Left At the Airport

This story started with the posting of a picture to the Facebook group, We ♥ Chris Evans, with the caption “Okay, who forgot to pick Chris up at the airport?” What ensued was a fun and creative series of posts that inspired this story. There will be more, but for today, here is what my friends in the group inspired. Hope you enjoy it!

 

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“Fuck.” Vikki said under her breath as she raced for her car, pulling on her jacket as she did so. Today of all days, they had to call a last-minute client meeting when she had to pick up her…what was he? Not a boyfriend; certainly not yet. Lover? She smiled to herself. He was definitely that! She shrugged quickly to herself as she slid in behind the steering wheel and started the car. She wasn’t going to be able to define their relationship right at that moment. His plane was already on the ground, and she’d be at least 45 minutes getting to the airport!

She turned the radio on with her fingers crossed. It was mid-day, so traffic shouldn’t be too bad…she hoped. But as she listened, she knew that Murphy was fucking with her. There was an accident on the M25 and they’d closed it. She’d have to reroute…meaning she was at least an hour and a half out.

“Fuck!” she said again, this time with more feeling. Chris was going to be pissed!

She’d met Chris Evans, one of her favourite actors, and the star of the Marvel Captain America movies, on a trip to visit family in Alberta, Canada! Somehow, they had both ended up having layovers in Calgary; him on his way from Vancouver to Boston and her on her way from Toronto to Lethbridge. Once she’d stopped impersonating a puddle, they had seemed to get on well. They had chatted for almost an hour about everything and nothing before Vikki’s flight was called, but before she’d left, he had asked for her number.

“I’m not in the UK often, but maybe you could come visit me in Boston?” he’d asked, hopefully, as they’d parted with a warm embrace and assurances to keep in touch.

And, over the next few months, they had kept in touch both by phone and Skype. When she’d talked to him about booking some holiday time she still had to use before the end of the year, he had invited her to spend the time with him in Boston. He was between movies and just spending some down-time at home with his dog and his family.

He picked YOU up at the airport on time, she chastised herself, trying to find a route to Heathrow that wasn’t at a standstill to try and cut some time off of her trip. Well, there was not much she could do now, she thought.

She had spent a week with him in Boston and they had had a wonderful time! It was a city that she’d always wanted to visit, never thinking that she’d even get the chance to go there – let alone have Chris Evans as her tour guide! They’d spent some time at his mom’s and Vikki had fallen in love with Lisa. She was so down to earth and sweet!

Chris loved the city where he’d grown up, and was so passionate about the history of the place. She was surprised when he’d told her that he’d got them a couple of Bruins tickets. Even though he wasn’t much of a hockey fan himself, he knew how passionate Vikki was about her Leafs (she’d teased him about the Leafs cap he sometimes wore while they were in Calgary). He was amazed that someone from the UK knew so much about a sport that he himself knew so little about and had no idea was even played outside North America!

At Chris’ condo, he had a guest room, which he had offered to her. But it had become apparent that first day that this was not going to be a platonic relationship. As Chris put down her suitcase just inside the door, he had turned to kiss her and they had spent the rest of that day in bed, finding different ways to satisfy each other. Chris’ guest room did not get used on that trip!

Vikki’s phone rang. She knew it was Chris from the smiling face that popped up on her display. As worried as she was, that picture brought a smile to her face. It had been taken on the sunset cruise of the harbour that he’d taken her on during her trip to Boston. But her smile quickly turned to a frown, as she considered not answering, but what would be the point? She was late; he was waiting. He may as well know that she was delayed.

She touched the screen to answer the call. “Hey.” she said, softly.

“Hey.” Chris answered. “Where are you? I’ve been waiting for over half an hour.”

“I’m so sorry, love. I got stuck in a meeting at work and now there’s a fucking accident on the M25. I’m hurrying as fast as I can, but I’m currently doing about 5 miles an hour.” Vikki rushed to get the words out before her nerve gave out on her. She was still a little star-struck around him!

There was an ominous silence on the other end of the phone. “How long?” he asked, tersely.

“I…um…at least another hour.” she said. “I’m so sorry, Chris.”

“An hour!” he shouted. “Vikki! I’ve been on a fucking plane for 11 hours! The least you could do is to be on time to get me.”

“I know, I know. I’m trying. I’ll be there sooner if I can find a way around, but right now everything is stopped.” Vikki was almost in tears at his anger. “How many times do I have to say I’m sorry?”

“Okay…well, I’m going to go and find a bar. I need a drink.” he said. “Text me when you get here.” and he hung up.

Vikki stared at the phone for a moment before reaching up to turn it off and tossing it in disgust onto the passenger seat. What a jerk! It wasn’t her fault that her client had called a last-minute meeting, or that there was an accident! Yes, she understood he’d been on a plane for 11 hours, but it was first-class! Not like sitting in coach for 11 hours!

Then she started to get scared. What if he met someone else in that bar? Hadn’t she met him in an airport? Maybe he wouldn’t even be there when she got there! This whole thing had always seemed too good to be true anyway.

“Fuck.” she said again, trying to think of another way to get to the airport faster.

 

She parked in the carpark and hurried to the terminal, texting Chris as she went. He told her that he was at the Bridge Bar and she hurried up to a security guard to ask where that was.

The bar had open windows along the sides and Vikki could see Chris sitting alone at one of the tables beside a window. He looked up when he saw her and gave her a little half-smile. She breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe a few beers had taken the edge off of his anger.

“There you are!” Chris said out the window to Vikki. “You’re…” he counted the glasses on the table in front of him. “…5 beers late.”

“Chris…” Vikki started, but he held his hand up to stop her.

“I did tell you I’d take a limo to your place, even pick you up at work, but you insisted on picking me up yourself.” he said, slurring his words just a little bit.

Vikki didn’t say anything. She was starting to be afraid that her late arrival would ruin their whole time together!

Chris got up and pulled his coat on, then reached down to drain his glass before putting it down a little too hard on the table. “Well, let’s go. If the roads are as bad as you say, we’ve still got hours before we get to your place.”

Vikki led the way out to the carpark and flipped open her boot with her remote as she slid into the driver’s seat, letting Chris finds his own way in. She saw him head for the wrong side of the car before remembering that the driver was on the right side in the UK, and quickly correcting himself.

Vikki didn’t want to discuss this or argue about it while she was trying to get them home, so she cranked up some loud classic rock. She knew that’s what he liked, and right now, she just wanted to be able to concentrate on the road.

It was over an hour later when they finally pulled up in front of her place. The traffic had cleared a little bit, but it was still pretty bad. Vikki was still smarting from Chris’ rough words at the airport, so she opened the boot and headed for the building, letting him deal with his own luggage. He caught up with her at the door and they took the stairs up to her second floor flat.

Once inside, Vikki headed into the kitchen to get some dinner started. Chris used the bathroom and then came into the kitchen looking for a beer.

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” asked Vikki.

“No, I fucking don’t!” said Chris, still fuming at having been stranded in an airport bar.

“In the fridge.” Vikki sighed in resignation. Once he’d opened the beer and taken a long swig, he went to find a seat in the living-room, turning on the TV and flicking through the channels to find something to watch. He was clearly still sulking, and Vikki didn’t know him well enough yet to know what to do about it.

She worked in the kitchen for a few more minutes while she screwed up her courage to go into the living-room and talk to him.

There was a movie on the TV, but Chris seemed more intent on checking his emails and texts.

“Chris?” Vikki said, tentatively.

“Hmm?” he answered, not looking up from his phone.

“I…can we…I mean. I am really sorry about being late.” Vikki stumbled through what she was trying to say.

He looked up at her with an annoyed look for a moment before turning back to his phone. “It’ll be okay. Just need some time to unwind.” and she was dismissed.

