1964-08-04 - Well, here's the thing
Summary: Steve tells Jack about some things. Then Jack ups the ante.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
jack steve-rogers 

It's noon in New York City. All the regular lunch hunts are abuzz with activity. In a way, the numbers grant Jack some semblance of security — there's safety in numbers. Sometimes, anyways. But ever since she's returned to New York, she looks over her shoulder more. Almost constantly. With a small quirk of her lips she shifts in line. Ever the lines in the lunch brigade. She had almost forgot about this pattern — the constancy of needing to line up in New York.

Her eyes turn towards the door before turning forward once again. The loose-fitting black dress she wears really does seem to make her fade into the crowd; just another face waiting for lunch.

"Hey," Steve says as he approaches from the entrance and smiles when he sees her. Things are awkward. He is awkward. His hands go into his pockets as he pretends to read over the menu as if he doesn't already know what he's going to get. "The sandwiches are all good. So are the salads," he says offhandedly, trying to spark up a conversation.

The spark of recognition at the greeting prompts an easy curl of Jack's lips that turns a stitch uncertain moments later. "Right. I used to come here at lunch with half the secretary pool — " her smile falters. Her head shakes. "Anyways." She presses her lips together tightly, locking down whatever awkward conversation she has waiting in the wings. And then it happens, the all-too-easy solution to all of Jack's awkwardness that mostly makes other people uncomfortable, "Did you know that every year 15% of people who eat luncheon meat actually get food poisoning? And of that 15% about 25% get food poisoning?" She lifts a hand into her scout's honour pose. "But the odds of it happening more than once — uh the food poisoning, not the death — are something like 0.05%. So the chances of dying from it if you've had it before are actually worse than dying by being squished by a vending machine." She can feel her cheeks warm. This is probably not what she should be talking about.

Steve smiles as the weight sort of lifts from his shoulders. Back when they lived together he used to like to just hear her talk about normal things. Not everything needed to be something about HYDRA or Dr. Doom. Sometimes it is just nice to have a talk about the world and a world that doesn't need saving. "I wonder why those statistics are occurring. Maybe it's at the factory level; maybe it's people leaving it out too long?" He pats his stomach, "Good thing I have an iron stomach, I guess."

"Both likely," Jack replies easily enough. "Less common than theft though." Her lips twitch upwards on one side into a kind of lopsided mischievous smirk. "So, insuring a person from food poisoning isn't exactly worthwhile. It's not likely unless you're a famously bad cook." She shrugs. "And yeah, you're lucky to have the iron stomach. I'm really not so iron-stomached. Like. Really not." She quirks an eyebrow at that. "But then, I'm pretty sure you already know that."

"Well, I have already apologized for that," Steve says as he tilts his head down towards her and looks at her out of the corner of his eye. "That was probably too much wine and not enough food. Sometimes with my condition I don't realize. Especially given that I'm about twice as big as you are."

"What I lack in size, I make up for in personality," Jack's eyes sparkle with unbridled mischief. "And tenacity. And… math?" Her fingers splay over her mouth to stifle a would be chuckle. "Maybe. Mom always used to say that I'm just more concentrated. Like orange juice. Or more powerful." Her eyes narrow into a feline expression, "Not really convinced that's the case though. There's little question I haven't the physical presence to intimidate well, anyone."

"And beauty," Steve interjects as she talks. "And wonderful taste in men," he adds, again. He gives her a long look. "I'm not so sure that's the case. Have you kept up with your training?"

There's another flush of Jack's cheeks at the compliment and a quick roll of her eyes at the taste in men. The long look though causes her expression to fall some. "Probably more than I'd like to admit," she murmurs softly. And then defiantly with another quirk of her lips, she pokes his chest, "And what about you? Training lots, Captain Rogers? Or relying on your laurels?" she bats her eyelashes innocently.

"Well, my social life wasn't quite as fun anymore, so I put more effort into lifting. I suppose we'll see how much it's helped," Steve says, grinning as she taps at him. "You can't ever rest on your laurels," he adds.

