Past Wagers

September 04, 2017:

Emery meets Steve Rogers in the park. Emery loses a fight with a tree, and Steve speaks Proud American fluently. Questions are asked and answers are provided to settle old wagers once and for all.

NYC - Central Park

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It's that beautiful time of night that is technically the next morning and that lovely time in the morning that is still technically considered nightime by those who are not early risers or do not suffer from Chronic Try-Not-To-Sleep. The sun hasn't even decided to fully wake up yet and the moon is probably counting the hours left until it can clock out as the stars twinkle dimly in the limbo that is almost dusk.

Black duffel bag is dropped near the base of a tree, the branches providing the shadow needed for a semblance of privacy and at this time…not that many people are out and about and those that are, are equally focused on their own things. Bag is unzipped and a two slender white wooden sticks are slipped free, weighted in each palm for balance and then each gripped individually. Each stick is about the length of a small club or short walking stick.

Dressed in a pair of dark grey sweats, and a fitted black t-shirt, hints of his bicep and fore arm tattoos exposed, hair pulled back in a messy ponytail…a certain Emery Papsworth slips into his first stance, swinging the sticks around, twirling one and starting to move from stance to stance through bataireacht forms (Irish stickfighting), channeling his frustration and stress into each strike and moves, occasionally stopping and bouncing on his feet and then starting over again through repetitive motions.

*

There are some people that don't have the usual '9 to 5' jobs. People that do work when required and tethered to their work phone for the moment they are needed. Such people can often have unpredictable schedules, meaning that off-duty and on-duty are far from concrete concepts. When you're a 'professional hero' like Steve Rogers, one's life falls into such a category.

While it's unclear the exact circumstances that bring him to the park so late at night, the First Avenger is here, jogging through the darkness with only the occasional park light to illuminate his way. His attire is simple and lackluster: a white tank top, grey sweatpants, and a white pair of athletic running shoes from some independent lesser-known company that is altruistic enough to get Cap buying a few sets.

As the training is stumbled upon by chance, Steve slows from his routine training of his own, taking in Emery with a curious confusion. He stands a healthy distance away as he watches, his form somewhat cloaked in shadow (albeit not intentionally), attempting to figure out what he can based on the visual cues presented to him.

*

The Irish Butler is light on his feet, flowing from one move to another. There are thrusts, not unlike fencing training and the second stick held in the defense, and then he flows smoothly into swift sweep and strikes of each stick in turn, gripping at the most extreme ends for maximum reach. The sticks cross at times as if blocking a strike over head, and he drops to a knee, a stick sweeping invisible feet from under an invisible person and he rises in a fluid motion with a stick aimed at an invisible throat of whoever he just knocked down.

He is probably not aware of an audience as he relaxes out of the stance, gritting his teeth and walking towards the tree his belongings are beneath and he exhales sharply through his teeth, swinging a stick at the tree hard enough for the practice stick to break in half, splintering.

Emery looks up in time to meet Steve's gaze, eyebrows raising a fraction and he places a hand on his hip, dropping his broken sticks and clearing his throat a bit as he grips his second stick, whistling a bit and looking around.

*

The blue eyes of Rogers observe the training katas without a word. It isn't until that the man is finally noticed by the Irish Warrior that Rogers actually speaks. Considering the man's training and what little Steve knows of the situation, Cap keeps the distance between them just in case. Still, the tone is warm and there is a slight smile. "Everything alright?" he inquires calmly, his previous training in stage and public speaking enough to have the gentleness able to project loud enough to be heard clearly.

*

Emery idly twirls the undamaged stick, looking down and back up almost sheepishly. He shrugs a shoulder, flashing a dimpled grin. "Aye, loads better now since I've a strong and concerned man inquirin' after me well bein'." His accent makes his place of origin unmistakable, the natural lilt rounding his vowels. He looks over his shoulder at the tree and then eyes flick down to his broken weapon and then back to the Cap. "Oh, ye mean that? Well, the tree made a remark about me mother. I mean, I dun tink I did any damage but I couldn't let that stand could I?" His stance has shifted to something relaxed and he idly just twirls the stick, much like a baton.

