Buffy woke up to a nurse standing outside the doorway speaking loudly to someone she couldn't see. She looked up and realized that Steve was holding her tightly. He was still asleep, but he was starting to wake up at the loud voices. They'd been in the hospital for two days now. She'd moved into Steve's room against the doctor's orders. They felt safer together and didn't worry about something happening to the other. The door opened and Sam stepped in, dodging past the angry nurse. While the door was open, she could hear a raised familiar British voice competing with the angry nurse's voice.
"Sorry to wake you." Sam said. "There's an older British guy out here that really wants to see you. He's about to get arrested."
Buffy smiled. "He can come in. That's Giles."
Steve stirred beside her and looked around. "What's going on?"
"Giles is about to get arrested outside our hospital room."
"Are you sure it's ok?" Sam asked.
Steve chuckled and sat up slightly. "It's fine, Sam."
Sam opened the door and told the nurse and the hospital security officer to let the man in. A moment later, Giles walked into the room. "Dear lord…." He said when he saw Buffy and Steve's appearances.
"Hello to you too, Giles." Buffy said, trying to sit up. Steve lifted his arm and helped her to sit as Sam came over and hit the button to lift the bed into a better sitting position. "Thanks."
"What happened to you two? I saw on the news about S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Helicarriers crashing in the Potomac and taking out their building…. And your friend Natasha said that you were there."
"You spoke with Nat?"
"She called to let me know that you were ok, but you were in hospital. I jumped on a plane and came straight here. But that bloody woman out there wouldn't let me in." Giles walked over to the bed and gently touched Buffy's hair before hugging her. "You look awful."
"No, that's ok…. Don't hold back."
Giles smiled at her and shook Steve's hand. "Well, looking awful is a lot better than what I was imagining. I'm so happy you're all right."
"If you call being in a plane crash and shot three times 'all right'." Sam said.
"Good lord…. Three times?"
"Each." Steve said.
"You two may be in the wrong line of work."
Buffy chuckled. "I don't think we are."
"Well, I hope this warrants a vacation for you both."
"I think this is the vacation."
"Is S.H.I.E.L.D. reforming?"
"Don't know." Steve said. "We won't be a part of it if it does."
"What will you do?"
"We've got a couple of things we're talking about." Buffy said.
Giles finally seemed to realize that they were in the same bed. "Are they short on beds here?"
Buffy and Steve glanced at each other and smiled. "No."
"Are you two…."
"Yes." They said again.
Giles smiled. "It's about bloody time." That caused Sam to start laughing. "When did this happen?"
"A few days ago." Steve said, reaching over to lightly punch Sam's shoulder.
"Xander will be pleased to know that he wins the pot."
"The pot?" Sam asked, still chuckling.
"There's been a running bet since these two came to visit Slayer HQ on when they would finally admit their feelings to one another. Everyone put the money they bet into a pot and whoever comes closest without going over wins the money. Xander said it would take you a year and four months." Giles held his hand out. "Rupert Giles."
"Sam Wilson." Sam said, shaking Giles' hand.
"I'm a…. friend of Buffy's."
"More like father figure." Buffy said. "What did Tony say?"
"He put in $5,000 that it would take you two five years because you're both, and I quote, 'blind, stubborn, lovesick fools'."
"He's such a drama queen."
"Glad we could prove him wrong." Steve said.
"And speaking of drama queens…."
"Sorry. He just rubs me the wrong way sometimes."
"He rubs everybody the wrong way sometimes. That's just Tony." Buffy looked over at Giles. "I'm glad you're here. Can you find out when we'll be allowed to go home? They kind of ignore us when they come in here."
"Buffy…." Giles started.
"You can pretend to be my dad. Throw some of my loathing and terror of hospitals at them and promise to take care of us when we leave."
"You were both shot three times, Buffy. You need to stay where there are doctors."
"My first gunshot was healing just fine without doctors."
"Buffy, we're fast healers." Steve said. "We can stay here for another day or so just to make sure everything looks good."
"She's not partial to hospitals." Giles explained. "She never has been."
