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"Carter!"

Somedays, Sharon wondered why she even bothered having a first name. Not wanting to cause Hill to scream some more, she jogged over to the nurses' station. "Present."

"The chopper called in, ETA is under ten minutes."

Which meant it was time to trek up to the roof. "This was the hiker in the fall?"

Hill nodded brusquely. "Newbury is already prepped, but we need you go meet them. Bring a nurse. Lewis or Marsh are both free."

Sharon wondered if the other woman knew anyone's first names or felt they were extraneous information. "Got it." She resisted giving Hill a salute and went to find her nurse.

She found Darcy Lewis first, loitering in the hallway outside the nurses’ station. “I heard there was a flight coming in.”

"There is. You up for sprinting duty?”

“As long as I can get a little ogling in, too.” The crew of the helicopter ambulance were, admittedly, rather hot.

"Of course." Darcy fell into step next to her as they headed to grab a gurney. "Climber in the desert. Fell. Looking at broken bones, internal injury. They're prepping the surgeon.”

“You page Orthopedics or you want Dr. Newbury to take a look at them first?”

"I'm gonna leave it up to Newbury. I'm guessing the bones will be the least of his problems.”

“Yeah, but they like to be warned, you know how ortho is.” They got into the elevator that would take them to the roof. Darcy set up the IV pole on the gurney as they rose.

"I'll update them once I've seen him. Right now I don't have much to tell them." She made a face. "They like details.”

“True.” The elevator doors opened on the roof, which was currently empty. The sun was setting and the lights were coming up on The Strip downtown. Tourists coming into Las Vegas saw the glittering casinos as sources of excitement and entertainment. By this point Sharon saw them as sources of alcohol poisoning, drug overdoses, broken noses, broken bones, food poisoning, and STDs.

She squinted at the horizon, but there was no sign of the helicopter yet. "Got any interesting plans for the weekend?" she asked Darcy. Weekend was probably a misnomer, none of them worked a Monday to Friday schedule. But days off were days off and Darcy would understand her meaning.

“My roommate’s parents are in town, they’re staying at the Mandalay Bay so she’s going to get me in to use to pool.” Darcy had a strange mission to swim in every hotel pool in Las Vegas. She proclaimed the giant fake-beach pool at that particular casino to be the best in town.

"Hey, that gets you under ten to go, right?"

Darcy grinned. "I like you, because you know that.”

The sound of the helicopter reached her, and she turned to find it in the sky. “There they are.”

“I’ll call downstairs and tell them we’re inbound,” Darcy said, going over to the internal-only phone on the wall by the roof door.

The helo's spot light lit up the landing pad and Sharon took a couple instinctive steps back, waving to make sure they saw her. When it set down the pilot turned the rotors off, and she and Darcy hunched and dashed towards it while they were still slowing down. The doors opened and the paramedics inside leapt out.

After the initial flurry of chaos of moving the patient onto the gurney, Sharon looked up at Barnes, the in-flight paramedic. "What do we have?"

"Both bones in the lower left leg broken, multiple cracked ribs. Internal bleeding suspected, we intubated to help with breathing." He rattled off the rest of the treatment as they pushed the gurney back to the elevator.

Barnes and Wilson, the flight nurse, followed them into the elevator to do the full hand off while on the way down to the ED. Wilson was giving Darcy a full patient history while Sharon did an exam. She didn’t like the way the man’s pupils were reacting. “We may need neurology,” she said, knowing Darcy would make a note. His skin was red and warm to the touch, but no fever. She looked back up at the two guys. “The burns on his face and arms, that’s sunburn?”

“Best we can tell,” Wilson replied, then added, “He’s from Seattle.”

"Clearly he came to our great state well prepared for the elements," she commented.

Newbury was waiting at the elevator doors when the got out and got the same breakdown, including the note about neurology. She made a face. "Neurology, great, my night wasn't irritating enough yet." She did her own pupil check and nodded. "You make the call, I'll scrub in."

"Try not to stab him with the scalpel," Sharon called after her. Amanda had a very. . . temperamental relationship with their neurosurgeon.

She had a page sent for neuro, and ortho while she was at it because that guy’s lower leg was trashed and it would probably need a look by someone who had more patience with fiddly ligaments than Amanda did.

Barnes and Wilson stopped at the Trauma Room doors, but Sharon and Darcy went in. Most of the rest of the team was waiting. She was little more than backup at this point, but it was amazing watching them work.

Amanda delivered clipped orders to the nurses as they prepped the patient. “We are conspicuously missing an anesthesiologist,” she said. “That’s kind of important.”

“He went to run a line in a junkie with trashed veins,” one of the residents piped up. Their primary anesthesiologist could probably draw blood from an ant. Deftest person west of the Mississippi, if you believed hospital gossip. He got paged a lot.

“Someday somebody is going to die because we can’t hire competent phlebotomists,” she muttered. “Somebody go get him.”

Sharon turn to open the door and yell for someone when the door swung open and nearly hit her—Dr. Barton on the other side. “Sorry, Carter.” He jogged around to the head of the table. “Hill told me ten minutes on the chopper,” he said to Amanda.

"Did she tell you that ten minutes ago?" she asked, but the tone was mild. Most surgeons Sharon knew had some level of attitude. The worst ones thought they were god. Amanda was demanding and pretty snarky, but generally knew that shit happened. As long as the patient got cared for, she let shit slide. "Let me know when I can start cutting.”

He was efficient, and the surgery was underway quickly. She really wanted to stay for when neuro showed up, because Amanda and Dr. Stark going around and around was usually super entertaining, but her pager went off.

It was an entire family of tourists with salmonella, helping cement Sharon’s feeling that the all-you-can-eat buffets everyone in this town loved were a disaster waiting to happen. Sometimes it did happen.

If the buffet was bad, they might be in for a flood of people—and it also meant she had to file a report with the health department. It was time for her break, so she took her paperwork and charts with her to the break room.

The guys from the helicopter were in there, including the pilot, whom she saw five times a day but had never actually met because he didn’t usually get out.

"Hey," she said, dumping her papers at an empty spot on the table before heading to the coffee maker. "You guys actually getting a break?”

“Amazingly it does happen sometimes,” Barnes said.

The pilot—who was blond and square jawed and broad shouldered and looked kind of like a movie star—reached out his hand to her. “Hi. Steve Rogers.”

"Sharon Carter." She shook his hand. "Nice to meet you. Officially.”

“He knows your name,” Barnes said, causing Wilson to kick him and Rogers to close his eyes.

"I am pretty famous," she said easily, not really sure what that was about. She added some sugar and a little of the flavored creamer she, Darcy and a couple of the others nurses rotated buying and took a seat.

“How is he?” Rogers asked. “The hiker?”

"Still in the Trauma Room, far as I know. I had to leave to deal with some other patients, but Newbury was doing her thing and we had two more specialists on the way. There was some internal bleeding, but she said his lungs looked good.”

“His wife’s on her way but it’s a long drive. I told her I’d call her with an update.”

