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Merry Christmas, Darling

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Martha was fast asleep on her sofa when Steve got to her apartment in London.  So, he dropped his things by the door and swept her up in his arms, carrying her off to her bedroom.  The bed there was smaller than the one she had back in New York, but Steve compensated for the lack of space by holding her closer.  It was late evening when she woke up.  Mewling softly and hugging him tighter, Martha regarded Steve with sleepy brown eyes and a lazy grin.  “Is this a dream?”

Steve smiled down at her.  “No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

“Prove it.”

“As you wish.”  Steve started with a kiss and slowly progressed from there.  All previous concerns about caution and restraint were deferred by the need to comfort his girlfriend in every way possible.

It was just before dawn when they both finally drifted to sleep and by midmorning they were jarred awake by her sister’s sudden arrival.  “Bloody hell, Tish!” Martha swore as she rushed to cover herself while Steve grabbed a pillow to protect his modesty.  “Couldn’t you knock first?”

“Why knock when I have a key?” Tish retorted.  “By the way, there are muffins in the kitchen from Molly.  You know she bakes when she’s worried.”

“Well you can tell her thank you just as soon as you tell me what you’re doing here.”

“I called her,” Steve confessed.

“You did?” Martha asked with a frown.  “Why?”

Steve shifted his position to look at Martha fully.  “I left New York on short notice so I didn’t get to take care of all of the things I want to do before I came to England.  And I didn’t want to put that on you, so I called Tish when I landed.”

“I wouldn’t have minded,” Martha insisted.

“Plus, I doubt she wants you alone with me,” Tish added.

“There’s that as well,” Martha agreed.  “And while we’re on the subject, can you stop staring at him long enough for us to get dressed?”

Tish whimpered softly.  “Does he really have to?”

“Yes,” Steve and Martha said in unison.

Tish scoffed.  “Spoiled sports.”

After Tish’s untimely departure from the bedroom, Steve pulled Martha in for another quick embrace.  He got dressed and grabbed a muffin before heading out the door with Tish in tow.  They made a quick stop at a coffeehouse for something to wash down Molly’s delicious muffins with and then Tish took him for a walk through Knightsbridge to tackle the Herculean task of buying gifts for the Jones family.

“Leo’s lot is the easiest,” Tish informed him.  “He works in computers so anything tech related is a sure bet.  His wife Shonara is an artist like you.  She’s got a gallery in Shoreditch.  I usually get her supplies and things, but if you’re really feeling charitable, you could sit for a nude painting.  That would be a gift to us all.”

Steve ignored Tish’s suggestion and made a mental note to locate Shonara’s gallery before abruptly changing the subject.  “How about their daughter?”

“Keisha is a STEM girl.  She’s absolutely mad for it, especially science.  I reckon that’s to be expected though with Leo’s tech side and Shonara’s creativity.  She loves building and creating things.  Give her time enough and just you watch.  She’ll be giving Tony Stark a run for his money.”

“Okay.”  Steve nodded.  “Your parents?”  He felt particularly pressured to make a good impression on Mr. and Ms. Jones.

“Mum is the trickiest.  She’s always on the defensive even outside of court.  If you go too casual, she’ll think you’re frivolous and be put off.  But if you try too hard, then she’ll only get suspicious.”

“So what do I do?”

“Just give her something from your heart and you can’t lose.  As for dad, he’s a theatre man and the source of all of my dramatic tendencies,” she quipped.  “He loves flash.  You’d only have to take a look at the sort of women he dates to see that.  But I honestly think just meeting you would be enough for him.  You’ve already given him the best gift ever.”

“What gift?” Steve asked in confusion.

“As if you didn’t already know.”  When Steve didn’t show any signs of recognition, she pressed on.  “He owes his life to you.  Literally.”

Steve frowned.  “How?”

“You really don’t know,” Tish marveled.  “Well I suppose it’s possible that you wouldn’t.  Martha was a baby when Grandpa Gabriel died.  I doubt she even remembers him.”

“Gabriel…”  Steve froze.  “Are you saying that Gabe Jones is your grandfather?”

