Chapter 8 - Homeward Bound

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-March 18, 2017, morning-

Natasha stood in the bedroom window and looked at the ocean's small waves break onto the sand. She heard Steve walk in the room behind her and walk towards her. "Everything is waiting in the entryway, babe," he said. "Is that last bag ready?"

"Yeah, all ready to go," she said, turning to him and sliding under his arms.

"You mean the bag's ready but you're not?" he smiled.

"I do feel a little sad," she admitted. "But, you know, at the same time, I am looking forward to getting home."

Steve leaned down to pick up the bag, "He'll be here in a couple of minutes, I'll take this down." He stopped and reached an arm around her shoulders. "Baby, you okay?"

"Yeah," she whispered.

Steve crouched down on the floor. "Come on..."

Natasha looked at him oddly.

"Hop on, you'll feel better." He gave her a charming smile.

She laughed and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, climbing on.

"Told you you'd feel better," he laughed.

"I think you're just practicing your dad skills," Natasha teased.

"Hey, practice is practice," he laughed as he carried her and the suitcase down the stairs. "I packed you some ginger ale and crackers for the plane in case you get sick again."

"Thanks, dad," she laughed and kissed his ear, which was the only thing she could reach. The doorbell chimed as Steve got to the bottom of the stairs and he let her down gently.

"Party's over," he called out jokingly as he went to open the front door.

-March 18, 2017, evening-

Natasha sat on the bed, plugging her phone charger back in from the trip. Her attention was momentarily taken away by the framed wedding photo of Steve and her on the nightstand. She was relieved she'd already unpacked everything else because she was starting to get tired. Just watching Steve was enough to make her tired. He'd been buzzing around the house with his notebook since they arrived home. She could only imagine the amount of projects he had in there so far. This was just the beginning. She smiled to herself as she started wondering where he was now. She followed a tiny noise across the hallway to the door of "the baby's room." She stood in the doorway watching him measure the walls in his work jeans and a t-shirt. Natasha always loved when he dressed in his work clothes around the house. She smiled as she got lost in her thoughts but was awakened by Steve's excited "Hi."

"What are you doing, honey?" she asked.

"Getting a jump start on the baby's room," he smiled, suddenly feeling foolish. "I know... it's early... I'm just a little excited." He slipped the tape measure in his pocket and walked towards her.

"It's cute," she smiled.

Steve walked up to her and leaned down to hold her, burying his face in her neck and kissing it. "You tired, baby?" he asked.

"Just a little tired, I'm going to go down and start dinner," she replied.

"How about pizza tonight?" he asked sweetly.

"I can cook, Steve," she said.

"I know, but not tonight... it's been a long day." He rubbed his thumb over her chin, looking her over. "How about I order pizza and pick up a movie and bring it back here? You could even get a little rest in while I'm gone."

"Yeah," she laughed, "okay. But you can't treat me like I'm going to break for the next nine months... right?"

"Right," he conceded. He started to walk past her to go call for pizza but turned back around to her. "Which wall do you like for the mural?"

"Straight ahead," she said.

"Yeah, me too. Okay, I'm off..."

Natasha watched him jog down the stairs. "Bye," she called out.

I can't believe I think I already miss him when we haven't been apart in over a week. Maybe it's just because the house seems so empty. She laughed at herself and walked to the bedroom to pick up her book and read for a little while.


Stirring to wake, Natasha was startled by a fuzzy feeling against her cheek. Her eyes flew open and she saw Steve crouching next to the bed. He had a huge grin on his face. Then another movement next to her caught her attention and she turned her head to see Steve was holding a puppy. "Oh my God! Steve!" Natasha's face lit up as she sat up on the bed. "What is this??"

"Your new furry friend," he laughed, picking the puppy up for her to get a closer look. "I was going to name her but I thought maybe you'd like to name her." He got up and sat on the bed next to her, handing Natasha the puppy.

"Where did you get this sweet little puppy?" she smiled, her mouth still practically gaping.

"There was a sign up at the pizza shop and I was looking at it and the owner asked if I was interested. When I said yes, he sent his daughter upstairs and she came back with a puppy. He said this is the last puppy and if I don't send her home with someone, my wife is going to kill me... so..."

"So you thought 'I'll take it home with me so my wife kills me'?" she tried to sound harsh but she wasn't actually angry with him. "I should be upset with you, you know."

"Yeah... I know," he sighed. "Sorry??" he lifted his shoulders and scrunched his face. "I love you...?"

Natasha hugged the puppy and kissed Steve's cheek. "I'm not mad," she said gently. She turned back to look into the little dog's eyes. "Oh my goodness," she laughed. "She is so sweet!"

"She's a goldendoodle," he said.

Natasha turned her head to look at him sharply, "This is an expensive dog, isn't it?"

"He gave me a bit of a break and I happened to have cash on me... so we came to a deal. Don't worry, it wasn't that much," Steve said, realizing he was lucky that Natasha really wasn't upset with him after he made a major decision on both their behalfs. "He said he talked his wife into breeding their dog because goldendoodles are so popular and he said they'd have no problem selling the puppies - but for some reason, the last two people who said they were going to buy one were no-shows. I just felt like it was meant to be." He put his hands under the puppy's mouth. "Look at this face, how could I say no?"

Natasha stood off the bed and cradled the little dog in her arms. She looked right in her face. With a soft voice she said, "I think I'm going to have to spend some time with you before we give you a name, you know that? You are so sweet, yes. What a sweet girl."

Steve stood up and put his arm around Natasha's shoulders. "My girls."

Natasha smiled up at him. "Your girls and baby," she said.

"Speaking of the baby, let's get some pizza in there for the baby," he said, giving her stomach a little rub.

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