"I can check in, but that's probably the only news we'll have for a while."

"No, that's fine. I think she'll appreciate anything I can give her."

Sharon nodded. "I'm happy to talk to her, if she wants more info." She was sure Rogers could pass the information on accurately, but some people really liked knowing they were talking to a doctor.

He grinned. "She'd probably like that a lot. She's driving alone down 93 in the dark. I want to make sure she makes it here."

"Ouch. Yeah. Let's not add to the casualty count tonight." She gestured to her paperwork. "This can wait if you want to try to get her on the line now."

He nodded, and pulled out his phone to dial. He put it to his ear. "Hi, Mrs. Cooper. This is Steve from the Air Ambulance. Good news, but you should pull over anyway." He tapped the table while he waited. "Okay. I'm going to put you on the phone with one of our doctor who treated Jeff. Her name is Sharon." He smiled at Sharon and held out the phone.

She took it and put on her "talking to the family" smile so it would come through over the phone. "Hi, Mrs. Cooper, this is Sharon Carter, I'm the attending physician on your husband's case. He's in the trauma room having surgery right now, but the last I saw he was stable and his internal injuries weren't as severe as we'd initially feared."

"Thank you," she said quietly. "Do you think he'll be alive when I get there?"

"I do," she said firmly. "Dr. Newbury is the head surgeon working on him, she one of the best trauma surgeons in the country. She'll pull him through. You take your time, drive safe, and when we get here I'll hopefully have more news for you."

"Thank you," she said, her voice cracking a little. "Thank you very much."

"You're very welcome. Drive safe," she reminded her again before they hung up.

"Thank you," Rogers said, taking his phone back. "I miss the Blackhawks from the Army. We could have taken a stowaway."

"You were a pilot in the Army?" The pilot they'd had before him had been civilian, but she understood from doctors at other Level 1s that was pretty rare.

He nodded. "I flew MEDVAC. I like the lack of bullets and RPGs in this current gig."

“Well, thank you for your service. Then and now."

Barnes tipped his head back. "You know, I bet there's parts of the desert we could fly over to get the bullets and RPG feel."

"Hilarious," Rogers deadpanned. Then he looked at his watch. "We probably should roll." He smiled at Sharon. "Nice to meet you, Dr. Carter."

"You too. Nice to have a name withe the face."

She watched them leave. He had a nice ass to go with the face, too.

A page allowed her to procrastinate on her paperwork, so it was still waiting for her at the end of her shift. She ended up camped out with it back in the break room at the end of her shift an hour later, and was still filling out that stupid Health Department form when the break room door swung open and Amanda came in.

"Hey. How did the surgery on the hiker end up?"

"Really well. And I didn't stab Stark with a scalpel." She sat across from Sharon. "Mostly because I didn't need him."

"Neurology came back clean?" The pupil abnormality could have had a lot of sources, but she was glad someone with Stark's qualifications made the call rather than her.

"Yep. Patient is a very lucky man. Odinsson said he'd need a second round of surgery on the leg, but I think he'll make a full recovery. "

The door swung open and Barton came in. "Hiker's wife is here. I got ambushed coming out of the room." He went over to the coffee pot and poured himself a mug. "Hill needs to not let them just wander the hall. I hate people."

"That's why you make them unconscious for a living," Amanda told him.

Sharon got to her feet. "I'll go talk to her, we already spoke on the phone."

"I talked to her," Barton said defensively. "I'm not an ogre. I gave her an update and sent her to follow transport taking him upstairs."

Amanda reached over an patted his arm. "Oh, good for you, Barton."

Sharon shook her head. "Well, I'm off the clock, but I'll poke my head in. See you guys tomorrow."

"I'm off tomorrow," Amanda told her. "I'm going to pretend to consider going to the gym, decide I can't deal with all the asshole meatheads, and eat a piece of cake."

"You should probably cancel your membership," Sharon told her. "There are no gyms on earth without asshole meatheads."

"There are those women's gyms where they do zumba and lift pink hand weights."

"Just a different kind of asshole," Sharon said. "At least the meatheads don't insinuate I'm fat."

Amanda shrugged. "I'm really gonna enjoy that cake."

"Are you into machines?" Barton asked. "Carter," he clarified. He looked at Amanda. "I know you've got a date with Sara Lee."

"It's from a bakery, I'm not a heathen."

"I don't use machines much," Sharon said, ignoring Amanda's indignation. "Mostly I want a variety free weights and some punching bags to practice martial arts on. A treadmill or elliptical is just a bonus."

He nodded approvingly. All you could really see in baggy scrubs were arms, but Barton's arms clearly lifted something heavy fairly often. "You should try my gym. It's run by an angry Russian lady who puts up will less bullshit than I do—which is saying something. You don't behave you get tossed. Literally. I've seen dudes thrown."

"Oh, my God, I'm so down for that."

"Hell, I might be down for that," Amanda said.

"It's called Red's, it's just off the strip. Neighborhood is a little sketchy, make sure you lock your car."

"Got it. I'll give it a try next time I'm off."

Before she went to change to go home, Sharon went upstairs to find Mrs. Cooper, who was so happy to see her, she gave her a hug.

"There's gonna be a lot of specialists coming in to talk to you," Sharon warned her. "If you get confused talk to the nurses, they're always on top of stuff. I work nights, so I won't see you much, I'll try to pop in again later in the week. But everything on his chart says he'll be just fine. Dr. Newbury told me he's a very lucky guy."

"Thank you. So very much."

"You're very welcome. I hope someday you guys can come back and have a better visit. Maybe skip the hiking.”

She chuckled. “I’d be happy to never hike again.”

"Good plan." Sharon checked his chart, accepted another hug and went on her way, waving to the nurses station as she did so.

She ducked into the locker room to change for the drive home, then stopped by the ED desk before heading out. "Hey, is the chopper still out?"

Hill was off duty, but the morning shift version of her checked the wall and nodded. "On their last run now. Half hour ETA."

"Can you do me a favor, radio 'em and tell the pilot the hiker he brought in earlier made it? He was concerned."

"I'll pass it on.”

Sharon thanked her and headed out. One of the nice things about living in a town like Las Vegas was that if you wanted to, you could get dinner at 5AM. And she really wanted a burger right now.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, the flights Steve piloted to the hospital were emergencies. Sometimes minor, sometimes major, but lives were often on the line. The other flights, though, were nowhere near as dramatic. At the moment they were transferring an elderly patient from a community hospital in southern Utah to to Las Vegas for a complicated heart surgery. It made for a quiet, low-stress ride. The patient spent the flight telling them WW2 stories.

Once they landed and handed the man off, he and Bucky and Sam had time to kill. In an hour and a half they were flying a premature baby who’d graduated to a lower level NICU home to Arizona. Otherwise they just waited for an emergency.

"Wanna try and go get some food nearby?" Bucky asked as they headed down from the roof? "The nurses'll know the best places.”

“Steve could ask his favorite doctor,” Sam said, and Steve glared at him.