Jack blinks owlishly and inhales a long slow breath. "I…" her cheeks flush. "It was supposed to be three weeks," she finally offers. "They promised me three weeks." She swallows hard and shoves her hands into her pockets. But with that said she turns her gaze up to him, "So. Lots of lifting. What else have you been up to? I mean… besides saving the world."

"I'm just glad you're alright," Steve mutters amicably, not wanting her to feel any guilt. "Not much. Really just a lot of manual labor putting the Mansion together. I used up all of my back pay to purchase it and then did a lot of the labor myself as a way to save money for the Shadow and Iron Man." His face wrinkles. "A lot of tile setting. I dream in worlds of tiles."

There's a slight quirk of Jack's head followed by a lift of her eyebrows. "So, you… bought a fixer upper. Projects are good," she clasps her hands behind her back as her weight shifts from one foot to the other. Her throat clears, "I'm glad you've got all of this going on. I bet it feels… good to be with folks like that," she shrugs. And then it's there turn to order, "Uh. I'll just have … " her eyes widen momentarily as she scans the menu, as if suddenly remembering something she'd forgotten, "…uh egg salad on rye, I guess? Uh. Please." She looks towards Steve expectantly.

Steve reaches into his pocket and pulls out his billfold. I don't know why I write it as billfold, because I always use wallet, but my grandparents call it a billfold and that's what we're going to use today. He looks up at the menu, "I'll take a pastrami on wheat, please." Not giving her an option, he plops down the money and looks to her with a faint smile. "They're a good group and we get along really great. Things went a little haywire in Latveria but we made it through."

"What on earth happened in Latveria?" Jack's eyes narrow slightly as she draws her arms around herself slowly. "I mean, I read a bit in the papers. Just a little," she shrugs slightly, "I wasn't really supposed to keep communication or, well, anything with anyone. Not really. It was nice to hear anything about you." Her lips part to say something only to close again as she manages a mischievous smile followed by a shrug.

Steve smiles a bit sheepishly at her comment about hearing things about him. The food comes and he grabs the tray and leads them towards a seat near the window. "Long story short, Doom was responsible for the terror attack." He leaves the part out where Bucky actually killed him, shot him through the neck, before he was revived by a teammate. "We stopped him from doing more." Steve takes a seat with a worried look. He looks out the window until she sits down.

Jack slides easily into the seat, smoothing her dress as she moves. Her expression softens at the worry writ on Steve's face. "Are you… is…" finally she lands on, "What's wrong?" It doesn't exactly give an out of the question. Habitually, she peers over her shoulder again, and she she releases a long slow breath followed by the slightest edgings of a smile, concerned, but present.

"Listen," Steve says with a sigh. "I don't know how to tell you this, so I'm just going to tell you." He takes a deep breath, "On a mission to find Bucky I shared a bed with a woman. Nothing happened, but I really think you should know. A few weeks later she tried to kiss me and I let her." His eyebrows raise, "I wouldn't have done that, obviously, had I thought I was ever going to see you again."

Sometimes people ask Jack why she didn't pursue law instead of actuarial science. They were closely aligned. Two logical disciplines. Two places where dispassionate thought could mean the difference between a win and a loss. But it's moments like these where it becomes so apparent. The insurance adjuster can respond to your pain. They can act like your claim is ridiculous and scoff accordingly. They can cry if the situation merits it. The lawyer needs a poker face.

Jack Pace has never had a poker face.

Her expression tightens. Each feature finds that stiff, almost plastic mold. And in an instant she feels more doll than woman. Even when her words manage to stay even, her face speaks truth, "…I see."

Her head turns towards the window. "I…" her eyebrows draw together tightly. "…huh." She finally lands on. Eloquence was not always her forte.

Steve sighs and shakes his head. "I didn't want to hurt you. And, to be honest, I didn't think to mention it because it wasn't a big deal. She and I did not end up together, but it dawned on me just now that if we were in a reverse position, I would want to know."

