1963-11-21 - Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes
Summary: Liv and Jack have a long, difficult conversation.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
liv jack 


A few hours after she'd gone to work the previous day, Liv had called home: there had been a capital-I Incident and, while everyone was safe and okay, she would probably not be making it home at a reasonable hour, so please don't wait up worrying.

Oh, yeah. And Steve was fine. She made sure to stress that point. Steve? Was fine.

It's approaching one in the morning when Liv finally makes it home, locking the door behind herself. The front of her suit has a number of new, small holes in it, but she seems to be fine. Just tired.

*

Sitting at the table with a light shining directly on her arm, hovering only inches from it, Jack has a needle and thread in hand as she rather carefully stitches two ends of skin together. The wound is small, but clearly present, and probably too deep to heal itself with any real meaning.

She straightens as the door opens, but unlike Max, she can't just disappear, which is likely why she sets the end of the scarf overtop it (with the rest still securely fastened around her neck). She whistles sharply and looks towards the door, "Heeeey." Nothing to see here.

*

Liv echoes the "Heeeey," before she looks, still occupied with dropping her keys into their usual spot by the door. Once she turns around, though, she blinks once and just eyes Jack for a moment, her expression unchanging. She has enough experience with Jack, and with humans in general, that she is not fooled.

But Liv doesn't yell, either. She just sighs quietly and crosses the room, dragging one of the chairs over next to Jack's before continuing on to the kitchen sink. "Let me help you with that," she murmurs.

The motion that accompanies removing her jacket and rolling up her sleeves sends a few crushed bullets clattering to the kitchen floor. Liv just grunts in mild irritation and washes her hands.

*

Jack moves the edge of the scarf and shrugs lightly. There's nothing to explain. Or maybe there is, but she's not readily offering an explanation. Instead, her mind goes to, "Mom wanted to invite you all to Providence for Thanksgiving. I said we'd do our own thing here." Pause. "Which means I probably have to make an appearance at home this weekend." She frowns slightly as she holds out the needle and thread to Liv.

*

"That was kind of her." Liv dries her hands and steps back to the table, settling into the chair as she accepts the needle and thread. She's never stitched herself up before, but when all of your friends are mortals… she's done this before. She glances briefly to Jack's face before getting started. "Maybe you should ask Steve to go with you this weekend..? That would probably earn you some Mom Points."

*

"I might," Jack replies. "She does want to meet him. So do all of the brothers," of which Jack has many. She sniffs lightly, "But yes, she wants you both," presumably Liv and Max, "to come for a visit soon. I'm giving you a head's up mostly because if you don't go see her, she will come here. And I'm not sure that's wise." For so many reasons.

*

Liv makes a low noise that suggests she agrees with that assessment, her lips pursing. "We'll make the time. Maybe for Christmas?" she suggests, head tilting slightly to one side. "I can see about some time off, it would probably be easier to get if it coincides with a holiday."

Once Liv's finished with the stitches, she very carefully lays a hand over Jack's arm. "…Jack. Do you want me to ask? Or would you prefer that I do not?"

*

Jack's eyes squint and she nods. "Smart. Having her come here could be far more trouble than it's worth. Plus, I'd rather not worry her. I mean, it's bad enough that she reads the New York news." She can feel her lips curve down into a frown. The question has Pace wrinkling her nose, "Well. Do you want to ask? Ignorance really can be bliss. I know that you know that. I'm pretty sure it's why I didn't know you were an Asgardian for like… ever. Because I'm assuming you were always an Asgardian."

*

"That wasn't 'ignorance is bliss' so much as a kind of 'I ran away from home, never plan to go back, and surely my people won't show up down the street and make my life a living hell, so what does it matter' situation." Liv smiles wryly and shrugs a shoulder, reaching up to affectionately muss Jack's hair. "Of course I want to ask. I care about you, and I worry."

*

"It was a bit," Jack insists. "I mean, I know you didn't think it would come to your doorstep, but in choosing not to tell us?" her nose wrinkles. "You could've said something, but didn't. I'm not upset about that anymore, by the way. I think I get it a bit. Especially since," Sullivan. Jack wouldn't want to be tied to that guy either. "But if it's any comfort, I know you're not certifiable."

