Cap's POV - Love
Steve sat with Peggy in her home just outside of DC. He'd been to visit the exhibit they'd set up at the Smithsonian after leaving the Trisklion. He had wanted to speak with Buffy about their relationship, but Fury had thrown a wrench in that. It was time to get his feelings out there about her, but he was nervous. He thought that Buffy felt about him the same way he felt about her, but he wasn't completely sure. They'd been partners and friends for two years and for the last year, he'd begun to feel more for the beautiful, petite blonde. He was starting to have a hard time being around her without wanting to just grab her and kiss her.
"She's a wonderful girl, Steve." Peggy said, drawing his attention back to her. "You two are good together."
"Thank you." Steve said.
"You're worried she doesn't feel the same about you, though?"
"I think she does, but how can I be sure?"
"Were you so sure about me?"
Steve chuckled. "No. I've never been a master in the art of dating. You know that."
"Steve, you shouldn't be scared to ask her on a date."
"I just worry that…. Well, what if she doesn't feel the same way? I don't want to ruin our friendship by making it awkward for her."
"You said she seemed interested in talking with you about your relationship."
"She never got to answer me when I asked her about having the discussion. We got interrupted by work…. Again."
"The last time you brought Buffy here, I watched you two. There's something there, Steve. Don't let it go. We waited too long, you and I. Don't do the same to you and her." She reached out and he took her hand. "You love her. Tell her before it's too late."
"Love, huh?" He gave a small smile and looked out the window. Peggy was right. He was in love with Buffy.
Peggy gave his hand a squeeze. "It's ok to love her, you know? If that's what you need…. My permission…. Then you have it. And my blessing. You two couldn't be more perfect together if you tried."
Steve nodded and looked at the pictures on Peggy's night stand. There were pictures of her kids and her grandkids there. "You should be proud of yourself, Peggy."
Peggy looked over at her pictures. "I have lived a life. My only regret that I had was that you didn't get to live yours, but that regret vanished when I met Buffy."
"I'm a practical woman, you know that, but I believe that sometimes things happen for a reason. When I met Buffy, I came to believe that maybe you going into the ice for 70 years was just fate's way to get you to her." Steve looked down at his shoes sadly. Being reminded of how much time he'd lost and that his life was so different now…. It still hurt. "What is it?"
"For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I'm not quite sure what that is anymore. And I thought I could throw myself back in and follow orders…. serve…. It's just not the same. I've really started to question things I never thought I would question."
"You're always so dramatic. Look, you saved the world. We rather…. mucked it up."
"You didn't. Knowing that you helped found SHIELD is half the reason I stay."
"And the other half is Buffy. The funny thing is, I get the feeling that she's staying for you." Peggy sighed. "Oh, the world has changed and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over. Buffy's your chance to start over, Steve. Make a life with her. Love her with all of your heart and soul." Peggy started to cough and Steve turned to get her some water. When he turned back, Peggy was looking at him like it was the first time she'd seen him. "Steve?"
"Yeah." Steve said, knowing that her illness was the cause for the sudden memory loss.
"You're alive! You…. You came…. You came back."
Peggy began to cry and it broke his heart just as it did every time this happened. "It's been so long. So long."
"Well, I couldn't leave my best girl. Not when she owes me a dance."
After leaving Peggy's home, Steve checked in with Buffy to see where she was at. She was still getting her hair fixed from the explosion. He decided to go visit his running friend Sam while he had some time on his hands. He headed to the VA and asked the woman at the front desk where Sam was. She directed him down the hall to where a PTSD group meeting was being held. It was almost over, so Steve decided to stand outside and wait.
"I'll see you next week." A woman said to Sam as they walked out of the room behind the others.
"Yeah." Sam said. He turned to look at Steve. "Look who it is. The running man."
"Caught the last few minutes. It's pretty intense." Steve said.
"Yeah, brother, we all got the same problems. Guilt, regret…."
"You lose someone?"
"My wingman, Riley. Fly in the night mission. A standard PJ rescue op, nothing we hadn't done a thousand times before, till an RPG knock Riley's dumb ass out of the sky. Nothing I could do. It's like I was up there just to watch."
"After that, I had a really hard time finding a reason for being over there, you know?"
"But you're happy now, back in the world?"
"Hey, the number of people giving me orders is down to about zero. So, hell yeah. You thinking about getting out?"
"No. I don't know. To be honest, I don't know what I would do with myself if I did."
"Ultimate fighting?" Steve laughed. "It's just a great idea off the top of my head. But seriously, you could do whatever you want to do. What makes you happy?"
Steve smiled at the answer that popped into his head. Buffy Summers made him happy. If they left S.H.I.E.L.D. together, they still had her army of Slayers to watch over and train. New Slayers came into the mix every week. The spell that Willow had done with the Slayer's scythe not only activated every potential Slayer at the time, but any future potential Slayers whenever they came of age. Buffy seemed happiest when she was working with her Slayers and that's all Steve wanted was for her to be happy.
His phone beeped and he looked down to see a text message from Buffy. His smile widened. Her message was right on cue. "Sorry, Sam, but I've gotta…."
