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Just Hold Me Close

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It was rare moments like these that Steve treasured the most. Moments that kept him going until the next time he saw her or the next time he heard from her.

Moments when Peggy would see him and would just know. She would smile softly at him, her eyes so gentle and so beautiful, full of understanding.

She would pull him into a hug and just hold him for as long as it took to reassure him that what he was doing was right. That he was saving people and not just killing and destroying.

Steve would wrap his arms around her waist tightly, and bury his face in her hair and just breath.

Peggy's arms could never quite reach the full way around his shoulders, but they brought such comfort and warmth to him.

She reminded him of home. Not of Brooklyn - he saw Brooklyn and home in Bucky. But in a different home, a new one. A home that could be. His home with Peggy in the dreary, foggy city of London or in the lovely English countryside or in Brooklyn, wonderful Brooklyn. It didn't matter where they were, it was always home.

And when he finally felt better, Peggy would gently stroke her fingers down his face, just looking at him. She didn't need to say any words, her eyes said it all.

They said that she understood. That she knew his inner turmoil. He was a soldier, the soldier, and his world had become one of pain and death and war, where the suffering never ended. He dealt with it, took it into his stride and tried not to let it affect him. He couldn't let it affect him. But he needed her, needed peace and feeling of being completely safe. She knew who he really was behind the Captain America facade, the one that so often left him confused and forgetting who he really was.

"Steve," she whispered. "You will never hear me say, that you - Steve Rogers - is anything but good. You are not perfect. You make mistakes and you have your flaws, but they don't make you a bad person. They make you a better person, because you know when you have done wrong and you try to fix it. You're too good for us, Steve. Too good for this awful world. Don't ever forget who you are, Steve Rogers."

Emotions swelled up inside of him. Love, happiness, hopefulness. Just complete and utter joy because of Peggy.

He wasn't the one the world didn't deserve. They could probably get by without him. Peggy was the one they didn't deserve. Everything she endured, the discrimination and the treatment, never stopped her and never made her accept defeat. It only made her stronger.

She was so strong, strong enough for both of them. She shouldn't have had to be. He was Captain America, the world's greatest hero. He was unstoppable and untouchable.

But even America's hope needed support and she was his.

So when the few moments of peace and tranquility were offered for him, he took them. And he remembered them, for when things got really bad. He would remember her smile and her eyes, her laugh and her glorious accent, that made his heart stutter and his knees weak. The feeling of being safe in her arms, where for a few blessed moments, he could forget the war and forget the pain.

That's why he put her picture in his compass, so no matter what happened, she would always bring him home.