Disclaimer: Sadly, I own nothing related to Marvel, either the comics, movies, TV shows, etc. All of that belongs to the Disney Corporation (though I might try kidnapping Captain America and Hawkeye some day, just for fun).
AN: So, this chapter is a bit of wishful thinking of my part. After all, who wouldn't want to show up at their high school reunion with Captain America on their arm?
Anyway, all the names in this chapter have been made up by me, so any resemblance to a real person's name is by pure coincidence. Please enjoy this final part of my stories involving Captain Steve Rogers and Adena, and I hope to see you at the next story I post. Oh, and please don't forget to review! Thanks!
Story #5: Leaving the Past Behind:
In my opinion, high school reunions are only enjoyed by the select few –and looking around the darkened ballroom and listening to the music being played, I could easily pick out the ones who were having fun, and the ones who wished they'd stayed home tonight.
Taking in the scene, I couldn't help but be amused at how the different 'cliques' still gravitated together, everyone seeking out old friends and hovering in the same exact groups they'd formed as kids. It was like watching animal clusters form, each one consisting of people so different from the group close by, they were like different species trying to avoid one another.
'I guess people really don't change after high school,' I thought, holding back a chuckle as my eyes continued drifting around the room. I remembered everyone clearly, as well as the groups they had formed way back then.
In one corner were a group of classmates who had become rich; who got married to someone rich; or who are now divorced from someone rich, but still came out fabulously well-off. Some of these people had been the ones voted "most likely to succeed," but others were simply the popular kids who'd grown up, kept themselves looking good their adult lives, and married for either looks, money, or both. I could easily tell their wealth from the designer bags, outfits, jewelry, and overly-managed hair and faces. Even in this sea of people clad in 'evening attire,' they stood out in name-brand everything, and they all looked stuck-up and bored.
One spot near the stage area held the sports teams, both males and females, each of them trading old stories and new ones. The football players were still heads-and-shoulders above everyone else, but for some, their stomachs had gotten wider than their shoulders. Most of the team members wore their high school letterman jackets proudly, complete with metals and all, just like they had in school. I guess letting go of the past was harder for some people than for others.
I spotted members of the "geek" crowd laughing and chatting while creating or trading phone apps. From the wisps of conversation that drifted my way, I knew they were eagerly chatting about the latest tech developments at Stark Industries, and most were clamoring to try and get their hands on Tony's gadgets as soon as humanly possible. From a few of the arrogant smirks on some of the faces, I had a distinct feeling that at least half of the group worked in some section of Tony's company, and were waiting to brag about it to their fellow "geeks."
Glancing out the corner of my eye, I spotted the 'artistic' group, mainly consisting of painters, musicians, actors, and even sculptors. A few of the auto shop guys were in there, too, talking with the musicians and apparently sharing music files. Doodles on napkins or scraps of paper flew back and forth, which probably meant they were trading ideas or art techniques.
From my own little corner, I was the 'odd woman out.' I hadn't belonged to any of these groups, though I had dabbled in both art and band –and dabbling was not enough to actually count as "belonging" to the group.
'I did have my own little group, however.'
Yup, my very own merry little band of misfits. Heck, we were more 'outsiders' than the "official" outsider group, the one acknowledged as such by the other cliques! We didn't fit in anywhere, so we formed our own little circle of friends who talked, laughed, joked, and studied together through four straight years of high school. I sometimes think we'd had more fun together than the other groups did.
"Adena!" called a voice from my left. Turning, I saw it was Kaylee, my best friend since we were babies.
"Kay!" I cried as she swept me up in a tight hug.
When we pulled apart, Kaylee gave me one of her beaming smiles and motioned behind her. "You shouldn't be hiding here by yourself," she gently chided me. "Come on; the gang's all here, and you need to tell us everything that's happened to you!"
She meant my move to New York, as well as the alien invasion, followed by my marriage to Cap. Kaylee already knew the brief details I'd been allowed to give her (courtesy of Director Fury), but the rest of the group would want to know all about it.
In a far corner near the snack tables and the bar that had been set up, I spotted my old high school friends. Each of them had drinks, phones, and plates of food out in front of them, ready to talk the night away and take as many pictures as possible. I, of course, had JT, but he was safely tucked away in my hotel room –tonight, I'd have to make do with a regular cell phone, though I'd still be able to access JT through a voice command, if I wanted to.