She smoothes her hair after it's mussed, and her expression takes on a playful pout. "Well! I'm just trying not to be so…. powerless in all of this anymore." Her cheeks puff out with irritation, and her lips twist to the side, "Over a week ago an assassin came to Steve's house. It was bad."

*

Liv just makes a tired noise. "Hold your opinion on that one, Jack. I'm beginning to worry that I am cartifiable." It's a more comforting option than everyone around her in a position to make policy being the crazy ones.

With a grunt, she leans back in her chair and looks down at herself, poking at one of the holes in the front of her shirt as Jack mentions an assassin. "I don't suppose it was a brown-haired man, was it?" she asks lightly, lifting her eyes to Jack again. "…you were there. I'm sorry. He kept you safe?"

*

"…no." Pause. "But that sounds oddly specific." And something Jack will have to trail back to. "It was a woman. She had these weird purple knives and one of them," went into her brain. That's probably not worth discussing, and so she finishes the thought, "was left behind." She hmmms quietly. "But Steve thought I needed to learn to protect myself better. Which," she inhales a long breath, "between Dracula, the weird vampires around New York, strangers breaking into our apartment, and now an assassin…? Yeah. It seems weirdly smart."

*

"I did offer to teach you to fight," Liv notes in a lightly teasing voice, but there is something around the edge of her eyes there. Of course Jack has finally taken steps to do it because her boyfriend said it was a good idea, what does Liv know. She runs a hand over her face, frowning thoughtfully as she peers down at the table.

*

"Oh, I haven't forgotten," Jack returns. "I wasn't ready. Getting almost vamp'd didn't exactly inspire me to leave the house except for work. Don't know if you noticed, but I've basically been a hermit," until recently. "Work. And home. That's it. Because it's easier to be at work or at home. And not to deal with, well. Everything. But seriously. One of Steve's friends was shot and almost killed recently too. Honestly, I'm not okay feeling so powerless all the time."

*

"Yes, you were a hermit right up until you stopped coming home at all," Liv grunts, loosely folding her arms and drumming her fingers against her biceps. "We're not very good at being friends, are we?" she murmurs tiredly, glancing up towards the ceiling. "I feel like I should be more upset about how dangerous your boyfriend's life is, how dangerous it would be for you to get swept up in. But that would be rather hypocritical of me. Although…" Her gaze slides over to rest on Jack's new stitches.

*

"I called," Jack declares. "Yeah, maybe I should've checked in again, but I didn't know if the assassin knew or… knows(?)…" she cringes "…anything about me. I'm guessing now that no news is good news." Probably. Who really knows? "And besides, I'm tired of being powerless. It's hard. I know you don't get it, but it is hard. It's like having nothing to offer while being on a boat sinking in the middle of the Atlantic. And I'm not saying having some ability isn't hard. I just know what it's like to be me, and it's brutal to rely on everyone else to keep you safe."

*

Slowly, Liv holds up her hand, and something in her expression changes. "Wait. You didn't know if the assassin knew anything about you, and this is the first we're hearing of her?" she asks slowly, her eyes rising up to Jack's face. She looks… baffled. Shocked. Hurt. "Jack. What the hell?"

*

"Well." No, it's probably wise to say nothing else on that front, and so Jack just keeps her peace. "Look. I stayed away for awhile to keep everyone safe. Or as safe as possible. Just in case. It was precautionary more than anything else," plus she was pretty sure she was counted as little more than collateral damage in the whole thing. "I'm fine. Seriously. Fine."

*

"No, Jack — what if she had known?" Liv presses, straightening up in her chair. "She might have come here to look for the two of you, and Max and I would have had no idea," she says firmly, her jaw tightening. "For God's sake, Jack, this isn't just about you."