“Oh, even better." Because any excuse for Bucky to tease him mercilessly. "We could hang out in the ED lounge in case she gets a break.”

“You guys are assholes, you know that?”

"But we're your assholes and you love us.”

“Not today, I don’t.”

Bucky put a hand to his chest with a wounded gasp, making Sam laugh. The elevator doors opened onto the first floor and Steve stepped out, seriously considering ditching the hecklers for a peaceful meal.

And spotted Dr. Carter leaning on the nurses’ station, laughing at something one of them had said. He stopped and watched her. He shouldn’t stare—especially not with an audience—but he did anyway.

Bucky and Sam had filed out of the elevator, too, noticed his regard, and mercifully didn't hoot or holler. At least, not at him.

"Hey Doc," Sam called. "You know a good spot for dinner?"

She looked over and grinned. "Hey, fly boys. You got a lay over?”

“Hour and a half,” Steve said, before Bucky could comment on him not saying anything.

"And we're looking for some food," Sam added. "Figured you guys would know the best places to get something good and fast."

"Of course I do. You're in luck, I'm starting my lunch break, I'll take you to my favorite place.”

He’d love to come up with some excuse to ditch the rest of them, but there wasn’t one. “That sounds great, thanks.”

"Do you mind if my friend comes too? She needs to stop existing on cafeteria sandwiches and tea.”

“The more the merrier,” he said. He really hoped it wasn’t that charge nurse who barked orders at people. Reminded him way too much of his CO back in the Army.

Sharon looked over at the nurse on duty. "Can you page Dr. Newbury? Tell her it's a code 1776."

"What code is that?" Bucky asked.

"An in joke so she knows it's me and not medical.”

“That’s very patriotic of you,” Steve said.

She laughed. "It's a musical actually, we-"

"Do you feel up to whoring, drinking, deserting, and New Brunswick?"

They turned to see a woman coming through the doors reading back to the trauma station. She stopped short when she saw the group of them. "Hmm. Strangers. Embarrassing."

"Lord, your voice is piercing, Amanda," Sharon said, grinning. She hooked a thumb at them. "This is the helicopter crew. I'm going to show them the diner. You’re coming."

"Really prefer having the floor open up underneath me.”

“Your reputation precedes you,” Steve said. “It overshadows any embarrassing things, I promise.”

A brow arched over the top of her glasses. "Oh, I like him. He can stay."

Sharon shook her head. "Steve Rogers, the pilot. Bucky Barnes, the paramedic. Sam Wilson, the nurse. Gentelmen, Amanda Newbury, world famous trauma surgeon. Don't gawk, she has a big enough head."

Newbury looked like she wanted to stick her tongue out at that, but was resisting. "Nice to meet you all. Thanks for keeping me busy.”

“Thank you for saving so many of them,” Bucky said.

She smiled and it softened her face. "My pleasure." She cleared her throat and gestured to the doors. "Shall we?”

“Please,” Steve said. “After you.” They went out the doors and hiked over to the strip mall across the street. There was an I-HOP he’d eaten at once, but he’d never gone further. Sharon and Newbury - he supposed he could call her Amanda - had referred to the diner, but he hoped that wasn’t what they were headed for. They walked past it to the end of the line of buildings, to an oddly shaped white building that didn't mesh with the rest of the architecture. It looked like it had been there since the Rat Pack days.

They were met inside by a woman of indeterminate age who clearly knew the doctors. "My favorite ladies," she said, scooping up some menus. "And some new blood, hello boys.”

Steve waved.

“This already looks better than the taco shack in St. George we had lunch at,” Sam commented.

"Well, I should hope so." The lady lead them to a big formica table in the back and set out menus while they got settled. "I know coffee and hot tea for you two, boys, what'll you have?"

They gave their drink orders and she hustled off to get them while they opened menus.

"The burgers are fantastic," Sharon commented.

Amanda shook her head. "Sharon is at least 30% hamburger.”

"That's much better than women who are 30% celery," Steve offered.

That got him a grin from Sharon. "Damn right."

"And you look trustworthy, so I'm going to try the burgers."

The looks Sam and Bucky were giving him were kind of hilarious, but he ignored them. When the waitress came back with their drinks they ordered, then Sharon turned to him and said, "So where are you from?"

"Originally? New York. Brooklyn."

"Ah, a fellow East Coaster. I'm from Virginia."

"How'd you end up in Vegas?" he asked her. He was not unaware that Bucky, Sam, and Amanda were making conversation of their own, leaving him to talk to Sharon.

"Amanda, actually. We were in med school together but lost touch after I graduated. She got the trauma surgery job a couple years ago and when a spot opened up in ED, she recommended me. I was working at a city hospital in San Francisco before."

"How funny. I got this job 'cause of this guy." He pointed his thumb at Bucky. "We were in the service together. He started working here after he got out, and then called me when I did."

"They got a tax break for hiring a disabled vet," Bucky added.

"I got a bonus for signing her up," Amanda commented and Steve wasn't sure if she was kidding or not.

"Were you injured?" Sharon asked, aiming it somewhere between Steve and Bucky.

Bucky carefully peeled the glove off his left hand and held it up to wiggle his robotic fingers at her. Sharon's eyes widened and Amanda made a sound that was oddly appreciative.

"Can I see?" she asked, holding out a hand. Bucky gamely put his hand in hers and Amanda pulled it closer to her face to peer at the joints.

"Oh, that's her scientist face," Sharon said in a stage whisper to Steve. "We've lost her."

"It's fully articulated," Bucky said. "See, even first knuckles. There are even conductive tips on the fingers so I can operate a touch screen."

"Don't worry," Steve replied. "He loves to talk about his arm."

"That is fascinating." She was wiggling his pinkie finger. "Do you have hot/cold sensation or just pressure?"

Sharon shook her head, grinning. "Well, they're entertained." She looked back at Steve, still grinning. "So, why the army?"

"I wanted to fly. Army Rotary-Wing Aviators are not required to be commissioned officers." He hadn't liked school, and really hadn't wanted to have to go to college. But he didn't add that part, seeing as he was talking to someone who went to college for eight or ten years.

"So this is a bad time to mention I hate flying?"

He raised his eyebrows. "All flying?"

"Well I haven't tried parasailing or anything." She shrugged. "I guess commercial flying isn't the best representation of the act."

"Nobody likes commercial flying. Not even the pilots."

"Do you do any flying for fun? Outside of work?"

He shook his head. "Not much opportunity, or really use to it." Beside him Bucky was building something with utensils to demonstrate the capabilities of his hand.

"So what do you do for fun?"

"I draw. The boys both think I should find a hobby that involves people, but I like it."

"You should," Sam called from the end of the table, confirming that they were, in fact, paying attention to his conversation. Or Sam was just bored listening to Amanda and Bucky talk about myoelectric sensors.

"Art is a great hobby," Sharon protested. "In our line of work it's good to have ways to unwind."

Steve smiled at her. "It's good to have somewhere to put the things you see, if you know what I mean."

