On to the next best thing (Smooth tie-in)

April 09, 2015:

Peggy and Steve catch up the morning after the Ultra-Humanite thing. And it is on to the next big thing.

JLA Lakehouse

It's a Lakehouse. For the JLA

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It used to be in vogue for old people to, when they bought computers, use tons and tons of ink printing out poor quality pictures. That's precisely what Captain America is doing but, luckily, the cost is being picked up either by the government or by Kate Bishop's vast funds.

In his Lakehouse room, pictures of Kwabena Odame, maps, top secret SHIELD documents, and all sorts of things are taped up on the walls. It's just easier to look at that way.

He's standing, arms folded, in a ratty old t-shirt and pair of athletic track pants. He's only brought a few things down here, so the choice is relatively small. A cup of coffee sits on the counter, but it doesn't really affect him. Just a habit.

A thought jumps into his head and he grabs his cell phone. "Fitz, this is Rogers. Give me a call as soon as you get this. Thanks." And he hangs up the phone.

It's Peggy, this time, who is here to knock on Steve's door. She did not bring much with her other than the files from DC; apparently, she didn't realize this would be an extended stay. Despite that, she still manages to look put together.

While the Lakehouse has an the overwhelming strangeness for Peggy, now that things have calmed down from the initial post-mission care and debriefing it's almost calming. An early riser, she hopes to get a chance to talk with Steve privately before either she or - more likely - he has to do something else that most likely involves danger.

Her knock is not exactly soft. It's a business-like three raps. However, her tone of voice somehow softens it. "Steve? It's Peggy."

"Hey," Steve says quietly as he opens the door with a smile. "Just doing some work in here, you wanna take a look?" He leaves the door open, inviting her in, before adding. "Did you let Howard know where you were last night? He's probably worried."

As they walk, presumably, into the room, she'll see the pictures taped up against the all of the walls. The rest of the room is very spartan with no television or anything like that. A simple laptop on a simple wooden desk with a simple twin sized bed and a simple dresser.

"Hope you slept alright. I like it a lot down here; it's sort of my home away from home. I come here when I need to work on JL:A stuff, obviously, or when I need to clear my head. Kate's been really good to the rest of the team. She's young, but she's been sort of our glue."

His blue eyes trail up to the work he's been doing.

"Odame has always had a pretty dark history, or at least that we know about. He did do some work in Gotham related to the Smooth in the past, trying to rid it from Gotham. Why he'd off a Congressman is beyond me."

"Off means, like, kill," he says helpfully.

"Good morning," Peggy smiles as she enters at the invitation. "Of course." Being offered a chance to work on things - or even just be included in the investigation to a certain extent - is exactly what she would like. Her eyes are immediately on the pictures taped up against the walls. Absently, she answers the question about Howard, "I believe he saw me leave. Though, no, I haven't been in touch with him since I left. We have all been a bit separate the past few days. I believe he's attempting to give the both of us space to adjust."

As for the lakehouse and it's owner, she gives a soft laugh, turning from the papers to give him her full attention. "Just fine, thank you. This place was a bit disorienting at first, but I can see the charm. Ms. Bishop seems like a lovely and enthusiastic woman." Especially in her introductions and hosting. Her tone is very sincere, when she adds softly, "I'm glad you're happy here."

Then, it is back to the work. Circling around the room, peering at documents and maps, she stops at the picture of Odame. "Yes, that's him," she glances over her shoulder at Steve. "He was who I was following in DC. If the man in the glasses downstairs is correct about the translation of what Odame told me after killing the Congressman, it's because he is a member of Hydra. With what you were saying about the Skull's return the other day, it must mean he's resurrected the organisation."

"Mm." Steve's response about Howard and space and all that gets about the most noncommittal response that Steve can muster and he moves quickly on to Kate. "She's a great addition, for sure. And she stocks the refrigerator full of beer, so the team stays pretty happy."

"Well, HYDRA never went away really. Even after Skull and I went down, it carried on in new forms and under new management. We've been fighting pieces of them ever since I've been back, and from what I understand, for a lot longer than that. But something about Shift in HYDRA makes no sense to me. As rough as Odame is, he's always seemed like he's had a moral compass. This would go entirely opposite of that. He's actively fought against Smooth distributors in the past, why now would he attack someone who was, in a sense, his ally?"

