**A/N: Do you hear that? The tinkling chime of wedding bells? 'Cause I do! After watching a lot of TLC wedding dress shows, I picked a wedding dress I like the best. I wanted Bethany in something modern just to show that Steve and Bethany are moving past their old habits. If you want a looksee, it's Maggie Sottero's Veronica.
Also, this chapter is nice and long since it's a happy occasion!
Important note at the end.
Bethany felt sick to her stomach, a very unsettling feeling, especially for someone who couldn't get sick. She felt the back of her neck dampen with sweat and she couldn't sit still. She took in a couple deep breaths, deciding to look out the window to calm herself down. The view was soothing, the sky her favorite shade of blue, the clouds resembling cotton candy. The leaves on the trees were starting to bloom, and there was a sweet echo of birds chirping in the air.
"Perfect day," Peggy said from beside her.
Bethany kept her gaze on a bird perched on a tree branch, singing its love song. "I don't know if I can do this."
"What?" Pepper snapped, looking up from her phone. "What do you mean-? After all my-?"
"Relax," Peggy assured both of them. "The show will go on. Bethany, darling, look at me."
Bethany unwilling tore her gaze away from the bird, feeling the anxiety wash over her again. "Peggy-"
"Yes or no; do you love Steve?"
Bethany almost scoffed. Of course she loved Steve. She absolutely adored him. "Yes."
"Then why are you worried? You know he'll spend the rest of his life protecting you, keeping you happy. You know he loves you. This is everything you've wanted over the years."
"Change is hard," Bethany whispered. "I thought I was ready, but now that its time, I'm scared."
"That's understandable," Peggy nodded, taking Bethany's hand. "I was nervous for my own wedding. But you and Steve already act like a married couple. You'll only be confirming to the world that you belong to each other and no one else."
Bethany smiled. "I like the way that sounds."
"So, everything is good?" Pepper confirmed, a little on edge. After all her months of planning not just the small wedding but the secret reception had her nervous that all her work could go to waste.
The bride took in a deep breath before standing up from her chair. "Yes. I'm-I'm getting married."
"Well, you look beautiful," Peggy told her, touching some of the fabric of the white dress.
Bethany looked in the mirror at the mermaid styled dress. It fit her like a glove, hugging every curve. The subtle lace covering added dimension to the gown, and Bethany smiled as the little diamonds on the dress glittered in the light. She particularly loved the lace up back and the bow that hung.
"Your veil," Pepper said, moving to tuck the long fabric into the sleek chignon at the back of her head. "You do look beautiful."
Bethany smiled slightly, feeling overwhelmed still. Her reflection didn't betray her friends' words. A few blond curls hung by her face, showcasing her simple but glowing makeup. Her lips were stained a nude colour instead of their customary red, but as always, she had her diamond earring on. Pepper handed her the bouquet, the collection of red roses with a couple white ones thrown into the mix. "This is it," Bethany said to her reflection.
"This is it," Steve said, moving to fix his bow tie again.
"Relax," Tony assured. "If anyone can do this whole marriage thing nowadays, it's two people with old fashioned values."
"Bethany doesn't have old fashioned values," Steve reminded him, shoving his hands in his pockets.
"She does more than the average woman," Tony answered, rolling his eyes. "You two are annoyingly perfect for each other, okay? Where's those people you invited?"
"Jen said they were stuck in traffic, but that they're a couple minutes away. And Natasha and Clint are also on their way. Bruce is going to meet us at the reception." Steve answered.
"Alright, well the officiator is here, so I'm gonna go check on the bride," Tony said, walking backwards into the building. "You'll be okay? Work out all the last nerves? And not run away? 'Cause I will hunt you down and kill you."
Steve scoffed as he pulled out his phone. Instead of looking at his messages however, he used the black screen to fix his hair. A lot had happened since Christmas. But the biggest of them all was Steve's realization that he had to leave his past in the past, and while he could still remember it, he needed to adjust to the times. His first plan of action was a haircut. The clothes followed, Bethany helping him in picking out jeans and plaid shorts, t-shirts and jackets. There were often times when he was wearing sunglasses that people in public didn't even notice him since he blended in so perfectly. Bethany had even tried to get him to grow some facial hair, but Steve couldn't deal with more than two day stubble.
With a year since he woke up and the attack on New York, Bethany and Steve had settled into a way of living that bordered on normal, but was perfect to them. Steve actively knew how to use all the technology in the house, and while every day something was added to his list, when people at work were talking about the latest Walking Dead episode, Steve always felt great that he knew exactly what they were talking about. He was no longer a lost soul in a strange world.
"Steve!" He heard from behind him before his legs were wrapped in an iron hold. He turned his head, smiling, as the culprit was Theo. "I missed you!"
Steve laughed as Theo unwrapped his arms, Steve leaning down to ruffle his hair a little. "How are you?"
"Where's your mom?" Steve asked, looking up, but finding Jen stumbling over in too-high high heels and a tight dress. "You look fancy."
"Well, I hear this reception will be amazing," Jen said with a smile as Steve stood up and offered her a hug. "I need to look my best for all your superhero friends."
Steve chuckled, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Remember, Bethany knows nothing about any of this."
"We know," Jen said with a nod. "Right Theo?"
"Right!" Theo cheered, playing with his bowtie. "This thing is chocking me."
"Here," Steve said, leaning down to his height again and fixing it so it wasn't as tight. "Better?"
"Perfect," Theo agreed.
