No Second Guesses, No Regrets
A month passed and assignments came and went. Taryn became friends with Natasha, once Romanoff figured out Taryn wasn't going to mess with Rogers' heart. Natasha seemed genuinely happy for the pair. Taryn's relationship with Rogers was progressing. They had the opportunity to do several charity appearances together as Vibe and Captain America, and Taryn treasured spending time with the kids. Steve enjoyed watching her interact with them, and levitate their stuffed animals to them, and wish them well. Sometimes Iron Man made an appearance with them, sometimes Sam.
Today was scheduled to be a quiet day, and Taryn met Natasha for coffee. She sat down with her coffee and bagel and Tasha asked how things were going.
"So, I was thinking of inviting him to the cabin next week," said Taryn sipping her coffee.
Natasha set her cup down on the table and sat. "Do you think he's ready for that?" she said.
"I don't know… we've been together for a few months now. I'd really like to spend some time alone with him, without the distractions of this place… But I know he's Mr. Gentleman too… I don't want to scare him off."
Romanoff laughed. "Well he is pretty shy, but he is very smitten with you, and has said so on many occasions. He just isn't used to us modern women making the first move. I'd say what can it hurt? If he comes up with some work excuse or something, then he's just not ready."
Taryn sighed and sat back in the chair. "I mean it's not like I just want to throw him in bed and have my way with him… well I do but that is beside the point…"
Natasha nearly spit out her coffee. "Well there are thousands of women who would want to do the same thing, but you're the one who has his eye... and his heart. You just have to remember he's from a different time with different values."
"I know, I just… I mean he must have needs like I do, right? I mean, he likes kissing me… But I don't want him to think I'm cheap either… I mean it wouldn't be my first time, but I'm not sure about him…." Taryn was really surprised she was having this conversation with Natasha of all people, but she really didn't feel comfortable talking about this with anyone else.
Natasha contemplated this and nodded. "I honestly can't say. He didn't have much experience before he became the super solider I'm sure. After that, he went to war. I don't think he and Peggy had much of chance for anything. I had been trying to set him up with different girls in the organization, but he was pretty reserved about it. I would say, just ask him to the cabin, and if he says no, then move beyond it."
Taryn nodded absently and promised herself she would ask him before the end of the day.
Taryn spent most of the next day in the computer lab, pouring over old files, organizing things, trying to keep herself busy until she saw Steve sometime today. She thought she heard he was in the city working on something with Tony and Rhodey. Looking at the time, she decided she'd better eat and made her way down to the cafeteria for a salad or something. "Taryn," called a voice she recognized well. She turned to see Steve walking through the main doors with Rhodey. He approached her and kissed her cheek, whispering "how's my best girl?"
She giggled like a teenager every time he called her that. She couldn't help it. It was too cute and so… Steve. "I was just about to grab something to eat, care to join me?"
"You bet. Rhodey?"
He raised a hand, "Thanks but no thanks. Have a few more schematics to run through. You folks have a good day."
The two got food from the cafeteria and decided to eat outside where the sun warmed the patio. They chatted about their days, and fell into comfortable silence. Then Taryn took a deep breath. "Steve?"
"Um, I was thinking. Not much is going on next week… I was wondering if you would like to come up to my cabin for the week… It's nice and quiet… the neighbors have horses. The town isn't too far. We could take your bike up and ride the country roads? You still haven't taken me on a ride yet, you know… I'm talking too much, I'm sorry. I'll let you think about it and you can let me know…"
"I'd love to see the cabin."
She almost asked him to repeat his reply. She was rather shocked that he agreed so quickly. "Oh! Okay then… well great. We can head up Friday if we can get the jet."
He smiled brightly, belying that he was internally terrified to spend the week alone with her and he wasn't sure why. It wasn't as though he'd never been alone with a woman… been intimate… but the experiences he could count on one hand. He just didn't want to disappoint her. Maybe he would talk to Tony… or maybe that wasn't a good idea… Oh boy what did he sign himself up for…what was she expecting?
The next day Steve managed to catch Tony and decided to just ask for advice. "She asked me to go to her cabin next week…"
Tony raised a brow. "Good for you! You did say yes, didn't you?"
"I did but… a whole week… alone… together…"
"Good God man, are you telling me that you never-"
"NO, no of course not but this is different… I just don't want to mess anything up."
"Dude, she is the one that asked you. So I'm assuming that she cares about you, otherwise she would not be putting up with you for this long. Just take one day at a time. Don't force anything and if something does happen, just go for it. Times are different than they used to be. Women are much more forward now, but you get used to it," he said with a wink.