Vikki clenched her hands by her sides. She had Chris Evans sitting on the sofa in her flat, and he wouldn’t even talk to her! She could feel tears stinging the corners of her eyes and she really didn’t want him to see her cry, so she made her way through the living-room without a word and into the bedroom. As she passed, Chris looked up and watched her go. He could see the tears starting to trickle out from underneath her lashes.

“Fuck.” he said, under his breath. He’d let his temper get the best of him again. Now he was going to ruin their weekend together.

He took a deep breath, put down his beer, and got up to follow Vikki into the bedroom. There, he found her sitting on the side of the bed with her back to him. She turned her tear-stained face to him when she heard him come in, then turned back away.

“Vikki…” Chris said, regretfully. “I’m sorry. I…” he stopped for a second to try and find the words to make this right.

“It’s not like I was late on purpose. I hate being late!” Vikki sobbed.

Chris moved around the bed and came to sit down beside her. He handed her another tissue as she tossed the balled-up, sodden one in her hand into the rubbish bin beside the bed, and placed his other hand on her back.

“I know…this isn’t a very good way to start our weekend together, is it?” Chris said, quietly.

“No, it’s not.” Vikki said, firmly. “Can we start again?” She looked up and was encouraged to no longer see anger in those expressive blue eyes.

He smiled down at her. “Thanks for picking me up at the airport.” he said. “Traffic looked like it was murder to get through today.”

“No problem, Chris. I just wish things hadn’t delayed me so much. Did you have any problems with fans at the airport while you waited?” Vikki asked, still sniffling a little bit.

“I think I gave two autographs and got shot about 5 times by fans’ phones.” he answered. “Not too bad. London is usually crawling with paparazzi!”

This is way too impersonal. Vikki thought. We’re talking about the weather and traffic while I really want to lay him down on this bed and… Her imagination was quickly filling in the rest!

So, she reached up and slowly unbuttoned two more buttons on her shirt, revealing a little bit of the lacy camisole that she was wearing underneath.

Chris smiled at her game. “What’s peeking out there?” he asked, lifting her shirt up a little bit to see what was hiding underneath.

“Just a little surprise.” Vikki said with a seductive smile.

“Ooh, I like surprises.” he said, huskily, then turned towards her to kiss her. He let his tongue play along her lips until she opened to him and took the kiss deeper. He gently pushed her back onto the bed, moving his lips down her neck. When he came up for breath, she ran her lips from his ear down his neck as well, then claimed his lips again in a smouldering kiss that left them both breathless.

Chris pulled back a little bit and deftly undid the rest of the buttons on her top, revealing a deep purple camisole, her favourite colour. He moved a hand down to unbutton her jeans as well and helped her to shimmy out of them, revealing a matching pair of panties.

“Hmmm…gift wrap. I love presents.” Chris said, running a finger over her nipple, watching it come up hard under the soft satin of the camisole.

Vikki bit her lip and watched him with fevered eyes as he caressed both of her nipples until they were straining against the material. Then he slid his hand down to her panties.

“I think you may be wearing too many clothes, Christopher.” Vikki said, breathlessly, reaching down to tug the button on his jeans open. Chris lay back on the bed and let her pull his jeans open so that he could spring free inside of his boxers. She took a moment to caress him before pulling the boxers away and dipping her head to take him into her mouth.

Chris put his head back and closed his eyes, letting the sensations that her mouth was creating take over his body. He rested a hand lightly on her shoulder as she stroked and caressed him with her mouth and hand.

He moaned deep in his throat and arched his back off the bed as he came deep in her throat.

Chris put both arms out beside him in a position of complete surrender as Vikki slid back up his body and put her head on his shoulder. It took him a minute before he was able to move his arms to put them around her. He could feel the cool, smooth satin under his hands as he caressed her.

“Now it’s you that’s wearing too many clothes.” he said, not moving. “In a few minutes, when I can move again, I’ll rectify that.”

But Vikki decided that she didn’t want to wait that long. She sat up, and grabbing the bottom of the camisole, pulled it up over her head.

“Nice.” Chris said, softly, and reached up a hand to cup one of her breasts. Vikki arched her back, pressing her breast deeper into his hand with a little moan.

“Okay,” Chris said, sitting up and pulling his t-shirt up over his head. “Your turn.” He laid her back onto the bed, and bringing his head down to her breasts, sucked and nibbled on each one until she was squirming and moaning under him.

He used his teeth to nibble his way down her belly, making her squirm for another reason! She was horribly ticklish over her belly! But she stopped squirming as he moved down between her legs. She could feel his warm breath against the insides of her thighs, and she arched her back to urge him on. His stiff beard was a counterpoint to his soft lips and the combination was enough to drive her to the edge.

And he played with her there, bringing her back, teasing her, making her want him, need him, to let her finish. When he finally decided that she’d had enough, he inserted two fingers deep inside of her, triggering an orgasm that left her shattered! She lay panting and still gripping the blankets afterwards, too sensitive to even stand his gentle breath on her thighs.

He moved up her body slowly, lying beside her while she caught her breath, then he leaned in and kissed her again; a kiss that was deep and demanding. Vikki reached into her drawer and pulled out a condom for him. He probably had some, but they would be in his luggage and she wanted him now!

He quickly and deftly slid the condom on and thrust himself slowly into her, taking a moment to settle himself. Then he leaned up and kissed her again and started to thrust towards his own orgasm, pulling out slowly, then slamming into her, leaving her gasping and moaning with each thrust. Finally, he let himself go, groaning from deep in his chest as he finished, his arms giving way with the intensity of his orgasm. He just barely caught himself before he collapsed on top of her!

He rolled off of her, using a tissue as he did so to dispose of his condom, then he lay on the bed, feeling completely boneless as she snuggled in beside him.

They lay together for a few minutes until they both became chilled and scooted under the blankets.

“Am I forgiven?” Vikki purred as she pulled the blankets closer around them.

“I guess so.” Chris said, sarcastically, and had to duck as Vikki aimed a pillow at his head. Chris chuckled, which sounded like the rumble of a train to Vikki as she laid her head back down on his chest, running her fingers softly over the words inked on his clavicle.

“Am I?” he asked, softly, stroking her hair back from her face and watching as her fingers touched the words of the quote that meant so much to him.

“Of course.” Vikki whispered with a smile. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, catching his scent.  Like I could ever stay mad at you, she thought.

He covered her hand with his. “Do you like that quote?” He seemed a little nervous as he asked.

“Very much.” she said. “I think you turned a lot of people on to Eckhart Tolle when you got this done.”

“His writings have helped me through some pretty rough times.” Chris admitted.

She hugged him a little closer to her, suddenly feeling very protective of this gentle man.

“I could sleep.” he said, softly. “I have no idea what time it is, but I’m done.”

Vikki stretched up to kiss him. “Sleep then, love.” she said, and settled in next to him, realizing that even though it was barely 6 pm, she felt like she could sleep, too.

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A Time For Heroes – Epilogue B – And Baby Makes Three

baby_blurredSteve held his son in his arms and watched in wonder as he stretched and yawned, then settled back to sleep with his tiny fists held under his chin. Steve knew he had an idiotic grin on his face and he didn’t care.

He looked over at Ginny, who had fallen asleep as soon as everyone had left. If he had been in awe of her strength before today, that awe had only grown watching her give birth to their son.

 

Steve had been in Europe and then Syria on and off until Ginny was about 6 months pregnant. He made sure he was home to stay at that point; at least until after the birth.

The commander’s quarters at Avenger’s HQ had become home, even when Steve was away. They had decorated it and furnished it, mostly with Steve’s furniture from his apartment. Her piano had been moved from her apartment. They managed mostly when Steve was home, but Ginny had done a lot on her own as well.

