1964-03-28 - Looking Well
Summary: Pepper and Fitz have a chance meeting in a bar.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
fitz pepper 


It's not the Carnegie Club. It's no fancy, high faluting bar full of executives who are either giving her the evil eye or sucking up to her. It's no place she SHOULD be, but certainly a place she wants to be — the cop bar. Well, cops, government agents, DAs, generally where a lot of the city servants go. And her sometimes, current dating prospect, though he's not here tonight. Whether Pepper has been stood up or chooses to sit alone isn't clear, but the elegant redhead is in a too-tight blue dress, stirring idly at a martini on the rocks, and half ignoring a cigarette in the ash tray next to her hand. She does have the Wall Street Journal open in front of her, so she's not bemoaning her lack of company. But it's odd to see a woman like her alone at the bar.

*

Khakis and a plaid shirt barely qualify as acceptable clothing for this kind of scene, yet Leo Fitz has only worn a leather jacket overtop as a kind of pronouncement to offset his usual dress.He strolls over to the bar and hops up onto one of the many stools and orders, "Seltzer please." A flicker of a smile follows the order — it's certainly not typical drink fare for this place, even if it is for Leo himself. Leo glances towards the door and shakes his head, instantly regretting choosing to meet here of all places. He blows a long breath and then glances towards Pepper and her too-tight dress as he takes a drink of his seltzer. His spit-take isn't remotely refined, elegant, or expected. He coughs. Hard.

*

Well, too-tight might not be the right word. JUST tight enough is the right phrase. She's still not quite got the same curves she did previous the Vigor, but she's put back on MOST of the weight and misses showing off her figure. So, a new dress, bought with Wayne Enterprises money, and enough decollatage that no one should doubt she was here on a date. Just one that hasn't shown. She blinks up at the spit take and coughing, not even having realized someone sat next to her until that. She stares at him, trying to figure out where she can remember that face. "…Dr….Fitz, was it?" When she first checked in with SHIELD. If she's remembering right.

*

Leo continues to cough, loudly as he attempts to catch his breath and clear his airway. It's fortunate, in many respects, that he is capable of focusing when need arises and he nods between coughs, confirming his identity. "Just" cough cough "Fitz" cough cough cough. Even if the doctor is correct so few use it that it hardly seems necessary. He finally manages to settle and sits back on his chair. "S-sorry," he manages through a raspy voice before sipping at his seltzer again. "You look… well." That seems like a safe descriptor.

*

Pep doesn't even realize she's doing it, actually, the way she shifts her body and crosses long, silk stockinged legs. Showing off hips and the low cut neckline across pale breasts. Of course, maybe it's just the most comfortable way to perch on one of those barstools and face someone to speak. Or, perhaps, she's just a natural flirt. Still, that's what Fitz is getting a very nice eyefull as she happily turns to fully face him and puts her news paper aside. She reaches one hand over, trying to gently pat at his shoulder, "Oh goodness, you alright there? I know that seltzer, it can go straight up your nose!" A delicate sort of laugh, truly understanding. She's used to smoothing over embarrassing situations. "And, if you are certain. Fitz."

*

Clearing his throat loudly, Fitz nods and smiles with a faint tug of his lips, an indication of the sheepishness he likely already feels as a proverbial fish out of water in this place. He rubs his nose, a kind of call to Pepper's words. "It really does, yeah?" His smile turns toothy and his chin dips towards his chest. "Everyone else calls me Fitz. Not that… I mean, Doctor Fitz," his eyes turn upwards, "theoretically correct. So if you'd rather call me doctor, you can, but no one else does. Not even when they probably should, yeah?" his nose wrinkles.

*

"I don't care what everyone ELSE calls you, Fitz. I care what YOU want to be called, Dr. Fitz. Most people call me sweetie, honey, darling, or something more vulgar. I have worked very hard for them to call me *Chief* and earned that title. You worked very hard to be a doctor. Why should I discount that, even if it's habit for others?" Pepper is quite on the empowerment kick these days, it seems, but it's not just about women. She seems ready to give anyone and everyone their due respect. Possibly why she's actually a pretty decent manager, even if no one would really respect her in that dress.

