The Rare Every Day Normal

February 13, 2017:

A new life presents Bucky Barnes with new challenges - including the tricky task of navigating a modern-day grocery store. A misplaced text sends Jessica Jones and Zatanna Zatara to his rescue.

Grocery Store - New York City

It's a grocery store, with self check-out lines.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: John Constantine, Dr. Jane Foster, Azalea Kingston, Cindy Moon, Spider-Man, Tim Drake

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

James Buchanan Barnes is and was many things. He's been NCOIC of the famed Howling Commandos, Sergeant Barnes, the right hand of Captain America. He's been the Winter Soldier, a dread specter spreading wings of death over the entire latter half of the 20th century. But he's never been, in any of his incarnations… any use at all in the kitchen.

He can boil water. Get his way around a C-ration, sure. With concentration, he can even make coffee, though Jane's miracle of a coffee machine has obviated that skill. But anything else? Completely beyond him.

This has left Jane to do literally all of the cooking. And while she doesn't generally mind, it's… really… a lot of cooking, given that she's living with a super-soldier. Eventually, whether by her saying something about it, or by Bucky— with his typical eye for such things— noticing for himself a certain inequality of workload going on, the man quietly insisted upon taking up the duty of actually shopping for the food himself.

This exposed him, for the first time since his liberation, to the 21st century grocery store.

Now, he's been in grocery stores before, but always as the Winter Soldier, so he wasn't exactly paying attention to the items nor taking in just how much everything changed. And while he was always given a full technological and political information update when defrosted— much like a computer getting a new patch— the information given him was always quite dry, and rarely included cultural information. Just enough to keep his movements seamless and his interactions unsuspect, in whatever new decades he was working in.

So really, when he gets to the local Associated supermarket (he paused in front of Trader Joe's, but the people going in didn't really look like his kind of people), the first thing he does is spend fifteen minutes just walking around, astonished at the sheer volume of everything. He pauses in the rice aisle (there is half an entire aisle dedicated to rice) and examines every single variety closely. He comes away with no clearer idea of which kind he is supposed to even get.

So he pulls out his phone and carefully composes a text to Jane, «I cannot figure out anything in this god damn store. Maybe you better come.» He appends his location, and waits.

Now, the Winter Soldier was fully updated on the use of smartphones and tablets, and so Bucky uses them with much more fluency than one would expect, given his age. But even the most millennial of millennials sometimes make mistakes with their phones, and so it's an absolute given that sometimes Bucky Barnes will make mistakes with his.

His text does not actually go to Jane Foster. He has accidentally selected the next entry on his contact list instead, Jessica Jones. And then his phone suggested Zatanna Zatara and, without realizing, he added her too.

—-

Jessica Jones had blinked at the text but…okay. She was game. She was in the neighborhood; close enough that she didn't even bother responding to the text. She just walked in, then started searching for Bucky aisle by aisle. When she finds him she slips up beside him, hands in her pockets. She scans the wall o' rice and says, "Don't worry, Bro, we got this. What's on the list exactly?"

Because she's a detective. She reassures. She asks questions. Together they will find a solution. Surely her deductive reasoning skills are up to the task of picking rice

Even though, you know. This is like the first month she's ever actually had a kitchen full of food instead of peanut butter and booze, and she's still struggling to figure out what the hell to do with it herself. Still! Pleased to be called in, she will no doubt be a stalwart and excellent ally in this quest.

—-

She has just been stepping out after tea with one of Gotham's covens, having spent most of the week familiarizing herself with Gotham's occult scene to further arm herself for the tribulations that would follow, when the buzzing sound emits from her back pocket. Zatanna stops in her tracks to fish it out immediately, half-expecting it to be John or Tim. When the caller ID flashes across her screen, eyebrows lift in surprise…and climb even higher when she takes in the contents of the text. It causes her brows to knit in faint confusion. What kind of store is it? She half expects it to be a Sharper Image, until Google Maps tells her that it is a grocery store in New York City.

