A Time for Heroes – Chapter 28 – Back to Work and Play

They didn’t have an especially early morning the next day, but they were both awake by 7:30, so Ginny sent Steve to the shower first and went to see what she might have in her apartment for breakfast.

When Steve got out of the shower, he could smell bacon cooking. He put his prosthetic on and dressed quickly to join Ginny in the kitchen.

Ginny was in front of the stove cooking bacon, there were some frozen home fries ready to go into the oven, a bowl full of scrambled eggs ready to cook and bread in the toaster.

“Good morning, gorgeous.” she said with a big smile.

“Smells great. I thought we’d have to go out for food.” he said, sitting down to put his socks on.

“I had the eggs in the fridge and everything else was frozen, including the bread. I prefer real home fries, but I had these so they’ll do, right?” she asked him.

“I’m eating whatever you’re cooking.” Steve said. “I’m not picky.”

She bent over and kissed him before turning back to put the home fries in the oven.

“What time do you have to leave?” she asked, quietly, not looking at him.

“We’ve got time, love. I said I’d be there before noon and it’s only about an hour out of the city.” Steve said, just as quietly. “What time to do you have to meet with the Stark Foundation?”

“I said noon as well, so we’re having a lunch meeting to discuss facilities and recruiting today.” she answered, still facing the stove.

Steve came up and stood behind her, wrapping his arms around her.

“I can finish cooking if you want to grab a shower.” he offered.

Ginny put her fork down and turned in his arms to face him. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him.

“No.” she said. “I’ll wait for a shower in case someone wants to get me dirty again.”

Steve chuckled but was very serious when he said, “I’m not sure I want to go there again after what happened earlier this morning.”

Ginny looked away from his intense gaze. “I can’t guarantee it won’t happen again, but it is only the second time in my life, so it probably won’t.” she said, quietly.

“I am kidding.” he said, putting his fingers under her chin to make her look at him. “It’s going to take more than a few tears to keep me away.”

“Brute.” she said with a smile, before turning around to pull the bacon off the heat.

He laughed at how truthful she was. He felt like a brute sometimes when they made love. Maybe all men were. He sat down again and enjoyed the domestic scene in front of him.

In no time at all, Ginny placed a plate full of scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries and toast in front of him and as a bonus, she kissed him sweetly on the lips before turning to grab her plate.

The food was delicious. She had seasoned the eggs, so they were bursting with flavour and the bacon was perfectly crispy, just the way he liked it. There was apple juice and coffee and tea as well as peanut butter, jam, and local honey for the toast.

Steve ate with gusto and was on his second cup of coffee before he realized… “This is the first time you’ve cooked for me.”

“So it is…do I pass?” she asked, teasing him.

“With flying colours.” he said, taking her hand across the table. Then he started gathering the dishes to take them to the counter.

As he ran water in the sink, Ginny put everything else away, then grabbed a towel to dry the dishes Steve was washing.

“Well, this is all very domestic.” Ginny said, with a smile. “New for us.”

He laughed at that. “Well, we should get used to it. I’m no Stark…if you stay with me, there’ll be no servants.” He leaned over and kissed her nose. “It feels really normal, and we haven’t had enough of that.” he said, seriously before turning to scrub the frying pan.

“Except,” Ginny said, tapping her chin with her finger as she watched him work, “I keep picturing you in an apron and nothing else. It’s very distracting.”

Steve smiled at her and handed her the frying pan to dry before wiping his hands on her towel. “Filthy mind.” he whispered.

“Part of my charm.” she shot back with a coquettish look.

They didn’t end up making love again. They cuddled and talked on the couch for a couple of hours until it was time for Steve to leave.

At the door, they lingered a long time holding each other. Finally, Steve put his hands on Ginny’s shoulders and pushed her away from him.

“Drive safe when you come on Friday, please.” he said and kissed her.

“You drive safe today. Sometimes I hate it that you ride a bike.” Ginny answered.

Steve smiled at this. “I’ll be fine” he said. “Let me know what time on Friday.”

“I will.” she said in a whisper.

Steve pulled her into his arms again, pressed his lips to her hair and said, “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Steve.” She pulled back and kissed him quickly. “I’ll see you on Friday.”

Steve kissed her again, this time deeper and longer, before saying, “Friday.” in a husky voice.

He picked up his duffle bag and opened the door. He turned and smiled sadly at Ginny and then he was gone.

Ginny went to the window and saw him heading towards his bike. He lifted one hand to his face to wipe away a tear before turning to the window to wave.

He pulled his helmet out and stuffed his duffle bag into the boot. Wow, Ginny thought with a smile, he’ll have a lot of ironing to do when he gets home!

Steve raised his hand in farewell one more time before he drove away.

Ginny stood staring at the empty spot for a long time. She missed him already.