*

Fitz blinks rather unexpectedly. He glances to the bar in front of Pepper, silently assessing whether the rant is something brought on by drink or by general enthusiasm. "…right." Because that's the general response to give when someone defends your honour. He shoots her a lopsided grin and then turns back to his seltzer. "Honestly, you're looking more… like you did before all of the… well, not that you were, I mean, you were still quite.. not that I was looking," his eyebrows draw together tightly as he attempts to negotiate how to say what he's trying to say. "Regardless, you look well," it's the second time he's said it, but it doesn't make it any less true.

*

It's not drink. Pepper's finished maybe half of her glass and while her cheeks are warm, they aren't flushed the way someone drowning in alcohol would look. Nor does she smell like it. She smells like vanilla and cocoa butter. And, of course, the faint brush of menthol from her cigarettes. She doesn't push the honor rant any longer, not wanting to make him uncomfortable. Instead, she does take one last drag of her dying cigarette and kills it in the tray, smiling softly to him, "You're too nice. But… Bobbi, you know Bobbi, right? I think she… well…she works where… You do, you know? She finally figured out something to help me off the stuff. Not a cure but… something that made it easier to fight. It's worked out well, but god, I'm so *hungry* all the time."

*

"Hungry isn't so bad though, yeah?" Fitz's eyebrows lift as a kind of answer to an unspoken question. "I mean, it's better than… yeah?" As usual he doesn't fill in the unpleasantness to which he's referring, making the assumption that Pepper can follow with or without him filling in the gaps. "I do know Morse. She's bright," he affirms with a small nod. "And food is good. Eating is good. As long as you're eating good food, yeah? And I don't mean like tasty good, but instead healthy good or some such?"

*

"…God, you're a nerd, you know that?" Pepper teases him gently as he goes on about eating Healthy/good food instead. The teasing is totally good hearted, the way a cheerleader would say it to the head of the mathclub whom she actually likes, but cannot quite get over WHAT a nerd he is. Pepper just laughs and takes another sip of her drink, "And yes, generally, it's good food. Sometimes it's pizza. Or… uh… what was that called. Dim sum? I think Harvey took me to this thing called dim sum. Everything was in little baskets. It was so WEIRD. But… good. Just weird."

*

"Harvey?" Fitz lifts his eyebrows and then shrugs. "But yeah, I know. I'm one of the egghead types, and I"m good at it, yeah?" He shrugs again and settles into his seat. "Waiting for Harvey now? Not good to make a woman wait. Learned that when I lived across the pond. Mum — " he lifts a hand, not an important story. And in, fact not likely one he actually wants to share. "I prefer sandwiches," to Dim Sum. "With pesto aioli. And prosciutto." He shoots her a warmer smile.
"

*

A slight sigh escapes her lips and Pepper gives a pale shouldered shrug, looking back down to the paper in front of her, as if it was her most understanding companion. "I knew getting into this he'd be busy at the office, a lot. I guess that's what you get for dating the DA. But… Yeah. Waiting since 7." She's trying not to be bitter. Her smile is the best attempt at being a good sport possible, but it's been a lonely night, that much is clear. Then he's going on about food and her stomach actually growls rather loudly, "..Prosciutto. God… I think I'd kill a man for good prosciutto right now. I mean! Not you! But… you know. Damn. I'm hungry." Cheers to the steriods Bobbi has her on!

*

"Simmons makes the best prosciutto sandwiches. With buffalo mozzarella and pesto aioli. It's basically it's own drug," Fitz explains as he sips at his seltzer again. His lips twist to the side, "You could get a bite here, yeah? Plus then you're still waiting for your date without waiting for your date." He shrugs. "Seems fair to me. Someone's gotta eat when they've gotta eat." His lips purse and he glances towards the door again before refocusing on his drink.