"…wonder if he's looking for anything in particular…" she murmurs, tucking the device back into her pocket and checks the photographs in her phone. It's just as well, as she has more books meant for Jane. They will be safe in Bucky's possession; she has a feeling even if some group of gangsters attempted to relieve the Winter Soldier of his valuables that he'd probably relieve them of the integrity of their bones, at best, and their lives at worst. She has no doubt he would make, if nothing else, a very able custodian for some priceless books.

It takes but a whispered word to take her to the alley next to the grocery store, booted feet emerging from the shadows within and taking her into the space. Electronic doors slide open, her hands in her pockets. She has no bag with her - her 'bookbag spell' has gotten some incredible mileage since she invented it, and she is dressed in her typical black attire; ripped black jeans with her fishnets worn underneath, boots and chic black jacket. Her boots put her at a respectable five-foot-ten, though despite her favored footwear, Bucky and John still manage to tower over her by a couple of inches.

Ice-blue eyes sweep over the crowds, but after quickly perusing the aisles, she recognizes him almost instantly.

Though it looks like he's already got back-up. It doesn't stop her from approaching, however, pulling a hand from her pocket and giving Bucky and Jess a wave.

"Hey Bucky, Jess," she greets cheerfully. "Wow, it's been a /while/ since I've been in an actual grocery store."

With Kasim taking care of stocking Shadowcrest, and Chas doing the same in John's flat, coupled with her 'eat and go' lifestyle these days, grocery shopping is an endeavor that she hasn't found necessary in ages. She does give Jess a quick hug, and offers one to Bucky as well, arms out, complete with expectant smile.

"So what are we looking for?" she asks.

—-

Bucky is so engrossed in the bounty of the 21st century that he does not notice either Jessica or Zatanna arriving to render him aid. This in itself is extraordinary, as the former assassin tends to notice everything, especially when it's people staring at his back and making their way towards it.

As such, when Jessica speaks up behind him, he whirls a little more quickly than would be expected for someone that ostensibly is expecting her presence. He stares at her, baffled and more than a little suspicious. Is Jessica a secret mind-reader??

"How did you— " he starts, when Zatanna pops up also. She'll probably be pleased to see he's wearing the bracelet even here; it looks like it's just become a permanent part of his body by now. She'll probably be moderately less pleased to find that he's giving her a puzzled and somewhat suspicious stare also. Not exactly the greeting that a lady called to render aid would expect.

"Why are you both—" he starts again, before a terrible moment of realization crosses his eyes. He fishes for his phone and starts swiping agitatedly.

"Fuck me," he says, proving that even if he and Steve are brothers in all but blood, they're definitely far from being identical. "I meant to text Jane. I'm sorry for pulling you both off course. Neither of you need to stick around or… ah, shit." Somewhat, helplessly, he looks around at the twenty different options for rice, a simple 1940s man overcome by modernity. "Why do people need so many different kinds of shit these days? I just need rice. What the fuck are 'young rice flakes'??'"

—-

"Eh? Well, it's not as if I'm suffering from the sheer inconvenience," Zatanna replies with a wiggle of her fingers. "Travel times are nonexistent for me these days between Gotham and New York." Though she can't help but grin at Bucky's curse, and the realization of his mistake. "We're here, we might as well help. Wait until you get to the /self/ check-out lines, because they rarely ever work for people who're born in the last decade, let alone the last few. I mean you get there, you ring up everything correctly, you don't remove any of the items from the bags, and then you try to pay by credit card and suddenly everything goes wrong and you need an adult with a nametag."

His question has her lifting her shoulders in a shrug. "Demands of the free market and capitalistic principles aside, I don't know either. People like stuff, so people make a lot of stuff so people who like stuff could buy more stuff until it's time to move and then they try to get rid of as much of their stuff as they can, and then once they move into a new place, the cycle of getting stuff starts all over again. But if you just need rice….does Jane have a rice cooker or anything?"

