A Time For Heroes – Chapter 31 – Dance Party

They started their day early. Ginny was not getting morning sickness, but she did seem to need to feel Steve’s hands on her. She wasn’t sure if that was hormones or that she just loved making love to him, but she ran with it.

So after a slow and sensual hour of lovemaking in bed, they moved it to the bath.

Once they had finished and sat in a second tub of hot, bubbling water, (the first one had gotten too cold!), Steve whispered in Ginny’s ear, “Why can’t I seem to get enough of you?”

Ginny just laughed, huskily, and twisted in his arms to kiss him.

“The feeling’s mutual, big guy. Since the first day I met you.” she said, quietly.

Steve was quiet for a moment before saying, “Then why won’t you marry me?” He sounded more than a little hurt.

Ginny stiffened for a second. Steve, don’t ruin this, she thought.

She sighed deeply and said, “I will, Steve. I just don’t want to rush down the aisle in a maternity wedding dress.”

“How about if we become hand-fast?” she suggested.

“You mentioned hand-fasting before, but I don’t know what that is.” he admitted.

“In the pagan tradition, a couple do a hand-fasting ceremony committing to a year and a day together as a married couple. They move in together and start sharing their lives together. After the year is up, they can either get married and make it permanent, or walk away with no further obligation to each other.” Ginny explained. “It’s kind of like an engagement, but more formal.”

“I’m not going to walk away.” Steve said, firmly. “But I’d be willing to do a hand-fasting.”

Ginny smiled and hugged his arms more tightly. “I love you.” His response was to press his lips to her hair and hold her more tightly.

“I guess the only thing to decide would be how publicly to do it. We could bring in a priestess and friends and family, or we could just exchange vows privately.” she said. “I’ll do some research and see if I can find a ceremony that suits us.”

“I didn’t realize it could be private. I thought it would be public.” he said. “I think I like the idea of private. The wedding can be public.”

“Speaking of weddings, Sylvie’s is in 2 weeks and we haven’t made any plans yet. I think she needs to know this weekend for the hotel.”

“Book it and we’ll have to talk some more about the trip.” he said. “Everything seems quiet right now.”

They both fell silent then, enjoying the soothing heat of the water.

 

It was still early when they left Steve’s quarters to find a light breakfast before hitting the road. They decided to take Steve’s bike, since it was a perfect fall day, clear and bright.

They parked on the main street of the little town and spent hours popping in and out of stores. They didn’t buy much, but talked to most of the store keepers and gallery owners. Some of them recognized Steve, and Ginny ended up taking keepsake pictures for a few people.

Steve stopped at a jewelry store window and pointed out a couple of rings that he thought would be perfect for Ginny petite hands and long, slender fingers.

“I like the blue one. Reminds me of your eyes.” Ginny said, tiptoeing to kiss him.

“Do you want to go in?” he asked.

“Sure.” she said, and he held the door for her.

Once the salesgirl realized that they were shopping for engagement rings, she started showing them rings from the pricier side of the store.

“What about the blue diamond in the window?” Ginny asked.

“That’s not really an engagement ring.” the girl said, haughtily. “The guideline is to spend three months wages on the engagement ring.”

So Ginny looked dutifully at the wedding sets and saw nothing that suited her. Lots of big diamonds or big settings with lots of smaller diamonds.

Finally, Ginny said, “I really like the blue diamond in the window.” Her liking turned to love as soon as she had it on her hand. The setting was the perfect size for her fingers and the diamond reflected all different shades of blue, just like Steve’s eyes. He knew they’d found the ring when Ginny looked up at him with one of her glorious smiles.

It was a little big, so they left it to be sized down. Then, Ginny asked about a ring for Steve.

“Would you wear a ring,” she asked, “or should I look for another token?”

“I’ve never worn a ring, but let’s look.” was his response.

They found a simple two tone ring that suited him perfectly. The two sections came apart with the gold meant for engagement and the platinum added at the marriage ceremony.

