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Baby Monitor Protocol

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Her knees were slung over his shoulders, his face buried between her legs, laving his flat tongue along her clitoris. Her expensively manicured but perpetually chipped nails were digging into his scalp as she bucked up against his mouth. He began sucking her clit just as he slid a finger inside her, relishing in the choked off gasp it elicited from her.

Fuck, she was so wet. The sound his finger was making with every flick of his wrist was positively filthy. He pulled his face back the slightest bit, slipping in a second finger to make up for the loss. He had to breathe, and oh what a delicious scent to do so.

“Baby,” she breathed, barely audible. “Fuck me with your tongue.”

His laugh was little more than a huff of air. As it were, the location of his mouth lent itself to making her keen, back arching. He didn’t bother hesitating any longer, removing his fingers and replacing them with his tongue. He licked the lips of her pussy before delving in as far as his tongue would let him.

After only a few moments of that, they heard their conditioned noise to hurry up . Desperate to make her finish in time, he quickly began to once again fuck her with his fingers while sucking on her clit. All it took was a slight crook of his fingers inside her, pressing against the g-spot, to have her back arch like a bow pulled taut as she came.

He offered his hand, helping her sit up. She smiled at him, kissing his cheek. “Mint,” she offered, knowing the answer. “Hand sanitizer.” He squired a little on his fingers, letting the biting scent of the alcohol mask the… other smells surrounding them.

“Babe, your skirt,” he said just as she was about to open the door. She looked down and, sure enough, the front of her skirt was tucked inside her thong, leaving little (nothing) to the imagination.

“Thanks.”

The linked hands and left her car together, in no rush to get to American history. After all, Steve was a history buff. And Toni? Well, Toni had Steve.


“You two could not be any more trope-y,” Bucky complained. Steve was ditching calculus (he had Toni for that). His best friend and girlfriend had a different lunch period than him and he was in a social mood.

“What ever do you mean?” Toni asked, batting her eyelashes innocently. Steve chuckled into her hair, pressing a kiss just behind her ear. She shrugged her shoulder in an attempt to stop his breath from tickling her.

“Steve, you’re the football captain. Toni, you’re head cheerleader—”

“I am a flyer . Cheerleader is so… demeaning.”

“Stark. Off Rogers’s lap. Not on school grounds,” vice principal Fury shouted (why must he always shout, they were right there ). Toni and Steve shared a glance, remembering their little tryst earlier. “Now, Stark.” She rolled her eyes but obediently slid off his lap.

“Rogers. If I’m not mistaken, this is not your assigned lunch block.”

Steve snorted, his eye roll rivaling Toni’s, before turning around to face Fury, his expression innocent as ever. “Sorry, sir. I was feeling a little light headed. Had to skip breakfast this morning. Early workout.” Both Toni and Bucky hid their grins in their hands. Steve could play adults like a fiddle, the ‘ aw shucks’ act leaving them like putty in his hands.

“You don’t have any food in front of you.” Fury was looking wholly unimpressed.

“Sam is bringing my food. Sam Wilson. He’s a friend. Plays Forward?”

“Nice try, Rogers. I’m not buying it for a second. Save your PDA for private.”

“Sir, PDA stands for public display of affection. We can’t do that in private. It’s contradictory,” Toni explained, all faux innocence. She wasn’t as good as Steve, but she managed.

“Rogers. Class. Now.”

Steve stood, leaning down to collect a quick peck from Toni. “See you at 3?”

“No, you won’t, because you have detention after school today, Mr. Captain.”

“That’s redundant,” Steve snapped, all traces of innocent choirboy dissipated.

“I don’t care.” Fury grabbed Steve’s sleeve, pulling him towards the exit to the cafeteria.

“I’ll wait for you my love!” Toni shouted after him, dramatically placing the back of her hand against her forehead, using the other to reach after him. Steve blew a kiss right before Fury shoved him through the door and, presumably, continued dragging him to the science and mathematics wing.

“You two. Lilith and Lucifer, I swear,” Bucky chuckled.

“I take that as a compliment,” she huffed, taking a sip from the Diet Coke that was resolutely not allowed on campus.


“You're alive!” Toni bounced over to Steve, throwing her arms around his neck. He wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her clear off the ground, pressing a close-mouthed kiss to her lips. “I thought I'd never see you again!”

“Just let me look at you. God, I missed that smile.” He joked, kissing her again.

“You saw each other at lunch!” one of the other cheerleaders shouted, clearly not enjoying the reunion.

“I gotta go,” she said. “Gotta practice leading all that cheer for you.”

“I gotta go explain to coach why I missed the first half of practice,” Steve said, frowning. He kissed her quickly one final time before removing his arm from her waist.

“Get your ass over there. You're even later now. Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Toni waved one pom-pommed hand after him, bouncing on the balls of her feet. It was times like this, when she was in her uniform and he was in his, that she let herself fall into her stereotype.

The moment passed as Steve rounded the corner. Toni turned back to the squad and jogged over. She picked the clipboard off the ground, getting ready to read the names.

“Thank you to everyone who came to try out this year. Everyone did an amazing job.” She hated this speech and she knew the people around her hated it, too. Not all of them did amazing--if they had, then they would have all made the team and there wouldn't be a need for tryouts in the first place. “As it is, we only have room for a few of you. If you hear your name, you've made it onto the varsity squad. If not, you will hear from the JV coach via email.” From the list of names I give her, Toni added to herself, none-too-happily.

“Carter, Toombs…” The list felt never ending as she droned on, even though there were only eight names and she had chosen them. “The rest of you, thank you again for coming out. Please still come to the games to support our teams.”

The twenty-six people who had not made the team, grumbled and picked up their bags, shuffling off the field.

“Alright girls. Let's get to work.”


Toni was painting her nails with a clear coat, a textbook open next to her on the bed. Steve lay a few feet away on his stomach, copying text from his textbook.

“I’m going to quit the squad,” Toni announced. Steve dropped the pencil into his textbook and closed the pages around it.

“Yeah?”

Toni heaved a sigh and scooted over on the bed, nudging at Steve to roll over and open his arms for her. “I don't actually enjoy it. I like doing tricks and flying but everything else is kind of eh. And after last year’s almost fall, we were told we're not allowed to do anything like that anymore. Shouldn't that be up to me? I'm the one that was almost dropped.”

“I like the idea of you being safe,” Steve admitted. “Two feet firmly on the ground. Even just one is better than upside down in the air with only two people there to catch you.”

“At least they caught me. Fumble, fumble, fumble. You have a word for it.”

“They have a word for people like you, too. Do you know what that word is?”

“Charming?” she guessed.

“Menace.”

She puffed out her bottom lip and wiggled in his arms. Chuckling, he tightened his grip around her. He let one hand wander down, gently skirting across her breast. Her breath hitched in anticipation. He grinned, wolf like, and continued past her breast to just under her arm. Her eyes widened when she realized this was not going where she thought it was.

“Please don't,” she warned.

“Why not?”

“Because I asked nicely.” She bat her eyelashes at him. He wiggled his fingers the slightest bit, causing her to buck off the bed. “Cheater!” she shouted. Flinging an arm and accidentally catching him in the side of his face.

“Ow!” he grunted, letting go of her to bring his hand to his cheekbone where there was sure to be a bruise tomorrow. “People are going to think you abuse me.”

“People probably already think that. In case you haven't heard, I'm a bitch.”

“Yeah, babe, but you’re my bitch.”

“Do you want the other eye to match?” Toni asked, shoving his shoulder once more for good measure. Steve didn't respond, choosing instead to lean over her to capture her lips in a kiss.


True to the form of high school students, by second period there were several rumors circulating about Steve's black eye.

“I heard she punched him in a cocaine fueled rage,” Natasha said.

“I heard she's cheating on him and he got into a fight with the guy she's cheating with,” Bucky supplied.

“No, the way I heard it is that he's the one that's cheating and she decked him in the face,” Sam added.

“Oh my god, he was tickling me and I swung my arm in defense. The rumor mill terrifies me,” Toni said. She pressed a gentle kiss on the edge of the bruise purpling his left eye. Steve turned his head to collect a quick kiss.

The bell rang and the friends scattered, rushing off to various parts of the building in hopes of not being written up for tardiness.


“So why'd you quit the squad?” Natasha asked, inhaling deeply before passing the joint to Toni. Toni took a drag and passed it over to Steve.

“Honestly, I was bored with it. Being head cheerleader--”

“I’m sorry, what kind of cheerleader?” Clint asked, cackling. Toni kicked at the chair he was sitting in, causing him to tip over onto the floor.

“Being head cheerleader wasn't fun after they restricted the tricks we could do. I can't choreograph clapping and the occasional toe touch, I'll kill myself. Besides, without cheer I can spend more time training for LAX.”

“And what about you, Steve?” Natasha questioned, the joint having made its way around the room and landing back in her hand. “Gonna quit football now that you two don't have a monopoly on every high school couple stereotype?”

Steve, who's arm was lazily hanging over Toni’s shoulder, pressed a kiss into her hair. “No, I’m still going to play. Just because Toni is my greatest treasure--” the entire room broke out in a chorus of groans, save for Toni, who aww ed, “--doesn't mean that my entire life revolves around her.”

“We're two individual people,” Toni seconded. “We just happen to spend a lot of time together. It’s not like any of spends much time away from this little group.”

Natasha, Bucky, Sam, Clint, and Steve all nodded in agreement. The group had dwindled some in the past year. Bruce graduated, having been taking classes through a community college over the summer, unbeknownst to the rest of them. Their collection of international students--Wanda, Pietro, and Thor--had returned to their home countries.. Then of course there was Rhodey, but she derailed that train of thought before it could gain any speed. It was just the six of them now.

“Maybe we should make new friends. That international kid from Wakanda seems pretty chill,” Clint suggested.

“Or that Quill guy,” Sam said.

“How about the Parker kid?” Toni added

“No!” Bucky and Sam shouted in near unison.

“Okay, not the Parker kid,” Toni said, hands raised in surrender.

“Why don't we keep it to just us for now,” Steve suggested. “We shouldn't rush to add new people after losing some. We don't need to replace people around a table. This isn't Community.

Toni looked around her basement; watched as her friends laughed. Happiness was one word for it, but contentment was even more accurate. Of course she was happy, but it was even more than that. She wanted for nothing. Steve was perfect--she couldn't imagine being with anyone else, or why anyone else bothered if they couldn't have Steve.

“I love you guys,” she blurted out. Of course she'd said it before, but there was nothing wrong with reminding them. Make sure your friends know you care, her therapist always said. Remind them.

“That’s the weed talking,” Sam said.

“No, really. I really love you.”

“We love you, too,” Steve said.

“Yeah, but the rest of us don't love you the same way Steve does,” Bucky said.

Steve took Bucky’s joke as an invitation to cup the side of Toni's face, steering her towards his lips, and kissing her. His tongue slid into her mouth, her lips parting to allow entrance. Toni smiled into the kiss, making it a bit awkward, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Steve wrenched himself away from Toni just long enough to say, “Alright, everybody out.”

“Ew,” Clint grumbled, stubbing out the smoldering end of the joint.

“Oh shush,” Toni reprimanded, though who she was shushing was unclear. “No one is driving. We're all several beers in. And we're all stoned. Driving under the influence is…” Toni sighed, tired and defeated. “There are twelve guest rooms in this dump. Scatter.”

Various grumbles were heard. Ungrateful bitches. They'd be sleeping on 1,800 count sheets. It wasn't like she was wrong in keeping them there. It's only paranoia if there isn't basis for the worry.

Steve brushed her hair from her shoulder. She looked up to see he'd stood and was extending his hand down to her. She smiled tiredly and accepted it, allowing him to pull her to her feet. She leaned her full weight on him as they wound their way up the three flights of stairs to her room.

“We should start being degenerates on the second floor instead of the basement,” she grumbled, falling to her bed. “Even the first floor would be better than this.”

“Those extra eleven stairs really ruin you, don't they?” Steve asked, pulling her jeans off, one leg at a time.

“Stop being a shit. I'm tired,” she slurred, already half asleep. Steve sat her up, removing her shirt and bra.

“Aw, did someone crash?” Steve walked over to the sinfully enormous walk-in closet.

“Shuddup. I'm cold.”

“I’ll be right there, babe,” Steve said, rifling through a drawer for a tank top for her and perhaps something he'd fit into. “So this is where all my shirts run off to.”

Our shirts,” Toni insisted. “They're on my floor and my cleaning lady washes them.” She was swaying, though Steve wondered if she was even aware.

“Up,” he instructed. She lifted her arms obediently and he pulled the tank top over her head. “And I'm the one who buys them. I work very hard for my minimum wage,” he half-joked. Half.

Toni was already asleep when he laid her down on the bed.

It felt like he'd just fallen asleep when Steve woke up to Toni jostling him. He grunted out something he hoped resembled what are you doing? He couldn't be sure. Regardless of what he did or didn't say, his plea fell on deaf ears; Toni continued shaking him.

“What time is it?” he mumbled.

“I don't know. Wanna fool around?”

Instead of answering, he rolled them over. With his elbows braced on either side of her head, he rubbed his thumbs over her cheeks. She tilted her chin up, pursing her lips in invitation. He bent his head until they were almost kissing.

“You have bad breath,” he whispered, his lips ghosting across hers.

“So do you. Now lazy, half asleep sex me.”

“What's the magic word,” he teased, his cock already half hard.

She rolled her eyes. “Please?”

He chuckled and kissed her, grinding his hips down onto hers. She gasped into his mouth when she felt his cock against her. Shifting his weight to one arm, he used the other to snake down between them, stroking his cock once, twice, before reaching up to tug at the band of her panties. She lifted her hips, allowing him to slip them down to her knees, where she kicked them the rest of the way off. Her chest was heaving, still covered in the tank top he'd dressed her in, her nipples hard and clearly visible through the thin fabric.

“You're so beautiful like this,” he breathed. “Ready and wanting. Eager for me to fuck you.” She whined as he ran his thumb across her clit. “Do you want me to fuck you, Toni?”

“Yes.” It was barely audible. Steve hummed and sat back on his knees. He stroked himself a few times before crawling the rest of the way to the drawer on Toni's side of the bed. “I came prepared,” she said before he reached the drawer, pulling the condom from below her pillow.

Grabbing it, Steve quickly tore the package with his teeth and rolled it on. He positioned himself over Toni, once again bracketing his elbows to the sides of her head.

“Ready?” he asked. She nodded her head and Steve took that as the permission it was, then guided his cock inside of her. His hips involuntarily bucked forward. She felt so good; warm and wet. He rolled his hip a few times before dipping his head forward and sucking at the hollow of her throat.

“Baby,” she gasped, running her fingers through his hair before pulling. He continued to fuck into her at a slow but steady pace, enjoying the tight heat of her pussy, loving the way their half clothed bodies rubbed against each other.

“Whoever said missionary was dead wasn't doing it right,” Toni said, her speech jarred with each of his thrusts. He let out a breath of air that resembled a laugh. He adjusted his body weight to one arm, running his thumb across her cheek before trailing south. Deft fingers rubbed across her covered nipples, pinching at the raised flesh. Her back arched off the bed, shouting, “Baby!”

“Yes my love?”

“Feel so good.”

“You like how I feel when I fuck you? When I'm inside you? Filling you up.” He moved his hand lower, pressing his thumb to her clit and adding just enough pressure to elicit a whine from her. “Tell me how much you want it.”

“I want it. I want it, baby. I need it.”

“Hmm. What is it you want?” he asked, circling his thumb gently, adding just the amount of pressure he knew she loved.

“I wanna cum baby. I wanna cum with your cock in my pussy. Please baby make me cum.”

His thumb still on her clit, he hooked his pinky into her vagina alongside his cock, the gentle drag of his finger inside of her contrasting the steady pace he'd set. It only took a few more moments before she was coming, her body spasming beneath him. When her body went lax, he changed his tactic, setting a harder pace, chasing his own completion. When he finally did cum, it was with a grunt, his hips stuttering into her.

He rolled off of her, both of their chests heaving with the exertion. What started as lazy sex had not ended as such, but Steve already felt himself being dragged back into sleep. He mumbled something to Toni, reminding her to pee to avoid a UTI. He handed her the tied off condom to dispose of. She groaned but he felt the bed shift as she got up.

Two years ago he was looking at Toni Stark chewing bubble gum in class, blowing obscenely large bubbles and popping them unnecessarily loud, completely ignoring the teacher telling her to spit it out. Infatuation was the word most would call it but he was pretty sure it had been love at first sight. Well, for him at least. Now here they were, peeing with the door open. Intimacy at its core.

The toilet flushed and he squinted one eye open to see her stumbling out of the bathroom, wearing no underwear and an askew tank top.

“Love you, babe,” he slurred, the words sounding like luffyababe.

“Shut up, it's four in the morning.” Shuddup, ‘s fornth mornin.

You woke me up.” Yew woke m’up. The bed dipped as she crawled under the covers, spooning up behind him and kissing his shoulder. He drifted to sleep with a smile on his face.

They woke up the next morning, to use the word morning loosely as it was the far side of 11:45, to a scratching at the door. Toni rolled over, unwilling to meet the day, before she realized what it was.

“Steve!” She shouted. “We forgot to take Nova out last night!”

“She's your dog,” he grumbled, barely awake.

“Yeah but you didn't remind me.” She hastily stepped into last night’s discarded underwear. “Give me your shirt.” He obeyed, blindly throwing it in the direction of her voice. She slipped it on and walk-ran to the door. On the other side, the small dog looked up at her, making a high whining sound.

“I'm so sorry baby girl,” she said, leaning over to pick up Nova. Trying not to jostle her too much, she jogged down the three flights of stairs. On the second floor she saw Natasha and Bucky leaving the same room. Due to the fact that Nova was currently peeing on her, she didn't even get the chance to glare knowingly.

Once Nova was placed on the grass and took to running in circles, Toni sank into one of the chairs surrounding the pool. Her nose crinkled at the pee coating the shirt. It was putrid. At least Nova had waited until now to poop. The dog squatted behind a tree--hopefully she hadn't pooped in the house over night.