"Listen buddy, I need to ask you a favor." Theo nodded enthusiastically, his hair dancing over his forehead. "I was wondering if you'd be my best man."
Theo's smile grew. "Yes! Wait, what's that?"
Jen and Steve laughed, Steve collecting the five year old in his arms and standing up. "Well to begin with, you're in charge of the rings." The solider pulled out the little velvet box carrying both of the rings and handed it to Theo, who opened it and looked circular symbols of love.
"Wow!" Theo said, picking up the diamond wedding band for Bethany, the sparkles covering it and shining in the sunlight.
"And you stand by me during the wedding," Steve continued. "Giving me and Bethany the rings when it's time. You also have to escort the maid of honor down the aisle before Bethany comes down."
"Okay!" Theo agreed, closing the ring box and holding it in his chubby fingers.
"You up for the job?"
"Yes!" Theo cheered again. "Can I mommy, can I?"
"Of course," Jen said with a chuckle. "C'mon. We'll go see Bethany now. And you can met the maid of honor."
"Okay," Theo responded as Steve let him down.
"You'll be okay?" Jen asked, laying a hand on Steve's arm.
He nodded, scratching the back of his neck. "Yeah. Yeah."
"Nervous?" Jen questioned with a little smile. "It's completely normal. But you and Bethany… you'll know it's right the second you see her."
"Thank you," Steve answered truthfully. "I really needed to hear that."
Tony counted the numbers on the doors, trying to remember which one was Peggy's. It felt overwhelming that the day was already there. It had been a year since the attack, since Bethany and Steve got back together. It had been a year since he couldn't sleep and a year since he started creating the Iron Legion. But now, now everything was different. Since Christmas, he had kept his promise to Pepper about limiting his distractions. It was a little hard, his fingers always itching to do something and his fear about not being able to protect the ones he loved still there. Bethany had come up with an alternative.
SHIELD was creating a series of hellicarriers for a top secret project and asked Tony if he wanted to help in the development. He jumped to the task as when he was repairing the engine before Loki's attack he noticed a lot of things that could be changed. This way, he continued to work with mechanics, and the project was evidently the keep the world safe. Bethany told him very little about it, but he could tell she wasn't overly thrilled with her involvement. She assured it would keep the world safe, nonetheless.
He could sleep again. His fears were slowly leveling, and after finding out that venting his feelings to Bruce, even if the doctor was asleep, was the perfect way to cope, he started sharing his fears more. With Bruce, Pepper, Bethany, Happy, Rhodey. Anyone that was there, and he was happy to say, there was a lot. Even Steve suggested they go out for dinner a couple weeks back, and he found himself finding a confidant in him. Steve carried a lot of the same baggage and never judged Tony for his emotions, only lack-off.
Which was one of the reasons that he was actually excited for that day. He could see how perfect Bethany and Steve fit together. And although he was truly becoming to respect and even like the soldier, he couldn't help but occasionally tease him. The reaction was always too good. Despite all this, Tony took bringing Steve to a strip club the night before for his bachelor party very seriously. He thought Steve's face would never return to normal, and he had never seen anyone look so guilty in his life.
"Just enjoy," Tony told Steve with a sigh. "Enjoy. Drink. This is your last night of freedom."
"I don't see me marriage Bethany as a loss of freedom," Steve countered, downing the last of his beer and looking at his shoes.
"Would it help if I told you Bethany thought this was a good idea?"
"She did?" Steve said, his head snapping up to look at Tony. "She knows about this?"
"Yup," Tony nodded, taking out his phone. "And she told me to call her if you did this."
The phone was shoved in his face, it already ringing. "Tony this is- Beth. Hi."
Tony sat back and ordered another drink while Steve tried to convince Bethany to let him leave. It was hilarious seeing a fully grown American hero beg his fiancé to leave a strip club. I'll give him one thing, Tony thought as he finished off another sex on the beach. He's dedicated.
"You…you did something similar?" Steve asked, his voice cracking a little. Tony couldn't help but laugh. The look on Steve's face was pure horror. Tony knew all about that night. Pepper, Natasha and their neighbour, Kate, took Bethany out for the night, Pepper even hiring some male strippers.
"Beth, I don't know about this," Steve sighed.
"What's going on?" Clint asked as he settled beside him, Bruce on the other side.
"Steve is uncomfortable and begging Bethany to pick him up," Tony said, only telling half the truth.
Clint chuckled, Bruce shaking his head. "It's not really his scene, is it?" The archer asked, hailing the server down. "Whatever you have on tap."
"Nothing for me," Bruce said with a meek smile. "It is his party. Maybe we should've asked him what he wanted to do."
"Boo!" Tony complained, but seeing Bruce looking a little uncomfortable as well. "Okay fine." He pulled the phone from Steve's hands, telling Bethany he would talk to her later before shutting it, a protesting Steve trying to grab the phone again. "We'll have it your way."
"Thank you," Steve said, looking more grateful than a man in this situation should be.
"Aw," Clint let out as they all stood up, Tony throwing some bills at their table. "I didn't get a beer. Or a lap dance."
"Where to Captain?" Tony asked, ignoring Clint's comment altogether. If he was going to do this, he didn't need Clint whining in his ear.
"Um, I don't know," Steve said meekly. "I've never been to one of these things before."
"Well this is typically what you'll find at a bachelor party," Clint explained.
"But not all of them," Bruce assured. "There are men out there who share your values."