She turned away from the window and went for a shower. Her busy day beckoned her and she’d have very little time to think about Steve.

 

The discussion went on into the evening with the Stark Foundation. In the end, they decided to keep the program in New York City in hospitals. Private facilities were expensive to rent or purchase and so was upkeep and the money would be better spent on training and hiring staff.

Ginny suggested that they try a pilot project upstate in a private facility to see how it could work in a less expensive market. It was agreed that this could also be accomplished in Phase 1.

Three other hospitals had been approached and were interested in the project. Ginny would be meeting with their administrators the next day with Margaret Reid. Margaret had agreed to join her to speak of the positive impact the program had had at her hospital.

The training program that Ginny had sketched out had been realized as a full 16 week course. As they would be hiring fully qualified physio and occupational therapists, the training was mostly psychology, dance, acupressure and yoga. The foundation had lined-up some amazing talent to teach. Now they just had to recruit.

Ginny felt like she was standing on the edge of a huge chasm, but the support and respect that she was getting from the foundation was helping her not to be paralyzed with fear.

Her PA’s name was Jessica, but she preferred to be called Jess. After dinner, Jess pulled Ginny aside to go over her calendar with her and make sure there were no conflicts.

“I know that you’re trying to get away early on Friday, so I’ve lined up a couple of properties upstate for you to take a look at.” Jess said. “They’re not too far from the Avengers’ headquarters.”

“Thank you, Jess. That will work perfectly.” Ginny said, looking at the property profiles Jess had handed her.

“Will you be spending every weekend there?” Jess asked.

“Don’t know yet.” Ginny said, still looking at one of the properties. “It’s either that or Steve will come down here.”

“So it’s true.” Jess said, with a shy smile. “You are seeing Captain Rogers.”

Ginny looked up sharply at this. Things had just been so intense and busy, she had forgotten that she and Steve hadn’t really made their relationship public.

Ginny smiled, though, thinking of Steve and said, “Yes, it’s true.”

“Maybe I could come up with you on Friday.” Jess said. “I’d love to see the Avengers’ facility.”

Ginny smiled at her. All day, Jess had been a rock; always there anticipating Ginny’s needs and just being a strong presence for Ginny in this corporate world she wasn’t used to. All of a sudden, she was a fan-girl!

“I don’t see a problem with that. Would you want to stay the weekend? If so, we could drive up together. Or you could drive your car and head back when you want to.” Ginny said. “Let me know and I’ll talk to Steve tonight…if I ever get out of here.”

“They don’t usually sit until much past 9.” Jess said. “And I can follow you up…maybe stay Friday night?” Ginny nodded in response to the question.

They ran through Ginny’s schedule for the next week before Jess said goodnight.

“I hope you don’t mind.” she said. “I’m supposed to be meeting my brother for a drink.”

“It’s all good here. If there’s anything I need, I’ll text you. Have fun!” Ginny said, and headed back into the boardroom.

It was 9 o’clock when they wrapped up and Ginny headed home.

After a quick change out of her suit into sweats, she texted Steve:

 

Free to talk?

 

Her phone rang seconds later.

“Just waiting for your call, love.” Steve said through the phone. “Did you just get home?”

“Yeah…so much to talk about!” She gave him an abridged version of her day, from the hospital visits the next day, to the possibility of opening a centre upstate to her new PA.

“She’s excellent!” Ginny said with enthusiasm. “She saved me a from a couple of minefields today alone!”

“Sounds like an exciting day.” Steve said.

“Oh, and on Friday, Jess and I care coming up to scope out a couple of properties. Can Jess spend the night at HQ so she doesn’t have to drive back late?” Ginny asked.

“Fan?” Steve asked, knowingly.

“Of course,” Ginny answered, “but not too gushy.”

Steve laughed. “No problem. Does that mean you’ll be here early on Friday?”

“I hope so. It just depends on what time we can get away from the office.” Ginny answered. “The properties Jess is suggesting aren’t too far from you.”

“And what about Diego? Have you set anything up with him yet?” Steve asked.

“Not yet.” she answered. “Would this weekend be too soon to have him come down? I didn’t want to call until I had something firm to tell Amanda.”

“Sounds like perfect timing. We’ve got a good chunk of staff here…Bucky and Sam, Nat and Tony; I think Wanda and Rhodes will be here, too. Should make a good impression on the little fellow.” Steve said.

“Okay, I’ll try to reach her tonight then.” Ginny said. “But this is all my stuff. How was your day?”

“Tedious. Meetings most of the afternoon, but I got in the arena with Bucky and JP. JP says to tell you that you’re a bad influence on me. You let me get flabby again.” Ginny could hear the smile in Steve’s voice.

