***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE MOVIE CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER***
Steve Rogers: “There’s not gonna be a safe landing, but I can try and force it down.”
Peggy Carter: “I’ll…I’ll get Howard on the line. He’ll know what to do.”
SR: “There’s not enough time. This thing’s moving too fast and it’s heading for New York. I gotta put her in the water.”
“He what?” Not the actual Captain asked the TV screen, making me hide my snicker against Jason’s belly.
PC: “Please don’t do this. W…we have time. We can work it out.”
SR: “Right now I’m in the middle of nowhere. If I wait any longer a lot of people are gonna die. Peggy, this is my choice.”
“You mean put it in the water and walk away, right?” Then leaning forward from his seat on the couch, he stared down at me and Jason sitting on the floor and repeated, “Right? I mean he’s some super serum soldier, so what’s a little ice and shit?”
We both grinned, one of us more gummy and drooly than the other, but neither one of us answered him.
The sound of Steve’s voice softly calling out, “Peggy…” pulled his focus back to the screen, allowing me to look down again and make bug eyes at the baby, whispering, “Honestly, how does he not see it coming?”
PC: “I’m here.”
“Of course she’s there,” he yelled at the TV. “She’s there! The woman you’ve been hang doggin’ over for the whole goddamn film!”
Raising a finger – no, not that one, it was still holstered in my bag – I got his attention only long enough to say, “Point of discussion on that point later.”
SR: “I’m gonna need a raincheck on that dance.”
“No shit, dumbass…” he grumbled.
With his arms across his chest and everything.
It was in that moment I could see his resemblance to Pam.
PC: “All right. A week next Saturday at The Stork Club.”
He actually looked relieved hearing Steve reply, “You got it.”
Five minutes later…
“Are you shitting me?” he growled at the screen, almost getting to his feet but then throwing himself back down onto the couch before getting fully vertical.
It was great!
I’d gotten up to give the baby a quick bath once Bucky had fallen from the train, knowing he’d be down for the count soon too, and a tired Jason made for a cranky Jason.
It was a syndrome I was more than well versed on.
Grinning at what I’d inadvertently dressed him in – a Superman onesie proclaiming ‘I’m not saying I’m Superman. I’m just saying no one has ever seen me and Superman in the same room together’ and Batman socks – I figured it was okay since the two superheroes had come to an understanding in the last movie.
But it was the Superman on my couch throwing the full length of his body down onto the cushions, with his wide eyes and incredulous tone, that made me chuckle, when Captain Thumbs Down said, “Seventy years? He survived in the ice for seventy years and all they had to do was what? Put him in a warm bath and use a hair dryer on him?”
Still looking down at the baby, I tapped his belly with my finger once and smugly uttered, “Mischief managed.”
Then looking over at He-Who-Could-Not-Get-Over-It, I answered with a wry grin, “Well, not at the same time. It says so right on the tag.”
When he didn’t look amused, it only amused me more – because I was a bitch with a capital B – so I offered, “They don’t call them super soldiers for nothing.”
Not that the ex-soldier on my couch was too shabby.
He wasn’t shabby at all – in many ways – however I was refusing to think of any of the ways he made me want to be the sluttiest slut who ever slutted.
But his hotness wasn’t his only strength. His mere presence was like a physical entity. It filled the space around him, but not in a suffocating way.
More like a warm security blanket way.
Jason wasn’t the only one benefitting from having him there. Even I could feel how much more relaxed I was with him around.
Maybe it was the security of having him there as a fallback guy, if I needed one?
The only way for me to find out was to make him leave and that wasn’t about to happen, especially now that I’d gotten him to drink the Kool-Aid that was the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So while I crawled away from the baby to dig the next DVD from its case, I explained, “Iron Man is next up, followed by Iron Man 2 and then the first Thor,” because honestly, it still boggled my mind he didn’t know there were two of them.
And the third one was being filmed at that very moment!