"Oh, I know exactly what you mean." Her tone was so sure and sympathetic he believed she did. "I wish I could draw or something. I used to take pictures, but my schedule lately doesn't really allow for it. I should try to find time," she added, sipping her coffee. "As a doctor I should be better at self care."

"Doctors are the worst people on earth at self-care. Perhaps second to soldiers."

The waitress came back with another girl and handed out the food, which looked and smelled fantastic. After a round of refilling drinks, there was a pause in conversation while they ate. The burger was as good as she'd said, and not just because he was starving.

You knew food was good when the entire table was silent.

Everyone's plates were half empty when Bucky said, "I'm really glad we ran into you. This place is great."

"Worst kept secret in the ED," Amanda said. "No one tell Stark about it, that's all I ask."

"Who's Stark?" Steve asked.

"Her nemesis," Sharon replied, causing Amanda to roll her eyes.

"He's the neurosurgeon who's usually on-call when I'm working," she explained. "And, like every neurosurgeon I've ever met, he thinks he's God, Hippocrates, and Joseph Lister all in one."

"Is he any good?" Sam asked.

"Of course he is. I've seen him remove 'inoperable' brain tumors and once separate conjoined twins joined at the head. He could probably reanimate a dead person if given the right equipment. Arrogance and ego is no less annoying just because it's justified."

"I like to sit in on surgeries Stark is involved in," Sharon admitted. "It's like an episode of MASH."

"I better be Alan Alda, or we're no longer friends."

"Of course you are. Stark is Winchester. Clint is the grumpy Colonel. I have a chart."

"I've been at some of those field units," Bucky said. "Nobody's sense of humor is as black as battlefield medics."

"Amanda was in MSF."

That seemed to make the surgeon vaguely uncomfortable. "Our humor also tends to be pretty dark."

"MSF teams are battlefield medics," Steve said. "And they go crazy places the army wouldn't dare."

Amanda gave him a little smile and salute. "Well, my war stories aren't exactly dinnertime conversation. But it was excellent baptism by fire." Sharon reached over and rubbed her friend's shoulder lightly.

Before anyone could reply, Steve's pager went off, followed by his crew mates'. He sighed. "Apparently duty calls."

"We understand," Sharon said. "Glad we got some food in you, at least."

He opened his wallet and pulled out some cash. "Thanks for the rec and the impromptu company."

She grinned. "Anytime."

"This was fun," Amanda agreed.

The boys, god bless them, waited until they were outside the diner to embark on any teasing.

"That was some high quality flirting," Bucky told him. "Very well done. I'm so proud."

"Oh, for God's sake," Steve muttered.

Sam chuckled. "I wouldn't be teasing too much there, Leftie. You were eyeing the surgeon pretty hard."

Bucky's face immediately went blank. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Steve was grateful for the change of topic, and amused by the look on Bucky's face. "If you say so, man."

"She was very interested in my arm. I like to show off.”

“Of course,” Steve and Sam said in unison.

He scowled. "I liked it better when we were teasing Steve.”

“You can tease me the whole way back from Arizona,” Steve offered. “I’ll be a captive audience.”

"Oh, that's true. C'mon, let's go."

*

It was over a week later before Sharon had a chance to try the gym Clint Barton had recommended to her. She had three days off in a row, spent the first one shopping and running errands and found herself with nothing to do on the second. So she pulled on her work-out clothes and headed down to the address he'd given her.

The neighborhood was on the run down side, but not particularly scary. She did make a point of locking her doors and nodding to the guy smoking a cigarette in the doorway of a liquor store. He smiled and nodded back and she felt slightly better about the odds of having rims when she came back out.

Red's was a nondescript brick building with blacked out windows and minimal signage. Sharon was half expected to have to give a password to get in the doorway, but it opened easily under her hand, revealing a clean, well-lit gym.

She could see what looked like a cross-fit set up, a heavy weightlifting area, a boxing ring and punching bags, floor mats and what looked like gymnastics equipment. There were no TVs, and no music. All of the people working out looked like they meant serious business.

A small woman with red hair messy ponytail materialized from somewhere. “Can I help you?”

"Yeah, I hope so. A coworker of mine suggested I come here 'cause I was sick of the idiots at my gym.”

She’d looked very stern, but now she smiled. “Are you Dr. Carter?”

Sharon grinned. "I am, yeah. Clint Barton gave me the address.”

“Yeah, he told me.” She held out a hand. “Natasha Romanov.”

"Nice to meet you." Her grip was firm and dry, without turning the handshake into a show of dominance. "I'm just looking for somewhere to lift weights and practice martial arts. This place sounded perfect.”

“Come on in. Women’s locker room is over there.” She pointed. “I don’t charge people who have to put up with Clint all day.”

Sharon was now intensely curious as to what Barton's relationship with her was, but decided it wasn't appropriate to ask. She nodded her thanks and headed for the locker room to stash her stuff. She was delighted to see it had shower stalls and nice towels, as well as a small sauna and soaking tubs. This was a gym she could get comfy in.

She locked up her stuff and headed back out to peruse the weights and warm up.

The next day she cancelled her previous gym membership and started going to Nat's exclusively. They had pretty nice hours and were close enough to the hospital she could pop in before or after work to get in a half hour of training or even a little sauna time. She seriously owed Barton a nice Christmas gift for this.

She even once got Amanda to come with her, for the hot tub and sauna, at least.

They had the sauna to themselves when Amanda asked, in a very carefully casual tone, "Do you think guys who are in shape only got for women who are the same?”

Sharon looked over at her. “You shouldn’t get in shape just for a guy.”

"Oh, I won't. I don't think I'm capable of it. I'm just debating if that means I shouldn't bother.”

“Depends why he’s in shape, I guess.” She stretched her legs. “Like, is it a lifestyle? Is he super outdoorsy or a gym rat? Or is he just in shape?”

Amanda tilted her head. "In shape. But, like, good shape. Not the kind you get from day to day life."

"Wait," Sharon said. "You're not talking about Barton are you? Because I'm pretty sure he and the owner of this place have something going on."

"No, no, no." She waved her hands. "Not Barton. I see and work with him every damn day. I'm not adding naked time to that, too.”

“That’s good. I think she could probably kill you with her pinky. So no one at the hospital?” She thought she should ask before she categorized all the doctors by their in-shape-ness.

Amanda sucked her teeth a little and said, "Barnes," somewhere in the direction of the bench she was sitting on.

“From the helicopter crew?” They really had hit it off, apparently.

"Yeah. He's hung around after his shift a couple times to have coffee with me. So I'm pretty sure he's interested. But the last time I dated it would have been appropriate to have you pass him a note in study hall, so I'm a little gun shy.”

“If you’re pretty sure he’s interested, then you are likely in an adequate amount of shape for his taste.” Seeing uncertainty and self-conciousness in Amanda was a surprise. She supposed everyone had their chinks in their armor.

She shrugged a little. "Sometimes I do a thing where I look for flaws in something so I'm not disappointed when it all goes wrong.”

“Two things. One, men are either attracted or they aren’t. If they are, that’s that. It’s a gut decision, not one they reason out. Two, the man is missing an arm.”

