting in and out of you slowly at first. You wrapped your legs around his waist to draw him further into you, and he pushed himself all the way to the hilt, cursing under his breath even as you moaned in ecstasy. You rolled your hips, meeting him thrust for thrust, and eventually all you could hear was the sounds of each others moans as the two of you moved together. You raked your nails down his back, and that spurred him on. His thrusts became faster, and he reached between your bodies to rub your clit, building up the intensity until suddenly you both cried out each other’s names as your orgasms once again hit almost simultaneously. Steve nearly passed out from the sensation of your walls fluttering around him. He collapsed on top of you, breathing heavily, and you’d never been happier to be trapped beneath someone.

Eventually, Steve rolled off the top of you, and pulled you onto his chest. You kissed him languidly, enjoying the scratchy feel of his stubble on your palm as you caressed his face. You smiled at him almost shyly.

Steve cupped your face as he returned your kiss. “I should have waited for you. If I had known that I was going to find you, I would have waited for you.”

You looked at Steve with your eyes full of love. “Well, the feeling is mutual, Captain. I’ve always enjoyed sex, but before tonight it’s always just been sex, or fucking. This was the first time that I’ve ever felt like I’ve properly made love.” 

“Darlin’, if I’d known how it was going to be with you, I would have done this a hell of a lot sooner.” Steve looked at you seriously. “It’s never felt anything like that before.

Unknowingly echoing Peggy, you replied, “Well, I guess you just needed to find the right partner.”

Steve knew then, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he had finally found the right partner. He was going to dance with you, and only you, for the rest of his life.

Because he loved you so.