Tish nodded.  “According to family history, he came back to England after the war with a bloke named Falsworth.  He fell in love with an English girl while he was here and never left.  Dad says he didn’t talk about the war often, but he never forgot what you did when you save him.  He never forgot the sacrifice you made either,” she informed him.  “Dad’s birth name is actually Stephen Clive Jones, but he reckoned that Clive Jones read as more theatrical and had it swapped round legally.”

Once again, Steve felt as though the universe was pushing him and Martha together.  First, there was the knowledge of her and the Doctor being in New York when he was a boy.  Then the memories, he had of their 'first meeting’ after they visited Brooklyn with Clara and the Doctor.  And now this.  Gabe Jones, a man he fought alongside with as a Howling Commando, was her grandfather.  He was suddenly struck with the realization that if he hadn’t have gone after Bucky that day, then Gabe would have likely died as prisoner of Hydra and Martha never would have been born.  People always said everything happened for a reason, in that moment, Steve was inclined to agree.

“Which brings us to the most important recipient,” Tish said, breaking him from his thoughts.

“Don’t worry, Tish.  I’ve already got your present,” Steve assured her.

“Here’s hoping that whatever it is it’s either wearable, spendable or shaggable,” Tish replied with a laugh.  “But I was actually talking about my sister this time.  So what do you have in mind for Martha?”

“I have a surprise planned and I need your help.”

“What sort of surprise?”

Steve reached into his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box.  “This kind,” he answered as he flipped the lid open.  Inside was the ring he had bought for Martha, a white gold band with a round cut diamond in the center and two blue diamonds on the sides to represent Spica, their star.

Tish gasped and snatched the ring box out of his hand.  “Bloody hell,” she plucked the ring out and slipped it on her finger before Steve could protest.  “Nice cut,” she said upon closer inspection.  “Decent clarity.  Bold color choice.  Could do with some more carats for my taste, but this is Martha’s speed.”

“Do you think she’d like?” he asked hopefully.

“I think she’ll love it,” Tish replied as she slipped the ring back into its box and snapped it closed quickly.  “Assuming you’re not just proposing because you nearly got her up the duff.”

Steve wasn’t particularly surprised to know that Martha had confided in her sister about her pregnancy scare.  She needed someone to talk to about those sorts of things.  For his part, Steve was sure Sam was sick of hearing him talk about Martha and he knew that if Bucky was there, he’d know all the details of their relationship as well.  He wasn’t even shocked by her brashness.  It was quality he had come to expect from and somewhat respect about Tish.  Steve knew he could always count on her to be straight with him.

“Because if that’s what you’re about then you might as well put it out your mind right now,” Tish continued sharply, her eyes narrowing at him in the process.

“I want to marry her because I love her,” Steve insisted.

Tish’s hard stare softened a touch.  “You damn well better or you’d be needing a lot more than some blooming shield to protect you from me, flag boy,” she added with a degree of fierceness that he had seen more than once in Martha but never in the usually carefree Tish.  At that point, Steve had to wonder what he was in for when he met their mother.

Steve and Tish carried on with their shopping after which he returned to Martha.  When the time came to meet her family for dinner on Christmas Eve, Steve was pleased to find that the Jones family embraced him with open arms.  Clive’s reaction to Steve was on par with Tish’s estimation.  He pulled Steve aside and they spent a large portion of the evening reminiscing about Gabe.  Steve instantly took a liking to Leo, finding his personality to lie somewhere on the spectrum between those of his two sisters.  His wife Shonara, on the other hand, took an instant liking to Steve.

“Phwoar,” he heard her muttering to Tish behind his back.  “It’s like he's the David come to life, innit?”

“You should see him with his kit off,” Tish whispered conspiratorially.

Little Keisha was as adorable as Martha had described, but she seemed more interested in hearing about Tony and Bruce than learning about Steve.  Though she did warm up to him a bit more when she opened the physics set that he gifted to her.

In the end, Martha’s mother Francine was the hardest fought battle.  She had an air about her that spoke of a quiet intensity not unlike that of Natasha.  Unlike his fellow Avenger, who took advantage of people underestimating her, Francine seemed to revel in blatantly knocking people off their guard.  “So you’re the man that my daughter’s set her heart on, hmm?”