"I'm not entirely sure how that's relevant he has a seriously awesome robot - oh you mean he's probably not going to be hung up on physical appearances.”

“That’s my thinking, yeah.”

"Do you think that's why he seems stuck at drinking coffee and awkwardly discussing things tangentially related to work.”

“Could be. Maybe you intimidate him.”

Her brows went up and she sighed. "That would be the story of my life.”

Sharon sighed. “Amen, sister. They’re either intimidated or hell bent on one-upping you.” She looked over at her. “It’s almost too bad it wasn’t Barton. He’s the only male doctor I’ve ever met who gives absolutely no fucks about status.”

"It is oddly refreshing, isn't it?" She glanced at the clock and sighed. "Speaking of, I better get going. I have a staff meeting before my shift.”

“You should ask him out,” Sharon said. “If he can’t handle that, then he wouldn’t be able to handle you making ten times what he does, anyway.”

Standing, Amanda gathered up her towel. "I'll think about it. And I don't mean I'm dithering about whether or not to do it, I just need to overthink how. I'm not good at spontaneity.”

“Your precision is why you’re so damn good at your job. Make a spreadsheet or something, nobody needs to know.”

She grinned. "You laugh, but I might. See you later, have fun punching things or whatever it is you do." Sharon gave her a little wave as she left the sauna. She still had an hour before her shift, she should go do a little work to legitimize her time in here.

Chapter Text

She took her time getting dressed, and then went out into the main part of the gym. She turned toward the punching bags and there was Steve Rogers, beating one of the bags like it had personally offended him.

Much like Barton, she had the general sense he was in good shape under his flight suit. And she'd certainly noticed his ass. But seeing him in loose work out pants and a tank top that looked painted on was a new experience entirely.

For a few moments, she just watched him, debating going over to say something. Normally she hated to interrupt someone's work out, but given the conversation she'd just had with Amanda this was a coincidence she couldn't ignore.

He must have noticed her, because he stopped and looked over. “Hey.”

Oh, God, she'd totally been staring. "Hi," she said, cheeks hot. "Fancy running into you here.”

“I had no idea we went to the same gym.”

"I've only started coming this month," she admitted. "Dr. Barton at the hospital told me about it.”

“Natasha and I went through boot camp together.”

"That explains a lot about Natasha.”

He laughed. “I suppose it does.”

When he laughed he was an almost illegal level of attractive. "Sorry, I know you had a rhythm going. I don't want to bother you."

He sighed. "There's no organization to it. I'm just blowing off steam."

She arched her brows. "Bad day?"

He punched the bag again. "Patient died in the air."

That was always hard, no matter where in the process you are. She'd had critical patients die in ICU days later and still felt the blow. "You wanna talk about it?" she asked. Then after a beat added, "Or spar?"

He stopped and looked over at her. "I don't want to hurt you."

She grinned. "I'll risk it."

He grinned back. It was really distracting. "Oh, you're like a black belt of something, aren't you?"

"A couple somethings, actually. Been practicing taekwando since I was a kid. Picked up Brazilian ju jitsu and Muay Thai as an adult."

"Suppose I should be grateful it's not Krav Maga."

"Mmm, that's next on my list."

She could see him looking at her, sizing her up. Then he inclined his head towards the boxing ring. Nat had a rule about all fighting taking place in there (or outside).

Resisting the urge to bounce in excitement, she nodded and headed over to the ring, climbing in and turning to watch him do the same. "What's your training?"

"The Army Combatives School. Close quarters combat. I couldn't tell you what it's made of—though I'm pretty sure there is some Krav Maga in there. The Rangers built it and they just stole from everywhere." He shook his hands out. "The death rate among pilots in WW2 was significantly higher in Europe than in the Pacific. Pacific was mostly Marines, who were trained to defend themselves. Army and Air Force pilots in Europe were not."

Sharon stretched her toes, finding her stance. "Well, this should be interesting then." She watched him move, getting a feel for his center of gravity. "Ready when you are."

He was watching her move, too, and they circled each other slowly, cautiously. That man really was all muscle. On the third or fourth circle he shifted his foot a little and she dodged to her left, planting her foot for a kick. It only took someone making the first move, and then they were on. He had strength, and training more specifically targeted for violence, but he was also rusty. She was faster, and she moved on the muscle memory of doing this recreationally most of her life.

It was remarkably fun, changing light taps and dancing out of his reach a few times. He was grinning, too, so hopefully he was enjoying himself, too. As the spar went on, she started leaning more on the Brazillian ju jitsu, since it gave her the advantage. It also, conveniently, focused a lot on grips and holds, which ended with them on the mat and her trying to pin him.

"Okay, uncle, uncle," he said, laughing. "Jesus."

She grinned and rocked back on her heels. "Sorry. I'm competitive.”

He rolled into a sitting position and lunged, tackling her down. "But too trusting."

"I can't believe you aren't respecting the rules of calling uncle." She could have gotten out of the position if she was willing to hurt him. As it was, the best she could do was hook a leg around him and twist her torso to try to flip him off. "I'm telling Natasha."

Unfortunately he had vastly superior body weight. "Natasha fights dirtiest of all."

That was good to know. She scowled at him. Then reached down and tickled his ribs. He flinched enough she felt his grip loosen, enough she could flip him off and roll them. She grinned down at him triumphantly.

"Yeah," he said. "This is kinda hot."

She was already flushed from the exertion, but she was pretty sure that comment got it darker. "Yeah," she agreed before she could second guess herself. "It is."

He watched her again. "Your move, Carter. I'm kind of at your mercy right now."

The gym wasn't exactly crowded, but there were a few people around. Plus, she was almost certainly late for work. So she cleared her throat and eased off him. "I'm going to let you up, because what I want to do is not suitable for public."

"Too bad," he murmured, sitting up himself. "It would probably be fun."

She lifted a shoulder. "Well. Maybe sometime we should wrestle in private."

"Yeah." He stood up and held his hand out for her. "Can I walk you to your car?"

He pulled her to her feet and she felt a little giddy and breathless standing next to him. "Yeah, just let me grab my stuff."

"Me too. See you up front?"

"Meet you there." He held the ropes up for her and she climbed down, heading for the ladies locker room. She was headed to work, so decided it was worth making him wait an extra minute to rinse off before getting dressed. It had absolutely nothing to do with him waiting for her.

When she emerged, he was loitering by the front door, chatting with Natasha.

Okay, here goes. She couldn't be giving Amanda advice about being brave and asking people out and not be able to do the same. She hiked her bag higher on her shoulder and went over to them. "Hey. Thanks for waiting."

He smiled at her. "No problem." He held open the door for her. In her peripheral vision she saw Nat point at him sternly.

Sharon glanced back and waited for him before heading down the street to her car. "Did you incur her wrath?"

She could see his face flush. "She, uh, told me I'd be banned for life if I had sex in the locker room."

The snorting noise she made was very unsexy. Sharon didn't care, she had to brace a hand on the wall she was laughing so hard.

