You first met Steve after the Battle of New York. You’d been minding your own business, taking your anger out on a punching bag, silently cursing all men after having been catcalled for what seemed like the millionth time on your way to the gym.
Another powerful punch and the bag rocked, swaying dangerously, until you hit it one last time on the back swing and the chain broke, bag falling to the floor with a thump.
You hung your head with a groan, sluggishly moving to pick it up when your body collided with another – “oof.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” a deep male voice sounded. You looked up, taking in the rippling muscles before you were met with warm blue eyes filled with concern and felt a hand grasp your arm.
You were totally caught by his gaze, floundering for words, until eventually some slipped out. “It’s – it’s alright.”
The man nodded, a flush rising to his cheeks almost as if he felt awkward, which you could hardly believe, until his next words came out in an uncertain tone. “I, uh, I was just coming to see if – need some help with that?” He motioned to the fallen punching bag.
You were going to brush him off, say that you could do it yourself thank you very much, but there was something about the way he seemed like he really just wanted to help you, and before you knew it you were nodding and walking alongside him to the bag storage area.
In the short walk, you seemed to find your voice and once the bag was deposited and thanks were given, you asked, with your usual slightly knowing and sarcastic tone, “so, you new to the area? I’ve never seen you here before.”
He shifted his weight and shook his head, “not new, just… been away for a while.” You nodded and turned to walk away, trusting him to follow. He did, and you found yourself offering, “well, if you ever need someone to show you the ropes, all the new developments, or just a sparring partner, I’d be happy to help.”
The man came to an abrupt stop that had you giving him an inquisitive look. He seemed to stare right through you, into your very soul, and then his face shifted into a small smile as he seemed to come to some conclusion.
“Thank you, really.”
“Sure thing, mystery man,” you said with a grin and slightly teasing tone.
He smiled, and held out his hand. “Steve Rogers, ma’am.”
Your eyes widened only slightly as you now knew where you recognized the man, but you quickly shook yourself out of it and shook his hand. “(Y/N). Pleasure to meet you, Steve Rogers.”
In the weeks and months that followed, you and Steve met up often. The first few times were just at the gym again, purely coincidence, and they did end up sparring – Steve definitely gave you a good workout, and he had even started giving you little notes here and there that could definitely be considered training.
Eventually he took you up on your offer, and you set a time and place to meet at a nearby coffee shop. And that’s how it began – from there, you and Steve met three times a week, unless some unforeseen event got in the way. You would sit, walk, drive somewhere, or go to one of your apartments, and you would answer Steve’s questions about things in the new world and show and tell him things you thought important.
Between those lessons, you learned a lot about each other. For example, Steve grew up just five blocks from your apartment. With that growing knowledge also came increased trust and you found yourself looking at Steve in new ways after some months had passed in that way.
Somewhere between movie marathons, sparring and sharing stories over milkshakes at his favorite diner, you’d found yourself wanting to be closer to Steve. And so you went for it. You’d decided, as the first step, it was high time you share an important part of yourself, and so one night you abruptly paused the movie, getting his attention like you’d hoped.
He looked down at you with a questioning gaze and you held it. “Steve, can I trust you with something?”
You hated that you even had to ask, because of course you could, it was Steve – but still your past with this had caused you to question every single person now. Luckily, he didn’t seem offended and turned more to face you. “Of course you can,” he responded in a soft, gentle voice.
You nodded, then took a deep breath, and went for it. You took his hand in one of yours and with the other, touched your fingertips ever so lightly to his upturned palm, and let the electricity flow. As soon as it touched his skin he gasped, but didn’t jolt away, and you knew you could trust him. You placed his hand back on his lap and turned your own palms skyward, focusing, and for once in your life not freaking out when what looked like lightning arose from your hands.
When you finally had the balls of electricity you were trying for, you chanced a look at Steve, and inhaled sharply at the expression you found. He was absolutely mesmerized.
When you closed your palms into fists, to shut the little show down, his eyes immediately snapped to yours and in the softest, most sincere voice you’d heard from him yet, spoke your name.
“(Y/N)…” You fought to maintain eye contact. “… You, that was… you, you’re like me,” he finally got out, voice low as ever.
You nodded. “There was an accident when I was young… struck by lightening and apparently this was there when I woke up,” you provided, unknowingly keeping your voice soft so as not to disturb the feeling that had fallen over the room.
Movie long forgotten, Steve turned fully towards you now, a million questions in his eyes, but he spoke none of them aloud and for that, you were grateful. He was giving you the chance to tell your own story, and you were going to take it.
You shared with him how people, even your own family, had shunned you the first time your powers had been revealed when you accidentally set something on fire at age 10. How it had been hard to control it but with solitude and time, you’d taught yourself how. How, by solitude and time, you meant that you hadn’t had a proper childhood, home schooling yourself on the internet and jumping around from family to family until you decided you’d be better off on your own and ran away at 16. Most of all, you made sure to emphasize that you had never ever intentionally hurt someone, how in fact you tried to not even use your powers, tried to hide them, really, just to minimize that risk.
When you were finished, the questions had gone from Steve’s eyes and were replaced with a singular resolve, and when he spoke it was strong, non-judgmental, and unafraid.
“(Y/N), I know you know who I am, the work I do,” he paused and you nodded in confirmation, looking a little abashed. “While I’ve appreciated you not bringing it up, just letting me be me, I think maybe it’s time we start to talk about it. The Avengers are nothing more than an idea, and nothing less than strong group of people, a characteristic that you most definitely have… (Y/N), I think you should join us.”