Ginny didn’t see anything that caught her eye as a wedding band, so she left it. There were other jewelers and a year before it would be needed.

So they paid for the rings and left Steve’s cell number so he could pick them up the following week.

It was past noon by the time they were done, so they found a little diner up the street and went in for lunch. The burgers looked good so that’s what they ordered.

Ginny’s phone buzzed while they were waiting for their burgers.

“Oh, goodie!” she said. Steve raised his eyebrows in enquiry.

“I sent a message to my friend, Ellen, in Toronto; she’s been a minister for a number of years, and I asked her about hand-fasting rituals. She’s in New York next weekend and would love to help us put something together.” Ginny sounded very excited.

“I am going to have to leave this to you.” Steve said. “Just nothing too weird.” He made a disgusted face.

Ginny laughed. “Very down to earth.” she said. “Neither Ellen or I are fluffy bunny pagans.”

Steve laughed, “I don’t think you could be fluffy bunny anything.”

“Oh, you would be surprised! I was pretty flaky when I first got into paganism. But I found what worked for me and I’ve left the rest behind.” she said.

Steve’s look became serious. “Thanks for letting me buy you the ring.” he said. “It means a lot to me.”

She smiled at him. “I know it does.” she said softly. “We’re kinda doing things backwards, aren’t we?”

Steve sat back and looked at her for a moment. “It’s not really the way I pictured things, no.” he said.

She smiled back at him and said, “I told you I was unconventional.”

He laughed and leaned forward and took her hand. “Are you saying I should have run while I had the chance?”

“I’m glad you didn’t…but you were warned.” She squeezed his hand with both of hers. “I did notice the disapproving look that day at breakfast when I said I was unconventional.”

Steve shook his head smiling and said, “Geez, I don’t get away with anything in this relationship. Yes, I wasn’t impressed when you said you were unconventional. Up until that moment, I didn’t do unconventional. But you’ve managed to change that.”

Ginny’s face softened as she looked deep into his eyes. “Do you regret any of it?” she asked.

“Not a minute.” he answered, bringing her hand to his lips to kiss. “It’s been an adventure.”

She smiled and let one hand drop down to her belly. “And a new adventure around the corner.”

“I haven’t really had time to come to terms with that yet.” he said. “Still feels very unreal.”

“Listen, I was wondering…if we’re not married when the baby is born, whose name do we give him?” Steve asked.

Ginny shrugged and said, “Yours.”

Steve was surprised. “Just like that? No discussion?”

“French common-law is different than English.” Ginny said. “The children take the father’s name, but a woman doesn’t take her husband’s name. That’s what I grew up with.” She paused for  moment. “But I’m thinking it’ll be easier to create a family if we all share the same last name.”

“So you’ll change your name to ‘Rogers’?” he asked, surprised.

“Yes.” Ginny looked up at him and smiled. “I thought you’d like that.”

Steve looked down at their hands with a smile on his face. “I do. Thanks for that. It’s a little conventional, though, isn’t it?” He looked up at her.

“I can do conventional,” she said with a smile, “it’s just not usually as much fun.”

Steve laughed at this. Ginny was quiet for a moment.

“You know, up to now, I’ve felt pretty confident. I’ve been in relationships before so everything was…not exactly familiar…but I had a frame of reference for it.” Ginny said. “Now all of this, I’m in unfamiliar waters. It’s a little scary.” She was still holding his hand but not looking at him.

His eyes were on their hands as he slowly stroked hers with his thumb. “Welcome to my world.” he said, quietly. “I’ve been out of my depth since the beginning.” He lifted his head and smiled at her.

She smiled back at him. “And we really don’t have anyone to guide us through this. All of our moms are gone.” she said, softly.

“True.” Steve said, then paused for a moment. “Guess we’ll have to figure it out on our own.”

That was when the food arrived and they fell silent while they ate. The burgers were homemade on crusty buns and delicious enough that Ginny didn’t mind that hers was really messy. The fries were fresh cut and perfectly crispy.