Steve was home in time for Ginny’s birthday and that was the first time they had hosted a party together. Some of the Avengers were there. Bucky and Jess, who were busy planning their wedding for the next year; Clint and Laura; Ginny had become good friends with Laura; Tony and Pepper, of course;and several other agents who Ginny had grown close to in her time living at HQ. And, of course, Claude.

The night before the party, Steve had been mesmerized watching Dot do acrobatics! They had made love, and once that deep need was satisfied, they were laying together talking when Ginny’s belly gave a huge heave, leaving one side bulging up.

Ginny had shifted a little bit to a more comfortable position. “She doesn’t seem to like it when I lay on my back.” she explained to Steve.

Steve put his hand over the bulge and it moved under his hand, poking what looked like an elbow up against his warm touch.

He had a smile of wonder on his face. “Does it hurt when she does that?” he asked, moving his hand to where the bulge had moved.

“Not usually.” Ginny answered, enjoying Steve’s reaction. He had been away when this started and was completely in awe of being able to see and feel their child now.

Ginny was pretty awed by it, too. She would just sit and watch her belly move sometimes, wishing that Steve was there to share this with her. And now that he was, she took so  much pleasure in seeing his joy.

When they weren’t watching baby acrobatics, they were tossing names around. For some reason, they were both sure it would be a girl, but they did look at boy’s names, too.

“Maybe we should just name her Dorothy or Dorothea and we can keep calling her Dot.” Steve suggested as they went through yet another baby name book not finding anything they both liked.

“I’ve been told that babies name themselves once they’re born. Why don’t we do this when we can hold her?” Ginny suggested. The both still had a short-list in their heads, but they stopped tossing names back and forth after that.

 

Ginny’s labour started 3 days after her due date. It had been an easy pregnancy, but Ginny was more than ready to be done and Steve saw a very different woman as the days ticked by on the calendar. She was easy to anger and even easier to make cry.

Since the due date, Ginny had been so antsy that they hadn’t made love.

Finally on the third day, Steve sat down to dinner and said, “I need you.” in a husky voice.

She wasn’t feeling particularly attractive and was surprised to hear him say that he wanted her.

“I guess I haven’t really been here for you the last few days.” she said.

“I understand. This must be frustrating for you,” he said, “but I want to be here for you, too. Sex is supposed to help bring on labour…” He looked up from his plate with a suggestive smile on his face.

She smiled back at him. An evening in bed with her man would be diverting.

They finished dinner and clean-up and then Steve suggested a bath.

“You’ve been thinking about this.” she said, cocking an eyebrow at him.

“You’re so close and I may never get another chance to make love to you pregnant.” he said.

She hadn’t really thought about that…the fact that they may never conceive again. She was just anxious to have her body back.

She reached up and stroked his cheek. “A bath sounds wonderful. It’s about the only place I don’t feel…cumbersome right now.” she said with a smile.

Steve started the water in the tub while Ginny stopped in their bedroom for bathrobes and crutches.

They both sank into the steamy water with a sigh of pleasure and then Ginny turned on the jets.

Ginny had developed a habit of running her hand over her belly from her breasts to her pubic hair and then doing it over and over again when she was thinking. She was doing it now, so Steve moved over near her and ran his hands over her belly, too, trying to feel Dot move.

“She’s really still tonight.” he said, quietly.

“She’s saving her energy. Being born is hard work.” Ginny said, covering his hand with hers.

He leaned in and kissed her caressing first one breast, then the other. Ginny tangled her fingers in his hair and deepened the kiss. She reached one hand under water to stroke him.

Steve ran his hand down over Ginny’s belly, finding her most sensitive spot deep under the swirling water.

As they stroked and teased each other, their lips came apart and they pressed their foreheads together, panting as their excitement grew.

Ginny cried out, “Oh, god! Oh, yes!” as her climax started to bloom deep in her belly. With everything so stretched and tight, she felt exposed and raw as her orgasm rippled through the walls of her womb and her vagina. Her free hand gripped Steve’s shoulder as she threw her head back and arched her back, trying to contain the pleasure.

Steve groaned deep in his throat as he emptied himself into the swirling water.

They both sat spent and panting in the cooling water. Steve finally brought his mouth up to Ginny’s and kissed her softly.

“Let’s go to bed.” he whispered.

So after rinsing off with the shower head and drying each other off and wrapping each other in their warm robes, they went into the bedroom.

They settled under the blankets and started exploring again. Ginny needed to feel him inside her. She rolled onto her side, cradling her belly and Steve curled himself around her as she guided him in. He took a couple of strokes to settle himself, then was still as he stroked and teased Ginny’s nipples. They were swollen and already dripping milk when she was excited. He had no idea why this turned him on so much. He tried to keep his control, but Ginny started climaxing so quickly that he just couldn’t. He finished with a low groan deep in his throat and pressed himself further inside her to hold their connection.

They stayed like this, drifting in and out of sleep for almost an hour. Then Ginny arched her back to take him deeper and he flexed  his hips and started to thrust into her. He pulled back slowly and slammed himself into her and she cried out and started to clench around him. He did it one more time as Ginny writhed in his arms. Then he thrust home and home again, losing himself in the sensation.

They fell asleep still joined. At some point in the night, he slipped out of her, but they didn’t move apart.

Which was why Steve felt the first contraction when Ginny did. He hand was resting on her belly and he felt it come up tight and hard as Ginny groaned in pain.

Once Steve felt her belly soften again, he asked, “Was it that bad?”

“I wasn’t expecting the first contraction to be that painful.” she said and got out of bed to get ready to go to infirmary.

Less than 2 minutes later, another contraction came on. Ginny had to hold onto the doorframe until it passed. She tried using some of the breathing techniques they’d learned, but the contraction seemed to go on forever and she ended up moaning at the end of it.

This isn’t right, Steve thought, as he called Tamara, their midwife.

“Get her to the infirmary.” Tamara said after Steve filled her in on what was happening. “This may be a quick delivery. I’ll call Cindy for you and meet you there as soon as possible.” Cindy was their doula. Tamara had sounded calm but a little concerned.

By the time Steve got off the phone, Ginny was in the grips of another contraction. He went over and stood in front of her so she could hold onto him.

“Oh, god.” Ginny said once it was done. “They’re getting worse. What did Tamara say?”

“To get you to the infirmary.” he said, pulling out a nightgown for her to put on. No point getting dressed for a walk down the hall.

Steve grabbed their bag and they headed for the infirmary. He would have carried Ginny, but he knew it was good for a labouring woman to walk, so he just supported her when the next contraction came on. They were getting closer together.

Once in the infirmary, Peter and Glory set Ginny up in a bed and hooked her up so they could monitor her progress.

Peter watched the monitors through the first contraction. “The baby’s heartbeat is strong, even through the contraction, which is good. These are strong contractions, so this could be quick.” he said, and left Steve and Ginny to deal with another patient.

Tamara and Cindy came in about 15 minutes later. Tamara was a bubbly, joyful woman who bounced into the room and seemed to fill it with light.

Cindy was quiet by comparison, but she only seemed timid. She had a will of steel and a strength that came through in her quiet voice.

Tamara did an internal exam and told Ginny that she was already 6 cm dilated. “Over halfway into the light, little darling!” she said to Ginny’s belly.

And so they fell into a routine; Steve supporting Ginny and helping her with breathing to ease the pain. Cindy helping with back pain relief and reminding Steve of other breathing techniques to try when that he was doing wasn’t working, and Tamara occasionally checking to see how far the dilation was progressing. In between contractions, they waited and chatted. Ginny tried to rest.

After 2 hours, Tamara announced that they were at 8 cm. “This is usually when things start to ramp up and get intense.” she said.

Ginny was still breathless from the last contraction. “You mean this hasn’t been intense?” she asked, only half joking.