"Adena!" voices cried all around, welcoming me with warm smiles, hugs, and offers of food, drinks, and a chair.
Once we were all settled and I had a plate of finger-food in front of me, with a glass of bubbling cider to sip, we all began throwing stories around.
I laughed as Mariah Brown talked about her new life in Alaska, and the wildlife encounters she had while hiking through the woods while working on her geology paper. "Luckily, I had my shotgun with me, or else I'd have been speared by that moose's antlers!" she finished, earning laughter from everyone at the table. "I didn't have the heart to shoot the poor thing, but I certainly scared it out of a year's growth with the noise!"
Heather Logan was a librarian who worked weekends as a secretary, and was thrilled to be living quietly in her apartment. "Nothing too exciting for me, thanks," she joked. "High school was more than enough for me!"
Mariah Ross (yes, we had two Mariahs in our group) talked about working as a video game tester while her boyfriend, Taylor, held her hand and looked at her adoringly.
"What about you, Taylor?" I gently teased him. "You're a bit young to be at our reunion."
It was an old joke –Taylor had been a sophomore when he asked out Mariah R, who was a senior, but we'd accepted him into the group, and as such, he'd come to as many of the senior class events with us as he was allowed to attend.
He rolled his eyes, but still smiled in spite of himself. "Thanks, Adena," Taylor retorted. "But I have to tell you, this will probably beat out my own reunion in a few years. I get a whole table full of single ladies to myself!"
Well, he was mostly right –most of the others weren't married, or obviously engaged, so it seemed like everyone was single. Given that my left hand had been in my lap or out of their direct line of sight, none of them, besides Kaylee, knew I was married.
"Sorry, but not everyone's single," I said, holding up my left hand.
The girls all squealed their excitement and grabbed my left hand, cooing over it just like my mother had. Kaylee even looked thrilled, even though she'd already known about it.
"Spill!" Mariah B. demanded. "Tell us about him!"
"And about New York," Kaylee put in. "I want to know all about what happened with your new job and the aliens!"
"Aliens?" asked a voice behind me. Turning, I saw Jennifer, another member of our group, behind me. I hadn't seen her at the table and assumed that she'd passed on coming. "You mean you were there for that?" she said, taking a free seat at the table.
'I really ought to write a book or something,' I silently complained to myself. After all, how many times had I repeated an edited version of this story for other people?
Once again, I spilled out everything that had happened to me since leaving the West Coast. Everyone looked completely hooked on the story, from everything about the invasion straight up to my wedding to my husband. I then broke out my phone to show them photos of me and Cap, both of our wedding (not the ones with the Avengers in them!), and a bunch of random pictures I'd taken in the year we'd been married.
And that was when things started getting weird…
Taylor took one glimpse of my wedding photos and gave me a skeptical look. "No offense, Adena, but how did you score a guy like this? I mean, I'm a dude, but even I have to admit that, on a scale of one to ten, the guy's an eleven."
Jennifer nodded, her long red hair flowing perfectly back and forth. Even when we'd been young, she'd been a beautiful red-head, and she hadn't changed much over the years. The red dress she was wearing tonight certainly left nothing to the imagination. "He's right, Adena," she said, trying to keep her voice gentle. "I mean, this guy is kind of out of your league, isn't he?"
At first, I wasn't sure if I was hearing this right. "You don't believe that I can marry a great guy like Cap?"
Mariah R. looked at me with as much skepticism as Taylor. "Cap? Is that his name, or a nickname?"
"It's a nickname," I retorted. "It's short for Captain Steve Rogers. He's in the Army."
Kaylee gave the image of Cap a close look. I hadn't sent her any images of Cap, explaining to her that I wanted to show them when we next saw met. "With those muscles, I'd totally believe it," she said. "But still, I can't picture you with an Army man. Is that why he's not here with you?"
Actually, it was, though not for the reasons they thought. Director Fury had an "incident" that needed a more subtle approach than sending in Iron Man, but it didn't require the level of secrecy that needed a SHIELD agent/spy/assassin. I didn't know many of the details; just that it was over in Europe somewhere, and that it needed someone with a good head for strategy, retrieving, and fighting.