Apparently she dozed, because when she next opened her eyes, her friends were all sitting around the pool with her. Someone, probably Steve, had put sunglasses on her face. Her eyes focused just in time to see Clint do a backflip off the rock formation toward the deep end. The splash was aggravatingly large, soaking Tony.

“Fuck you,” she shouted, trying to find one spot of dry shirt to wipe the glasses with.

“Aw, did the little princess get wet?” Clint teased, punctuating his remark with another splash in her direction.

“The little princess owns this pool and can easily kick you out at any time she wants,” Toni said, sitting up and groggily looking around. Natasha had a wine glass in her hand, Bucky was smoking a cigar, Sam was playing on his phone. Steve was in the pool, pulling Nova around on her special float. That dumb dog couldn't keep her tongue in her mouth if she tried.

“You all sure know how to make yourselves at home.” She stretched her arms above her head and relished in the gorgeous pop her spine made. “If that's one of my father’s cigars…”

“Yeah, yeah. You'll kill me or maim me or something,” Bucky drawled, taking another long drag from the cigar. “Normally you threaten to sic Steve on people but you wouldn't hurt me, Stevie, would you?”

“If Toni gets grounded, I don't get sex,” Steve said. Nova splashed a tiny paw in the water, then recoiled. Steve righted her, steadying the float. Nova was not a fan of the pool.

“You're my best friend!”

“She's my girlfriend. And… sex.”

“You’re not going to be getting sex if that's the only reason you agree with me. Speaking of sex,” Toni said, an easy smirk creeping across her face. “I saw Nat and Buck creeping out of the same room this morning. Any reason you're wearing a shirt at the pool, Barnes? Are you covered in love bites ?”

Natasha pushed her sunglasses down her nose, glaring at Toni. Bucky continued to smoke, looking away as if Toni hadn't spoken. The rest of the group had gone silent.

Chaos erupted when Nova saw a bird, jumped from the float to try and chase it, then paddled pathetically around, trying to stay afloat. Steve lunged toward her, plucking her out of the water and putting her on the side of the pool. Sam ran after her as she chased the bird, snatching her off the ground before she caught up to and maimed it. Clint took the distraction as an opportunity to canonball again, the splash reaching Natasha and Bucky as well as Toni.

Toni swore, stripped off the pee soaked shirt along with the tanktop under it, and jumped into the pool beside Clint, surfacing with her naked chest an inch from him. “Steve! Clint’s looking at my boobs!”

“What boobs?” Clint asked. Toni set her mouth into a hard line, putting her hands on his shoulders and pushing down. He couldn't touch the bottom and couldn't stay above the surface treading water with the pressure she was putting on him. He gulped in a deep breath just before his head dipped beneath the surface.

“Toni!” Steve shouted, swimming over and trying to pry her off of Clint. “Toni you can't murder Clint!” He tried to pull her away but she swatted at him and continued to hold Clint down. Clint continued to flail.

“I’m not going to murder him. I just want him to suffer.”

Steve tried again to pull her off, wrapping his arm around her waist from behind, but she kicked him in the side. Clint made another large splash. Sam jumped in, fully clothed in yesterday's shirt and pants, and helped Steve pull Toni off.  

Clint came to the surface, gasping and spluttering. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Clint shouted, still breathing heavy. His hands continued to slap at the water’s surface, even though his breathing had returned to normal and he was obviously fine.

Toni rolled her eyes. What a pathetic excuse for a human.

“Don't roll your eyes at me!” Clint demanded.

“Babe.” Steve floated to Tony, wrapping an arm around her waist and angling her towards Clint. “Apologize for almost killing Clint.”

“I didn't almost kill him!” She insisted. “I just wanted him to temporarily lose consciousness.”

“Apologize for trying to make him temporarily lose consciousness, then.”

“No,” Toni snapped. “He insulted me.”

Making sure his feet could touch the bottom flat footed, Steve said, “You do have very small boobs.” He put up his hands in surrender. “They're very nice boobs, but they're small.”

Toni screwed her mouth to the side. “I'll apologize if he does first.”

“Look at that! Clint, please apologize so we can put this behind us.”

“No! What I did was nowhere near as bad as what she did.”

“Probably not, but she's ten times more stubborn.”

A long, drawn out groan escaped Clint. “I’m sorry I called your boobs small.”

Steve gently elbowed Toni, prompting her. “I’m sorry you're an ass who almost finally got what he deserved.” Then her voice thin, “and I’m sorry I tried to drown you.”


“I know you're trying to take down the patriarchy or set misogynistic douche bags right, but taking off your top and yelling at people for looking isn't solving the problem,” Steve said. Their friends had left hours ago and the pair were curled up on the loveseat, ignoring the TV while they made out. “Especially when those people are our friends.” He kissed her before she had a chance to respond.

“I have a headache. I think you should go,” Toni joked, pulling away. It wasn't entirely a lie, she did have a headache and Steve did need to go, the two just weren't correlated. Sure, society saw them as burnouts or degenerates, but the reality was Toni held a 4.2 GPA and Steve wasn't far behind with a 3.9. He lowered his head to her stomach, placing a quick kiss just above her navel.

“Love you.” He pushed himself up and fixed his shirt from where Toni had hiked it up in the back. “Are you gonna pick me up before school tomorrow?”

Toni groaned, scrubbing a hand across her face. “Maybe? I don't know if I’m gonna go.”

“We've been in a school three weeks and you've attended eight days.”

Toni shrugged. School was boring and easy. Probably some time in the next week, the Stark estate would get a phone call. Toni would pretend to be her mother and assure they would have a ‘talk’. Another week or two would pass before the next phone call came, in which Toni would once again pretend to be her mother and set up an appointment with the principal. Toni would go to the meeting. At that point, one or two things would happen. The first scenario resulted in administration feeling sorry for her because her mom couldn't be bothered to remember her appointment. The second, and more likely, would be Toni would have to explain how stupid attendance rules were, especially since she has an above perfect GPA.

Steve, on the other hand, had a mother who would answer the phone. A mother who was home more than one weekend a month. A mother Steve could not lie to if his life depended on it. Steve, unfortunately, felt a great need to attend school regularly.

“You really should go to school.”

“You sound like a broken record,” Toni whined. Steve was tying his shoes. Toni made grabby hands at Steve, trying to rope him into staying longer, even though it was she who suggested he leave. “If you don't go to school tomorrow, you don't have to do homework tonight. If you don't have to do homework tonight, you don't need to get your backpack at home. If you don't need to get your backpack, you can stay here.”

He kissed the top of her head and headed towards the door. “Tempting, but some of us actually have to work for our grades.”

“If you stay, I’ll do your homework for you!” she shouted after him, but he was already gone. Suddenly, her phone became the most interesting thing in the world. A mass text informed her that all of her friends were doing homework. Lame.

Gnawing on her lip, she opened up new message. Her fingers hovered over the keys, unsure of what to say. It had been weeks since she had even opened a message to him, months since she’d sent anything. What was there to say? Sorry didn’t really cut it. I miss you was months too late. There were no words, really. She locked her phone and threw it on the floor, wincing as the screen cracked. At least she had something to do tomorrow while she wasn’t at school.


The Apple store did not consider drunkenly dropping a device into a hot tub to be a valid warranty claim. Needless to say, the previous night’s teenage angst didn’t qualify, either.

“Seriously, it was an accident. It just dropped off the couch,” Toni defended to the bored looking Genius Bar associate. It took all of her willpower to (rightfully) inform the blue-shirt wearing fuck that Toni could do their job with her hands tied behind her back.

“This appears to be damaged in three locations and is showing signs of water damage.”

“No!” she insisted. “It is broken in one location and there is no water damage. I was very careful after last time.”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but it is the policy…”

“Whatever.”  She slammed Howard’s black AmEx on the counter and slid it over. “The newest iPhone with the biggest memory in rose gold.” Blue Shirt skittered away, presumably to get Toni’s new phone. While she waited, she fought through her broken screen to place a call to Steve.

“Hey. I know your bitch ass is in class… I’m a poet and I didn’t know it… but I’m at the Apple store because I had an accident. No, it was not another hot tubbing incident and that was your fault anyway. Besides the point. Anyway, if you’ve texted me last night or this morning and I didn’t get back, that’s why. Will you come by after school? Bring me my assignments. Remember, I’m really sick. Cough cough or whatever. Love you.”

“Would you like to trade in your current phone for a discount on your new one?” Blue Shirt asked. Shouldn’t they have done that before they went back and got the new phone?

“No, I’m good. Just give it to me.”

“Would you like us to help you set it up?”

Her eye roll was instinctual--she didn’t want to actually be an asshole to Blue Shirt--but the insinuation that they were more competent than her was offensive, to put it plainly.


“Can I have the homework for Antoinette?” Steve asked Toni’s beyond public-school-qualified-even-for-AP science teacher. “She’s sick today.” Dr. Selvig looked thoroughly unimpressed but handed the assignments over, regardless. Steve thanked him and continued on to Toni’s next class. The rambling voicemail from the Apple store was followed up a few hours later with series of Snapchats showcasing Toni in various states of undress.

“Can I have the homework for Antoinette?” Steve asked the next teacher on Toni’s schedule. The monotony continued, explaining to each teacher that Toni was sick--really. His quest was interrupted with messages from Toni, complaining about how he missed him.

I’ll be there in a second , he texted back, walking into the final classroom on the list.

“Can I have the homework for Antoinette?”

“Which Antoinette?” Mr. Zola said, his heavy Swiss accent raising goosebumps across Steve’s arms. Mr. Zola had always made Steve feel uneasy. He couldn’t pinpoint what about the man set him on edge.

The only Antionette that goes here, Steve wanted to snap. “Antoinette Stark. She’s sick today.”

Zola tisked. “This is unfortunate.”

“She asked that I bring her today’s assignments.”

“Ms. Stark is a bright girl. She cannot expect that I am to believe this lie. You cannot think me to be a fool.”

Steve pursed his lips. “I don’t know which lie you’re talking about. My girlfriend is sick today and she asked that I pick up her assignments and bring them to her.”

“I can give you the assignments for her. She will receive no credit if she does not return tomorrow with a note signed by her physician and a parent.”

Steve grabbed the paper out of the man’s grubby little hand. An essay, one Steve had proofread himself and understood none of, showed a 68% on the top. Toni was going to love that. She inexplicably loved going above teachers to administrators when grading was unfair. It didn’t matter if it were her work or not. Steve had seen her boost up a C to a deserving A; he’d also seen her fight off preferential treatment to the select few athletes who were dangerously close to slipping below a 2.0.

“Will do, Mr. Zola.”

“That is Doctor Zola to you, dummer Junge .”

Steve almost made it out the door, he’d almost gotten out without snapping at the creepy little man. He, however, did not possess patience or strong will power when it came to biting his tongue. This asshole wanted to call him a stupid boy? “Why is a bald Swedish midget teaching high school German, anyway?” He didn’t stick around long enough to see it, but he knew doctor Zola  had turned that glorious shade of purple that started at his neck and went all the way to the crown of his bald little head.


“Cramps?” Steve asked, searching a website boasting realistic doctor’s notes.

“Nah. Gotta save that for when my vagina actually decides to start bleeding viciously.”

“Strained muscle?”

“I’ve played LAX with tendonitis and I make sure everyone knows it. Next.”

“Dental emergency?”

“You said I was under the weather. That doesn’t work.”

Steve continued to scroll, searching for a believable ailment that would keep her out for a single day. “I think you should go with food poisoning. I know, I know. You don’t like the idea of your teachers thinking you spent the day with liquid shit pouring out of you, but there isn’t a way to prove or disprove it.”

“You don’t get a doctor’s note for food poisoning, Steve.”

“Fine. Go with migraine.”

“That’s so boring. Fine. I had a migraine. Daddy, will you sign my doctor’s note?”

He tackled her onto the bed, kissing her forehead before pressing their lips together. “Only if you never call me daddy again.”

The next few hours were filled with fingers tapping on laptop keys, the turning of pages, and the occasional quick kiss when one of them adjusted positions. At 5:30, Steve got a call from his mom, telling him that she would be home for dinner and to invite Toni if he wanted.

“Toni, do you want to come to dinner?” Steve asked, the phone to his chest to quiet the conversation for his mom’s ears. Toni nodded her head yes. Steve relayed the message to his mom.

Toni loved the Rogers home. There were pictures on the walls--pictures of events and family, not abstract art that her mother spent too much on and pretended she understood. The furniture didn’t match. Steve had made the coffee table in his freshman year woodshop class. One of the legs was too short and there was a book under it, but Sarah was proud and refused to get rid of it.

There was always conversation, too. She knew that Sarah paid a little extra attention to her. Sarah Rogers was not an idiot. Luckily, Sarah had the tact not to ever say anything to Toni about her home life. Instead, she asked about the other things in Toni’s life.

Toni always felt special, like a noteworthy person, when she was at the Rogers’.

Sometimes she liked to pretend that her real family was like the Rogers family. Maybe Howard and Maria had adopted her from some poor family, paid them generously of course. Her real parents were waiting for Toni to reach eighteen, when they could reveal themselves and she would be able to join them without the legal battle of emancipation.

Of course, that was just a fantasy. She looked just like Howard and Maria. There was no question from whose loins she sprung.

“Toni, what made you decide to quit cheer?” Sarah asked, unsubtly scooping extra squash onto Toni’s plate. That was Sarah Rogers, always taking care of Toni as if she weren’t capable of it herself.

“I wasn’t happy where the squad was going,” Toni said, shoving a large bite of meatloaf into her mouth. Sarah Rogers even made meatloaf taste good. What a saint. Sarah nodded in encouragement for Toni to go on. She chewed more quickly and swallowed, continuing. “The equilibrium was off after last year’s near fall. It… had nothing to do with almost drop, though that is what everyone is saying.”

“High school gossip. I know it’s hard to see it now, but it will all be trivial in a few years,” Sarah said, cutting into her meat. “Stevie is going to miss having you cheer for him at his games. When does the season start?”

“The first game is this Saturday,” he informed. Sarah nodded. Toni could practically see the gears turning in her head on who she could convince to switch shifts with.

“Just because I’m not in a little outfit and waving pom-poms doesn’t mean I won’t be cheering for him.” She leaned towards Steve, Steve leaned in as well, their lips met for a quick kiss. Sarah snapped her fingers at them.

“None of that at the dinner table.”

Steve said, “Sorry mom,” at the same time that Toni said, “Sorry, ma’am.”


“I was talking to Jemma.” Toni and Steve were sprawled out on her bed, half clothed and sharing a blunt. “She’s never cum. Came? She’s never orgasmed, is the point I’m getting at.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Steve asked. The burning tip glowed a brighter orange as he took a long drag.

“She was surprised that I do. That you make me cum every time.” She plucked the blunt from his hands and took a shallow breath in, letting the smoke come out at her next words. “She said she wanted to talk to Fitz about it.” She blew out what was left in her lungs and brought the blunt back to her mouth. “But she choked up every time she tried.”

Toni continued to look out the window, talking to Steve but essentially ignoring his presence. “Is that a thing?” she asked.

“Is what a thing?”

“Do guys really not make girls cum? You always seemed to know what you were doing.”

Steve cleared his throat, almost choking on the smoke he’d been inhaling. “I researched. Before we started having sex.”

“Really?” He’d never told her that before.

“Have you ever cum from just my cock?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Toni laughed lightly. “Maybe?”

“No. I always use my hands or my mouth to finish you.” He spread his legs to either side of her, pulling her against him, and letting his hand dip into the front of her panties. Her body jerked involuntarily when his thumb traced over her clit. “Right here.”

“So, what you’re saying is…” Toni gasped when he did it again. “Other guys just slam their dicks into their lady’s vagina until they blow their load? And then… stop?” She started to rock her hips against his fingers.

“Apparently.”

She continued to grind her hips against his hand. Before long, the tips of his fingers were dipping inside her. The dual sensations--his cock against her ass, his fingers massaging her pussy--was almost too much. Add in Steve using his free hand to hold the blunt to her mouth, and she was gone.

They continued on until the ember threatened to burn their lips if they inhaled again. Steve pulled his hand away, Toni stubbed out blunt, Steve undressed, Toni undressed, Steve rolled the condom on, Toni straddled him, Steve held his cock steady, Toni lowered herself onto him. Steve thrust up, Toni arched her back, Steve thrust up, Toni jolted forward, Steve thrust up, Toni threw her head back, Steve thrust up, Toni rubbed her clit. They met in the middle again, again, again, again.

Breathless, Toni collapsed beside him. Before growing too comfortable, she got up to pee and Steve announced he’d be right back. His jeans were hanging low on his hips when he left her room, Nova’s leash in his hand.

Chapter Text

“I got you hot chocolate,” Peter said, handing the cup of steaming liquid to Toni. “You looked cold.” The truth was, she was always cold. Factor in that it was October and the wind was blowing and it was night time… she had all but lost feelings in her extremities.

“Thanks,” she said, taking a huge gulp. She could practically feel the path of warmth the hot chocolate made as it seeped down her throat, into her stomach. The game was set to have started nine minutes ago.

“No problem.”

They stood in silence. Toni hated football. She really, really hated it. But she loved Steve. She really, really loved him. So, here she was, freezing her ass off waiting for the game to start. Of course she was in the front and she would cheer the loudest. Steve could never know she hated the sport he was so passionate about.

“You ask the Gwen girl out, yet?” Toni asked.

Peter dipped his chin to his chest. For a moment it looked like he was going to rub at the back of his neck, but aborted the movement before it got too far. Then, deciding that it looked more awkward to not finish the movement itself, he eventually indulged in the nervous tick. “Not yet.”

“You should get on that soon. She could die.” At the look of absolute terror on Peter’s face, Toni backtracked. “Or move away. I was kidding. She isn’t going to die.”

“Then why would you say that?” Peter’s voice was rising in pitch as Toni had come to realize it did when confronted with any kind of stress. Cute little freshman.

“To create a sense of urgency. If you don't ask her out soon, someone else might.”

Peter let out a stressed whine. “What if she says no?”

