Melody's head was pounding. She'd been at this immigration paperwork all day. Though she was quiet well-read, the never ending documents that detailed rule and requirement one after the other was starting to wear on her.
The door of the apartment opened with a soft click and she looked up, her neck stiff as she turned her head. James was back, grinning at her as he made his way into the kitchen. "You're still doing this?"
"Immigration process is evil," Melody replied, laying her head on the table. "My brain is fried. If anyone comes through that door tonight," she pointed vaguely towards it as she spoke, "and they need a doctor, tell them to leave. I'm not fit to suture a grape right now, let alone a person."
"You're supposed to eat grapes," James remarked. "Not suture them."
"That's because you're not thinking outside the box." The skin of a grape was fragile, easy to tear, the same was a skin graft was. It made for good practice.
"Whatever you say," there was a hush of paper across wood. "Come on, you're done with this."
"No I'm not."
"I'm declaring a retreat," James said and Melody opened her eyes to see him gathering all the papers together. "You just said your brain is fried and you've been sitting here since ten this morning. It'll be here tomorrow, take a break."
"I need to get this done," Melody said. The sooner this was done, the sooner she could apply for a work visa.
"I know," James tapped the bottom of the papers onto the table to straighten the stack. "But no matter whether you get this in tomorrow or two weeks from now it's still going to take at least a month for you to get the visa. Take a break."
Melody knew he was right, but even so her pride was stinging at the thought of stopping now. She wasn't as far as she wanted to be, but she was still closer to the end than she was to the start. If she just gave it a little more time...
James sighed and got up from the table, papers still clutched in his hand and that got her to sit up. "What are you doing?"
He didn't answer right away, but stood up on his toes and placed the stack of paperwork on the top of the cabinets. "You get those back," he pointed to the papers, "tomorrow morning."
"I can climb you know," she remarked, looking at the countertop she could use to give herself the extra height she needed.
"You're too exhausted to climb and we both know it." James grinned and sat down next to her again. "Besides, I have something else here I think you'll want to see." He slid a thin sort of notebook towards her, the leather cover a bit worn. Melody didn't recognize it and realized that James must have brought it in when he came home.
"What is it?" She tilted her head, curious and flipped open the cover. Inside was a little card and she peered at it, reading the smooth writing. To Mr. and Mrs. Barnes. Melody smiled at the note, wondering just how long it would take for her to adapt to her new title. She flipped through the first page, the material like tissue paper and her curiosity switched to awe as she saw what was behind the page.
It was a drawing, done in black ink but it was more than just that-it was their wedding. She recognized, even in the monochromatic color scheme, the garden where she'd married James. The concrete planters where tropical flowers rested in the night, the twinkling white lights above them, James's hands in hers as they tied their lives together. Awed, Melody turned the page and was greeted with another drawing. This was of them again, at the ceremony, but closer up. The first one had been drawn from a far-away perspective, so that they and the surrounding area was visible. Now it was a more narrow focus-a close up of her and James and the detail was astounding. The lines in James's metal hand, the dimples on his face as he smiled and the lone tear that was dropping down his face. She remembered that moment perfectly, the moment she'd promised him her life. The artist had spared no detail when it came to her either, they'd captured the smallest details, from the gleaming bracelet of pearls on her wrist to the length of her eyelashes and the strands of hair that framed her face.
She flipped through the following pages and saw more images still; her and James on the dance floor, swaying to a waltz. Her and Sharon, hugging each other and laughing, Wanda and Scott, eating and talking and even T'challa talking with James though Melody didn't quiet remember that happening.
She looked up from the drawings and back at James, who was watching her with amusement. "Where did you get these?"
"It's a wedding gift," he answered, smiling and flipping to the final page. There was another note there. Curious, Melody peered and read the short, cramped script. Might not be a traditional picture, but I thought you'd like a way to look back at your wedding. There was a break in the short line and then Melody's jaw dropped again as she read the name.
"Steve drew these?" she gasped, looking over at James who was looking down at the sketchpad again.
"Yes," he replied, flipping back to one of the images. This one of herself, Sharon and Wanda talking at the reception. "He was always a good artist."
