No Second Guesses, No Regrets
Taryn sat on the exam table and Rogers stood by her as they waited for the doctor to come in. "How are you feeling?"
"Eh… my head hurts, but better than it was. I just hope Wanda is OK. We were overwhelmed, but I'm pretty sure those were some of Thornfeld's men. My abilities weren't as sharp, neither were Wanda's ... I think they had some sort of dampening tech or something…"
"Well, that would explain it. If that is the stuff Thornfeld is selling, we need to put a stop to it."
She nodded and the doctor came back in looking at her x-rays. "Well the good news is that nothing is broken. You don't have a concussion, but you'll have a good knot for a little while. Try to keep some ice on it when you can, and just take it easy. Light exercise is ok, but nothing strenuous for at least a week. Let me know if you have any issues, okay?"
"Thank you doctor, I'll make sure she takes it easy."
She raised a brow at him as she hopped off the table and headed out the door. "You're going to make sure, huh? Planning to tie me down, or something?"
He flushed crimson. "No, I just want to make sure you heal well."
"Uh, huh…" she changed the subject. "How is Wanda?"
"She's still unconscious. The doctor is hopeful she'll wake soon."
"Well, that's good. I can't help feel responsible, though."
"Taryn, you did what you could. Especially since we suspect dampening technology…"
She realized they were at her door. "I know, I just care… you know?"
More than you possibly could know, he thought to himself. "I understand. We're a team and thus watch out for each other. Well, try to get some rest and let me know if you need anything, okay?"
She nodded and he gently touched her arm. She sensed something more, but he hesitated and nodded sharply, and headed back down the hall.
Taryn entered her room and peeled her outfit off of her and headed for a long, hot shower. She felt so much better as she let the hot water wash over her and she stood under the stream for a good 10 minutes.
She washed her hair gently and cleaned herself up and by the time she got out of the shower, she was relaxed and very tired. Blowing her hair dry, she decided to pack it in, no matter if it was late afternoon or not.
The next morning, Taryn set her Kindle down on the end table next to her and looked out her window. The sun was just rising over the rolling hills and she had already been up for an hour. Taryn couldn't sleep after yesterday's events and Wanda getting injured. She sighed, knowing that would be just the first of many encounters they would have with an enemy. She needed to relax and open her mind and find her focus again.
Rising from the sofa, she retrieved a pair of black leggings, tank top and her sneakers, dressed and made her way through the complex to one of the smaller exercise rooms. Opening the door, she was quietly relieved to find it empty. Taryn needed to relax in her own way so she plugged her MP3 player into the stereo system and classical music began to play.
Taryn moved to the middle of the floor and stretched and flexed. Taking a classic pose she began to dance gracefully around the room. Dancing was the only connection to the past that remained. She was training to be a dancer before she was classified as gifted by SHIELD. Gifted was an interesting term for it, she thought. Feeling like she was a freak as a kid because she could hear other children's thoughts. She knew when teachers were going to pull surprise quizzes so she studied and always aced them. Her teachers thought she was cheating but couldn't figure out how. Then the other abilities began to manifest. The telekinesis, the mind reading, the unusual strength. None of it made sense and even her parents didn't want to deal with it after a while. That was when SHIELD came in and offered to take her in, teach her and classify her, keep her out of mainstream society. She tried not to be bitter about it because they did help her control her abilities, but she missed a normal life. She resigned herself to the fact that she would never have one.
Taryn didn't realize that she had stopped dancing and was crying. She brushed the tears from her cheeks and switched to a new song. Something a little more joyful. She really needed to focus and get her head back into the game…..
Steve was up early. He couldn't sleep as yesterday's injuries at the rally had caught them all off guard. He needed to work off some steam and maybe punching something would help. He dressed in a pair of sweatpants and tee shirt and made his way down to the gym. He decided to take the long way around and walk outside to get some air. He stepped through the doorway and breathed in deeply. It was so fresh and clear here. Not like the grubby parts of the city where they seemed to end up most days. At least Tony's place was high above the grime and crime. But here he could think. The new trainees were coming along well, but Wanda was nearly taken out yesterday by an uncontrolled crowd. At least Taryn seemed to have her act together. She was strong, smart and sassy. She could hold her own and her abilities allowed her to predict the moves of the enemy. She wasn't infallible, however, as she was blindsided by a night stick from behind. Nevertheless the dampening field that she had suspected didn't help. Steve remembered the surge of concern when he witnessed her fall. It felt different than his apprehension of the new team trying to fight together. He cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his dark blonde hair. Now was not the time for this. He really needed to punch something….