Toni smiled, took a sip of her cocoa, licked the residue from her upper lip. “I said no when Steve asked me out.”

Toni knew as soon as she said it that she was going to have to tell the story. Luckily, the band started playing, her former teammates cartwheeled onto the field, and the announcer called out each player’s name. Toni glowed with pride when Steve got the loudest cheers.

The game was, predictably, boring and annoying. Very sudden, lots of grunting. She was on her phone most of the time, only checking in once every ten or so minutes to make sure she had moments to recall when Steve inevitably asked her about the game.

Unsurprisingly, they won. That was another thing Toni hated about the games; they always won. Not that she wasn't excited for Steve or the rest of his friends and teammates, but she knew that they would probably go undefeated until the championship. At that point, they would choke and lose and once again return to school that following Monday with their heads hung low.

It happened every year.

The highlight of game night, though, was the post-game adrenaline fueled fucking. The kind of sex that prompted scarves and high necked sweaters and Steve coming over early before school so Toni had time to cake his neck in makeup.

Currently Toni was on her back, legs slung over Steve’s shoulders while he aggressively pushed in and out of her. Her nails scratched along his back, leaving dark indents. The headboard was slamming against the wall. Toni was distantly aware that she was making a high-pitched whining sound, but was powerless to stop it.

She grabbed at Steve's hair, drenched with sweat. She pulled him down into a kiss, causing his thrusts to slow to avoid bit lips. Unpleased with the change of pace, she let his head go.

He'd barely finished when he collapsed beside her. She was still panting, coming down from three orgasms in fairly rapid succession. Because that’s what Steve did; he made sure she always came first, at least once.

“Babe,” she said. She could run five miles without a problem but sex with Steve left her feeling as if her lungs were on fire. “You can't stay here tonight. Your mom isn't working the overnight. She'll notice if you don't come home.”

Steve requested a nap and Toni was powerless to deny him that. Five minutes couldn't hurt. She could close her eyes for five minutes.

They woke up at 9:36 the following morning.


“Have you spoken to your friend, yet?”

“Steve still won’t use me in bed.” Toni whined to Dr. Potts. “I don’t actually want him to use me, use me. But as, like, a role-play or something. Just fuck me and cum and then walk away without me having came. He won’t do it. He won’t even call me a whore.”

Dr. Potts sighed. “Have you asked him to do this recently?”

“Do your other patients talk about their sex life as much as I do?”

“You know I can't tell you about what happens in my other sessions.”

Stupid doctor/patient confidentiality. “Do you tell other people about me?”

Dr. Potts sighed. She sighed a lot. Toni wondered if Dr. Potts sighed this much with her other clients.

Toni groaned. “No, I haven't asked recently. Instead I save the conversation to have with my therapist where she will ask me the same question week after week. Of course I've asked him!” She snapped. “What exactly are your qualifications? Therapist? Psychologist?”

“You're deflecting.”

“What was the question again?” Tony asked, feigning innocence.

“Have you spoken to Rhodey recently?”

There were a few hairs escaping from Dr. Potts’s bun. Gravity had no effect on them; they stood, suspended in air. Should Toni tell Dr. Potts? Let her therapist know that her normally perfect hair was in slight disarray? She'd be accused of deflecting again, but those three stupid hairs were driving her bat shit up a wall crazy.

“Not recently.”

“Do you miss him?”

“Look, Pepper. Pep in my step. Pepperoni pizza. He's my best friend. Was. Rhodey was my best friend. Bad things happened. I missed my window and now it would be too forced.”

“Do you miss him?”

“Yes.” It was hardly a whisper.

“Why don't you go visit him?”

“He doesn't want to see me.”

“How do you know? Have you asked?”

Toni glared at Dr. Potts. She longed to call her every name in the book; push her away. Whore, bitch, slut, cunt. All viable options. Nearly a minute had passed. Their eyes were locked, waiting for the other to break. Toni exhaled a shaky breath.

“I wouldn't want to see him if the roles were reversed.”

Dr. Potts scribbled something in her little notebook. Toni was going to have to snag that and take a look. Well… try. The last time she tried was after hours when Dr. Potts was working late. That night, Dr. Potts had become Pepper, though she loathes the nickname. If they find out I tried to pepper-spray a client, I'd lose my job. Blah blah.

“Wouldn't you? Even though… that happened, you wouldn't want to see your best friend?”

“Well. Maybe. But. Oh look, we're out of time.” Toni hopped up and grabbed her purse. “See ya next week, doc. Same time, same place. Duces.” She called over her shoulder as she stormed out of Odyssey Mental Health and Counseling Services. OMHCS. Sounded phlegmy.

Where did her therapist get off? Go visit him? Yeah, okay. She'll just drop everything and drive to Connecticut! With shaky hands, she drove to the Rogers’ home, sighing in relief when only Steve's junker was in the drive. Sarah was still at work.

The door was unlocked and she followed the sounds of the television until she was in the living room. Steve was on the couch, feet propped on the table. One hand was in this boxers, the other shoving Cheetos into his mouth. Nova was sitting beside him, licking her paw. On Wednesdays Steve picked her up from the dog sitter’s while Toni was in therapy.

“You fiddle your diddle to Rick and Morty?

“Jesus!” The bowl of Cheetos spilled around him at the startled jump. “I wasn't… I was just kind of playing with it. I'm not even hard. Don't girls squish their boobs? I don't know.” Nova tried to eat a Cheeto off the couch, but Steve looped his fingers through her collar and pulled her away.

“Whatever you say.” She grabbed the remote and turned off the tv. She dropped onto the couch beside Steve, curling up to his side. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her even closer.

Minutes passed. Steve pretended he didn't hear Toni was crying, instead choosing to run his hand up and down her arm. Toni was eternally grateful. She knew she'd have to face this eventually, but she was content to delay the inevitable as long as possible.

“Maybe you should text him,” Steve whispered, hesitant.

“You're supposed to be on my side,” she said, jolting out of his grip.

“Honey.” Steve scrubbed both hands over his face. “I am on your side. But… Rhodey is my friend, too. He misses you.”

“You've talked to him?” She shouldn't be upset. She knew that Rhodey and Steve were friends. They bonded over patriotism or something. But Rhodey was her friend, just like Bucky was Steve's friend.

“Yes,” Steve admitted. “I’ve texted him a bit and we talked once.”

Toni was seeing red. This wasn’t how this afternoon was supposed to go. She was supposed to go over to Steve’s and tell him about how hard things had been with Pepper. He was supposed to kiss her and play with her hair and then they’d watch bad TV while the dog snored on the floor. Then Sarah would come home and make dinner and life would be lovely, if only for a moment and if only to repress some dark shit.

“I think it’s time for Nova and I to leave,” she said, scooping up the dog. “You’re not going to betray me, are you baby girl?” she cooed, jostling Nova a little in her arms as she walked out the door. While she didn’t look back, she saw Steve’s expression in the reflection of the glass door. He was sufficiently stunned at her outburst.

She sat in her car, gripping the wheel with such force she was surprised it didn’t bend. Nova was padding around the passenger seat. Why did everyone want her to do this? More importantly, why couldn’t she just nut-up and do it?

When she was trying out for cheerleading freshman year, she nailed the routine. The then-captain made each person come up and give a reason they deserved to be on the team. Most of the girls did splits or cartwheels. When it was Toni’s turn, without saying a word or batting an eye, she did a standing backflip. She’d done backflips on Clint’s trampoline countless times, but had never attempted to do one on standing ground. She needed to do something so she went all the way, no half-assed shit.

Decision made, she stormed back into Steve’s house.

“Get in the car. We’re going to Connecticut.”

She didn’t turn around to see if he was following her; she knew that he was. Soon after she was in the car and buckled in, Steve came hobbling out, still trying to put on his shoes. When he opened the door, Nova nearly jumped out. She started yapping when he caught her and didn’t stop once the doors were closed and they’d started their journey.

“Maybe she has to go to the bathroom,” Steve suggested. The GPS was telling Toni to bare left, but she swerved to the side and threw the car in park.

“Fine. Go walk her. Let her shit to her heart’s content.” Steve left and Toni read over the directions. It looked like they were in for a two and a half hour drive, if their route stayed clear. That wasn’t so bad. Two and a half hours? Fuck, that was shorter than the football games she endured on a near weekly basis.

“She had to poop,” Steve announced, getting back into the car.

“Good thing we stopped, then,” Tony grumbled, putting the car in drive and swerving out into traffic. There was nearly twenty minutes of silence, no music or conversation to interrupt the stillness. What was going on right now? Why was she being such a raging bitch to Steve? He’d not done anything wrong.

“I’m sorry,” Toni blurted. “I know I’m acting insane. This is just…” She kept her eyes locked on the road. “I ruined his life, you know? And… it’s going to be hard. Seeing him. And talking to him. And… I have to apologize, but ‘I’m sorry’ really doesn’t cut it.”

She wrenched the car to the side of the freeway, pulling on her flashers. Her forehead hit the steering wheel while she cried softly. Google Maps kept telling her to merge back onto the road, a never ending stream of suggestions.

“I can’t do this today,” she hissed. “I wanted to. And. I know that I really need to.”

“But you’re not ready,” Steve said. She nodded and, for the first time since the drive began, looked over at him. He schooled his expression quickly enough, but not before Toni saw the look on his face. She probably looked like hell, makeup smeared, eyes red and puffy, snot running down to her chin. She’d always been a very snotty crier.

“How about I turn us around and get back home?” Steve suggested, undoing his seatbelt and gently moving the sleeping pug to the backseat. “You can close your eyes or cuddle with Nova. We’ll get back to my place and we’ll have dinner and watch a movie. How does that sound?”

Toni nodded and sniffled, letting Steve pull her into an awkward hug.

“Let’s get home,” he urged. He offered her a disregarded napkin from the glovebox and she took it, blowing loudly. She sniffled again, quickly, before removing her seatbelt and getting out of the car. When they passed by each other, Steve dipped his head to give her a quick kiss.

“How about we play whenever/wherever,” he suggested a few minutes into the drive. They hadn't even reached an exit to turn around. She nodded quietly, pulling Nova closer to her chest.

“When?” She asked, barely over a whisper.

“1920s. Where?”

“New York City, of course. The 1920s are practically synonymous with New York City.” She knew what he was doing. Getting her to talk. Changing the subject. She was loathe to admit it, but as always, Steve knew what to do with her stupid mood swings.

“You're an upperclass dame,” Steve started. “Very well to do. Got the husband. The kid. Old money. He has a mustache. You smoke your cigarettes though a long holder.”

“You're a low life, a criminal,” Toni said. “Pin stripe suit. The whole shebang.”

“Your husband is a man of the law.”

“Determined to rid the city of scourge like you.”

“You leave him for me. You take your pearls and your furs and leave in the dark of the night.”

“Our affair is legendary. We buy our way up the crime scale. I know the who’s who of the Manhattan upper-class.” Toni grinned, wide and wolf-like. “The last time I see my husband is when he’s staring down the barrel of your gun.”

“I’ll say ‘any last words.’ My finger is on the trigger.”

“‘You left me for him?!’” Tony gasped, impersonating her fictional husband.

“‘A’course she did! She ain’t never loved ya.’” Steve’s accent was pitiful; Toni snorted out a laugh.

“‘Don’t kill ‘im,’ I say. He starts to thank me but I grab my own tommy gun off the table and blow his head off.”

“That got dark,” Steve said, drawing them out of the fantasy. Toni sighed, absently scratching behind Nova’s ears. The dog, still asleep, sniffled and kicked one leg. Yeah, it got dark. The kind of darkness she deserved to feel. She was a horrible friend, she doesn’t deserve Steve or anything or--

“Let’s play again,” she gasps, desperate to halt her train of thought. “Future, Mars.”

They played the game until they got back to Steve’s house. Sarah’s car had joined the driveway and, when they stepped out of the car, they could smell dinner through the open window in the kitchen. It smelled heavily of tomatoes. Toni could hardly wait.

“Toni!” Sarah greeted, arms open. “Will you be joining us for dinner this evening?”

Toni smiled, shy. “If that’s okay.”

“You’re always welcome here,” she said. While Toni’s petite, Sarah is even shorter. Still, she stood on her tiptoes to kiss Toni’s forehead. “Go wash up, you two. Dinner will be out in a few minutes.”

They walk to the bathroom, individually washing their hands. When they’re done, Toni tried to walk back to the kitchen but Steve grabbed her hand and pulls her close. He held her, arms wrapped tight. She needed it, but would never ask.

“I love you,” he whispered into her hair. “So, so much.”

“I love you, too.”

She slept at Steve’s, sneaking into his room from the couch six minutes after the light from under Sarah’s door was turned off. Wordlessly, she climbed into bed and cuddled up to his side. He looped his arm around her, still scrolling on his phone.

“Bucky and Natasha went to Panera,” Steve noted, showing Toni the picture on his phone.

“Are they dating or just fucking?” Toni asked around a yawn. Steve was so warm and he smelled so good. Her eyes started to droop closed.

“I think they think they’re just fucking, but they’re actually dating,” Steve reasoned. Toni yawned again and nuzzled her face into Steve’s peck. “Can I help you?”

“Cuddly,” she mumbled. “Tell me a bedtime story.” She heard the click of Steve locking his phone.

“What story do you want to hear?” he asked, running his fingers through her hair.

“Tell me a story about us.”

Steve thought for a moment before sighing deeply. He kissed the top of her head, then, when she craned her neck back, he leaned down further to capture her lips in a quick kiss.

“Once upon a time,” he began. “There was the most beautiful girl in the world. Seriously, she was gorgeous. But she wasn’t just pretty. No, she was smart and clever and a spoiled brat. There was this schmuck in her freshman english class who was, on first sight, hopelessly in love with her. He’d never seen anything like her, met any one like her.

“She was a cheerleader and he was second string JV football. The lowest position you could possibly get, since you were automatically on JV if you even tried out. Long story short, he didn’t have a chance with her.”

“Oh hush,” she slurred, already on the brink of sleep.

“Do you want to tell the story?” he asked. She shook her head no. “Then you hush.”

“Bossy.”

“Where was I? Oh yes, he didn’t have a chance with her. Instead, he chose to stare at her from afar, like a creepy fuck. In December they were partnered up for an in class reading of Romeo and Juliet, which went about as well as one could expect. He poured his heart into telling her she was the sun while she read, in a monotonous tone, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

“February comes and that’s when the story gets good. See, the schmuck had been lifting for about an hour every day after school in the school workout room. One day, the perfect girl strolls in, wearing nothing but a sports bra and some tiny little booty shorts, and starts going whole ham on the treadmill. Her fine booty was jiggling like there was no tomorrow.” Steve grabbed her butt for good measure and she chuckled lightly.

“Seeing his in, he dropped the weights and power walked over to the treadmill and got on the one next to the princess. She was running at about forty miles per hour--”

“I’m pretty sure she was running about 6 miles per hour.”

“I’m telling the story, and I say she was going forty miles per hour. Anyway, he sets his treadmill to about 3 miles per hour and walks gently next to her. After a few minutes, he clears his throat and she looks at him and pops out one of her earbuds, not breaking stride. You’re beautiful , he says, because he’s an idiot. Can I maybe, uh, take you out on, like, um, a date? His heart is pounding at this point and he’s pretty sure he’s going to go into cardiac arrest while he waits for her to respond.

You’re so cute , she says. She slows down her machine and this is it. He’s positive she’s going to say yes. It was this easy all along? Holy shit. Then she says, But no. Sorry. She puts the earbud back in and, as far as the schmuck can tell, turns it up to drown him out.

“Devastated, he goes home and tells his mom what happened and then he cries in his room. This girl is the girl of his dreams and he went and fucked it up. He decided, then, that he wasn’t going to give up so easily. The next day, she strolls into the gym in another tiny little outfit. This time, he’s already on the treadmill, waiting for her.

“She gets on and starts running, slower this time. He notices she’s not listening to music, so he tries to strike up a conversation. It goes about as well as could be expected. Lot’s of ums and uhs. But she laughs when he makes a joke and he smiles, so fucking proud of himself. He decides that he’s going to spend the rest of his life trying to make her laugh like that.

“He asks her out again after, and she says no again. But this time when she says it, she’s smiling and he thinks maybe, just maybe, he’s getting somewhere. The next day, she’s there first. He asks her why she suddenly got into running, that he hasn’t seen her around before. She tells him she’s been running for months, getting ready for lacrosse tryouts, but her treadmill at home broke down. Then, she says the best sentence the schmuck had ever heard. I’m glad, though, because I started hanging out with you.

“This was it, he thought. This was the invitation. She was ready to say yes. It was going to happen. Will you go out with me , he asks. He’s holding his breath which is not good when you’re running, but he’s too nervous to breathe. Why don’t you ask me again when I’m not all sweaty. She winks and gets off the machine, even though they’ve only been there a few minutes, and walks towards the locker room showers.

“He takes the quickest shower of his entire life and is waiting for her when she leaves the girl’s locker room. Her hair is naturally curly. Well, more wavy than curly, but not the pin straight he had associated with her. It was, in a word, stunning.

Will you, Antoinette Stark, go out with me , he asks, voice firm. She smiles and says As long as you promise to never call me Antoinette again. It’s Toni. Two and a half years later, they’re snuggled up in his bed and she is…” he looked down at her, at the small puddle of drool on his shirt. “Fast asleep.” He flicked off the light by his bed, careful not to shift too much and wake her. “Love you,” he whispered into the darkness.

The next morning when Steve woke up, Toni was already gone. There was a handwritten note stuck to his chest. He smiled when he read her horrendous chicken scratch. Went home 2 change clothes + shower. Love you lots. C u @ school. Mwa. A small doodle of what he assumed was them kissing was at the bottom. The drawer beside his bed was filled with little notes like these; Toni running away from her home life to stay at his, but rushing to return the next day.

He fired off a quick text to her, then pried himself out of bed for a shower. He beats off, wishing Toni were there showering with him. The thought of her soapy body rubbing up against his was enough for him and he came with a quick grunt.

