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.

A Time For Heroes – Chapter 37 – A Wedding is Celebrated

bridegroom_cropThe wedding the next day went off without a hitch. Ginny and Steve didn’t drop the offertory gifts as they followed the altar boy up to the front of the church; the vows were very personal and touching; the music was uplifting; and the bible readings appropriate and inspiring.

The bridesmaids wore different styles of dresses in the same shade of green and the pocket handkerchiefs on the groomsmen’s suits were the same colour.

Ginny held Steve’s hand through most of the mass and even teared up a little bit during the vows. Steve handed her his handkerchief, a sweet gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by those around them.

Afterwards, Sylvie’s mom asked Steve and Ginny to join them at the Old Mill for pictures. Sylvie wanted a few with her best friend. The hotel was a picturesque building with lovely grounds, even this late in the year, and beautiful indoor settings as well.

The photographer took lots of candid shots of the group and a few posed shots. Ginny and Steve helped where they could and Sylvie wanted some shots of her and Ginny as well as well as the four of them together.

Once the pictures were done, Ginny and Steve were free! Sylvie went to spend some time with her family and dinner wasn’t for another couple of hours. A few of Ginny and Sylvie’s high school friends were in the bar, so they decided to join the group.

Steve just sat back and listened to the stories that were flying around. Marlie came and sat beside Ginny and said, “You know, Mike’s coming tonight.”

“I figured.” Ginny said. “He is Sylvie’s cousin.”

“Yeah, but he’s still carrying a torch for you and he’s hoping to win you back at the wedding.” Marlie said.

Ginny sighed. “There’s no ‘back’. We never dated. I was never interested.”

“Well, you were the only one who wasn’t, so I think it’s become a conquest thing.” Paul said from across the table.

“Thanks for the warning, guys. I think I’ll just trying to avoid him, especially if he starts drinking.” Ginny said, looking up at Steve.

“Do you think he’d try something here?” Steve asked.

“Let’s hope not,” Ginny answered, “but he is a bit of a hothead and doesn’t hold his drink very well.”

“You should watch yourself, Steve. He’s a pretty big guy and he’s still in pretty good shape.” Paul warned.

“I’ll be fine.” Steve said with a smile. “Ginny will protect me.” They all laughed at this.

At 6 pm, the reception hall opened and they all made their way through the formal receiving line before finding their assigned seats. Sylvie had sat the high school gang together, but had seated Mike with his family so at least they wouldn’t have to deal with him at dinner.

Steve went to get them each a drink and Mike chose that moment to come and sit down next to Ginny. Everyone else fell silent.

“Hey, baby.” Mike said. “Long time, no see.” He had his hand familiarly on her back, and leaned in as though to kiss her. She managed to turn away and lean back, avoiding him.

He took her hands and said, “Come on, let’s go for a walk.”

She didn’t rise with him and said “No, I don’t think so. I’m visiting with old friends and my fiancé will be back in a minute with our drinks.”

Mike didn’t sit back down. “Fiancé? No way.” He turned around to see if he could spot this fiancé. Steve was just heading back to the table with their drinks.

“That stiff?” Mike looked down at her.

Ginny nodded and raised an eyebrow at Steve letting him know this guy was trouble.

Steve came up, set the drinks down and shook Mike’s hand when Ginny introduced them. Ginny could see Mike’s grimace as Steve showed his strength in his handshake.

“Ginny tells me you guys went to school together.” Steve said, sitting down.

Ginny felt like she was sitting between two wolves sizing each other up. Mike played up his accomplishments: high school and college football, MMA, military time and a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Steve made sure Mike knew who he was and talked about leading the Howling Commandoes in Europe and leading the Avengers now. They even traded some of their training regimens. By the time dinner was served, Steve and Mike seemed to have an understanding.

As Mike left to find his table, Steve leaned close to Ginny’s ear and said, “He won’t bother you again.”

She turned to him and said, “Why? Are you the alpha-wolf?”

“Something like that.” Steve answered with a smile.

Not all of Ginny’s friends had realized that Steve was Captain America until this conversation with Mike. Now there were lots of questions to be answered. Steve seemed to take it all in stride, recounting battles for them and talking about the other Avengers.

Luckily, dinner was not chicken. Ginny hadn’t thought to ask and was pleased to see beef tenderloin on the plate in front of her.

Dinner was delicious and afterwards, the speeches were in French and English and were quick. Music had been playing through dinner, but now the DJ announced the bride and groom’s first dance. The song was a hauntingly beautiful French song and Sylvie and Doug were alone on the dance floor until they split up to find Sylvie’s dad and Doug’s mom. Before the end of the song, Sylvie and Doug found each other again and their parents danced with each other.

Ginny had tears in her eyes watching the parents on the dance floor. She had danced with her dad at the hand-fasting, but they could never have this.

Steve put his arm around her and squeezed her shoulder. She looked up at him and smiled sadly then lay her head on his shoulder.

Then the dancing opened up and Ginny and Steve were rarely sitting down. They danced with each other when they could, but were often separated by others claiming dances.

About half way through the evening, the DJ announce, “This one is for Steve and Geneviève.” They were both with different partners but managed to find each other in the middle of the dance floor. Everyone else pulled back, leaving them alone together.

“There you are.” Steve said with a smile.

“Long time, no see.” Ginny said as the beginning strains of ‘New York State of Mind’ came through the sound systems and they started to dance.

Sylvie had given the DJ the list of songs they liked to dance to. They moved so well together that the DJ just went down their list. After ‘New York State of Mind’, they weren’t alone on the dance floor, but they weren’t letting anyone else cut in. Ginny did look like a flame as she whirled and twirled through a jitter-bug and as Steve swung her around the outside of the dance floor in a waltz.

Those who knew Ginny knew how good a dancer she was. But they had never seen her with anyone who moved as fluidly as she did. They seemed to anticipate each other’s moves.

After a while, the crush of the dance floor got to be too much. Ginny was beyond fatigue and Steve led her off the dance floor and out into the quiet lobby, where there were several overstuffed leather couches. They found a spot in the corner of one of these and curled up together.

“You know, if you’re done, we can go upstairs.” Steve said, caressing her back.

“I’m okay, just a little over-socialized. Talking to so many people I don’t know or barely know.” She had her legs draped over one of his and her head on his shoulder. “I just need some time alone with you.”

“I’ll never turn that down.” he said with a smile.

Steve checked his watch. It was 11:30. No matter what Ginny said, he knew she was done.