*

Jack's expression deadens. She'd calculated that probability earlier, and the chances were so slim, it really didn't seem worth worrying her roommates. "Sometimes calling is a problem. Getting in touch is a problem. Being here meant it was more likely to be a problem than not. I made a judgment call. ANd it ended up being relatively good. It's not like a motley crew broke into our apartment."

*

Liv's expression doesn't deaden. Quite the opposite, in fact — her eyes flash and her lip curls in a silent snarl, not bothering to hide her irritation. "When I made a mistake, I apologized for it and offered to move out. You told me not to. And you don't get to keep using other peoples' actions to make me feel like shit every time we talk," she says darkly, pushing herself to her feet.

*

While Liv snarls, logic and stoicism rule Jack's expression. It's strangely familiar, but only seen once or twice in the apartment; the last time was when Liv had told them about her heritage… and Jack had taken the dog for a long walk. Jack slides away from the table. "It wasn't intended like that. Truly." There's a pause. "Here's the thing, I'm sorry you're upset, but I'm not sorry about the choice. Honestly, I wouldn't change the decision I made. And, at least, for once, I made a decision." The stoicism remains. "But if you need me to, I can go."

*

"Did you even try to call? Even once?" Liv asks sharply, raising her eyebrows at Jack. "Or was even trying to warn us too much of a 'problem'?" She folds her arms tightly across her chest, clearly trying to calm herself down and having… difficulty. With everything that's happened since October, and now this..? Something was bound to give, sooner or later. "You don't need to leave," she says flatly. "But you do need to acknowledge that I'm not the only one here who has made a stupid decision. I'm just the only one who has felt compelled to apologize for it, and not with some 'I'm sorry you're upset' non-apology."

*

ROLL: Jack +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 39

*

Jack's eyes narrow, "I did." She pinches the bridge of her nose, shakes her head, and packs up everything she'd set out on the table. But she's also allowing that same evenness to carry her. She sighs — a soft sound that carries with it some weight. And for a few beats, she stares at her roommate, as if considering something. And, in all likelihood, it's probably mathematic. For a few beats she stares at Liv before allowing her gaze to drop. Whatever she aims to say is given to silence, and the mousy brunette trails towards to her room.

*

Liv's eyes narrow almost imperceptibly at that silent stare. Oh hell no. "You're running the odds on something," she says lowly, peering after Jack's retreating back. "On how likely I am to just roll over and let this go. Aren't you."

*

There's continued silence at the first. And another long inhale at the second. There's something painfully emotionless about the girl's back as she stares at the door to her closet. "…no. Not about that." But something, clearly. "I'm sorry to have brought up the break in. I really didn't intend it like that." Which probably begs questions in and of itself. She remains focused on her door — the target has long been acquired. "You're angry," she says softly. "And I'm sorry I made you mad. I'm sorry I brought up the break-in. But I honestly don't believe that's even why you're angry. Maybe I'm wrong," her back shrugs. "Maybe it is all my fault. Tell me." Her jaw tightens. "Everything changed over the last three months. Everything. I'm different. I know I'm different. Ever since …. it happened."

*

"Of course I'm angry. Everything's gone to hell and noone will be straight with me about why." Staying where she is, Liv keeps her arms tightly crossed over her chest and scowls darkly — not at Jack, but at the ceiling over Jack's head. "It has to have been something I did, something I failed to do. But every time I apologize or try to take responsibility — for what happened to you, for the break-in — you and Max say 'no no no, Liv, it's okay, it's not your fault' and I've tried to accept that."

She lets her eyes drop to Jack herself and her expression softens, though not much. "But it's difficult to accept it when you keep throwing it back in my face like that. So, you tell me, Jack. If you didn't intend it like that, how did you intend it?"

*

"What happened to me isn't your fault. It wasn't your fault. It was mine." Jack's arms remain at her sides as she stares at the door, considering its shape, colour, and texture. It's somehow easier to think about the door; easier to consider how it could be changed. And, for once, Jack can see its potential as her mind continues to do the math in the background.

"Honestly?" there's a long pause that follows the question as Jack speaks to her door rather than her roommate. But the door, like all inanimate objects, doesn't ask for honesty. It just remains there in place. Like a door does.