"She scares me," he said. "She was Special Forces. I'm pretty sure she could kill someone with a toothpick and some duct tape."

"Oh, I don't doubt it." Impulsively, she reached over and took his hand as they kept walking. "So locker room is off the menu."

He squeezed her hand. "Locker rooms are gross."

"Agreed." This was, she realized, a very strange conversation. Somewhere between sparring and showering they'd apparently agreed sex was going to be happening. It wasn't how her relationships usually went. But she wasn't complaining. "What's your schedule like this week?"

"Wednesday and Thursday are my days off."

She tipped her head back. "I could do Thursday."

"Good," he said. "It's a date. I'll show you my favorite restaurant."

She grinned. "I look forward to that." They reached her car and she turned to him. "Here, give me your phone I'll give you my number."

He dug his phone out and handed it over. "We should do this again, too."

"Absolutely." She pulled up his contacts and added herself. "Hey, random question, do you know if Barnes is going to ask Amanda out?"

Steve made a noise of consternation. "No."

She arched her brows and handed the phone back. "No, you don't know or no, he's not?"

"No, he's not, because he's chickenshit."

"Is he gonna freak out if she does?"

He sighed, and leaned against her car. "I sure as hell hope not. Especially when I tell him about how I am not chickenshit."

Sharon decided not to mention her definite assist in that area. "Maybe it will spurn him on."

"I'm not sure he'd believe it until it came out of her mouth. He thinks she's out of his league." He gave a self-depreciating smile. "Of course, you're probably out of mine."

"Well, to be fair, I'm out of everyone's league." She grinned when she said it, hoping he understood she was teasing. "But I like you and you fight good. So I'm looking forward to our date."

"Me too," he said quietly.

She smiled, studying his face, then went up on her toes to kiss him. He cupped her face in his hands and held her gently. It was the sort of kiss that had no rush to it, but that you could get completely lost in.

When it was done, she leaned back with a little sigh. "Yeah. Now I'm really looking forward to it."

*

Because that was the way his life worked, Steve got called in to work on Thursday. Thankfully it wasn’t his usual crew, so he was free to check his watch constantly and admit he had a date. Admittedly, Sharon was probably the first woman he'd dated who would have understood if he'd rescheduled. But he'd been looking forward to seeing her all week and, given their schedules, expected it would be way too long before they would find a new day off in common.

They finished their last flight just over an hour before he was supposed to pick her up. He probably broke several driving laws trying to get home in time to shower and change.

He was slightly late when he picked her up, but he needed gas. He’d had an unfortunate experience when he was a teenager where he’d run out of gas on a date and the girl had ditched him. He’s been kind of an awkward kid.

This woman was way out of his league.

That was confirmed once again when she opened the door of her very nice house dressed in a very pretty blue dress that fluttered around her knees. Her hair was down and brushed straight and she had make-up on. He'd thought she was gorgeous in scrubs. This was a whole new level.

“Wow,” was all he could manage.

She grinned. "Thank you, that made how long this took worth it.”

He grinned. “Very much. You really are. . .gorgeous.”

"You're pretty easy on the eyes, yourself." She grabbed a purse from somewhere and stepped out on her porch. "Shall we?”

He offered her his arm. “Yes, ma’am.”

She curled her hand around his bicep, falling into step beside him as they headed down to his car. "I spent all day worried I was going to get called in," she admitted once they were seated.

“I did get called. I got off about an hour ago.”

Her mouth opened. "Seriously? You could have told me, we could have postponed.”

He gave her an incredulous look. “No.

That made her laugh, at least. "All right, all right. Well, good shift, anyway?”

“Thankfully. Slow and mundane.” He pulled the car into traffic. “You really helped that shitty day, though. Really.”

"I'm glad," she said sincerely. "I've had my share of them.”

“I have combat experience. You’d think I’d be used to it.”

"I think it's better not to get used to it. I mean, you have to learn how to deal with it. But the deaths have to matter. It makes you a better doctor.”

He stopped at a light, so he looked at her. “Why trauma medicine? Why not be one of those office-based specialists who only work four hours a day?”

Without hesitation, she said, "Because I see people on the worst day of their life and can try to make it better.”

Funny that he’d never thought of it that way. He did his job out of a sense of duty, almost. I have this skill set, I’m morally obligated to put it to use. This was different. This was. . . the idea that you could choose to change the a small piece of the awful in the world. “Can’t say I expected to find an optimist in the ER.”

"Each hospital is required to keep at least on on staff. Keeps the rest of them from getting grumpy." She shrugged. "I don't know if I'm an optimist. I know I can't always win. I know I lose people and that some people can't be saved. But that doesn't mean I should stop trying.”

“I think that’s optimistic. Not getting jaded.”

She shrugged again. "I don't think anything has happened to me so bad to make me jaded.”

“Yeah.” He grinned at her. “Optimist.”

Sticking her tongue out at him didn't help at all.

He took her to a cajun restaurant he'd stumbled upon by accident. Vegas had a lot of interesting places to eat—and some of them were even not buffets. "I hope you like spice."

"I love it," she assured him. "I'll try just about anything, to be honest. I love food."

He laughed. "The muscles you've got? I believe it."

They were seated and paused a moment to go over their menus and order. "So," Sharon said. "What first-date, small talk topics haven't we covered?"

"I don't think we've discussed the weather. Though, it's the desert. I don't know what there is to say."

"Pretty much dry and whether or not we hate it."

He rested his forearms on the table. "Do you like living here? I haven't decided if I do or not."

She shook her head. "You know, neither have I. I feel like. . . it's weird but I feel like i'm just visiting. Even though I've lived here for years. Las Vegas doesn't feel like a place you live, just a place to stay for a while."

"Where would you live if you could live anywhere?"

"Oh, good question." She sipped her Coke, clearly turning it over. "I think I'd like a plush apartment in a big city. Somewhere in the heart of it, where you could walk anywhere you needed, have breakfast at a little cafe down the block. And always find something to do at night when you were sick of your own company."

"Yeah. If you're going to live in a city, it should have some density. There isn't anywhere here like that."

"Maybe that's why I can't feel settled. It's not quite a city, but not quite the country." She tilted her head. "What about you? Where would you live?"

He stared at her for a long moment. Took a drink from his glass. "You know. . . I have no idea. I've been kind of at loose ends. The army told me what to do and where to be for more than fifteen years. It's disorienting having total control over your life."

"I can see how that would be a culture shock," she said after a moment. "In med school you're running so hard and fast all the time when you finally do get free time it feels weird. I spent a long time just sure I was constantly forgetting something."

"Combat is like that. Everything is life and death, and then you get R&R and are still afraid to take your boots off."

She smiled. "We have more in common than it appears."

"I guess it's good to bond over something other than kicking each other's asses."

"And saving asses. It's mostly just those things."

Steve chuckled. The waitress brought their food and took drink refills. "I have no idea if this food is authentic, I've never been to New Orleans. But it is good."