Ginny had made the mistake of closing her eyes and found that she couldn’t open them again. Steve felt her body relax against him.

“Hey.” he said, rousing her. “How about one more slow turn around the dance floor and then off to bed?”

She sighed deeply and then turned to look at him. “I guess we should say goodnight to Sylvie and Doug.”

When they got back, there were only a few couples slowly circling the dance floor. The DJ started ‘Babe’ by Styx and Ginny and Steve joined them.

Near the end of the song, they danced by Sylvie and Doug and stopped to say goodnight. They would see them the next day at Doug’s parents place for brunch and gift opening.

Back in their room, Ginny barely took time to get undressed before crawling gratefully into bed. Teeth could be brushed tomorrow.

By the time Steve climbed into bed with her, she was already asleep, but she rolled towards him to cuddle into his warmth.

 

In the morning, they slept late and were in a bit of a rush to get to brunch. They were a little late, but it was pretty relaxed. They sat around eating and chatting while Sylvie and Doug opened gifts.

In was about 2 o’clock when Ginny made their excuses. She still wanted to take Steve to Kensington Market and Chinatown before they went to get dressed for dinner at the CN Tower.

They left their car at the hotel and took the subway and streetcar to Chinatown. They wandered down Spadina, checking out all of the import shops and grocers with rabbit carcasses hanging in their windows and unique vegetables for sale.

Then she took him one block west and they were in the middle of Kensington Market, where second-hand and vintage clothing stores were being run out of old, Victorian-era houses. There were artisan shops selling everything from homemade soaps and lotions, to jewelry to fair trade art and craft items from around the world. They went into the Blue Banana, an artisan shopping mall full of everything from vintage jewelry, to cheap imported junk. She took him down a couple of alleyways covered with graffiti where Rick Mercer, a Canadian political satirist, filmed parts of his show.

This was one of Ginny’s favourite places in Toronto, where hippy and hipster subcultures collided.

It was almost 5 o’clock when they headed back to their hotel to get dressed for dinner. Their reservation was for 7, which was cutting it a little tight.

They dressed a little more casually than they had for the wedding; Steve in a dress shirt and pants with his leather jacket and Ginny in leggings and a long flowing sweater with short, high-heeled boots.

They took the subway down to Union Station, then walked along the SkyWalk to the base of the CN Tower. The view over the lake from the elevator was breathtaking!

As they waited to be seated, Steve read the stats on the restaurant.

“It makes one full revolution every 72 minutes. Can you feel it moving?” he asked.

“You can’t feel it, but if you focus on one of the beams for too long, it’ll give you vertigo because you’ll be able to see it.” Ginny said. “Mostly you lose track of where the washrooms are because they’re fixed in the centre.”

Their table was near the outside, but not right next to the window, giving them a spectacular view of the city!

Ginny watched the view for a minute. “Kinda pales in comparison with the observation pod, doesn’t it?” she said.

Steve smiled. “I was still trying very hard to impress you back then.” Steve said.

“Well, you did.” Ginny said with a little laugh.

Steve reached across the table to take her hand. “And I’m pretty impressed with Toronto, too. The impression I’ve always gotten is that Toronto is trying and failing to be like New York. But it’s not like that at all.” he said.

“No, it’s very different from New York. We don’t take ourselves as seriously as New Yorkers take their city. It’s kinda like…’Yeah, Toronto sucks, but we love it anyway.’” she said.

Steve laughed. “I’m getting that. It’s almost apologetic.”

“Yes! Even when we’re the best, we’re very apologetic about it: ‘Sorry we built our tower taller than yours.’” Ginny laughed.

“There’s nothing to apologize for here. This view is breathtaking.” Steve said, watching as the view changed to the lake. “What’s across the lake?”

“The Niagara Wine Region.” she said. “They say on a clear day, you can see all the way to the falls. I know I’ve seen Toronto from Angel’s Gate winery over there.”

“I guess we’ll have to see if we’ll be able to get down to the falls before we leave.” Steve said, straining his eyes in the dark to try and see the iconic waterfalls.

“I checked the schedule for the motorcade tomorrow and they’re leaving Trenton in the morning so they should be in Toronto around noon. Maybe we can drive down after that, spend the night there and head home on Tuesday.” Ginny suggested. “What are you hearing from HQ?”

“They’re still on high alert, but nothing of substance yet.” he said. “That all sounds great.” Steve smiled at her as their waitress brought menus.

Ginny scanned her menu and said, “I was really glad to see that dinner last night wasn’t chicken.” Steve smiled.

“This is hard. How do I tell people I can’t eat chicken without telling them why?” she said.

“I never thought of that.” Steve said, looking up at her. “Once we have confirmation from Jas, should we tell your dad?”

Ginny sighed. “We probably should, but part of me wants to keep this between us for a bit longer. Maybe until Christmas?” Steve thought she looked very unsure.

“Christmas would be a good time to announce it.” Steve said with a smile. “Are we doing a New York Christmas or Montreal Christmas?” he asked.

“Let’s see if you’re even here!” she said as the waitress came to take their orders.

“I’ll be here.” he said, firmly. “I’m not a foot soldier anymore. I’ll make sure I’m here.”

“Your life is even less your own as commander.” she said. “If you’re called to duty, you’ll have to go.”

Steve knew she was right, but the frown on his face told her he didn’t like it.

She reached across and took his hand. “If you’re here for the holidays, we’ll have our first Christmas at home. If you’re away, I’ll go to Montreal with my dad, okay? That way you won’t have to worry about me being alone on Christmas.”

“Okay,” he said, “but I will be with you for Christmas. I don’t mind going to Montreal. I’ve never really had a big family Christmas.”

“We could do that. You know they’d love to have us.” Ginny said. “I don’t think we’d get away with staying in a hotel this time, though. We’ll probably have to stay at my uncle’s.”

“In separate bedrooms?” Steve asked with a smile.

“I don’t think so…but you never know.” She smiled back at him.

Just then, their dinner arrived and they talked of inconsequential things or not at all as they ate.

Ginny pointed at the window at one point and said, “Look at how the planes are all lined up to land.” Steve could see lights in the sky stretching back into the distance.

“Is that what that is?” he said, looking more closely at the sky.

“A plane lands at Pearson every 2 minutes. It’s Canada’s busiest airport.” she told him.

He nodded and kept eating. Whenever Ginny noticed a landmark she knew, she would point it out and they spent an enjoyable hour over dinner being awed by the beautifully lit city.

