A/N: The last time I wrote this kind of story, I got myself into a little trouble...but my muse demanded it be written and I take whatever she throws at me.
Many thanks to my twitter pal NessaWinchester for giving it a once over!
Disclaimer: I don't own Captain America. No copy-right infringement intended.
What Might've Been
"You know I still don't know how to dance."
"I'll show you how. Just be there."
"We'll have the band play something slow... I'd hate to step on your..."
The Stork Club
Saturday, 8:54 PM
It was a long shot really. A silly game of make believe. As the seconds stretch into minutes and the minutes into hours, Peggy Carter isn't entirely sure why she came in the first place. It isn't like he was coming. After all, the plane had crashed. She'd heard the static following its impact.
Still, she's been sitting at the bar since quarter to 8. As she watched the hands on the clock above the bar slide into position, she had merely smiled and straightened the skirt of her green dress. She had her first drink at 8:30...just a little burn to take the sting out of her broken heart. She lost track of how much she's had since, but knows it's just barely enough to stem the flow of tears from her eyes. But she'll be strong. For him.
Lifting the tumbler in front of her to her painted lips, she winces as she swallows the remaining scotch in the bottom of her glass. Good one, Peg, she thinks to herself, Getting all dressed up and waiting for a ghost.
Swiping a fat tear that escapes past her lashes, she takes a deep breath and opens her clutch. She's pulling out her handkerchief and a few crumpled bills when a large, warm hand closes over hers. "A lady should never have to buy her own drinks..."
At the sound of his voice she spins toward him. The pad of his thumb glides along her cheek, brushing another droplet away, and her breath is stolen when she stares up into the Captain's clear blue eyes. She leans into his touch, offering a weak smile. "You're late..."
She watches his eyes focus on her red lips, sees the puff of his chest as they both start breathing again. She aches to kiss him, to drag him into her arms and block everything else out. Then he blushes and rubs the back of his neck, the action bringing her back into the moment. With a chuckle, he answers, "And you still owe me a dance."
Her hand is tiny in his as he leads her onto the dance floor. Peggy stares up at him, unable to fully process their surroundings. All she can see is him. Robust and healthy, here in front of her. Everything else fades into the background. He leans in close, his breath feathering hotly against her ear. "You did promise to teach me."
His voice is shy and uncertain, but his hold his firm. She draws an unsteady breath, her head dropping slightly back and eyes shutting as their closeness envelops her in a delicious cocoon. It must be a dream, she thinks as she relaxes and enjoys the moment. A beautiful, wonderful dream. Her voice is small and lost when she finally speaks, "Are you really here?"
Raising her hand, he places it on the center of his chest. She gazes up at him in wonder and he murmurs, "As real as a heartbeat."
The band plays a soft Glen Miller number. It's a tune she recognizes, but can't name because she's too focused on being in his arms, too wound up in the adorable way he stares at the floor trying not to step on her feet. The rise and fall of her chest is rapid. All she can hear is the beating of her own heart.
Am I dancing, or floating? She can't tell. All that matters is being in the circle of Steve's strong arms. Reaching up, she brushes a lock of sandy hair from his forehead. "I didn't think you'd come," she finally admits.
"I'm sorry it took me so long," he whispers. His smiles and she soaks up his warmth, feeling the fear - the chill of never again staring into his eyes or feeling his touch - melting away as they move. She sees the nervous bob of his adam's apple as he swallows. "I wasn't sure you'd still be here..."
"I wouldn't have missed it," she answers, snuggling closer.
They sway, bodies just shy of pressed together, with Peggy's head on Steve's shoulder, until the final notes drift from the instruments. He reluctantly releases her from his arms and dusts his lips over her forehead in a tender kiss. "Thank you," he says with a dimpled grin.
She smiles right back at him. Voice quivering with an innocence she hasn't felt in a long time - maybe it's the war, maybe it's the things she's seen, maybe it's just the wings of hope spreading anew - she asks, "Walk me home?"
Steve nods and tucks his hands into his pockets, seemingly unsure of what do no with them now that the dance is over. They settle her tab and he holds the door, allowing her to walk through first.
The street lamps twinkle like the stars that can't be seen on New York's skyline as they stroll casually up the sidewalk and her heart clenches at the etherial glow they cast on his chiseled features.
They alternate looks for more than a block but, this time, their gazes meet and hold. Pausing, he pulls his hands from his pockets to loop one of hers through the hook of his arm. She smiles brightly, admiring the hero beside her. Words are entirely unnecessary as they continue on in silence, two young lovers undistracted by the sounds of the city around them.
A short time later Peggy stops suddenly, her feet anchoring to the cement in front of stairs leading up to a brownstone apartment building. The sadness of things being over too soon slams into her as their fingers slide apart when she walks up the steps. Her voice slightly husky, she tells him, "This is me."
"Wha...?" he startles, a frown tugging his lips as his eyes drop to the sidewalk. "Oh."
"Good night, Steve," she murmurs. "Thank you for the dance." Only the barest skim of fingertips keeping them in contact, she sighs softly. What a lovely evening...
He pulls her back, catching her off balance and tugging her against the wall of his chest. The curves of her figure slide down the hard planes of his body, the sound of rushed breath and the rasp of fabrics rubbing together piercing the silence as he lowers her feet to the ground. Everything stops. There is nothing else - no one else - but the two of them.
Peggy's lips part and she feels Steve shiver in anticipation, his hand tentatively brushing along her cheek and boldly settling into the curtain of her hair. Her lashes feather closed as he draws nearer, his heart beats at the pace of a humming bird's wing beneath her hand as he lowers his mouth to hers.
Soft and pliant, they come together. Warmth and tenderness fill her. She feels safe, special and protected. It's as though she's the most beautiful woman in New York, if not the world. At least to him...and he's the only one who matters.
So this is what it's like, she thinks, remembering his words to her when they first met as her hand creeps from his chest to the back of his neck. Finding the right partner...
More experienced - though only slightly - Peggy shifts comfortably in his embrace. Her heart flutters as Steve holds her loosely enough she could pull away, gently as though she might break...and, yet, just firmly enough she knows he would keep her from falling as her knees begin to buckle.
It's firmer now, a hunger that defies chivalry washing over them. She allows her concept of what's proper to bend, a wet flick of her tongue teasing against his lips and causing him to gasp. She wants to giggle at how the contact affects the reserved Captain, but the way he holds her now isn't a laughing matter.
Peggy's world tilts on its axis as Steve mimics move when the shock wears off. She opens to him, allowing the delicate invasion of his tongue. She drinks him in, feeling his life-force surround her. He tastes like...hope. A future.
One of them whimpers. She thinks it's her, but can't be entirely sure because it's never been like this. She's never felt like this.
Innate sense of right and wrong flashes like lightning in his eyes and what she assumes is the shame of ravaging her on a public street corner colors his cheeks. Breath ragged, he leans his forehead down to hers. "I should go so you can rest..."
She nods imperceptibly before glancing up at him, a blush rising as she notes the stain of her lipstick tinting his mouth. Her thumb strokes over his kiss-swollen lower lip. "Will I see you tomorrow?"
Tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after.
Because just tonight would never be enough.