She basically echoes what Jessica says, though hers is a more nuanced approach. There's a glance at the private investigator, and she gives her a grin. "Or you could use the detective approach," she says lightly. "Honestly when I'm at a grocery store, I just pick whatever so long as I have the means to cook the thing in." Not to say she cooks often, but she /is/ Italian and her nonna made her sit in the kitchen with her to learn a few handy tricks around the kitchen. "But no idea about the young rice flakes either." And out of curiosity, she looks for a bag of it, squinting at the back. "…yeah, no, this isn't helpful at all."

There's an inquiring glance at Bucky. "How's Jane doing?" she wonders. "I have a few more books for her and I can always stop by to see her, but I didn't want to overwhelm her with constant visits either."

—-

Bucky still looks extremely embarrassed and abashed at having put out two ladies, no matter what Zatanna says about travel times and teleporting, but the more she talks about things— /self/ checkout lines and credit cards and everything going wrong— the more he starts to contemplate that this was perhaps, in the end, the tactically correct choice. The two women may also think so, judging by the way his eyes are glazing a little.

"I did notice some machines, coming in," he says warily. "And a corresponding lack of cashiers." The self-checkout is entirely new to him; the last time before this that he was defrosted, they weren't /quite/ yet a common sight, and they certainly weren't pertinent to anything about the mission he had been defrosted to do.

(London. September 9th, 2013. That'd been a quick and easy one, if anything he did could have been said to be easy. He had to make it look like an accident, so he'd dragged her out back to the pool and left her floating—)

He snaps back to the present after a too-long moment of staring. "Right, well. I'll get to that part… later. There's got to be at least one person left to actually talk to face-to-face…?" He starts fishing through the rice, Jessica's advice in his ear, an amused sort of look on his features to hear her framing it as a detective would. "Clever approach," he admits, as he starts contemplating some basmati rice that claims it is 'great for curries.' "She likes stove cooking… and she likes making these curry things."

As far as America's trend towards capitalist decadence? Bucky snorts, which succinctly expresses his opinion on the matter. "Not an attitude I'm used to," he says, with the sort of disapproving brevity that quickly reminds that he grew up literally during the Great Depression. His sternness eases, however, when she mentions she's got more books. "I can take 'em back for her," he says, "but I think it'd be good for you to visit her also. She's withdrawing too much. Do her good to talk to some people…"

He pauses. "Anyway, it's not just rice," he says, a little apologetically. "There's some other stuff…" And with that, he actually puts /away/ his smartphone— with all its list and note and personal organizer apps— and, in lieu of it, fishes out a physical notepad and pen on which he presumably scribed a list. He pages through the thing comfortably. His handwriting is impeccably-even cursive.

"…Coconut milk?" he starts from the top, sounding quite skeptical about it. Below, thankfully, are more prosaic entries like 'eggs,' or 'bread,' though 'quinoa' a little further down may be another sticking point.

—-

"There are," Jessica assures him. "You sometimes have to wait in a longer line, but…I actually prefer it since it means someone gets to keep their job." She seems to think the Basmati is fine; she at least doesn't try to stop him from buying it. Zatanna with her comments about actually cooking the food gains some interest; she's never seen Zee cook, or even realized that was among her hobbies.

She glances at Zee when he says it's not just the rice. She smiles. "Well, we can stick with you. I'm running a little low on stuff anyway; everyone in my home has an appetite right now. Huh. What the Hell is quinoa?" She pronounces it Qu-In-O-A instead of keen-wa, which of course means Bucky's not alone in not knowing what the fuck that is. She glances at Zee, hoping she'll have some answers for some of this stuff. That's the one that looks really arcane to Jess, at least.

She seems content to let Zee handle the bulk of the socializing. Those gears are still so rusty for her, at least in any casual way; she's learning but she observes. Zee has an easy way with this, effortlessly oiling the gears of social interaction even when faced with people who have trouble with small talk or even extended non-serious social interaction, marveling at her ability to move effortlessly through social commentary, rice selection and Dr. Foster's well-being like an acrobat effortlessly balanced on every single social current.