A squint, and a flash back to the days of everything being boiled, no internet to speak of and having to wear suspenders and his head tilts to the side as he stops the stick in mid twirl to tilt his head to the side. He doesn't drop the 'hey, you look familiar' line. Yet.

*

As Emery moves into a more relaxed state, so too does Steve. However, if Emery is as trained in hand-to-hand as he seems to be, he'll notice that there is still a slight edge to the dirty blond as he places his hands in his pockets, as if attempting to look as non-threatening as possible while still keeping his wits about him. A mere shrug is given in response to the question, a faint smirk appearing on Rogers' face as he steps into the light to be seen more clearly. "Suppose not, but I'd suggest asking for an apology first. Central Park is as close to the great outdoors as some New Yorkers ever get," he replies, his tone still conversational.

*

Emery doesn't quite drop the stick when Steve steps more into the light, he does however swing it up to rest against his shoulder, blinking a few times as his brain registers who he might be seeing. "Ye make a good point…" A look back to the tree and then back to Steve. "Well, its a New York tree so it showed me what's what. Broke me bloody stick. You lot have always been scrappy." He drawls with a wry sort of musing. He tosses the stick away, to land on the duffel bag and wipes his hand off on his shirt, hands smoothing over his abdomen before he bows deeply. "Where are me manners? Emery Papsworth, professional Butler and certified personal assistant, at yer service."

*

"New York always prides itself on being tough, so glad the trees are keeping with the spirit of the city."

A slight head nod is given as the introduction is made.

A few steps forward are taken before Emery's suspicions are confirmed. "I'm Steve Rogers, a civil servant." It's true, if not a far more humble explanation than most would expect. "Good to meet you, Mister Papsworth," Cap replies with that pearly white smile of his. "I hope you're finding the time in the city enjoyable."

*

"Is that what they are callin' them these days? Civil Servants?" Emery nods slowly, weighing over the title in his mind as he takes a deep breath. "The pleasure is all mine, trust me luv." He presses a hand to chest. "And please, call me Emery."

That question however just makes him place his hands on his hips and bow his head as he laughs softly. "Ah, enjoyable? I can say that in New York, when I attend mass, I dun come out and get shot at by the mafia like in Gotham. I mean, the architecture in Gotham's gorgeous but a free attempted shootin' after service seems a bit much." He muses that over, holding out a hand to make a so/so gesture. "M' still torn between New York and Gotham to find a good school for me daughter but so been lookin' at schools."

*

A brief chuckle is given. "Well, unlike many heroes, I have the American government to thank for who I am and my ability to protect. I've made my oaths and I do what I can to uphold them. But regardless if they are tied to the government or not, always happy for any who help fight the good fight."

The words would seem hackney and forced to almost anyone who said them, but the sincerity in Rogers' words makes it clear he means every one of them. But there is a reason he was chosen for the Super Soldier Project, it would seem.

When the talk of which is the superior city is given, a shrug is offered in response. "I'd say that New York was the clear choice, but I understand I'm a bit biased on the topic." A glance is given toward the cityscape wrapped in the illumination of hundreds of windows, signs, and street lamps; it is almost like they give him power. A moment or two later, Rogers looks back toward Emery. "In the end, I'd understand if you chose Gotham as well. I hear the Wayne Foundation has a lot of good school grants and the like they offer there. I'm sure you'll make the best choice for your daughter."

*

Dark eyebrows go up, millimeter by millimeter as Emery listens to Steve speak in fluid American Patriot and his lips part as he can hear in his head the star spangled banner playing in the background. If he squints, he can see the giant flag unfurling behind Steve's momentarily profiled, taking in the beautiful of the cityscape.