But she wasn’t as hungry as she had thought, so she passed off part of her burger and fries to Steve.

Steve was surprised and asked, “Are you okay?”

She nodded and said, “Just a lot of food.”

He leaned forward and whispered, “You’re eating for two now.”

“No,” she said, firmly, “I’m eating for one and a microscopic dot.”

Steve laughed and finished off her plate. “I thought Jas said she could feel something.” he said.

“Wrap the microscopic dot in a placenta and embed it into the wall of the uterus and, yes, you can feel it. But it’s still a microscopic dot.” Ginny said and smiled. “There used to be a character in a cartoon show I liked called Dot.”

Steve smiled and asked her about the show as well as other childhood memories. Her childhood was very different from his. He’d never even seen a TV before he woke up in the twenty-first century and computers were something he’d heard about at the World Exposition. Ginny had had both in her house as long as she was alive.

Finally, he shook his head and said, “It is all so different than when I was a kid.”

Ginny smiled. “Some of the best times I remember are of riding my bike with my friends, playing a neighbourhood game of tag or road hockey, or swinging at the park. It wasn’t all gadgets.” she said.

Steve smiled. “Now that all sounds familiar! But do kids even play outside anymore?”

“Sure they do. Kids are still kids.” she said. “That’s the best stories I get from the amps, the ones where they just get to play. Look at how much fun the kids have when you guys show up. Nothing’s more fun for a kid than having a grown-up who’ll play with them.”

“So I’m not going to be some hopelessly outdated dad making my kids go outside and play?” he asked, earnestly.

“Oh, probably.” she said, teasing him. He pulled a face at her and she laughed. “But you’re marrying an old-fashioned girl who also knows the value of playtime, so we should be good.”

The bill came and they settled up before heading out to wander through the rest of the downtown area. Then they headed off the main street into a residential area and just walked along holding hands and talking.

“Did you ever notice,” Ginny said at a lull in the conversation, “how comfortable we are with each other?”

“I just thought that was because you’re so easy to talk to.” Steve said.

“But it’s not just you. Right from the beginning, I found myself confiding in you and telling you things I’d never told anyone else. It just feels like I don’t have to put on any masks with you.” she said.

“But isn’t this normal once you’ve been with someone for a while, once you’re intimate?” Steve asked.

“I’ve never felt like this with anyone else, so, no, not normal.” she answered.

“Even when I was struggling to find a way to tell you about the baby, I knew that I could just tell you; no games, no subterfuge; and I knew we could deal with it.”

He laughed a little bitterly and said, “I know I didn’t handle that very well. It’s certainly not what I was expecting to deal with this weekend.”

They walked quietly for a few minutes.

“How easy it would have been for us never to have met.” Ginny said. “If just one of the dozens of decisions that led me to New York had gone the other way…”

“I know. I’ve thought about that many times since I’ve known you.” Steve said.

They put their arms around each other and kept walking until they came to a little park with a bench. They sat down to watch a sleepy Saturday in a small town go by.

“Do you really want to live in a small town like this?” Ginny asked.

“I’m more of a city boy, but isn’t this better for kids?” Steve asked.

“I don’t know. I think there’s pros and cons on both sides.” Ginny said. “I’m a city girl, too, so I’m not sure if I could adjust to a small town like this. Everybody knowing everybody’s business.”

“Nice to visit,” she said, “but I’m not sure about living here.”

Steve smiled. “Good.” he said. “This is definitely a little too quiet for my taste.”

They made their slow and meandering way back to the main street and Steve’s bike by around 3, so they decided to head back.

Ginny put both arms around Steve’s waist and clung to him tightly as he drove them back to HQ. She could feel every move he made as he drove and she moved with him as he turned. It was very intimate and she loved the feeling of being on the back of his bike.

 

Back at the Avenger’s headquarters, Steve took Ginny to see the dancehall/arena. Tony had rigged a mirror ball and lights hanging from the ceiling; he had hired a DJ and there were tables and chairs around the dance floor.