Tamara smiled and said, “Stay strong and  trust your woman’s body.” She rested her hand on Ginny’s belly as it tightened in another contraction. Ginny felt a sudden flow of fluid and knew her water had broken.

Another hour of transition labour had left Ginny exhausted and fearful. She clung to Steve’s hand and no amount of breathing seemed to make a difference to the intense pain and pressure she felt. It wasn’t contractions anymore, just a constant pressure that made her moan in agony.

Steve had stayed strong through all of this, but it had finally gotten to be too much. He knew women still died in childbirth and all he could see was him having to go on with his life alone. Tears sprang to his eyes and he tried to gain control of his emotions, but the image was too strong and being fed by Ginny’s pain. He squeezed Ginny’s hand and excused himself saying he’d be right back and went out into the hall. Cindy found him there a few minutes later, not even trying to stem his flow of tears.

She put a hand on his arms and said in a quiet voice, “Every woman thinks she’s dying during this phase of labour and every husband fears leaving here alone. Stay strong! They’re both doing fine. Things are about to start moving really fast.” She held his eye for a long moment, then squeezed his arm and went back into the room.

Steve watched her disappear around the doorframe. He dried his eyes and followed her a few minutes later thinking that she was worth her weight in gold.

A few minutes later, everything shifted. Ginny pulled her legs up and announced that she needed to push. She still had a death grip on Steve’s hand but there was suddenly an urgency that hadn’t been there before.

The need to push was so intense and primal that she growled at Tamara when she told her not to so she could do another internal.

“Okay, we’re having a baby!” Tamara announced.

Steve and Cindy were on either side of Ginny and with each contraction, they would support her back and hold onto her legs while she pushed. Tamara had started massaging and stretching the peritoneum  so there’d be no tearing as the baby was pushed out.

“I see fuzz!” Tamara said after about 15 minutes. “Another couple of pushes and we should have the head delivered.”

Ginny laughed and asked what colour the hair was.

“Dark.” Tamara answered.

Within 5 minutes, the baby was born and Ginny and Steve were both surprised when Tamara announced that they had a beautiful baby boy.

They were surprised but not disappointed. He was beautiful! His eyes were a very pale blue, so they would probably stay blue. He had a tiny, rosebud mouth and long eyelashes under a thatch of dark brown hair.

Tamara cleaned him up and wrapped him tightly in a blanket and handed him to Ginny.

“Just rub the vernix into his skin.” Tamara said, rubbing the white, greasy stuff on his face into his skin.

Once Cindy and Tamara had settled Ginny on dry sheets, Tamara came up and unwrapped the baby, showing Steve and Ginny that he had 10 toes and 10 fingers and showed healthy reflex reactions.

The little guy didn’t appreciate this kind of man-handling and let out a squeak of outrage.

Tamara wrapped him back up and said, “Let’s see if he’ll nurse.”

Ginny pulled down the neck of her nightgown and brought his mouth up to her nipple. When he latched on and started to suck, the strength of it made Ginny jump.

“That’s perfect.” Tamara said. “He’s perfect! Congratulations you two. Any idea on a name?”

“He was a she until about 5 minutes ago, so no, not really.” Steve said.

Tamara smiled and said, “He’ll find his name.” Then she and Cindy left the new little family alone.

Steve reached over to stroke the baby’s head gently, feeling the soft spot he’d heard about.

“I’ve never even seen a baby this small before.” Steve said, his voice full of awe.

“Me, neither.” Ginny said, softly, not taking her eyes off of the tiny bundle at her breast.

She looked up at Steve with the same look of awe on her face that he knew was on his. “We’ll have to figure out what to call him. I don’t think he’s a Dot anymore.” The baby had fallen asleep and let go of Ginny’s nipple, so she lifted him up to hand him to Steve so she could adjust her nightgown.

Steve settled him in the crook of his arm and wiped a little bit of milk off of his chin with the blanket, which made the baby squirm and frown in his sleep. Steve chuckled. He touched his finger to the tiny hand and it gripped him tightly.

“He’s strong.” Steve said, not taking his eyes off of his son’s face.

They sat in silence for a few minutes just watching their son sleep.

“Daniel.” Steve said softly, surprising Ginny out of her somnolent state. “It was my grandfather’s name. I never met him, but my mother used to tell me stories about him. I always thought it was a strong name.”

Steve looked up to see Ginny watching him closely.

Then she looked closer at the baby. “Daniel,” she said softly. Then added, “Pierre.”

“My grandfather’s name was Pierre. I only met him a couple of times before he died, but Papa has told me lots of stories, too.”

“Daniel Pierre Rogers.” Steve tried it out to see how it sounded. “I like it. It sounds like him.” He bowed his head towards the sleeping bundle in his arms.

Cindy popped back in then with a tiny knitted hat that she slipped onto Daniel’s head.

“They lose a lot of body hear through their heads the first couple of days.” she said. “Did I hear a name?”

“Yes.” Ginny said, with a shy smile. “Daniel Pierre.”

“That’s lovely.” Cindy said, looking at Daniel’s sleeping face. “It suits him.”

She looked back over her shoulder and said, “If you’re ready for company, I think there’s a few people here anxious to meet this little guy.”

Ginny was surprised. Things had happened so quickly, they hadn’t had a chance to even call her dad. She looked at Steve and he shrugged. He hadn’t left her side.

Steve turned around as the curtain behind him opened.

Jas popped her head in and said, “I’m sorry. When I heard, I made some calls. I hope that’s okay.”

Ginny smiled at Jas. She’d known about the baby even before Steve. “Come on in and meet Daniel.” Ginny said.

Jas came in to look at the tiny bundle in Steve’s arms. “Oh, he is a perfect angel! Look at those eyelashes!” She stroked his cheek with one finger, making him squirm again in his father’s arms.

“Who else is here?” Steve asked.

“Your dad, Tony, Bucky, Nat,” Jas said, “not to mention the entire medical team. Night shift stuck around to meet this little guy.”

Claude came in first and Steve relinquished his son into his grandfather’s arms.

Claude held Daniel expertly and spoke to him quietly in French.

“Daniel Pierre…” Claude said. “My father would be pleased.”

The Avengers came in then, clapping Steve on the back and congratulating both of them.

Bucky took the tiny bundle from Claude and held him close to his chest. After all these years and all they’d been through, Steve finally had everything he’d ever dreamed of…home and family. Bucky couldn’t be happier for his friend.

Nat scooped Daniel into her arms. “Oh, he is adorable! Does he have any hair?” She peeked under the little cap to see the dark fuzz on Daniel’s hear. “The girls will be lining up for this one.” she teased Steve.

“I’m not going to worry about girls yet. I’ll let him learn to walk first.” Steve said.

“Here.” Tony said, putting his arms out to take Daniel. “Come see Uncle Tony.”

Daniel took all of this admiration in his stride. As he was passed from one to the other, he settled easily in whoever’s arms he ended up in, tucking his tiny fists up under his chin.

The medical team gathered around and Daniel was passed around to them as well.

Finally, Jas brought him back to Ginny and she took him gently in her arms and cuddled him against her breast. Steve leaned over and rested his hand over hers on Daniel’s little bottom. The talk continued to swirl around them, but Steve and Ginny only had eyes for each other and their son.

Steve squeezed Ginny’s hand. “Good job, beautiful.” he whispered.

She smiled up at him. “I had help.” she whispered back. Then she stifled a yawn. It had been a quick delivery, but it had started in the middle of the night and she was exhausted.

Steve saw this and quickly cleared the room so Ginny could sleep.

Jas brought in a little bassinet for Daniel and a big chair for Steve.

Once the room was empty and Jas had drawn the curtains, Ginny had fallen almost immediately to sleep. Steve kissed her forehead lightly and picked Daniel up off of her chest.