As Steve rounded the corner and entered the building again he could hear music coming from one of the training rooms. Puzzled, he approached the door from where it was loudest and opened it, peeking in. Graceful and lithe, Taryn twirled around the room in an elegant ballet. She was so completely absorbed in the music and motion that she did not take notice of him as he stood there. He felt a twinge of guilt as he stood watching her, but found he couldn't look away. He watched her end the dance as the song faded. She remained still for a moment, breathing softly before the next song began. Steve was suddenly propelled into the past when a Glenn Miller song started to play. He watched her smile and she started to move along with the swing. Steve's heart was in his throat as memories of a lost dance flooded his thoughts. He shook his head and began to close the door, then suddenly had a pang of regret for missing that one dance. He didn't want to miss another…
Taryn had finished her ballet and remained in pose for a few moments as the song ended. She was folded over, breathing inaudibly. She knew what song was next and began to smile; Glenn Miller's In the Mood. It was more fun to swing with a partner, but she began to dance again, her eyes closed, her focus only on the music. Suddenly a voice made her jump. "May I... may I have this dance?"
Taryn turned and open her eyes to see Steve standing inches from her. Startled that she did not sense him approach, it took her a moment to respond. She felt he was about to back away so she grabbed his hand. "Absolutely!"
Steve shyly smiled. "You know I really don't know how to dance," he said softly.
"Wow. Cap doesn't know how to do something?" she joked with a smile. "I never thought I'd be able to teach a super hero to dance."
He stopped moving and laughed. "Yeah well I didn't have much time or occasion to learn."
"Well then, you really need to learn how to swing. After all, its music you're familiar with," she said with a wink.
He suppressed a smile and felt his cheeks warm and cleared his throat. He stood still, waiting for her instruction.
Taryn chuckled and moved closer to him and set her hand on his arm. "Now take this hand, and put your other hand on my waist."
Rogers felt like his hands were all sweaty. What the hell was going on? He battled Nazis, aliens and killer robots and he was breaking out in a cold sweat dancing with a girl?! He was very confused, but tried to concentrate on her instruction and watched her feet.
Taryn caught him watching her feet, and she chucked him under the chin. "Hey, heads up. Look at me and feel the music."
He was surprised at how good she was at dancing to something from his time. He was nervous and even a bit clumsy but he listened to her and felt the beat. He used to watch his buddies dance with their girls and was a quick learner so with Taryn's help, he caught on. He felt a pang of disappointment when he knew the song was coming to an end. However when Benny Goodman's Sing, Sing, Sing started, Taryn didn't let go.
They smiled at each other and continued to dance. Never in a million years did Taryn think she would be swing dancing with a super hero let alone this one... She felt her smile widen as he spun her around. She forgot all her plights, forgot where they were and got lost in the moment. He seemed to be enjoying himself and it was nice to see him smile. She didn't see this side of him often since she came to the SHIELD facility. A final spin had him pulling her close to him. She could feel his sturdy chest beneath his shirt and his strong arm wrapped around her waist. She unexpectedly felt out of breath and then the song was over.
Steve had twirled her around, lost in the song, feeling like he hadn't in a long time. His mind transported back to 1942 and the war. Meeting Peggy… becoming the super soldier that he was…. Losing much thanks to Hydra… But God had given him a second chance, he felt. A chance to do good, to help people, be who he was made to be… who he chose to become. And maybe a chance for something else, something more personal… He was abruptly aware that the song had ended. He stood looking into Taryn's bright green eyes, seeing promise, hope and a twinkle of fire.
Taryn stood, still in his arms as the song had ended. Her breath came uncharacteristically fast as she fell into is brilliant blue eyes. Were they really here and doing this? Swing dancing during a break? It seemed so surreal. A slow song began to play and she was sure he would excuse himself. But he didn't. He took her hand in his, and placed another on her waist. She hadn't slow danced since junior high school and felt about as giddy as she did then too. What was going on? What was wrong with her? Nothing, she concluded. She was finally letting herself feel. But would that get the better of her? Would someone else get harmed in the process?