“This looks amazing!” Ginny said. “But the disco ball reminds me that I haven’t taught you any disco yet.”

Steve pulled a face. He wasn’t a fan of that particular genre of music.

“Come on.” she said, taking his hand. “I can probably teach you the ‘More than a woman’ dance sequence before dinner.”

Ginny set up the video on her tablet and they watched it through.

When it was done, Steve said, “I can’t do that. I don’t have a white suit.”

Ginny laughed. “Come on. Give it a try. It’s really a fun kind of dancing.”

Steve had to admit that it was fun. The moves weren’t complicated but it flowed well.

“And you can just use most of the same moves for any disco song.” Ginny said. She put on ABBA’s ‘Take a Chance’, and they danced through it with just a few changes.

When they were done, Ginny said, “I love that you move so well. It’s so nice to have a good dance partner.”

“Never thought anyone would call me that back in the day.” Steve said, and went to answer the knock at his door.

Dinner was there a little earlier than usual so they’d still have time to linger over it. It was a delicious smelling chicken dish…Ginny thought maybe Chicken Kiev.

Ginny wasn’t very hungry, but she ate the salad and started on the vegetables. Then she took a bite of the chicken and had to race to the washroom to be sick!

The nausea didn’t go away once her stomach was empty, though, and she spent a few minutes heaving and bringing up nothing.

She hadn’t seen Steve follow her in, but he was sitting on the side of the tub beside her, ready to help.

Steve reached over and flushed the toilet and handed her a tissue to wipe her mouth.

Her voice was a little hoarse when she said, “I guess chicken’s off the menu.”

“Was it the chicken?” Steve asked, helping her up off the floor.

“Yeah, it put me off just to look at it, but once I ate it, the nausea was immediate.” She rinsed her mouth out with water a couple times then with mouthwash to get rid of the foul taste.

“Are you okay now?” He had put his hands on her shoulders and was searching her face with concern.

“I think so. I don’t think I can eat anymore, though.” she answered.

“I might have some crackers or pretzels.” Steve said, and they went back out into the dining room.

He did have a box of crackers and Ginny nibbled on a few of those while Steve finished his dinner. There had been wine, but that sat untouched.

“Is this part of the pregnancy?” Steve asked. “I’ve heard of morning sickness.”

“Jas warned me about this. Sometimes, certain foods will cause nausea. Obviously, one of mine is chicken.” Ginny said, with a withering look at her plate, which she’d pushed to the middle of the table.

“I think I’m going to go and lie down for half an hour.” Ginny said, and touching his shoulder as she passed, went into the bedroom.

Steve tidied up the table a little bit, then went to join her. She was curled into a fetal position around one of the pillows. When he laid down behind her, she smiled and rolled over to put her arm over his chest. He pulled her close and put his arm over hers.

Ginny felt shy and embarrassed. She didn’t feel in control anymore and she didn’t like it.

They lay together for a long time, each with their own thoughts, gently stroking and caressing each other for comfort.

Steve looked over at the clock. “Do you think you can still go dancing?” he asked.

She sighed deeply. “In a few more minutes.” she said, and seemed to burrow more deeply into his arms.

When she sat up a few minutes later, her head was clear and her stomach was fine. So she got up and changed into her flaming dancing skirt and did a twirl for Steve, who was lying in bed watching her.

“You still look a little pale,” he said as he sat up, “but I guess if you can twirl like that, you’re okay.”

“It’s the weirdest thing.” she said, putting her hand over her stomach. “Now that it’s passed, it feels like it never happened.”

Steve had stripped off his jeans in favour of dress pants and shook his head. “Maybe we should pay a visit to Barton at the farm. Laura might be helpful.” he said.

“Might be a plan.” she said. “Kinda tough right now since we’re trying to keep it between us, though…at least for the next couple of weeks.”

Steve was rolling up the sleeves on his dress shirt. “True.” he said. “There’s always the internet.”