—-

"Yeah I think the manned checkout lines might be the best bet. Even I can't get the self-checkout terminals to work correctly and I'm a filthy millennial," Zatanna tells Bucky, still looking somewhat irritated, remembering the last time she used one. She does, however, watch his eyes as they glaze over, though she does not ultimately connect this to a bloody, faraway memory. It might just be all because of what she says - or so she hopes. If anything, the fact that he's doing something as mundane as /grocery shopping/ is relieving to her, and even a little endearing. The smile returns on her lips.

"That's the spirit," she says, lightly clapping Bucky's shoulder. "Even if the self-checkout terminals were in any way foolproof, I'd prefer talking to someone anyway." Ever drawn to the human element as she is; her expression shifts to interested immediately when he mentions that Jane likes to cook. "I love vegetable curry," she confesses. "Whenever I'm in New York, Chas makes it for me all the time, though what he's really famous for is his rack of lamb. I never had it myself, I uh…don't eat meat, unless it's seafood. Long story."

'Long story' being code for 'John was involved and it's as weird as you would expect it to be.'

"Anyway if you think she's up for it, I can help you bring the groceries back to Jane's apartment and I can see her, then," she says. "She's probably already finished with the books I gave her the last time, so I can pick those up also, and drop off the new batch." The idea of Jane withdrawing does make her frown inwardly, resolving to at least spend a couple of hours with the pretty physicist before she returns to Gotham this evening. And while visiting John was also tempting - especially after close to a week of not seeing him - his text about lying low remains fresh in her memory. She shouldn't chance it.

"Basmati is great, that's all I ate in India when Daddy took me to Delhi a few years ago," she says, reaching out so she could grab it for Bucky and puts it in whatever basket or cart he's got. "Coconut milk should be…probably in the 'Ethnic foods' aisle, that's where I always find it. And Quinoa is…weird. It's good, but it's weird. It's like if rice and barley had sex and produced a tinier, chewier baby."

Why are her metaphors so awful?!

He'd find her appreciatively looking at his list; not because it's overly detailed or organized, but because of his impeccable handwriting, ever the incorrigible aesthete, drawn to beautiful things. The sight of the ID bracelet on his wrist, however, gets him a warmer smile. "Back in the days when everything had to be done proper, huh?" she teases Bucky. "Come on, coconut milk is this way. So is the quinoa, actually. Let's go get those first."

To Jessica, she flashes her a curious expression. "How /is/ that going anyway?" she wonders. "With Az and…Cindy?" Spidey had told her, it seems. Because she's been in Jess' apartment and it's small, the fact that she has two roommates crammed in New York-sized spaces must involve some creative space finagling.

—-

"Yeah, fuck the self-checkout," Bucky decides. At the least his foul mouth is perfectly up to date with the modern world. It figures swearing would be the one thing Bucky would seamlessly upgrade to modern-day proficiency. He tenses slightly at Zatanna's touch, but there's no indication it's anything but the cagey, unconscious reflex of a man accustomed to remaining on guard.

He gives her a side-glance when she admits she doesn't eat meat, though more because he hears a lot of subtext behind 'long story,' and isn't sure he wants to ask. He wisely decides against.

Instead he just nods slightly as Zatanna proposes coming back with him for a brief visit with Jane. "I'll call ahead and ask her," he says— with a slight 'and get the contact right this time' wince— "but it ought to be fine." His basket is hung from his left arm, and receives the heavy bag of rice without any perceptible hitch on Bucky's part. He doesn't even seem to notice the weight. It is entirely likely the basket itself would break before his arm even began to perceive that its burden might actually be heavy.

It's like if rice and barley had sex and produced a tinier, chewier baby, Zatanna says cheerfully of quinoa. Bucky looks at her in silence for several seconds, before he transparently opts to just ignore she said that, and moves on to the next items on the list.

Now, speaking of back in the day when everything was proper… "I'm for people getting to keep their jobs," Bucky mutters along as they walk. "Used to work as a stocker, myself. Only job a kid like me could get, not being in a union." He peers balefully at the shelves. "Was a lot simpler to fill the shelves back then." He shakes his head, a cranky reminiscing old campaigner in a thirty year-old's body, as he pulls out that pad and pen and studies his handwritten list. "Though then I found a draftsman who'd take me on and that put an end to stocking. That woulda probably gone well if not for the war…"

He's obviously rambling, mostly because his mind is elsewhere trying to figure out what the hell quinoa is. Jessica's mention of 'everyone in her home' pings something in his mind, but the thought doesn't fully reach fruition until Zatanna says 'Az and Cindy.'

