Author's Note: This story is obviously AU. It would probably come after The Avengers movie if I were to place it in the timeline somewhere. I don't own Captain America or The Avengers (although it would be cool if I did) and I have made no profit from writing this. I have used the character of Captain Steve Rogers with care or at least I hope so. I hope that you enjoy the story and if you do, I'd love a little review. Thanks so much!
When Steve Rogers walked into the gym, he had to do a double take. There was a young woman sparring with a man twice her size and she seemed to be doing a good job of keeping the guy on his toes. Her speed and agility made up for the size disadvantage by a long shot. Steve found himself walking around the boxing ring and finding a bench to sit and watch. Steve put down his gym bag and sat on the bench, eying the opponents in the ring. Usually this place wasn't busy at this time of the day and he could come in and punch a few punching bags. The owner didn't mind because Steve always replaced any that he broke. Of course he didn't want to go around doing that with other people in the gym but to be honest he was more than curious about this young woman in the boxing ring right now.
He watched as she ducked under the man's swing and caught the guy with a good punch to his stomach. He swore that he could hear the air rushing out of the man in the ring. When the man started to wave his hands in defeat to call her off, the young woman laughed. She pulled off her gloves and then her head gear with a grin on her face. She held out a hand to the man and he slapped it away which made her laugh again, louder this time. She was taking the time to catch her breath right now, as was the man she was sparring with. It seemed to Steve that the man needed it more than she did though.
"You're getting old, Nate," she said with a grin. She walked over to the corner closest to Steve and grabbed a water bottle there. When she saw Steve, she flashed him a quick smile with a nod and then took a drink of water before turning back to her sparring partner. "Looks like we have ourselves a guest. Did you know someone was coming in, Nate?"
When the man took off his gloves and then his head gear, he looked over in the young woman's direction. He nodded and Steve recognized the man as the owner of this gym. Nate was a burly man, gruff and tough looking with graying dark brown hair and emerald green eyes that always seemed to be twinkling with humor. The funny thing was that Steve never would've imagined that a young woman of such petite stature would've had a guy like Nate against the ropes like she had. Nate walked to the corner nearest him and grabbed a bottle as well to take a long drink before climbing out of the ring.
"That, my dear, would be Steve Rogers. He comes in every night to blow off some steam. Maybe we should give him some space," Nate said with a nod as he raked his fingers through his hair. He gestured toward his office and chuckled when the young woman rolled her eyes as she climbed out of the ring as well.
Instead of following Nate, though, she walked over to Steve and stuck out her hand to him. "I'm Aly," she said with a little smile.
Steve saw the way that she looked him over and he actually felt a blush on his cheeks although he hoped it wasn't noticeable. It wasn't something he could help. "It's nice to meet you, Aly. I'm Steve," he said with a nod as he shook her small hand. He noticed that she didn't have a dainty grip. She shook his hand firmly so he did the same. "How do you know Nate?"
Aly looked when Steve nodded toward the office. The door was closed and all the shades were drawn. She shrugged when she looked back at Steve before taking another drink of water. "Nate's kind of like a second father to me," she said with a shrug before sitting down on the bench where Steve had been sitting. "I grew up around here. My parents were always at work but Nate was always nice enough to let me hang out. Well once I was a little older anyway." She laughed and shrugged before draining the bottle of water.
"How old are you anyway?" Steven asked. His curiosity was piqued now and he was going to figure out who Aly was if it killed him. It was probably just because of how talented she seemed to be in the ring that he was even this curious about her in the first place. It couldn't be anything else after all. It wasn't like Steve was interested in Aly for her looks although he couldn't deny that her bright blue eyes and those dimples that poked out in her cheeks when she smiled were attractive attributes.
Aly seemed to sit up straighter suddenly. She looked Steve right in the eyes when she spoke. "I'm 21," she said with a nod, looking at him like she wanted him to argue that point. "I know I don't look it but I am. I'm in college too. I'm going to be a teacher one day. My mother wanted to be a teacher but she could never afford to go to college. She worked in a factory her whole life. My father worked for the city sanitation service. Between the two of them, they saved up to make sure that their only child could follow her dreams. That's just what I plan on doing too."
Steve smiled at her conviction. It was clear in her voice. She was a proud young woman. She seemed like someone who never backed down from anything. That kind of attitude probably served her well although Steve was sure that her looks helped her get far as well. He hadn't met someone with a will like hers in quite some time actually. It was a curious thing, the way that Aly reminded him of someone that he used to know. He sat down on the bench next to her now, turned toward her. Steve felt a bit drawn to her and he wanted to figure out more about her.
"Why do you want to be a teacher? There are so many other professions where you could help people," Steve asked.
Aly smiled and shrugged, enjoying the attention right now. "But as a teacher I can work with young children. I can get them interested in learning," she said with a little nod. She looked away from him, staring at her feet as she spoke. "I had a teacher like that. I want to be an inspiration that way."
Steve's smile seemed to brighten and he suddenly forgot why he'd come to the gym in the first place. The heavy bags could wait for another time after all. They weren't going anywhere and it wasn't like Steve couldn't come back another day. "I'm sure you will be. You seem like you'll be a great teacher," he said with a little nod. He wanted her to know that he believed in her. Maybe it didn't matter if he believed in her but Steve still wanted her to feel like someone believed in her.
Aly looked away, a light rosiness to her cheeks. She shyly tucked some of the stray strands of her hair behind her ear. "I hope so. I start actually working in a class room this year. I'm nervous," she said with a little shrug.