Dinner and dessert done, they decided to wander through the theatre district, just north of the Roger’s Centre.

“It used to be called the Skydome” Ginny told, Steve, as they walked by the building. “I never understood why they didn’t keep Skydome and call it Roger’s Skydome instead of Roger’s Centre.” She shook her head in consternation.

They held hands as they walked past all of the bright lights to University, where they grabbed the subway back to their hotel.

 

They were still holding hands as they got onto the elevator up to their room. Steve was stroking Ginny’s fingers with his thumb and the sensation was starting to arouse her.

Once the elevator doors closed, she turned to him to kiss him and found that he was in the same state.

“What is it about hotel elevators?” she said against his lips as she kissed him deeply and passionately.

Steve turned them and pressed Ginny against the back wall of the elevator. Ginny pulled him into her, then reached up and tangled the fingers of one hand in his hair, urging their kiss deeper.

Luckily, no one joined them on the elevator. By the time they got to their floor, they were breathless and a little giddy. After a little fumbling with the key card at their door, they managed to get in to their room.

Inside the door, they turned to each other again, kissing and starting to strip off clothes.

Jackets and shoes had come off when Steve pulled away and cupped Ginny’s cheek with his hand. He looked deeply into her eyes before kissing her softly on the lips.

“I love you.” he whispered and kissed her deeply again. This time, when he pulled back, he leaned down and scooped her into his arms and carried her to the bed.

He laid her gently on the bed and laid on his side beside her. He looked down the length of her body and rested his  hand on her belly.

“Is there more?” he asked.

“More?” she asked, puzzled. “You mean more ways to come together?” He nodded. “There’s always more.” she answered, pulling him down for a kiss.

“Every time we make love, it’s different.” she said, breathlessly, moving his hand up to her breast and kissing him again.

She pulled back as a sudden unsettling thought struck her. “Why? Are you not satisfied with what we’ve been doing?”

“Of course I am!” he said, quickly. “We just spoke once about more ways to have sex and I was just wondering…” His voice trailed off.

She kissed him deeply again, reaching down to stroke him through his pants, which they hadn’t managed to get off yet. “I’ve made love to you in ways I never have with anyone else.” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “If there’s more, we’ll have to discover it together.”

Steve smiled and started to work on getting his sweater off while she worked on his pants. Finally, they both gave up the struggle and sat up to get rid of their remaining clothes.

He bent his head down to suck on one, then the other nipple and was rewarded with her moans of pleasure and arched back.

He came up and looked at her, then gently kissed her lips. “I don’t want you to be bored.” he explained.

She pulled him in and kissed him deeply. “Do I look bored?” she asked, breathlessly, reaching over to stroke  him with her thumb.

He closed his eyes and flexed his hips toward her and moaned in pleasure. “No.” he breathed.

She continued this slow, torturous stroking and circling , while she mimicked the motion with circling her tongue over and around his in the same pattern as her thumb.

He reached down and grabbed her hand to stop her. “Too much.” he whispered. “I need to be inside you.”

She guided him in and he pushed in deep and was still for a minute, breathing heavily.

“Nope.” he said, finally and started to thrust into her hard and fast. Ginny was with him and started her spiraling climax after the first few strokes. She gripped his shoulders and held on as he took her over the edge with him.

He tucked his hands under her as he came down to catch his breath. Ginny wrapped her legs around him, holding him still inside her and gently stroked his arms and back. She pressed her lips against his neck, then his shoulder.

It took them a few minutes to catch their breath. Finally, Steve said, “It is always different, isn’t it?” He propped himself up to look at her. “I never expected it to be like this, so…intimate, so…” he searched for the word and couldn’t come up with it.

“All I ever heard about sex was that guys wanted it and girls didn’t, so just do your thing and get it over with. It wasn’t even something I was looking for in a relationship; it seemed like a lot of trouble to put a girl through just for my satisfaction.” Steve said, tracing his finger down her chest between her breasts.

“But you wanted me right from the beginning and let me know that. It scared me a little, actually; your openness about sex.”

“But now, to know that I please you as much as you please me is amazing. When I kiss you or touch you and you respond. It’s…not what I expected.” he finished a little lamely.

“So why do you want to know if there more? Don’t you like surprises?” Ginny said, teasingly.

“Yes and no.” he said and kissed the tip of her nose, which made her giggle.

She put one hand on his cheek and stroked her thumbs along his lower lip. “I love you, Steve. It’s that fact that makes whatever we do in bed so satisfying.”

“I love you, too.” he said and leaned in to kiss her again. He flexed his hips and she arched her back to take him  deeper in response. He took his time this time, teasing her until neither could hold back anymore, then taking them both to an explosive climax that left them sweating and shattered.

Sleep came easily after that, even though it was still early. Steve formed his body to her back as she curled into a fetal position. He pushed her hair away from his face and smiled. She was more…more than he had ever expected and he was well content to hold this living flame in his arms.

He spoke quietly. “Goodnight, love.” She answered with a sleepy mumble.

He slid his hand down to her belly. “Goodnight, Dot.” he said, quietly.

Ginny covered his hand with hers and smiled. He was so much more than she’d expected, too.

A Time for Heroes – Chapter 36 – Adventures in Toronto

summer-2011-040The next couple of days flew by. The kids were all oohs and aahs when Ginny showed them her engagement ring and vowed that they had not used any MMA moves at school. Once the assessments and machine work was done they paired up and sparred. Ginny hadn’t taught this in a while, but it all came back and the kids were so eager to learn.

“This is better than dancing.” Maya said at the end of their session.

Ginny had an hour to get to Stark Tower to catch her ride. Why hadn’t she thought to have the chopper pick her up at the hospital?

But she made it in plenty of time and was pleasantly surprised to see that Tony was at the controls.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had time to chat.” Ginny said. “Probably since before Steve came out of cryo.” She and her dad had spent a fair bit of time with Tony after Steve’s injury and she had gotten to know him quite well.

“I knew it was that muscle-bound bastard taking up all your time.” Tony said, jokingly. “But seriously, thanks for letting me throw you guys that little shindig on the weekend. If Pepper and I ever tie the knot, I may steal your ceremony.”

“No fair! You’ve got to write your own.” she answered into her mike with a laugh.

“Well, maybe we’ll let you write it for us, then.” he said. “Ready?”

She nodded and gripped the arms of her chair. Take-off always freaked her out a little bit.

