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 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.

A Time For Heroes – Chapter 31 – Dance Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

“Do you want to go in?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ginny shrugged and said, “Yours.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They walked quietly for a few minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He sighed and let her pull him onto the dancefloor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tony’s got a big mouth.” Ginny said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So are you officially engaged?” Jess asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Anything planned for tomorrow?” she asked drowsily.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I told him an hour.” Steve said.

Ginny smiled and curled back up in his lap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Steve texted back quickly:

 

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

 

She responded:

 

Of course. Miss you like crazy. Talk soon.

 

His response was simple:

 

Dream about me.

 

She texted back:

 

Always.