“Too much information! But maybe we’ll look tomorrow. Right now I gotta dance!” She twirled into some of the Saturday Night Fever moves she had just taught him and he realized how much he was looking forward to this, too.

 

The arena was already rocking when they got there. Tony has hired a bartender and Ginny and Steve stopped there first. Ginny opted for ginger ale and Steve got a beer. Ginny thought a beer might be good later, but didn’t want to push it.
They wandered around, greeting people and stopping to chat. The music was quiet as people were still wandering in, but there were some people on the dancefloor and Ginny spotted Sam and Amanda.

“Didn’t know about that…” Ginny said to Steve.

“Sam asked me to enquire this week and Amanda seemed thrilled. I guess Diego’s at his grandparents’ tonight.” Steve said, leaning in to be heard over the music.

Amanda saw Ginny and broke from the dance, grabbing Sam’s hand and coming over to them.

She gave both Steve and Ginny hugs before saying, “I hear you teach dance. I’ve always wanted to learn how to waltz.”

“Sure, the waltz is easy.” She went to the DJ to get her to set up three waltz-beat tunes for them to dance to.

Ginny started them off with the classical ‘Blue Danube Waltz’. She thought the easiest way to do it was to switch partners. So Steve squared off with Amanda, and Ginny with Sam.

After the first song was over, she had a more modern song and they started to show Sam and Amanda simple spins.

By the time the third song started, Steve reclaimed Ginny and Sam and Amanda waltzed off on their own.

There were several other people on the dance floor by that time, including Tony and Pepper, and Thor and Jane.

“Boy, you don’t do anything by halves, do you, Tony?” Ginny yelled over the music.

“Why?” he answered. “I can afford it.” He smiled and winked at her.

Ginny spotted Bucky and Jess just coming in. Jess saw her and rushed over.

“Margaret set a meeting with the foundation for Monday morning. I didn’t know if you’d seen your schedule yet, so I thought I’d warn you.” Jess said, breathlessly.

“Thanks, Jess. Maybe we can talk more tomorrow. I might get Tony to give her a call and sound her out.” Ginny said.

Just then, the DJ decided to crank it up with ‘More than a Woman’.

“Come on, Discoman. Let’s show ‘em what you’ve got.” Ginny said in Steve’s ear.

He sighed and let her pull him onto the dancefloor.

When they misjudged a spin and ended up running into each other, Ginny just laughed it off and carried on. Her skirt floated up around her as she moved like a flame and Steve didn’t miss the significance of trying to hold this particular flame in his arms.

Ginny laughed and then kissed him when the song was done.

“You’re no John Travolta, love, but I think I’ll keep you.” she said, her eyes shining.

The disco beat continued so they danced through a couple more songs before sitting to catch their breath. They were just sitting and holding hands while they watched the other dancers; it was too loud to try to talk.

Steve squeezed Ginny’s hand and she looked up to see him smiling as he watched her. She leaned over and gave him a quick kiss.

The dancefloor had started to empty as people went to quench their thirst.

The DJ spoke over the end of the song to say, “This song is especially for Steve and Geneviève.” A single spotlight lit the centre of the dancefloor.

Steve shrugged his shoulders and grabbed her hand, took her to stand in the light.

It could only be ‘New York State of Mind’. Steve leaned down and kissed her as he heard the first sweet piano notes, then took her in his arms and they shared this special dance again. There were lots of couples around them, but they only had eyes for each other.

The music faded into, ‘Falling Down Blue’, and then ‘Nights in White Satin’. To Ginny, it felt like a high school dance. But the last song was for Steve: ‘As Time Goes By’ had always been one of his favourites.

The DJ moved on then to some more modern music, starting with ‘Wrecking Ball’, and Steve and Ginny wandered off the floor to join Tony and Pepper at a table.

“Was that your doing, Tony?” Ginny asked.

Tony smiled. “This is all for you Geneviève. You started the dancing.”

Tony leaned close to Ginny and said, “A little bird told me your two were shopping rings today.”

