Actions

Work Header

Five Times Steve Did Not Realize Somone Was Trying To Pick Him Up (And One Time He Did)

Work Text:

 


1928

Steve set his books carefully into his cubby and picked up his lunch pail, following Bucky out into the school yard. They sat down in their usual grassy patch by the wall and started unpacking their sandwiches. They each had a little glass bottle of milk, Steve had an apple that was only a little smushed on one side, and Bucky had some grapes. He gave a few of them to Steve, and Steve got out his pocket knife and cut off a piece of apple that didn't have any brown on it to give to Bucky. They got down to the business of lunch, and were surprised when Eliza and Alice came and sat down on the patch of grass with them a few minutes later. The girls usually sat over by the swings.

"Hi, Eliza. Hi Alice," Steve said, giving them a little wave. Eliza's cheeks went pink and she smiled and ducked her head down, which Steve thought was a little weird.

"Hi, there," Bucky said. "What do you guys have for lunch?"

They went about the usual business of comparing lunch pail contents. "Oh," Eliza said, looking in the bottom of her pail. "It looks like my ma gave me an extra cookie." She looked up. "Would you like it, Steve?"

"What?" Steve said. "Oh, um, okay. Thanks."

She leaned over and handed him the cookie, and he took it with a smile. Bucky was looking at him with a weird kind of smile, but Steve ignored him and set the cookie down by his sandwich. It was quiet for a moment while everyone ate, then they started to talk about what they were going to do in Art class after lunch.

"I wish we didn't have to do Art," Alice sighed.

"You don't like Art?" Steve asked. "I always thought it was fun."

"Well, you're actually good at it," Alice replied.

"You really are," Eliza chimed in. "I think you're the best artist in our whole class."

Steve felt his cheeks heating up. "Oh, um, thank you." He looked back at Alice, not wanting her to feel like he was ignoring her problem. "Is there a part of Art you're having trouble with? Maybe I could help you."

He heard Bucky huff a laugh beside him, but he ignored it and listened to Alice so he would know how to help her in class.

"Well," Eliza said, as soon as Steve and Alice were done talking about Art class. "Marybeth wanted to talk to me about her new kitten, so we should probably go." She stood up, brushed off her skirt, then took Alice's hand and practically yanked her to her feet. "We'll see you in class." She glared at Steve. "Enjoy the cookie."

As soon as the girls were out of earshot over by the swings, Bucky let out a snort of laughter that he had clearly been holding in with some difficulty. "Wow, Stevie," he laughed. "That was like watching a train wreck."

"What?" Steve said, only growing more confused. "What are you talking about? And why is Eliza mad at me? What did I do?"

"Nothing," Bucky told him.

"Then how come she's mad? I must have done something," Steve insisted. Her friendly mood had disappeared like someone turning off a light.

"No," Bucky corrected. "You did nothing, and you should have done something."

"What?"

He bumped Steve with his elbow. "She's sweet on you, man! That's why she gave you the cookie. Then she said you were the best artist in class and you ignored her and started talking to Alice."

"I didn't ignore her!" Steve sputtered. "I said thank you! And then, well, Alice sounded like she needed help. I thought it would be rude to not try and help her."

Bucky shook his head. "You're so hopeless."

Steve's brows furrowed in confusion. He'd never had a girl be sweet on him before. Well, not that he knew of, anyway. "You really think she's sweet on me?" he asked.

"Well, not anymore," Bucky said. "I think she's pretty mad at you now."

"Oh. Should I go talk to her?" he wondered. "I don't want for her to feel bad."

"Sit down," Bucky said, grabbing Steve's sleeve before he could get up. "You go over there, she might whack you with her lunch pail. I think you missed your shot."


1933

Steve looked up as the little bell over the door jungled as he walked under it and into the drugstore. It was nice and cool in here, and he could hear the tinkling of glass bottles on ice as Mr. Zielinski pulled a couple of sodas out of the icebox for someone. "Maggie!" he called to his daughter. "Someone at the door!"

