Packed the bags last night pre-flight

April 08, 2015:

Steve and Paul run into each other at a bar.

Frank's Tavern

A bar in Brooklyn


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Frank's Tavern
2:30 AM

Steve got the final prep message from Fury directly. In the next four hours they'd be on the helicarrier heading for the great state of North Dakota hoping to save the world one more time. Unable to sleep, Steve had to do something. Apartment clean (there wasn't much to it), bored by the internet, no books to read. He heads down the street to Frank's, his normal hangout and is having some beer and commiserating with a few of his friends; normal everyday folks who are from the neighborhood.

Late, late night at a straight bar isn't normally where Paul chooses to spend his time. But demons never sleep and the Rapture had decided that the one working the counter at the all night Burger King (who knows why) needed to be dispatched. Tonight. After that, he definitely needs a drink. Wandering into the bar, hair disheveled, shirt untucked and torn, he heads straight for the bar and orders a whiskey.

"Paul," Steve says as he snaps out of his coma a bit and sees Manning down the bar. He lifts his beer from its foam coaster and makes his way over toward the tall former military man. "Hey," he says as he approaches him.

"You've looked better. You alright?"

Paul glances over when he hears his name and offers a nod of greeting. "Yeah, I'm good. Just had to deal with one of those… things." Not going to talk about demons in a bar, nope. The bartender brings over his whiskey and Paul holds up a finger in a classic 'wait' gesture. He downs the liquid then pushes the glass over for a refill. "It's taken care of it."

Steve nods and looks at Paul with an exhale, eyes darting to the top of his face then to the bottom as he tries to figure out what words to use. "How's Sara?" he asks, finally just going with the direct route. He wants to check on her, but doesn't want to pry. He just hopes she's alright.

"How do you think?" Paul answers, his voice going just a little bit chillier as the topic shifts to his partner. "Being dumped sucks. Being dumped out of the blue really sucks. Being dumped out of the blue by someone you're going to be seeing at work is close to being about as bad as it gets."

Steve swallows with some difficulty and gives a slight nod. "I guess I just hoped she'd consider it no big deal. She's pretty tough…" His voice trails as he pulls up the bottle of beer to his mouth.

"For it to be no nig deal, she would have to not have feelings for you." Paul points out. "Did you get the impression from her that she had no feelings for you and was just using you for sex or as some kind of trophy?"

Steve shakes his head, "No. I just…" He sighs, "I don't know. I just hope she's alright. I didn't want to hurt her."

"And yet you did." Paul states and takes a sip of his whiskey. He's taking the time to drink this one instead of slamming it. "So why did you?"

Steve isn't looking at Paul anymore, he's looking at the bar behind. "You want the truth or the politically correct answer?" Steve already knows both his answer and Paul's, and wouldn't dodge the question either way. "A gal from my past came back. Like, from the way past."

"The truth." Paul answers. "And yeah, I know that part. It pretty much comes down to two questions. "Do you love Carter? Do you not love Sara? If the answers are yes and no, okay. It happens."

"I care for Sara deeply," Steve says, finally looking back to Paul. "Deeply. But I'm not sure that you can be in love with two people at the same time. And yes, I love Peggy. She knew me before all of this. She cared about me before I was Captain America."

"So you love her more than you love Sara and would rather be with her than with Sara." Paul summarizes and shrugs a shoulder lightly. "All right. It's not like you went out looking for her. It just happened. It sucks but it's not really your fault. And better it was done quickly than drawing it out. For your sake, I hope it works out with her because you pretty much burned your bridges with Sara."

Steve nearly snorts in his frustration, "Playing hopscotch isn't my thing, Paul. I knew any bridges with Sara were burned the moment I saw Peggy. I just want her to be happy. Even though I doubt I'll ever be able to manufacture that in any way."

"No, you pretty much gave up any influence you had in that department." Paul agrees but then replays in his head something Steve said. "Did you actually talk to Carter about being a couple before you decided to end things?"

"No. In the end, it doesn't really matter does it? Whatever happens between Peggy and I, it was clear that it wasn't fair for Sara and I to be together. It wouldn't be right," Steve says, finishing his beer and immediately ordering another.

Then Steve looks sad, suddenly, as he recalls the events. "But I did kiss her," he says quietly.

Paul just gazes at Steve a moment then shakes his head. "A kiss. A 'My God I can't believe you're here I was sure I'd never see you again and you're alive kiss' I'm guessing? And how did she react?"

"She was overwhelmed. It was in the medical bay at the Triskelion." Steve shrugs his shoulders. "We kissed twice, but that's really been it. I'm not even sure where her and I stand. I think she needs more time to adjust to what she's going through before it even comes up, to be honest."

"So you threw away Sara, hurting her and yourself, because of something that might never even happen." Paul shakes his head. "And all because you think you love Carter more. That's so… you."

"It's the right thing to do," Steve says. "Or at least, the least wrong."

"The world is not so black and white, Steve. Emotions certainly aren't. Had you told Sara that you were in love with Carter but never thought you'd see her again and don't know what to do, she'd probably have understood." Paul tells him. "She wouldn't have been happy about it but she'd have understood." Pause. "You didn't do that, right? You didn't ask for some time and space to figure things out? You just ended it?"

"Paul, I knew how I felt the moment I saw her. It wasn't a decision I made based on facts, or time, or reasoning. Really it was already made for me. I knew how I felt, and I knew I had to tell Sara." Steve looks down and shakes his head, "Sara said she understood when we talked, but…I don't know. I've never been through this before."

"Well, you won't be able to say that any more." Paul mutters and finishes his drink. "I hope she feels the same about you, Steve. Because you tossed away a perfectly good thing, and one that might have become a great thing, for a fantasy that might never happen. Sara will get over it. I hope you can."

Steve nods, "That's a chance I'm willing to take. It's not really a choice to me—It just is." Steve takes a large swig from his beer and sets it on the bar. "I don't think you can choose who you love."

"And yet you were perfectly happy with Sara a week ago." Paul points out. "You can love more than one person, Steve. You loved Carter a week ago too but thought she was dead. You were moving on. And then she showed up. I'm betting your love for Sara didn't just disappear either. You love them both. Right?"

"Like I said, I'm not sure you can love two people, Paul. I made my decision and I know it was the right one," Steve says taking one final swig of the beer. "You going to North Dakota?"

Paul just shrugs in reply. He's not a shrink. "Don't know. Depends on if I've ordered to or not. We'll see. From the sound of it, it doesn't concern my particular specialty. Fortunately."

"Well, we could use you if the opportunity comes about. This one has me worried," Steve says. "I imagine a guy like you has all sorts of specialties

"I'm still the new kid on the block." Paul points out. "I don't cut my own orders. There's agents with more experience too." With SHIELD anyway if not overall. "It does sound like bad news though so I wouldn't be surprised if they do."

"Yeah," Steve says looking out over the bar. "Speaking of, I should probably get going and go get suited up. Guess I might see you out there?"

"Could be." Paul agrees. "If not, watch yourself." He finishes his drink then digs out some bills and toss them on the bar. "I need to get some sleep no matter what. Catch yo later."

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