Ginny looked at Tony in disbelief, then turned to Steve and said, “See what I mean about a small town?” Steve just smiled and shook his head.

Ginny held up her bare left hand and said, “We’re not engaged yet. And keep it under your hat, will you? I haven’t talked to my dad yet.”

 

After that, the evening passed in a blur. Both Ginny and Steve danced with lots of people. Some wanted Ginny to teach them some moves, but most just wanted to dance.

But as often as they could, they found each other, sometimes for just a moment before being claimed by another dance partner.

It was getting late when Steve finally decided it was his turn. A couple of guys tried to cut in and he just said that this was his dance. Ginny followed suit with the ladies.

They were dancing to another slow, sweet song when Ginny said, “I’m done. Long day; no food. I’m just dead on my feet.”

“We can go whenever you want.” he said. “Do you need something to eat before we go to bed?”

“Maybe.” She could feel her stomach growling and she was glad she had decided not to drink after all.

Steve was about to lead her off the dance floor when Ginny stopped him.

“One more.” she said, as a rough voice started to sing: ‘Strange and beautiful are the stars tonight…’, the first line of ‘Lost Together’ by Blue Rodeo. She had always  hoped to meet someone to be lost together with and now she knew that she had.

They stood together at the end of the song as another one started and Steve said, “Great song.”

“Gotta love Blue Rodeo.” she said with a smile.

Steve led her off the dancefloor and they said their goodbyes to those they met before finally finding themselves in the quiet hallway.

Steve led the way to the canteen to see what was available. They weren’t the only ones seeking late night snacks and they sat down with Bucky and Jess, who offered to share their nachos.

Bucky went and ordered another plate of nachos and they sat and talked and ate together.

Jess and Bucky were still making eyes at each other, which Ginny thought was cute. Then she caught Steve’s look and realized that they were still doing it, too!

“Tony said you were ring shopping today.” Bucky said. “Is that true?”

“Tony’s got a big mouth.” Ginny said.

“Nah. I overheard him telling Pepper.” Bucky said.

Steve looked at his best friend and then at Ginny. “Let’s move this back to my quarters.” he said. They grabbed what was left of the nachos. “I have some beer.” Steve said and they headed out the door.

They settled in the living room, each with a beer and Bucky said, “What’s up buddy?”

Steve hesitated and looked at Ginny. She nodded. Bucky was more like a brother than a friend and should know what was going on.

“We just don’t want everyone to know yet.” Steve said.

Bucky looked at Jess and back and Steve and said, “Spill it, Rogers.”

“We were ring shopping today and they should be ready later this week.” Steve said, holding Ginny’s hand and smiling the biggest grin she had ever seen.

“Congratulations!” Jess said, coming over to hug Ginny, while Bucky held out his hand to Steve.

“So, when’s the big day?” Bucky asked.

Steve looked at Ginny. They really should talk about this before he told Bucky the rest, but he couldn’t keep this from his best friend.

“Not for a while.” Steve said, still looking at Ginny. Ginny nodded. She knew what he needed to do.

Steve looked at Bucky with a shy smile and said, “Not until after the baby is born.”

Bucky’s jaw dropped. It took him a second to recover and then he pulled his friend up for a long hug.

He sat back down and just looked at Steve with a stunned look on his face.

Finally, he wiped his nose quickly with the back of his hand and said, “Haven’t you heard of condoms, you big lug.”

Steve laughed. “Didn’t think they were necessary.” he said. “Ginny had the birth control shot and they told me I couldn’t have kids.”

“It’s still really early,” Ginny said, “but everything looks good so far.”

“So who else knows. Stark? Fury?” Bucky asked.

“Nope, just you…and we’d like to keep it that way.” Steve said. “At least for a couple of weeks until we get the official medical confirmation. Then we can tell Claude and take it from there.”

“So are you officially engaged?” Jess asked.

Ginny took a deep breath and let it out. “No, we’re going to be hand-fast hopefully next weekend with a priestess friend of mine. It’s a pagan tradition similar to engagement.”