“I don’t know where JP is finding flab on you. Guess he doesn’t get to see you from the same vantage point as I do.” Ginny purred into the phone.

“And he never will, either!” Steve said, firmly.

Ginny laughed at his vehemence and then fell silent.

“You still there?” Steve asked, quietly.

Ginny had walked into her room as they talked and said, just as quietly. “Yeah, I’m just looking at my bed and it looks so big and empty.”

Steve was quiet for a moment. “Mine, too.” he said, finally. “Just two nights and we’ll be together.”

“I know.” she answered. “I can’t believe how much I miss you already.”

“This can only get easier, right?” Steve asked.

“Oh, gods! I hope so!” Ginny said with feeling.

They were both quiet for another long moment before Steve said, “You should call Amanda before it gets too late.”

“I should.” Ginny answered. “You okay?”

Steve chuckled. “You know me. I’m a rock. I’ll be fine.” he said. “You?”

“I’m good. Still a little sore, so maybe it’s a good thing you’re an hour away.” Ginny said, teasing him.

Steve chuckled again, but then said seriously. “No, it’s not.”

Ginny paused before responding. “No, you’re right. It’s not.”

“Are you meeting with the kids tomorrow?” Steve asked.

“Shit! I completed forgot about them!” Ginny quickly brought up her schedule on her tablet. “Amazing! Jess has me slotted in with them for an hour first thing in the morning before I go with Margaret to the other hospitals. I love that girl!”

“I can’t wait to meet her, then.” Steve said. “Tell them I’ll be down next week to work out with them”

“They will be ecstatic.” she said. “I love you so much!”

“I love you, too, darling. Go call Amanda and let me know what she says.” Steve said, sounding a little distracted. “I have some stuff to finish up here before I can find my lonely bed.”

“Two nights, Rogers. We can do this.” Ginny said, firmly.

“Friday can’t come soon enough.” Steve said with a sigh.

“Amen to that.” Ginny said.

“Love you.” Steve said.

“Love you, too.” Ginny responded and hung up.

Ginny sent a quick text to Amanda to see if she was still up, and followed that with a call when Amanda came back to her.

They set it up for Amanda to bring Diego on Saturday for the day and once they were off the phone, Ginny called Steve back with details.

 

After her long day, Ginny fell asleep more easily that she thought she would, but it wasn’t restful. In her dreams, she was searching for Steve; desperately searching but never finding, except once and what she found was him broken and bleeding, and she woke in a cold sweat. Sleep came easily again, only to put her back into the nightmare.

 

6 am came too early and Ginny woke up cranky and out of sorts.

A shower and coffee helped a little bit. She didn’t bother with breakfast. There would be food at the hospital.

The ride in didn’t do much to improve her mood, but chatting with Sunny at the gym while she ate a croissant and some fruit put her in a little better mood.

And the joyous reception she received from the kids put her right over the top.

Annalisa came in first, gave Ginny a hug, then went and got a croissant. Then she came back and crawled into Ginny’s lap and said, “I missed you, Ginny. Don’t go away again.”

Ginny pressed her lips to Annalisa’s hair and said, “I’ll try not to, bébé.”

Sean came in and gave her a huge smile before coming over and wrapping his arms around her and Annalisa.

“No Cap today?” Sean asked, coming back with an apple and a croissant.

“He said he’d see you guys next week.” Ginny said.

“Are you guys actually a thing, yet?” he wanted to know.

“Yes, we’re a thing.” Ginny answered, exasperated.

Sean smiled and just said, “Good.”

Sarah and Chris came in together, followed by Randy. By then the noise was deafening, with everyone trying to tell her everything at once.

Maya sauntered in last and screamed when she saw Ginny before throwing herself at her.

Ginny and Sunny let everyone talk themselves out before Ginny said, “I’ve been too busy to dance. How about we do Thriller? Hallowe’en is almost here.”

Sunny hadn’t done any dancing with them, so the kids were excited to move again.

So Ginny set it up and they danced and laughed their way through the next hour.

Too soon, it was time for Ginny to go. She would have to make sure to block this time off on her calendar going forward. This is what made her feel alive. Well, this and Steve, she thought with a smile.

 

She met Margaret at her office and was pleasantly surprised how easily they got along. They had one appointment in the morning and two more in the afternoon.

Margaret drove and gave Ginny lots of insight into the other hospital administrators as they drove.

After their first meeting, which went very well, Margaret and Ginny stopped for lunch. They talked amiably over lunch before visiting the next hospital.

At the end of the day, they had positive responses from all three of the other hospitals and Ginny sent Jess a text asking her to set up meetings for her at each of the hospitals for the next week to discuss logistics, patients, facilities and any other details. She wanted these city programs running before Christmas.

After taking her leave of Margaret, Ginny headed back to the foundation offices to catch up with Jess. She was starting to enjoy having a PA!