He sat down on the big chair with Daniel on his shoulder. He was tired, too, but not yet ready to sleep.

They had celebrated his birthday a few weeks before…32, they had decided, instead of 97. He had thought then that he couldn’t possibly be happier. He and Ginny were planning their November wedding and they were ready to welcome the baby home. His life was full and he was happier than he could ever remember being.

But now with this little weight resting on his chest, he felt his heart would burst with joy.

He knew they’d still have challenges to face. Raising a child in this day and age was going to be a challenge in itself. He was still on active duty, which would mean time apart and Ginny’s child amp project was growing quickly, taking more of her time.

But he had found the love of his life and he knew that, whatever they had to face, they could handle it together.

He looked down at Daniel and hoped they’d be able to give him a brother or sister at some point. But, if not, they’d be the Three Musketeers.

He sighed as he looked up at Ginny with her bubble gum pink bangs. They were so sure that Dot was going to be a girl!

She looked so peaceful. He was glad the labour had been quick. It was difficult for him to see her in pain.

He finally laid Daniel down in the bassinet and went to get a heated blanket. He laid it over Ginny and was rewarded with a sleepy smile.

Then he sat down in the big chair and surrendered himself to sleep. He was at peace.

 

Tout fini

Thank you to all of my readers for taking this journey with me! I will be taking a bit of a break over the holidays before starting to post another story in January. In the meantime, I do have a couple of short stories that I will post to fill the space.

Again, thank you for joining me. Happy Holidays and look forward to hearing from you in the new year!

A Time For Heroes – Epilogue 1 – A Christmas Announcement

Steve sat nervously in the backseat while Tony maneuvered his rented SUV through the streets of Montreal.

He was remembering the brave face Ginny had put on the last time he had seen her.

The Avengers had been called in after the terrorist attacks in Paris. The intel they had had helped authorities track the terrorists back to their home bases and eliminate the threats. That was 6 weeks before.

It had been so difficult to leave her behind. He was glad he’d only had a day’s notice that he was going; more would have been unbearable.

There had been tears, but, in the end, she stood bravely to see him off and he could do no less. He wasn’t very easy to talk to for the next couple of hours, but once they landed and got to work, he fell into the rhythm pretty easily.

They had tracked terrorist cells to Belgium, Algiers and Syria. It had taken them 6 weeks to be satisfied that any immediate threat had been neutralized, but ISIS was still active and they weren’t done yet.

He had spoken to Ginny as often as he could and she was always upbeat when they spoke, sharing stories about setting up the child amp programs. She had set one up that Diego could attend in upstate New York and she was splitting her time between her class in the city and this new one. But he knew that brave face was for him and that she had her down times afterwards, as he did.

Ginny had gone to Montreal the week before Christmas with her dad, so Steve had only talked to her once…she was so busy with family and preparations.

On December 22nd, Tony had pulled Steve aside and said, “It all looks pretty quiet here. Why don’t we send everyone home for Christmas?”

Steve had checked what chatter they were getting, which didn’t indicate that anything was imminent, so he did just that. They flew the Quinjet to New York and everyone went their separate ways from there.

Steve called Claude to let him know that he’d be in Montreal late on Christmas Eve and that he wanted to surprise Ginny.

“What are Tony and Pepper doing?” Claude asked. ”Why don’t you bring them, too?”

Which is how Steve ended up in the backseat, nervously twiddling his fingers while Tony drove them to Jean-Guy’s for Christmas Eve celebrations.

Tony looked in the rear-view mirror. “I’ve seen you face aliens and terrorists and not be this nervous.” he said.

Steve looked up and met Tony’s eye. “First Christmas with the family. It’s a little nerve-wracking.” Steve said.

“Just be your adorable self.” Pepper said. “They’ll love you.”

When they pulled up in front of the house, they could see the Christmas tree sparkling in the front window and a beautiful pine wreath on the door. The house was lit with dozens of lights and it felt so welcoming!

Now it was Tony who seemed nervous. “How many people are going to be here?” he asked. This would be his first big family Christmas, too.

Steve thought back to his conversation with Claude. “A dozen with us, but more after midnight mass.” he said. It was about 7 pm, so they’d probably still be at dinner.

So they grabbed their luggage and bags of presents and headed for the door.

 

Jean-Guy and Claude were regaling the family with tales of Christmas in the field.

“You wouldn’t believe what those army cooks can concoct off the back of a truck.” Jean-Guy said.

Ginny was only half listening. She knew from her last conversation with Steve that he wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas. She had always known it was a possibility, but when it had become a reality, it hurt far more deeply than she had expected. Since then, she’d made their conversations short so she didn’t break down in front of him. That day, she had tried to reach him and couldn’t, which upset her even more.

All day, every time someone had come to the door, she’d jumped up to answer it. At this point, she wasn’t jumping anymore. They’d have other Christmases.

Giselle got up to bring in dessert and Port and asked Ginny to give her a hand.

So when the doorbell rang, Ginny was right beside the door so she yelled out, “I’ve got it!”

She opened the door and looked right into Steve’s bottomless blue eyes. The smile on his face was a little uncertain.

Ginny stepped up to him and put her hand on his chest, then up to caress his cheek. “Oh, my gods…you’re really here!” Steve swept her up into a tight embrace. She pulled away and tilted her head up for a kiss and felt all of the longing of the last 6 weeks melt away in his arms.

Steve held the kiss for longer than he should have, knowing that Tony and Pepper were waiting behind him. But her lips were so sweet after so long.

Steve finally pulled back to look at her. “God, I’ve missed you.” he said. Then he turned aside so she could see who else he had brought.

“Come in, come in!” she said, after giving them each a big hug. “I take it I’m the only one surprised by your appearance?” She gave Steve an evil look.

“I only talked to your dad, so I’m not sure who else knows.” he said with his hand still on her back. He couldn’t bear not to be touching her.

In the dining room, more chairs were shuffled in and introductions made. The table was still groaning with food and Steve, Tony and Pepper were starving. They hadn’t taken time to eat since flying back, Steve was in such a hurry to get to Montreal.

Tony and Steve talked about what was going on with ISIS and the next hour passed quickly as everyone asked questions and wanted to hear what they weren’t hearing in the news.

Ginny listened quietly, still touching Steve whenever she could. Once he had finished eating, she pulled her chair in close so he could put his arm around her.

Vivienne passed along a plate of butter tarts and Steve took one.

“Wow! What is this?” he asked after taking a bite.

“Butter tart.” Vivienne said.

“We don’t get these in the states.” Ginny said, taking one, too, and biting into it. She closed her eyes to savour the sweet deliciousness.

Tony waved the tarts over to him and Pepper.

“Why can’t we get these in the States?” Tony wanted to know.

“Don’t know…I’ve asked and no one seems to know what I’m talking about.” Ginny said. “But you can get them at my house, because I have the recipe.” She winked at Steve.

“There are perks to having a Canadian girlfriend.” Steve said, leaning over to kiss her.

“Just butter tarts, huh?” Tony said, with a smile.

Steve smiled and said, “One of the perks.”

 

After dinner was done, Jean-Guy moved everyone to the living room with their eggnog and Port.

“One gift each before Mass.” he said. That had become the tradition years before. After Mass, the rest of the gifts would be opened, but only one now.

Ginny jumped in under the tree and grabbed a gift. “Papa gets to go first!” she exclaimed.

Once everyone had a gift in hand, Claude ripped open his. He pulled it from the box and held it up.

It was a lawn green golf shirt and over the heart was embroidered one word: Pépé

The girls gathered around to see what it was, then all eyes were on Ginny and Steve.

“Pépé?” Vivienne asked in surprise.

“Yes,” Ginny said, nervously, “we’re having a baby.”