*

"If you can't be honest with me, then I'll have my things out of here by morning," Liv replies in an even voice, watching Jack's back from her spot near the table. "If you can't even look at me, then I've no business staying here and should have moved out the first time I offered."

*

"As an example, if a faulty one. Statistically no one should've been able to find our number that way. The math tells me it's impossible. The math tells me that calling and hanging around here make it more likely an assassin can piece together you two in a strange and unusual plot to catch Captain Rogers," Jack finally offers. "And here's the thing, yeah, I was upset about it, but all of this was in wake of suffering from what… vampirism?" Her eyes squint at the door. "But the logic, the math tells me it wasn't a bad call. Not when I stop and think through it. Writing our number down anywhere should be fine. It's anonymous. Well, relatively, anyways."

She inhales another sharp breath. "Don't leave. Sincerely. I should go. Genuinely. I've been a bit superfluous to the equation anyways." All things in math.

*

"Life. Isn't. Math." Liv drags both of her hands down over her face, making an exasperated noise into her palms. "It isn't — Jack, life is messy and unpredictable. You can't possibly only be figuring that out now, can you?" she asks, peering her way with a rather odd expression. "Is that seriously what's been up with you? The numbers for what should be possible and events that are actually happening aren't lining up and it's throwing you for a loop?"

*

A long inhale follows the questions, and Jack just stays the course… staring at the door. She doesn't offer a reply, just the simple silence of something not quite adding up. Her shoulders bob once and tighten reflexively.

*

Liv pinches the bridge of her nose and finally moves away from the table, slowly wandering across the apartment to approach Jack. Against her better judgment. "I am sorry things don't make sense, and that so many of them have been happening all at once. I know that's frightening," she says tiredly, peering down at her.

*

Jack deflates at the last. Her shoulders sink, her resolve crushes, and she sniffs loudly — the first surefire sign that something is actually going on in her mind. "It's not…" her voice cracks, and her chin lifts with the roll of her eyes. No. She silences again for a few beats. Exhaustion pulls on her and her chin drops to her chest while she stares at the floor. "It's not just that. I mean, yes, it's that, but it's not just that."

*

Ah, there it is. Well, some of it. "You used to talk to us," Liv notes gently, reaching out to try and lay a gentle hand on Jack's shoulder. "You don't need to wall yourself off like this, Jack. Tell me what's going on?"

*

The hand on her shoulder causes Jack to stiffen momentarily, and then ease against the touch. "I…" her eyes clamp shut and she can feel a frown draw her lips downwards. "…think I can feel him sometimes. His voice. Soft. Not unkind. But present. Maybe." She sucks on the inside of her cheek, "Maybe not. Maybe it's just my imagination. Maybe."

*

"Vlad." It's not a question. Liv sighs quietly and withdraws her hand, but only so that she can step up behind Jack and curl both arms around her shoulders. Maybe this will be easier for her roommate to get out if she doesn't try to take her eyes off of the door, or the floor, so… a compromise. "We could talk to Duke," she suggests softly. "He might be able to tell you for sure. Help you fix it, if there's something there to fix."

*

Jack's hands lift to squeeze the arms at her shoulders. "What if…" her eyes turn to the side, "what if there's something wrong with me?" She swallows hard. "And it has nothing to do with him? What if it's legitimately all in my head… I'd rather…" not know. Her teeth toy at her bottom lip.

*

Liv presses a kiss to the top of Jack's head. "Then he would be able to tell you that, too, and could help you deal with it. He's a healer, Jack," she notes, giving her shoulders a protective snug. "A very, very good one. He could help you, and if you asked him to, he would. I promise."

*

A tired, exasperated sound follows the words. "I'll think about it," which probably means a yes, after some math. Jack's eyes lid. "I can still move out. Honestly."

*

"And what, move in with Steve so early in your relationship? Your mother would kill you both." Snickering, Liv gives another snug before loosening her grip enough to let Jack loose, if she wants to be. "You belong here more than I do, anyway. But if you are willing to be honest with me, then neither of us needs to go anywhere, alright?"