"It's not just about values," Steve explained. "It's… I don't know, even if Bethany says it's okay, I feel like I'm betraying her in a sense. And these women... I don't know, it just feels wrong."
"That's noble," Bruce said truthfully, taking off his glasses, cleaning them and putting them back on. "How about bowling?"
"As long as you don't Hulk out when you lose," Clint said, getting very excited.
Tony groaned, "You want to go bowling with someone with perfect aim?"
"No, no sounds fun," Steve agreed. "Bowling and burgers?"
"What are we, teenaged boys?" Tony asked, but shook his head. "Let's go before I change my mind."
"What did Bethany do for her bachelorette party?" Clint questioned as they left the strip club.
Steve seemed to grumble in response but Tony gave the actual answer. "Typical girl stuff. Hair and makeup, wine and cosmos. And male strippers."
Clint snickered watching as Steve sulked, the very idea infuriating to him. "Cheer up, Cap. She's gonna be all yours soon enough."
"Everyone decent?" Tony asked before entering Peggy's room which was used for bride central. "Cap is getting anxious." He trailed off however when he saw Bethany, a small smile tugging at his lips. "You look… amazing. He's going to stutter through all his vows, without a doubt."
A real smile appeared on her face, the first of the day. "Thanks Tony. I needed that."
"Okay, so we all agreed Steve couldn't be your something old. Oh, hi Stark," Natasha said as she came in the room with a box.
He nodded in response. "Where's Hawk?"
"Parking the car," she explained with ease before sitting down.
"I think I'm gonna be sick," Bethany muttered.
"No," Natasha said strictly. "No, you're not. Okay? This in comparison to everything you've done in the past couple so decades is easy. All you have to say is 'I do'. No undercover work, no ass-kicking or target practice."
"She's right," Peggy agreed.
Bethany closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath, only opening them when she heard her name being shouted by a little boy. "Theo?"
Her smile reappeared as the little boy ran to her, jumping up into her arms. They held onto each tight and it was as if they hadn't spent a day a part, their relationship still strong. "I missed you," the five year old whispered into her ear.
"I know," Bethany responded, kissing his cheek. "I've missed you too."
"Your hair is blond," Theo noticed.
Bethany laughed. "That's right, I haven't seen you in over a year. What do you think?"
"Weird," the kid responded. "But pretty."
Bethany shook her head amused. "You've gotten pretty big. Growing up, eh? Did you like your Christmas present?"
"Yes!" He answered with a laugh. "Lots of action figures! And Santa got me a Captain America costume to play with!"
"You must have been a good boy," Bethany said before kissing him again and looking to his mom. "I can't believe you're here."
"Thank your soon-to-be husband," Jen said, coming in for a quick hug. "He arranged it all. I couldn't say no."
Bethany smiled, biting her lip and sniffing as if holding back tears. "Okay, I… I think I'm ready. I can do this."
"That's the spirit!" Peggy cheered.
Bethany put down the little boy, who started to touch the side of her dress, whispering the word 'pretty' as the diamonds reflected around the room. "Time for the good luck charms," Natasha said with a smile.
"You already have the something blue," Pepper explained to the room. "Your garter."
"Something borrowed," Peggy started, taking something out of the box. "The shoes I wore to my wedding."
Bethany smiled, sitting close to the elderly woman. "Thank you Pegs."
"Already worn in and everything," Peggy smiled. "Although if you would rather the shoes you have on now-"
"Are you kidding?" Bethany asked in disbelief. "I'd be honored to wear these. And the ones I have on now are cutting off my circulation. I literally have cold feet."
The room chuckled as Bethany switched her shoes, Natasha holding the box out to Tony who took out a pair of car keys. "Your something old," he explained. "You'll be driving away in Ford Model T and the something new is the complete rebuilt engine inside. You're welcome."
Bethany laughed before throwing her arms around her nephew. "That's too perfect. Thank you, kid."
"Okay, well we should probably go downstairs now," Pepper instructed the room. "Everyone but Tony, Peggy and of course Bethany."
"Oh, Theo as well," Jen spoke up.
"I'm the best man," he declared proudly.
Bethany covered her mouth, holding back a happy sob. "You okay, dear?" Peggy asked concerned.
"I'm perfect," she confessed. "Hearing that Steve did that… oh, it just helps so much."
"Out, out," Pepper told the room, turning to give Bethany an excited smile before leaving as well.
Bethany took Theo's hand and walked him over to Peggy. "Theo, this is my oldest and dearest friend, Peggy. She was the first person who told me that Steve loved me."
"Really?" Theo asked with wide eyes.
"I sure did," Peggy responded with a twinkle in her eye.
"Peggy," Bethany continued. "This is Theo. He is very near and dear to my heart, even if I haven't been around for the past year."
"She sends comic books though," Theo said in defense. "She's the best babysitter."
"Is she now?" Peggy asked with a smile.
Bethany went behind Peggy's wheel chair and pushed it forward. "Do you think you can push this, Theo? If you can't, it's okay."
"I'm a big boy!" Theo argued, taking Bethany's spot, and after a couple heavy pushes, able to move the rolling chair.
Bethany folded her hands together as Theo pushed the chair out of the room and down the hall, him and Peggy having subtle chatter.
"You ready?" Tony asked, catching Bethany's attention. "Sign your life away?"
Bethany shook her head amused. "I don't see it that way."
He scoffed. "You two are perfect for each other."
Tony offered his arm and together they caught up to where Theo was pushing the chair out onto the patio for the garden. "Don't let me fall."