"Reminds me," he says, fishing out a billfold and frowning as he pages out some cash. "I dunno when or how else I'm going to get ahold of Azalea, so if she's staying with you, take this back to her." He grimaces. "I'll explain some other time."

—-

Indeed, the text about lying low seems to be good advice, for Jessica does show signs of having been in a rumble. Though John had offered to take her to Zatanna for the cut that's now butterfly bandaged up the left side of her face, she'd declined, opting to go home, sleep, and slather Neosporin on it instead. It was just too trivial a thing in her eyes for her to want to waste Zee's effort on, and by then she was ready for rest. She'd been crawling around Chinatown since to little effect so far, but she was dogged and determined. She'd find a way to make that breakthrough. However, these things took time.

She absolutely pulls a face at rice and barley having sex, turning skeptical eyes on the feminine of her two friends. "Seriously?" she asks, wrinkling up her nose. But she won't delve too far into a quinoa debate at least.

"It's…weird," Jessica says when Zatanna asks her that. "I feel a little in over my head sometimes. Cindy won't let me help her, not really. Az will, but…I mean that's slow going. I wouldn't have trusted myself with a fucking potted plant four months ago, now I'm taking care of live humans. At least they're both technically adults. They break stuff all the time, then fix it and hope I don't notice. Since they fix it, I pretend not to notice." They each have beds, as it happens; the master having been outfitted with two twins since Jess' old double bed was broken anyway. Jessica just takes the couch.

Or sleeps at Shadowcrest.

Or at Bucky and Jane's.

In fact, the woman is rather addicted to couch hopping it seems, though it has nothing to do with the crew at her apartment. From a situation in which she couldn't stand to be around anyone, convinced that she was utterly poisonous, to a she-wolf roving about to flop down with various members of her mental 'pack,' feeling at her best when one of "her" people is around.

She listens to Bucky ramble with an amiable smile on her face though, stopping in her narrative about Az and Cindy until she finally laughs softly. "Poor cantankerous Grandpa Bucky," she teases.

She takes the cash with a baffled expression on her face, then folds it into her wallet. "Okay. Just…call me. Whatever she's done, I'll…try to explain why it wasn't appropriate. I'm really sorry, whatever it was." Because clearly what Az does is her fault for…reasons? Jessica hasn't done enough self-examination to recognize that she tends to think anything and everything that happens anywhere even remotely connected to her is automatically her own fault, a tendency that has only been magnified now that she has entered the world of complex relationships and dynamics.

—-

She absorbs these snippets of Bucky's life back in the 40's with quiet interest as she leads her small party to brave the Ethnic foods aisle, finding the Quinoia and placing it on Bucky's basket. She also searches for the coconut milk and finds it, though she lifts two cans at Bucky. "One or two?" she asks, uncertain as to how much curry Jane makes for him, but considering the man's more superhuman attributes, she opts for four cans, placing them in the basket.

"What did you do for fun back then?" Zatanna wonders of Bucky. "This century's got no shortage of entertainment since people have the attention spans of spastic ants these days, but those were the days before the smartphone and Candy Crush." He gave up the story about being a stock boy, and as always she follows the flow of conversation to see where it leads. "And did you guys need more coffee?" The aisle was close by, and she remembers what he said about coffee that day on the bench, when he…

She expects the twinge, the fist around her gut whenever she remembers it, but while the ache remains, it's largely overridden, now, by her fascination and her concern - relief that the man was /shopping for groceries/ and not looking at a lake, haunted by the ghosts of his checkered past. It has been easier to interact with him after that talk in Prospect Park, and seeing him with the ID bracelet has only bolstered her resolve in pursuing this course of action.