"I avoid them whenever possible. I'm feeling much better now." Buffy said. "So, Giles, you go talk them into getting us out of here because you're really good at that and Steve and I will start getting dressed."
Before anyone could say anything, Sam held his hands up to stop her from getting out of the bed. "Where are you gonna go?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I went to get you guys some clothes, but your apartments are sealed. There're signs all over the doors to both of them saying to keep out and private property. And there're some new padlocks on there, too."
Steve sighed. "That's because S.H.I.E.L.D. owned them. They've probably been seized by the government…."
"Or HYDRA." Buffy added. She sat back and sulked slightly. "They didn't own everything in there."
"Here's an idea." Giles said. "You two stay in the hospital for at least another day or so…. Let you both get completely healed…. And I'll go speak with some realtors and find you two a place to live."
"It's like free accommodations with meals until then." Sam said.
"Crappy meals." Buffy said. She chuckled at her unintended pun on Happy Meals.
"They may be crappy, but it's all we've got right now." Steve said. "I think that sounds reasonable."
"Well, of course it sounds reasonable. Doesn't mean I have to like it."
Steve laughed and kissed the top of her head. He looked over at Giles. "I guess that means we're staying."
Giles stood up. "I suppose I've got some calls to make, then. Buffy, you and Steve rest. Heal. I'll come check on you later this evening."
Sam stood up as well, following Giles to the door. "Where are you going?" Steve asked him.
"I'm hungry. I'm going to go get some take out." Sam said.
"And leave us with hospital food?" Buffy pouted. Sam gave her a big grin before walking out. She looked up at Steve. "I take it back. I may not like your friend anymore. At least Bucky shot us and then saved us. Sam just walks off and leaves us here to starve on hospital food."
Steve chuckled. "I don't think we'll be here too much longer."
Two days later, Buffy and Steve stood in the empty living room of their newly acquired townhouse in Alexandria. Giles had managed to not only find a place and buy it for them, but he'd done it in record time. Willow had apparently thrown in some witchy assistance for him to get it settled so quickly and cheaply.
"This place is huge…." Buffy said, raising her eyebrow at the echo.
"How many bedrooms did he say it had?" Steve asked, walking around the large room and stopping in front of the fireplace.
Buffy ventured over to the stairs in the foyer and glanced up them. "He said there were only two, but this office over here by the stairs is big enough to be one." When she turned back, Steve had made his way through the French doors at the back of the living room and into the kitchen.
"How are we going to furnish all of this?"
"Ikea?" Buffy suggested, catching up to him. The kitchen led into a dining room where a large oak dining table that sat six people was sitting. "I guess they couldn't get that out. Well, one less thing to get new, at least."
"Why are there two living rooms?" Sure enough, around the corner was another living space.
Buffy headed over to the sliding glass doors at the back of the kitchen. "We have a deck…."
"And a fairly big, fenced in yard." Steve nodded his appreciation of that and then paused. "Is he trying to tell us to start a family?"
Buffy laughed. "I seriously hope not. We've got a while before we should even start thinking in that vein." She looked around. "Speaking of family, though, at least this place is big enough for three. Bucky will need somewhere to stay when we find him."
Steve looked down at her. "You think we will?"
"I know we will. We have to. Because if his memories are coming back…. If Bucky is coming back to himself…. He's not going to like who he's been for the last 70 plus years. And I know you. You won't rest until we do find him."
He nodded and jammed his hands into his pockets. A knock on the front door made them exchange confused looks. Buffy turned and headed for the door. Tony Stark stood on the steps with an extra large bouquet of white lilies and pink roses and a small stuffed bear holding chocolates. He grinned broadly at her. "Hey, Summers."
"Tony?" Buffy shook her head. "How did you…"
"Well, I brought these to the hospital for you, but they told me you'd left already. So I had JARVIS track you down."
Buffy took the flowers and the bear and stood back for Tony to step inside. "Thank you. They're lovely."
"Figured you'd like them." Tony smiled at Steve. "Captain."
"Mr. Stark." Steve said, shaking his hand.
"Well, you two look like hell."