“I know what that is.” Jess said. “So you’ll be getting married in a year?”

“That’s the plan,” Ginny said, looking up at Steve and smiling, “but our lives don’t seem to like to follow a plan, so we’ll see.”

After that, they talked for a while until it was clear that Ginny needed to sleep.

Bucky looked at Jess and said, “We should go.” His look was full of love and longing and Ginny wondered if they’d be spending the night together.

She and Steve saw their friends to the door and said goodnight with quick hugs and more congratulations. Then Steve sent Ginny on ahead into the bedroom while he tidied away the leftover nachos and beer bottles.

Ginny was already in bed by the time Steve was finished. He quickly brushed his teeth, got undressed, and joined her under the warm covers.

She snuggled in next to him and he could feel how exhausted she was.

“Anything planned for tomorrow?” she asked drowsily.

“Not a thing.” he answered. “We can just stay in bed all day, if you want.”

“Mmmm…that sounds nice.” she said, moving her hand a little lower. He covered it with his and smiled. Yes, staying in bed all day did present a tempting array of possibilities.

He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed her palm before setting it on his chest. “Tomorrow.” he said, softly. “You need sleep.”

She stretched out a little bit and said, “Yes, I do. Dancing was fun.” Steve felt her relax against him and settle in to sleep.

Feeling her slow rhythmic breathing made him realize how tired he was, too. Within minutes of closing his eyes, he was asleep, too.

 

The next day, they woke late and lazed in bed, exploring each other for a long time. After showers, they ate the breakfast Steve had ordered up. Then they watched some baseball on TV before going back to bed with Ginny in her baby blue teddy.

It was almost 3 o’clock when Steve’s phone buzzed. Steve looked to see who it was.

“Damn.” he said. “Fury’s here and I’ve been trying to get together with him all week.” They were curled up together on the couch watching the end of the baseball game.

“I could wait for you, or I could take off now and get back to the city earlier.” she offered. “How long do you think you’ll be?”

“I have no idea.” he said. “We’re hearing chatter that something big is in the works in Europe. Since Nick’s been in Europe, I was hoping he might have some light to shed on it.”

There was a long pause before Steve said, “I don’t want you to go, but it might be best.”

“Right now? Or can he give you half an hour?” Ginny asked, not moving.

Steve sent a text back and his phone buzzed a minute later with the response.

“I told him an hour.” Steve said.

Ginny smiled and curled back up in his lap.

“So next weekend,” Steve started. “do you want to let me know what’s going on? I can come to you. I still owe you a home-cooked dinner and breakfast.” He smiled at the thought of cooking for her. He loved to cook. He really should have them put kitchen facilities in his quarters.

“I’ll talk to Ellen this week and see what she can suggest for us as far as a ceremony goes.” Ginny said. “I can’t wait to see your apartment. All this time and I’ve never even been inside.”

“To be fair, I’ve only been there twice in the time I’ve known you.” Steve said. “It’s not like I was living there and never invited you in.” He kissed her sweetly on the lips and forehead.

“True.” she nodded. “So you’re in charge of rings and I’ll take care of everything else.”

“Am I going to get to see the ceremony or am I going in blind?” Steve asked.

“No, no…I’ll be sending stuff to you as Ellen and I fine tune things.” Ginny said, quickly. “Should we try for outdoors if it’s nice?”

“If we can find a private enough spot.” Steve said. “If not, your place or mine would work.”

“Ellen’s coming to work with a priestess here named Mama Donna. Maybe she’ll have some good suggestions.” Steve could see that Ginny’s mind was already turning over possibilities.

“Will you be able to come up Friday night?” Ginny asked.

“That’s my plan.” he answered. “I won’t be able to come down for the kids on Thursday, but Bucky said he’d like to come down. I think he really wants to see Jess.” Steve said with a smile.

“Nat said she’d come one week, too, so you may see both of them.” he said.

“Oh, the girls would love that.” Ginny said, smiling. “I’m okay, but I’m not an Avenger.”