“Alright Stevie, if you’re finished doing that thing I don’t know you do, please get out. I need to get ready for work.”

Humiliated, Steve wrapped a towel around his waist and opened the door, brushed past his mom, and went to his room. 1 to 10 on the humiliation scale, that was easily an 11. Possibly a 12. He heard the water turn on in the bathroom again, pictured his mother getting in the shower fully clothed because, ew. If he hurried, he would be able to get out of the house before his mom was out.

A plain white t-shirt goes well with plain black jeans. Throwing on the leather jacket Toni got him for Christmas last year (that was way more expensive than the tapestry he’d gotten her that said You’re My Person [unbeknownst to him that it was a reference]) he hauled ass to his car.

The car was a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out argument. Probably their worst to date. For his last birthday, his 16th, Toni had bought him this car. It was a junker, probably cost little over a grand, if that much. He'd been saving for his own, but when he woke up that morning, she’d shown up in bed with him. They'd had sex, hushed and hurried because his mom was somewhere else in the house. When they surfaced, Toni casually tossed a key ring at him. He'd asked what it was and she'd told him it was his keys. Cue: argument.

They'd made up, and he named the car Deborah (Debbie, casually). Debbie was the ancient bag lady at his local grocery store, who'd grown up rich, was a retired multi-millionaire, who got bored and worked for free just to have something to do. His car reminded him of Debbie, old and nice and, once upon a time, beautiful (probably).

Steve was stopped at a red light halfway to school, scrolling through Twitter, when Toni responded to his text. Plz come over. Toni ditched school a lot, Steve not so much. While school came easily to her, Steve had to work a little harder. Never before had Toni asked him to skip school with her, at least in any more than a joking way, so he flicked on his blinker and turned towards her house.

He knocked on the door and it was opened nearly immediately by a worn-down looking Toni. Her hair was in disarray, her sweatpants hung loose on her hips.

“Hey babe,” she mumbled, walking into his open arms. She stood there and breathed him in, her arms hanging loosely around his waist.

“Toni, what’s wrong? I thought you came home to shower and change,” he asked. She took a step back and looked up at him, blinking slowly twice. It was then that Steve realized she was stoned. Her eyes were unfocused and bloodshot and there was the unmistakable smell in her hair.

“I’m not manic,” she started. “I was yesterday but I’m not today.”

“Okay?”

“I need you to take me to Connecticut to see Rhodey and I need you to do it today, before I chicken out.”

“Toni--” he started, knowing where this path led them.

“I know, I know. I’m not doing so hot right now, but I’ve made this decision but I can’t do it without you.”

“You’re high.”

She frowned and crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself tightly. He watched as her fingers gripped the sweatshirt she was wearing. It took Steve a moment to place it, but when he did, he balked. It was Rhodey’s. He’d been complaining about losing it for months, even before the accident.

“Yeah. I… uh. Needed something, I guess. A little help saying what I wanted to say. Asking you. To drive me there.”

Steve huffed out a long suffering sigh. If Toni was ready, she was ready, and he wasn’t going to deny her seeing her best friend. He nodded in acquiescence and she smiled tiredly. She whispered a tired thank you and he pulled her in for another hug.

“Before we go you have to shower and change,” he said, running his fingers through her greasy, tangled hair.

“No,” she grumbled.

“You smell.”

“Don’t care.”

“I’ll join you.”

She looked up through her lashes at him. “Will you wash my hair?” she asked.

“Sure.”


The drive to Connecticut was tense. They’d tried to fool around in the shower but Toni’s heart wasn’t in it. Her heart wasn’t in anything but her throat. They pulled up to the Rhodes’ new home, Google Maps announcing to them that they had arrived.

“Is it too late to turn back?” she asked.

“You don’t have to go in, but we’ve made it this far.”

“You’ll come with me?”

“I hold your hand the whole time,” Steve assured, twining their fingers together over the middle console of the car. This was good. It was time for Toni to face her fear and go talk to her best friend. “It’s time. We should go in.”

Tony swallowed and nodded. This was it. She scrunched her eyes shut and opened the door, getting out and awkwardly walk/running to the front door. There wasn’t a doorbell which, well, the suburbs are different than NYC. She knocked. Steve had come up beside her, was gripping her hand. She gripped harder and knocked again.

“Hello?” A deep voice said from inside. Tony sucked in a sharp breath as the door opened. “Toni?”

“Um.” God, her throat was dry. She swallowed twice, coughed once, and tried again. “Yeah. And… and Steve’s here.”

“Mr. Rhodes,” Steve offered his hand that wasn’t clutched in Toni’s iron grip. Dave and Steve shook hands for what felt like forever but was probably the proper amount of time. “Is Jim home?”

Tell us he’s not home , she silently begged. Turn us away. He doesn’t want to see us. Anything, anyth--

“Yes he is! C’mon in.”

Toni was pretty sure that everyone in the room could hear her heart beating. How could they now? It was so loud, the blood was pounding in her ears, she saw her pulse in her eyes. She had been wrong. She wasn’t ready for this. Abort, abort.

“I’ll go get him,” Dave said, leaving the room.

It was larger than their place had been in New York. They had a lawn now, too, which was nice. He won’t feel the grass under his feet , Toni reminded herself. And it’s your fault.

No it’s not, she argued back. Yes it is, you let him drive. But he said he’d sobered up enough and you hadn’t seen him have a drink in a while. Yeah, because you were too busy sucking face with Steve, idiot.

“Steve, I don’t think I can do this,” she stage whispered, her grip white knuckle tight around his hand. “I’m not ready to…”

“Steve? Toni?” Rhodey wheeled himself into the room. In his wheelchair. Because that was a thing now. Toni felt Steve’s bones grind together as she squeezed impossibly harder. “Shouldn’t you assholes be in school?”

Toni forced a smile on her face. “Yeah, aren’t we assholes. C’mon Steve. We should go back to school.”

“Steve, is there any way I can talk to Toni alone for a minute?”

Fear spiked through Toni, hot and heavy. She prayed to a God she didn’t believe in to strike her down by lightning. Fry her to a crisp. Was this hell? Purgatory?

“Toni, is that okay?” Steve asked. She looked up at him, pleading with her eyes, asking him to say he wanted to stay for this conversation. When he didn’t, she let go of his hand. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as he flexed his fingers.

“Of course,” she said.

Steve walked out leaving her and Rhodey alone.

“So…” Tony said, trailing off and scuffing her toe against the carpet. Wait, was that offensive? Her using her feet as a nervous tick? God, did Rhodey notice? Did he think she was making fun of him?

“It’s not your fault.”

“Huh?” That was… not what she was expecting to hear.

“It’s not your fault. Why don’t… how about you come over and sit.” She followed him as he wheeled up next to a couch, using his arms to lift himself from the chair to the cushion. “Sit, please.” She perched herself on the ottoman. Wait, did that seem like she was pointing out that he couldn’t put his feet up? That she sat there on the assumption that it wouldn’t be obvious that he wasn’t going to recline. She was not equipped to handle this.

Maybe she should start taking those anxiety pills Pepper had prescribed.

“I don’t blame you for the car accident,” Rhodey started. “But I do blame you for not visiting after.”

Toni swallowed, hard. “I know. It was shitty of me.”

“I know you came once, when I was still unconscious.”

“Yeah,” Toni whispered. That had been it. Seeing Rhodey hooked up to wires, hearing that the damage to his spine was so severe he’d never walk again… it had been too much. “I… I saw you like that and I ran. It’s what I do, Gumdrop. I run. I bail. I don’t… I don’t face my problems very well.”

“No, you don’t. I’ve known you since we were three years old, Tones. I know you better than anyone.”

“Yeah.” She took a shaky breath. “I am sorry.”

“For?”

She scratched her head, tugged at her left earring. A nervous tick she’d developed who knows how long ago. “I’m sorry for letting you drive that night. I’m sorry for not checking to see if you’d gotten home okay. I’m so sorry that I haven’t visited or contacted you at all these past few months. I’m sorry that sorry isn’t enough. I’m sorry--”

Rhodey held up his hand, silencing her. He was smirking, a tiny quirk of his lips. Toni had missed this look so much she almost burst into tears. True, she’d been teetering on the edge of sobbing since she pulled in the driveway, but these would be happy tears.

“I forgive you. Mostly.”

She launched herself from the ottoman to the couch, pulling Rhodey into her arms. He was thinner now. He couldn’t work out, Toni realized. At least not the same way he used to before. Many a day had been spent in the gym while she ran and watched Rhodey and Steve try to out-lift each other.

Without thinking, she held his head in her hands and kissed him. Close mouthed and eyes open. A friend kiss. That’s a thing. Right?

“Now go get Steve, I want to see him, too. And don’t kiss me again because ew.”


She was riding Steve’s cock when someone knocked on her bedroom door. No one was home. At least they weren’t supposed to be. Howard and Maria were scheduled to return Wednesday and it was only Saturday.

She got up, hobbled on shaky legs, and pulled a sheet around herself. “Who is it?” she asked, almost to the door.

“It’s Jarvis.”

“J… you’re not supposed to be back until Howard and Maria get back.”

“Your parents have ended their trip early. They request an audience with you. Their words, not my own.”

She cracked the door open, sticking only her head out. “I am otherwise occupied,” she whispered. She widened her eyes and jolted her head back in the direction of her bed, hoping the butler understood what she was saying without actually having to tell him that she and Steve were having… relations.

“I understand, Toni. The meeting with your parents won’t take long. Then you can return to Steven.”

Toni groaned and shut the door, dropped the towel, and went to her closet.

“What’s wrong?” Steve asked, suddenly behind her. She leaned into him, felt his still hard cock against her ass, desperately wanted to stay and finish what they were doing.

“My parents are here,” she grumbled, slinging a bra over her shoulders and gesturing for Steve to fasten it for her while she put her hair up into a high ponytail. “They want to see me. Their usual, once per month check-in so that they have the peace of mind that they’re not totally negligent.”

“Do you want me to stay?” Steve asked, his voice just above a whisper. “Be here when you’re done?”

Toni pulled a halter-top over her head, exposing as much midriff as possible without showing her bra. “I’m not usually in a sexy mood after dealing with Howard, Steve.” She stepped into jeans that hung low on her hips.

“Not to do that. Just to be with you. I know how much they upset you.” He opened his arms and she fell into them, kissing his chest.

“Only if you want to.”

“Is that code for you really want me to stay but don’t want to ask.”

“You’re very perceptive, Steve Rogers. Now, how do I look?” She stepped back and twirled.

“Like you want to antagonize your parents.”

“Perfect.” She kissed his cheek and took a deep breath, leaving the closet and then her room. Okay, for all her bravado, she really was not okay with seeing her parents. It was always insulting and half the time she wanted to cry five minutes in, but was required to stay because they were, you know, her parents. And they funded her. Yeah, mostly because they funded her.

And if she secretly longed for their approval, no one needed to know.

“Come in,” Howard demanded when she knocked on the door. Toni held her breath before shouldering the door open. The air was thick with cigar smoke and she fought the urge to cough.

“Hello, sir,” she said, offering her hand. Her father took it, shaking firmly.

“Good strong handshake. That’s important to make it in the world.” It was what he said every time.

“Oh Antoinette,” her mother chided. “What have you done to your hair.” Maria stood and began to rub her cold fingers against the grain of Toni’s undercut. Uncomfortable was one word for it, anxiety inducing was more accurate. She repressed a shiver.

“Toni,” Toni corrected. “My name is Toni.”

“I named you Antoinette and I will call you Antoinette.”

“Toni is better,” Howard interrupted. “Makes her sound like a man. Better for moral. Better to have a male CEO. Makes investors more comfortable.”

“If I were transgender you would insist on calling me Antoinette and refuse to let me anywhere near the company,” Toni snapped.

“When did you pierce your navel?” Maria snapped. She’d fallen back into her chair, nightgown falling around her and she sipped at a martini.

“On my birthday. You signed the consent form for underage piercing,” Toni reminded.

Maria poured straight gin into her martini glass and took a long sip. “I don’t approve.” Toni bit back the responding I don’t care.

“Are you still whoring around with that Simon kid?” Howard asked, blowing out a long plume of smoke. “Does he think this…” he gestured at her. Toni wondered if it was her hair, the piercing, or the outfit he was indicating. “Look… does he think it’s sexy or something?” Ah, so he was just insulting every part of her.

“You know full well that his name is Steve,” Toni said. “After over a year and a half I doubt it could be called whoring.”

“Oh Antoinette,” Maria chastised. “When are you going to realize that he is only with your for your money?”

“We done here?” Toni demanded. These powwows were horrendous enough without her parents insulting Steve. Steve was one of the few truly decent people in this world--the kind who wasn’t nice to stroke his own ego, the kind who was nice just to be nice. If they were going to insinuate he was anything less than a wonderful, kind human being, she was done.

Howard dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

She stormed up the two flights of stairs to her room. Fuck Howard. Fuck Maria. What did they ever do for her? Left her with borderline abandonment issues and a butler who cared about her more than the people who brought her life.

Steve startled when she slammed open the door, knocking it against the wall. “Sweetheart?” he asked, concern dripping from his words. “You okay.”

“How dare they insinuate that you’re only with me for the money! How dare Maria say shit like that. Maria Carbonell, who grew up in a fucking slum but was pretty and Howard always liked a project. You think she’s with him because of his winning personality?” As she spoke (shouted), she stripped various articles of clothing, throwing them on the floor.

“Honey--”

“Fuck me,” she demanded.

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not in the right state of mind.”

“You fuck me when we’re drunk you fuck me when we’re stoned.”

“That’s different.”

“I technically can’t consent under the influence and neither can you. So if that is your argument, we regularly rape each other.”

“Toni,” Steve tried. “It's different and you know it.”

“Fuck you.”

“Very articulate.” Steve was standing now, the covers thrown back. He'd put on underwear but nothing else. God, he was attractive.

She crossed her arms and sat down on the bed, huffing as she did so. “If you don't want to fuck me, why are you even here?”

“Tonight or…”

“In general,” Toni said, quiet.

“Because I love you,” Steve replied without hesitation.

“Yeah but why? Because you spend time here in the nice house? Because you get free weed and booze? Because we have sex. Really great sex.”

Steve sighed, grabbed his shirt from the floor and wrapped her in it. Sitting down next to her, he hesitantly put his hand around her shoulders. She leaned into the touch, breathing deeply.

“Because you're kind. And so, so smart. Brilliant. And fearless. You refuse to take shit from anyone. You fight for what you know is right.” Each complement was punctuated with a kiss to her forehead, cheek, nose. “You have the softest hair of anyone I've ever met. And a smoking hot bod.” He tickled her stomach, causing her to jolt and double over. “And I am hopelessly in love with you.”

“I love you, too.” She smiled as he ran his hand with the grain of the short hairs, so different from how her mother had touched it just minutes before. “I think I’m going to keep you.”

“Oh, why thank you,” Steve joked. “Do you want me to stay tonight?”

“Yes.”

Together, they crawled back under the covers, Toni now fully wearing Steve’s shirt. She curled around his side, arms snaking across his chest and pulling him tight. He slung one arm around her shoulder, rubbing her head and playing with her hair. This is what love is, Toni decided. It’s not extravagance and gifts, it’s not constant sex or indulging sexual fantasies. It’s two people who fight and make up and hold each other after. It’s two people who are good apart but better together. It’s… them. It’s them, together.

“I love you,” she said. “You’re… thank you. For putting up with me.” It’s easier to be honest when there’s no light beside the lamp by the bed, and no noise besides their even breaking. If she had to close her eyes and not look at his face to express it, so be it.

“You don’t have to thank me. If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Oh!” she exclaimed, sitting up and slapping his bare chest. “I decided what we’re going to be for Halloween! I ordered the costumes last night.”

Steve’s face remained neutral, only his eyebrows jumping up in question. “I don’t have a say in it?”

“No.”

“Then what are we being?”

“Aladdin and Jasmine. Nova is going to be Raja. I’ve already rigged a skateboard we can steer that looks like Carpet. We can ride it around school.”

“That sounds fun. We can get suspended in style.”

“We’re not going to get suspended. Don’t be such a worry wart.” She laid back down and snuggled into his side. “You’re going to look good in harem pants, babe.”


“I went to see Rhodey,” Toni announced the moment she flopped down on Dr. Potts’s couch. She kicked off her shoes and put up her feet. “And I’m pretty damn proud of myself.”

“That’s great.”

“Yeah, and Howard and Maria came home early and we had a showdown and I barely antagonized them.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“I really love Steve.”

“I know you do.”


“Truth. Or. Dare! Truth. Or. Dare!” Clint chanted, the beer dribbling out the end of his fourth or fifth bottle as he held it sideways. The weed was currently in short supply since Bruce, the wonderful supplier and cultivator, was now at college. So, they drank.

“We already know everything about each other,” Natasha said. Her head was in Clint’s lap, her feet in Bucky’s. Clint swung his arm again and hit her on the head. “That takes the fun out of it.”

“Then we do dares!” Clint whined. “C’mon. I’m bored.”

Toni, whose head had been resting on Steve’s shoulder, grunted. “Find someone else’s basement to get drunk in, then.”

“Let’s just play,” Sam suggested. He was only on beer two. “Or, better, we could do Never Have I Ever. With shots.”

“Beer before liquor, never been sicker,” Toni slurred, half asleep. She’d only had one beer but it had been a long fucking day.

“A myth,” Steve noted. “Alright, let’s do Never Have I Ever. With shots.” Toni groaned and sat up.

“Never have I ever been fucked in the ass,” Toni said without hesitation. If she was going to be forced to play a juvenile game, she was going to be as immature as she wanted.

“Do fingers count?” Sam asked, reaching for the bottle of tequila. Tequila? Really. Ew. Tomorrow was going to suck.

“Yes.” A smirk snaked across her face when Sam poured himself a shot and downed it, pulling a face and coughing quickly.

“Really?” Clint asked, taking another sip of his beer. “Steve’s never put anything in your butt?”

“Nope.” Steve kissed the side of her head. “Neither of us are into butt stuff, so it’s a mutual agreement.”

