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“Batter up, hear that call. The time has come for one and all... to play ball. We're the members of the All American League. We come from cities near and far. We've got Canadians, Irish ones, & Swedes. We're all for one, we're one for all, we're all American. Each girl stands, her head so proudly high. Her motto "Do or Die". She's not the one to use or need an alibi. Our chaperones are not too soft; they're not too tough. Our managers are on the ball. We've got a President who really knows his stuff. We're all for one, we're one for all, we're all American.” Rockford Peaches (A League of Their Own)

........

“Alright girls. Today on the field you’re gonna meet a real hero,” Jimmy says clapping his hands together.

“Is he married?” Mae asks as she snaps her compact shut. Darcy bites her tongue and pushes her glasses up her nose.

“Nose outta the book, Lewis,” Jimmy shouts and Darcy jumps.

“But it’s just getting to the good bit,” Darcy huffs, closing her book and slipping her glasses off her face.

“God help me,” Jimmy swears pinching the bridge of his nose. “Today Captain America will be here at practice and ta throw the first pitch of the game tomorrow.”

“Who the hell is Captain America?” Doris says, looking at the other girls.

“Don’t ya read the papers, Doris?” Dottie asks as she straightens out her ballcap.

“When do I have time ta read, Dottie?” Doris sorts.

.........

“Just throw the damn ball already,” Darcy shouts, gripping the bat tighter. They’re supposed to be on their best behaviour but the etiquette teacher isn’t there to reprimand foul language and worse manners. It’s hot and everyone just wants to head back to the boarding house. Captain America’s there in his tights and red boots, cowl pushed back to reveal blond hair shining in the sun.

“You’re askin’ for it, Lulu,” Doris says, rotating her shoulder before pitching the ball. Darcy swings, and hits. A foul ball.

“Oh shit,” Darcy swears as the ball makes a drive for Captain America’s head as he stands talking to Jimmy. Captain America doesn’t even look just puts his hand up and plucks the damn ball out of the air. “Did you see that?” Darcy squeaks out, cheeks burning as Jimmy and Captain American turn to look at her.

“Well that’s one way to get a guy’s attention,” Doris smirks. “I bet Mae didn’t think of that.”

“I uh gotta go...find my glasses,” Darcy mutters, dropping the bat and making a run for it before Jimmy brings Captain America over to meet the team.

.........

Turning the page in her book, Darcy pushes her glasses up over her nose and shoulders her way out of the boarding house they are staying in. The house is cramped and mouldy and smells of cabbages and too much perfume.

“Where you goin’, Lulu?” Mae shouts from the porch rail before Darcy reaches the steps.

“I’m gonna read in the park till dinner,” Darcy shrugs.

“You need to get a life.”

“Leave the kid alone, Mae,” Dottie says and Darcy smiles. She can fight her own battles, papa taught her that much before he passed on, but it wasn’t worth starting another fight with Mae.

The park isn’t much to look at, a few trees and some half dead grass, a few kids running around playing war and a white haired man walking a small brown dog. Darcy heads for the quiet spot in the shade under an oak tree that she sat under the day before. She reads as she walks, it’s a terrible habit her mama failed to break her out of, and ends up tripping and nearly crashing headfirst into the trunk of the oak.

“Are you okay ma’am?”

“Damn it,” Darcy says as warm hands steady her arms and settle her back to her feet. “I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

“I can see that,” the man says dryly and she can almost hear the smile in his voice. Darcy looks up, and up at him. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a crooked smile, albeit it a little on the fuzzy side.

“Take your glasses off, Lulu,” she mutters to herself tugging her glasses off her face.

“Lulu?”

“Oh uh, yeah that’s me. Darcy Louise Lewis.”

“Lulu Lewis? You’re the Peaches' first base player? You’re one helluva hitter,” he grins.

“You’re Captain America! You’re a hero,” Darcy exclaims eyes wide, and cheeks turning pink. “I...I’m real sorry about that foul ball, and the cussin’ at practice, and earlier too I guess,” she mutters sheepishly. “Good catch though.”

“Thanks, I’m no hero though. M’just doing my part,” Steve smirks, shoves his hands into his pockets, and shifts his feet on the dirt. “And it’s Steve. Steve Rogers. I’m only Cap when I wear the tights.”

"And punch Hitler," Darcy says, eyes shining with mirth.

"And punch Hitler," Steve repeats with a small grin. “You’ve seen the war bonds show?”

“Nah, but some of the girls went to the Chicago show. Said you lifted a motorcycle with girls sittin’ on it,” Darcy says, looking down at her glasses and book clutched tightly in her hands.

“Good book?”

“Yeah. It’s all about fighting monsters in flying ships. It’s--,”

“Who you talkin’ to, Lulu?” shouts a feminine voice and Darcy and Steve look over to see a group of the girls watching from a distance. Doris whistles, loud and sharp and Darcy blushes crimson dropping her gaze to the book in her arms. She misses the startled look on Steve’s face, and the way he shuffles his feet in the dirt and rubs the back of his neck.

“Ask ‘im out, Lulu. If you don’t, I will,” Mae shouts and Darcy wonders if she could melt into the Earth beneath her shoes and disappear forever.

“Sorry, the girls are kinda...pushy,” Darcy says, her words trailing off because how could she explain how wonderful and terrible her team was.

“So...you wanna go out?” Darcy says.

“I....yes?” Steve says looking a little lost and slightly confused.

"Unless you’ve got a girl already? Then you can forget I ever asked, and I can just go curl up with my book. Or die a slow lingering death due to mortification," Darcy blurts out. Really she must think before she speaks, mama would be appalled.

"No I haven’t.”

“Not even one of the dancers?"

“No, they all...uh...they kinda treat me like their kid brother. One that can lift heavy things," Steve says, looking down at his shoes with a pained expression.

“You don't have to take me out just ‘cause the girls are whistling at us.”

“Yes, I do want to. I'm just not very good at talking to beautiful dames...girls...ladies? Sorry,” Steve says running his fingers through his neat hair. “Never had a girl ask me out before,” Steve says. His smile is a little crooked, but it lights up his whole face and makes her belly feel like a swarm of butterflies are dancing around in it.

“Their loss,” Darcy grins. “So I hear there’s a new short newsreel all about war bonds with this hero in blue tights. Know anything about that?”

“Nope. Not a thing,” Steve huffs out a laugh.

“You sure?”

“Absolutely.”