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Avenger Assembled

Friend Request (IC)

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Winter 2018 

 

It wasn't exactly the Interceptors' Christmas party - but there was a tree up and lights in it, and there were children watching Christmas movies, eating cookies, sword-fighting with boffer weapons, or truly doing all of those things at once. It was a well-spent afternoon, anyway. Steve was sitting by himself on the couch in one of the upstairs bedrooms, just having finished a discussion with Yolanda about how these movies were just for babies that had left him feeling pleased at her emotional progression, when Erik entered the room. Despite the half-dozing children on the carpet by the couch (Yolanda on her phone) and the Santa hat perched incongruously on the Omegadrone's bald head, his face was serious as he asked "Does the evening go well?" 

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"Chris somehow got Talya going on the American butter thing again and Min is still convinced Raina's not eating enough but I figure having too many cookies to choose from is a pretty good problem to have," Erik updated him, gesturing with a gingerbread man with an icing domino mask and a bite mark where one arm should have been. In broken in jeans and a knit sweater the cost of which Talya had certainly failed to mention he looked much more the contented young father as he looked over the pile of children than the piano wire-taut bundle of training and instinct that Steve knew was only ever the first sign of danger away. "Looks like the troops wore themselves out, sergeant."

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"The cause was sufficient." While Yolanda gave Erik the little wave that was a sign she was in a good mood these days, Steve stroked his bare chin and said, "Erik, I would like to speak to you about your marriages." He shot a glance at the children, who weren't paying attention, and at Yolanda, who actually smiled before going back to her phone. Well no wonder, since she'd been asking about this for some time. "It is not an inappropriate question." He sat down the glass of cider that he'd been nursing and said, "The beginning. How did you accomplish the actual...transition?" 

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"Uh." Erik glanced in Yolanda's direction and briefly considered asking her to leave the room but he supposed she'd actually been present for a lot of what Steve was making about anyway. "I mean, I don't know if I'm necessarily the best one to ask, big guy. I kinda did things pretty backwards. Like, Talya and I flirted some then Min and I started living together, then had a kid, then got married, had another kid, then we started dating Talya, more kids..." He shrugged, sending gingerbread crumbs falling to the floor. "It's not like it was a single thing, more like one big, long, continuous 'transition'."

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"Yes," said Steve, putting his hand behind his head for a moment. "I know your approach to these matters was outside the boundaries of Earth-Prime's typical..." He fell silent, which was not actually common for a man raised with the rather florid speaking style of life in the Terminus.  After a moment's pause, he took a breath. With great effort, he locked his eyes on Erik's and said, "..I have purchased an engagement ring..." 

 

"Yes!" said Yolanda, pumping her fist. "I knew it!" She got up and hugged Steve, which even with the muscle she'd been putting on lately was still quite a sight to see given the differences in their size and builds. "You should do it at Christmas!" she added helpfully 

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Erik placed the remainder of the gingerbread man into his mouth and chewed while matching Steve's stoic expression while Yolanda voiced her approval. After swallowing he cleared his throat into the back of his hand and deadpanned, "Well gosh, big guy, that's super flattering and all but honestly I'm kinda full-up on spouses right now." He managed to hold back any laugh apart from a brief quirk at the corner of his mouth. Catching his niece's eye he mused, "Unless you think he meant he was going to propose to somebody else?"

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Steve looked levelly at Erik for a moment, then smiled slightly in return. "The words are as hard to hear as they are to say," he said with a nod. "But I have said them." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a jewelry box; snapping it open to reveal a band inlaid with diamonds. "The gems are buried in the metal so they will not catch while she works, and they are the gems of science, not raw earth and suffering." The ring certainly wasn't cheap, but Miss Americana could probably afford quite a bit more. "I also know," he added, "that privacy is key. There will be no public embarrassments. But beyond that...you are the friend I have who knows of these things - as a man does them." 

 

"Ladies can do them too," said Yolanda, an echo of a conversation that he knew had been had around his sister and her partner. "Right, tio?"

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"Ha, I mean, that part might be above my pay grade, Yoyo," Erik protested with a grin, raising both hands with his palms outward to ward off the girl's annoyance. Mara and his sister certainly acted like they were married but he had no desire to put himself in the middle of that conversation.

 

Leaning over the jewelry box the swordsman inspected the ring as if he had some expertise to draw upon. Something about cut and colour? "Sounds like you thought things through. Have you and the Miss talked about doing this at all? She kinda makes sure we don't know too much about her - which I can respect, obviously! Hard to get a read, is all."

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"We have rarely spoken about the future," admitted Steve. "For most of our relationship I have been of the firm belief that I would one day die in the hells of the Black Ghetto." He closed the box, speaking with the slow, deliberate cadence that said he was picking his way through the words. "But in the wake of the attack this summer, I have come to believe that I may well live a man's lifetime in this dimension. And so I want to live the life that a man does here." That was, he knew, a complicated conversation - so he steered away from it. "Miss Americana...would like to do things as women do, but there are difficulties. We should discuss it first," he agreed. "You are correct." 

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