Sam chuckled. "Duty calls. I get it." He held up a finger and disappeared back into the room for a moment. When he returned, he had a piece of scrap paper with his name, number, and address on it. "Stop by anytime, man."
"Thanks. I'll take you up that soon." Steve shook Sam's hand and headed back outside. Buffy's text had asked him to meet her at the World War II Memorial. He hopped on his motorcycle and sped through town. Parking his bike in a tight spot, he took a deep breath and walked towards the memorial. People were walking around, taking pictures of all the different states and the gold stars by the fountain. He finally spotted Buffy standing in front of the fountain at the foot of the Atlantic archway. She was people-watching and didn't notice him approach behind her. He took a moment to admire her new haircut. It was shorter than she'd had it before and the layers fell in soft waves to her shoulders.
Before he could stop himself, he reached out and ran his hand through it, enjoying the soft layers that flowed between his fingers. She turned around with a smile. "It looks nice." Steve said.
"I had to tell the lady that fixed it that it happened in a kitchen accident." Buffy said to him with a grin. "She thinks I'm incompetent in the kitchen and gave me the number to a personal chef." Steve chuckled as they headed out of the memorial and towards his bike. She wasn't completely incompetent in the kitchen, but she was no chef. "Where did you go?"
"I visited the Smithsonian…. and Peggy. And I also caught up with that guy…. Sam was his name…. The one that I ran with the other day?"
This was it. He was going to talk to her now about their relationship. He was finally going to ask her to go on a date. "He asked me an interesting question."
"What was it?"
Steve took two steps forward to get in front of her and stopped. She looked up at him, a curious expression on her face. He took a deep breath and said, "He asked me what made me happy."
"Did you have an answer?"
"Honestly, there was only one thing that came to mind." He thought about telling her what Peggy had said, but decided to just tell her what he'd told Peggy. "These last couple of years have been…. Well, interesting doesn't even begin to cover it…. But there's one person that I've been able to rely on the most. One person that always tells me the truth and treats me like a human being and not like…. Well, like I'm Captain America." He reached out and took her hands, weaving his fingers with hers and marveling at how soft and warm they were in his hands. He was also pleased that she didn't pull her hands away at the intimate touch. "And that person is you."
Buffy smiled at him and squeezed his hands. "You're just plain old Steve to me."
His smile widened. She wasn't rejecting him yet. "So, Buffy Summers, I was wondering if you'd like to go on a date with me…. Officially, that is."
She returned his smile and his heart leapt. "I thought you'd never ask." He blew out a sigh of relief and he was pretty sure his face was going to crack in half if his smile got any bigger. "So, was that the conversation?"
Steve laughed. Now that the nerves were gone, he was more relaxed. "Close enough. I've been planning to ask you on a proper date for a few…. Well, to be honest…. Almost a year now."
"Why didn't you?"
"Because I could never figure out a good time or what to say to you when I did. I barely had the courage to ask if you wanted to have a conversation about dating me. I had to throw it in while we were on a dangerous mission."
"Boy, we're a couple of pieces of work. I've wanted to ask you on a date for just as long…. If not longer, but I just didn't know how you would take it."
She had been pretty decent at hiding it. He would've tried asking her on a date a lot sooner if he'd known that she was that interested in a romantic relationship with him. "Why?"
"Well, you're…. old fashioned. I figured a woman asking a man out might be a little too advanced for you. And also…. I was just as nervous about it as you were. I, uh…. I don't exactly have the best track record with guys. Angel, Riley, Spike…. That guy Ben that I dated for two months before realizing he was a Chrinara demon trying to suck my soul from me. Besides, you were in love with Peggy and getting over losing her and I didn't want to push or…."
Steve let her babble on, admiring the look of awkwardness on her face and thinking about how beautiful she was even when she was babbling. He finally gave her hands a squeeze to stop her. "Buffy, this isn't about anyone else. It's about us. You and me. We're great partners in the field. We're even better friends off it." He took a deep breath and jumped into the speech he'd been working on in his head on the ride over. "I wasn't exactly great with the ladies before I ended up becoming Captain America. The only dates I went on were charity dates that Bucky set me up on. I was even more awkward about it all afterwards because I wasn't used to women wanting me or being so…. Forward. I was so awkward that I thought fondue was a form of sex. Don't laugh." Buffy bit her lip to stop herself from letting the laugh out he'd seen on her face. "Peggy was the only woman I had the courage to ask on a date and that didn't exactly turn out well since I crashed a plane and ended up frozen for almost 70 years before we even got to have that date. So, we've both got bad histories with the opposite sex. And the only way to get past those is to move forward one day at a time…. Together."
"Practice that speech a lot, did you?"
Steve chuckled. "Almost every day for the last month." He joked.
Buffy smiled and nodded. "One day at a time together is a good plan."
Steve pulled her to him and wrapped his arms tightly around her. The feel of her pressed against him made his heart leap again and he buried his face in her hair. They stayed that way for a long moment before he heard her stomach rumble. "Are you hungry?"
"Starving." She laughed. "I haven't eaten since we got back."
"Me either." He reluctantly released her and took her hand. "How does Italian sound?"