The Girl

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Steve wasn't sure if anyone ever actually relaxed around Howard Stark. The man was full of restless energy that tended to keep him on the move, even when everyone else was exhausted. Even now, in the quiet after-lull of the latest push eastward, when the majority of the squad was snoozing and the camp was on downtime, Howard was up and busy welding something, talking to himself while he did it.

Or singing, actually. Steve recognized it as one of the tunes from 'Annie Get Your Gun' and smiled. A lot of the girls from the War Bond show had been in that musical, and he'd learned most of the libretto simply by listening to them backstage. Stark was crooning to himself, welding mask muffling the words, but Steve grinned, thinking that the song seemed perfect for the man.

After a few seconds, Howard leaned back and flipped the faceplate up, his eyes still on the seam he'd been sealing, his singing now a hum. He glanced over and realized Steve stood there, then smirked.

"Nice singing," Steve grinned back. "So this girl that you'll marry . . . is she really going to be big and hairy?"

"Made that line up," Howard assured him, dabbing at some of the beading solder that dribbled from the seam. "Sort of forgot the lyrics there. When I saw the show in New York, my mind was primarily on the little blonde selling cigars in the lobby."

Steve nodded, "So you're not actually looking for Alice the goon."

Howard laughed. "Not Alice, or Annie or even Peggy, buddy, so you can relax soldier. I'm not the type she goes for, much as I might like to be." He gave Steve a pointed glance as he set down the torch.

Steve blushed. He didn't want to, but there was always something about Stark's frankness that brought it out in him. Steve knew the facts of life; he understood damned well where babies came from, but Stark always looked as if the whole matter of sex was a game.

A game where keeping score was more fun than who won or lost.


"No, Steve, I tell you, the girl that I marry . . ." Howard sighed, "she'll be something. Someone I can't live without. Someone who won't give a damn about money but will about brains. Someone who can keep up with me and actually give a rat's ass about the future of engineering."

"That's sort of a tall order," Steve pointed out.

Howard, however, just grinned again, and pulled the welder's mask off, his dark hair sticking up slightly. "Ain't it? Don't get me wrong; dames are wonderful as I'm sure you can attest to after traveling with so many of them, but finding the one, THE one--well, that takes time."

Involuntarily, Steve glanced away, towards the tent where Peggy and the colonel were talking and smiled to himself. "For you, maybe."

Howard followed his line of sight and smirked. "Yeah, well you're the man who's been beating the odds all the way down the line, Captain America. Me, I just need to keep looking."

"She's out there," Steve agreed, feeling supportive now that it was clear Stark wasn't at all serious about Agent Carter. "I guess you will."

"Yep," Stark looked up thoughtfully. "I've checked out most of the U.S. and England, got interrupted by the Nazis when I went to Paris . . . maybe Italy ought to be next."

"We're working our way in that direction," Steve pointed out with a grin. "So why not?"

"Brains, glamour . . ."

"Spaghetti . . . It's no fondue, but . . ."

"There might be something to that," Stark nodded, his gaze wistfully amused. "I'll write that down. Thanks, Rodgers."

As Steve walked away, he heard Stark whistling, and it took him only a moment to recognize 'O Solo Mio.


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