"Oh, but then where's the fun in that?" Tony teased. "But don't worry. You've had my back, and now I'll have yours."
"I love you Tony," Bethany said kissing his cheek.
"I love you too, Aunt Bethany," Tony responded with a sincere smile. "Dad is looking down right now so proud of you. I know it."
"I know it too," Bethany agreed.
Natasha, Clint and Jen were all sitting down, Pepper by the archway, waiting to give instructions. Steve fiddled with his bow tie once again, earning a stern 'stop' from Natasha. He had already exchanged small pleasantries with the officiator but Steve was barely capable of forming more than two word sentence. Good thing 'I do' is only two words, he thought as he debated biting his nails.
Pepper ran down the small, but still there, aisle to her seat with an excited smile on her face. Soft traditional music flowed into the garden, the flowers in full bloom and making for a picture perfect moment. Steve couldn't hold back his smile when he saw Theo pushing Peggy's chair down the aisle.
The old woman definitely cleaned up well. Her hair was in a typical Peggy Carter fashion, the front in soft finger waves, the rest of the grey tresses pulled behind her head in a no doubt elaborate hairstyle. She was wearing a pale blue dress and a happy smile. Seeing her, one of the people who changed his life, who believed in him before so many others did, it made the whole day that much more special.
He felt a little twinge in his heart for not having Bucky there with him. To share with his childhood friend a dream he never thought he would get. But Steve knew he was there in spirit, just like Howard was. He had a feeling his two friends would be proud of not only Steve, but Bethany, for pulling through and finding a perfect medium to their lives.
Steve helped Theo arrange Peggy's chair when they got close, Theo moving to proudly stand behind Steve. If Bucky couldn't be there as his best man, Steve was glad it was Theo. The kid may have only been a part of his life a fraction of what Bucky was, but Theo was the first person to become Steve's friend when he first woke up. And for that, Steve would never forget.
Finally, the small crowd they had stood and the wedding march quietly faded into the surroundings. Steve brought his gaze away from the five year old and to the arch where Bethany stood, holding onto Tony for dear life, but looking more beautiful than Steve could ever imagine. He swallowed deeply as Tony and Bethany started down the aisle at a painstakingly slow pace. All Steve wanted was to have her in his grasps. To hold her. To kiss her. To make her his.
A smile spread across Bethany's face when she reached him, Tony kissing her cheek, but almost going unnoticed as she mouthed the word 'hey' to Steve.
He responded the same way, holding out his hands for her to take, giving them a quick squeeze.
This is it.
It really didn't surprise Clint that they were there at that very moment. He was there a little over a year ago when Bethany got the news. The way she immediately stood up and rushed to him, no matter how tired she was, was a clear indication that it was more than friendship. Bethany had only reacted that way when Tony was in danger, and Clint knew just how much the billionaire meant to her.
He had gone with her, watched her as she ordered the men around, barking commands on how to get him free. He had been there when the ice around his right hand melted and Bethany took it in hers, holding it tightly. It was as if everything changed. She wasn't just a SHIELD agent anymore with a long and dwindling past. A super human living in a careless world. She seemed to have a purpose.
Clint felt a sense of pride filling him for sharing this moment with them. Bethany had very little friends outside of work, and Steve seemingly had none. But those who were there were family according to Bethany, and he felt very proud to be a part of that group. He was witnessing history, the Captain America marrying his wartime sweetheart. There were millions of people who wanted to be in his shoes; reporters, historians and fangirls. Definitely the fangirls.
"And now, for the personal vows," the officiator said, stepping back a little.
"Ladies first," Steve spoke softly, bringing a small chuckle out of Bethany.
"I tried to write down what I felt," Bethany began. "Every time, they felt sappy and forced. I tried to imagine this very moment and how I felt, but I couldn't quite capture it. But now… I think I know exactly what I want to say.
"I know it took me a really long time to tell you that I love you, but there's not a day that I regret it. And… and I think I loved you the first day I saw you, I just didn't know it. I saw the baggy clothes and dismissed you altogether, but Erskine…" Steve and Bethany exchanged a small laugh in memory of the man. "He saw something that very little saw in you. And he told me to keep an open mind and within the next twenty minutes, I found myself impressed with you in every aspect. And I finally understood exactly what the super soldier program was about.
"I thought I knew what we were looking for until what we were looking for found us. All the roads that got us here, all the laughs and tears. Everything. I know this is where I'm meant to be. And after living so much of my life, I know it's better with you. If I have to be on this earth for another 90 years, I'd rather share it with you.
"Captain Rogers, I promise to be the best that I can, only because you want me to be. I promise to always be there when you need me, and listen to your reason. I promise that I won't put myself in an unnecessary danger and to help you finish your SHIELD reports. I promise to have a fully stocked fridge all the time and clean clothes. I promise steak dinners and back massages. I promise an undying desire to grant you happiness and sing you to sleep whenever you ask. I promise to love you and cherish you and make you feel like the luckiest man in the world."
Steve reached out and touched the corner of Bethany's face, an indication that she shed a couple of tears at her heartfelt vows. "How do I top that?" Steve joked. "You may not have known you loved me at first, but I knew I loved you. I knew that you were beautiful and you were kind. You were… impulsive and high-spirited. And the more I got to know about you, the more I wanted to know. I needed to know more than the fact that you liked cheese. I needed to know what kind, and with what. I can honestly say, I am addicted to you. And I tried to distance myself, but I never could. No matter how hard.