The billfold Bucky offers Jess gets a curious look, but when he mentions it's for Az, the expression fades. She is familiar with her money troubles, though she wisely says nothing about it. After the discovery of Azalea's disturbing iDoL post, she wasn't exactly sure /how/ to interact with the other woman anymore, though she's clearly concerned about her well-being. She does know /one/ thing, though - they have to help her, before the problem gets worse. And then maybe, maybe all this strangeness and awkwardness would go away.

"The two of them need jobs," she says, glancing at Jess. "If not just to get them out of your apartment for a bit to stop breaking your things. I offered to look into something simple for Cindy when Spidey mentioned her to me, and Az is…she can't take charity forever."

At Jess' remark about Az and whatever she did that isn't appropriate, the young woman resolutely looks at the shelf, her expressive face unable to keep that discomfitted look under wraps. It seems like a pattern, though she doesn't seem surprised at all that Bucky and perhaps even Jane have been exposed to that also. It isn't easy being a God-vessel, though she can't help but wonder how severe the integration is now…

The 'Grandpa Bucky' comment has her flashing a quick grin at the investigator. "So long as he remains /our/ Grandpa Bucky," she says, mischief on her pale mien.

—-

Bucky listens in silence as Jessica and Zatanna discuss the former's new charges. His only comment comes towards the end. "As somebody who's had to wrangle an asshole who won't take help and keeps getting his god damn ass in trouble," he says, clearly the start of some scintillating advice that will solve all their problems, "— it doesn't get any better. Sorry. Maybe a little easier, though."

To speak of that, though… he's reminded to pull out some cash and hand it over with an injunction to pass it to Azalea. He's cagey about what exactly it was she did— and a look at his eyes, troubled and guarded and transparently trying not to think too hard, suggests that it's because whatever it was hit real close to home on some issues Bucky isn't ready to think about himself. "It's not your fault," he does say, exasperated. "If you're gonna apologize for anything, do it for calling me grandpa. I haven't hit a hundred /yet/."

All the while, he's trailing Zatanna, seeming content to allow her to subtly take over this operation. He waits patiently, still showing no signs of actual strain, as the basket fills up with various items. He looks a little uncertain about the 'one or two' question, though the 'four' she ultimately decides on is not objected to.

Do you need more coffee? Bucky is subdued when he answers, "No." He might be thinking about the same thing she is.

It seems Zatanna is listening to his rambling, however, because she asks a sudden question: what did they do for fun back then? "Eh, well," he contemplates, "movies, musicals, that hasn't changed, though the prices have. Plays and radio shows. Cards, bowling, sports. Those're still around." His eyes light a little— just a little, but they do. "Biggest thing was dancing, though. Hopping from dance hall to dance hall. We'd go to the one that closed at midnight, then the one that closed at 2, then finish at the one that closed at 4. There was always another one open even later than the one that'd just kicked you out."

This is visibly therapeutic for him, speaking about his old life. It hurts, also— there is the sting of loss in his voice— but along with the ID bracelet, it seems to help ground him in who he used to be. Lets him temporarily forget the Winter Soldier.

Especially when he's being hassled this much. /Our/ grandpa Bucky, indeed. "Who else's Grandpa Bucky would I be," he inquires crossly. "And I told you not to call me that."

—-

"Az has a job. I sent her to PI school. She's licensed now; I gave her three cases in Gotham last week," Jessica says thoughtfully in response to Zatanna's comment. "I considered doing the same for Cindy, but…that feels wrong. In my gut. What did you offer for Cindy? Because I'm going to make her take it. She's studying for her GED right now though, I told her that was just fucking bedrock. Once she has that…"

She notes Zatanna's uncomfortable look and her brows draw right down. Though very little of her work really relies on the nebulous world of reading expressions, but Zatanna was expressive, and any shadow that passed across her face was visible. "Has she done something other than what I already know about, done before we went to Ozone Park?"

She also grimaces at Bucky's advice. "Good to know," she says with a sigh. She wonders who the asshole in question is, but decides not to press.

She only grins though, unrepentant about the Grandpa comment. Wholly unrepentant.