When the Director had come to us, Cap hadn't wanted to go, since he'd already promised to accompany me to my reunion, but I told him it was fine and told him to go. To be honest, I knew he needed to be fighting something more threatening than a punching bag at the gym, and these types of situations didn't come up that often. Plus, I knew I'd hate myself if the world came under serious threat again and I'd let Cap get soft and lazy!
"Yes, that's why he's not here," I snapped, snatching my phone back. "And I'm sorry to say that it's really shallow of you to have that attitude."
They all looked at me in surprise. "What attitude?" Kaylee said, taking offense.
"The one that says, 'there's no way a guy like him could want a girl like you,'" I retorted. "And he is a soldier, and a good and brave one."
I pulled up a photo of Cap in his uniform, with me wrapped in his arms –it had been taken when Tony had begged us to attend a Stark Industries function in New York a few weeks ago, and we'd agreed to go. The photo made the others look less skeptical about me and Cap, but it was clear they doubted my marriage, which I didn't understand. I mean, I wasn't a hideous-looking person, nor did I look like a shabby person who didn't take care of my appearance, so what was it about me that they thought made me unworthy of Cap?
I had a feeling it had something to do with my own old fears, namely the one about him being so much better-looking compared to me. But after being with him for so long, I knew that that didn't mean anything –he loved me for who I was, not for what I looked like, and I felt the same about him.
'I shouldn't have come without him,' part of me said. But I'd been looking forward to catching up with my old friends, and had been willing to come without Cap to support me. Now I wish I hadn't.
'And who knows when that whole mission of his will be over?' I hoped it'd be soon –I desperately wanted Cap's warm, strong arms around me, and to feel his breath tickling my ear as he whispered comforting words to me. He did that whenever I'd had trouble sleeping, or a bad day.
"Wow, who's the hunk?" said a voice behind me.
I looked over my shoulder and bit back a groan –it was The Heathers. Now, Heather Logan was a sweetheart, and very down-to-earth; The Heathers were not. In fact, this group of girls consisted of the most popular and richest girls in school, all of whom belonged to the usual clubs and activities: namely cheerleading and student council; they'd occupied all of the class offices, from president straight down to librarian. They were smart, too, which made them even more arrogant, and so even more unbearable to be around.
'Luckily, they don't dress alike, or I'd be seriously creeped out.'
One Heather took the phone from my hand and began passing it around her group, the others looking at it with cat-like suggestive smiles before handing it back to me. "Friend of yours? Maybe a pen-pal you could put us in touch with?"
"Actually, he's my husband," I replied, flashing my ring before pulling up my wedding photos again. "See?"
The Heathers traded looks. "Oh, honey, there's no way those photos can be real," another Heather said with a condescending smile. "They have to have been made on Photoshop, because there's no way a guy like that would marry you!"
"Wow, I guess some people really don't change after high school," I said, putting away my phone in my purse. "Shallow as always." I looked at the people I was very likely going to consider as former friends. "And then some."
A lot of angry faces began forming, but before the claws could really come out, there was a small commotion at the entrance to the ballroom. Turning to see what the fuss was about, I saw numerous women patting their hair and striking a few flirtatious poses, as well as throwing a few glances at the door's direction.
And then he walked in…
Handsome as always in his uniform, blonde hair combed perfectly and his face tanned from wherever he'd been, I felt my heart skip a beat. Only a tiny portion of my brain asked what he was doing here, when he should have been on the other side of the world.
Taller than most of the people here, my husband made his way through the crowd, which parted before his tall figure like the Red Sea. A few women approached him openly to try and flirt, but he ignored them, those blue eyes searching everywhere for me –and when they found my own, I had to smile at the way they lit up, like the sky at noon on a sunny day.
Sighing like the love-sick girl I was, I watched him come up and edge his way through The Heathers to get to me. "Hi, beautiful," he said, giving me an apologetic smile. "Sorry I'm late."
Laughing, I got up from my chair and threw myself at him, his arms wrapping around my waist and lifting me up so that he could give me a loving kiss. A minute later, as I was lowered back to the ground and our lips parted, I had to giggle.
"I didn't think you'd come," I whispered, ignoring the stares of people around us. "I mean, you were overseas and everything…" That was all I dared to say in everyone else's hearing.