Steve nodded. "Right… just relax... one day at a time... right. Thanks Tony."
Tony shook his head as he watched Steve go. "The boy is doomed."
Friday morning arrived and Taryn had butterflies in her stomach as she packed for the week. They were only going to her cabin, but they would be alone for the whole week. They hadn't really been alone since they met, save a dinner date or morning gym workout. Someone knocked at her door and she nearly forgot that she couldn't open it with a wave of her hand any more. "Come in," she called.
Natasha entered the room. "I just saw Steve. He's loading his bike onto the jet."
So this was really happening. She was ridiculously nervous about spending time totally alone with him. She really had it bad. No other explanation. "Thanks Natasha."
She smiled. "Just enjoy the time off. I wish I had the opportunity…" she said with a far off look in her eye. "Anyway, one day at a time, right?"
Taryn carried a bag over her shoulder and rolled her other piece of luggage down to the landing pad. Steve was just coming off the plane. "Hey there you are. Are you all set?" he asked, taking her bags for her.
She nodded, waived to Natasha and boarded the plane. "I'm excited for you to see the place. Is a lot rustic and a little high tech. Lots of room for a cabin."
"I'm looking forward to it." He took her hand before she sat and pulled her close. He kissed her warmly which made the pilot uncomfortable. He cleared his throat.
"Ah, sir? Ready for takeoff?"
Steve buckled her in and sat opposite her. "All set, Michaels. Thanks"
The two chatted back and forth during the hour flight and before they knew it they had arrived. Michaels helped them with their bags, and Steve rolled his bike off the jet and up the lawn to the house. He waved the pilot off and the plane ascended. That was it. They were alone now… He felt the heat rise in his face and tried to suppress the nervousness.
Taryn unlocked the door and set her bags inside and took Steve's bag from him. "So you can put your bike on the side of the house. Would you like a tour?"
"Sure thing," he replied. He set his bike up and stepped onto the front porch of the cabin. Nice and rustic looking, then he noticed the high tech lock on the front door. "Afraid of the bears breaking in?"
Taryn laughed. "No, spies. I have a pretty high tech basement with lots of secrets," she winked and entered the cabin. The door opened up to the living room/kitchen great room. With 12 foot ceiling and sky lights the room was decked out in rustic décor and exposed beams. "Welcome to my home away from home. I bought the place after the last time I 'retired' from SHIELD. It's a great place to think."
She showed him about the place and he was amazed at the space. Three bedrooms, and 2 baths plus the master suite. She had converted one bedroom into a studio space and he was very surprised to see an easel and drawing table. "You paint?"
She nodded. "And draw. It was kind of an escape in my teen years."
"I had no idea. I'm a bit of an artist myself… went to art school."
She grinned. "Well you're welcome to use anything in here if you get the urge."
He nodded. Boy if that wasn't a double entendre….
She led him out of the room, showing him the spare and telling him he could put his bag in there. Good, nothing was implied then…he thought. The master suite was at the end of the hall. A large bedroom with a king size bed, bright windows and enormous tub in the bath room, it definitely was a grand room.
"And that is the penny tour. Well it's nearly lunch time. We should probably go into town and pick up some groceries for the week. We can take the car for that."
He nodded and went out onto the porch while she found her car keys and locked the door. Steve followed her over to the large barn next to the cabin and watched her press a button on a key chain. The doors opened to reveal a 1960 turquoise Corvette convertible. "Sweet ride!"
She chuckled. "Thanks, another retirement present to myself. SHIELD does treat me well. Hop in!"
Taryn fired up the engine and it purred to life. With Rogers buckled in, they took off for town and hit the local grocery store. She sent him off with a list and she snuck back to the bakery and ordered a special desert and would have it delivered on Monday. Catching up with him, she helped him fill the rest of the list and they headed back to the cabin to whip up some lunch. Taryn put together some flatbread pizzas and they ate them on the back deck with ice cold beers.
Finding they finally had time to really talk to each other without getting interrupted, they chatted well past dinner and the sun had long set and they were still out on the porch. "I didn't even realize the time. Are you hungry?"
Steve nodded. "I could eat…"
"Hmm… how about some wine and cheese? Want to come in and help me?"
"Sure. Where is your bottle opener?"
She pointed to a cupboard. "Second drawer down," she replied setting the glasses on the counter. Retrieving two different kinds of cheese from the refrigerator and crackers from the pantry, she made up a quick plate. There was a chill in the air tonight, so they decided to stay in on the couch. They ate, and drank and laughed and even cried a little. Taryn had gotten emotional about her family and now the loss of her abilities – how they might even accept her now that she had. He pulled her close and let her cry until she fell asleep.