While I took a moment to silently appreciate the godliness that was Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, I eventually cleared the lust haze from my brain to go on and say, “Even though all of those technically take place before Steve wakes up from his ice nap. I just thought it would be mean to pause Captain America after the plane went down and then make you wait three movies to see that he was fine, so he could be a part of the Avengers movie after Thor. I’m also not going to overload you by flipping Netflix on to go through two seasons of Agent Carter, even if that is the correct chronological order. I only specified the movies for your initial Marvel indoctrination and honestly, when you weave in the seasons of Marvel Agents of SHIELD it all gets to be a lot.”
I staunchly refused to include The Incredible Hulk into my queue of Marvel movie greatness, until they made a Hulk movie starring Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner.
Turning to face the silence that was Captain Brooder on my couch, I could see he was still lost on an Arctic ice shelf and asked, “So…what do think about the movie?”
Still glaring – at seemingly everything – he reached down to scoop Jason off the floor, who had rolled closer to him, and then breathed in his fresh baby smell before admitting in a calmer tone, “I liked it. It was a lot better than I thought it would be, knowing it would be a movie about a 1940’s super soldier. It sounded a lot stupider than it actually was.”
“You say that like it should have been,” I accused.
“Then let me be clearer,” he smiled. “It. Should. Have. Been.”
He sure was a charming asshole because in the next moment, he puffed out his cheeks only to press Jason’s hands against them on either side and made exaggerated raspberry sounds, blowing in the baby’s face.
Jason was blinking and laughing up a storm.
“You’re a natural with him,” I mused aloud, without really meaning to.
A trait I knew from personal experience wasn’t so effortless for everyone.
I was getting better with him – trusting myself more – but Jason was also a little older. It was easier to tell what he wanted or needed now, but it had been some tense days when he’d first been born.
Lost in my thoughts for a moment, I snapped back to reality hearing, “Gray Squirrel to Blond Fox, over. Do you read me, Blond Fox? Come in, over.”
Looking over at them, he had Jason facing away from him, holding him in front of his face, but I could only respond with, “Huh?”
I wasn’t sure what I was questioning more. The idea I’d missed something he’d said or the fact he’d called me a blond fox.
The latter a fact I would have acted on without hesitation had there been no Jason to factor into the equation.
I would have hit that like a bong at Woodstock.
But Jason was the only factor that mattered in my life now. The only family I had left and given his namesake, I couldn’t let my selfish nature override what was best for him.
The man holding him seemed to be a dream come true in a lot of ways, but Jason’s needs needed to come before mine.
He could have him.
I had a pulsing shower head to see me through the next eighteen years.
Having stayed quiet, his answer at least answered my question, when he said, “You seemed a little lost there for a second.”
“How do you figure?” I asked, not admitting to anything.
I was really good at not admitting to anything.
Like Olympic gold medal worthy in the sport of denial.
Besides, there was no reason to bombard the man with all of my issues. The least of them being no one on the planet knew about all of my issues.
It was bad enough I was subjecting him to endless hours of superhero movies.
In my defense, Jason wasn’t old enough to appreciate them yet. But having subjected him to my superhero passion pretty much since birth, it was only a matter of time before he drank the Kool-Aid too.
Maybe even before he ever got to taste actual Kool-Aid.
“I made a derogatory remark about Pam and you didn’t join in,” he smiled uncertainly. “You okay?”
I felt a bout of the feels coming on, so I stood up and took the baby from him saying, “I’m fine. I’m just gonna get him a bottle and get him down for the night. You can go ahead and start the movie if you want. Or don’t. I mean, you know. It’s up to you. You’re off the clock, so don’t feel like you have to hang with me or anything.”
Shut up, Sookie!
The thought of him leaving made me anxious – a feeling I wasn’t expecting to hit me so hard – but wanting to ignore any and all feels, I kept up with the word vomit by adding, “If you have other things you want to do, I mean, you know…you’re free to come and go as you please until Monday. Go see Pam or your girlfriend or…”
SHUT YOUR FACE HOLE SOOKIE!
“Or call your mom?” I trailed off questioningly, clearly having left the reservation well before I’d claimed to be fine.