There were shouts of congratulations and hugs, but Claude still hadn’t said anything. He had laid the shirt on his lap and was looking wonderingly at the embroidery.

Finally, Ginny was able to break away from the crush around her and Steve and go to her dad.

“Papa, are you okay?” she asked.

He looked up at her and smiled brightly. “Best Christmas gift ever!” he said and pulled her into his arms.

Steve came over and Claude stood up to shake his hand. “Congratulations, son,” Claude said with a smile, “but a little quick off the mark, don’t you think?” Claude’s smile held more than a little concern.

Steve sighed and said, “Yes, for us, too. But you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say.”

“Steve wasn’t supposed to be able to have kids, papa. So, quick and unexpected.” Ginny said, looking up at Steve. “But not unwelcome. We both wanted kids at some point. Now’s as good a time as any.”

“When?” Juliette asked.

“Mid-July.” Ginny said.

Then the talk moved quickly to having a baby shower.

Eventually, they got back to gifts. Tony and Pepper had had one of their assistants pick up a bunch of electronics, and Claude had had time to pick out a few last minute gifts for his friends and son-in-law.

Son-in-law, Claude thought, looking at Steve. For the first time, he thought of Steve as part of the family and it gave him a warm glow. Geneviève had chosen well.

Everyone was opening packages in turn; there were scarves, and watches, and perfume. Jean-Guy got the putter he’d had his eye on.

Tony had handed Steve his gift and Steve opened it to see it was an iPad Pro loaded up with all the latest graphics software.

“Time to bring your art into the 21st century, buddy.” Tony said.

Tony brought up on of the programs and set it for charcoal drawing and showed Steve how he could use the stylus and his fingers to create the same effects as on paper.

Steve drew a few quick lines and smudged them to his satisfaction and showed Tony a quick sketch of himself.

“Nice.” Tony said with a smile.

Ginny’s gift was from Steve and she was excited to open the tiny box.

Inside were earrings. They were drops which started with a stud of the same blue diamond as her ring. Then there were three diamonds of decreasing size and blueness below ending in a perfect, tiny white diamond.

“Wow!” she said. “They remind me of snow falling!” She leaned over to kiss him. “Thank you so much!”

“Perfect match with your ring.” Steve said, smiling. “I thought so when I saw them in Paris.”

Ginny pulled out the jingly Christmas earrings she was wearing and put on the new ones.

Steve touched the bottom of one earring as it hung from her ear and then drew her in for a kiss.

The look in his eyes when they pulled apart reflected the same thoughts she was having. Was there any way they could blow off midnight Mass and take each other off to bed? Maybe pleading early pregnancy fatigue would work for her…

But, no, they would have a few days together before Steve had to head back. They’d find time to be alone together, but tonight was about family.

Steve and Ginny cuddled in one corner of the couch as gifts continued to be opened around the room.

Steve held her hand and played with her ring. “Are you sure everything’s okay?” he asked so only she could hear.

She looked up to see concern in his eyes. “Everything’s fine.” she said. “Especially now that you’re here.” She smiled at him and turned her hand so she could touch him.

“It’s just…” he paused. “It felt a little like you were avoiding me this week.”

She looked down at their hands. “I was.” she said.

“Why?” he asked, putting a finger under her chin so she would look at him.

“I just didn’t want you to see me cry.” she said. “I knew this was hard enough for you without dealing with a weepy girlfriend.”

“I thought you were angry.” he said, still holding her hand.

“Maybe angry at the situation…not at you.” she said.

“So you were protecting me.” he said.

Ginny nodded and said, “Yeah. That is my job.”

“I’m a big boy. I don’t need protecting.” he said with a half-smile to soften his words.

“Oh, no?” she said, pulling back to look into his eyes. “What would it do to you to see me crying on Skype with you thousands of kilometers away?”

Steve didn’t answer for a long moment. He could lie and say he’d be fine with it, but lying wasn’t his style.

“It would break my heart.” he said, softly.

Ginny smiled and kissed the tip of his nose.

“You are a big, strong man and can take care of yourself,” she said, “but your heart is new to this. I’m protecting him.” She put her finger in the middle of his chest.

He looked down at her hand and took it in his and kissed it. Ginny laid her head down on his shoulder and Steve smiled contentedly.

“How is Dot doing?” he asked.

“She’s growing.” Ginny said. “When we go to bed, you’ll see she’s a little bump now.” She spread her hand protectively over her belly.

“Can you feel her moving yet?” he asked, covering her hand with his.

“Not yet.” she said. “A couple more months.”

Steve sighed and hugged her a little tighter.

Ginny pulled back and looked at him. “Is that Christmas joy I see on your face, Captain Rogers?” she asked, teasingly.

“Joy,” he said, then dropped his voice to a whisper,  “and lust. No chance we can sneak away for half an hour?” he asked, hopefully.

Ginny looked around the room quickly and saw that the two of them were the only ones not dressed for church. They were both still in jeans.

“Where’s your bag?” she asked.

“I think it’s still in the front hallway.” he answered.

She unfolded herself from his lap and standing up, drew him up with her.

“We should go get ready for church.” she said to her dad.

He just nodded at her with a smile.

Steve followed her out to the front hallway and then through to her room.

“Why do I get the feeling that everyone knows exactly what we’re going to do?” he asked.

Ginny stopped at the door and turned to him. “We’ve haven’t seen each other in 6 weeks. They’re probably surprised we lasted this long.” She smiled seductively at him as she opened the door.

Once inside, Steve closed the door and locked it. He felt unaccountably shy after so long apart. But when he turned, Ginny was in his arms, her lips warm on his.

Their clothing very quickly found its way to the floor and Ginny pulled Steve down onto the bed.

He was rampant with need; foreplay was going to have to wait until next time.

He lowered his head to suck on each nipple quickly before moving over her and pushing himself deep inside her.

He took a few slow strokes while kissing her before letting out a deep groan and starting to thrust deeper and faster.

Ginny was in as much need as he was and held onto him tightly as she started to climax. She set her mouth against his shoulder to keep from crying out as he thrust himself into her again and again. He let go and emptied himself deep inside of her with a quiet growl. Then he lay still on top of her for a long time.

Ginny had her arms wrapped around him and her legs wrapped around his legs. She could sense things weren’t alright.

“Was it that bad?” she asked, quietly, after a few minutes.

Steve didn’t move but said, “That bad and worse, Ginny.” He came up on one elbow to look at her. “But this eases my mind and I’m hoping Mass will, too.” He brushed a stray purple hair off of her forehead.

“Purple?” he said. “Not very Christmas-y”

“Purple is the colour of royalty and Jesus is the King of Kings, right?” she said, smiling up at him.

Then her expression got serious as she brought her hand up to stroke his cheek.

“Are you still in touch with Dr. Coulter?” she asked.

“Not as often as I should be, but yes, I have talked to him a few times since I’ve been away. So has Tony.” Steve answered.

He took her hand in his and turned his head to kiss her palm. “Let’s not worry about that right now. I’m here. We’re together. Let’s just enjoy it, okay?” he said, with a half-smile.

She still felt uneasy, but he was right. They got up and snuck down the hall wrapped in towels to have a shower.

They had never tried showering together, but Jean-Guy had a seat in his shower so they popped in together. Steve’s balance had gotten pretty good, but the seat was helpful.

Even though they had just made love, it was challenging not to get excited being wet and naked together.

Ginny ran her finger down Steve’s soapy chest and said, “We’ll have to try this some time when we have time to explore.” She tilted her head to smile up at him.

He kissed her softly on the lips and said, “Yes, we will.” in a husky voice.

But with the family waiting for them, they finished and dried off quickly and headed back to their room to dress for church.