Steve sat there for a long time holding her in his arms. He found himself thinking he could get used to this. He hoped the rest of the week was as wonderfully simple as today had been. The large wall clock ticked in the silence and he glanced at it. 1 am. He quietly picked Taryn up and carried her to her room. Setting her gently on the bed, he removed her shoes and pulled the comforter up over her. He stopped to watch her for a moment and leaned back down to kiss her forehead, then retired to his room down the hall. "Goodnight Taryn," he whispered. "Sleep well."
Taryn woke and stretched and forgot for a moment where she was. She remembered falling asleep on the couch in Steve's arms and now she was in her own bed. Her eyebrow shot up, but then realized she was still wearing her own clothes from yesterday. Breathing a sigh of relief she got herself out of bed, jumped in the shower and dressed for the day. By the time she opened her bedroom door she could smell something mouth-watering from the kitchen. She was a bit startled to round the corner and find Steve shirtless and shoeless in jeans cooking breakfast. Her heart skipped a beat looking at that chest of his, and she chastised herself for such juvenile thoughts.
"Breakfast? Scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and coffee."
"Mmmm smells wonderful. Yes please." She sat herself at the counter and watched him cook. Well this vacation was turning out just fine, she smiled to herself.
"I was already up when I heard you shower, so I thought I'd come out and cook. I can't cook much, but I can do breakfast." He dished it out and came around to sit next to her.
"This is good. Thanks for putting me to bed last night. I'm sorry I fell asleep on you."
He focused on his plate. "No need to apologize. I rather enjoyed it."
She blushed. "So, what would you like to do today? We could explore the town… or go riding…"
"Well I did notice that you have a few shingles that are coming away from the house. I can fix those if you'd like. Then maybe we can go into town for dinner?"
Hmmm… Mr. Fix-it also? Bargain. "That sounds great. I'll get you the ladder from the garage."
A little while later he was up at the top of the ladder, still shirtless, fixing the loose shingles. What had she done to get so lucky? she thought. The man was a super hero for God's sake. And he was more than interested in her. She watched his arm muscles ripple as he swung the hammer. Her thoughts drifted elsewhere and she shook herself out of it. Not now, she thought. But she couldn't help watching him work. Carefully tacking the shingles back in place. Then driving the nail in with one clean stroke. She watched the sweat glisten on his back and thought, oh Christ I need a cold shower-
"All set. I'll get cleaned up and then we can head into town."
"Sounds good." He walked past and she drank in the scent of aftershave and good old fashioned sweat. My god what was this man doing to her…
Waiting on the front porch for him as he got cleaned up helped cool her down. She had changed into a light pair of cargo pants and cotton shirt with a khaki jacket, hoping he would be up for taking the bike into town.
He emerged from the house in a clean pair of jeans, fresh tee and his brown leather jacket. "Care to take the bike?"
She grinned, "I was hoping you'd say that. Yes!"
Steve nodded and pulled the bike around while she locked the place up. She came down the front stairs and he sat astride his custom Harley. He looked amazing just sitting there. Man she really needed to get her hormones in check but she just couldn't help it. The man was so damn sexy and he didn't even know it.
Steve, oblivious to her musings explained the motorcycle to her. Where she needed to sit, how she needed to lean or not lean when necessary. He settled in on the seat again and she straddled the bike behind him and wrapped her arms round his chest. My god this was amazing and they weren't even moving yet.
"Now just hold on tight, and follow my lead and you'll be fine."
She snuggled against his back feeling the cool leather against her cheek. "Be gentle with me, it's my first time," she said with a grin.
He hung his head in laughter. "Did you just say that?"
"Yes," she said proudly, exposing him more to her sense of humor. "Yes I did."
"God help me," she heard him mutter jokingly and he started the bike.
Taryn was glad she had tied her hair into a ponytail before they rode into town. She could feel her hair whipping around behind her as they sped along the country roads. She hung onto him tightly and could feel the muscles ripple beneath his shirt as he gripped the handle bars and controlled the motorcycle. If she never did another thing in her life, she could die happy, she felt.
Steve felt Taryn's arms around his chest grip tighter as they drove around the curves of the country road. He could feel her cheek pressed against his back on occasion as he sped up and it was the best feeling in the world. He couldn't have been happier riding his bike and having his best girl with him. It was day two into the week, and so far it was awesome. He finally felt so comfortable with her and her with him. He couldn't have asked for a better continuation of their relationship.