Your gaze flew to meet Steve’s and you found there a confidence, no sign that he was anything other than completely serious. You blinked several times, trying to wrap your head around what he’d just suggested and found yourself, once again, floundering.
He picked up on it, of course, and switched to a gentler tone. “It’s not something you have to respond to right now, but, I’m serious about it. I think you’d make a great addition to the team,” he nudged you and sent that little smile that calmed all your nerves.
“Okay,” you finally managed, “I – thank you. I’ll think about it.”
He nodded and turned the movie back on, leaving you to stare at him in wonder.
He didn’t bring it up again until a few weeks later, when he’d returned from a mission and, after a debriefing and quick shower, headed straight to your place. You could tell it had been rough with the way his head hung low and his eyes betrayed his exhaustion, so you pulled him in for a tight hug and relished the way he released a deep breath against your hair. When you pulled away, he seemed better, and hungry, from the way his stomach growled loudly through the quiet apartment. You laughed and went to grab dinner where it was staying warm in the oven and met him at the couch.
Conversation was sparse – you could tell there was something on his mind from the way he would drift off in the middle of a sentence – so to save him the effort, you turned on a movie and let him rest. After you cleared the dishes, you came back to find him staring straight through the TV, so you sat closer than normal and looked at him until he came back to awareness.
When he finally looked at you, he seemed better, more clear-headed, and he smiled when you greeted him, “well hey there, big fella.”
“Hey, thanks for dinner and… all this.”
“Of course, it’s nothing. Everything okay?”
“Yeah just… hey, I don’t mean to pressure you but, have you given any more thought to what I said?”
Now it was your turn to sigh and turn away. “I have… I just, I don’t know, Steve… I don’t really know if I would be any help, you know, compared to you all.”
“What? What on earth would make you say that? No, Y/N, you’re incredible. Not only have you taught yourself to harness your power but you’ve kept it in, you haven’t used it for bad and that means that you will use it for good. You know what I was thinking about when things went pear-shaped today?”
You shook your head and he continued, “I was thinking about how it would’ve been so useful to have you around, how we needed you.”
There was something about his so so kind words and his blue eyes that had you closing your eyes and doing something you’d only thought about once – agreeing.
“Okay. Okay, I’ll try it out… give it a test run. For you.”
Steve smiled that smile that made you wonder what was behind it – one you couldn’t read, but would keep with you for the foreseeable future.
You both turned your attention back to the movie and he fell asleep not long after, finally feeling relaxed. You woke him up enough to bring him to your bed and as you were about to leave to head back to the couch, a voice sounded, “no, wait, I’ll go, you have your bed.”
You turned around with a fond smile gracing your features, “don’t be silly, Steve. You’ve had a rough couple of days. Sleep.”
He only playfully glared at you.
You sighed, “fine. Then I’ll join you. No reason why we both shouldn’t have a comfortable sleep.”
When you saw his eyes widen you laughed and explained, “don’t worry, nothing’s going to happen. It’s normal, between friends… in fact, think of this as another lesson in the new normal.”
You waited for his acceptance and when it came, slid into bed beside him, turning off the light and whispering “goodnight, Steve,” before falling into a restful slumber.
After squaring some things away with Fury, Steve came to you again, telling you it was time. The next morning began your training and introductions to the team, and from there, your life would never be the same.
You honed your power, learned how to use it to protect and attack, if need be, and tried to find your place on the team. Steve helped, of course, defending you to anyone who doubted your place and encouraging you to spend more time with people he was close to – Natasha, in particular. You found you two actually had a lot in common and she admired your strong will and quick wit, but still, you felt like you weren’t making the progress you’d been hoping for.
One night, when you’d been lost in your own mind and had started spiraling downwards, Steve found you in your apartment drinking alone. He’d come in, asking what was the matter, and you’d only looked away in response. But he wasn’t deterred.
“(Y/N), come on, I know something’s been up with you. Is everything okay?” He placed a tentative hand on your arm and at that, you looked up. It was unlike him to touch you without permission and so you knew he must be really concerned. You looked into his eyes and again, it was like those months ago, and you cracked. Your head dropped against his chest and you realized how close he’d stepped. The smell that was so uniquely Steve enveloped you, made you feel safe and warm, and you let it all out.
“Steve I don’t know if I belong here. Everyone else is so skilled and can do so much good. They’re so important, and advanced, and I just feel like… I’m letting people down, I’m not where we thought I’d be, I’m letting you down and I’ll let innocent people down too if they need my help.”
When Steve spoke, his voice was sharp, his natural leadership showing through, and it commanded your attention. He lifted your chin with one finger and made sure to look you directly in the eyes. “(Y/N), listen to me. I don’t know if this is coming from hearing other people or something within, but let me tell you – you are doing amazing. When you stumble or your powers short or you feel like you’ve fallen, you might see that as failure – but not from my perspective. Because every time that happens, you get up. And that’s what makes you strong, what makes me certain that you’ll succeed the next time we’re needed. It’s what makes me trust you with my life, and that’s not something I give freely. It’s what – it’s what draws me to you, what makes me want to … to be your partner not just on the battlefield, but – in life.”
His voice had softened at the end and you found yourself unable to hold back any longer. His voice and his gaze made you believe him. You met his eyes, an understanding flickering between you, and leaned just a bit closer to signal to him once and for all – the things you felt for him. And then he closed the distance and pressed his lips to yours and everything fell away. It was the kind of kiss that made you feel like you were the only two people in the room, like everything was falling into place, like you wanted to be doing this forever. It felt like coming home, like “finally” and relief, and judging by the way Steve looked at you when you came apart and rested your foreheads together, he felt the same way, too.