“Okay, you can relax now.” Tony said through her headphones as he leveled off and Ginny released her death grip on the arms of her seat.

When they landed half an hour later, Steve was waiting for her…with the plans for his new quarters.

“I spoke with the engineers and they already had a plan for a larger set of quarters for the commander, so the plans and the space are already there.” Ginny could see that Steve was really excited to show her.

They started in his quarters where Steve spread the plans out on the table.

“There’s a kitchen and dining room and the kitchen will have breakfast nook. There’s two bedrooms and two bathrooms. You see this unit next to it? If we need to, we can put a door here and pull it in for a third bedroom and bathroom.

“A third bedroom?” Ginny asked with raised eyebrows.

“Who knows what will happen or how long we’ll be here. I know we’ll need two bedrooms.” Steve said, giving her a smile like a kid on Christmas morning. “Come on. I’ll show you the space.”

He almost dragged her down the hallways and around the corners until he came to the door he was looking for.

Inside was a disaster of dust and wood shavings. The kitchen had a stove and freezer-on-the-bottom fridge. The counters weren’t in yet, but the cabinets and breakfast nook were of oak. There was a modern chandelier hanging over where the dining room table would be.

There was one bedroom and a well-appointed bathroom. Steve showed Ginny where a wall would be coming down to add the second bedroom and bath.

“What did you say to get a second bedroom? Did you have to tell them about Dot?” Ginny asked.

Steve shook his head. “I just said that I’d rather have two bedrooms so we don’t have to move if we decided to have kids.”

“Oh, I still have to see Jas before we go.” Ginny said.

“Right,” Steve said, “she said she’d be waiting for you.” He took her hand and headed for the door.

“Wait!” Ginny said, pulling him back. “You’re like a hummingbird on speed today! You haven’t even kissed me yet!”

He turned to her with a seductive smile and pulled her in for a long, slow kiss. “How’s that?” he asked, pulling back to look into her eyes.

“Better.” she whispered, tilting her head up for another kiss.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so excited.” Ginny said.

“This is going to be our first home together. Of course I’m excited!” Steve said. “Aren’t you?”

She looked away from his steady blue gaze and felt anxiety wash over here. Steve pulled her closed and held her for a moment before saying, “Let’s go see Jas.”

Ginny looked up at him and nodded. She hadn’t realized just how nervous she was about these test results.

Continue reading “A Time for Heroes – Chapter 36 – Adventures in Toronto”

A Time for Heroes – Chapter 35 – Back to Reality

ring_heartThe next morning, Steve woke with a start. There was someone in their room! Steve opened one eye cautiously to assess the situation. It was one of Tony’s kitchen staff laying out breakfast for them.

“Sorry to disturb you, Captain Rogers.” he whispered. “Everything will stay warm so no need to rush.” And with that, he was gone.

Well, that was interesting, he thought. What if they’d been in the middle of something? Then he remembered what he’d heard about Tony’s lifestyle before he settled down with Pepper. There was probably not much his staff hadn’t seen.

It was just past 9 o’clock by the clock on the night stand. Steve got up to use the washroom.

When he got back, he saw that Ginny’s eyes were opened. She held the blanket so that he could get back into bed.

“There’s food, if you’re hungry.” Steve said before crawling under the covers.

“Later.” she said, still drowsy, and he crawled back in next to her.

He lay facing her and he ran his finger down her throat towards her breast. “Are you hungry for something else?” he asked, suggestively.

She rubbed one eye and asked, “What time is it?”

“Just after 9.” Steve answered, still letting his finger linger near her nipple.

She stretched out on her back, then looked over at him with a smile. “Yes, then. Hungry for something else. Let me use the washroom first.” and she popped up out of bed. She stopped quickly at her suitcase and grabbed a little bag. She looked back at Steve with a smile and he raised an eyebrow at her.

“Gift wrap.” she said as she disappeared into the washroom.

Steve waited impatiently for Ginny to come out of the washroom. Just seeing her in bed next to him with her hair all disarrayed had been enough for him to create his own little tent in the blankets. The mention of gift wrap had pushed his desire through the roof.

Ginny opened the bathroom door a tiny bit to peek out. Steve had stuffed an extra pillow under his head so he was sitting up a bit to see.

Then she stepped out into the bedroom and Steve’s breath caught in his throat! She was wearing a short nighty with spaghetti straps in a deep, rich burgundy satin trimmed with black. Over that was a short robe made of some flimsy, see through material in black. The robe was sitting just off her shoulders, ready to drop to the floor.

“Wow!” he said, shaking his head and taking it all in. “That colour looks great on you!”

Continue reading “A Time for Heroes – Chapter 35 – Back to Reality”

A Time For Heroes – Chapter 34 – The Handfasting

handfastingThe next day dawned bright and sunny; a perfect autumn day to be outdoors! Ginny and Steve woke slowly but once they were awake, the busyness started. Showering, breakfast, packing. They exchanged rings so that they had each other’s ring to present at the ceremony. Then they went their separate ways. Ginny packed their duffle bags into the car and went to run a couple of personal errands and Steve hopped on his bike to do the same. As Ginny watched him ride away after an extended kiss, she sighed. She wished she was on the back of that bike, holding onto him, moving as he moved. But she had a gift to pick up, so she headed on her way.

 

They met in the garage at Stark Tower an hour later and asked Jarvis in the elevator what was going on.

“Mr. Stark is in the kitchen and asked that I direct you there when you arrive.” Jarvis said.

So off they went to the kitchen, where they found Tony, Pepper, Claude and Jean-Guy.

Ginny gave her dad and uncle each a big hug and then turned to Tony and Pepper.

“Sorry your secret came out early, you guys.” she said, hugging Tony and then Pepper.

“Not a problem.” Tony said. “It was only one day. I can live with that. Were there tears?” he asked Steve.

“A few.” Steve admitted, looking fondly at Ginny.

“Good.” Tony said, kissing Ginny on the forehead.

“Okay, so two hours until the ceremony. Are you guys hungry? Help yourselves to sandwiches and salad, and then off to get ready.” Pepper said.

Ginny wanted to know all about Claude’s time in Montreal and a half an hour passed quickly with lots of laughter.

Once they were done eating, Pepper whisked Ginny and her duffle bag away, while the men took charge of Steve.

Waiting in the prep room for Ginny was Sylvie.