“Every guy wants to stick it in the ass,” Natasha said. “It’s fact.”

“Well I don’t,” Steve said. He sipped his beer, then handed it to Toni when she gestured for it. She threw her head back and took three long glugs.

“You’re empty,” she noted, handing the bottle back to Steve.

“Enough about butt stuff. We’re going clockwise. Steve, what have you never done?” Natasha demanded.

“Never have I ever…” he narrowed his eyes at Clint. “Shit in someone’s front lawn.”

“I’m being targeted!” Clint shouted, but poured the shot and swallowed it without any more complaint. “And it was late at night and there was a bench that I hung my ass over and I couldn’t make it home. Can we please move on. Sam. Go.”

“Never have I ever had sex on school grounds.”

“Now who’s targeting who,” Toni grumbled, filling the shot glasses in front of both she and Steve. They took the shot together, Toni coughing and Steve doing no more than grimacing. “Clint? What haven’t you done?”

“Never have I ever gotten straight A’s.”

Once again, Steve and Toni were the only two to knock back the shot.

“Never have I ever had penis-in-vagina sex,” Natasha said, no hesitation in her voice. Steve and Toni threw back the tequila, along with Sam and Clint. Toni had lost count but he was pretty sure that neither Natasha nor Bucky had taken a shot. Fuck them. Had they done nothing in their stupid lives.

“Hold on,” Toni slurred, pointing a shaky finger at Natasha. “I saw you and Bucky sneaking out of a room together a few weeks ago. I did, I remember. I didn’t say anything because the stupid dog was peeing on me.” Nova whined from where she was curled up in the corner.

“We didn’t fuck.” Bucky shrugged. “We fooled around and then fell asleep.”

“Well ain’t that sweet.” Clint sounded like he was talking around marbles. Had he taken as many as Toni? She couldn’t remember and didn’t really care.

“Alright, Bucky,” Steve prompted. “Your turn.”

“Never have I ever said ‘I love you’ to a significant other.”

“Steve,” Toni whined, elongating the middle ‘e.’ “They’re being mean and targeting us and they want us to be drunk and they’re mean. You’re mean.” The last part directed at the room as a whole.

“I think we’re done,” Steve said. Toni felt herself bonelessly fall into his side. “Can one of you take the dog out?” Someone must have said yes because all of a sudden she was being lifted off the loveseat she and Steve had been occupying. Her arms were being moved, her legs made to straddle Steve from behind. Oh, a piggy-back. He was going to carry her up the stairs.

“I love you,” she all but weeped into Steve’s neck. “I don’t deserve you.”

“None of that. Let’s get you to bed.”

Just as they were about to leave, Toni heard Clint mutter “For someone who drinks a lot, she really cannot handle her liquor well.”


Toni was not happy about Halloween being on a Tuesday. What the fuck. Her annual Halloween party--which had started when she was six and JARVIS invited everyone in her kindergarten class (three people showed up)--had gotten more intense over the years. What was once orange frosted cupcakes and pumpkin painting was not a drunken gathering with loud bass.

A soiree which could not occur on Halloween, instead taking place the Saturday before. It was lame, but no one wanted to go hard on Tuesday night.

The decorators had spent all Friday setting up, preparing the Haunted House that spanned the enormous back yard. On Saturday, from 9am to 7pm, they decorated the mansion’s interior (well, the first floor) into a spooky (and well liquored) wonderland. She wrote the check and dismissed him, then texted the DJ to remind him to be there at 8 to set up. As soon as she let him in, she went up to her room and squeezed into her Jasmine costume. Nova had run away as soon as Toni tried to spray the dye into her fur (even though it was just for animals), so Jasmine and Aladdin were Raja-less.

People started to flow in around 9, and by 10 the party was in full swing and she was pleasantly buzzed. The Time Warp came on and the makeshift dancefloor cleared for those who knew the moves.

By 11 she was well on her way to drunk and Steve was grinding against her. She threw her head back, craning her neck to kiss him. He was undeniably hard, pressed against her ass, and all she could think about was taking him into a closet and fucking him. Right now. In the middle of her party. Where anyone could walk in.

“C’mon,” she panted, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the small (by Stark Mansion standards) closet, slamming the door behind them. “Fuck me.” If she wasn’t so desperate, she would have laughed at how fast the ridiculous Harem pants were shoved down around his ankles. She pulled a condom out of her top, which caused Steve to snort in amusement.

She tore it with her teeth then handed the packet to him, the condom still inside. He discarded the wrapper and rolled it on himself. She shimmied her pants down and braced her elbows on the wall, sticking her ass towards him.

A gasp escaped her lips as he slid two fingers into her pussy, fucking her with them for a few moments, making sure she was wet enough to alleviate any discomfort that might occur were she not ready. When he deemed her ready, he lined his cock up.

“Ready?” he asked. Really, why the hell did he always ask? She nodded, arching her back as he slid into her. He clutched her hips, pulling her back against him. The bass from the party was muffled, the shouts of their classmates drunkenly having fun were distant. The echoing slap of her ass meeting his thighs was glorious--better than the music blasting through the house.

It was quick, the thrill of possibly being found out being more than enough to drive Steve over the edge. He pulled out, ready to turn her around and finger her until she came, too.

“Oh my god,” he blurted.

“What?” she demanded, turning around. “What, Steve? I don’t like that tone of voice.”

“It broke.”

Her eyes widened, she pulled up her pants, fixed the glorified bralette of her costume. “What do you mean it broke? When?

“I don’t know.”

“Before or after you came inside of me .”

“I… I don’t know. Before?”

“Are you serious ?” she hissed.

“I don’t know.”

“Pull up your pants. We have to go. Now.”

“Go where?” Steve asked, doing as he was told and pulling the pants over the swell of his ass.

“Rite-Aid. Wal-Mart. CVS. I don’t care. We’re getting morning after.”

“We can’t drive,” Steve panicked. “We can’t… a cab. I’ll call a cab.”

“Great! Good. Let’s go. Immediately. Call as we walk.”

As they rushed out of the house, a few people stopped them to congratulate Toni on the party. She ignored every one, pushing through the crowd to get out, to get to the cab, to get to the drugstore. She stopped to grab her purse before running out the door.

When they arrived at the store, Toni hurriedly grabbed the unassuming box and went to check out. She was going to vomit. No, she would be fine. She would take the pill and any chance of pregnancy would be swept away.

“ID?” the man asked, bagging the box.

“Excuse me?” Steve asked.

“Identification. Driver’s license.”

“Why?” Toni asked, digging her wallet out from her purse.

“You have to be seventeen or older to purchase Plan B.”

Toni halted her moves, her purse sliding off her shoulder. “Repeat?”

“In New York you have to be seventeen to buy this.”

Toni’s eyes were bugging out of her head; Steve tensed beside her.

“But the condom broke,” she explained.

“Not my problem. I can’t sell it to you.”

“But the condom broke,” she repeated, her voice rising in pitch.

“If you’re not going to buy anything else, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“But the condom broke,” she tried one last time.

Chapter Text

“Just because it broke doesn't necessarily mean you're… you know,” Steve rationalized three days later. “Don't you have to be… what's the word? Like, close to your period or something.”

“Ovulating,” Toni said, monotone. Her eyes were fixed on the wall across the room; she refused to look at Steve. She hadn't left her room since the party on Saturday, only dragging herself out of bed to use the bathroom. Steve brought her food and her assignments, both of which remained untouched on the chair a few feet from the bed. “Yeah. My period app says I was.”

“Well… uh… aren't girls sometimes, like, not on a fixed schedule?” He tried.

“I've always been regular.” She accepted the cracker Steve held out to her and took a small bite, chewing impossibly slow. “Face it, Steve. I'm screwed.” For the first time since he'd arrived, she looked at him.

“I am, too,” he reminded. “I'm part of it.”

She took another bite, waited another eon to respond, resumed staring at the wall. “I won't blame you.”

“For what?”

“For when you leave.” She fed the rest of the cracker to Nova, not looking down.

“I'm not… 'when?'”

“I'm under no illusion that you will stick around. That's not your job. You didn't sign up for this.”

Steve was floored. Did Toni actually think he was going to bail? It sounded as if she was expecting it. Was she? Did she have so little faith in them that she would jump to the conclusion that when things got rough, he'd be on the first bus out of town?

“Neither did you. It's as much my fault…” he hesitated at pained look that flashed across her face. “My doing,” he corrected. “It is as much my doing as it is yours.”

“I won't blame you,” she repeated. She took a small bite of a new cracker, more a nibble than a bite, and gave it over to Nova. Steve knew she wasn't eating, that she was pretending for his sake. Metaphorically sweeping the vegetables under the table; literally feeding it to the dog.

“I’m not leaving you,” Steve insisted. “Whether or not you're…” he gestured toward her stomach.

“Say the word, Steve,” she demanded. “Say it. Say pregnant. If you can't say it, how can I believe that you'll stick around?”

He worried his lip between his teeth. If he said it, it would be in the universe. If was irrational, but he felt that if he said it, it would be more real. Increase the chances. “I won't leave you,” he repeated. “Whether or not you're… pregnant.”

For the first time since Saturday, he saw her cry. It was sudden, all at once. Tiny gasping breath; loud anguished sobs. The dog jumped in fear at the unexpected outburst of noise. Steve had been sitting at the end of her bed but leapt up and pulled her into his arms. Her whole body was shaking while he tried to hold her still, tried to calm her, running his fingers through her greasy hair, kissing her temple and sitting in silence because the words, It’s going to be alright weren’t necessarily true in this situation.

“I’m s-sorry,” Toni wailed, trying to pull away. Steve held tighter. “It’s a-all my fa-a-ault.”

“Sweetheart, how could you say that?” He used his sleeve to wipe up the excess snot running down her chin.

“Because it’s true .”

“It is not true. It is very false. It is neither of our faults. How could either of us know this was going to happen?” He gently shook her, trying to get her to answer. “C’mon. Can you answer my question?”

“I can.”

He wished the tension wasn’t so high. He wished he could roll his eyes at her stubborn ass. “Will you?”

“Neither of us could have known,” she whispered. “But--”

“No buts.”

But ,” she insisted. “It was my party. It was my idea to have sex in the closet. It was my condom that broke. It was my fault.”

“Do you really believe that?”

She furrowed her brow, scrunched her mouth to the side. “Yes. Okay, fine, no. But it helps to be able to blame it on someone.”

Steve smiled, wiped her sweaty hair off her face. “Then we’ll blame the DJ for being so bad that we had to leave and do something else.” Then he heard the most beautiful sound in the world: Toni laughed. It was light, barely there. A chuckle, really. But he heard it. An emotion. Progress, he supposed. “His name is Flash. Obviously an asshole.”

The leaning position grew uncomfortable and they re-angled themselves, Steve leaning against the headboard and Toni splayed between his spread legs.

“If you don’t mind,” Steve started. “I’m going to ask my mom some questions about… conception.”

“That’s a gross word. And yes, I mind. I don’t want to get her involved if she doesn’t have to.”

Steve started rocking them side to side, slowly. “She doesn’t have to know why. School project excuse.”

“And your assigned topic is impregnation?” Tony leaned her head back, awkwardly looking up at him.

“Is impregnation better than conception?”

“Conception sounds like you were trying to do it. Which, you know. We weren’t.”

No, the most definitely weren't.


“How long after sex does it take for a pregnancy test to give accurate results?” It had taken another week and a half to get up the gumption to actually ask his mom the questions he'd been meaning to ask.

“Why?” Sarah asked, the knife she'd been using to cut vegetables hovering.

He swallowed deeply. Did she see through him? Was he that transparent? “Biology homework. Girls have to do projects on boy’s reproductive system. Guys have to do girl’s.” The constant repetition of this little explanation making it come out sort of droning.

“Google?”

“Getting mixed results.”

She resumed chopping the vegetables. “Well, it takes about two weeks to get certain results, but symptoms usually don't start until week four. There can be false negatives but not false positives.”

“Why not?” Steve was doing mental math. Yesterday was two weeks. The mystery could be laid to rest. The not knowing was unbearable.

“The hormone that confirms the pregnancy can't be replicated. It the test picks it up, a woman is pregnant. She can still be pregnant if it doesn't pick up the hormone. Again, false negatives are a thing but false positives are not.”

So if Toni peed on the stick and there were two lines on it, that was it. There was a baby. Or a cluster of cells, as it were, that would develop into a baby over the next eight and a half months.

A baby. Would that really be the worst thing? They were young, sure. Really young. But… his mom had been their age when she got pregnant with Steve and she was the best mother in the world, if not often overstrung trying to make ends meet. He and Toni wouldn’t have that problem. As much as he hated the extravagant gifts, he knew that they, along with the baby, would be financially secure for life. That would also relieve the strain on his mother, not having to support herself and Steve. Plus he had his job at the movie theater so he wouldn’t be totally reliant on the Stark Fortune (capital F).

That was a dangerous thought path to go down. Toni would be the one carrying the baby inside of her. She’d be the one to be constantly vomiting and back pain and all of the other stuff he’d read about, incognito mode safely in place. Maybe Toni could want this, maybe she already did.

He decided to wait. Go to school and stop at CVS to get a pregnancy test on his way over to her house afterward. She’d pee and they would know. He’d Googled it. Doesn’t matter how old you are, you can get a pregnancy test. It’s almost as if the state of New York was encouraging teen pregnancies.

“Any other questions?” Sarah asked, jarring him.

“Uh, no. Not right now.”

“Well someone started knocking on the door while you were spaced out. Go answer it.”

Toni was on the other side of the door, her face sunken. He’d only seen her an hour ago but she somehow looked worse than she had then. There wasn’t even enough time for him to open his mouth and ask why she was at his house; she’d shoved something into his hand while the question died on his tongue.

He looked down at the thing in his hand, a white and blue stick with a tiny screen-type thing with two lines on it. Before that even had a chance to register what that meant, another stick thing was shoved into his hand, this one sporting a plus-sign. He already knew, the conversation he’d just had with his mother screaming in his head. It wasn’t until she held up the third test, third pregnancy test, that it clicked in his head. This one didn’t have a cryptic signal, no lines to indicate a yes or no. This one had a word, written in tiny pixels.

Pregnant.

“Who’s at the door?” Sarah shouted from the kitchen.

“It’s me!” Toni said back, her strong and sure voice a direct contrast to her disheveled appearance.

“Oh, Toni!” Sarah walked into the room, wiping her hands on her apron. Steve quickly shoved the sticks in his sleeves, trying not to think about the fact that they were covered in Toni’s pee. “Will you be staying for dinner?”

“I’d love to.”

Steve watched with a heavy heart as Toni pushed the food around on her plate, rarely taking a bite. When Sarah asked what was wrong, Toni quietly said she wasn’t feeling too well. Sarah put a hand on her forehead, then announced that there wasn’t a fever. Of course not. Because Toni wasn’t ill.

Toni was pregnant.

With his child. His child. It was in there. His child was in her stomach. Well, uterus. Stomach sounded less imposing, less terrifying. Baby in her tummy. Not a baby yet. Cells. Cluster of cells. She could still miscarry. The chances were still high. He’d done enough research to know that, given their age and Toni’s good health, that most likely wouldn’t happen. Would Toni get an abortion? Would she want to? Would he want her to?

Would it have blue eyes like him, or brown like Toni’s? Would the baby be blonde or brunette? Would it look like him or her? What would the first word be? How old before it was said? Boy or girl? A little daughter sounded amazing, tiny little dresses and bows. A son would be awesome, someone to take after him.

Would the baby have his health problems? He’d overcome most of them but he still relied on regular back exercises to keep muscles strong in hopes of avoiding the pain of the scoliosis. What if the baby was in constant pain like he was before he finally admitted it to his mom and she took him to the doctors?

“Sweetheart?” he croaked. Toni hummed to indicate she was listening. “If an Amazon package that you didn’t order showed up at your door, would you keep it?”

“Subtle,” Toni deadpanned, then went right back into talking to Sarah as if he hadn’t even spoken.


Steve’s jaw practically dropped when, the next day, Toni showed up at school. Her hair was up in space buns, her midriff exposed between low riding skin-tight jeans and a white crop-top with two alien heads over her boobs, and boots that went up almost to her knee.

“You look…” Steve gaped, at a loss for a word to describe what exactly he was feeling. “Good.”

Toni made an exaggerated pout and twirled around, giving him access to look at her outfit from every angle. “Just good?” she asked when she’d finished her little show.

“You look like you’re breaking a lot of dress code rules.” He went to grab at her waist but didn’t know if he should touch her there. What if his hand brushed against her stomach and she thought he was trying to… do something involving the baby/cluster of cells.

“Which ones?” she asked innocently. “The piercing one, the drawing attention to breasts one, the midriff one, or the one where I don’t keep six inches between you and I during school hours?” She pressed herself against him, hooking her thumbs in his belt loops, and kissing him deeply. Without thinking, his hands fell to her hips, his thumbs tracing circles on the exposed skin.

“All of the above,” he said when they pulled apart. Her smile was cut short as her face shifted to one of agony, her eyes locked tight. “Babe?” Steve asked. Are you okay? Didn’t get a chance to be said before she was leaning over a trashcan and emptying her stomach into it. Jesus, was she still drunk on a Monday morning? Toni didn’t get hungover but he supposed there was a first time for everything. Wait, no, not hungover.

Morning sickness.

He rushed over to her, running a soothing hand up and down her back. She retched a few more times into the garbage can, but when nothing more came up, she stood to her full height. She produced a stick of gum from her purse, chomped a few times, then smiled.

“Thought I got it all up in the 7-11 on the way here but guess not.”

“Toni…”

“This isn’t the time or place.” The bell rang as if to help prove her point.

“You ran out before we had a chance to talk about it last night,” Steve murmured as Toni weaved her fingers through his and started pulling him towards class.

“That wasn’t the time or place, either.”

“When is the time and place, then?” Steve demanded, fed up. They arrived in their class and Toni plopped into her seat.

“I have an appointment with Pepper after school. Talk when I pick up Nova?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Now, eyes forward. Class is starting.”