"When I told you I was looking for the right partner, some part of my heart was hoping that it would be you. A fraction that was dedicated to what had been known as lost dreams. But standing here now… I feel more gratitude for your friendship and understanding than anything else. With you, I don't need anything else. I don't need people to know who I am. I don't need a home because I know it's wherever you are.
"I promise to love you and take care of you. I promise to make you laugh when you're sad and always order pizza with the pepperoni on top. I promise to try to remember to pick up my socks from the bathroom and to always ask permission before eating the last of the chocolate. I promise to listen to your reason and understand that sometimes putting yourself in unnecessary danger gets the job done. I promise not to yell at you when trying to finish my SHIELD reports and let you sleep in during your days off. Lastly, I promise to make up all those years I lost with you, since nothing hurts me more than knowing I missed any part of your life."
Bethany freed one of her hands from Steve's to wipe away some tears, a smile shining through before turning to the officiator. "Hurry up, I need to kiss him."
Everyone laughed, but there was truth in Bethany's words that everyone could feel. "Do you, Bethany Elizabeth Stark take this man to be your husband, to have and to hold, through sickness and health, for better or for worse, until death do you part?"
She took in a ragged breath, her voice cracking as she held back tears. "I do."
"And do you, Captain Steven Grant Rogers take this woman to be your wife, to have and to hold, through sickness and health, for better or for worse, until death do you part?"
"I do," he answered immediately, as if he was only waiting to respond in a gesture of politeness.
"May I have the rings?"
Clint watched as a little kid, who Natasha told him was Steve's best man, Theo, dug into his pocket and pulled out a velvet ring box. "I've got it!"
Everyone chuckled as the officiator took the ring box from the excited boy, giving Bethany's ring to Steve and vice versa. "Steve, repeat after me; with this ring, I wed thee."
"With this ring, I wed thee," Steve repeated dutifully, taking the wedding band and slipping it on to her delicate finger and then fitting the infinity engagement ring on top of it, the two fitting together perfectly.
"Bethany?" The officiator asked. "With this ring, I wed thee."
Bethany nodded, taking the slender and simple band Steve picked out himself and sliding it onto his ring finger. "With this ring, I wed thee."
"I now, by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride."
"What. Is. That?" Bethany asked Steve. After photos that Pepper insisted on and some quick finger sandwiches, Steve had snatched Bethany away. Bridal style, of course.
Steve looked at the bandana he had just, after some casual struggle, pulled out of his pocket. "A blind fold," he explained as they walked up to the Ford Model T parked outside the retirement home.
"And what are you planning on doing with it?" She asked as he put her down carefully.
"Kidnap you," Steve answered plainly, turning her around so he could pull the blind fold over her eyes.
"Excuse me?" She asked, folding her arms.
Steve opened the passenger's door and directed her into the seat. "Yes, Mrs. Rogers. You're my wife now, and I have the right-"
"To kidnap me?" She asked with a raised eyebrow.
Steve chuckled, leaning down to kiss her. "Surprise you. Come on, play along."
She shook her head as he held up the blind fold. "Um, no. No. One, hair. Two, makeup,"
"Live a little," he whispered into her ear, pulling the blind fold around her head.
"Hair!" She shouted, feeling as he brushed over the bun at the back of her head. "We may just be heading to our honeymoon destination, but I sat in a chair for an hour getting this done."
"I'm being careful," Steve insisted, finishing the knot and kissing her cheek. "You ready?"
"This better be good, Rogers," she grumbled, but the small smile tugging at her lips gave her away.
Bethany could hear him getting into the car, the engine roaring to life. There was a soft vibration through the car and Bethany could almost perfectly picture the last time she was in a Ford Model T. She was five, sitting in the back buggy with Howard.
"Momma, are we there yet?" Howard asked, pulling on one of Bethany's curls.
"Ow! Momma, Howie pulled my hair!"
Her mother's shoulders hunched just a little, before it returned to its usual strict posture. "The two of you, cut it out right now. Your father is driving."
"Can I drive?" Howard asked, twisting the baseball he had in his hands.
"When you're older son," their father responded. "Until then, sit in the back and be quiet. And yes, we're almost there."
Bethany pouted, upset that Howard didn't get in trouble for pulling her hair. She moved her stubby little fingers up to where the blond strands were pulled into two pigtails on each side of her head. Bethany wound the curls up in her fingers, hoping that they weren't a mess. "Momma?"
"What Bethany?" The woman snapped.
"Never mind," she cowered, lowering herself into the seat.
"Bethy?" Howard asked quietly. Bethany turned her gaze to him, her chubby cheeks falling in sadness. All she wanted was to ask if she could get some ice cream later, but her mother's sharp words scared her too much. "You want to hold the ball?"
Bethany's face lit up at her brother's offer. They had just returned from a ball game and Howard was lucky enough to get a ball from one of the outfielders when the game was over. She took the ball from him, cradling it like it was a lost diamond.
"You can keep it if you want," Howard suggested, trying to cheer up his little sister.
"Really?" She asked, but her 'r' coming out as a childish 'w'.
"Say it properly, Bethany Elizabeth," her mother snapped once again. "And no you may not. Baseball is for boys. Young ladies should not be playing with dirty toys."
"Now, darling-" their father began.
"No. You take care in raising Howard into a good man, and I'll take care in making Bethany a good wife."
"Better to start now than later."
"But…" Bethany whispered as Howard apologetically took the ball away from her. Howard, like Bethany was afraid of their mother's wrath. "I don't want to be married, momma."