Cap merely smiled and pressed another kiss to my lips. "I got it done quickly, just so I could make it in time." He saw the glint of worry in my eyes. "It's okay; everything's wrapped up just fine. And I've got permission."
Sighing, I snuggled happily against his chest. "You get major points for good timing, too."
He laughed as music began to play. "Well, a soldier has to have good timing; it's a requirement." There was a brief pause. "Especially while dancing."
Listening carefully, I noticed that the music was a slow song. "Oh, yes, of course," I teased. "Well, Captain, shall we dance?"
We both exchanged grins as he led me out onto the dance floor to join the other couples.
"I think I made a lot of enemies tonight," I whispered as I snuggled up against Cap's shoulder, the two of us watching those on the dance floor move to a fast song.
Turning his head slightly, I saw an amused smile form on his lips before he pressed a kiss to my forehead. "Really? Why do you say that?"
"Because before your timely arrival, I was about to get into a major fistfight with a group of people," I said, squeezing the hand I'd been holding. "They didn't believe that I was married to a great guy like you."
I glanced at the far corner of the room, where my soon-to-be former friends were glaring at me. "I also told them how shallow they were acting, and they didn't like it."
Cap actually chuckled. "Well, no one likes hearing that," he agreed, "But in this case, it looks like the truth. Besides, people change over time, and maybe they changed for the worse."
I didn't like the idea of Kaylee changing so much, but then, we had drifted apart after I'd left for New York. "And some people change for the better," I softly replied, looking at him. "I know you've made me better."
He smiled and held me close. "I could say the same about you."
"Aw, aren't you guys cute," said a sarcastic, snarky voice from our left. Turning, I saw it was a Heather, her little black dress hugging her tightly as her arms crossed over her chest. "But seriously, I do have to give you props for putting on such a great performance. You should give me the number of your acting company, in case I have to be desperate enough to hire a husband for a night."
Cap immediately stiffened; a clear sign that he was ready to throw a punch at something. I quickly put a hand on his arm, silently telling him that things would be fine. "It's okay," I assured him. "Some people just can't help how stupid and blind they are to the obvious."
Heather looked insulted, just like I knew she would. "You're calling me stupid? You're the one who-"
"Quiet," Cap snapped at her, getting to his feet. "You and everyone here have insulted not only me, but also my wife. If you want to act like a spoiled child, go ahead. But we're leaving." He turned towards me. "Shall we?"
Yes, we should! I happily took his hand and let him lead me through the crowds to the door. I was tempted to look back, but knew it wouldn't be a good idea –my old friends weren't who they used to be, and it was best for me to leave everything I'd shared with them back in the past.
'I've got new friends, though,' I reminded myself, 'and they're a heck of a lot better at it than this group!'
Out we went, with Cap leading me straight to a very slick and expensive luxury limo. Waiting by the passenger door was a driver that was obviously a SHIELD agent –when you've been around them long enough, it's not that hard to spot who worked for Fury and his agency.
"Where'd you get this?" I asked as the driver held the door open for me.
Cap shrugged. "Director Fury wanted to apologize for taking me away so close to your reunion. And since we've got it for the night, I think a nice evening drive and a stop for ice cream sounds like a good idea; don't you?"
Grinning, I got in the car and pulled out my cell, activating JT through it as an idea hit me. "JT, can you do me a favor?" I asked as Cap got in. "And Cap, tell the driver to wait a few minutes, would you?"
He gave me a confused look, but did as I asked while I voiced my request to JT. When my husband heard what I wanted, he looked like he wanted to protest, but thought the better of it when I insisted that no one would get hurt.
A minute later, the fire alarm in the rented area went off, and people started streaming out of the emergency doors, all of them dripping wet. Some women were screaming in anger over their ruined clothes and hair; others were yelling curses as they tried to wring out their clothes. But feel satisfied as the limo began pulling away.
Snuggling up against Cap's shoulder, I looked out the window at the passing city lights and couldn't help but wonder what other interesting and entertaining things the future held in store for us…
AN: The end! I hope that everyone enjoyed sharing the adventures of Steve and Adena. I'm not sure which genre or category I'll head off to after this, but keep a sharp eye open –I can pop up in the weirdest of places! Thanks again; and please be kind and review.