In my defense, I didn’t even know the man’s real name, so I had no way of knowing if there was a woman out there just waiting to yell it out as she came.
Also, I would ask the court to recognize, Pam had mentioned them calling their mom to tattle on each other more than once.
God knows she’d given him plenty of ammunition earlier for him to spend an hour on the phone with their mother, at the very least.
Turning tail and beating feet into the kitchen to warm up a bottle, when I looked at Jason, his still toothless grin all but said, “Mischief managed.”
“You’re supposed to be on my side,” I pouted at him with narrowed eyes.
But it was probably payback for when he’d been stuck with just me for a caregiver.
God knows, after that whole mess, I deserved anything he wanted to dish out.
Following them to the kitchen, I remained standing by the doorway just watching them for a moment – not really sure what just happened in the living room – so I started off with the easiest of everything she’d rambled out by saying, “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“A boyfriend?” she asked, with her back still facing me, but I could hear the smile in her tone.
And before I could answer her, she went on to say, “The point I wanted to make earlier is that there’s a faction of Marvel fans who believe the reason Steve didn’t even attempt to save himself and put the plane down instead was because he didn’t want to go on living without the true love of his life.”
Moving the baby so that he was cradled in her arm, she put the bottle in his mouth just as she turned around to face me and said, “Bucky.”
“Bucky?” I asked, sounding every bit as flabbergasted as I felt.
“Bucky,” she repeated with a nod and a knowing look in her eyes. “And before you say anything that could possibly make me hurt you,” she warned. “Know that I ship Stucky hard.”
“Bucky?” I repeated, just not seeing it.
Walking forward, I had to move out of the doorway so she could pass through, while she said, “He was The Man with a Plan and you’re telling me he couldn’t come up with one that would have him meeting Peggy for that dance?”
“That was the first thing he said when he realized he’d woken up in the future!” I argued back.
“Because he…saw Bucky fall to his death,” she argued back. “And it was the 1940’s. There was no Rainbow Pride back then. Did you see a rainbow in the movie? Because I didn’t. Now, maybe he was bi and I think he really did care about Peggy, but more so because that was supposed to be what he wanted. What every man was supposed to want back then. A beautiful dame and a white picket fence to come home to. But Bucky was his one true love.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I maintained, maintaining my distance of two feet behind her, as I followed them to the baby’s room.
More so because I didn’t want to crowd her.
Not when she was holding the baby, at least.
But there’d been no signs of UST between Steve and Bucky.
And yes I knew what that was.
But there’d been signs of something else on Steve’s face, when Peggy had found him sitting in the bar after Bucky’s fall, so I told her, “If anything, he put that plane down out of survivor’s guilt.”
I’d seen it plenty in my years in the service and had experienced it myself more than once.
She got quiet then – almost unnaturally so – but since she was trying to put the baby to sleep, I tried not to read too much into it.
God knows, with everything she’d rambled out in the living room, I had plenty of other things to read into.
But figuring the living room would be a better place to have any potentially awkward, if not enlightening, conversations, I whispered into the darkened room, “Meet you in the living room when you’re done?”
When her eyes lifted to meet mine, I could see the hesitation behind them. And wondering if she was about to beg off to do work, I reminded her, “You said all the movies and clearly you feel I won’t get the full subtext of 1940’s forbidden love, without an interpreter.”
“Iron Man takes place in the now, where we are free to love who we want,” she whispered back.
But she had a small smile on her face, so I took that as a small victory.
And wanting an even bigger one, I schooled my face into something more serious before asking, “Do they call him Iron Man because he has an excess of iron in his blood stream? Is that his superpower? Like there’s so much iron in his blood he can’t be killed or take a dump without Dulcolax?”
“Is that his Kryptonite?” I added with wide eyes, seeing her fighting off a grin. “Dulcolax?”
“You’re a real shit,” she softly giggled.
“That’s what he said,” I nodded with a smile of my own before turning down the hallway to my room.
Changing into a pair of pajama pants and t-shirt, I hoped she wouldn’t turn up in just her underwear when she met me in the living room.
