He was the first person she looked for, when she returned months later.

When he saw her, he didn't look happy to see her.

Just sad.

"Steve," she whispered, and stretched up to kiss him.


He hugged her instead.

"How was the mission?" she remembered that carefully modulated tone, the voice he used when he was trying not to show what he was feeling.

She pulled away from him to see if his face was showing anything more than his words, but he was studiously impassive.

"Why are you-?"

"You spent six months with him. You should know the answer to that, Tash."

Was he going to ruin this with petty jealousy? Their first meeting in - she pretended she hadn't counted the days - and irritation streaked through her.

He read that in her posture and addressed it.

"I'm not jealous. I know you love me. But he will always come first for you."

He took her hand in a loose grip, almost like he was apologizing for something.

"Steve, I know it's not always fair to you, but-" she hurried to get out some sort of explanation, to stop what she was afraid was going to happen.

"Then you should know why I can't do this." He squeezed her hand, bent to kiss her on the cheek, and left her standing in the hall.

After leaving him so many times, she should have expected he would one day leave her.

That knowledge didn't keep her from collapsing to the floor, hand over her mouth to stifle the broken sounds that were ripping from her throat as hot tears dripped to the carpet.

A/N: I apologize.

This was a hard fic for me to write because it was so darned emotional; really draining.

I've gotten several people asking me to add more, or to write another fic to go along with it to fix it.

I'm going to tell you right now that is a useless endeavor (sorry). Partially because I was filling a prompt, and partly because the relationship they had wasn't exactly healthy.

Let me remind you that I never said this was happy, put it under Angst from the very beginning.

I do have other, happier stevetasha fics. Feel free to direct yourself their way, and thanks so much for reading and your kind words!