"Aw, Pop," she started to complain from somewhere on the other side of the shelf of soap, but that was as far as she got. "Oh!" she said, rounding the corner and smiling widely. She reached up and patted her hair. "Hi, Steve."

"Hi, Maggie," he said. "Did I catch you at a bad time? I can wait in line for your pop."

"Oh, no," she said. "Don't be silly. What did you need?"

"Um, some more of those red cough drops in the little tin," he told her. "And today's newspaper if you still have any left."

"I think we do," she said. "Come on." She led him to the counter and rounded it, scooting along in the narrow space behind Mr. Zielinski and stretching up to grab the tin of cough drops from the back shelf. "Here you go," she said. "And we've got a few more newspapers back here I haven't put out yet," she went on, kneeling down to pick one up from a stack behind the counter. "There we go." She sat it down next to the cough drops and smoothed the fold down. "Can I get you anything else?"

Steve glanced down at the icebox where the Cokes were and bit his lip thoughtfully, then remembered how much change he had in his pocket and shook his head. "No, thank you," he said.

She nodded, then nodded her head down in her father's direction. "It'll be just a minute before Pop's done with the cash register." She leaned forward on her elbows. "Did you know about the big dance at school this weekend?"

"Oh, yeah," Steve said. Bucky had been trying to figure out which girl he wanted to ask all week.

"My friend, June, is in the band, and she said they've been practicing for it for a couple weeks now. Some really good music, she said. Great for dancing to, and really romantic. It sounds dreamy."

"That sounds nice," Steve said.

"Yeah," Maggie agreed. "I love dances. They're just so fun, you know? And I love the music and getting dressed up and everything. I really hope I can go."

Mr. Zielinski finished with the cash register then, and Maggie moved Steve's stuff over to ring it up. "Are you sure you don't want anything else?" she asked. She smiled. "I saw you looking at the Cokes. It's hot out there. Good day for one."

Steve smiled. "Yeah, it is. But I don't have enough change. Gotta stop at the butcher's on the way home for Ma."

"Oh, sure," Maggie said. She rang up his cough drops and newspaper, then looked up at him with a little smile. "Would you like one anyway? On the house."

"Oh, uh…" Maggie was smiling hopefully, like she really wanted for him to take it, but it seemed like it would be taking advantage of being her friend. Besides, Mr. Zielinski was watching them suspiciously from over by the magazines. "No, thanks," he said, smiling to let her know he appreciated the offer. "Wouldn't want for you to get in trouble," he added with a nod in her father's direction.

She nodded and put his things into a brown paper bag. "So, about the dance," she said. "Were you gonna go? It sounds like it'll be a swell time."

"I wasn't really planning on it," Steve said. Saturday was the first day off his ma had had in a while, so he'd been planning to make dinner for her and maybe take her out to see a picture. She loved the movies, but didn't get to go much. He took his bag and smiled at Maggie. "It sounds nice, though. I hope you have fun."

She frowned as he left the store, and it wasn't until he was on his way home with his cough drops, newspaper, and his ma's fish that he realized that if Bucky had been here, he would have smacked him on the back of the head and told him he should have asked her to the dance.


1943

It had been three weeks since Dr. Erskine and the serum, and Steve still felt just as out of place in this big, strong, healthy body as he had the day it happened. He kept forgetting just how tall he was and smacking his head on things, and he'd broken so many glasses by forgetting how strong he was that he was pretty sure the stage manager was only kind of kidding when he said they needed to find him a plastic cup to drink out of.

Then there was the whole 'Captain America' business. He did wonder if he wouldn't have gotten used to his new self faster if he wasn't being paraded around like a dancing monkey with everyone staring and gawking and fawning. It was embarrassing, really. Steve had never liked being the center of attention, and when he'd been small, he hardly ever was. Now he was the first person people noticed in a room, and everyone wanted to talk to him and about him, and he got flustered with all the attention and tongue-tied so easily. All of this had not been what he'd had in mind when he'd wanted to help out with the War.