At Steve's noncommittal answer, Peggy looks over to him, head tilting just slightly as she studies him. "You think I should phone him to let him know where I am?" It's a guess. She knows Steve and Howard to be close friends and for Steve to look out for those he cares about. Then, she moves on to the Kate subject. That seems to be the safest. "Yes, I've found that drinks after work often tie a team together in many ways."

As for fighting HYDRA, Peggy frowns, disliking the idea that they never went away. That means that her mission to root out all these threats failed in some way. "I must say that I do not have the personal history you did with him, but he did not seem to care about whom he killed in taking out Burbridge. I can't imagine why else we would praise HYDRA after killing the Congressman unless he was a part of them."

"No," Steve says, shaking his head but not making eye contact with her. "Just the polite thing, I guess?" His response shows he's not even sure why he asked in the first place.

He seems all too ready to move on and go back to Odame. "My heart tells me he's not doing it by choice. But I don't know if I'm just telling myself that because it's easier to take." Apparently, he does that a lot in his life and is only now realizing it is becoming an issue.

A British woman being schooled on what is polite and what is not polite is not by an American is certainly an occurrence. Properly shamed at being rude, Peggy looks back to Steve from the papers in front of them. "Yes, it is the polite thing. I just did not wish to feel as if Howard is somehow my worried keeper that I should check in with because I need to be looked after. But, you're right. I've somehow turned into a cross teenager this past week."

As for the subject of Odame, she nods. "You seem to know the man and if you believe he is not doing this all by choice, then that is what you must trust. You're not the type to do the easy thing because it's easy, Steve." Turning her eyes back to the pictures he has printed out, she adds, "Remembering that about you often helped me make my own decisions when I did not know what to do."

"What goes on between you and Howard is none of my business. I shouldn't have brought it up," Steve replies, immediately wishing he hadn't. He pauses for a breath but then continues, "Well, even when we do things for the right reasons, sometimes we can just be wrong. I'm going after him. And if you're up for it, I want you to come with."

"What goes on between me and Howard?" Peggy is immediately taken aback by the statement. The surprise and confusion is clear in her voice. Her face quickly turns to look at him, her own train of thought completely gone. "There's nothing but friendship between us. He was the only one who understood what I was going through when I lost you." Her head tilts just slightly. "Was that offer for dinner and a dance before not an invitation for a date? I was under the impression that it was." For once, pushing through this onto work is not something she wishes to do. This is important.

Steve can't say anything correctly and just closes his eyes, "I just meant that if there's something going on between you two, it's not fair for me to barge in. I—" He begins to add, but stops as she speaks. "Of course it was." A slow shake of his head and peering eyes; he's not sure if they're both talking about the same thing anymore.

"There is nothing to be barged in upon," Peggy tells him firmly. "I'm the one that has suddenly reappeared in your life when you have already tried to rebuild it. I'm barging in, as you put it. I'm not supposed to be here. It's not fair of me to see you and suddenly hope that this all means…" she frowns, trailing off, shaking her head. "I was selfish when I first saw you again and I don't wish to uproot your life." Hence her staying with Howard and attempting to make sure he did not have to feel somehow beholden to the past. "I wanted to give you the space to figure out what you wanted. If that is dancing and dinner, then we are on the same page."

"I haven't rebuilt anything, Peg. For me, the war never ended. I woke up and kept fighting it. The names and uniforms have changed, but it's all the same thing. The only difference is that you weren't there. I didn't rebuild anything, Peg," he repeats. "I've been going through the motions. Rudderless. If you want to talk about selfish, that's me. I don't need space. I need you."

"You're not rudderless. This place is a testament to that. The people last night all certainly care about you and respect you." As for the war never ending, she nods. "It was much the same for me for awhile. All I had was the SSR and proving myself. And then it was starting SHIELD." Perhaps they have similar coping mechanisms: burying themselves in work. "I don't think you're selfish." Mostly because she feels similarly. Reaching a hand out to him, she smiles. "I'm here."

Steve reaches out to take the offered hand. "You make me want to be." He exhales, looking out over the work. "So, is that a yes?" To the dinner and dancing or to working together on Kwabena Odame, it's not really clear what he's referring to.

"I get the feeling," he begins absently, "that we're both good at compartmentalizing."

Peggy gives a soft laugh. "Yes, that is yes." To dinner and dancing and working together. It's really all the same answer. "And I am sure it's good for the state of the world that we are." If the two of them weren't, perhaps there would be no SHIELD and nuclear missiles would have blown up different parts of the world.

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