That was… different. Toni never cared about being quiet in class and certainly not before . He watched in amazement as she produced a notebook and pen from her purse, opened and dated the top corner of the first page, and started writing down what Mr. Phillips had written on the board.

Steve had no idea why a studious Toni Stark turned him on, but he hadn't been this turned on since, well, Halloween.


“You're uncharacteristically non hyper verbal,” Pepper noted eight minutes into their 50 minute hour.

“I wish I never told you that line. Natasha is going to sue you for copyright infringement.” It was the first thing Toni said since their session began. What's the fucking point? Toni knew she was pregnant. It was real. There was a zygote swimming around in her uterine fluid. That zygote would become a fetus, then a baby.

Perhaps it could be helpful to talk about it, but she didn't think she should have the conversation with Pepper when she hadn't even had it with Steve. Pepper was a therapist; Steve was the father.

God. Thinking of Steve as the father brought into light that she, Toni Stark, would be a mother. A parent.

“Aside from your friend suing me, what else has happened this week.”

I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. “Not much. Went to school today.”

“Had you not been going to school?”

“Hadn't been the past couple weeks. Wasn't feeling well.” Feeling worse now with the constant nausea .

“Have you started taking the medications I prescribed?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don't know how they'll make me feel and I have too much going on in my life right now to mess with my brain chemistry.”

“A lot going on. Like what?”

“There was an incident a few weeks ago. I’m dealing with it.”

“An incident?” Pepper pried.

“The laws of New York fucked me up the ass. I’m dealing with it.

“Would you like me to help you deal with it?”

Toni rolled her eyes. “You know what happens when you have sex? You orgasm. Well, most of the time. The guy almost always does. You know what happens when a guy orgasms? He ejaculates semen. Do you know what is in semen? Sperm.” Shit, okay, she was actually doing this. “Do you know what sperm is for? Impregnation. But wait! Contraceptives! Oh yeah, but they're not foolproof are they? Condoms break. Sometimes, all these things happen at once. You're having sex and then he orgasms, he ejaculates those sperm of his and the condom breaks while he's still inside you. You go to the store to buy day-after but you have to be seventeen to buy that in the state of New York. A few weeks pass. You pee on a stick. Then you pee on another stick. Then you pee on a third stick. Three tests. Three brands. Same result.”

Pepper blinked a few times, pen hovering over her little notebook that Toni really needed to get her hands on. “Are you saying that you're…”

“In a family way,” Toni snarled. What a shitty fucking saying. Half the people she knew were born out of wedlock. Those that weren't, their parents were divorced. Or slept in different rooms like Howard and Maria.

“And… it's… Steve's…?”

“Of course!” Toni screeched, calm/cool/collected facade gone. “What do you think of me? That I talk about how much I love my boyfriend week after week and then I get knocked up and you have the audacity to ask if it's his, as if I would suddenly have some turnaround and start fucking someone else?  Bruce is a better fucking therapist when he's stoned out of his fucking mind. At least he respects me.”

“Toni…”

“Don’t ‘Toni’ me. Can we be done? I’m not really in the mood to talk today.” She didn’t wait for an answer, choosing instead to grab her bag and walk out, ignoring the wave of nausea that swept over her when she stood too fast.


Toni and Steve’s first date had been awkward. The day after Steve’s grand gesture in the gym, they'd walked into town after school. Toni had only been on one other date, in middle school. His name was Henry and he tried to kiss her as soon as they sat down for the movie, not even waiting or the lights to dim.

Needless to say, she hadn’t a clue on how to act on a date. Her mind was a jumble of worried questions about potential hand holding and should she pay since she was rich or should Steve pay because he was the guy.

Luckily for her, Steve had been just as nervous as she was. He’d spilled a drink on himself and Toni had laughed but not at him and he somehow understood that without her having to explain it to death.

When he held her hand, she squeezed back. His hand was so big and warm in hers.

Somehow, she’d instinctively know that it was the start of something wonderful.


On her way back to Steve’s, she pulled over and threw up in someone’s lawn. She felt bad for the family that would walk out later that day and see a mashed up pile of regurgitated food but she couldn’t be bothered to care. Besides, it wasn’t her fault. It was the stupid parasite growing inside of her.

The one that she loved, even if she wouldn’t admit it.

The one that she was on her way over to Steve’s to tell him that she was keeping it whether he participated in their child’s life or not.

Chapter Text

It had been three weeks since Toni had told Steve that she intended to keep the baby. Over that time, he’d been somewhat able to come to terms with the fact that he was going to be a father. A dad. There was going to be a baby that was his. He and his girlfriend, who he loved dearly, were going to be parents.

Okay, maybe he hadn’t totally come to terms with it. It was so bizarre to even think about. That didn’t mean that he wasn’t excited. Scared shitless, but ecstatic. The feeling was mutual, he was sure. Toni hadn’t expressed those feelings in so many words, but they were nevertheless true. He hoped.

Since that fateful November day when she showed him the test, she’d not missed a day of school. Oddly, this was the thing that surprised Steve most. In the two and half years they’d known each other, Toni hadn’t spent a full 5-day school week in attendance. Now, she’d gone three without missing a single day; she hadn’t even been late.

“Babe, you okay?” Steve stage whispered. Toni had dropped her pen, closed her eyes, and was pinching the bridge of his nose. She shook her head minutely. “Are you nauseous?” he asked. She nodded and took a deep breath. “Are you going to throw up?”

This time, she didn’t bother to respond. Instead, she vaulted out of her chair and awkwardly walk/ran out of the classroom, her fist over her mouth. Mr. Phillips looked after her, an unimpressed look on his face. It was the second time this week that Toni had hustled out of the classroom without asking permission.

“She hasn’t been feeling well,” Steve explained. “Stomach bug. It’s been a couple of days now.”

Mr. Phillips hummed, then waved his hand towards the door and turned back to his whiteboard. “Go look after her, if you must,” he drawled, already mentally moving on with his lesson.

Steve got out of his seat and followed Toni’s path. The girl’s restroom was just around the corner. He leaned against the door and heard violent retching coming from inside.

“Toni? Sweetheart? It’s me. I’m going to come in, okay?” He rapped his knuckles against the door and, when he didn’t get a response of protest, shouldered it open. “Hey, babe.” Steve got down on his knees. Toni hadn’t bothered to close the stall door behind her. Instead, she was sprawled half in and half out of it.

“I hate this,” she groaned. Gagging, she turned towards the toilet, but nothing came up. “It’s only week-fucking-five. According to Dr. Google, this will probably last for another seven weeks. Minimum.”

Steve frowned and leaned against the stall next to the one Toni was occupying. “Yeah,” was all he was able to say. There weren’t words. It’ll get better was a stupid assurance, as Toni was the one who just explained when it would turn around.

“I’m hungry but the thought of food turns my stomach.”

“Why don’t we ditch school and go back to your place. I’ll make you some toast and we can watch mindless shows on Netflix.”

Tony gagged again, this time allowing a bit of bile to dribble from between her lips. “No,” she said quietly after attempting to spit the taste out of her mouth. The smell was turning Steve’s stomach but he swallowed and tried to ignore it.

There was no reason he could think of that would have Toni so vehemently refusing to miss school. Then again, he never quite understood why she so vehemently refused to go to school all these years. Sure, school wasn’t the most fun activity but there were plenty of worse places to be.

“Maybe we should schedule a doctor’s appointment,” Steve suggested, hoping he wasn’t met with anger.

“Yeah.” Toni leaned her forehead against the cool porcelain of the toilet. Somehow, that was more repulsive to Steve than the smell of the vomit. “We should go back to class.” She flushed the toilet and stood, walking to the giant mirror the spanned almost an entire wall.

When she caught a look at her reflection, Steve heard a terrified sob bubble out of her. Her mascara and eyeliner were running from the watering eyes of retching, her lipstick was smudged from the vomit. Steve had seen her much worse, but their peers hadn’t. Add that on to the fact that Steve knew she was trying to put on a facade to the rest of the school that she was Fine, he could only imagine what she was feeling when she saw her reflection.

“You’re… it’s not that bad,” Steve tried. Was lying to Toni the best course of action right now? He was so in over his head he was surprised he could even see the light of the surface.

“I look like shit,” she whispered. She’d taken to using a paper towel to try and fix some of the mess on her face.

They both turned when they heard the door open. A scared looking freshman stared, mouth slightly open. She didn’t move for a long moment, just looking between Steve and Toni. Then, her nose crinkled as the smell of vomit hit her.

“Leave,” Toni demanded. The freshman’s mouth opened and closed a few times, as if she were a fish gulping at air. “Now,” Toni prompted again when the girl still hadn’t moved. The freshman bowed her head and left the bathroom without saying a word.

“There are going to be rumors now,” Steve supplied. He knew he was being unhelpful but he figured it was the right thing to do, reminding Toni.

“Yeah. Well.” She didn’t finish her thought and Steve didn’t prompt. “You should head back to class. I won’t be much longer. Don’t want Chester to think we’re having sex in the bathroom or something.”

“Please don’t call our teachers but their first names. It’s weird.”

“Well, Chester is a weird name. Not as weird as Arnim but…”

“Don’t antagonize Mr. Zola, hon.”

“Go back to class,” Toni snapped. “I’ll be there soon. I’m just going to pee. You really shouldn’t be in the girl’s room, anyway.”

“Okay. Love you.” Steve pulled her into a one-armed hug and kissed her hair, fighting to hold his breath and not smell her rancid breath. As soon as he left the bathroom and the door swung shut behind him, he heard Toni start retching again, the sound of vomit hitting the water in the toilet.

--

Toni popped the cap off a beer bottle and drained the contents down the drain. She then filled it with water, shook it, and dumped that out. She repeated the motion a few times before filling the bottle up and leaving it be.

“When everyone comes over and I ask for a beer, just bring me this one,” Toni explained, handing it to Steve. “If I ask for another one, just fill it up or something. I don’t know.”

“We could just tell them,” Steve suggested. The week was closing out; they were almost six-weeks in. They were going to find out eventually.

“I’m not ready for that yet, Steve. Just bring me this beer bottle full of water. I want to pretend to be normal. I won’t be able to much longer.”

And she did. She sipped at her water and refilled it when it was empty. No one seemed to suspect a thing. There was a deep ache in her heart. Things weren’t going to be this simple every again. For all she knew, this was the last night they were all going to be hanging around like this. No one wants to hang out with a pregnant bitch. It had only been a matter of time before they got bored of her; maybe this was the straw that would break the camel’s back.

“I’m going to get another drink,” Natasha said. “Toni? You wanna come with me?”

“I’m almost full,” Toni replied, holding up her (water) bottle and swishing it around.

“Oh my God, you idiot. She wants to talk to you in private,” Clint drawled. Nova was plopped on his chest. “Also, your dog is farting on me.”

“She’s a baby.” Baby. Baby. Baby. “Leave her alone,” Toni grumbled, getting up to follow Natasha towards the ‘fridge in the next room. Clint called it the only basement in the world with rooms. When Toni caught up with Natasha, she was leaning against the refrigerator door, not reaching for a drink. Uh-oh. Did Natasha know something? Was this confrontation?

“How long were you and Steve dating before you had sex?” Natasha asked, a hushed whisper. Toni could barely hear her and they were only standing a few feet apart.

“Our three-month anniversary.” They’d both been so nervous. Steve had barely been able to get it up and then, when they finally started to do it, he came moments later.

“And when did you know you were ready?”

“I’m going to go ahead and guess that this doesn’t really have anything to do with Steve and my sex life and more about your’s and Bucky’s.”

“Yeah.” Toni had known Natasha since the 3rd grade and ever before had she seen her nervous. Now she was slumped against the fridge, left arm crossed over her chest. She would not look in Toni’s eyes.

“If you have to ask, you’re probably not ready,” Toni said. She casually sipped at her water, wishing for the first time tonight that it was actual alcohol. “But only you can know.”

“I want to,” Natasha explained. “And James has brought it up a few times.”

“Well, weigh the pros and cons,” Toni suggested. “But really, Nat. Society puts way too much value onto it. My suggestion? If you want to do it with Bucky, and Bucky wants to do it with you, then do it.”

“Pros and cons?”

“Pro: sex feels good.”

“Con: Things can go wrong. STDs and stuff.”

Toni choked on her water, coughing violently several times and banging at her chest. “Yeah,” she wheezed out. “Or something.”

--

Toni woke up to an empty house on Christmas morning and immediately threw up into the trash can she’d taken to keeping by her bed. Maybe she should just go back to sleep. Spend the day in bed. Her parents were vacationing in Bora Bora or something.

Her phone vibrated on the table beside her bed and she realized that it was what had woken her up. She grabbed it and opened the FaceTime call from Steve.

“Hey baby. Merry Christmas,” Steve greeted. He was already dressed.

“Merry Christmas,” Toni grumbled, stomach turning over again.

“Is anyone there?” Steve asked.

“Uh, yeah,” Toni lied. “We just finished presents, actually.”

“You’re in bed.”

“I got a new pillow. Figured I’d check it out.”

“Toni…”

“What? You want me to tell you that I’m home alone? That we hired someone to put up and decorate the Christmas tree? That there aren’t any presents under it and there haven’t been since I was five?”

“You did this last Christmas, too. I don’t like you lying to me. Especially now, since--

Toni ended up the call. Steve didn’t understand. He couldn’t understand. His mom loved him. Sure, his dad didn’t know he existed but that wasn’t his fault. Steve had never known what it was like to not know where he stood in relationship to his family. Sarah was an angel, and Toni appreciated and adored spending time with her, but sometimes it hurt, knowing what some people had that she didn’t.

Wait. Fuck. Steve was right. They didn’t need to be honest with each other now just because of the pregnancy. They needed to be honest with each other for their, fuck, family. Under no circumstances would their child ever, for one second, question if their parents loved them. Never.

She called Steve back immedietly.

Chapter Text

Toni and Steve excused themselves from New Year’s celebrations, saying that they would prefer to spend the night in together. While their friends were drinking, smoking, and having a grand ol’ time, baby research was draining Toni and Steve.

“It’s the size of a kidney bean,” Toni grumbled. They were on her bed, laptops out, scouring the internet for information and resources. “Look.” She turned her laptop towards him. There was a digital mock-up of what their baby looked like in this stage of development. “It’s got eyelids and knees.”

“It’s… kinda cute,” Steve tried. The image on the screen was terrifying. The skin was translucent and there was all sorts of stuff floating around. He knew that this wasn’t his baby, but at this stage, he figured they all looked the same. Gross, floaty aliens.

“It’s hideous. Don’t lie.”

“What does it matter? It’s not going to look like that forever. See, look.” He clicked the forward arrow. The image for Week 9 was not much better, but Week 10 was slightly less terrifying. “This one is kinda a person.”

She stole back her laptop and started reading. “I should go for testing soon. Shit, they can figure out the chances of the little dude having down syndrome.”

“If it does, we will love it just the same,” Steve said quickly.

“Slow down there, cowboy. I never said otherwise.”

Steve blushed. Then, his mouth dropped into a little O. “You’re not going to like this,” he muttered, turning his screen towards her. Her eyes scanned the screen, the crease between her brow growing deeper, the frown tugging at her lips getting larger.

“I can’t work out.”

“Well, it says it’s safe for most things until the end of the first trimester--”

“Not only am I going to get fat because of the stupid parasyte, but I also can’t workout and stay in shape?”

“Toni…”

“I’m gonna be fat and you’re gonna stop loving me,” she sobbed. That was another thing that had started happening. She cried all the fucking time. Two days ago, Nova had come over to her and licked her hand. Toni didn’t stop blubbering about how lucky she was to have the best dog in the world for about five minutes. Worst off, she knew she was being ridiculous but she couldn’t help it.

“Shh, no, shh,” Steve cooed, closing both computers and putting them to the side. He pulled Toni towards him and began petting her hair. “I’m not gonna stop loving you if you get fat.”

“When, Steve. When I get fat.”

“Babe, that’s not fat. That’s a baby.”

“I’m going to be a fucking whale!” she howled and burst into gasping sobs.

Hold me close and hold me fast, the magic spell you cast, this is la vie en rose. When you kiss me heaven sighs and though I close my eyes, I see la vie en rose, ” he sang, still petting her hair. She’d dissolved to hiccups and sniffles. “ When you press me to your heart, I’m in a world apart. A world where roses bloom. ” Her eyes were closed, her breathing deep. She wasn’t frowning so much anymore, but her face did seem tight. “ And when you speak, angels sing from above. Everyday words seem to turn into love songs.

Give you heart and soul to me and life will always be la vie en rose, ” she finished, her words slurred as if she were actually on the brink of sleep. “You know that song calms me down.”

“I do know that,” he whispered. He’d taken to massaging her scalp. A tiny smile ghosted over her lips.

“I love you,” she mumbled. “Thank you.”

“I love you, too.” No matter how many times he said it, he wasn’t sure it would ever be enough. All he wanted was for Toni to truly believe that he loved her. Toni’s self-doubt was agonizing. He hated that she didn’t understand--at least not yet--that he was in this for the long run. No running away. He was going to raise their baby with her. They were going to be a family.

“This time next year, there’s going to be a baby here with us,” Toni realized. “A little baby.”

“Our little baby.”

At that, Toni fully smiled. Maybe Steve’s words were finally sinking in.

“Yeah. Our little baby.”


They’d successfully avoided Bruce until now. He’d already been back for three weeks by the time he caught up with them at the drugstore. They were buying nausea combating pills. Toni had been getting worse; par for the course, but horrendous nonetheless.

“There they are,” Bruce grinned. “Where have you two been?”

“Hibernating,” Toni grumbled. She loved Bruce--always had and always would. But she knew Bruce’s M.O. When he was still at their school, he was the #1 supplier of weed. Their little group of friends always got to smoke for free.

Bruce was going to offer and Toni was going to have to say no. She didn’t want to, but she had to. Stupid parasitic embrio.

“When are we going to hang out? The whole group together?” Bruce asked. Meaning: when are we all going to be in your basement and get fucked up together.