They were getting ready for their first big performance, and Steve was starting to despair he'd ever get it right. The girls had a whole routine, but whenever he came out, he'd flub his steps or spin the wrong way, and they were pretty adept at dancing around him, but he managed to throw them out of sync almost every time, and he'd even knocked Margie over yesterday. She'd laughed and thought it was hilarious, but Steve couldn't remember a time he'd ever felt more embarrassed in his life.

"You just need a little practice is all. Anybody can dance with enough practice," Tallulah assured him. "Come on, we'll help you out after rehearsal is over." Steve gratefully accepted the offer, hoping he might do better with fewer people around. Tallulah, Eileen, Jenny and Marjorie all stayed after that evening, telling him they were determined to help him get it right.

"Let's just work on your steps first, okay?" Tallulah said. "Then once your feet know what they're doing, we'll worry about where everyone else is supposed to be."

"My feet have never known what they were doing," Steve said glumly. "Bucky always said I had two left feet whenever he'd try to teach me how to dance."

"Well, Bucky was never a dancing girl, was he?" Tallulah said. "We can teach anybody. Okay, you stand over there, and I'll do your bit and you watch me, okay?"

Steve stood on the end of the stage while Tallulah went back behind the curtain. Marjorie manned the record player, and Eileen and Jenny stood where the ends of the two rows of dancers were supposed to be so Tallulah could come out between them like Steve was supposed to.

The music started, and Eileen and Jenny danced around a little bit, keeping their places, then Tallulah burst through the curtain with a much more dramatic flair then Steve had ever had. He watched carefully as she went through his dance, and though he recognized the steps he was supposed to be doing, he didn't remember them being so…curvy. Tallulah was really putting her hips and…um…other parts into the motions.

Marjorie wolf-whistled from over by the record player. "I don't think Steve is supposed to put that much hip into it," she cackled.

Tallulah responded by tossing a rude hand gesture in Marjorie's direction before putting even more hip into it with an arched eyebrow. The dance hardly bore any resemblance to Steve's routine at the moment, but he kept watching anyway. It was hard to look away. The way she moved reminded him of how light moved on water.

"Wow," he said when the music stopped. "That was, uh, that was really good."

Tallulah smiled, looking pleased with herself. "I might have gotten a little carried away. You don't need to shake your hips quite that much," she said with a laugh. She beckoned him forward with her hand. "Come on, give it a try."

The music started again, and Steve started moving through his steps with Tallulah looking on. It was a little easier when the stage wasn't full of people, but he still almost ran into Jenny anyway.

"You're thinking too much," Tallulah told him. "You just gotta let your body move. Like this." She demonstrated a couple of steps, again with a lot more sashay than seemed necessary for Steve's role, then came over to stand beside him. "Okay," she said. "Just move with it." She stood behind him and put her hands on his arms.

"What are you doing?"

"Helping," she said. "Unclench, okay? You're like a rock." Steve took a deep breath and tried to let the tension out of his muscles. "No, come on, don't be so tense," she said. She chuckled. "I'm not going to bite."

"I'm not tensing up," Steve said. "My arms are just like that."

"Oh, Lord, have mercy," she said under her breath, and Steve didn't think he was supposed to have heard that. "Okay," she said in a normal voice. "Like this." She started pushing against his arms, and Steve realized what she was doing and let her direct him. He stepped along with her and stopped focusing on how close she was standing to him and paid attention to how she was making him move. He could see what she meant about him thinking too much. Once he figured out how to stop thinking too much about how to not think too much, he felt like he was starting to get the hang of it.

"There you go," Tallulah said, awfully close to his ear. "You're getting it." She stepped back, though her hands stayed on his arms. "We'll make a dancer out of you yet," she said proudly.

Steve smiled gratefully, then looked up and realized they were alone on the stage. "Oh," he said. "Where'd everyone go?"

"I don't know," Tallulah said. "Oh, shucks, we were supposed to walk back to the hotel together." She huffed and looked uncertainly at the night sky out the window. "Well, I guess if I hurry, I oughta be alright."

"Oh," Steve said. "No, I'll walk with you."

"Aw, would you, sugar? That's real nice of you. I don't like walking alone in a new place."