Steve thought for a moment he should let go of her then, but when he heard the relaxed tempo of the next song, he took her hand and pulled her close. He smiled as her forehead rested against his cheek and he could smell the clean scent of her soft brunette hair. He felt her hand rest gently against his arm as they swayed to the music. He wanted to speak, but didn't want to ruin the moment. He wanted to tell her that he would like more of this and that he would like to spend even more time getting to know her. Another side of him was saying not to get involved, that someone would end up getting hurt…
Taryn settled her head against his cheek as he held her close. She knew she shouldn't be doing this, but she also was tired of putting things on hold because of her reality. She was finally sharing her reality with someone else who understood it, who lived it every day. It was comforting to her that someone finally understood… Her walls would never be completely down, she figured, but this was a start. And a nice solid chest to lean against didn't hurt either, she thought with a smile. Taryn felt like he wanted to say something, but couldn't read just what. He was guarded too, and she understood his apprehension, given the situation. The enemy approaches… the leader getting involved with a member of the team... but he wasn't pulling away any time soon either.
"Steve?" she said, barely audibly.
He moved his head away from hers and looked down at her as they still swayed to the music. "Hmm?"
"I… this isn't easy for either of us, I know that. But I also know that life is too short for second guesses and regrets."
He smiled softly. "Boy, do I understand that." He looked into her eyes, then bent his head slowly, hesitantly, but she lifted her chin and his lips met hers. Softly, gently at first, then more determinedly. He felt her move her hands to his back, pulling him closer, and he cupped her face in his hands. No regrets and perhaps a second chance…
Taryn held him close, drinking in the kiss. She ran her hands along his broad back and up his neck to entangle her fingers in his hair. She hadn't had this feeling in a long time, and she was going to savor it. She kissed him more urgently, pressing her lips against his and feeling him respond in kind. If he wasn't such a gentleman the situation could have gotten out of hand… somehow, she thought, she wouldn't have minded…
"Ah hem!" came a loud voice near the doorway.
The two pulled apart, but Steve still held Taryn's face in his hands. He rested his forehead upon hers briefly and smiled slightly.
"Er…sorry to interrupt," said Natasha looking slightly perturbed. "Thought you'd want to know that Wanda is awake."
Taryn reached up and held Steve's hands in hers, then turned to look at her. "Thanks for letting us know. I should shower. Then I'll go see her."
Steve nodded, slightly embarrassed as Natasha watched as they still held hands. He became self-conscious and cleared his throat. "Ah, yes… I should shower too… alone… separately… alone…. Er… see you soon…" and with that he nearly ran out the door past Tasha.
Taryn dreamily removed her MP3 player from the stereo and made her way to the door.
Natasha stood leaning against the doorway with her arms crossed, a stern look on her face. "He's a good guy, and I don't want to see him hurt."
Taryn looked at her, keeping her cool. "I like him a lot, and we get each other. We've both lost, and we've both been hurt. I've no intention of ripping his heart out like you think." She pushed passed Natasha, but refused to let anger arise. She was too happy at the moment to be brought down. "I'll be watching you, McKenna" she heard from down the hall.
Taryn changed her clothes once she reached her room. "I'll be watching you?" What the hell kid of statement was that? Maybe she did have something for Steve and that was why she reacted that way. If so, it must have been a shock to see them kissing. And oh, that kiss. She could get used to that. She sat on the edge of her bed and stared at her hands. Hands that just ran through Rogers's hair. Hands that held him close… She hoped that it didn't scare him off, though….
After showering she went down to check on Wanda. "Hey, you," she said softly. "How are you feeling?
Wanda shrugged. "My head hurts like hell."
Taryn nodded. "I know the feeling, I got banged up a bit myself. We're pretty sure that they were wearing Thornfeld's dampening field tech clothing. That's why we were so easily over whelmed."
She shook her head. "Damn him. Is everyone else okay?"
"Yes, everyone else is fine. At least the crowd was dispersed fairly peacefully after that."
A soft knock came on the door and Taryn turned to find Rogers, freshly cleaned and clothed. He smiled. "Wanda, good to see you awake."
They chatted for a bit and Wanda assured them both she would be fine and she watched them leave the room together. That was interesting. It looked like they were becoming close…