[personal profile] hat_writes_stuff
Title: With Anyone Else But Me
Author: Almighty Hat
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe (Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier)
Characters: Steve Rogers, Peggy Carter, Natasha Romanoff, mentions of random Nice Girls
Word Count: 585
Rating: G
Pairing(s): Steve Rogers/Peggy Carter
Warnings: CA2: THE WINTER SOLDIER SPOILERS. Also, this is sad, and there is aging, and illness, and Steve Feels.

Author's Notes: The title is a reference to Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, but the song is much perkier than the fic.

Summary: Natasha keeps trying to set Steve up with a nice girl, and Steve keeps brushing her off. There's a reason.



It’s the twenty-first century, and Steve Rogers doesn’t date.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to-- he likes girls. He likes girls a lot. He’d like to be intimate with one special girl. Intimate, and all that brings with it, not just fooling around. He’d like to kiss and be close and give her his arm on dates and wrap his arm around her at the movies and fall asleep next to her and wake up next to her. He’d like that. He’d like that a lot.

Natasha keeps telling him about nice girls who’d go out with him if he asked. (Once she told him about a nice guy who’d go out with him if he asked, and Steve had choked on his ridiculously overpriced coffee. “Just checking,” she’d said.) And maybe she’s right, maybe there are lots of girls (women) who’d go on a date with him, lots of girls who’d be willing to be Steve’s girlfriend. Probably even lots of girls who could wade through the muck of Steve’s life and past and the assorted disasters that piled up around him in order to be with him-- girls who’d find being with him worth dealing with… him.

“Steve?” Peggy gasps from the bed, tears bright in her dark, dark eyes, skin soft and dry and fragile under his hands. “You’re alive! You came back…”

Her hair is a silver halo. Her nightgown is the white smocked one he likes, with the embroidery and the long, full sleeves. It looks warm and comfortable and beautifully made.

“Course I came back,” he says, smiling, feeling the heat of tears in his own eyes. This is the first time today she’s forgotten what year it is, but not the first time this week. The first time it happened, he was terrified. The third time it happened, he told the doctors he’d stay away if they thought he was too big a shock for her, since he kept shocking her all the time. (When she was lucid, she was sharp.) The doctors said at her age, anything could be that last shock, and being reunited with him was at least a joyful shock. “I couldn’t leave my best girl behind. We’ve got a date to go dancing, remember?”

Every visit is a gift, every time the phone rings and it isn’t, “She’s gone,” or, “It’s time, hurry,” is another loss delayed. He gets to hold her hands, hold her if she’s having a day when she can sit up for a while, kiss her a little (very gently, very carefully). He’s got one goodbye, anyway, that he gets to say slowly. One person who trickles away from him rather than being torn away. However little time Peggy has left, it’s something, something more than nothing, and Steve treasures having it (regrets the weeks he’d put off coming to see her, after getting thawed out, after the Chitauri. There was time, and he’d been an idiot to waste any of it).

Natasha tells him about a girl in accounting who likes him. She asks about his neighbor, who she calls nice. There’s a woman in R&D who’s a lot of fun, who Nat thinks Steve would like.

Steve makes his excuses over and over again.

When Peggy is lucid, she never asks about his love-life.

When Peggy isn’t lucid, she’s Steve’s best girl.

Steve is not the kind of man who’d go stepping out on his best girl.

He’ll be true, all the way to the end.
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