"Oh, of course, of course," Steve assured her. "Let me just get my jacket."

He got his jacket, Tallulah gathered up her things, and he offered her his arm and they stepped out into the night air. "So, where are you from, if Brooklyn is a new place for you?" he asked.

"Oh, just Manhattan," she said. "Not that far. But it sure seems like a world away sometimes."

They talked about where they grew up for the walk back to Tallulah's hotel. The girls were all staying in the same place, but Steve was still staying in his apartment until they started going on the road.

"Well, here we are," she said as they stopped at her door. She started looking in her purse for her key. Steve waited, not wanting to leave her alone outside until he was sure she could get in. It seemed to be taking her a while to find it. "Too much stuff in here," she said with a laugh. "Oops!" She'd found the key but it caught on the zipper of the bag and fell out of her hand. Steve darted down to pick it up for her and handed it back. "Oh, thank you," she said. She reached for the key, but closed her hand around his instead of picking it up. "Would you like to come in for a little while?" She pulled him a step closer. "You really have to finish telling me that story about your friend Bucky and the freezer truck."

"Oh, I'd better not," Steve said. He didn't want to give people the wrong idea, going into her hotel room and everything.

"Oh, no, it's okay," she said. She nodded at the door. "It's too quiet in there—Eileen isn't back yet, so she and the other girls must have gone out. We won't be bothering anyone."

"Oh, then I really, I shouldn't," Steve said. That could look even more questionable, and what if Eileen came back while they were in there? He wouldn't want for anybody to get the wrong idea about Tallulah, especially after she'd been so nice to him tonight.

"Are you sure?" she said, squeezing his hand. "I'm having such a nice time. We could even work on your moves a little more."

"Thanks, but I think I'm danced out for tonight," he said. He pulled his hand back, leaving the key in hers. "Thanks for your help tonight. I really appreciate it."

"Mm. Well, good, I'm glad," she said. She turned and unlocked the door. "Thank you for walking me home. You're quite the gentleman." She stepped inside. "Have a good night."

"You too," he said. "And thanks again."

She smiled. "You're welcome."

The next day the stage manager informed them that they would be changing up the routine a little. It was too close to the big day, and he'd been informed that Steve was a lost cause as far as dancing went, so now they would finesse up the girls' act a little and Steve would just walk out and stand there looking heroic. Steve didn't mind not having to dance—he figured there was less chance of him making a fool of himself that way—but he was a little confused. He thought he'd been doing well with Tallulah last night, but maybe he'd missed something after all.


2012

After the Battle of New York, Steve was surprised at just how quickly the city seemed to get back to normal. There was a lot of repair work to be done yet, but even with missing windows or boards nailed over holes in the walls, everyone seemed determined to keep going. It was nice to see, really. Something about the human spirit that couldn't be beat. Steve liked that.

He was back at the little café he liked. It was near the base of Stark Tower (or Avenger's Tower, as people were starting to call it now), and though Steve still felt like the addition of the building to the skyline would take some getting used to, he still liked the view. He liked to sit here and draw all the architecture.

"More coffee?" came a voice from beside the table. Steve looked up to see his waitress standing there with a coffee pot and a plate of cookies.

"Sure. Thank you," Steve said, sliding his cup closer to the edge of the table so she didn't have to reach so far. He'd seen her around the times he'd come in here before, and she wasn't wearing her name tag today, but he thought her name was Katie. "It's Katie, right?" he asked.

She smiled and nodded and he smiled back.

"Are you doing okay after everything that happened last week?" he asked. The front windows of the café were boarded over, the glass having been blown out, and there was a bandage wrapped around her right calf. He wondered if she'd been here at work when the attack had happened.

"Oh, yeah, I'm okay," she said. She nodded down at her leg. "Flying glass when the window went out, you know? Had to get a few stitches. We got out pretty quick, though, and I guess I was lucky when we were hiding in the bank and didn't get hurt." She smiled shyly. "I, uh, I saw you in there, you know. Fighting those aliens and everything. You stopped them from shooting us, and then you kept us from getting hit with that bomb too. I was really hoping you were gonna come back in here so I could tell you thank you."