*

Jack relaxes further under the touch. "You think so? I'm just waiting for the day when Max comes out as an alien," she offers with a simple lift of her eyebrows. "Because. That would make sense considering the state of the world. How did everything change so quickly?"

*

Liv can't help but smile down at her, mirroring the raise of her eyebrows. "The changes haven't been quick. These things becoming public knowledge, that's been the quick part." She slowly shakes her head, glancing off to the side. "I know why Loki chose to come forward now. But the way he chose to do it, it's… things were already so tense."

*

"Why did he? It seems like he wants to start World War III, and it feels like no one else wants that. I mean… tensions were already running high with the iron curtain. We're already facing down the barrel of history with imminent nuclear war. I don't really…" Jack frowns. "If people think they're in danger, they will act like they're in danger. And what he did…" the frowns depends and she sighs.

*

"His heart's in the right place. He's just a vain, arrogant man who prioritized putting on a show over genuinely conveying his message," Liv murmurs, rolling her eyes towards the ceiling.

"What he was trying to say was… yes, it is true that humanity is not alone in the universe," Liv says slowly, her brow creased slightly in thought. "And no, not every being humanity encounters is going to be friendly. So it is important that humanity at least love itself so that they can act as a unified voice. And humanity should know that if any outside threats do arrive on their door, that Asgard will stand with them."

Liv drops her eyes to Jack again, mouth quirking into an odd grin. "Didn't really convey that at all, did he?"

*

"…not remotely," Jack murmurs quietly. "Not even a little. He displayed power on national TV. He terrorized a bunch of people. He… really did a terrible job showing that they stand with us at all."

*

"Yes, well. Vain, arrogant man." Liv sighs tiredly and takes a small step back. "Whatever happens, and for whatever good it'll do, I'm here. Everything else will just have to sort itself out."

*

"I'll… try to remember that. Thanks." Jack rolls her eyes. "What bothers me more is actually for.. you." She lifts a hand requesting some patience, "We already are panicking at having aliens around and he decides that's an opportune time to reveal there are more aliens among us? Yeah. The message got lost somehow. And I'm upset for you. You've here for what? Like… ever? And now you have to be the token Asgardian everywhere. It's not fair."

*

That actually takes Liv by surprise, or seems to. She blinks down at Jack, one hand coming up to self-consciously rub at the back of her neck. "Not… not forever," she murmurs sheepishly, glancing off to the side. Not forever, but at two-hundred years… longer than Loki bragged about on national television. Almost twice as long. "But… work has been a bit strange," she allows in a quiet, resigned grumble.

*

"It's unbelievable. I'm token girl at work… er … woman. And that's not fair either. They ask me for the female perspective all the time. Like somehow I have to speak for every woman ever. Because I know all of them, clearly." Her eyes roll unceremoniously. "So yeah, it's brutal for you." Jack stays on that side of things. "And he's so pompous about it. Like he's doing us poor humans a favour."

*

"He's always pompous, he's royalty." Liv grunts unhappily and takes two small steps, coming to lean her shoulder against the wall next to Jack's door. "…I hope nothing comes of it," she murmurs quietly, letting her eyes drop to the floor. "If anything did, Gods forbid, then Asgard and SHIELD would both be demanding I pick a side."

*

Jack inhales a long breath. "Welllll, if you have to pick sides, you should pick Galpalla. Clearly, we'll have to become an independent nation." She shoots Liv an easy grin. "Just imagine. We could make this our base of operations, and set up a barricade… or something. OR we could fake our deaths and have Max rescue us out of some amazing explosion — "

*

"I'd choose Earth." The words are quiet, understated. Liv keeps her eyes on the floor, a ghost of a smile coming to her face. "It wouldn't even be a difficult choice to make. And that frightens me." Slowly, she draws in a deep breath and straightens up, quietly clearing her throat. "I should, ah — I should change," she says awkwardly, picking at the front of her bullet-riddled shirt. "And you should get some rest. And go see Duke tomorrow."

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