At first, their exchanges were limited to SHIELD business.
Deputy Director Hill would relay something from Director Fury. Steve would respond. Or just as likely, not respond.
And then SHIELD fell. And it wasn’t there anymore.
And she wasn’t the Deputy Director anymore. She was just…Miss Hill. Which felt strange, to say the least.
In a way, she really held the same position in regards to him. The gatekeeper to the person to which he intended to saw off a piece of his mind. She was technically Pepper Potts’ assistant. That’s what was on her W-2. Administrative assistant. But everyone knew she was there for the Avengers. As a liaison through which to speak to Tony Stark.
Her presence was preluded by clicking heels. “Hello, Captain Rogers…I have some information for you…” she pulled out her phone.
“Steve,” he corrected quietly.
She looked up, a slight frown on her face. He’d interrupted her rehearsed conversation opener. “Steve…” she said cautiously, “I have information.”
He nodded, slightly pleased with himself.
She shared her information. More intel on that Hydra base in Sokovia. He thanked her.
She’d smiled. Sort of. He wasn’t sure he’d seen her smile before. He wasn’t sure she’d ever seen his either, so the point was moot.
It stood to reason, though…that she’d have a nice smile.
And then they were standing there awkwardly shifting their weight. One of those terrible instances where the logical way to end the conversation wasn’t really the best way to end it.
“Well…” she exhaled quickly, “Goodbye…Steve. Until next time.”
She turned and walked away. She was around the corner by the time he voiced his reply. “Bye, Maria.”
He didn’t see her again until after the raid on the Hydra Research Base. But that was for debriefing. He really saw her next at Tony’s party. He spotted her wetting her lips on a glass of champagne and laughing a bit too loudly at stories everyone had heard before.
Everyone was doing something. Sam updated him on the search for Bucky. Natasha was at the bar. Thor was drinking Asgardian Mead had tasted like paint thinner in Steve’s honest opinion.
And he was left skirting the crowds, watching everyone have fun. With that feeling in the pit of his stomach that kept him from joining in.
“Hello, Captain Rogers.”
“Steve…” he said automatically. It was becoming their customary greeting.
“Having fun, STEVE?” she asked.
“Having a damn good time,” he said dryly.
“Watch your language,” she chided with a grin. He was right. She did have a nice smile.
He smiled, then, shaking his head and looking down. “Not you too.”
She leaned over then, bumping his shoulder playfully. Maybe she WAS doing more than wet her lips on that champagne glass. She had a tumbler now. Looked like whiskey. Melting ice. “Wanna go out there? Quieter…” she glanced over her shoulder at the balcony.
He shrugged, jamming his hands into his pockets and letting her lead the way.
It wasn’t particularly warm outside. The wind made it less so.
He automatically took off his jacket, offering it to her.
She looked at it like she would look at a dead animal if he were offering that to her. She set her glass on the ledge of the balcony and slipped on his leather bomber jacket. It was big on her.
“Thanks,” she said, wrapping her arms around her waist.
“Don’t mention it.”
They were silent for a few moments, and he sort of expected her to give him some kind of message from Nick Fury. Because why else would she want to come out here alone with him?
“Steve…” she said experimentally. “What are you up to these days?”
“Trying to save the world.”
He shrugged, “What else is there?”
“Are you seeing anyone?”
Ah. There it is. Everyone wants to set me up with their niece.
And that was all she said. They looked at the city for about five more minutes, and she went inside. She kept his jacket though.
He wasn’t really expecting it. On the helicarrier on the way back from the battle in Sokovia. It wasn’t really a victory. Not really, when it had been caused by one of them to start with. Pietro was on life support. Wanda was completely catatonic. Clint was injured. Bruce was gone.
There were hundreds of refugees to be dealt with. Press coverage. A whole media nightmare, in fact. The US military was involved. It was in short, a mess.
And there was Maria. He felt like it was safe to call her Maria now.
Maria, who without a word, pulled him into her bunk, hugging him close to her. Silently conveying that she was glad he was okay.
Maria, who searched his face before moving forward. Looking for a sign that he wanted what she wanted. “Hello? Captain Rogers?” she prodded.
It turned out, he did want what she wanted. Had wanted it for a while, it seemed. But being the King of bad timing, he hadn’t really done anything about it. “Steve…” he said simply before leaning down to meet her lips.