"Oh," Steve said, feeling his cheeks get a little warm. Being Captain America, he'd gotten used to, but being the center of attention, not so much. And in the week since the battle, there had been press and politicians and all kinds of big statements and fanfares, but something about Katie's thanks felt a lot more genuine than any of that. "You're welcome," he said, smiling back. "I'm glad you're alright."

Her shy smile widened, though she didn't seem quite sure what to say. "Oh," she said. "Here." She set down the plate of cookies she'd been carrying.

"Oh, I didn't order any—" Steve started.

"Oh, I know," she said. "They're on the house." She nodded back to the inside of the café. "The manager recognized you."

"Oh. Um, thank you," Steve said.

"They've got lemon cream inside," Katie told him. "They're really good. But I'll let you get back to your drawing now." She nodded at his sketchpad and moved on with her coffee pot.

The free cookies made him a little uncomfortable, but he knew they'd been kindly meant, so he picked one up and took a bite. Katie was right—they were really good—and he finished them off as he continued with his sketch of the skyline.

Katie was by several more times with the coffee pot. It seemed like every time his cup got close to being empty, she was there to top it off. She made a couple of comments about his drawing, asked how he had liked the cookies, and chuckled at the pile of sugar packets that had been building up as he sweetened each new cup of coffee. "Sweet tooth?" she asked.

Steve huffed a laugh. "I guess. I still haven't quite wrapped my head around the fact that rationing is over," he admitted. "It's really nice to be able to put sugar in things."

"Oh, yeah, I hadn't thought of that," Katie said. "Well, if you like sweet things, there's a little donut shop a couple blocks that way that has a cream filled donut to die for. I get off right before lunch—if you want, you could swing back by here then and I could show you the place. And it's next to this great little pizza place—pizza and donuts: the lunch of champions in the 21st Century."

Steve laughed. "Well, I do like pizza and donuts. But I don't think I can make it." He looked down at his watch. He'd been wanting to spend the morning outside because he had a very long day of debriefs and meetings in a board room at S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead of him. "Big meeting. I should actually be heading out now."

Katie nodded. "Oh, sure. World to save and all that. I'll bring you your check." She brought him the check, he gave her a couple of bills, and then she was back in a minute with his receipt. "Here you go." She tapped the receipt as she set it down with his change. "For when you feel like getting those donuts."

She smiled and cleared his dishes away. Steve pulled out a couple of bills to add to the change for her tip, then picked up his receipt as he stood up. A phone number was scrawled across the bottom of it. Must be the phone number for the donut place so he could find it later. He smiled and folded up the receipt and put it in his pocket. That was really nice of her.


2015

"Ah! Now this is the life," Sam said, folding his hands behind his head and settling back in his chair.

"This is nice," Steve agreed. It was a rare vacation day for the Avengers—sure, they got their time off, but the days where they were all free and where there was truly nothing that needed to be done were few and far between. It was the first day in a very long time that Steve hadn't felt like there was something else he needed to be doing. He could actually enjoy himself today.

"No need to sound so thrilled," Sam said, and though his eyes were covered by a pair of sunglasses, Steve could tell he had opened one to give Steve an exasperated glare.

"No, it's just…" Steve waved a hand at the view in front of them—the ocean and the sand and the kids splashing in the surf and Clint trying to shoo seagulls away from his picnic basket. "This doesn't happen a lot, you know? I need a little time to shut off the tactical part of my brain and actually relax."

"Fair enough," Sam said, closing the exasperated eyeball. "Although if some kind of aquatic supervillain pops up out of the water or something, it's a pretty well-defended beach."

Steve laughed. He had a point. All of the Avengers who were on Earth were here, camped out on this little stretch of beach they'd marked off with towels and chairs and umbrellas. He knew his shield was in the canvas bag that he'd carried the umbrellas in, and he didn't doubt Clint's picnic basket had some arrows in the bottom or that Tony had an Iron Man suit all ready to pop out of his watch if the need arose.

