She paused, the professional gliding aside to show him soft eyes and a smile that was ever so slightly tearful with relief on finding him in one piece and with relative ease. Her fingers turned in his grasp, caressing against his palm tenderly. "You didn't really think I was going to wait a full two weeks, did you?" she asked him gently. "I love you, Steve. I'm too selfish to let go of that, even for a little while."
"I told you I'd come for you, Luce. I meant to keep my promise." It hadn't been two weeks yet, and so they'd never know if he'd have kept it or not, but from the looks of things the last few days, it would have been a while yet before he'd have allowed himself to forgo his duty and think about his private life. "I thought you might have changed your mind," he quietly admitted his own fears, which were not so very different from hers, and he leaned closer, his heart racing in his chest, feeling as though it might sprout wings and fly at her declaration of love. "I love you, Lucy. I won't ever let you go." It was his turn to kiss her, a kiss as fervid as hers had been, just as full of love and longing.
"I know you did," she assured him. "But I was afraid ..." She trailed off as his fears, so similar to hers, came to light, foregoing her assessment of him to rest her forehead against his. "After Johnny told me about Captain America, I got scared that maybe I wasn't enough for you," she admitted herself, perching on the arm of the chair he sat in. "I came as soon as I could." His kiss silenced her, tendrils of her hair fallen free to tickle at his cheeks as his mouth claimed hers, as her fingers stroked lovingly against his jaw, offering him just the barest suggestion of tender sound to stifle with his affection. But she didn't linger too long, drawing back with a vaguely embarrassed look in her eyes. "But I need to assess you. Broken ribs are dangerous, baby - I need to get to skin to listen to your chest."
So, she at least knew who he was now, but it didn't seem to matter. She was here, nonetheless, and had said she loved him, even so. There were questions in his eyes, wondering what had happened after he'd left, just as she probably wondered the same about him, but there would be time for answers later, except for one question that couldn't wait, a question she'd asked him to save until she saw him again. The most important question a man could ever ask a woman.
His ribs could wait. They weren't going anywhere, though he knew he couldn't ignore them forever. Every breath was painful, every movement agonizing, but there was something more important at stake here, and he needed to know now. He reached for her hands, taking them between his own. "You told me to ask you again in New York. Will you marry me, Lucy? Would you be my wife? Please say yes," he pleaded, barely above a whisper, holding his breath while he awaited her answer.
She was in the midst of protesting against his delaying her diagnosis when the question sank into her overtired mind. Overtired and deeply relieved, her initial reaction probably wasn't quite what he was hoping for. She burst into tears. Not the delicate, pretty tears of your typical romantic heroine, oh no. These were hearty, blubbering sniffles that expressed her weariness and upset, relief and joy, all at once. She couldn't quite believe that, despite the pain he had to be in, he'd remembered that promise so quickly. "Of course I will, you stupid man," she heard herself sniff through the gale of weepy happiness, pulling one hand free to snatch up a tissue and at least try to dry her face a little. "But please let me look at you before you book the church."
For the first time in forever, he let someone else see his own tears brimming in his eyes and spilling over onto his cheeks, laughing with happiness even as his tears mirrored hers. He felt flooded with relief and happiness, mingled with pain and exhaustion, an emotional release after over a week of almost constantly driving himself nearly to the end of his mental and physical limits. "Is that a yes?" he continued, with a silly smile on his face, tears leaving streaks in the dirt and mud. If he wasn't in pain, he might have swept her off her feet and swung her around in circles, but that, too, would have to wait.
Lucy almost whimpered at his silly inability to understand plain English, cradling his jaw in her hands as she nuzzled to him. "Yes, it's a yes," she whispered to him through her calming tears, touching one kiss, two, against his lips. But abruptly, and not taking no for an answer this time, she snapped back into doctor-mode and slipped from the arm of the chair, reaching to unbuckle his belt and unfasten the clips holding the top part of his uniform to the bottom. "This is going to be painful to get off," she warned him, beginning the process of peeling the cloth upward over his bruised torso.
Almost distracted by the kiss, not to mention the bliss he was feeling at the answer to his question, he nonetheless couldn't help but wince as she started the process of peeling away the suit that S.H.I.E.L.D. had provided and had seemed to think was an improvement on the original he'd worn so many years before. He held his breath, but that only made the pain worse, and he wondered if he should stop trying to breathe at all. "I can't... remember when..." He trailed off, giving up on the attempt to explain, until the torture was over.
Wincing sympathetically, Lucy worked the skin-tight armored cloth up and over Steve's head, tossing it onto the bed like so much dirty rag as she unlooped her stethoscope from about her neck, breathing on the metal to warm it up. "Just breathe steadily for me," she told him, crouching once again to set the metal against his chest, listening carefully for any sign that his lungs had been damaged by the breaking of his ribs. She was fairly sure she wasn't supposed to feel this relieved when she didn't pick up anything but normal, healthy lung sounds, looping the stethoscope at her neck once again to lay her hands directly over the offending ribs. "What I wouldn't give for an X-ray right about now," she muttered to herself.
The uniform was pretty much a dirty rag by now anyway and needed a good cleaning as much as he did. What he wouldn't give for a hot bath right about now, but first things first, and his job wasn't through yet. Breathe steadily, he thought. You've gotta be kidding me. He breathed as steadily as he could, breaths catching painfully, but it didn't sound like there was any serious internal damage done. "I'll be fine, Luce. Just wrap me up and let me get back out there. I've got work to do." His shoulders tensed when he felt her fingers touch his side, steeling himself for the pain that was an inevitable response to her poking and prodding.
"If you go out and carry on with broken ribs, you'll end up puncturing your lungs and other vital organs, and then how much use do you think you'll be?" she informed him sternly. "I'm not going to tape those up, that'll do more harm than good. I am going to try and give you some pain medication, but God knows if it'll work. Whatever happens, you are resting for the remainder of the night, and I will check you again in the morning, Captain, are we clear?"