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it's not the years, honey, it's the mileage

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“Come on,” Darcy mutters under her breath as she fights with the B&B’s less than stellar wifi. Her eyes track to the clock in the corner of her screen. It’s not late and she’s not worried. Not yet anyway. Minutes pass but it feels like hours as her fingers fly across the keys, head bobbing along to the song playing from the earbud in her right ear. The left earbud is safely tucked into the neck of her t-shirt. Darcy’s bare toes, nails painted ‘I Have No Reception’ silver, curl over the bar of the wooden stool she’s perched on. Brown leather flats lay on the floor somewhere beneath her feet.

 

The room is nearly silent, but for the hum of the laptop’s fan and the steady drip, drip, drip of the sink in the kitchenette. The threads from the frayed edge of her denim shorts tickle against her skin and she twists them around her fingers waiting for the last file to download.

 

The sound of car on the gravel drive outside the house sends adrenaline jolting down her spine. Darcy folds the laptop down, shoves it into her backpack as she shoves her feet into her shoes, gun in hand, safety off, before the door cracks open. Her mind goes blank as everything narrows down to the shadow between door and jamb.

 

“It’s me,” Steve says.

 

“Oh God,” Darcy breathes out, pointing the weapon at the floor and flicking the safety back on, sets the gun down beside her backpack and is halfway across the room as he pushes through the door. Dirt is smeared across the bridge of his nose, dried blood on his temple, and he’s favoring his left leg. He’s back and alive and that’s all that matters.

 

“I told you not to listen to that damn thing while I’m out,” he says, eyes on the wire dangling from her ear. He pushes the door closed and twists the lock. Slam it, she thinks.

 

“One, I only had one earbud in. Two, you’re an ass, three, not the boss of me, and four, did you get everything on the list?” Darcy yanks the earbud out of her ear and pulls the ipod from her pocket. Quick angry movements that hide the relief she feels.

 

“That all you have to say?” Steve says dropping a plastic bag on the formica countertop and leaning against it.  

 

“Well I figured opening with ‘you look like shit, asshole’ would get me in trouble,” she says, stepping in between his boots and sliding her arms around his waist. Rocking up on her toes she kisses the underside of his jaw. Her throat is tight with emotion, heart beating fast in the cage of her ribs.

 

“Is there a time when you aren’t in trouble?” he rumbles, wrapping his arms around her and fisting her shirt in his hands. The cotton gives, threads snapping at the seams. The armor of his vest presses into the thin cotton of her t-shirt.

 

“How bad?”

 

“Not as bad as it could have been.”

 

“Wow, how’s that being a big fat liar working out for you, Steven?”

 

“You’re still here aren’t you?”  he rumbles and kisses the top of her head.

 

“Jerk,” she murmurs.  Taking a half step back she looks up at him, the dirt on his face and beard. “We safe here tonight?”

 

“Yeah. Tomorrow...” he says, voice trailing off. She doesn’t need any more than that.

 

His hands unclench from her shirt and he curls them around her hips pulling her into him, closing the space she made between them. The pads of his thumbs slip under the hem of her t-shirt and drag across her belly. His eyes stare searchingly into hers.

 

Darcy drops her gaze, there are some things he doesn’t need to see in her eyes. “Good. Let’s get you cleaned up and into bed.”

 

….

 

"Ow, fuck," Steve hisses. He curls his arm over his belly  pressing his palm flat against his ribcage.

 

“That’s close enough,” Darcy says, reaching up to unzip the black combat vest. The tips of her fingers skate over a bullet hole in the fabric. Darcy’s breath stutters.

 

“It’s fine. The vest did it’s job,” he murmurs, wrapping a calloused hand over hers. Tears prick at her eyes but she blinks them away. She knows better than to cry over wounds that heal without a trace. It's the memories that scar.

 

They’ve been together for months now. Months of living out of pocket. Nights bristling with weapons, bruises and falsified documents. Too much coffee and too little sleep.

 

Captain America is dead.

 

Steve Rogers lives on.