Good was an understatement. Melody had been to an art museum once and felt the work she was holding now could have easily been on the gallery walls. "This is incredible."
James's left hand slid over hers. "I'm sure Steve will be very pleased to hear that."
"I didn't know he was so talented." Melody admitted which was the truth. She had always assumed Steve's strongest skill was his ability to get into high-risk situations. Apparently she'd only been partly correct. While he did have a penchant for that, apparently he had a great deal of artistic ability as well. Not something she would've expected from the super solider by any means.
"He's a humble guy," James pointed out. "Not huge on bragging."
"That's true," Melody agreed. Though she had disagreed strongly with Steve before and was likely to do so again, she did respect him a great deal. Partly for his heroism and strong convictions and partly for his humble manner. Being surrounded by surgeons all the time, it was a refreshing change. "I can't believe he did this," she sighed, touching the image of Wanda's laughing face. Her head was turning in the image, her long, free-flowing hair fanning out behind her-almost in motion. "The details are incredible-and he did all this from memory, didn't he? I never saw any cameras going off."
For obvious reasons, they had not had any photography at the wedding. Too risky considering over half the guests were internationally wanted criminals now. "From memory," James confirmed. "Another hidden talent of his."
"Does he had an eidetic memory?" She had only met one person with that ability, Stephen Strange. It had been one of the things that had made him an extraordinary surgeon. Even if he was an ass.
"Not that I'm aware of," James replied. "As far as I know, he's just got a better visual memory than most people."
Melody looked at the clock-eight, not very late, but too late to make a social call. "I wish he would've dropped these off himself," she remarked, closing the sketchbook. "I would've liked to say thank you."
"You can thank him tomorrow."
"True," she glanced at the cover again, recalling the vivid images inside. "Well, now we know why he's been MIA for the last week." Admittedly, Melody had assumed that he was keeping his distance so she and James could enjoy a sort of honeymoon. A considerate act which she would've expected from Steve and was thankful for. However, after the first two or three days had passed the absence had become strange. Now she had a reason for it.
"I already knew, sort of. He told me he was working on something but he wouldn't tell me what."
"Well, gifts traditionally are supposed to be a surprise."
"Very good," he leaned in, pressing a kiss to her cheek. "You seem to understand presents very well." James drew away and Melody saw his smile. "And what's even more impressive, I didn't have to tell you that."
"I gotten presents before."
"Presents? As in plural?" His tone was colored with surprise, not that Melody blamed him.
"Sharon and I celebrated Christmas together when our jobs allowed. And Thanksgiving. She did bring me to a Halloween party once too, but I didn't like that. Too much booze and too many people making poor choices. I got paged halfway into it."
"Of course you did."
"I had a lot more fun practicing sutures. Way more useful than watching drunk people dance on the bar top."
"Well Doctor," he informed her, a teasing grin on his face. "You're taking the night off. Come on, get up. You've been sitting here all day." James got to his feet and held down a hand to her, which she took.
"Not all day," she reminded him, joints cracking as she got onto her feet.
"I just heard your entire skeleton pop-you've been there long enough."
"Skeletons are too strong to just pop like that. What you're hearing is air bubbles between joints."
"Whatever." James rolled his eyes and pulled her close. "Point is that you need a change of pace. So you're taking the night off."
"Okay, say I do that instead of paper work; what exactly will I be doing on this night off?"
"You," he said, winding his arms around her waist and pulling her to him. "Are going to go and take a shower. After that you're going to throw on one of my t-shirts and we're going to cuddle on the couch and watch Titanic."
Melody smiled at the mention of one of her favorite films. "Why Titanic?"
"You love that movie, I've never seen it and given the genre, it does seem appropriate for a honeymoon. Anymore questions?"
"One. Why do I have to wear one of your shirts?"
"Because you look sexy in them." James replied, leaning in and kissing her and she could feel his smile. "Simple." He kissed her once more and drew away, his eyes twinkling with amusement. "Now go and clean up. I'll make some popcorn."
Melody let go of his hand. "Okay." She turned her back to him to hid her grin. James wanted her to be a little sexy then? Well, she had purchased some lingerie when she'd gotten her wedding dress. He hadn't seen it yet and perhaps now was as good a time as any for a debut.