Last Few Years:
It’s the second chance Steve never thought he’d have since he’d woke up, when he found out where he was, found out when he was.
It’s the memories on Tony’s face when he gives him an address carefully written on a piece of paper. He knows that look, he’d seen it on his own face often enough. It’s the glint of memories so precious that sometimes he’s not even sure they’re real, so he tucks them down deep and only pulls them out when he needs a reminder of who he’s putting one foot in front of the other for. Tony tells him, “I send her a birthday card every year.”
Later he gets stories of how Peggy would steal him away from his many instructors and occasional nannies, how she took him to his first playground. She’d taught Tony how to use crayons, swing, climb and swim. She’d given Tony the first hug he can remember.
It’s the way he doesn’t have to even ask Pepper, the way she smiles and just helps him arrange everything.
It’s the way Peggy’s face lights up when she sees him, every time she sees him, but he holds that memory of the first time close to his heart. It’d been easy to ignore the cameras, the press of people that wanted a record of the moment when they were reunited, because there is only her. She’s older, face lined with wrinkles, but her eyes and her smile are still the same. She still makes every part of him just that bit more aware of himself.
It’s the way he feels when her arms wrap around him: safe and at peace in a way he never thought possible.
It’s the way she can tell him what happened to his men, his friends. She can really tell him, not leave him reduced to facts on a sheet. She’s empathizes with his grief, but knows what stories to will pull him out of it. He learns who died young and who grew old. She right there with him as he meets children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Peggy’s own niece, Sharon, is the image of her great-aunt. There are small subtle differences, ones Steve notices over time. This strikes home when he sees an image of Sharon and him together in a tabloid and immediately knows its Sharon and not Peggy, no matter how similar they look. He doesn’t understand the sudden fever surrounding him and Sharon. Isn’t it obvious that Peggy’s his girl, has always been his girl? Sharon is a lovely woman and the way she worries after Peggy is sweet, but at the end of the day she’s not Peggy. Steve can’t understand why the press of media that tries to surround them can’t understand that Peggy is the only woman for him.
Tony just advises him to be coy. Thor says that it’s a dangerous world when the truth is ignored. Clint shakes his head, tells him he has drama and to try and steer clear of it. Natasha seems ready to defend him and Bruce takes the time to explain what Clint actually meant. Peggy explains the foolishness of the world their now living in. Pepper halts all questions when it’s realized that he and Peggy are together and their questions take a rude approach. Why would anyone think he has a sex life when he’s not even married? What gives them the notion that they have the right to ask?
It’s the way Peggy patiently explains everything, even when he thinks he’s said something obvious, but another person had taken him to be rude. His first year of being an Avenger are full of such stumbling blocks.
It’s the way Tony doesn’t even question if Peggy needs a room too, when he invites all of them to live with him. Stark tower is as extravagant as Steve suspected, but it good to have everyone under one roof and it’s wonderful that he no longer has to drive an hour to see Peggy. She says it’s the perfect excuse to finally teach him how to dance, because they aren’t going to until he learns how to not step on toes. Tony and Natasha are talked into helping him. Clint comes too, because he’s curious and it somehow turns out that he’s a wonderful dancer.
“Nat made me learn.”
Thor and Bruce watch: Thor with rapt attention and Bruce with a half smile. Dance lessons and practice become team bonding until Peggy is satisfied and then steps close to him, rearranges his hands and then leads him around the room. It’s perfect.
It’s the way they decide one morning over breakfast to get married. It’s not a surprise that they manage to get the entire to team to help them. It is a surprise that they manage to sneak the entire team with them so they can see the Justice of the Peace and no one causes a ruckus. They even manage to have a pleasant celebratory meal afterward. The media explodes hours later, but Pepper and Maria handle everything because he and Peggy are spending the weekend in his apartment in Brooklyn as a honeymoon. The world might need saving and Peggy’s doesn’t feel like going far.
It’s that she had a full life without him, but is still able to neatly fit him into her life. She accepts his responsibilities and the life he’s woken up to.
It’s her patience with him as he learns to live in a world that’s changed so much. When he’s trying to catch up on cinema, her help is immeasurable. Tony actually suggests Citizen Kane and then just smirks when Steve points out that he’d seen it when it first came out.
It’s the smile she gives him as she cuddles close.
It’s the safety he feels wrapped around her at night.
It’s two years, eight months, thirteen days, six hours, fourteen minutes and thirty-five seconds he wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s their life together. It’s better than any imaginary dream of what his future could be like when he’d found the right woman, because she’s Peggy.
It’s that he knows he’s the luckiest man because she was happy to spend her last years with him.