The Arrangement - Part 3

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A couple of nights after he calls me baby... obviously on accident, I wake to the bed shaking a bit and some noises I can't immediately recognize. I prop myself up to make out Steve's shape in the dark. He's on his back with his head turning side to side and I realize he's having a nightmare.

"Steve?" I whisper.

He doesn't hear me. His forehead is wrinkled in distress and I know he's fine but it really scares me. I'm not at all used to seeing him helpless.

"Steve?" I call out a little louder. I gently press his shoulder and move my hand up to his cheek. "Steve, it's okay, come back."

He finally opens his eyes and I don't think he recognizes me right away.

"It's okay, Steve, it's a nightmare," I say, trying to be soothing. His hand reaches up to grip my arm, where my hand is still on his shoulder, and he rubs it back and forth. He nods his head at me before getting up to go to the bathroom and splash cold water on his face.

When he comes back to crawl towards me on the bed, I'm sitting there holding my knees.

"I'm okay," he says, trying to reassure me.

"Need to talk?" I ask as he lays down next to me. I reach back to scratch his head lightly. I really want to be comforting because I hated seeing him like that.

"It was just... another nightmare about Bucky," he sighs.

I look at him in the dim light and he realizes maybe I don't know a lot about this particular topic. We sit and talk in the dark, whispering back and forth to each other, face to face. My heart is filled with admiration for this man who has been through so much but still has such a big heart and offers it to everyone. I fall asleep later feeling so protective of him and now, also, the old best friend he's just told me all about.

Our nights of peaceful sleep together continue and my days seem to get brighter and better. It's been almost two weeks. I keep wondering if I should go to his room on the nights it's my turn to go to him but the fact that he keeps coming to me on the other nights tells me he obviously still finds this reasonable. Every other night, I wait to see if this is the time he doesn't show up.

This arrangement seems to be bringing us closer together during the day as well, though we're careful around everyone else. Because how do you explain this to them? Tony'd have a field day with all the teasing. I asked Steve to wake me up every morning that we're in his room so I can scoot back to my room while he goes for his run. But the mornings we wake in my room, he gives me a little rub on the shoulder and says goodbye. It's really very sweet.

I'm realizing just how sweet Steve is and I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about him in a more romantic way now... which I'm not sure I have the right to do. I think he's just trying to be a good friend to me here. He's always there to lean on, to talk to, to warm me up. I'm the new girl who needs some coddling and he's going the extra mile. He's a good leader, there's no question about that.

There's a storm brewing in my mind now as I think about the dates on the calendar. My body knows it, my brain knows it. I just don't know how my mouth is going to handle it. I think I'll put it off for as long as I can.

Aaaaaaaand there it is.

Steve taps on my door and I let him in, I know he realizes something's off already just by the look on his face. "What's wrong?" he asks tenderly, trying to get me to look at him.

I sigh long and hard. "This is probably something that you don't want to know or talk about but I just have to tell you because I'm not going to lie to you..." I look at him and his face is full of concern. "I got my period today," I say, looking away from him finally.

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