*

"Simmons. That's your lady, right? I remember meeting her… She seemed sweet." Of course, even if Fitz can't see it, the WHOLE REST OF THE WORLD can. Pepper included, even if she only met them five minutes. She considers the menu on the wall, worrying at her lower lip with a quiet bite for a moment or two. Even *that* was rather adorable from her. She couldn't help but be the perky secretary, even if she was so far from secretary these days. "…I don't think I want a whole…plate, though. Do you want to split something? Were you supposed to meet someone here? God, I…I've been monopolizing you since you sat, I'm so sorry!"

*

Fitz's eyes widen and his head shakes, "N-no, Simmons is my mate!" And then remembering that it means something different in the Americas, he shakes his head further, "I mean, my friend. Like a mate, a best mate, but not like a girlfriend. Just a friend who is a woman. Because she's no longer a girl — never been sure why people feel the need to infantalize others, and Simmons definitely doesn't need anyone to infatalize her," oh dear, he's ranting. "So. No. Not my lady. Just a lady I'm very good friends with." Smiiiiile.

"I — " he looks back towards the door " — am meeting someone here." His cheeks actually flush at that while his chin meets his chest. "For work. Not for… I wouldn't actually go here for a date… not that there's anything wrong with that. Just," his nose wrinkles, "kind of cliche." There's a pause. "But I could possibly share something. Until my…" he stumbles on the next word "…colleague comes."

*

The redhead cannot help but watch him as he rambles on about women, girls and his relationship to his woman. Pepper's slender brow arches somewhat skeptically, barely able to hide the twist of a grin from her lips. "…Mmmhmm. Best friend. Sure." She does not believe that one little bit, but she's too polite to quite push it. Even if her expression says it all. She clears her throat, letting him manage into another section of the conversation without too much difficulty. "…Ah, it wasn't really a date. We were just meeting after work for dinner. Trying to make time for each other. It… doesn't work very well. We're both married to our jobs right now." Pepper admits, trying to keep the wistfulness out of her voice. SHe is fine with this. Really. Completely okay. "But we could split an appetizer. Something small. Whatever you like."

*

Fitz hums and stares at the menu. "I'm not particular," he offers in return with a one-shouldered shrug. "A plate of bad chips with vinegar sounds adequate enough. I have a sandwich waiting for me back at the lab," there's a bit of a spark in his eyes at the thought of it. Yes, he does love sandwiches.

*

"Oh, they aren't that *awful* here, the chips! But…" Pepper's stomach is growling again, apparent approval of those words, "Yes. Chips sounds great. THose are fries, right?" Pepper is well travelled enough to make a pretty good guess about that, even if she still has some of that sheltered middle class secretary quality to her. She's learning!

*

"…yeah. Fries," Fitz replies easily. "I don't understand Americans. Chips are fries. Crisps are chips." He shrugs and shakes his head. "Can't imagine that isn't confusing to travel. When moving here we struggled a bit to figure out what's what. I think we've mostly got it sorted though. Mostly." When the waiter comes, the pair order one order of fries, and in no times, they are set between them.

*

A slightly deeper chuckle comes, "I…I don't know. I've never been outside the US. Hell, I hadn't been across the Mississippi until Tony sent me to California to do some work this summer." As brilliant as Pepper is, she is middle America. Sheltered, not all that rich, thinks that going to another state is exotic, much less acorss the world. "Though…I think Bruce and I are going to China sometime next month. That's going to be… Interesting. But the market is there and… it will be good business. Still, I'd love to go to Europe. Someday."

*

"Well, I grew up across the pond, trained at the Academy there, and then moved to New Zealand to look out for Jemma. So, travelled quite a bit. But this is the most shocking place I've been," Fitz's nose wrinkles. That might be a lie. But he is a spy, theoretically people aren't supposed to know all the places he's been. "Europe is good. Parts of it more interesting than others, yeah? Lots of castles. Lots of history." His lips twist to the side.