Continue reading “A Time For Heroes – Chapter 34 – The Handfasting”

A Time for Heroes – Chapter 33 – Hockey Rivalry

Three hours later, Steve opened his eyes and stretched. He was alone in the bed, which left him confused for a second, until he heard the toilet flush and felt Ginny crawl back under the covers with him.

Seeing him awake, she said, “Did I wake you up, babe? I’m sorry.”

“Just missed you next to me.” he said and pulled her close.

She propped her arms on his chest so she could look at him. “Sleep well?” she asked, suggestively.

“Yes, thank you. My mind was just chaos. There’s no way I’d have gotten back to sleep without you.” he said, fluffing the pillow behind his head so he could look at her. “You seem to know what I need before I do.”

“That was a little selfish on my part. I wasn’t ready to be awake, but I would have been if you were.” she said.

“Well, now we are awake, we need to talk about getting my Canadian girl back to Canada next weekend.” Steve pushed some stray hairs off of her cheek.

“Sounds like a nice leisurely drive is out.” she said, sadly. “Too bad. I was looking forward to that.”

“For this time, yes.” he said. “We are going to fly Avengers’ air. They’re calling everyone in and they want me to be able to get back on a moment’s notice. I thought you could take the chopper from Stark’s on Thursday afternoon and meet me at HQ and we can take the Quinjet from there.”

“Sounds like a plan.” she said. “I’ll be glad not to miss the kids. They had so much fun with Bucky and Nat! Bucky is quite a character. I have to admit, I don’t know him very well, but he had as much fun as the kids did.”

“Bucky’s always loved kids.” Steve said. “He had a couple younger brothers and I remember him playing with them. He was just a natural-born father. I just hope the experiments Hydra did don’t put that out of reach for him.” Steve looked concerned for a second then smiled and stroked her cheek with one finger.

“Part of me is still afraid that this is a dream that I’m going to wake up from someday.” he said, huskily.

She pinched him playfully on the chest and he jumped before covering her hand with his to stop her.

“Nope, not a dream.” she said. “I’m so glad. With this kind of dream, I’d never want to get out of bed.”

He smiled at her, still playing with her bangs, which had faded almost to white.

“Are you doing red and white for the wedding?” Steve asked.

She blew her bangs up and said, “I was thinking about that, but I want to do something for tomorrow, too.”

“You could do red and white for tomorrow, too. Remind me that I’m marrying a pretty Canuck…is that right…Canuck?” he asked.

She wrinkled her nose. “Yes…a Canuck from the land of the double-double and the Timbit!”

He laughed. “Timbit, I get. We had those in Montreal. What’s double-double?” he asked.

“Tim’s coffee with 2 creams and 2 sugars…double-double.” she explained.

“Ah. Does all Canadian culture revolve around Tim Hortons?” he asked.

“No, but Tim’s is a Canadian success story that really hasn’t been taken over by the US, so it’s become rather iconic.” she said.

“So I’ll have a double-double and some Timbits as we cross the border and not pronounce the second ‘t’ in Torono, and I should be fine.” he said, smiling.

“You’re more than fine already. Everybody is going to love you! I can’t wait to show you off.” she said with a huge smile.

“Does everyone in Canada know who I am? I mean, do they know who Captain America is?” he asked.

“I don’t know about everyone, but we did get the news when you guys defended New York and there were lots of background stories on all of the Avengers. I think most folks up there would know who you are…but don’t worry about getting mobbed or anything. That’s not the way we are.” she said.

“I’m always surprised when people recognize me.” he said. “Like I’m some movie star. It’s a little off-putting.”

“You do cut a pretty breath-taking figure, Steve. Even people who don’t know who you are take a second look.” she said, running her hand along his chest with a salacious look. “Even I take a second look sometimes.”

“Anyway,” she said, rolling off of him, “red would clash with my dress for tomorrow.”

“Why, what colour is your dress?” he asked.

“Blue, true blue…the colour of oath taking and the giving and receiving of vows.” she said.

“I didn’t know that. I had planned to wear blue, too, though. Is that okay?” he asked.

“Sure…we’ll be the Bobsy twins.” she said, laughing. “Do you want breakfast or shower first?”

“Isn’t there another choice?” he said, pulling her back down. “I feel like I owe you.”

She smiled and lifted herself up to kiss him. “Raincheck? Ellen’s going to be here between 10:30 and 11. Knowing Ellen, she wouldn’t have a problem meeting you for the first time en dishabille, but you might.”

“You mean she’s be okay meeting us in bed?” he asked, surprised.

Ginny nodded. “She’s pretty open. I think you’ll like her.”

She kissed him quickly again and got out of bed. “You grab a shower. I’ll start breakfast.” she said, pulling on yoga pants and a sweatshirt.

Steve watched her get dressed and marveled at how good she looked even in a sweatshirt.

 

When Steve came out of the shower, he found coffee waiting and omelettes just about ready.

He came up behind her and kissed the back of her neck. “Smells delicious.” he said.

He held up his left hand and said, “We never took our rings off.”

She held up hers next to his and said, “That’s okay. We’ll take them off for tomorrow. They’re too pretty to hide in a box.” The more she looked at hers, the more she loved it!

They sat down to eat and Ginny said, “I’m rather upset now that we couldn’t swing the hand-fasting on Saturday. Sunday means you’ll have to rush back and we won’t get a ‘wedding night’, so to speak.”

“I’m not heading back Sunday night.” Steve said. “I’m sorry. I just hadn’t had a chance to tell you. We’re staying at Casa Stark Sunday night. I’ll work from there Monday and maybe even  Tuesday, so it’ll be an extended visit.”

“Oh, Steve! That’s wonderful!” she said, giving him one of her glorious smiles.

“As long as I’m back for Wednesday to pack and talk to Fury again before we leave. And Jas says to see her on Thursday for test results and a pregnancy test.” Steve looked up to see a worried look cross Ginny’s face.

He reached across the table and took her hand. “It’ll be okay. Whatever the results, we’ll deal with it.” But there was a little worm of unease in his stomach, too.

They finished breakfast in silence and Ginny left Steve to clean up while she had a shower.

Ellen was there right at 10:30. She had workshops and ritual all afternoon and evening, but she wanted to spend some time with Steve and Ginny. She wouldn’t marry or even hand-fast a couple she didn’t think belonged together.

But 10 minutes was all she needed to see that her friend had found her soulmate. They went over the ceremony, and talked about the calling in of the elements and which gods would be invoked. Ellen asked if some of their friends might take a part. Ginny thought they would, but she would have to make some calls today to see. If not, Ellen said she was comfortable taking care of that part.