He enjoyed the morning in the shade of the umbrellas with Sam, dozing on and off and sipping drinks. Tony and Clint were engaged in some sort of sandcastle-building contest, while Wanda and Natasha alternated between cheering them on and mocking them from where they were sitting on their towels.

Steve and Sam went up the boardwalk with everyone's hot dog orders for lunch, and by the time they had finished eating, it was getting pretty warm. Steve peeled off his shirt and decided to reapply his sunscreen before going in the water—the super serum had done nothing to stop his fair skin from burning red as a lobster in the sun. Sure, he healed from the sunburn faster, but it was better to avoid it if he could.

He noticed it had gotten quiet around their little set of chairs, so he looked up. "What?" he asked.

"Nothing," Natasha said. She smirked. "Just admiring the view."

Steve only blushed a little—he was used to the way Natasha liked to flirt with him to try to make him uncomfortable. "Very funny," he said. "Race you to the water?"

"I'll join you in a minute," she said. She held up her own bottle of sunscreen. "You're not the only one around here with fair skin."

Steve headed for the water, enjoying the feeling of the sun on his skin. A look back at his team showed him that several covert whispers were being exchanged, and he tucked that information away suspiciously. Probably Barton or Tony up to some kind of prank. He'd make sure to check his bag carefully when he got back and to shake his shirt and shoes out before putting them back on.

The rest of them joined him before too long, and they splashed around and played some increasingly competitive games of chicken, and lolled around and just drifted in the waves.

Steve got out of the water and headed back to his chair to find his water bottle when he was cannoned into by someone moving awfully quickly. "Whoa! Easy there!" he said, putting out his arms to catch the woman who had run into him and keep her from falling over. "You okay?"

"Oh, yeah, I'm fine," she said, putting her hands on his arms to steady herself. "I'm so sorry about that!"

"No, it's okay," Steve said. "You sure you're alright?"

"I'm fine," she said again. "I guess I was paying too much attention to that frisbee I was trying to catch."

Steve chuckled and pulled his arms back. "No harm done."

"Oh, good. I thought for a second I'd run into a wall or something," she said with a laugh, squeezing his arm just a little before letting go. "You sure are sturdy."

"Yeah, I guess," Steve said with a laugh, feeling his cheeks getting a little red. He looked around and spotted the wayward frisbee on the ground several feet away, and went to retrieve it. "Here you go."

"Oh, thank you," she said, taking the frisbee. "I'm Monica, by the way."

"Steve," he replied.

"Nice to meet you, Steve," she said. She nodded over to where a group of people were standing and looking over at them. "You want to come join us?" she asked, gesturing with the frisbee to indicate the game they were waiting to continue. She reached over and squeezed his arm again. "Big strong guy like you, you can be on my team," she added with a little wink.

Steve huffed a laugh. "Thanks, but I'm good." He nodded towards his team, who were making their way back up to their encampment of towels and chairs. "I should get back to my friends."

"Aw, you sure?" Monica asked with a fake pout. "Okay." She smirked. "Well, you feel like flexing those biceps a little, you know where to find me." She headed back to where her friends were waiting, and Steve rejoined his group.

"So?" Tony asked as soon as Steve sat down.

"So, what?" Steve asked.

"Frisbee Girl," he said, as if that clarified anything.

"Oh, yeah, she's fine," he said, still not quite sure if that was what he was asking. "She didn't get hurt running into me."

Tony rolled his eyes. "I don't believe you."

"Nah, he's just playing it cool," Clint said, a knowing twinkle in his eye.

Natasha snorted. "I'm sorry, have you met Steve?"

Everyone but Steve laughed, and Clint tilted his head in acquiescence. "I feel like I'm missing something," Steve said.

"Boy, did you ever!" Tony hooted as they all laughed harder.

"What?" Steve demanded.

"I told you," Sam said. He held out a hand. "Pay up."

The rest of them grumbled good naturedly, reaching for their bags and pulling out various bills to give to Sam. Then they returned to the water, having evidently just gotten out to do…whatever it was that had just happened.