I only had so much restraint.
But memories of her in her panties reminded me I’d meant to apologize for taking off with the baby that morning without leaving her a note.
No wonder she’d looked so panicked.
But she’d been in her underwear when I’d walked into the house.
No wonder I’d forgotten to apologize.
I’d been feeling anything but sorry finding her like that.
Wandering back into the living room, I picked up the empty pizza box from the coffee table – she had insisted on ‘cooking’ dinner for me, since I’d cooked for her the night before – and carried it outside to the trash can. But standing out there I noted she didn’t have a lot of outdoor lighting.
Her yard was nothing but shadows, just waiting to be filled by whatever assholes who wanted to do something…
Something I would be damned if I was going to let it happen.
It reminded yet again that I wanted to talk to her about changing the locks, but when I made my way back into the living room, I forgot all about it.
Because she had changed into her pajamas too.
More than just a t-shirt and underwear, they somehow covered even less of her.
“You just gonna stand there all night?” she asked, when I just, you know…
Gathering all of my restraint.
Because her pajamas consisted of nothing more than a loose pair of black short shorts, dotted with red stars and the phrase ‘Winter is coming’, paired with a fitted black tank top.
It didn’t really matter that the front of it was emblazoned with a profile picture of some grungy looking homeless guy, with what looked to be a Russian red star symbol behind him.
Because underneath him the words, ‘Ready to comply’ were giving me ideas.
Ones I shouldn’t be having.
Because I vividly recalled being left standing all alone on the sidewalk, so kissing her wasn’t an option.
Nor were doing any other things I wanted to do and her to comply with.
Because we weren’t in a romantic comedy.
Because I wasn’t Ryan Gosling.
Not really sure who I was silently pleading with – myself or her – I took a deep breath and channeled what I could of a Tibetan monk before taking a seat beside her on the couch.
I did not notice the slight bounce her body made when I’d plopped down beside her.
I did not.
A Tibetan monk wouldn’t have.
But I did and I knew I couldn’t even pick Tibet out on a map, so I wasn’t even fooling myself.
If I wasn’t careful I would end up needing to watch the entire movie with a throw pillow on my lap to hide more than my lack of geographical skills.
But I only needed to fool her, so I picked up the remote and asked, “Are you ready?”
“Are you?” she laughed. “You seemed pretty upset over how the last movie ended.”
“Seventy years in ice, Snickerdoodle,” I playfully glared.
Using a cookie name let her know I was serious about it too.
“Well gee, Captain Contention,” she teasingly glared back. “How did you think they were going to get a fighting fit Steve Rogers into the twenty-first century?”
Ignoring the way her eyes seemed to glass over at the words ‘fighting fit’, I focused on the ‘Steve’ part of her declaration.
It was the first name she’d guessed when our name game first started.
And she’d entered me as The Captain in her cell phone contacts.
So did that mean…
“You think I’m Captain America!” I gleefully shouted.
The surprise of it had even made her bounce again.
It was a good day to be me.
“What?” she asked, staring at the TV with wide deer-in-the-headlights eyes.
“You do,” I grinned, because…
Well, it was a good day to be me.
“What?” she repeated, but her prior disbelief had been replaced by belligerence, as she turned to face me and said, “That’s what Pam called you before she, you know…called you yesterday morning.”
“Why would she call me that?” I asked, unable to wipe the smile from my face. And it had nothing to do with my next words, when I reminded her, “I’m Brother Doofus in her contacts. You said so yourself.”
“Margarita Mondays are sacrosanct,” she declared, as though her nonsensical declaration put an end to the discussion.
Then snatching the remote from my hand, she pressed the play button before dropping it down on the couch in between us, like that would erect a magical force field to keep my mouth shut.
Reaching over, I pressed the pause button only long enough to say, “You do,” before starting the movie again.
Repeating my actions, with her denial of, “I don’t,” disrupted the movie yet again.
Needless to say, I couldn’t say for sure how Tony Stark ended up in a cave in the desert.
But I knew one thing for sure.