Steve laughed, quietly. “I think you could be. I’d trust you with my life.” he said.

“In more ways than one.” she said. Steve smiled and wrapped her more tightly in his arms.

He sighed deeply. “I thought we’d have more time today.” he said. “I’m not ready to say goodbye.”

Ginny held him tighter. “I’m never ready to let you go, but it’s what we’re dealing with now. Soon, we’ll have to find a way to be together through the week.” she said. “Soon.” She put her head up and kissed him.

When they finally pulled apart, he whispered, “Not soon enough. I don’t like to think of you alone in the city, especially now.” He placed his hand over her belly. “You’re dad’s not even there.” he said, with true concern on his face. “What if something happens?”

“Nothing is going to happen.” she said, firmly, covering his hand with hers. “Besides, Tony and Pepper are there and Jess, and I do have a few friends in the city. I was fine before I met you, Steve. I am capable of taking care of myself, you know.”

He still looked concerned, so she added, “And you’re only an hour away, probably less if you can fly down.”

He smiled and said, “I guess I could take a jet or chopper down in an emergency.”

“There will not be an emergency!” she said. “I will see you on Friday night.” She was looking sternly into his eyes. The last thing she needed was him worrying about her all week.

“Plus I talk to you every night and we can text through the day, if you need to reassure yourself that I’m okay.” She rushed to get that all out, then touched his cheek.

Steve laughed and said, “I know I’m being silly and overprotective.”

“Yes, you are. Dot and I will be fine…we’ll miss you like crazy, but we’ll be fine.”

“Dot?” He spread his fingers out over her belly. “I like that.” he said in a throaty whisper before pulling her in for a long and passionate kiss.

Ginny ran a finger down Steve’s cheek. “Come on. Help me pack and then we can cuddle until you have to go.” she said, and kissed him quickly again before getting up.

There wasn’t much to pack and most of it laundry anyway. While she was packing, she got a message from Amanda. Joseph had gone up today to bring Diego his new leg, the one he’d built from a spare. The message included a video of Diego bouncing around on his new leg with his shield.

Ginny laughed and showed it to Steve. He watched it with a look of wonder on his face.

Ginny smiled at him. “That’s the same look you had last weekend when you held him in your lap.” she said, softly.

He looked up from the phone, then looked back to catch the end of the video before handing it back.

“Last weekend, the best I could ever hope to do was to hold someone else’s kid for a while.” he said. He stepped over to her and took her into his arms.

“I love you so much.” Steve said, huskily, pressing his lips against her hair.

Ginny looked up at him and pulled him down for a kiss. “I love you, too, babe.” she said.

They stood for a few minutes holding each other, then Steve walked her down to the parking lot, where they lingered long over goodbye.

Finally, Ginny was driving away with Steve watching her until she disappeared around a curve.

 

His meeting with Nick didn’t shed much light on the situation in Europe except to confirm that there was a lot of chatter, but nothing concrete. There seemed to be a little bit of focus in Belgium, but it wasn’t a strong enough concentration to even warrant further investigation.

But Steve was a careful man and asked Fury to see if there was anything going on there and report back.

The meeting left Steve uneasy. He ate dinner with his team and they all asked about Ginny. He wished she hadn’t left early.

 

Back in New York, Ginny spent her evening prepping for her meeting with Margaret in the morning. Ellen sent a couple of samples of hand-fastings for her to look at and she read through them without much enthusiasm. They were both quite flowery and deeply sacred…and she didn’t think either would work for them. But she saw things in both that she might be able to use. She messaged Ellen to see if she had any others and Ellen sent her to a couple of websites, where she found tons of inspiration. By the end of the evening she had a draft. She sent it to Ellen to see what she thought. And she sent it to Steve.

Steve texted back quickly:

 

I want to take time with this. Can we talk about it tomorrow night?

 

She responded:

 

Of course. Miss you like crazy. Talk soon.

 

His response was simple:

 

Dream about me.

 

She texted back:

 

Always.

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