"Nonsense. You will become a classy lady and get married to a high class man. Understood?"
Bethany's sad face reappeared. She twiddled her fingers, trying to keep the tears back. "Yes momma." She pulled her back up straight to look outside. The car pulled to a stop in traffic, the engine rumbling loud and the car vibrating with a passion. Outside she saw many things. A mother in a brown dress trying to juggle groceries and a baby. That lifestyle didn't appeal to her. Then there was another woman, in a bright red dress, shaking her hips with each step and gathering looks from everyone. The mother seemed appalled, but Bethany smiled. There was something so… mysterious about that woman's life.
"I wish they would fix these blasted automobiles!" Mrs. Stark complained, her voice vibrating along with the car.
"One day," Howard began confidently. "One day, I will, momma."
"Of course you will," She said with a tight smile.
Howard leaned over so he could whisper into Bethany's ear. "You can help me if you want."
Bethany turned to face him, curiosity etched into her. "Help with what?"
"Anything," Howard said with a shrug. "Everything?"
"Really?" She whispered, a smile dragging onto her face again, the back of her childish hand wiping the tears off her face. Again, just like the time before, the 'r' was replace with a 'w'.
"Sure," Howard answered with a nod. "It's you and me Beth. And if you want to get married, I'll be there. If you want to help build cars, I'll be there. Whatever it is, Bethy."
"Thank you Howie," she whispered back, leaning in to kiss his cheek.
"We're here," Steve told her as the car came to a halt.
Bethany nodded, not saying anything. She was too wrapped up in her memory, completely grateful for the blind fold to cover her eyes. She was sure she shed more than one tear in memory. The love and teasing she had received from Howard. The harsh snapping of her mother. The careless ignorance of her father.
"Careful," Steve whispered, helping Bethany out of the car. "There's one step. Right there. There you go."
"Can I take this off now?" Bethany asked, the mystery lost on her.
"Fine," Steve agreed. "Let me do it."
She waited patiently until her vision was restored. She frowned when she saw a tall hotel building. "This is the surprise?"
"No," Steve said, taking her hand and pulling her inside the hotel. Some customers checking in, some returning from the swimming pool and some just lounging around looked at them and whispered. They tried to subtly take out their phones, get evidence of the wedding, of seeing the American hero and his bride. Bethany paid no attention as her new husband led her through the hotel with confidence. "I thought we could have a first dance."
The excitement returned to her body, a smile gracing her features. "That is a good surprise."
Steve chuckled, opening double doors to reveal the ballroom, dimly lit and twinkly lights decorating the room with white and red decorations and flowers. Bethany gasped as she saw the wonderment in front of her, but really got her was the harmonized 'surprised' from the group inside the room.
Bethany covered her heart, feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness. "Steve…"
Softly, a lull of a familiar tune filled the room as the audience made way for the happy couple. "Would you like to dance, Mrs. Rogers?"
Bethany couldn't keep the smile off her face and the happy tears from falling. "Lead the way, Captain Rogers."
Offering his arm to her, they began towards the center of the dance floor. Bethany couldn't help but blush, hiding her face a little. "Look up," Steve told her. "You're beautiful. And while everyone knows, everyone should still see."
Bethany shook her head, feeling those happy tears stream down. Looking up, she saw that the group, minus Peggy, from the wedding where already present, but so was Bruce, Sharon, Nick, a bunch of SHIELD employees, Rhodey, Happy and a few neighbours.
When they reached the center, they aligned their bodies up to dance. "Someday, when I'm awfully low. When the world is cold. I will feel a glow just thinking of you and the way you look tonight."
"I can't believe this," Bethany said as they swayed. "Thank you."
"It's not much," Steve replied, shrugging it off.
"No, it is," Bethany insisted, leaning up to kiss him. "I wanted the first dance, the party, the throwing of the bouquet."
"I know you did," Steve responded with a smile. "That's why Pepper and I arrange all this. I know you didn't want to exclude Peggy, but she would've understood. More importantly, she understands."
"I just figured… there's so many people who we wished could share this day with us. I didn't want to leave out the one person who could."
"It's your day," Steve reminded her.
"Our day," she corrected. "Oh, and everything… everything looks perfect. It's better than I ever could imagine."
"There's a live band," Steve shared. "But I insisted on having Peggy Lee's version of The Way You Look Tonight since it holds so much meaning. And dinner; the cheese pasta I proposed with. And dessert; cheese and chocolate fondue."
Bethany giggled, resting her forehead on his jacket. "More perfect than I thought."
"Ladies and gentlemen," Tony said during the musical interlude. "It's my genuine pleasure to introduce for the first time, Captain and Mrs. Rogers."
The bride and groom barely separated the entire reception. As people enjoyed the open bar and shared pleasantries with the couple, their hands were continually intertwined, or touching the other in one way or another. Nick didn't stay for long, but his quick presence was nonetheless appreciated.
Bruce, for the most part, spent the night in a secluded corner, but Bethany and Steve made sure to visit him periodically when Tony was too busy being the center of attention to keep his science bro busy. Bethany made sure to introduce Jen to all the attractive men at SHIELD, and let Theo trail her and Steve around all night, him proudly telling everyone that he was the best man. Steve noticed that Kate seemed to drift to Clint and Natasha, but he ruled it to the girls' night out and all the bonding.
"All right, can all the single ladies gather up!" Pepper asked into the microphone, holding up Bethany bouquet which she accidentally left at the retirement home. "It's time for the bouquet toss!"