There's a pause that follows Steve's explanation, followed by a slow, very-considered question, "Did you want to end up with her?" It's hard to parse exactly what Jack means, leaving things incredibly vague. Her hands scrub her face and she emits a soft breath. "Please be honest with me, was this… a bad idea?" Her features tighten some with something she's been holding onto for awhile. "It was supposed to be three weeks," she says to the egg salad instead of Steve. "Only three weeks." She chews her bottom lip.

Steve shakes his head, "No, I didn't. She's a great person and deserves to find someone. But her and I are just not a good fit for a couple of reasons. One of them being that I wasn't really over you, and that's not fair to start something." He shakes his head, "I'm sorry, I thought you weren't coming back."

There's a pause that follows the apology. "Steve, I didn't come back to eschew any happiness you could find apart from me. Honestly." Jack's lips purse lightly as she considers the thought. "But I didn't…" her eyes lid again and she releases a sigh. "You don't need to apologize. I left. I mean, I left under weird circumstances, but I left."

"You're not eschewing any happiness, Jack. You're everything to me. This isn't something where I would be setting aside happiness for you. When you left I struggled with how to move on. I also, and again I didn't think about this until now, asked someone on a date to get out there and just try and have fun." Steve chuckles, "Turns out she was married, but that's a long story."

"Are you sure?" There's a pause that follows. "I can go back to the dusty hole the DA left me in. They wish I was still there, I think." Jack's lips press together. "And for weeks I thought about coming back. I just…" Jack presses a hand to her forehead. "The chances of running into someone you know just completely by chance in New York City on any given outing are between 15-30% depending on the size of your network. If someone is looking for you and has vast resources? That bumps up a lot. But I need to face the facts. I'm impetuous and make decisions based on my heart not my head." Which may beg further questions. A smirk follows the story about the married woman and she shakes her head. "That sounds like a story I'd like to hear, Captain Rogers."

"I am sure. I want to be with you, and if it doesn't work out then I at least want to know that I tried," Steve replies. "I'm not going to tell you how to feel or try and encourage some sort of deal out of you. That's what I want and that isn't going to change." He sits back and chuckles, "Well, there's this spy, you see. And, I didn't realize that this spy was married to this other spy. And I also didn't realize I knew the guy, working with him when I helped out at SHIELD. It was pretty embarrassing."

Jack cringes but can't help smiling at the spy-ordeal. "That sounds pretty embarrassing," her eyes light slightly at the notion and she lightly presses her fingers to her lips as if to conceal her smile from the world at it. "Nothing so exciting happened while I was gone." Her eyes narrow slightly, "I did have this creepy neighbour who timed his comings and goings around my shifts at the diner and always felt the need to remark on the length of my skirt and when he thought it was shorter," her eyes roll at that. "But. That's about it. Well, and randoms just flirting with their waitress." She leans forward and lowers her voice, "Also, I learned I am a terrible waitress. I got everyone's orders wrong. I still got tipped a lot. But I have no idea why."

"Probably your eyes," Steve deadpans with a shrug. "But that's good to know. I'll take the orders if our lives ever come to that. I'm good at taking orders. And giving them. Honestly I have a whole thing about orders. It goes with the alter ego," he adds. "I don't need to go and pound anyone do I?" he says as a joke. He's joking, right?

Jack laughs at the would-be joke (it is a joke, right?) and seems to treat it as such. "Nah. It was mostly harmless. Besides the creepy neighbour. Honestly, he noticed way too much. More than I did." Her cheeks flush at that and she takes in another long breath. "And good. You can take the orders. I'm not an awful cook anymore. I had to help in the kitchen some. So. That's a bonus." She flashes him a larger grin that gets tamed some. "When we first met… I asked you something about what you want from life. I mean, you were frozen in ice and came back and have a chance to pursue almost anything. You didn't really know then — " her eyebrows draw together " — if I'm recalling correctly?" she might not be. "But. What about now?"

"When I was a kid, President Harding talked about returning to 'normalcy' after World War I. My dad used to talk about how important it was that you kind of have to put the war behind you. And on some level I will never be able to do that. But on another level, sometimes I just want a bit of normalcy. Which isn't a word." He takes a breath, "I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. It's what I'm good at. It's what I'm best at. And it's what gives my life value to others. But, sometimes it's just nice to hear about the statistics involved in motor vehicle accidents on the highways versus the interstates."