Ellen had split the vows. She gave Steve and Ginny the more intimate vows they had wanted included and said, “Maybe you can make these vows to each other before you make love tonight or tomorrow morning.” Steve’s face started to burn as a blush rose up his neck.

Ellen pretended not to notice and took Steve and Ginny’s  left hands. “These are the rings you’re going to exchange? Beautiful choices! Will someone bring them in for you, or are you going to carry them?”

Ginny answered, “I’ve sewn a little pocket I my skirt just for the ring. I’d like it to be really personal.” She looked at Steve and he nodded.

That was the business taken care of. Ellen stayed for a little while longer, chatting and catching up before taking her leave.

“You know, if you’re going to live in New York,” she said to Ginny, “you should go out to some of Mama Donna’s rituals. They’re really life changing.”

“Don’t know yet if we’re staying in the city, but I get her newsletters. Maybe Yule…that looks like a fun one.” Ginny said and hugged and kissed her friend goodbye. Ellen took Steve’s hand to shake and pulled him into a hug, too.

Ginny had thought a lot about what they should wear for this day. Her ‘dress’ consisted of a long flowing peasant skirt, a Juliette top with oversized sleeves which she had tacked up so they’d be out of the way; and a blue and gold brocade corset. She had found a pair of blue and gold brocade ballet style flats to finish it off.

She hadn’t spoken to Steve about any of this, but once he saw the outfit, he thought he’d be underdressed.

“Well, I made you something, too.” she said, shyly. She pulled out the blue and gold brocade tunic she had made for him earlier in the week. He could just wear it over what he had planned to wear with an old style slim leather belt she’d found.

He tried it on over his jeans and t-shirt and said, “You know, I probably still have some tights and my boots. Might look more medieval.”

“It might, but I think this over your blue shirt and pants will be perfect. You don’t need boots because we’ll be barefoot for the ceremony.” Ginny said. She helped him with the belt, which looped through the buckle and back over the belt, leaving a tail hanging down, which she moved to the side.

“You’d wear your sword at the knot.” she said. “Maybe we’ll get you one for the wedding.”

He looked at her in the mirror to see if she was kidding, but she didn’t seem to be. “Really? A sword? Do they still make them?” he asked.

“Of course. Mostly for reenactment or ceremonial uses now, though.” she answered.

She stood beside him in her finery and looked at them in the mirror. “We’ll do.” she said with a smile.

He looked down at her and she raised her head for a kiss. Steve turned her towards him to kiss her more deeply.

“I still owe you.” he said, huskily. “If we have nothing else that we need to do.”

“A couple of phone calls but they can wait.” she said surrendering her lips to him again.

 

It was some time later as they lay together well satisfied that Steve noticed the rings again. He brought hers up close to examine it.

“That’s the colour of my eyes?” he asked, still looking at the play of light deep in the diamond.

“There are so many different shades of blue in your eyes, they sometimes remind me of a diamond as it sparks and shines.” she said.

“You can thank the enhancement for that, too.” he said. “My eyes were always blue but not this light.”

She propped herself on one elbow to look at him. “Really?” she said. “I didn’t know that. I wonder why?”

He shrugged and kissed her palm where the ring sat and said, “I just figured it was because the serum was blue. Once Dr. Erskine was shot, there really wasn’t anyone to ask.”

She settled back down beside him and said, “You’re right. It will take a lifetime to get to know you.”

Steve caressed her back absently. “Should we have called your dad back from Montreal?”

“I talked to him this week and he didn’t seem upset to be missing this, as long as there’s a wedding to come.” she said. “But that’s before I knew Tony was planning it all!”

“I just don’t want to get on his bad side again.” Steve said.

Ginny smiled. Steve had such a sweet side!

“I should get up and call Tony to see who can call the elements. I don’t even know who’s going to be there tomorrow!” Ginny said, not moving.

“A few more minutes.” Steve said. “It’s been a very long week and it eases my mind to hold you like this.” He pressed his lips to the top of her head and they lay together for another half hour, just quiet in their own thoughts.

Finally, Steve asked, “Are we going to pack everything up and get dressed at Stark’s?”

“I can ask Tony when I call him if that fits with his plans.” she said.

He reached over and grabbed his phone. “Here. Just call him now. I’m sure there have been a few times when he’s called me that he’s been in bed with Pepper, so I don’t think he’ll mind.”

She smiled at him and took the phone, then snuggled back in next to him.

Tony asked a few questions about the elemental calls, then asked her to send him the script for each and said he’d take care of it. But he wouldn’t tell her who was attending.

“Let me have my fun.” was all he’d say.

“Should we come early and plan to dress there?” she asked.

“Sure,” he said, “then you’ll be set for the night.”

Ginny held Steve’s phone for a second before handing it back. “I should dye my hair.” she said, regretfully.

“What colour?” he asked.

“I bought a pale blue and a gold, but I’m afraid they’ll mix and I’ll just end up with green. So probably just the blue.” she answered.

“Maybe you can just dye the tips gold.” he suggested.

“Hmmm…I’ll try that.” she said.

“I should check if there’s anything more from Fury or the team on the situation in Europe.” Steve said.

So they went their separate ways in the little apartment; Ginny to the washroom and Steve to the kitchen.

About an hour later, Ginny came out to show Steve her handiwork. She had managed to stripe her bangs so as they fell together the strands interspersed, creating a brocade effect.

“Wow!” Steve said. “That’s pretty ingenious!”

He pushed his chair back so she could sit in his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him sweetly on the lips.

“Any luck here?” she asked.

“Nothing.” Steve said in disgust as he reached over and shut his tablet off. “Except having a beautiful woman in my lap.”

“Do you have anything else you need to do here?” she asked as she pulled his mouth down to hers, tangling her hand in his hair.

He moved his hand up to her breast just as she pulled away sucking on his lower lip. He had no idea why that turned him on so much, but it did.

Ginny slipped off of his lap and taking his hand, led the way to the bedroom.

Once there, they took their time undressing each other, making sure to touch and excite each naked area exposed.

Steve left his prosthetic on and laid on his back on the bed, so that Ginny could slide down onto him.

They took a few strokes to settle themselves and then Steve reached up to stroke and squeeze her nipples, making her arch towards him and moan her pleasure.

She covered his hands with hers and said, “I think we have some vows to exchange.” Her voice was husky with need.

“Like this?” he asked in surprise.

“Well,” she said, adjusting herself on him, “they’re about this so why not?”