 

Darcy focuses on helping strip him out of combat vest, dark grey henley, and undershirt. The cotton feels heavy in her hands, and she worries at a hole with the tip of her index finger. Better get the sewing kit out, she thinks, making no move to dig it out of the duffle bag leaning against the wall. Steve’s fingers fumble with the leather straps of his thigh holster before he drops it onto the bedside table with a dull thud. He digs keys and coins, a wallet and two usb sticks from his pockets before easing down onto the side of the bed with a tired sigh. The bed groans in protest when Steve drops back onto the pink floral monstrosity of a bedspread. He curls his arm up pulling one of the pillows underneath his head. His boots stick out over the end of the bed. Darcy makes quick work undoing the laces, refusing to contemplate the sticky substance splashed across the tops. Sometimes she thinks it’s the worst decision she’s ever made, running off with a man she barely knew. Life turned into a parody of a romance novel. Blood and lies. Days, and months, and miles. If she could turn back the clock she’d make the same choice again and again.

 

She took his hand before he offered it.

 

They haven’t stopped running.

 

"Sorry."

 

Darcy rolls her eyes at the apology and sits down on the edge of the bed. Her thigh presses against Steve’s hip and he hisses a little at the shifting of the bed. "Don't apologise and don't be such a baby."

 

"My ribs are bust," he mutters, pinching the bridge of his nose. "And my head hurts." He points to the healing gash on his temple where it disappears into the hairline.

 

She doesn’t ask what happened. Not today.

 

She knows the names of the ghosts that haunt him.

 

The name of the one he chases.

 

Mile after mile.

 

"Idiot," Darcy says, leaning forward and brushing her lips over his temple beside the cut and over the line of worry between his brows. Steve blinks up at her slowly eyes tracing over her face. "Anywhere else?"

 

"Here," Steve says pointing to his beard covered jaw. Darcy leans down kissing his jaw. The tip of her nose rubbing on his cheek. “And here.” Steve’s fingertips press against his full bottom lip. Darcy kisses him softly. His lips are warm and dry. The last little knot of anxiety eases in her chest as he breaths her name against her mouth. She sucks his lip into her mouth, sinks her teeth in. Steve shifts beneath her, slides his hand up the curve of her spine, spears his fingers into her hair working her loose bun free. Her hair spills down over her shoulders and Steve hums happily against her mouth.

 

“Any other aches need kissing?” Darcy asks cradling his jaw in her hand. The bristles of his beard tickle her palm.

 

Steve grins, a bright flash of teeth, “M’neck hurts.” The rough pad of his thumb rubs the patch of skin behind her ear. Darcy shivers and leans into the touch.

 

The first time he kissed her, he kissed her goodbye.

 

His hair is a dark halo on the pillow, lighter at the roots. Need to touch up the dye soon, she thinks. Pressing her thumb under his chin, she tilts his head up exposing the long line of his neck. She mouths at his neck, tracing the tip of her tongue over the birthmarks there.

 

Steve's fingers tighten in her hair. She breathes in the scent of him; sweat, musk, gun oil, and leather. It’s home and comfort and heat crawling up her spine.

 

Salt lingers on her tongue.

 

“Anywhere else?”

 

“Ribs are achin’,” he breathes out.

 

The fingers of his left hand card through her hair to the ends. Catching her lip between her teeth Darcy swings her leg over to straddle him. Her knees press into the pink flowered bedspread and she holds herself above him with one hand on the bed beside his shoulder.

 

She trails her free hand down the curve of his neck, the hard planes of his chest covered in dark hair. The ridges of abdomen. Skin twitches and muscles flex beneath her fingertips. She traces the edges of bruises painted into his flesh. Blue and red and yellow. Gliding her hand back up to cover his heart she kisses his chest, rubs her lips over hot skin and crisp hair.  

 

Darcy kisses down Steve’s belly, scooting backwards as she goes until she curls her fingers in the waistband of his combat trousers. Her nails scrape on hot skin and she can feel Steve’s eyes focused intensely on her. He makes no move to stop her, to flip her over and pin her down against the mattress. It’s there though in the way his fingers grip the pillow tight and the rolling of his hips. Heat licks down her spine, pools in her belly. A low moan escapes her lips. Steve’s name wrapped around her tongue.

 

"Aw, hell," Steve says dropping his head back against the pillows. His eyes are shut tight, eyelashes a dark smudge over his cheeks to match the black dirt across the bridge of his nose.

 

He is beautiful and hers as much as she is his.

 

Darcy stretches out her thumb to rub over the hard length of him through the thick fabric of his pants. The sharp inhalation of his breath snaps her eyes back to his. "Shall I keep going? Keep kissing the pain away?”

 

"Darcy--"

 

"Yes or no."

 

"Fuck," Steve swears, closing his eyes tight. She slides her hands from his pants, presses her palms flat against the crisp hair trailing down his belly. "Yeah, yes...please."

 

“Always so polite.”

 

“Not always.”