There's a flicker of a smile at the mention of the statistics followed by an easy nod of Jack's head. "My roommates used to tell me that was morbid," she offers with a stifled chuckle. Slowly she reaches across the table beyond her still-untouched sandwich to squeeze Steve's hand. "I…" she starts and then hesitates. "I know that you have some kind of higher purpose that I," her head shakes slightly. "I'm just in insurance. I don't rescue people. I mean, I'm learning and training, but I'm not," her head tilts and she shrugs. "I don't want you to feel some strange obligation to work things out just because I'm back or because…" her thought trails off.

"This isn't misguided hope," Steve replies. "I love you and I need to see it through as long as you're willing to," he adds. "You're not just an insurance agent, even if being an insurance agent was something to be dismissed. You've rescued me. A couple of times."

"Okay," comes Jack's quiet response. Her expression falters. Her lips turn downwards and her fingers slide back to her side of the table. "So. You asked me why I left. Several times, actually. It really had nothing to do with us." Her tongue slowly rolls over her lips. "But you didn't ask why I came back. Why now. They still haven't brought charges against… that guy," she frowns. "The case is hardly complete." Her eyes turn upwards. "I… I missed you fiercely, but I kept being reassured it was just another week. I could stand one more. I could always stand one more. But." Her cheeks puff out. "A couple weeks ago, it came to a head for me. And it wasn't fair to you to let them keep delaying a talk. This talk." There's a pause that follows. "I'm pregnant."

Steve falls back into his chair a bit with his mouth agape. "Wow, I mean…" he exhales in a laugh and runs his hands through his hair. "I mean, really?" He had always the serum had made that sort of thing an impossibility. He squeezes her hand, still clearly in shock.

"Uh… yeaaaah. Well probably?" Jack squints at that. "There's a strong chance. I mean, there's a possibility not. It's like 30%/70%. So. Could still go either way." She rocks her hand at that. "Sorry. I do probabilities. It's a thing. And bodies are weird under stress and… so it's likely, I guess."

Steve stands, abruptly, and moves over to her side of the table in order to give her a hug, assuming she will let him. He has now completely forgotten about the whole lunch part of it. "I can't believe it. What do you need? I don't know anything about this sort of thing."

Jack blinks blankly at Steve and then mirrors his posture, standing and reciprocating the hug. "I don't really need anything, I don't think," her nose wrinkles at the end of that. "Not really. I mean, I wanted to talk to you before it's… it's already weird," she finally manages. "Assuming that probability scale tips further then it was just going to get weirder to try to talk to you about it."

Steve shakes his head, "Why is it weird?" He seems completely oblivious. "This is great. I mean, this is the best news. Have you seen the doctor?"

"Welllllll…" Jack really extends the word at the question. "It's more the whole I disappeared for awhile and now I'm back and obligation and… things. Maybe. Unless it's not weird?" Her head cants at Steve. "No doctors yet. I was in narrow-minded nowheresville Arizona. I really didn't need that kind of trouble."

"Well, right away tomorrow I think we need to go to the doctor. If you're worried about doing that around here we can take a train to New Jersey or upstate or wherever. Long Island, I don't really care. But you need to get examined. I don't know much but I know that's important."

"Yeah… that might be good," Jack's expression continues to verge on hesitant. "I mean upstate. Somewhere further away. A bit of space from here. Like I said, you can always run into someone you know. Always."

"Are you okay?" Steve says with raised eyebrows. "If there's more, Jack, you can be honest. It's okay."

"There isn't," Jack watches him. "I just… I mean, I've suspected for awhile, but I haven't heard it aloud. At all. Or said it. Or…. anything." Her face scrunches together. "You know when you know something but it's not real until you say it? That's — " she draws a tight circle with her finger indicating that's right now.

Steve smiles happily, "Well if you are, it's great." He puts his arm around her, holding her tightly towards him. "You should probably eat. And, if you want, you can have some of mine." It's the 1960s, that's how they roll.

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