By the time they appeared, everyone was starting to gather coats and boots for the short walk to the church. Ginny had matched her dress to her purple hair and Steve had brought his suit. They both looked great and there were lots of compliments.

They were at the church quite early to get seats. It was peaceful and Ginny and Steve just sat side by side, holding hands. The organ was quietly playing Christmas carols as people slowly filtered in.

The mass was in French and English with lots of beautiful music. At communion, Steve and Ginny followed the rest of the family up for a blessing.

At the end of the mass, many people paused at the crèche to say a prayer. The family sat where they were as the crowd made their way to the exits. No point in fighting crowds if you don’t have to!

On the walk home, Ginny and Steve held back walking with their arms around each other and talking quietly. It felt like so long since either of them had been able to speak their hearts.

At the house, they stayed outside for a few minutes, still talking. It was very warm for Christmas Eve and an almost full moon hung above them in the sky.

But even a warm December night in Montreal is chilly, so Steve wrapped his arms around Ginny as he saw her shiver.

“Let’s go get warm inside.” he said, and they joined the crush of family inside.

Everyone seemed to have a drink and aunts and uncles they hadn’t seen yet greeted them with hugs and kisses. Ginny went for a big glass of water…too much alcohol and salty food earlier had left her feeling a little dehydrated.

Gifts were being handed out and opened randomly with joyful exclamations as each person thanked the gift giver.

Steve and Ginny both had several packages, which they opened together in a corner of the couch. Several from Claude, little things from the cousins and a couple more from Tony and Pepper, who sat near them with a pile of gifts as well.

Tony turned to Ginny and said, “But no one knew we were coming until 2 days ago!”

“Plenty of time to shop and make you two feel welcome.” Ginny said. “I was wondering why dad and Jean-Guy were out so often the last couple of days!”

Steve picked Ginny’s gift to open. It was heavy and rattled a lot.

And he tore the paper away, he found a red toolbox with the words ‘DADDY’S TOOLS’ hand-painted on the side. He looked up at Ginny with a smile of such joy, it brought tears to her eyes.

“Every dad needs a toolbox.” she said simply. “Open it.”

Inside was an assortment of handtools: hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, chisels, as well as a small rechargeable drill and another little box.

“Those are for your leg.” she said, pulling it out. It contained small screwdrivers and wrenches for fixing and adjusting his prosthetics.

“This is perfect.” Steve said, finally, leaning over to kiss her. “I remember my dad’s toolbox. It had everything you ever needed in it. Even after he died we still called it dad’s toolbox.” He ran his hand over the lettering. It was made to look like a child’s printing.

“Did you do this?” he asked.

“Yes.” she said. “As you can see, my artistic talent is at about a grade 2 level.” Steve laughed at that.

Tony pointed at the present next to Ginny and said, “What’s in that one might improve that.”

Ginny looked at the package, which was obviously another iPad  and shook her head.

Tony pointed a finger at her and said, “Don’t tell me how to spend my money.” Then he winked to take the sting from his words.

“By the way,” Tony continued, “we’ve been almost sleeping together for the last 6 weeks and not a mention of a little Rogers on the way?”

“Sorry, Tony.” Steve said with a smile at Ginny. “I was under strict orders.”

“We wanted to tell Claude together and we really haven’t been together until tonight.” It was her turn to smile up at Steve.

“Were you going to tell him tonight if I hadn’t come?” Steve asked.

“Not tonight,” she said, “but I would have gotten you on Skype to tell him with me later this weekend.”

“And now the whole world knows.” Tony said.

“Well, just the family for now.” Ginny said.

“Nope.” Tony said and held up his phone to show her that #CaptainAmericababy was trending on Twitter.

“Wow!” she said. “That didn’t take long.” She felt a little overwhelmed that so many people now knew what only she and Steve had known about only a couple of hours before.

Steve saw her concerned look and put his arm around her saying, “It’ll be okay.”

 

It was after 3 am when the last guest left and they were able to find their beds. Tony and Pepper were the last to leave for the short walk to their hotel.

Steve had been awake for over 24 hours, so he stripped off, got into bed and promptly fell asleep. Ginny managed to run a facecloth over her face to remove most of her make-up before following Steve to bed and sleep.

 

It was still dark out when Ginny was awakened by Steve thrashing around and mumbling beside her. Then he sat bolt upright with wide eyes.

Ginny thought he was out of the dream. She reached up and touched his back and started to say, “Steve, it’s okay.”

His reaction was lightning fast. He swung around, grabbed her by the throat and pinned her to the bed. His other arm was cocked back in a fist and the look on his face was a cross between fear and anger.

Ginny grabbed the hand around her throat and managed to pull it loose enough to say, “It’s Ginny. C’est Geneviève! Steve, it’s me. Au secour!”

Steve blinked twice as the realization of where he was and who he was holding down dawned on him.

“Jesus!” he said, letting go of Ginny’s throat as though she was red hot. She rolled onto her side, gasping for air and coughing.

“Oh, God. Ginny, are you okay?” He was beside her but not touching her. After what he’d just done, he didn’t think he had the right to touch her.

“I’m okay.” she said, hoarsely. “I’m okay. Are you okay?”

“Me!? I could have killed you!” he said, shocked that she was concerned about him. “I should go.” he said, quietly. He sat up on the side of the bed and reached for his prosthetic.

“No.” she said, firmly. “You should not.” She went to him and laid her cheek against his back and put her arms around him.

“The nightmares have been bad,” Steve said, putting his arm over hers, “but I’ve never had them when you were with me. I was hoping that would continue. But if I’m having them here, I can’t sleep with you. This could happen again.” He turned his head to try to see her, but couldn’t.

“I had spoken to Dr. Coulter about the nightmares a long time ago.” Ginny said. “He said not to wake you or touch you until you’ve come out of it. I thought, when you sat up, that you had. Is there any way you can let me know when you’re back?”

“I’d be afraid I’d wake you.” he said, quietly.

Ginny laughed. “You thrashed around like you were wrestling a bear, then sat bolt upright. Believe me; if you’re coming out of a nightmare, I’m awake already.” She moved around to his side so he could see her.

This at least made him smile and he let her urge him back down into bed with his arm around her.

“What brought you back? Did I say something or do something? Or was it just instantaneous?” Ginny asked.

“Your name…and hearing the French. You’re the only one who speaks to me in French.” he said.

“So next time, if I can speak, I’ll recite some French poetry to you.” she said, jokingly.

“No, just your name and au secour. That got through to me that you needed help. I’ll always come when you need rescuing, even if it’s from me, I guess.” He sounded very bitter, but he held onto Ginny as though she was a life raft.

There was a long silence, then Ginny asked, “Can you tell me about the nightmares?” Steve thought she meant for him to tell her the content and he started to shake his head.

But she went on. “When did they start up again? Are they new nightmares from this mission or flashbacks?” She knew he wouldn’t share with her his horrors unless he had to.

He was silent for a long time, caressing her back and trying to settle his mind.

Finally, he started to talk. “They started after the third base we took. There were kids, which you know gets to me, and there were women. There was a pregnant woman…” He let his voice trail off. “It was bad, Ginny, really bad.”  He stopped as the sobs started to shake his body.

Ginny rolled them over and pulled his head onto her chest and wrapped her arms around him to comfort him. She spoke little comforting words in French and stroked his head and back.

He held onto her tightly, almost afraid he was hurting her, but unable to let go.

Finally, the shaking stopped. Ginny grabbed the tissue box from the side table and brought it within his reach. Steve propped himself up on one elbow to blow his nose and wipe the tears from his face.

He looked at her. “These were their own people…their wives and kids. How do they do that to their own people?” he asked, imploringly.

“I don’t know, babe.” she said, stroking his face. “I just don’t know.”

“Sleep now, Steve. It’ll be soon enough we’ll have to be up.” Ginny said.