Jess had made the appointments for her and had already put in several other meetings tentatively. Ginny had her rearrange to free up Thursday morning for her.

“Thank you for putting that in this morning. It was great to see the kids again. Next week, Steve is coming down to work with them, so I’ll need the whole morning free. Let’s make that standard every week. I need that touchstone.”

“Done.” Jess said, turning her tablet to show Ginny.

“And tomorrow, I’ve arranged for you to be able to spend the night at the Avengers’ HQ. Steve has to give me the grand tour, so you’ll get to see everything.”

Jess was ecstatic! “Do you know who’s going to be there?” she asked.

Ginny smiled. “Don’t go all fan-girl on me, Jess. You’ll be seeing a lot of these guys and girls.”

“I’ll be cool…I promise.” Jess said, still looking every excited.

“It’s tough as first.” Ginny admitted. “Who do you want to meet?”

“Thor.” Jess said, a little too quickly.

“Sorry…I don’t think he’ll be around.” Ginny said, pulling a face.

“Iron Man?” Jess asked getting over her disappointment quickly.

“Tony will be there, along with Bucky and Sam and Nat and Wanda…um, Winter Soldier, Falcon, Black Widow and Scarlet Witch.” Ginny wasn’t sure if Jess would know them by their first names.

“How early can we get away tomorrow?” Ginny asked, getting back to work.

“You should be done with meetings here by noon…maybe stop for lunch on the way up?” Jess suggested.

“Yeah, let’s find a greasy spoon on the way out of town. Greasy burger and fries.” Ginny agreed. “What’s going on tonight? I could really use some time to do laundry.” It was 4 pm and she was exhausted after her restless night.

“Angela in finance wanted a half an hour with you, then you’re done.” Jess said.

“Oh, thank the gods.” Ginny said. “Let me get this over with so I can go home.”

“Okay. Text me later if there’s anything I need to know about tomorrow.” Jess said, getting up to leave.

Angela went over budgets with Ginny so she knew her price range for shopping the next day. On the way home, she stopped for some groceries for something quick to cook up for dinner and spent the evening doing laundry. She wasn’t sure what to do with her uniforms. She’d have to ask Steve when she called him.

It was 8 pm when her phone rang and she looked to see that same cheesy Captain America picture she hadn’t managed to change yet.

“Hey, sweetie.” Ginny answered, cheerfully.

“Hey, yourself.” Steve said. “You sound chipper.”

“Good day all around.” she said. “Got to hang with the kids and dance. They are so jazzed to see you next week.”

“Jazzed?” Steve asked. There was still some modern slang he didn’t understand.

“Excited.” Ginny clarified. “And I spent most of the rest of the day with Margaret visiting hospitals and the response was really good!”

“You are just on fire this week!” Steve said, catching her excitement.

“Well, at least the days are great.” Ginny said. “I spent all night last night searching for you…didn’t get a very restful sleep.”

“I tossed and turned most of the night, too.” he said. “I used to sleep like a baby.”

“Me, too. I hope we can get back to that at some point,” Ginny said, “or we’ll have to move in together.”

Steve chuckled. “I don’t see that happening for a while. Lots going on here, but we can talk about that once you’re here.” he said. “What time are you planning on getting here?”

“Looks like we’re leaving the city around noon and there’s 3 properties we need to see, so maybe 4 o’clock?”

“Sounds good. We can do the tour for you and Jess and then we can have dinner with the team.” Steve said. “It’ll all delay being alone together, but we’ll have all night.”

“Shall I bring my baby blue teddy?” she asked, huskily.

“Yes, please.” Steve said, seriously.

Ginny chuckled and said, “I’d better get some sleep tonight because it sounds like I won’t be getting much tomorrow night.”

“Not if I can help it.” he answered.

“Well, I have laundry to finish and then I hope to have more pleasant dreams of you tonight.” Ginny said quietly.

“I hope you find me tonight.” Steve answered.

“I found you once last night and that wasn’t good either.” she said, remembering his bruised and broken body.

“Just don’t lose me again.” Steve said. “I love you, darling.”

“I love you, too, babe.” Ginny answered softly.

“Babe sounds so natural coming from you.” Steve said.

“Darling sounds so natural coming from you.” Ginny countered.

Steve chuckled. “Can’t wait to see you. Sleep well.” he said, almost in a whisper.

“You, too, love.” Ginny said, and hung up the phone.

Her last load of laundry was done, so she folded it, packed up what she needed for the weekend and put the rest away. Then she spent the next half hour in meditation, hoping that would lead her to a calmer dreamscape.

It was only 9 o’clock, but she was wiped, so she crashed.

She dreamed of Steve and the kids and the feelings were all playful and happy. She slept soundly until her alarm went off.

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