Jessica finds nothing to put in her own cart in the ethnic aisle, not really. She throws in some British cookies that look ok. Why? Cause they're British and they're cookies, and she wants to look like some sort of competent shopper who has a right to be asked on this excursion.

She listens to how excited he gets about the dancing. It makes a smile quirk on her face. "I…never learned how to dance," she admits. Unbidden, her mind turns to Matt. She'd managed to bury these thoughts and feelings ever since Chinatown; work has provided so many distractions. She wonders if he can dance in spite of his blindness, before ruthlessly reminding herself that if he can, he's going to be dancing with his girlfriend and not with her.

—-

At Bucky's eyes lighting up, Zatanna grins and presses into it. "Maybe we should go do that sometime," she suggests. "Get a group together and try and find an actual dance hall. They still exist, my theater group and I go sometimes. Completely different atmosphere - probably nothing like you've had before, but they still do lindy hop nights on Fridays and a bunch of others doing the week. God, it's always a sight, though, going to a place where people actually /know/ how to dance. I've been to the dark side, Bucky. In Europe too, where the bump and grind reigns supreme. I mean…with the right person, it's not so bad but it's…like watching Animal Planet with humans."

She slowly steers her group towards the dairy - she sees eggs and milk on Bucky's list, and places the carton in carefully after checking the expiration date. The eggs, she holds onto carefully.

"Maybe when you hit a hundred!" There's a glance. "…when do you hit a hundred?" she wonders. "If you don't mind me asking. I only…" I only really know the years you were born and when you died, is what she almost says, but she wisely manages to stop herself, somehow.

Jessica's reply about Az having a job has her nodding once. "My manager, Arnie, runs a talent agency in Manhattan," she explains to Jess. "Spidey mentioned that she's been isolated for a while so I wasn't sure what other life skills she might have. But Arnie needs people to run errands for him all the time - outfits, shoots, legal documents, that kind of thing. I figured it'd be easy enough to do, being a courier for a talent agency." That and she knows Cindy is 'like' Peter in some way, including the spider powers. She's rather sure she can swing through the city in no time also, dodging traffic with whatever metahuman powers she might have.

"I also offered to get some property so she could stay in an apartment," she says, taking a page from Tim Drake's book. "It's not as if I don't have money."

The last one has her pausing and there's a glance between Jess and Bucky. "No it's…just…" She can't exactly say it's /nothing/, because that would be lying. "She posted something on her iDoL app that made me a little uncomfortable," she offers. "But I figured once John and I figure out her problem, it'll probably hopefully go away."

She falls quiet at that, and her smile returns. "Anyway if it's just about teaching you how to dance, I can show you how," she offers to Jess. "If you were ever interested. I'm less familiar with the guy moves, though."

—-

Jessica doesn't press. Bucky doesn't elaborate. Jessica's mental shrine to Captain America gets to remain intact for just a little while longer.

Though he's soon distracted by disgruntlement about the entire grandpa thing, and then the reminder of his birth— and death— dates. When /is/ his birthday? He has to think about that longer than anyone should have to think about when their birthday is, his expression reflecting the utter brain fog and excess of information he has to sift through before he can find the date.

"March 10th," he finally turns up, sounding surprised himself. "Sooner than I thought. It's not /really/ like I'm that old, though," he insists crankily. "Still thirty… something for all intents and purposes."

He lightens up considerably at the idea of dancing, however, though there's also a hesitant element like he's uncertain whether he might have forgotten how, or whether the seventy intervening years since he last danced might have somehow ruined everything about what he used to so enjoy. "Glad actual halls still exist," he finally settles for saying. "I've seen some of what people call dancing these days. Might as well just get a motel room and drop the pretense."

He holds his silence as to further discussion of Jessica's charges. Zatanna makes oblique mention of her particular issue; Bucky, notably, does not, remaining closemouthed. Which is probably to be expected. He'd rather just focus on other things—

"I know the 'guy moves,'" he mutters to himself, the quotes around the words audible. "Dancing really isn't that hard."

He looks in the basket, then at his list. "Think that's everything, anyway. I owe you both. I don't think I woulda got out of this death trap by myself."

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