Soon they were in town, and Taryn directed him to the local diner. It wasn't much to look at but it had great food. She hoped he didn't mind, but he seemed perfectly happy in this setting. He opened the door for her, and she stepped in, waiving to the waitress behind the counter.
"Hey Ellie, good to see you."
"Taryn, welcome back, hon. Oh and you brought a friend!?"
Taryn laughed. She now knew her relationship status would be all over town by tomorrow quicker than the internet and everyone at the Independence Day parade would be coming up to her asking questions. "Ellie, this is Steve."
Ellie came around from the counter and extended a hand. "A pleasure to meet you, Steve. Say… you look… familiar…"she said squinting at his chiseled features.
Steve laughed and shook her hand. "I guess I just have one of those faces. Nice to meet you, Ellie."
Taryn knew she would figure it out eventually, but decided not to worry about it right now. It was what it was. She found a booth near the back and made her way to it. Ellie was already there with coffee. She rattled off the specials, they ordered and Steve chuckled.
"She's quite a character."
"Mmm… like most of the people in this town. It's small, and doesn't have too much to do, but it's a nice retreat from the city and …. Work."
Steve sipped his coffee and looked out the window watching people walking to and fro, smiling and chatting with each other. The decorations the town had put up for the 4th were quaint. He could get used to a place like this. Even though he was born in Brooklyn, it was never like the city is today. This would be a nice place to raise a family- and he choked on his coffee.
"Steve? You OK?"
"Er – just went down the wrong way." The food was set down before them and it smelled delicious. He ordered what came out looking like Thanksgiving dinner, complete with homemade cranberry sauce. Taryn had in front of her the fresh meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. They conversed quietly, and ate as though they hadn't eaten all day.
Steve finished first as his extreme metabolism would allow and he was contemplating dessert. Taryn couldn't even get through her meatloaf so she offered her some and he proceeded to finish that. She sat with her eyes wide. "I guess you do have one hell of a metabolism…"
"Don't apologize. They have awesome apple pie here…"
Steve's eye lit up as that was one of his all-time favorites. Ellie came back to the table. "Good gravy. You must have been hungry. What's the matter, doesn't Taryn feed you?" she joked.
"Oh, she's a great cook. But this was just… really good," he grinned. "And I hear you have apple pie?"
Ellie raised a brow. "If you have room, I'll bring you a piece. Best in the county!"
She came back moments later with what looked like ¼ of the pie with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on top. "There you go, hon. Enjoy!"
Steve dug in with enthusiasm and savored the first bite. "You were right, this is amazing. Would you like to share?"
Taryn smiled. "Sure I'll take a bite."
They shared the pie and ice cream and finished their coffee and Taryn was about to take her wallet out, but he glared at her like she committed capitol offense. "I am a modern woman you know. Independent and all that…"
He took her hands in his and looked at her very sincerely. "I know. But you're also my girl, and I will take care of my girl."
Her cheeks flushed crimson and Ellie approached the table with the check. "Aww, look at you two. So cute together." She took another look at Steve and suddenly gasped. She bent down over the table and whispered. "Good gravy, son. You're Captain America!"
Taryn was hoping there wouldn't be a huge scene. She saw Steve's face redden and he looked up at her. "Yes Ma'am, I am."
"Well I'll be… Taryn, you lucky girl! Well that's it, then, dinner is on the house!"
Taryn laughed. "That isn't necessary, Ellie-"
"Nonsense. This here is a true American hero, and I'm proud to have him, and you, in my diner." She extended a hand. "Thank you for your service, Captain. My father was a World War II vet and he used to talk about you and the brave things you did. And I've seen what you and the Avengers do for the world. Thank them for me, would you?"
Taryn could see he was a bit overwhelmed and she squeezed his hand. "Thank you, but I was just doing my job Ma'am. And as far as the Avengers go, you can thank one of them yourself." And he gestured to Taryn.
"Wha - ? Taryn? An Avenger… I'll be damned… so that's what you've been doing with yourself lately? My goodness… real Avengers in my diner…" and she turned and went quietly back to the counter.
"Okay, well that wasn't as eventful as I thought it might be," Taryn said as they stood and headed out of the diner.
"Well," he said running a hand through his hair. "It was bound to happen I suppose. This mug is plastered all over the news half the time."
Taryn chuckled. "Yes, but it's a handsome mug," she replied pinching a cheek.
He took her hand and they walked together down the street, window shopping and chatting with the town's inhabitants. The little gift shop that she favored was still open and she expressed that she'd like to go in.