There was an excited buzz around the room from the woman, all of them shoving and pushing to gather in the middle of the room. Bethany pulled Steve's head down gently for a quick kiss, separating from him for the first time before leaning down to Theo's height. "Wanna help me up on stage?"
"Is that a best man's duty?" He questioned.
"Definitely," Steve nodded, giving him two thumbs up.
Bethany took a couple troubled steps up to the stage, holding onto the railing as Theo gathered the train. When they reached the middle of the stage, Pepper gave Bethany the bundle of flowers before popping off the stage and making her way into the crowd of ladies.
The live band started playing Single Ladies, but just the harmony. "Alright ladies, you ready?"
They all cheered in anticipation and Bethany turned around, taking in a deep breath and throwing the bouquet over her shoulders. She could hear shouts from the women and as she turned around, she saw Pepper and Jen fighting over the flowers. Bethany covered her mouth, trying not to laugh. She noticed that a lot of the SHIELD agents had gathered to the sides of the group, almost participating in tradition not want.
That'll change, she thought with a small smile. Good thing neither of them are SHIELD agents, or this would end very badly.
Finally, Pepper was able to claw the flowers away from Jen, the crowd clapping slowly in astonishment. Bethany just shook her head, smiling and moving to step off the stage. Steve held out his hand for her not to trip, kissing her temple. "That was close to getting violent."
"Where's Tony?" Bethany asked, looking around the room. "I want to see his face."
Steve laughed. "I bet he's completely freaking out."
"Well get ready," Bethany said with a smile, throwing her arms around his neck. "The garter toss is next."
Steve's face paled. "Do I have to pick it off your leg with my teeth? It's so far up-"
"It's just under my knee," Bethany explained. "Mermaid styled dress don't allow any higher."
"Alright, alright men!" Clint said taking the mic. "So next is the garter toss, and because I know a lot of you need incentive, whoever catches it gets fifty dollars."
The men cheered and gathered in the center, all ready for the catch. "Fifty dollars goes a long way," Pepper said into her ear, placing a chair behind Bethany. The band started to instrumentally play Let's Get It On, and Bethany thanked her lucky stars that Steve didn't know it was a classic sex song.
Bethany settled into the chair, Steve kneeling in front of her. Gathering up as much of her dress as she could, Steve took in a deep breath before diving underneath the material. She could feel small kisses he was placing up her leg, finally reaching the garter. Bethany looked at the group of men. She saw Tony there, being held in place by Clint. Bruce was to the side, trying to stay away from a possible fight. Bethany couldn't help but chuckle as Theo was standing dead center, not knowing what was going on, but smiling nonetheless.
When Steve re-emerged, Bethany couldn't help but laugh at his dishevelled hair. Without getting up, Steve flung the garter into the air, turning his head to see where it landed. Bethany couldn't help but laugh as it landed on Bruce's shoulder, him looking terrified as some of the men eyed it with envy. Bruce quickly pulled it off his shoulder and threw it into the crowd of men before walking backwards slowly.
"Another dance?" Steve asked when he turned around again.
"Let's fix your hair first," Bethany chuckled.
Steve held a sleeping Theo in his arms, carrying him to the hotel room he and Jen were staying in. While he tried to stay awake all night, after the sugar crash courtesy of the chocolate fountain, he missed the end of the reception.
"So precious," Bethany said, pushing Theo's hair across his shoulders as the elevator dinged.
"Thanks for a great night," Jen said, leading them to her room. "And for carrying him."
"Not a problem," Steve responded in a whisper, not ready to wake him from his slumber. "You've got a good boy here."
"Yeah," Jen replied with a smile as she opened up the door. "Just put him on the bed. I have to use the restroom."
Steve nodded, going to do as Jen asked. Bethany followed, helping Steve carefully take off the child's shoes, vest and tie. As they pulled the blanket over his body, Bethany leaned down to kiss Theo's forehead. "You ready?" Steve asked quietly, wrapping an arm around her body.
Jen stepped out of the bathroom and Bethany nodded. "Good night Jen. Thank you so much."
"Of course," Jen nodded, holding out her arms for a hug. "Stop being a stranger."
"I know, I know," Bethany agreed. "Time flies. Get anyone's number tonight?"
Jen chuckled, "Maybe…"
"Good for you," Bethany assured. "I'll see you soon?"
"Yes," Jen nodded. "And congratulations you two."
As they bid their final goodbyes, Steve and Bethany went back to the elevator. "The honeymoon suite?" Bethany asked.
Steve hit the button to their floor and took out his key card. "But of course."
When they reached the room, Bethany wandered around it as Steve took off his jacket, vest and bow tie. "View isn't as nice," Bethany said with a wink. "But it'll do."
Steve chuckled, hanging up his garments on a chair and sitting down to take off his shoes. "Well it's just for the night. We head out tomorrow morning."
"And can I know where we are going now?" Bethany asked, sitting beside him on the bed.
"Nope," Steve said, popping the 'p'. He was hell bent on keeping it a secret, and didn't even book the hotel room under his name or use his credit card to keep Bethany off the scent. "You'll find out tomorrow."
"Fine," Bethany replied, standing up.
Steve took a hold of her waist and pulled her in between the V of his legs. "So Mrs. Rogers, you ready to consummate this marriage?"
Bethany chuckled, slowly unbuttoning his crisp white shirt. "I feel like you've been waiting for this moment."