Ginny leaned forward to kiss him, pulling off of him as she did. As she sat back, he flexed his hips to bury himself more deeply inside her.

“You first, then.” he said, placing his hands on her hips.

“Okay.” she said with a shy smile. “I will make it my mission that you are always satisfied in our lovemaking.”

Steve smiled. That’s an easy one, he thought.

“I will be here to chase your demons away at night when they keep you awake.” She smiled seductively at him, remembering that morning.

“I will try to always be pleasant when you need me in the middle of the night.” She leaned forward and put her hands on his chest for support so she could pull up slowly and then press back down with a little sigh. Steve closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation.

“I will never fake an orgasm and will always try to be honest about what I like and don’t like in our lovemaking.” Steve had reached up and was stroking her nipples. Ginny found this very distracting and paused for a minute to enjoy it, arching her back and pushing her breasts more deeply into his hands.

“And I will trust that you will do the same and not worry needlessly that things are not right.” she finished finally.

“I know that there will be challenges, like a new baby and you finally having to deal with my periods,” She smiled at him and he smiled back. “and absences and the needs of others. Through it all, I will always try to put you first, to find time and energy for this,” She stroked up and down again to clarify her meaning, “so that we can create a safe, happy and secure home for us and for our family.” She rested her hand on her belly and looked down at where they were joined.

He put his hand over hers and she could see tears glistening on his lashes.

“All this I vow to you: my man, my lover, my husband, in love and in the sanctity of our bedchamber from this day forward as long as we are together.”

She leaned forward then and kissed him deeply. Then he pulled her down to his chest. Her words had touched him deeply and he needed a second to regain control of his emotions before he could say his vows.

He was stroking her back soothingly and Ginny snuggled in to his chest more deeply, enjoying the tingly sensation. Steve flexed his hips to push himself more deeply into her.

Then he cleared his throat and said, “I guess it’s my turn.”

Ginny sat up and pulled her legs in tight to squeeze him and smiled at him as he arched his back a little bit to deepen his penetration.

He took a deep breath. “I will always try to be present when we make love and not let the cares of the day interfere.” he said.

She smiled. That might be a tall order, she thought, with some of the things he had to deal with.

He smiled at her. “I will try not to need you too often in the middle of the night.” She laughed at this one.

“I will learn how to play the tease for you and I will try not to get too embarrassed when you do it in public.”

“I will try not to worry so much about hurting you or not pleasing you and trust you to tell me when things aren’t right or good for you.”

“And I will be here for you when you need me in the middle of the afternoon or anytime. Through all the challenges I know are coming, I vow to put you first and to find time each day to be intimate with you, even if it can only be by phone or text.”

“You are my life, my home, my lover, my wife. All this I vow to you in the sanctity of our bedchamber, from this day forward as long as we are together.” he finished, quietly.

It was Ginny’s turn for tears and Steve reached up and wiped one off of her cheek with his thumb.

She leaned forward to kiss him and he grabbed her hips and started plunging into her, seeking release.

She broke off their kiss to cry out incoherently as she felt herself start to spasm, Steve’s breathing ragged next to her ear.

He made a growling noise deep in his throat as he emptied himself deep inside her, then pushed her down onto him and held her still.

Ginny could still feel him buck and spasm inside of her as she tried to regain her senses.She lay with her ear over his  heart and he had his arms wrapped tightly around her, stroking her back where it was cold. They were on one side of the bed, so he pulled the blanket off of the other side to cover them.

Ginny sighed contentedly in the warmth of their little cocoon.

“I have one more.” she said, quietly, pressing her lips against his chest. “I will try to always make you make that sound.”

“What sound?” he asked. He was usually too focused to pay attention to what he sounded like.

“It sounds like a cross between a grunt and a moan and it comes out like a growl deep in your chest. It’s very sexy!” she told him.

He chuckled, which sounded like thunder rumbling through his chest.

“Well, I love it when you pant right before you let go; tells me we’re just about there.” he said, pulling the blanket up where it had fallen off her shoulder.

She lifted her head and gave him an odd look before lying her had back down.

“I don’t pant.” she said, firmly.

He chuckled again. “If I grunt, you pant. There’s lots of sexy little noises that you make, but it would be indelicate to try to describe them.” he said. “But I love them all.” He pushed her hair back behind her ear.

She lifted her head to look at him. “You are smitten, Rogers.” she said. He smiled and nodded, then flexed his hips to try to stay inside her. Ginny kissed him deeply and passionately and that was enough to help with that.

Then she laid her head back down on his chest.

“Thank you for doing this, Steve.” she said, after a moment.

“For making love to you?” he asked. “You don’t have to thank me for that.” He stroked into her a couple of times making her moan before settling her on him again.

“I mean all of it. The vows, the hand-fasting. I know it’s all very foreign to you but it means so much to me.” she said, quietly.

“The vows were perfect.” he said. “I don’t think we would have ever said those things to each other otherwise. And I loved the ending!”

“Who say we’ve reached the end?” she said, playfully, squirming so that she could feel him moving around inside her.

“Mmm.” he said. “I was hoping you’d say that.” and he flipped her over onto her back.

They kissed each other hungrily as Steve thrust in and out, slowly, teasing her. She was flexing her hips, urging him go faster, but he kept his slow and steady pace, truly enjoying the feel of his love squirming and needing beneath him.

She broke their kiss to moan, “Oh, god, Steve, please!” against his cheek.

He pulled back slowly and slammed himself deep into her and felt her fingernails digging into his back. He did it again and she started to contract around him. He let himself go as Ginny  cried out and pulled her legs in close to his hips.

Slowly, slowly, they both came back to their senses. Ginny gathered the blankets over them, and they lay quietly together for a few minutes. Steve reached over for tissues as he felt himself slipping and they wiped up and cuddled together again.

For almost an hour, they lay together touching and holding each other, each very aware of the other, but without talking. Then Steve’s stomach gave a loud and insistent rumble.

Ginny giggled and said, “Hungry?”

“I guess so.” he said with a smile. “I just really don’t want to move.”

She cuddled a little closer. “Me, neither.” she said, contentedly. “I’ve never known anyone I could be still with like this. Most people feel the need to fill silences.”

“I guess it depends on how comfortable they are with their own thoughts.” he said. “This was really peaceful. I might need to add this to my vows tomorrow…” He let his voice trail off.