She made a little noise of agreement, digging into her jambalaya. "Me neither. I'd like to travel more, but going places alone just feels. . ." She gestured vaguely with a hand. "Anti-climactic? Like what's the point of wandering around a new city without someone to talk to about it all?"

"Yeah." He grinned at her. "Maybe later we can go wander around the Venetian and pretend we've traveled."

She returned the grin. "Sounds like fun. You know how to show a girl a good time."

"Well. . . maybe not later tonight." Assuming he'd read her right last week, they had other plans.

The grin changed, curving in a way that confirmed his suspicions. "That sounds like an even better time."

He nodded at her. "Eat up, then."

She lifted her soda glass in a toast. "Yes, sir."

Chapter Text

Dinner was delicious, and she even had enough room left for beignets and coffee for dessert. Steve might have been getting a little impatient, but anticipation was half the fun. When they were done and the bill was paid she took his hand as they walked back to her car. "So. . . my place?"

"Yeah, it is way nicer than mine." She could see him wince the moment the words were out.

She laughed a little, shaking her head. "I do have a very comfortable bed."

"See? Mine is from IKEA."

"Bachelors," she muttered in exaggerated exasperation.

“I’ll have you know I own more than one pillow, and my sheets match.”

"That is so sexy." She was only half joking. She'd known too many guys who didn't meet that minimal criteria.”

“Do you have fifteen pillows and a bedding set from Pottery Barn?” he teased, hitting the button to unlock his car.

"It's from a website called Company Store and you don't get to sleep in it if you're going to mock.”

He opened her door for her. “I’m sure your house has plenty of surfaces.”

Sharon felt her cheeks heat and slipped into the car in an effort to avoid coming up with an answer to that. Because right now all she could do was picture all the surfaces and what they could be doing on them. When he got in the other side, he grinned at her like he was thinking about the same thing. He probably was.

"I think you'd break my kitchen table," she said finally. "It is also from IKEA.”

All that got her was a raised eyebrow. “Would be cheap to replace.”

She raised her brows in return. "Drive. Before we get a ticket for indecency.”

“Probably be worth it,” he said, but he started the car.

She waited until he'd pulled out into traffic and was headed back towards her house before reaching over and putting a hand on his thigh. He put his hand over hers and squeezed—then had to pull it back to grab the wheel when the car swerved. Sharon couldn't help but giggle.

This was going to be fun.

He managed to get them to her place without incident, parking only slightly crookedly in front. "Anything we should cover before I invite you in?" she asked. "Crazy exes? Questionable kinks? I'm on birth control, for what it's worth.”

“I’m a pretty boring guy,” he replied, and then he leaned over to kiss her. She leaned into him, hand sliding into his hair. He smelled utterly delicious and kissed her like he wanted to eat her alive. If this was boring, she’d take it. After a moment he lifted his head. “Can we go inside?”

"Yes," she said, a little breathless. "Absolutely." She reached over and tugged the door open. They stumbled up the walk, then he backed her against her front door and kissed her again. She groaned into his mouth, wrapping her arms around his neck. He was distractingly good at this.

They were running the risk of that indecency charge again when she managed to peel herself away and turn enough to unlock the door. It swung open and they all but fell inside. “Did you make up your mind?” he asked.

It took her a second to catch up with what he meant. "Oh. I think you're probably bed worthy.”

He kissed her again, sliding his hands down over her ass. “Good.”

She was pretty sure there was a non zero chance they weren't going to make it to the bed. But they could give it the good old college try. First, though, she kind of wanted to get his shirt off. He lifted his arms when she tugged it up and off, and he looked just as good as she imagined. She'd gotten a good idea of him when they'd sparred, but the real thing was like something out of an art museum. Or a masterful photoshop job.

Pressing a kiss to one perfect pec, she caught his hands, tugging him deeper into the house, towards the stairs. He let her pull him, and they managed to get up the stairs—which she half expected they wouldn’t. At the top of the stairs, he stopped them so he could fumble with the zipper of her dress.
He seemed to be all thumbs, and she liked this dress enough not to want it ripped. So she turned and swept her hair over her shoulder so he could see what he was doing. He pressed a kiss into the back of her neck and slid the zipper down. “Thank you.”

"You're welcome," she replied with a little shiver. The dress sagged, then slid down her body to puddle at her feet, leaving her in her bra and underwear. He turned her back around so he could get a look at her. The appreciation on his face was very worth it.

She trailed her fingers along the lines of his chest. "You know how to make a girl feel sexy.”

“You are sexy.” He walked forward, herding her backwards. In any other context she’d find it intimidating, but at the moment it just turned her on. When she hit the wall she fumbled for the door to her room, distracted when he bent his head to kiss her.

His big, warm hands roamed her skin, making her shiver again. She cupped the back of his head and pressed herself close to him. He unhooked her bra, mostly so he could get his hands under it—he didn’t bother to actually take it off. He just pushed it out of the way so he could cup her breasts. Her nipples tightened at the touch of his fingers and she groaned into his mouth.

He pressed her harder into the wall and she heard a couple stitches on her bra popping. She remembered to try feeling the wall again, and this time found the door handle to open. He lifted his head for air and she pulled him back into her bedroom. They didn’t really stop kissing as they moved, but she managed to get her bra off before he completely ripped it.

She guided him to the bed and they collapsed together in a flurry of comforter and pillows. Sharon ended up on top and grinned, leaning down to kiss him thoroughly.

“Mmm. I approve of this view,” he told her.

"I thought you might." She ran her hands along his chest and down his ribs before finding the edge of his slacks and working on the fastening.

He watched her. “Don’t rip them, I have to go straight to work in the morning.”

"I'm not sure I have the brute strength to tear pants," she told him. "But thank you for the warning.”

“I have a lot of faith in your strength.”

She grinned at him and very carefully undid his slacks, scooting down the bed to peel them off. His boxers went with them and in a minute she had a naked Steve Rogers sprawled on her bed. She took a moment to lean back and admire him. He raised his eyebrows and chuckled, then reached to pull her down to him. “Come here.”

"I was appreciating the view," she grumbled, letting him pull him pull her down into a kiss.

He hooked his thumbs beneath the side of her underwear and pushed them down. “I’ll make it up to you,” he said between kisses.

"Mmm, I hope so." Wiggling, she kicked them off the rest of the way. Now they were skin to skin, Sharon felt a hot rush of anticipation tinged with nerves. "I don't usually do this on the first date.”

He tugged one of her thighs up and trailed his fingers along the underside. “You want to stop?”

She shuddered, feeling another little rush of heat. "No. I didn't say that.”

“Good.” His hand was between her legs now, the touch gentle and somehow very erotic.

A breathy little sound escaped her. She lowered her head to kiss him and nuzzle and his shoulder. After a few soft strokes her hips started to rock, eager for more. He murmured something she didn’t quite catch. Then she didn’t care because he found just the right spot. Her nails sank into his ribs a little and he seemed to take the hint, stroking right there, over and over. She started to shake with the building pressure and whimpered softly, reaching for her climax.