"I have," Steve admitted. "No matter how amazing, I always felt a little guilty. It's nice to be able to make love to you now with none of that."
Bethany smiled, leaning down and kissing him deeply, passionately and slowly, savoring every moment. His hands roamed up and down her back, rubbing sweet circles and finally reaching for the bow for the sparkly belt around her waist. They pulled apart, resting their foreheads against each other's while Steve blindly undid the corset backing.
Feeling the dress loosen, Bethany turned around so Steve could help pull the dress off her shapely hips and pool around her ankles. When she face him again, Steve took in the sight of her. Her pale, sweet, soft skin looking more desirable than ever before. Her curves seemed to be more evident in the lace undergarments.
She stepped out of the dress, leaving the borrowed shoes in the middle, before crawling onto the bed. Steve slipped his white shirt off his body, leaving it with the wedding dress and pulling his under shirt off before moving to align his body over Bethany's, re-engaging the kiss. It seemed to deepen farther than either thought possible, each relishing in the slow speed they had begun. Bethany slowly ran her fingers up his arm, finger nails meeting his skin, Steve letting out a small shudder in response.
He pressed their bodies closer together, breaking away from her mouth and towards her neck, finding her sweet spot and kissing it as deeply as he had her lips. Bethany couldn't help but let out a happy moan in response, her hips rising up automatically to meet his. She tangled her hands into his hair as his strong hands trailed down her body, but his fingers just barely touching.
Her breathing hitched, her clutching to his hair even more as he continued to slowly tease her. Steve smiled against her skin, feeling her frustration rolling over him. He lifted his head, reconnecting their lips as Bethany's fingers trailed down his body and to the button of his pants. She popped them open and pulled at the zipper, Steve catching her clues. Doing his best, he shimmied out of the pants without breaking the fiery dance. Bethany used the loss of clothing to rub her body against his, feeling him reacting instantly. Despite both of their wants and needs, they kept a slow and steady pace, every inch of their body wanting more but basking in the pleasure filling them.
Bethany lifted the top part of her body, reaching behind her and undoing the clasp to her bra. Steve's attention turned to her newly exposed skin, leaving sweet open mouthed kisses. Bethany tried her best to show strength, using her hands to trace every inch of his muscled tone chest. It was slow, sweet torture, their underwear the only thing keeping them apart. Steve was straining against his boxers, confident that he had never been that aroused in his life, Bethany wiggling her hips in the thickly wet white panties she was donning.
Bethany turned her head, moaning as Steve's lips captured her rosy and erect nipple in his lips. Her gaze fell on a box of condoms and she picked it up. "Steve?" She said, her voice barely there since she was breathing so hard. He hummed in response, only looking up when she didn't answer. Bethany showed him the box and gave him a small smile. "I got my tubes untied yesterday," she explained.
"You-you did?" Steve responded with a smile.
"But I'm still on the pill," she continued, her breath slowly returning. "And I want to use these just for a little more protection. Just a little longer. Until the time is right. And if it happens, it happens."
Steve nodded, understanding. "Sure thing, doll face."
Bethany reached down to kiss him softly before opening the box and pulling out one of the Magnum condoms, tearing open the golden wrapping as Steve took off his boxers, letting out a grateful groan as his erection touched the cold air. As Bethany handed the condom to Steve, she removed her underwear, tossing them in the direction of the bathroom and then pulling up the blankets for her to crawl under.
With the rubber in place, Steve moved to the light switch, making the room darken. It was quiet and dark, and a replication of the room when they first made love. Steve crawled in under the sheets and hovered over Bethany's body. She widened her legs, Steve settling in between them. Bethany touched his face, their lips reconnecting again before he gripped her hip and slid into her, them becoming one and feeling whole. Lost in each other, they were both home. Everything was falling into place, everything in their worlds right. And while the journey wasn't perfect, it brought them to that very moment of perfection, fading into each other.
**A/N: Yay, yay, yay! 70 years and 35 chapters later…
IMPORTANT: This is the LAST chapter of Sorry Ever After. I figured ending it with a 'happily ever after' feeling would be a good thing. I feel like they've reached that moment of complete forgiveness and moving past what was done and onto what will be done. But that doesn't mean Bethany and Steve's story is over! Far from it.
It'll be continued in Wrong for the Right Reasons. Click on my profile and it'll be there!
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to every single one of you.
MarvelWorksWonders: Thank you! I'm one of those people who plan out every single detail of a character's life from life to death, so I wouldn't ever skip something as major as a movie! Haha. Well, here's the wedding, and hopefully it was up to expectations?
FeliciaFelicis: Aw, glad I could help! I was going to wait another day or two before posting chapter 34, but I figured 'why wait'? It was completed for a couple of days, just waiting for proof reading. I still haven't finish season 1 of Agents of SHIELD! I have something like five episodes to watch, but in my defense, my recorder missed one week and I've resorted to leaving watching it until a rainy day when it'll bring sunshine and happiness.
And there is a HUGE mounted photo of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind over my bed, the first thing I ever fangirled to. Even my mom has a poster (although hers is in the basement) as well as some collectables that have slowly over the years become mine. There's nothing wrong with being a fangirl, no matter the age.
Jo: Aw, sending lots of warm hugs! It's almost summer time here and I'm grateful for it! In my hometown, the temperature went down to -30 degrees Celsius some days, the coldest winter we had in 20 years. That's my entire life! I definitely don't miss it. While free health care is a fantastic benefit, it's flipping cold in Canada! Stay warm!