“I can’t.” he said. “What if it happens again?”

“I know what to do,” she said, quietly.

He looked at her, unconvinced, then ran his hand over his face.

“I don’t want to hurt you.” he said, tiredly.

“You won’t.” she whispered, gently pushing him back and pulling the blankets up around them.

Steve sighed deeply. He could still feel how fragile she’s felt under his hands. He fought sleep for a few minutes, trying to stay awake. If he was awake, he couldn’t dream, then he wouldn’t hurt her. But the warmth of her body against his and the long day finally caught up with him and he fell into a deep sleep.

Ginny laid awake for a long time thinking about what Steve had told her. Steve rarely shared this side of his profession with her, which was probably for the best. Hopefully, Steve could make some time to talk to Dr. Coulter before he went back.

When she was finally able to close her eyes, she  fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

A Time For Heroes – Chapter 38 – Honouring a Hero

Ottawa Shooting 20141024The next morning, they were up early. They were checking out, so were showered and packed up before 10 am. Ginny had booked them at the Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls for that night, but before they left, they had a soldier to honour.

Ginny and her dad had usually gone to the Brock St. overpass in Pickering during the Afghan war, so she was greeted warmly by those she knew when they arrived.

Steve hadn’t known what to expect, and at first, he thought there was a little bit of a festive atmosphere; old friends greeting one another, catching up. But under the friendly chatter, there was an air of solemnity.

Someone came around and handed them each a small, paper flag. Steve looked at the red maple leaf for a moment.

“This has only been our flag for about 50 years.” Ginny said. “The leaf has 13 points, representing each of the provinces and territories at the time.”

“At the time?” Steve enquired.

“They’ve since split the Northwest Territories to form Nunavut.” she answered.

There were several large flags and most people wore their patriotic pride in the form of CANADA sweatshirts or hats. There were also a few people in uniform.

Aaron and Zack found them and introduced Amy. Ginny hugged them all warmly. Zach was in Aaron’s arms and wiggled and squirmed until Aaron handed him to Steve. Zach wrapped his legs around Steve’s waist, laid his head on Steve’s shoulder and popped his thumb into his mouth, watching everything around him with wide eyes.

Amy gave Ginny a smile. Yes, Ginny thought, I know. Definitely dad material.

Steve turned to Aaron to answer a question.

“Congrats.” Amy said to Ginny. “You did nicely. Captain America, eh?”

Zach heard this last bit and chimed in, “and Captain Zach.”

Amy and Ginny laughed as Steve said, “Together again. Where’s your shield, little guy?”

“A’ home.” Zach said and popped his thumb back into his mouth.

Steve patted his back. “That’s cool. I didn’t bring mine either.” Zach smiled around his thumb.

Someone called out, “They’re coming!” and everyone moved to the east side of the bridge. They could just see the lights of the police escort in the distance. They could also see that the next overpass was as full of people as theirs was.

With all the commotion, suddenly Zach wanted his mother, so Amy took him from Steve and settled him on her hip to watch.

As the motorcade drew closer, the festive atmosphere on the overpass died down.

When the motorcade approached, many people, both in and out of uniform, held a salute. There was dead silence on the bridge.

Once the motorcade had passed, the group moved over to the west side of the bridge to see their fallen hero on his way. There were salutes from many in the crowd, including Steve and Ginny.

The motorcade quickly drove out of sight into the city, but no one spoke or made any move to leave.

Then someone started to sing “O Canada”, in a clear strong voice and soon almost everyone had joined in.

Ginny let her tears fall freely as she sang out the words of the anthem that held so much meaning for her, in honour of one who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

Steve had heard the anthem before at ballgames, but didn’t know it well enough to sing it. But as he listened, tears flowed down his face, too.

He put his arms around Ginny from behind and she hugged his arms to her as the anthem was started again. Ginny smiled. There were several verses but no one ever learned more that the first one.

They stood and watched the traffic go by below them for a long time as the people around them started to disperse. Aaron and Amy gave them both hugs and took a sleeping Zach home.

Finally Steve and Ginny made their way back to their car hand in hand. They were both lost in their own thoughts so Steve drove them in silence back through the city towards Niagara Falls.

“Thank you.” Steve said, finally.

Ginny looked at him and smiled. ”Now you’re an honorary Canadian.” she said.

Steve smiled back at her, then focused on the road for a few minutes.

“You know, I could see myself living here.” he said.

Ginny looked up at him in surprise, then turned to look out the front window.

“You know something, Rogers.” she said, finally. “Sometimes you say things that just make my heart want to burst.” She shook her head in wonder.

Steve glanced at her, then reached over and stroked her thigh. “That’s how I felt watching you on the bridge. You and everyone else.” he said. “I thought I’d feel like an outsider, but I didn’t. It was all very…unexpected.”

She was quiet for a moment. “It’s been a while since I’ve been to one. It was pretty powerful to be part of that…part of a nation mourning one who died safeguarding our way of life.”

“It felt bigger than that.” Steve said. “I’m not Canadian and I felt part of it. Like mourning a brother.”

“For you, he’d be a brother in arms. You said that soldiering’s the same no matter which nation you fight for.” she said.

“Yes, but it was more than that, even.” he said, taking a moment to try and order his thoughts.

“Back home, they don’t tell us when they’re bringing our fallen soldiers back. It’s all hush, hush. During World War II, you knew when one of the local boys had been killed. Everyone went out to the service, and helped the family. This feels like that.” he finished, lamely, not sure he had gotten his point across.

“Like community.” Ginny said, quietly.

“Yes,” Steve said, “like community. It helps to know that others are there to support you in grief.”

Ginny smiled to herself. “So you could see yourself moving up here and being Captain Canada?” she asked.

“Or maybe just plain old Steve Rogers.” he answered. “I’ll get a job as an artist somewhere or consult with the Canadian army and settle down with you to raise our kids.”

Ginny basked in the warmth of that thought for a moment. A little house in one of the neighbourhoods in Montreal or Toronto. Or maybe even across on the west coast. Her friend, Alice, had moved to Victoria and was always bugging her to come out and stay.

“You’re a dreamer, Rogers.” she said, sadly.

He didn’t say anything for a moment, lost in his own imagination.

Finally, he sighed and said, “I know. I guess there’s no getting away from being an Avenger, is there?”

“It’s okay, you know.” she said, stroking the back of his neck. “I know what I signed on for.” She moved her hand around to stroke his cheek and he turned and kissed her fingers.

You just did it again, St. Pierre, he thought as he felt joy swell in his chest.

This beautiful woman was more than his match; she was his mate. Just when he had given up all hope of finding one, she had walked into his life with her purple hair and made him feel truly alive for the first time since he’d woken up in the 21st century.

Now, with their whole lives ahead of them, he had reason for joy but also reason for fear. She was his heart and he didn’t know if he could ever truly be alive if he lost her.

Ginny had found some Billy Joel on the radio and was chair dancing to it. Steve saw a rest stop up ahead and pulled off.

Once he had parked, he leaned over and gave her a deep, soulful kiss.

Ginny’s hand was on his cheek when they parted.

“What was that for?” she said, smiling.

“Do I need a reason to kiss you now?” he asked in mock gruffness.

She searched his eyes. She sensed something deeper in this kiss.

“No, you don’t.” she said and kissed him quickly again before getting out of the car.

He watched her for a second before undoing his seatbelt and following her into the rest station.

FIN

Author’s Note: Although this is how I wanted the story to end, it didn’t feel quite complete. Oftentimes at the end of a book, I have felt that I’d like to know what happened next for the characters. So I have written 2 epilogues, which I will be posting over the next two weeks that tie up some of the loose ends.

Thank you so much for reading! I will be starting to post another novel in the new year.