“I’ve been really busy at work,” Steve answered. It wasn’t false. The movie theater was packed with frazzled parents and their children begging to see Star Wars. He’d picked up four extra shifts that week alone.

“Okay,” Bruce shrugged. “What’s your excuse?” he asked Toni.

“I’m going clean.”

A laugh bubbled out of Bruce. “Funny. No, really, why don’t you want to hang out.”

“2018 resolution. I’m going clean. At least for a few months.” Minimum of seven more , she mentally added. It would probably be longer, what with breastfeeding and all that. Fuck, she was literally going to have no life after this, was she?

“Me, too,” Steve said. “In support.”

“Babe, you don’t have to do that,” Toni hissed. If he did that, it might seem like there was an ulterior motive to her not getting fucked up and that was… that was not the case. “Why don’t we get the group together for beers,” she offered Bruce. “Watch a movie or something. Beer is a lot easier to turn down since it tastes like rotten piss.”

“And you know how that tastes, do you?” Bruce joked. When he realized she was serious, he nodded his head. “Yeah. That sounds great. How about tonight?”

“We start school tomorrow,” Toni said. She desperately wanted these pills before she spilled the meager contents of her stomach--plain toast that Steve had all but forced down her throat--all over Bruce.

“You go to school now, too?” Bruce asked. He seemed genuinely shocked. Did she really suck that much that he would have this reaction to her attending school which was the law for people her age?

“Yup,” she nodded. She still hadn’t missed a single day. Plus, it was a new semester so she had new classes. Mr. Phillips wasn’t her first class anymore. She had a free pass for awhile while she ran to vomit before the teacher figured out that something was “amiss” as Steve had put it. What a fucking grandpa.

“Well, kudos to you, I suppose,” Bruce offered with a shrug. Their conversation had led them to the front of the store, where Steve was buying the medicine for Toni. She smiled and offered a light kiss when he handed her the bag. “You two are as nauseating as ever.”

At the mere mention of the word ‘nauseating,’ Toni’s stomach rebelled and the stream of vomit narrowly missed Bruce’s Good Will purchased shoes.

“Sorry. Stomach bug,” she grumbled before shuffling out of the store and crawling into the passenger seat of her own car.


“Your mom is going to hate me,” Toni whined. She and Steve were sitting on the couch, waiting for Sarah to get home from work. Today was the day they told her. It needed to happen and Toni wanted to rip off the band-aid. Or, at least she thought that’s what she wanted until she was on this couch, getting ready for the conversation that would change her relationship with the only decent parental figure she’d ever known.

“My mom is not going to hate you,” Steve assured, his hand resting firmly on Toni’s shoulder. “If anything, she’s going to hate me for--”

“Sorry I’m late,” Sarah huffed when she swung open the door, toting three large grocery bags. “You wouldn’t believe the line at the store.” Steve jumped up to help his mother with the bags. When Toni stood to do the same, Steve leveled her with his eyes. Right, no heavy lifting.

“Ma… we need to talk about something. The three of us.”

Sarah’s eyebrows creased together and Toni wanted to hide under the couch. For the first time in weeks, her nausea had nothing to do with the thing residing in her uterus. The bags were forgotten on the kitchen counter as Steve and his mother came into the living room. Sarah took up the recliner chair opposite the couch Toni was sitting on; Steve slid into the seat next to her and gripped her hand tightly.

“Ma…  I don’t know the best way to…”

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Rogers. It was an accident. I really didn’t mean for it to happen. Neither of us did. It broke and you have to be eighteen and we’re not and--” Toni dissolved into hiccupy sobs, her whole body shuddering with the effort.

“Sweetie, it’s okay,” Sarah rested her hand on Toni’s knee, which only led to her crying harder. “Whatever it is, we can fix it.”

“Mom--” Steve warned.

“Is this about the pregnancy?” Sarah asked quietly. Toni’s eyes shot open and Steve’s jaw dropped. “Oh, you really think I didn’t know? Please. You’re not subtle, Steven. The questions you’ve been asking about fetal development. Toni never eats when she’s over here anymore. I may be old, but I’m not an imbecile.”

“So you… knew?” Steve asked. Toni was now just hiccuping--no tears to be spoken of.

“Yes, I knew. I’m assuming that you intend to keep the baby, considering that you are telling me about it.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Toni muttered, barely audible. She hadn’t called Sarah ‘ma’am’ in years. What else was there to say, really?

“Antoinette Sark,” Sarah boomed and Toni shrunk even further into herself. Her eyes welled up again--it was only sheer will that kept her from breaking down and sobbing. Again. “Do not call me ma’am. It’s rude. To you, I am Sarah. I suppose, now that there’s family here, you could call me mom.”

Toni’s throat tightened for a totally different reason. Her own mother didn’t like it when she called her mom. “Yes, Sarah,” she whispered. Maybe someday she’d take her up on that offer, but today was not that day.

“Have you been to the doctor?” Sarah asked. She already had a pen and paper in her hands. From where she got it, Toni couldn’t perceive, but she was distraught so she gave herself a pass. “How far along are you?”

“Ten weeks,” Steve answered, his hand now resting on the small of Toni’s back.

“Have you done any research?”

“Yes,” Toni said. “It’s a little over an inch long. It has fingernails and toenails and peach fuzz hair. It’s organs are in the right spots. It looks vaguely human and not horrifically extra-terrestrial anymore.”

“Correct.” Sarah nodded and scribbled something on the yellow legal pad. “And what have your symptoms been like?”

“Mom, please don’t interrogate her.”

“Oh my god , Steve, it’s fine .” It really was. When she finally got the chance to say it out loud, all of it, she felt a weight lifted off her chest. Why hadn’t they told everyone already? “As for symptoms, I’ve been really pissy. And cry-y. And nauseous. So, so nauseous. Technically, the term is nauseated but I don’t like to use that because it makes people think I’m some stuck-up smart bitch. Which is only partly true. I’m a smart bitch but I’m not stuck up.”

“Babe,” Steve gently chastised. “Let’s try to keep the conversation focused.”

Toni rolled her eyes. “Is he being especially annoying or is that me being pissy again? Lately, I can’t tell.”

“Would you like me to ask Steve to leave?” Sarah asked, pointedly looking at her son.

“No, no. It’s okay. He’s okay. I’m over reacting.” Shit, was she really about to cry again? She shook her head in an attempt to rid herself of the tears that were threatening to spill over.

“Alright.” Sarah looked down at the pad. “The nausea will most likely go away,” she said. “But, unfortunately, the other two are probably here to stay for awhile. Even after you give birth, some of those symptoms remain for awhile.”

“Joy,” she grumbled.

“None of that. You made your bed. Now it’s time to lie down in it.”


Toni left soon after the conversation wound down, leaving Steve home alone with his mom. He was unreasonably terrified of what dinner conversation would be like. Would she lecture him? Awkwardly try to steer the subject to something else? He’d never been nervous around his mom. Ever. The only time he could remember anything close to uncomfortable was when she sat him down and re-gave him the talk once he told her he had a girlfriend.

She told him to be safe.

Oh, fuck. He was going to vomit.

Nauseated.

“Dinner is ready!” his mom called from the kitchen. Steve stiffly stood up from bed and dragged his feet down the hall. He didn’t want to do this he didn’t want to do this he didn’t want to do this. When he got into the kitchen and went to make himself a plate, his mother tutted at him. “Please, I already made up your servings. Go sit.”

A chill ran down his spine. When he got to the table and saw what was in front of him, he knew why his mother had done it for him. And he knew why. And he knew he was going to have to eat it all.

Asparagus.

He could leave and go to his room. Run out of the kitchen and pretend he had diarrhea. Or, he could sit down at the table and eat the satanic, bitter vegetable like an adult. You’re not an adult, yet a little voice reminded him. Yes I am. I have to be. I have a baby coming he mentally fought back. One that you conceived accidentally because you’re a reckless child. He had to eat the asparagus. That’s it. All he had to do was eat the damn asparagus. Not have a crisis. No crisis. Was he going to hyperventilate? Would he even have to pretend to have diarrhea? Right now it felt like liquid shit was about to pour out of his ass at any second.

“Something wrong, sweetie?” Sarah asked. Steve hadn’t realized she’d sat down. A while ago, apparently, because her plate was at least halfway clear.

“I’m fine,” he choked out, not at all convincing.

Silence returned. Steve speared a stalk of the asparagus. Just eat it , he mentally screamed. It’s not that hard. Just eat the damn thing. Steve put it in his mouth and chewed and swallowed quickly to avoid having the taste in his mouth too long. He did the same with the five remaining stalks on his plate. Like a band-aid.

“Wow, I’m surprised,” Sarah said. “I didn’t think you’d actually do it.”

Steve just wrinkled his nose and took a long gulp of water and a piece of pork to try and rid his mouth of the flavor. “The pork is really good, ma,” he croaked. “Tender.”

“So, what happened?” she asked.

“What happened for what?” As if he didn’t know what she was asking.

“I thought you two were smarter than this.”

Steve felt a flash of anger surge through him. “Excuse me? The condom broke. It happens. The state of New York requires you be of a certain age to purchase the day after pills. Sometimes things go wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it.” He slammed his hands on the table, on a roll now. “Besides, how can you chastise me about this? You got pregnant with me when you were the same age! And what’s different as that I’m sticking around for Toni because I know how fucking shitty it is growing up with a dad who doesn’t want anything to do with him.” He stormed off to his room, his dinner forgotten on the table. So what if all he ate was the wretched asparagus? There was candy in his room. And probably some potato chips.

He didn’t find snacks. He crawled into bed and Facetimed Toni. Neither of them spoke. They just laid in their beds on opposite ends of a screen.

“I love you,” Toni mumbled. Steve was jolted awake by the words. It was barely 8pm and he’d already fallen asleep.

“I love you, too.”


Peter didn’t drink or smoke so Toni had taken to spending a lot of time with him. He wouldn’t question why she wasn’t doing anything of the sort because he’d probably assume she was doing it out of respect for him.

It wasn’t the only reason she was hanging out with Peter, though. She really liked Peter. He was easy to talk to and very nice. She didn’t feel like she had to pretend to be anything she wasn’t when she was around Peter. It was like a breath of fresh air.

As it were, they were now slowly swaying on the porch swing some of the staff members had dragged inside for the winter. It was nice. They were chatting. Comfortable. Friends. Toni was sitting cross legged, facing Peter. Peter had one leg on the ground and was pushing the swing.

“I have to ask,” Toni said, halting their conversation on human genetics altered by animal DNA. “Have you asked Gwen out yet.”

“No,” Peter whispered, skidding his foot along the ground to stop the swing, then pushing it back into the steady rhythm.

“Why the hell not?” Toni demanded.

“What if we go out and she likes me and then she finds out and is repulsed.” Then, his voice quieter. “What if she tells everyone.”

Toni scrunched her nose up. “You’re going to have to bring me up to speed. What is she going to be repulsed about?”

Peter’s mouth fell open a bit, his mouth forming a perfect O. He blinked a few times, then cleared his throat. Toni noticed that he didn’t scratch the back of his neck as much anymore, but he was doing it now. “I t-though… I thought you, uh, knew.”

“Knew what?”

“Um. Since… I don’t…”

“How about I tell you a secret first and then you can decide if you want to tell me yours,” Toni offered. Toni had made the decision to start telling people and she wanted a “soft opening” before biting the bullet and going to tell her closest friends.

“Sounds fair, I guess.”

“I’m pregnant.”

A heavy silence fell across them. Was this a mistake? Had she misjudged Peter? Oh no, he going to go out and tell everyone.

Peter finally responded with a confession of his own. “I’m trans.”

Now it was Toni who was at a loss for words. Which rarely, if ever, happened. “I never would have even guessed if you hadn’t told me.”

“Yeah.” Another scratch to the back of his neck. “I don’t talk about it. Besides Aunt May and my buddy Ned, you’re the only one that knows.”

The final piece slotted into place in Toni’s mind. Oh. “You’re worried things will go well with Gwen and she’ll want to… but you’re… down there… oh.”

“She’s so great, you know? And I want things to work out, but I don’t know if I could handle it if they do, you know? And… you know… I’m still figuring it all out myself and. Shit, wait, you’re pregnant?

“No changing of the subject, Peter. We’ll get to me later.”

“But you’re--”

“Peter Parker, we are talking about you.”

He sniffled and for a second Toni was sure he was about to cry. Then, out of nowhere, Peter had pulled her into a bone crushing, breath restricting hug. She didn’t know what to do. She wasn’t good at hugging. Her hands hung loosely at her side until Peter pulled away.

“What was that for?”

“You,” Peter sighed. “You just called me Peter. Without hesitation. Ned’s great, but when I told him, he asked what my real… well… birth name was.”

“I don’t care what your birth name was. You’ve always been Peter.” Peter sniffed and hugged again, then pulled back and swore under his breath.

“What’s wrong now?”

“Boys aren’t supposed to cry,” he said, his eyes welling up.

“That’s a stupid construct. Boys can cry all they want. Cry away.” She put her arm around his back and guided him to rest his head on her shoulder. His whole body shook with tears and she rubbed small circles between his shoulder blades.

“We’re going to talk about you,” Peter insisted.

“Shh. Soon, Pete. Right now, just focus on breathing. Everything is going to be okay. For both of us.”

“How can you know that?”

“I don’t, but I can hope.”

Chapter Text

“Remind me again why we’re drinking cheap beer on your couch instead of drinking good beer and your lady’s?” Bucky asked. His complaints were countered, however, went he sipped at his beer without hesitation.

“Toni and I decided we’d been spending too much time together lately. We needed to see our friends.”

Bucky gave him a remorseful look. “Trouble in paradise?”

Steve had known Buck would come to this misunderstanding but he wished he hadn’t. Things with Toni had been tense, but mainly because they were going to the doctor for the first time on Monday and they were both nervous. The realized they should have gone to an OB/GYN about two months ago. They were mad at each other and mad at themselves for not having figured it out.

“No, not at all. I already said, we wanted to hang out with our friends.”

“I did miss the two of us, I’ll admit,” Bucky admitted, taking another swig. “But why does our one-on-one totally heterosexual best friend bonding time have to involve piss beer?”

“Because, unlike my girlfriend, I am not the heir to a billion-dollar fortune. I work for minimum wage at a movie theater. Be grateful I even managed to get us this.” The sipped in silence for a few minutes. Steve had a bag of weed in his room but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to bring it out. It had been a late Christmas gift from Bruce and he kind of wanted to save it for when he could smoke with Toni again. “What’s been going on with you?” Steve asked, desperate to steer the subject away from Toni and, inevitably, the baby.

“Well.” Bucky drew out the word, a wolf-like grin on his face. “Two weeks ago, Natasha and I had sex.”

“Congratulations?” Steve wasn’t entirely sure that was the proper word but he also wasn’t sure what else to say.

“Thanks.” Bucky clapped his hand around Steve’s shoulders. “Is it too slumber party-esq if I want to tell you about it?”

Steve laughed and sipped at his beer. “No. I told you all about the first time Toni and I had sex.”

“There are details I can never unhear about that. Okay, so. We’d fooled around before, you know this.” Steve nodded, indicating he was paying attention. “So, in the past she wasn’t clean-shaven, you know? But it was… trimmed, I guess. But when we did it, she was totally smooth. I kinda liked her having a little bit of hair down there. It made her seem really young without it.”

“Did you tell her that?” Steve asked. He wondered what Natasha and Toni were talking about during their girls’ night in. He was willing to bet they were having a very similar conversation.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to. If she likes it better one way or the other, is it my place to say something?”

Steve shrugged.

“Is… Toni?”

“A very close trim.”

“Do you?

At this, Steve blushed. “Yes.”

“Jesus. That’s way more about you than I wanted to know!”

“You asked!” Steve put his beer on the coaster and leaned forward to grab a bag of Doritos. “Toni and I actually discussed it after the first few times we had sex.”

“How many times did you do it, that first night?”

Steve blushed again. “You know the answer.”

“Yeah, but I love hearing about how you bust a nut as soon as it went in.”

“Shut up. How did it go for you?”

Bucky shrugged. “You didn’t tell me I would have to, like, guide it in. And my leg got a really bad cramp in it. And…”

“And?” Steve asked, encouraging Bucky on.

“I don’t think she came. I was too embarrassed to ask.”

“Sex shouldn’t be all about orgasms. Those are nice, but the process is a lot of fun, too. Feels good. Did she seem to enjoy that, at least?”

Bucky nodded but didn’t look in Steve’s direction. There was an awkward silence as Bucky took larger and larger sips of his beer and Steve munched on the Doritos. Maybe he should offer some sort of wisdom. He remembered, months back, Toni asking him if it was a “thing” that guys don’t get their partners off. At the time, he hadn’t been entirely sure, but he’d looked into it and was surprised to find out that, yes, women came less than 50% of the time.

“You and Toni. You got good at it, right? It just took some practice?”

“Yeah.” Steve cleared his throat. They still hadn’t had sex since Halloween. Toni had described it as her ‘pussy being dryer and tighter than an 80-year-old nun.’ Steve understood and he was going to give Toni as much time as she needed, but it was getting to a point where he was jerking off every day, sometimes twice. That morning, he’d been envious of a straw Toni had her lips wrapped around.

“You’ve been acting weird lately,” Bucky finally said, breaking the silence.

“Yeah?” Of course he was, Jesus Christ. He should just tell Bucky. He wanted to, desperately, but he also wanted things to be normal between them for a little while longer. Right. Because sitting here awkwardly sipping at beer was normal.

“Yeah. Toni, too. Her going clean seems so… out of character.”

Steve shrugged. “She’s trying something. Not a big deal.”

“It’s not just that,” Bucky assured. “There’s other stuff. You’ve also been acting way more codependent than your usual level of horrendous codependency.”

Steve was about to react, deny, when his phone went off. A drunk Toni was crooning the opening lines of Kesha’s Stephen . Steve smiled apologetically and grabbed his phone, waiting until he was around the corner to answer the call.

“How’s girl’s night, babe? I thought we weren’t--”

“I’m so f-f-fat,” Toni howled. Steve had to hold the phone a few inches from his ear.