"I saw you in that ring. You can take care of yourself," Steve said with a chuckle. When he was rewarded with a laugh, he smiled. He saw her look up at him and smile back, those dimples peeking out at him. It made his heart skip a beat for a moment there. "Hey. I wouldn't mess with you. That's all I'm saying." He put up his hands as if he was surrendering, laughing softly as Aly rolled her eyes.
She gave him a little nudge, laughing. "I'm going to be working in a room full of 6-year-olds. I really hope I won't have to knock one of them out," she said with a laugh, shaking her head a little. "You know I'm keeping you from whatever you came here to do. I should go. I need a shower anyway. Will you still be here in an hour or two?"
Steve tried not to sigh when Aly shifted to stand up although he understood why she wanted to grab a shower. It wasn't until she mentioned it that he even thought about the fact that Aly might need a shower right now. He'd been so lost in talking to her that nothing else seemed to have mattered to Steve for awhile there. "Yeah, I just need to blow off a little steam," he said with a nod. "I probably won't be more than an hour. Should we meet right back here?"
Aly smiled softly, nodding as she loosened her blond hair from the braid that it had been in, running her fingers through her hair. "Yeah. We'll meet right here. I'll see you soon, Steve." She laughed as she walked away, glancing over her shoulder at him for a moment. She couldn't help but laugh when she saw that Steve was watching her walk away.
Steve carried over a spare punching bag and then taped his wrists and hands. He didn't need boxing gloves for this. It wasn't like he'd actually hurt himself. Not really. His thoughts were all over the place right now so he was doing his best to focus his attention solely on the bag in front of him. As long as he kept his focus on the bag, he could push all thoughts out of his head. Steve started to get lost in hitting the bag until he broke it. It wasn't something he did on purpose but if he kept punching it, it was what happened. He couldn't change that any more than he could change all of the things that he'd been through in his life up to this point.
He didn't notice when Aly came back into the gym. She was leaning against the wall, watching him, when Steve broke the first bag. She had a little smile on her face as she watched him pick up and put up a new bag. Aly was quiet as she walked over toward the boxing ring, sitting on the edge as she watched Steve starting to work on the second punching bag. She laughed when Steve suddenly stopped, looking over at her, his face flushed from the exertion. Aly gave him a little wave and hopped down before walking over to him.
Steve didn't mean to stare but as Aly walked over, he couldn't seem to help himself. She looked quite different right now. When he first saw her, her long blond hair was in a braided ponytail. She had been in a pair of black yoga pants and a dark blue tank top and tennis shoes as well. Now Aly was in a pair of dark rinse skinny jeans and a lavender plaid button down top with lavender flats. Her hair was down and wavy now, probably from the braid that she'd had her hair in. Aly was quite stunning actually, very different from the young woman that he'd first met. In fact, looking at her now, Steve could see how she was truly a young woman. She wasn't some little girl, despite her stature. She carried herself like a poised young woman. It made him smile as he watched her walk toward him.
"What's that grin for, mister?" Aly asked with a light laugh.
Steve felt that heat on his cheeks again, knowing that he was probably blushing. He couldn't help it though. It was just what happened when he got embarrassed and Aly seemed to be good at embarrassing him. He didn't know how that worked though. He didn't know how she did it. All Steve knew was that Aly could make him nervous. Then again he'd never been good at talking to women. That certainly hadn't changed recently either.
"Nothing," he said, shaking his head with a chuckle, glad that he could play off the blush right now as his face being flushed from his workout. "Nothing at all."
Aly rolled her eyes. "What? Do I look that different or something?" she asked as she walked over and sat down on the bench again, her eyes twinkling a bit with humor. "I don't think that I look that different."
Steve rubbed the back of his neck with his hand, not sure what to say. He decided to go with being honest. If she didn't like it, she'd let him know. Aly seemed pretty straight forward after all so he thought that he'd be alright. It seemed like the best thing to do was to just be honest with her. Hopefully she wouldn't want to slap him across the face for anything that he said.
"Actually you do," he finally said with a nod. He started to unwind the tape on his hands as he spoke. It gave Steve something to do other than standing there awkwardly and he was thankful for that. "You look very different right now."
Aly looked down at her feel, blushing softly now. "Did you need to grab a shower? I can wait for you in Nate's office," she said shyly. "I was hoping that we could go grab a coffee or something to talk some more. If you don't mind."
Steve walked over and lifted Aly's chin so she would look at him. "I'm going to grab a shower but I'd like to take you to dinner. If you don't mind," he said with a soft smile. He tried to keep from chuckling when he repeated what she had just said to him although it was true. Steve wanted to spend more time with Aly. He wanted to get to know her. He wanted to take her to dinner, partially because he was hungry right now. Steve just hoped that Aly was okay with it.
Aly bit her lip softly and nodded before saying anything. "Of course. I'll wait for you. I just want to check with Nate," she said with a shrug. "See you in a few?"
Steve smiled and nodded. "I shouldn't be long but don't rush on my account," he said with a laugh. "I have more patience than you know."
Aly laughed as she stood up, smiling at Steve. She rubbed her hand on Steve's arm as she passed him, giggling when she saw his jaw almost drop from that touch. There was a jolt of electricity that rushed through both of them from that bit of contact though, even if they both were ignoring it. He watched her walk away again, rubbing the back of his neck. He didn't know what was going on right now. It was confusing but Steve knew that he was going to see this through. He wanted to get to know Aly better. That was one thing that he was very sure of.