“She loves me and I love her,” Steve confirmed.  “Which is why there is something I need to ask you.”  He was determined to do things properly and that meant asking for Martha’s hand.  Under Tish’s direction, he sought the approval of their mother first.  Martha loved her dad, but she was without a doubt a mama’s girl.  “I’m not sure what you’ve heard about me, ma’am, but there is one thing has never up for question.  I love Martha, Ms. Jones, and with your blessing I’d like to ask her to be my wife.”  He paused for a moment as he steeled his resolve.  “And with all due respect, even if I don’t have your blessing, I still plan to propose.”

“Hmm.”  Francine replied with arms crossed.  “Is that the way of it then?”

Steve nodded.  “Yes ma’am, it is.”

By some miracle, Francine didn’t object to Steve’s declaration and gave her blessing.  Naturally, Steve was thrilled.  He was determined to marry Martha regardless, but it set his mind at ease to know that she wouldn’t be stuck between him and her family.  All that was left now was asking her the question.

“That went well,” Martha commented with a grin as she and Steve walked home hand in hand.

“Are you surprised?” Steve replied.

“A bit.  My mum doesn’t like most of the people we introduce to her.  Poor Shonara was in tears the first time that Leo brought her round.”

“It worked out well for her in the end,” he pointed out.

“So it did.”  Martha squeezed his hand.  “Maybe she won’t be the only one.” 

When they got back to her apartment, Steve had a surprise waiting.  Tish had given the flat a romantic makeover, candlelight, a bottle of wine and a cake Martha’s friend Molly had baked for the occasion that Tish referred to as the chocolate cake of seduction.

“What’s this?” Martha asked with her signature bright smile as he helped her out of her coat.

“An early present,” Steve answered.  He moved over to the docking station and switched on some music.  Merry Christmas, Darling by the Carpenters began to play.  “Dance with me,” he requested extending his hand to her.

Martha chuckled softly and eased into his embrace as they slowly swayed to the song.  “I reckon we’ve come full circle, yea?  A year ago we had our first dance at Tony’s party.”

“How could I forget?”

“You were so flustered back then,” Martha teased.  “Did you ever think we’d end up going this far back then?”

“Think?  I’m not sure if I was capable of any coherent thoughts with that green dress you were wearing.”  They both laughed quietly.  “I did know that all I wanted for Christmas that year was you,” Steve confessed.

“And this year?”

“I’m here, aren’t I?” he challenged playfully.

Martha made a show of shrugging.  “Seeing is believing, Cap.”

“Do you need proof?”

“It wouldn’t hurt.”

Steve pulled away, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the tiny box that had been burning a hole in his side for months.

“Oh my god.”  Martha covered her mouth and gasped.  “Please tell me my sister didn’t badger you into buying me a ring.”

“No.  I’ve had this for months.”

Martha lowered her hands.  “Months?”

Steve nodded.  “There’s a question I’ve wanted to ask you for a while now.”  He knelt down in front of her and flipped the ring box open.  “Martha, will you marry me?”

Martha inhaled deeply and let it out slowly.  “That depends.  Or are you asking because you can’t imagine your life without me in it or because of some misguided attempt to protect my honor in case the stick actually turns blue the next time?”

Steve sighed softly.  “I spent seventy years under ice dreaming about Peggy only to wake up and realize that she and the rest of the world went on without me,” he began.  “I’ve been playing catch up since I came out of that water.  And there may be some parts of me that are still a bit stuck in the past.  But I’m asking you to marry me for one reason and one reason alone,” he insisted as he reached for her hand.  “I waited too long and missed out on love with a great woman once.  I don’t ever want to wake up again knowing I missed the chance twice.  So I’ll ask you again.  Martha Jones, will you marry me?”

Martha bit her bottom lip and nodded slowly as she slipped her hand into his.  “Yes.”

“You will?” he asked, momentarily reverting back to that nervous fool that had been anxious about asking her to dance.

“I will absolutely marry you.”

Steve exhaled the breath he didn’t realize he had been holding.  Taking the ring out of the box, he slid it into place on Martha’s finger.  Once it was on, he stood up and pulled her into his arms.  “How's that for proof?”

“Bloody brilliant,” Martha said, looking teary eyed.

“All I want is you for every Christmas and every minute of every day from now until the day I die,” Steve pledged.

Martha pulled him down to her height for a tender kiss.  “I’m all yours.”