Steve wasn't much of a shopper but he followed her in and was overwhelmed with the scent of candles and potpourri; he promptly sneezed. Steve wandered over to where local artists had paintings and photographs on display. They were all for sale and one happened to catch his eye.
Taryn wandered over to stoneware and browsed the jewelry. She saw a pair of handmade earrings that caught her eye. Pretty peridot stones with freshwater pearl. She asked to see them, then held them up to her ear as she looked in the mirror. She saw Steve approach her from behind. "What do you think?" she asked, turning and holding the earrings up. "They're nice. They'll go with your eyes."
She smiled and turned to the cashier. "I'll take these please." She noticed a bag in his hand. "And what did you find?"
Steve shrugged, "Just a little something to remember the trip."
Nodding, Taryn paid for her earrings and they left the shop hand in hand. They walked back to where they parked the bike and before he fired it up, she asked him if he'd like to come back into town Monday to see the Independence Day parade. "They usually have quite a turn out, and a number of high school bands. Lots of vendors… and ice cream…."
Steve chuckled. "I do love a good parade." And it's my birthday, he thought… I wonder if she knows…
Smiling, she hugged his arm and kissed his cheek. They mounted the bike and arrived back at the cabin just as the sun was setting. It was going to be a nice night for a little while, so she thought maybe they could spend some time on the porch. "Make yourself at home and I'll be right back."
Steve placed his parcel on the counter and raided the fridge for a couple of beers. He popped them open and set one on the counter for Taryn. Moments later she came out carrying something that for a moment looked like a bazooka.
"What on earth?"
She laughed. "It's a telescope. Tonight will be perfect star-gazing weather."
He grabbed the beer and followed her outside. She set up the telescope and adjusted it in so that she could see the moon. She called him over and had him look into the eye piece. "Wow, that's amazing."
Taryn pointed out the landscape of the moon, and its craters. She talked about the moon landing and showed him were they landed. From there she pointed out the constellations and other planets that were visible tonight. She liked that she could share one of her interests with him and he didn't seem bored. He was enthusiastic about learning what she had to teach him and she appreciated that.
They stayed outside for about two hours before the air got too chilly, so Taryn packed up the telescope and lenses and they headed inside. It was about 11 pm but she knew she wasn't tired enough for sleep. She was excited for Steve's birthday on Monday and hoped to make it as memorable as he had made hers.
"That was fascinating, Taryn, thank you for sharing."
She smiled, "Oh, you're welcome. I'm no astronomer, but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Kind of helps to put life in perspective… that there is a whole lot more out there than just us." She was bent over stowing the telescope back in the closet when he walked past. He found himself stopping in his tracks and staring at the view of her backside. Oh my God Tony's influence was becoming evident. He shook himself to his senses and went to sit on the couch.
She called from the hallway. "Want anything while I'm up?"
He desperately wanted to answer truthfully, but he refrained from sounding like a sexist ass. "No, thanks, I'm fine." Liar, his subconscious screamed at him. You know you want her. You know you're in love with her. You need to tell her.
Taryn came back and curled up next to him on the couch. "Not much is on TV, unless you want to watch the news, which I could care less about… Maybe we should just get to bed. I should probably do some work around the outside of the cabin tomorrow."
Oh, God, yes, please. He just wanted to carry her off to her room and do things that a gentleman shouldn't do. Maybe he shouldn't have had that beer… "Sounds like a good idea. I'm a little tired and it sounds like it will be a busy day tomorrow."
She nodded. "Okay well, I'll just get the lights out here and I'll…" He brought his hand to her face and pulled her close with his right arm. He kissed her then, firmly and with a passion that he hadn't displayed before. She brought her hand up and ran it through his hair, desperately not wanting this to end. She wanted to rip his tee shirt off and feel her hands against his bare chest. Suddenly he pulled away and stood. "I… well, good night Taryn. I'll see you in the morning." And with that he retreated down the hall and shut the door to his room.
Taryn dropped face down onto the couch and wanted to scream into the pillow. If the tension was killing her, he should be about dead, she thought. She knew he felt the same about her, and he just needed to get over this. It was extremely frustrating for both of them, it must be!
Steve shut the door and flopped face down on the bed. Oh my god, what have I done. I've acted like an animal and I am sure that she is going to kick me out tomorrow… I just couldn't help myself. I don't know if I can last the entire week doing this… I just want her so much, I can't stand it… maybe I should leave now... no that would be rude… I'll speak with her tomorrow…. I need to sleep... I also need a very cold shower…