"You should've seen us a week ago." Buffy said, grateful that Tony had gotten a vase for the flowers. She set them up on the mantel of the fireplace and fluffed them a bit.
"Sorry it took me so long to come by and check on you. I only just found out that you were in the hospital. So what happened?"
"His best friend shot us each three times and beat Steve to a bloody pulp all while we were in a crashing Helicarrier."
"And taking out S.H.I.E.L.D. with it. Bet Fury loved that."
"He helped us do it." Steve said.
"Hmm…. Shocking. Why is there no furniture here?"
"We literally just got the place. We haven't gotten to move in yet." Buffy said. She paused and shook her head. "Not that we'll have anything to move in. All of our furniture in our old apartments has been seized by the government."
"You know you'll have a place to stay when my new Tower is finished in New York, right?"
"Didn't know that, no."
"There's a place for all the Avengers. Though…." Tony looked between Buffy and Steve. "I may need to knock down some walls between yours and the Cap's places. I hear that I lost the bet. Your buddy Xander called to gloat."
"Yeah, I can't believe you guys put a bet on that."
"You can't? Really?"
"Ok, you I definitely can. Everyone else…. You're a bad influence on."
"Missed you, too, Summers." Buffy rolled her eyes at Tony. "So, do I get a grand tour?"
"There's not much to see." Steve said.
"And we're still just taking it ourselves." Buffy added."You bought the place without looking at it first?" Tony asked incredulously.
"Actually, we didn't buy it. Giles did. We just got out of the hospital this morning."
Tony nodded and walked past them towards the kitchen. "What can I help with?"
"Nothing." Steve said as Buffy said, "You don't have to."
"You've got a lot to furnish."
"We're going to break into our apartments and get as much of our stuff as possible." Steve said.
"And we've got some savings that we can use to buy furniture." Buffy said. "It won't be much, but it'll be a start and it'll be ours."
"If you change your minds, the offer still stands."
"Thank you, Tony. It's really appreciated."
He turned to them and grinned. "At least let me buy you a housewarming gift. This is your first place together! It's a huge step that needs to be celebrated."
"And what would you get us?"
"Well…." He looked around the kitchen and smiled. "How about a cookware set? That's an appropriate housewarming gift."
"Ok. You can get us a cookware set."
"Great! Awesome! Good decision because I was going to get it for you anyway."
"That's why I said yes."
"I knew you were smart." Tony clapped his hands. "You know, I'm going to go shopping for that set right now." He headed for the front door.
"You're leaving?" Steve asked.
"Of course I'm leaving. You don't have any furniture to sit on." Tony turned around and hugged Buffy gently. "I'm really glad you two are ok. Life would be boring without you around to amuse me." He shook Steve's hand. "And I'm happy you two finally woke up and smelled the roses. You're good together."
"Bye, Tony." Buffy said, shaking her head.
Steve waited for Buffy to open the front door while he balanced some boxes in his arms. It had been two days since they'd left the hospital with no word from Tony. Buffy had asked Steve to go out for boxes that they could use when they snuck into their apartments to steal back their stuff. Finally she opened the door and her expression told him something was off. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's…. wrong. We just got some house warming gifts." Buffy said, taking a couple of the boxes.
"I thought we were only getting the one from Tony." Steve set the boxes down in the office to get them out of the way and turned to see the front living room filled with wrapped gifts. "Oh wow. Who are they all from?"
"Well, the rest of our Avengers team, apparently. Though how Thor knew to send us a housewarming gift, let alone what a housewarming gift is, is completely beyond me. My friends sent some. Agent Hill sent us some stuff. Dawn sent us something too. Oh, and we won't be needing groceries for a while." She took his hand and led him into the kitchen. "Because Tony had pretty much a whole grocery store delivered to us." There were grocery bags filled with every assortment of food one could think of. Buffy opened the refrigerator to show that it and the freezer were also packed full.
"I thought he was only getting us a cookware set."
"I should've known he would do this. And we can't complain. I'm not sure if he bought everything and put everyone's names on them or if he called them up and told them."
"You haven't talked to him?"