“What happened?”

“N-Nat and I were gonna go out-t-t. ‘Cause I’m gonna be in all the time after, you know? And--” a shuttering, snotty breath. “I went to put on jeans--” There was an anguished wail. “They wouldn’t b-b-button.”

Steve sighed. He had a feeling this was going to happen soon. The websites all said that a bump would be developing soon. Not large enough to be noticeable through clothing, but apparently large enough to combat the buttoning of jeans.

“Babe, it’s okay.”

No it’s not! ” Tony thundered. “It’s not! My body is officially changing on the outside. Pe-e-eople are gonna find out!”

Steve sighed. “I’ll be over in a few minutes. Is Natasha still there?”

“I think so,” Toni said, much quieter.

“Go out and sit with her and I’ll be over as soon as I can. I just have to drive Bucky home.”

“Okay,” Toni whimpered. “Thanks. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Steve hung up and pocketed his phone. On his way back to the living room, he grabbed his wallet and keys. “Gotta cut the night short,” Steve announced to Bucky. “Sorry.”

Bucky slammed the beer bottle onto the table so hard Steve was afraid it was going to shatter. “So, guys being dudes is only acceptable when the princess doesn’t need you? You only want to hang out with me when she’s doing something else.”

“It’s not like that,” Steve said.

“It’s not like what? That as soon as sex is on the table, bye bye Bucky?” Bucky was standing how, shouting.

“Bucky, please. You don’t understand.”

“I do understand! New Year’s the two of you holed away. Christmas you holed away. We haven’t hung out as a group in ages. You’ve changed, Rogers. It’s like the rest of us don’t even matter--”

“Toni’s pregnant,” Steve lamented, his hands falling to his sides. After a long, tense silence, Steve continued. “We weren’t telling people yet. We were waiting until after our doctor’s appointment on Monday.” Having told Bucky, his world seemed five-hundred times lighter. Holy shit. He could fly if he wanted. “You, uh, you don’t have to say anything. It’s a lot. Just… that’s why. Why we’ve been pulling back.”

Of all the things Steve was expecting, an embrace was not one of them. One moment Bucky was standing with his hands by his sides and the next they were wrapped around Steve, holding him so tightly it was practically bruising. His brain kicked in a moment later and he hugged back.

“Dude,” Bucky said after they pulled away. “Dude.”

“Yeah.”

“Like. It’s in there?”

Steve nodded.

“You’re… you’re gonna be a dad.”

Steve nodded again.

“I’m gonna be Uncle Bucky.” He grinned, over excited about his new title. “Remember that ancient movie your mom had us watch with the funny fat guy who died or whatever?”

Uncle Buck? ” Steve asked.

“That’s me! Where’s my shovel? Time to make a pancake.”

Steve laughed. Bucky wasn’t mad. Bucky wasn’t friend-dumping him. Things were going to be okay.

“So, uh, when?”

Steve cleared his throat. “Halloween. Condom broke.”

“Sarah know?”

“Yeah.”

Another awkward silence hung between them.

“Is she alright?”

“She’s… right now she’s having a meltdown because she can’t button her pants. She’s having a lot of trouble with the body changing thing. She’s so into working out and sports and shit and she can’t do it right now. It’s taking its toll.”

“Wait… have you had sex since October?”

Steve grunted. “No.”

“I’m sorry.”

Steve smirked. “I’ll be alright. I really have to bring you home now and go over there.”

“I’m in the opposite direction. I’ll call an Uber. Go to you lady.”

“Thanks.” Steve pulled Bucky into a one-armed hug. “Just… don’t tell anyone about the baby.”

“Of course not.”

With that, Steve left. It felt as if he hit every single light, delaying his arrival. Toni needed him and he needed to be there. It was his job, now, to bring Toni everything she needed for the coming months. So far she’d not asked anything particularly ridiculous of him, but from what he’d been reading, the chances of that sticking were not high. It was fine. She was carrying his baby--he’d gladly answer a phone call at 4am to bring her a jar of olives if she needed it.

When he arrived, no one greeted him. Figuring Toni was in her room, he jogged up both flights of stairs. Her bedroom door was open and he could hear faint sniffles coming from within. He opened the door and found Toni on the bed surrounded by mascara stained tissues, Natasha running a hand in soothing circles on her back.

“I take it you’ve found out?” Steve asked Natasha.

“Yes. Don’t worry. I’m very good with secrets.” She stood and Steve took her place beside Toni. “I’ll be leaving now. You’re in good hands, Toni.”

Toni sniffled and nodded, curling into Steve’s side. Natasha let herself out. Steve continued to rub the circles on Toni’s back. Eventually, the sniffling evened out, replaced by the heavy breathing of sleep. Steve extracted himself and went to the bathroom. After he relieved himself, he grabbed a cloth, wet it, and went to Toni’s side.

He wiped the tear streaks from her face, gently in an attempt to not wake her up. She stirred a bit, but he assured her he was just washing her face. Without another word, she fell back asleep. For the next forty-five minutes, Steve leaned against the wall behind her bed and played a crossword game on his phone. He nearly dropped it on Toni’s face when she woke with a start, eyes blinking wide.

“Holy shit,” she whispered. She sat up, swung one leg over, and settled down so she was straddling Steve. Steve’s hands instinctively fell to her hips. She rolled her hips and he, for lack of a better word, whimpered.

“Babe,” he started to ask but was cut off when Toni leaned forward and kissed him. Without hesitation, they fell into a rhythm. Toni slid her tongue into Steve’s mouth and he sucked on it gently. All the while, she continued to grind down on him.

“Pants,” she gasped. It took a moment for the word to kick in, but Steve quickly figured it out. He’d known he was hard but only now, without her being a steady pressure on him, did he realize how uncomfortable he felt with his erection trapped in his jeans. He unbuttoned and pushed them down, lifting his ass off the bed to push them farther down.

“That’s enough,” she said as soon as the pants were clear of his general groin area. “No time.”

“Huh?” He realized that Toni had already pushed the panties down but removed no other clothing.

“Need you now,” she panted. He moaned as she rolled the condom down his cock, his breath hitching when she positioned herself above it sank down. It felt blindingly good, the tight wet heat of her pussy surrounding her cock.

“Oh my god, baby,” he groaned. She was hardly moving, barely rocking her hips back and forth. Steve was pretty sure it was the best he’d ever felt.

“Feels so good,” she murmured, leaning forward to kiss him. Steve grunted his agreement. “Getting tired,” she admitted after a few more moments. Steve didn’t hesitate. He lifted her hips and rolled her gently off of him. Then, he, too, rolled over. With his left arm braced beside her head, he guided himself in and began to fuck her in earnest. He wasn’t sure he would have been able to stop if the room were on fire. He didn’t even think he would be able to slow down.

“I’m not gonna last much longer,” he said. She was so warm, so wet. If he were honest with himself, he’d have been surprised he’d lasted this long.

“Just keep doing that. Don’t stop. Almost there.” She reached between them and started to rub her clit. If Steve were in his right mind, he would bat her hand away and do it himself. As it was, his brain was nothing but a haze of lust, need, want.

She came with a stuttered gasp. Taking that as his permission to finish, he changed his pace and chased his own orgasm. It didn’t take long. He collapsed beside her, his arms no longer able to support his own body. They lay in silence, both catching their breath.

“Want to talk about it?” he asked. Yesterday, she’d told him she had no interest in sex--that she couldn’t get aroused if she tried, and she had tried. Steve had gone into the handicapped bathroom and beat one out to the thought of Toni fingering herself in an attempt to make herself able to take him.

“I dreamt,” she said but didn’t continue for long moments. “Remember the girls’ LAX state championship last Spring? I’d barely gotten off the field. We went to the men’s locker room. In the shower.”

“I remember it well.”

“Well, I was there. And when I woke up, I felt like I did then. Like I needed you.”

“Can we go to sleep now?” Steve slurred. With astronomical effort, he peeled the condom off himself and tied it, dropping into the trash can beside the bed. He grabbed a tissue and wiped up any remaining debris before closing his eyes.

“I kinda wanna do it again.”

He didn’t have to be asked twice.


“Well, it seems that you’re seventeen weeks along. Your symptoms have evolved the way that they should. Your due date is July 17th,” Dr. Cho read off a clipboard. “You seem to be in perfect health. Keep going the way you’re going and you will have a very healthy baby.”

“July 17th,” Steve said. Wow, that was. Soon. He knew it would be around then but having a date made it seem more real.

“We normally hold off on doing ultrasounds until week eighteen, but since you’re here now, I might as well perform one.”

“Really?” Toni squeaked. “We can see Snoot?”

Dr. Cho looked up from her clipboard, a crease between her eyebrows. “Snoot?”

“Since we didn’t know the sex of the baby and didn’t want to continue calling it and it, we started calling it Snoot,” Steve explained.

“We can find out the sex of the baby today if you want.” Dr. Cho was in the process of wheeling a large machine over to where Toni was lying on the table.

Toni locked eyes with Steve. They’d talked about it, briefly. Part of them wanted to know the sex but another part wanted it to be a surprise. They could spend the following weeks preparing for a baby in a gender-neutral sense with greens and yellows. Steve regularly cooed over tiny dresses online and Toni all but cried tears of joy at the thought of being a little league coach, whipping the young boys into shape to respect women.

“Could you write it down?” Toni asked. “Put it in an envelope and we can open it if we decide?”

“Of course.” Dr. Cho flipped on the machine and took the wand think off a stand, wrapping it in a sterile bag. “The gel is warmed, but it’s going to feel odd,” she warned. Toni nodded, hiked up the hospital gown, and tried not to wince when she felt it smooth over her skin. “Now, if you turn your attention to the screen, you can see right here is the head. And over here--” she moved the wand, “--is the feet. Your baby… Snoot… has ten fingers and ten toes. Can you hear that sound? That’s a very strong heartbeat.”

Toni’s smile was so big her face hurt. For the first time since the whole thing started, she was genuinely excited. Before now, everything was scary. A haze of my life is over and I’m going to fuck this up . Now, seeing that blurry, squirming lump on a screen, hearing the whump-whump of its heart, she realized that this was not totally a horrible thing. There was going to be a little baby that would call her mommy. The baby would have tiny sneakers. They’d have to put protective padding on corners when their baby was learning to walk.

They were going to be parents and Toni couldn’t imagine how life could be any better.

“Steve,” she whispered, gripping his hand as tightly as she could. “Look. It’s our baby.”

“Snoot’s so… tiny.”

“Your baby is about five inches long right now,” Dr. Cho informed. “And weighs about the same as a turnip.”

“Tell us,” Toni blurted. “Is it a boy or a girl?”


The group was in Toni’s basement. There was liquor and laughing. Toni was sipping at a lemon-water, no longer pretending to drink. Tonight they were going to tell everyone. It had been five days since the doctor. Every day, he excitement grew. She kept the printout of Snoot’s ultrasound on her at all times, looking at it at every chance she got. Her Snoot. Her baby.

She could barely contain her excitement. She could not wait to meet her little baby.

“As some of you know,” Steve started and Toni perked up. It was time. She reached into the pocket of Steve’s sweatshirt she was wearing, her fingers gripping the edge of the picture. In a few moments, she was going to take it out and show all of her friends. She was practically vibrating.

“I’m pregnant!” she shouted, far too happy to wait for Steve to continue his buildup. “There’s a baby in my tummy!” The picture was out of her pocket in moments and she was shoving it at Peter, who had been officially added to their group chat and therefore their friend group.

“Yeah, we all knew that,” Clint drawled, bored. Everyone stared at him. “C’mon. She barely had boobs and now she’s a solid C cup.”

“Excuse me?” Toni asked. She would have been more offended, but she was too busy helping Peter figure out what part was Snoot’s head.

“I’m not staring at your boobs. They’re very noticeably present and they weren’t before.”

“So Clint knew.” Steve held up a finger. “Bucky and Natasha found out last weekend. Peter has known for awhile.”

Sam grunted. “I’m the only one that wasn’t in on the secret?”

“It wasn’t intentional,” Steve assured. Toni had carried the picture over and was sitting on the arm of the couch next to Natasha.

“Do you have a bump?” Natasha had passed the picture to Bucky and was now reaching towards Toni. Her hand halted a few inches away from Toni’s abdomen, as if realizing that she hadn’t been invited.

“A little,” Toni admitted. Last week, the thought had caused a horrendous meltdown. Today, he excitedly rucked up Steve’s sweatshirt so show the room at large. All eyes were on Toni and she preened.

“How far along are you?” Sam was typing rapidly on his phone.

“Almost eighteen weeks.” Toni grinned and gave the go-ahead for Natasha to touch the bump.

“It’s about the size of a bell pepper,” Clint read off Sam’s phone. “Ooo, here is said cravings should be starting. Anything weird yet?”

“Yesterday she ate an English muffin with nothing but mayo on it,” Steve supplied. Toni backhanded him in the stomach. “Which I’m sure was delicious,” he added.

“Actually, it was repulsive,” Toni said. “But I don’t like you talking about me like that. Like I’m not smart.”

“Sorry, babe.” He kissed her gently on the lips. “You’re the smartest person in this room and we all know it.”


“Look!” The picture was now wrinkled and folded. It didn’t stop Toni from shoving it in Pepper’s face the minute the door closed behind her and their session started. “It’s my Snoot.”

“Look at that.” Pepper was now holding the picture.

“I have,” Toni announced, proudly. Then her face fell. “You can’t see them, can you?”

“I can’t find the head.”

“Here, I’ll show you.” Toni got up and instructed Pepper to flip the photo and pointed to the misshapen lump that was the baby’s head.

“Oh. It’s… cute.”

Toni snatched the picture back and put it in the pocket of the hoodie. Once it started, she kept growing, rounder and rounder every day. She’d been wearing Steve’s sweatshirts, jackets, and shirts most of the time.

“I don’t want to buy fat people clothes which Steve always reminds me are maternity --” she spat the word as if it had wronged her, “--clothes. That sounds so gross. Can you picture me in Target, picking up flowy garbage?”

“You don’t have to shop at Target.”

“Fat people clothes are all florals and stuff. I don’t want to wear florals.”

“Maternity clothes, Toni,” Pepper reminded. “Though I don’t see anything wrong with you borrowing Steve’s clothes for the time being.”

“I will not be buying fat people clothes,” Toni insisted.

“You seem to be in a very different mood than you were at our last meeting.”

“That was two weeks ago. I hadn’t seen my Snoot. I hadn’t realized how great this is going to be.”

“It’s going to be hard, too. Remember that.”

“Trust me, I know. But… I’m so happy. I can’t remember being happy like this.”

“I don’t want to spoil the mood but how are you doing with not being able to play lacrosse?”

Toni started wailing.


“There’s a couch in the science office,” Toni grumbled. Steve was trailing behind her out of the cafeteria. It was nap time. It had to be. She would not make it through the rest of her classes if she didn’t close her eyes for just ten fucking minutes.

“If they find you in there, you’re going to get in trouble.” Steve’s protests did nothing to stop her and he didn’t try again. When they finally made it to the science office, she sank into the couch.

“Sit here. You’re my pillow,” she instructed.

“Do you want me to be your pillow or rub your feet?”

That gave Toni pause. “Pillow. Foot rub tonight.”

Steve huffed a breath through his nose and sat on the couch where Toni instructed him to. “Yes my princess.”

“Shut up. You’re the one that shot me up with sperm in the first place.”

“It seems that you say that just to get what you want. When you’re telling other people, you talk about how we both contributed.”

“Because I know it makes you feel guilty,” Toni admitted. “And that’s wrong, I know, but I’m entitled to be annoying. I read that somewhere.”

Steve ran his fingers through her hair, massaging her scalp. “Go to sleep. The bell is gonna ring in twenty minutes.”

Toni was out in under a minute.


“Toni!”

Toni bolted upright. Peter was pale, his voice had cracked.

“Hmm?” It felt like her nap had just started.

“You know that face. Shield Prep Gossip. Page book.”

“Facebook page?” Steve supplied.

“Yeah!” Peter pointed at Steve. He was winded. Where had he run from.

“I know it.” Toni sat up and cracked her neck. There was a cramp there. She’d have to remember to have Steve rub that later tonight.

“Check it.”

Toni dug through her backpack and pulled out her phone. Opening the Facebook app, she searched the page in question. She began reading the first post, but only a sentence in, she covered her mouth and choked on a sob.

“Let me see.” Steve gently took the phone from her hands. “ We all know Toni Stark is a pompous bitch. She’s smart and hot and rich and… pregnant! The whore got knocked up. Steve Rogers, brainwashed boyfriend --I take offense to that-- seems to be under the impression that it is his. If we know anything about the couple it’s that neither have been faithful during their supposed perfect relationship. That’s not true!” he shouted. God, where did this person get off, saying they were unfaithful?

“Keep reading,” Peter squeaked.

The person who reported this, who wishes to remain anonymous, reported hearing the couple talking about it while sneaking into the science office for a quickie. Nap!” Steve corrected. “Baby-mama seemed to be as manipulating as ever, forcing Steve to rub her feet and be her pillow. This is all we have at the time being. Bets on the table? How long are they going to last? When will Steve finally put his foot down and stop being her slave? Is it even his baby? Discuss in the comments below!

Toni was sobbing. While Steve had been reading, Peter had sat on the couch and was rubbing his hand up and down Toni’s arm.

“It’s not true! I-I… I’ve never che-e-eated on you!” She dabbed at her eyes and let out another wail. “And I don’t mean to man-i-i-ipulate you! It’s all in good fu-un.”

“Shh,” Peter soothed.

“I know all of that,” Steve assured. He started rubbing Toni’s other arm. “And I wouldn’t be doing anything if I didn’t want to. I promise. This is just some fucker trying to be sly.”

Toni let out another hiccuping sob. “Everyone thinks I’m a bitch?”

“Not everyone .”

“Peter!” Steve shouted.

“So… people think I’m a bitch?”

“A lot of people do, but you’re not and that’s what matters.”

“Peter!” Steve shouted again when Toni’s wails increased in pitch.