His hand stilled and she made a noise of frustration. “Hang on,” he whispered, pulling her fully on top of him.

She could feel him pressing hard and hot against her and deliberately rubbed against him, making him shudder. She dropped kissed on his face and throat, then straightened, lifting up onto her knees so she could slide down his length.

He groaned, rubbing his hands up and down her thighs. “Yeah. Better.”

"Yeah," she breathed. Stroking his chest again, she started to move, rocking slowly on him to find the best rhythm. He just watched her—enjoying the view, she imagined. Then he sat up so he could kiss her, and the change in angle sent sparks through her. She wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him hard as she rocked on him. He lifted up into her, adding to the friction.

For a few minutes it was deep and intense, heat building up in her again. "Close," she murmured on his mouth. "I'm close.”

“Mmm,” he replied, holding her by the back of the neck so he could kiss her. He wedged his other hand between them, and then she felt his thumb on her clit.

She gasped into his mouth, grinding in to him. Heat began to pulse inside her and she shook with the force of it, clenching hard around him. He tugged on her hair almost reflexively, and then she felt a fine shudder pass through him. He sighed and slowly the tension in his muscles relaxed right along with hers.

Very slowly, he sunk back onto the bed, taking her with him. His chest was heaving beneath her and they were both covered in a thin sheen of sweat. Sharon couldn't remember the last time she was so relaxed.

Steve rubbed her back. “That was worth the wait.”

She chuckled. "Yeah. Though let's not wait so long for the next round.”

“I very much agree.” He kissed the top of her head. “Perhaps a snack to recharge and then we could try it tonight.”

"I like the way you think, Rogers.”

“Just as soon as I can move.”

She laughed and slid to the side, cuddling up against him.

*

The long shift—and then the long night—made Steve sleep far later than usual, especially for being in an unfamiliar place. Sun was streaming in the windows when he opened his eyes. Sharon was sitting next to him, laptop in her lap and a steaming cup on her night stand.

She looked over and smiled when he stirred. "Mornin' sleepyhead."

"Are you working?" he asked.

"No, I'm surfing Facebook drama. I'm not Amanda, I can turn off occasionally."

"Facebook drama?"

"Oh, you know. Friends of friends who should never interact arguing about something way too seriously." She reached over and grabbed her coffee cup, sipping it before continuing. "You snore a little. It's cute."

He sat up. "I do not snore."

"I suppose you could call it grumbling."

Steve laughed. "Maybe. How'd you sleep?"

"Very well," she said with a smile. "Someone wore me out good."

He leaned up to kiss her. "Can I take you out to breakfast?"

"You absolutely can. Let's see how long we can make this date last."

He climbed out of bed to look for his pants. In the daylight he could see her house was really, really nice. He almost made a Sugar Mama joke, but didn't want to make her uncomfortable. "Is there a record we're going for?" he asked.

She grinned. "No, breakfast will put you head and shoulders past all my recent dates."

He held out his hand for her. "Come on, then, I'm starving."

Putting her lap top aside, she reached out and took his hand. "Let's go."

They got dressed pretty quickly, and Steve liked her casual weekend clothes. He liked a girl who didn't need to be fancy all the time. "I have never been to his neighborhood and don't know where anything is. Though the neighborhoods in Las Vegas look vaguely the same. The only variance is house size."

"There's some nice brunch places," she told him. "How do you feel about eggs Benedict?"

"I feel it is the only time it's acceptable to eat Canadian Bacon."

"Excellent. I know just the place."

It was a small cafe with a long line—which was the sign of a good brunch place, in Steve's mind. They stood around in the warm sun waiting to be called. "You know, my favorite part of my workday was the times we'd land on the roof and you'd be the one waiting for the patient."

She looked up at him, startled. "That's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me."

He felt himself flush, and he looked down. "Well. . .it's true."

"Well, thank you." She nudged him playfully. "I used to volunteer to go up and meet you guys."

That made him smile. "It's okay if it was mostly for the Barnes and Wilson Comedy Hour."

"They are definitely a plus," she conceded. "But you were a big part as well."

"Now I'm extra glad we bumped into each other."

"Me, too." She took his hand. "Are your boys going to tease you?"

They were going to torture him. "Absolutely, but I don't care."

With a grin, she nudged him again. "I'll try to make it worth it."

"Rogers for two!" called the hostess, and Steve tugged her hand.

Breakfast was delicious, but had to be a little rushed so Steve could head in for his next shift. They kissed goodbye in her driveway. "I don't know when our schedules will line up again," Sharon said. "But maybe we can manage a meal at the diner at work."

He grinned. “I think we can definitely manage that.” Bending, he kissed her again and made it count, because it would have to last him awhile.

Sharon looked delightfully flustered when he lifted his head. “That is some definite motivation to make it work.”

Figuring that was a good note to leave on, he stepped back. “See you later, Doc.”

“Looking forward to it, flyboy.”

He climbed into his car and pulled out of her driveway. He was kind of amused that she stood on the porch and watched him, waving until he was out of sight. As first dates went, this was one for the books.

*

“You look twitter-pated.”

Sharon gave herself a little shake, pressing a hand to her cheek. Her shift hadn’t started yet, fortunately, but she really needed to get her head on straight. “I am not twitter-pated,” she told Amanda as she sank into the seat next to her. “How old are you?”

“Bambi transcends age,” Amanda informed her. “Are you replaying your date with Rogers over and over again in your head?”

“No.” Amanda arched a brow and Sharon looked down at her coffee, grumbling, “Maybe a little.”

Amanda grinned. “That good, huh?”

“Better.” She hadn’t wanted to tell Amanda too much about her date with Steve. Barnes was still dragging his feet and Amanda had more or less given up on him. “He’s very sweet and very funny.” She paused, weighing her words. “And looks great naked.”

Choking on her tea, Amanda had to cough a moment before replying, “Good for you.”

“Thank you,” Sharon replied almost primly.

“So there’ll be a second date?”

“Most definitely.” She shrugged and sipped her coffee. “I know it’ll be hard. We work together and our schedules are crazy. But I think he’s worth it, you know?”

“Not firsthand,” Amanda admitted. “But I’ve read about it in books. And you’re damn near glowing. So I wish you the very best of luck in you schedule juggling.”

“Thank you.” It was probably going to crash and burn. She’d yet to find a way to maintain a relationship with the stress and intensity of her job. Either his own stressful job would help him understand, or the two combined would cause an explosion. Maybe it wasn’t optimistic of her, to already be bracing for the end. But despite what Steve said, she liked to think she was a realist. The end came no matter what, one way or another. She’d rather enjoy the ride.

Hill stuck her head in the door. “Hey, Carter. Helicopter’s coming in, eta under ten. Emergency, car crash from the desert. Newbury, sounds like you’re on deck.”

She ducked out again as Sharon and Amanda both rose in one motion. “Duty calls,” Amanda said, then added, “I’ll see you in a bit,” as she went to get scrubbed up.

Sharon gave her a little salute as she headed to the hallway. She had a feeling she was going to be volunteering for roof duty pretty often from now on.