"Seriously, what just happened?" he asked Sam, who was gleefully counting his money.

"We had a bet. I won."

"A bet on what?"

Sam chuckled and nodded over to where Monica and her friends had resumed their frisbee game. "You're the most brilliant strategist I've ever known, amazing at improvising in the field, and literally think faster than most other people, and yet, you're still so clueless. That girl came over in a tiny red bikini and literally threw herself into your arms, and you had no idea she was coming on to you, did you?"

Steve opened his mouth and closed it again. "She was?" He thought back over the way she'd kept touching his arms and way she'd smiled and her little wink. "She was," he realized. He felt his cheeks going red again. Sure, he didn't always notice things like that because he just didn't think about it, but was painfully obvious in hindsight.

"Yep," Sam agreed cheerfully. "Once your shirt came off, we figured it was only a matter of time before someone did. The rest of the team figured you would either get all embarrassed or get her number. I figured you would not realize it and do neither." He held up his winnings. "I was right. Here," he added, peeling off a few bills and handing them to Steve. "Your cut. Couldn't have won it without you."


1949

Steve stopped between the door of the bar and the main lounge of the Stork Club and just stood there for a moment, taking in the lights, the music and the atmosphere. It had been a dream for so long, for years, and now here he was. The Stork Club. Eight o'clock on the dot. And he wasn't late.

But his date was.

He was content to watch the room and enjoy the ambience, knowing it was still a little while until their table would be ready, and she had plenty of time to arrive. He still had his moments where he was just so happy to be back home that he drifted off in the watching and the taking it in. He'd done it at the grocery store last week. Tonight, he realized one of the waiters was giving him an odd look, and he supposed it did look a little weird, just standing there by the door, so he found an empty barstool and ordered a drink. The bartender had just set his mint julep down on a little cocktail napkin when a soft hand came to rest on his thigh and a sultry voice asked, "Buy me a drink, soldier?"

Steve smiled and turned around and forgot what he'd been going to say as he caught sight of Peggy and what she was wearing. Her dress was red with something in it that shimmered as it caught the overhead lights, clinging to her every curve in a way that was incredibly classy and also seemed to have just been painted on to her all at once.

"Wow," was all he could manage.

Peggy smiled. "Well, you're not much of one for words, but you sure know how to make a girl feel special." She sidled up against him. "So what about that drink?"

"Persistent, aren't you?" Steve teased. "I suppose you wouldn't be swayed if I told you I was waiting on a date?"

Peggy laughed merrily. "Awful rude of her to leave you here cooling your heels." She stuck out her lips in an exaggerated pout. "And me here, all dressed up and waiting."

"Well, it'd be a shame for that dress to go to waste," Steve said. He stood up and slid a hand around her hip, drawing her over to sit on his stool as he got off of it, raising his other hand to get the bartender's attention. "A whiskey sour for the lady," he said, knowing it was her favorite.

"Ooh, so commanding," she said. "I like that." She smirked. "But now it's my turn." She grabbed his tie and pulled him forward for a long, deep kiss, her other hand twining up into his hair. "That wasn't too forward of me, I hope?" she asked coquettishly when she pulled away.

"No, Ma'am," Steve said, trying to get his breath back. He knew his hair was probably a mess now, but there was no point in straightening it just yet. He grinned. "I like a girl who can take charge."

"Well, then," Peggy said, picking up her glass and plucking the cherry out, popping it coyly in her mouth. "You're just going to love me."

"I already do," he told her.

She tried so hard to look exasperated but failed, her smile softening and stretching across her face. "You're such a sap," she said, pushing playfully at his shoulder.

"Well, you knew that when you married me," he told her, unable to stop smiling himself.

"I suppose I did," she agreed. She leaned forward and kissed him soundly. "Tell me you love me again."

"I love you, Peggy. More than anything in all of time and space."

She smiled at him in that way that made his heart do things that might have just killed him if she'd done it back when he had heart arrhythmia, then reached for his tie and reeled him in for another kiss. "I love you too, my darling."