"All right, finished putting that together." Sam said, walking in. He'd been upstairs putting together Buffy and Steve's bedroom set they'd gotten. "It's up to you to decorate and put the sheets on."
"So, now that Cap's home, can we open presents? I've been dying to rip into them and see what you got."
"That's up to Steve. I'm still trying to figure out where to put all of this food." She held up a bottle of olives. "I mean, when will I ever need cocktail olives?"
"Throw a party. I'm sure someone will use them. I mean, you guys worked with bunch of James Bonds. Spies like martinis, right?"
Buffy rolled her eyes at Sam. "You're hilarious."
"I know. Come on! Let's go open presents. It's like Christmas came early."
Buffy sat curled up in Steve's arms on the couch two days later. They were in the back living room with the TV on. The presents had all been things one would actually need to make a house a home. Plenty of kitchen electronics and some furniture; a high thread count, Egyptian cotton sheet set; towels and other bathroom essentials; a complete office set with a desk, chair, bookshelf, and a really nice computer; the large, flat screen TV they were currently watching….
"I think Stark did all this." Steve said.
"I think he did, too." Buffy said.
"And you're right. We can't complain. We needed all of this stuff."
"I'll send him a thank you note from us." She shifted slightly, rolling her injured shoulder slightly.
"How are you feeling?"
"Honestly, my stomach and shoulder are still a little sore. I don't think I'm healed completely yet and I don't think lifting all of this furniture was a smart idea. You?"
"My leg and shoulder are a bit sore, too. I vote we take the day to just lay around and heal some more."
"That sounds great. We can watch Nat on CSPAN when she goes in front of that committee later today." Buffy's stomach rumbled and she laughed.
"Sounds like you're hungry." Steve laughed. "Or a monster is about to pop out of your stomach. Which, I saw that movie and I really hope that's not what it is."
She laughed. "Hungry. I haven't eaten all morning."
"Stay here. I'll make you breakfast." Steve looked at the clock. "Or rather, lunch."
Buffy smiled. "Steve Rogers pancakes?"
He dislodged his arms from around her and stood up. Bracing himself on the couch, Steve leaned down to kiss her before heading into the kitchen. "You know, it's almost refreshing not to worry about getting called away on a job."
"Isn't it? I almost don't know how to relax." She called back. Deciding she didn't want to yell back and forth, she got up and walked into the kitchen. Steve was gathering things to make breakfast and she slid up onto the counter to watch him. He wasn't in a shirt and she enjoyed watching his muscles ripple under his skin.
"Do you want blueberries?" He asked.
"I would love blueberries."
It dawned on her that this was their first time completely alone together since their time in the hideaway. They'd been so exhausted the last few nights from getting out of the hospital, moving in to their new place, and shopping for furniture that they'd just gone straight to sleep every night. Sam and Riley had both come over to help them every day and Riley hadn't left till late last night. He said it was nice to get away from the kids for a while. It also dawned on her that Steve was the first man she'd ever shared a place with. They had taken a huge step in their relationship and it hadn't even really been acknowledged.
"You look like your brain is about pop." Steve said, stopping what he was doing to walk over to her. "Are you ok?"
"Just thinking." Buffy said distractedly.
She looked up at him. "Steve, we moved in together."
He smiled patiently. "I noticed."
"I've never done that before."
"I haven't either."
"Doesn't it scare you? Even a little bit?"
Steve reached up and took her face gently between his hands. "Of course it scares me. I've never made it this far with a woman. I'm just as new at this whole thing as you are." He kissed her forehead and moved his hands down to her thighs. "But remember what we said? One day at a time, Buffy. We're not going to panic about this."
"I'm not panicking."
"Really? It sounds like you're starting to."
"No, I just…. We kind of didn't even talk about it. We just…. Did it. Isn't that supposed to be a big discussion or something?"
"Ok, look at it this way: it's not really that much different from living across the hall from each other. At least that's how I see it. We spent so much time together in one or the other of our apartments and we've stayed the night at each other's places. Now we're just cutting out the hallway."
"I know. I know I shouldn't be all 'eeeee' about it, but this is a huge step."