*

Pepper looks genuinely perplexed, her head tilting a touch to the side. "This is the most… shocking place? How?… I mean, it's just… It's New York. It's a big city, yes… but I wouldn't call it shocking." The expression on her pale features is genuinely intrigued, blue eyes curious and wide. "I mean…other than vampires, mutant drugs… bunches of vigilantes… but… Isn't that everywhere?" It's hard to tell if she's joking or not.

*

"It's vastly different than everywhere else," Fitz shrugs his shoulders. "That's what makes it the most shocking. Nowhere else have I tried to build things that constantly get the beat down," like the Triskelion. "Or have I seen giant green domes show up around entire buildings for months. Or have I noticed a difference in all of the oddities like vampires, mutant drugs, a hell mouth…" He rolls his eyes. "This place is proverbially cursed."

*

That commentary actually makes Pepper stop and think for a few heartbeats. She makes a small sound in her throat, reaching for her drink and suddenly knocking back the rest of the dregs. She motions to the bartender for another one with a casual smile. She clearly comes here often, even if she looks dramatically out of place tonight. "…You… May have a point. And yet we both stay here, don't we?" Pepper offers with a half laugh, though a bittersweet twist comes to her lips, "…Why do we stay?"

*

Leo can feel a small curve in his lips. "I only came because of Jemma. She's my best friend in the world. She likes adventure, and as much as I have a penchant to stay home, I can't keep someone else from having wings." He shrugs. "We had a falling out for awhile, but things seem good again. During that time though? I almost went home, yeah? Was pretty convinced it was the right move too at the time. So little keeps me here. It's tenuous really." His head cants to the side, "And what about you, Miss Potts? Why stay?"

*

The story about Jemma gets a softer, more thoughtful smile. Pepper seems genuinely touched, from the look on her face. She's a sucker for a good love story, even if it's simply friend-love, or so he says. As the chips are brought, she reaches out delicate fingertips to pick up a few, popping them past red lips as she considers a proper answer to his question, "…Me? Oh… well, work now. I can't mess this up. Best… best chance of my life, you know? I'm the highest paid female executive in the WORLD. I… I can't mess this up for me, or for any other woman who wants a chance at this. So… here for good now. But before? It..it's home. Dunno where else I'd go." But then some memory hits her and her eyes go wide, "Oh!…Oh, god. I… should have called you all already, but… I saw James Barnes the other night. Shoot. How did I even…forget?"

*

Fitz's face scrunches together at the pronouncement about Barnes. "…right." Because that's an important detail. "I'll pass the information on." He clucks his tongue and then nabs a french fry. "Where did you see him? And when?" This isn't why Fitz is here tonight, but interrogation and questions must happen sometimes. His eyes flit to the door again, and not seeing anything of note, he hones in on Pepper once more.

*

Once more, Pepper is worrying at her lower lip, a hint surprised that she forgot about it at all until now. That says how much she's been working, and how distracted she was by the lack of Harvey meeting her tonight. The questions, however, give her a nice focus point. She seems more than happy to answer them. "Downtown. In the financial district. Only a block or so from Wayne Enterprises. Sunday night. I was leaving work, late… going home, when I ran into him. He was just walking. He seemed very confused."

*

Fitz hums. "I'll pass it on in a report. Consider it handled. Someone else may need to come and ask you more questions about it, but in the interim, you've done what you should." The door opens and a dark haired woman in a little black dress enters. Fitz stiffens. His eyes narrow and he clears his throat. "Miss Potts, this has been — " his eyebrows draw together. " — but, I need, uh, I mean, I ought to — I'm meeting someone." He manages a stiff smile, throws a few bills on the counter, and slides off his stool. "Good to see you," he murmurs towards her before treading to meet the dark haired woman.

*

The woman in the black dress draws curious blue eyes. Pepper seems to doubt that he's got work to do, but if it's a date, that's fine. SHe waves off his bills, "Let me cover, please. It's the least I can do. You go enjoy your…Meeting. And thank you for the company. It helped. A lot." She gives him another smile, softer this time, insisting on him keeping the money. Then she's turning back to her martini and french fries. At least they are good company.

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