Ginny smiled. Was it really tomorrow? she thought. Was this beautiful, sweet, loving man really going to commit himself to her? No, she realized suddenly. He already had. The hand-fasting was just a formality. And the wedding in a year would be the same.

She propped her arms on his chest and said, “Well, husband, how would you like to help me pull something together for supper?”

He smiled at her and said, “What did you have in mind, wife?” Then he pushed her blue and gold bangs out of her eyes.

“I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce last week and froze some. We could heat that up, cook some pasta, make garlic bread…sound good?” she asked.

“Sounds perfect.” he answered, but neither of them was ready to leave their little nest so they cuddled back together for a few more minutes.

“I love you.” Steve said, quietly, stroking her hair. “I had almost given up on that.” There was a long pause, but Ginny sensed he wasn’t done.

“When I lost my leg, I thought it was the end of the world. But that brought you into my life, so now I wonder if it wasn’t the best thing that could have happened to me.”

“I can’t see how we would have met otherwise.” Ginny said.

They were both quiet for a long time after that, contemplating that reality.

“But we did meet,” Steve  and said, “and now we’re having a baby and getting married. My life is so full.” His voice broke on the last word and he wrapped his arms around her more tightly.

She knew better than to follow him down that road. They’d both be sobbing if she did.

“Sappy, Rogers.” she said, wiping a tear from her eye. “Just wait until we’re actually living together with a baby and you have to change a middle of the night poopy diaper and then get up two hours later to save the world. You might not be so sentimental then.”

He started to laugh and it was infectious. In a few minutes, they were both giggling helplessly at the thought of Steve running off to save the world with baby poop on his uniform.

“Oh, God.” he said, finally, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. “You always manage to bring me back down to earth.”

“It’s my job.” she said, reaching for the box of tissues and blowing her nose loudly. “Gotta keep you manly.” She aped a body builder pose. “Besides, you’ve got to know it’s not going to be all rainbows and unicorns.”

She was resting her chin on her arms which were on his chest so she could look at him.

“Yes, I do know that. I don’t recall many rainbows and unicorns so far, but I’m still deliriously happy.” He put his arm behind his head so he could look at her, too.

She smiled sweetly at him and moved up to kiss him. “I love you.” she whispered. “Let’s get some supper.”

 

Half an hour later they were enjoying a homemade pasta dinner with garlic bread. While they were eating, texts started coming in for Ginny from her dad and uncles and cousins…all trash talk over the game later. Ginny finally put her phone in the bedroom so that they could enjoy their dinner.

They finished up dishes and settled in to watch the hockey game. Ginny tuned into a Canadian channel because she said she hated the American commentators.

Steve had watched hockey before, but never as seriously as Ginny and her family seemed to. There were texts flying back and forth about bad calls and nasty hits and then Toronto scored, Ginny jumped up and yelled, “Yes!” pumping her fist in the air. This was definitely a side of her he’d never seen before!

When she sat down again, Steve said, “I didn’t realize you took your hockey this seriously.”

She laughed and said, “I don’t follow through the season. There’s just a fun rivalry between Toronto and Montreal, especially in my family.”

She paused for a second before adding, “Anytime Team Canada plays, though, I don’t miss it. Might be a little dicey when they’re playing Team USA now. But I’ll usually follow the stats and watch the final game, like the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. That was an amazing game!”

“Canada won?” he asked. “Against the US?”

“Of course!” she answered. He laughed at her cockiness.

So he started asking her about some of the rules that he didn’t understand. When  he asked about icing, though, he was surprised by her answer.

“No one understands icing…I don’t even think the refs understand it. Something about the puck crossing the blue line before a player of that team is there to catch it, but that doesn’t seem to always apply, so I’m never sure why they call icing.”

He shook his head. “And you call yourself a Canadian.” he said, teasingly.

She pushed him on the shoulder playfully before settling back down to watch the final period with Steve’s arm around her.

In the end, Toronto triumphed and Ginny called her dad to gloat a bit. He always cheered for Montreal.

“How did Steve enjoy the game?” Claude asked.

“He was very relieved to know I didn’t follow hockey this closely all the time.” Ginny answered. Claude laughed at that.

“But when you do, you’re pretty ferocious.” he said.

“I think that surprised him a little.” she said, looking over at Steve, who was flipping channels.

“He’ll get used to it.” Claude said. “Goodness knows, I had to with your mother!”

Ginny laughed. Her mom had loved all types of sports. “Yes, you did!” she said.

“Well, we should get some sleep.” she said. “Big day tomorrow. I’m starting to regret that you won’t be there, papa.” She felt sudden tears come to her eyes.

There was a pause at the other end of the phone. “But I am here.” Claude said. “Tony flew Jean-Guy and me in today. I thought you knew.”

It took Ginny a second before she trusted her voice. “You’re here? Where? At Stark’s?” she asked. Steve looked up at her at the change in her tone of voice.

“Oui, Cherie. Watched the game on the biggest TV I’ve ever seen!” Claude responded.

All Ginny could think was, Thank you, Tony!

“I’m so glad, papa.” she said in a husky voice.

“Moi, aussi, cherie.” Claude said. “Sleep well and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Bonne nuit, papa.” she said before hanging up.

“Your dad’s here?” Steve asked.

Ginny smiled at him. “He is. He and mon oncle. Tony flew them in today.” she said, quickly, wiping a tear off her cheek with the back of her hand.

She sat down on the couch with Steve and he put his arm around her and drew her in close to him.

“That was the only missing piece.” she said after a moment.

Steve smiled. He was glad he had told Tony to go ahead with this surprise. He pressed his lips against the top of her head.

She raised her head to look at him. “You knew, didn’t you?” It wasn’t an accusation, just a statement.

“Yeah, Tony told me the other day but he swore me to secrecy.” he said, smiling down at her.

She smiled back at him before putting her head back down on his chest. “Well, it’s a wonderful surprise.” she said, quietly.

They sat for a long time watching a rerun of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ before Ginny reached for a tissue.

Steve just pulled her closer and said, “Shhh…it’s okay.” He knew why she was crying. He’d miss his mom the next day, too. They had something in the ceremony honouring them and his dad, but nothing could replace them being there to share this moment.

It was after 11 when they decided to call it a night. But, although both of them were tired, they were also as excited as two kids on Christmas Eve.

So they brushed teeth and settled into bed together to whisper and giggle under the covers. It was after midnight when a quick kiss ignited something deeper and they came together like a thunderclap, releasing all of the tensions of the day. Then they settle to sleep.