"It is a huge step. But I think we were both ready to take it." He took her hands in his. "You're my best friend, Buff. The one I want to spend the rest of my life with anyway I can."
"That sounds like the makings of a proposal."
Steve shook his head with a smile. "Not yet. Eventually, but not right now. Right now we need to figure out who we are as a newly moved in together couple. One day at a time."
She held his gaze for a long moment before leaning in and kissing him gently. "One day at a time."
He kissed her again before heading back over to the stove. "Good, you didn't make me burn the bacon." Steve turned and winked at her with a laugh.
Buffy watched him work for a little while, curling her legs underneath her on the counter. As he was mixing the pancake batter, she said, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry. Communication is one thing we've always had going for us. I'm happy that you feel comfortable enough to let me know you're scared."
"I don't want to mess this up. I'm really good at messing up good things. I don't want to run you off with my neuroses."
"It's been two years. You haven't run me off yet."
"Are you saying I've had neurotic moments since we met?"
"A few." Steve chuckled. "I'd say the last year was a huge neurotic moment for both of us."
"Why? Because we over thought the other's actions and feelings and couldn't get it together enough to just say out loud that we were in love with each other?"
"Exactly. Don't hold back on me. You once promised me you wouldn't."
"That was in sparring practice."
"It reflects on non-sparring, everyday life practices, too. We can't wait months and months again before we tell each other what we're feeling. It'll tear us apart."
"Ok. As long as you promise not to hold back with me. If I do anything that weirds you out or makes you want to run for the hills…."
"I'll tell you." He walked over and kissed her. "It's a deal." Buffy grabbed his hand before he could leave and pulled him back for a deeper kiss. "I'm officially burning the bacon." He said against her lips.
"Turn it off and take me upstairs." She pulled back to grin at him. "That's an order, Captain."
"Yes, ma'am." Buffy squealed slightly as he hauled her off the counter and over his shoulder, careful not to put any pressure on her still healing stomach. He turned the stove off and put the batter in the refrigerator before turning and heading for the stairs.
Steve rolled off Buffy and laughed. "What?" She asked, turning on her side and propping her head up with her elbow.
He took her hand running up his chest and kissed her fingertips. "I just can't believe how amazing this can be with someone you love."
"It is pretty great." Buffy leaned over and kissed his shoulder as he weaved his fingers in her hair. "It's even better when you've got someone with stamina to match yours." She glanced up at the clock and realized what time it was. "Crap, we've got to get dressed."
Steve looked over at the clock and sighed. "Yes, we do."
It had been three weeks since they'd moved in together. It had been a slow process, but they'd finally found a good rhythm together with only minimal arguing about things. They'd also talked about how to find Bucky since S.H.I.E.L.D. was out of commission. They decided that their best bet would be to head to London and consult with Willow. They were also going to use the army of Slayers around the world to keep an eye out for him. Buffy had also asked Natasha if she had any contacts that could help. She'd said that she might have something. Tony had offered to help as well and it was the first time he and Steve hadn't argued with him.
The night before, they'd both received texts from Nick Fury asking them to meet him at his grave the next afternoon. They'd woken up that morning and, like a good portion of their mornings, hadn't managed to leave the bed. Despite being friends and confidantes for over two years, they were still enjoying the honeymoon phase of their relationship. The text from Fury had signaled the return to life outside of their little bubble.
"You know, we could always just stay in bed." Buffy slid on top of Steve and slid up to kiss his neck. "Pretend we didn't get the texts."
He ran his fingers up and down her spine. "That sounds a lot better than getting back out there, but we texted him back."
"Why would we do that?"
"A sense of duty?"
"A moment of insanity." Buffy sighed and rolled off Steve and out of bed, stealing the sheet and wrapping it around her.
Steve grabbed the edge of the sheet and pulled, dragging her back to the bed. He caught her as she fell backwards and sat up, kissing her. "We have our whole lives to lay in bed. Today we need to go see Fury."
"I hate it when you do the whole reason and sense thing."
He shrugged. "Someone has to do it. Might as well be me since I'm the older of the two of us."
"All right." Buffy kissed Steve again. "Let's go see what our old boss wants."