Mental Flashback to the Black and White Adverts, people dressed in dark green and brown wool, holding up various posters passed from person to person from American bases and promises of socking Hitler on the Jaw…

And then the Irishman is just blinking slowly as he opens his mouth as he exhales a soft 'Jaysus…' under his breath. "Ye know, I used to wonder if ye talked like that just in the adverts, I had 50 pounds on it. I would've won…" He twists to look around him and then turn back to Steve. "This is the place where legends to inspire people all around the world were born. So, I may keep me daughter here and live part time in Gotham. Who knows. She's 5. She tinks you are the definition of American and sets out apples and milk every night tryin' to lure ye to her window so she can make a wish." A pause. "I tink she's got ye confused with a really fit fairy."

*

A dismissive shrug is given. "I just love my nation as I'm sure you love yours," the Star Spangled Man with a Plan replies. states in an attempt to downplay. "I just wish more people worked to show what America could be."

But the opportunity to topic change is offered and Steve takes it. "Well, if you're interested, I could give you the number if your daughter's interested in meeting with me." Thankfully, Cap goes on before it becomes awkward. "I'm doing a Booking Toward the Future campaign where I'm reading stories at a few libraries of tales that encourage character and forward thinking. Not sure I could do much on the wishes part, I'm afraid," he admits with some chagrin as he rubs the back of his head. "But I know of a few people who work in Gotham and live in New York. It's a heckova commute, but people do it."

*

Eyes lower at the comment about loving a nation and Emery just offers a small non-committal smile and bob of his head. Topic change, much needed. "I dun tink ye'd survive a one on one with little Kennis. It is best to meet her wit' plenty o' witnesses around. She'd grill ye and get the expose she needs to add realism to her crayon drawings of your imagined adventures." He chuckles softly but nods quickly. "But I tink she'd like the opportunity to see ye in person."

The Irishman does have to sigh softly at the thought of the commute. "It's not ideal…but then again, I've taken jobs in Spain while she was still in London and such, so…" He worries his bottom lip a bit. "But here I am borin' ye with talk about offspring and such. Me apologies."

He then falls silent and looks down at his feet and then back up. "Me and the lads had another bet…a while ago, that is worthless now seein' as they are all probably dead but it's a matter of principle to get this settled." He takes a deep breath and asks with a straight face. "How hard was it to go to the loo in that get up?" He holds his hands up defensively. "I didn't ask the question! I just put money on the answer."

*

There is a long pause as the man speaks of his daughter, offering a gentle smile as Steve takes in the simple love of a father for his daughter. Rogers begins to take out a business card and a small pen, writing a four digit number. "Talk to this woman, she's Melodie. She helps me with the Facebook and other things. She'll make sure your daughter is on the list. She would have be cleared by SHIELD however, since well, I've had aliens pose as children and attempt to plant eggs in my eyes once." A couple of beats are given before Cap states with his eyes to the ground. "It was odd."

But again, topic changes save lives or conversations as the case may be.

"Well, to be honest, the different costumes had different changing times. I'd say that the one I had in World War II took me about two minutes when I got it down. The one I wore when I first became an Avenger took about five minutes because the stuff to detact the top from the bottom took forever, the stealth one, well, let's not talk about that one, it was just best that I didn't eat food or drink too much before the mission. The final one, well, I think it's about three minutes 20 seconds, but that was because I told Stark it was a priority."

Well, this is the problem with honest heroes… They are honest.

*

Emery accepts the card, offering another dimpled smile as he scans it and nods. "Thanks." He holds the card up a bit. "That's good on ye. Real kind like." He pauses in mid lowering of the card though when there's a mention of SHIELD clearance, and then it gets weirder…and ends with planting eggs in eyes and he just blows out a long breath. "I can definately see how that could be gently classified as odd. Yeah, I mean. Not every day an /alien/ in disguise tries to plant eggs in ah, yer eyes." He just nods in befuddled sympathy.

Ask and ye shall receive. Emery Asked and now he Receives the truth and nothing but the truth and he just snaps his fingers and points at Steve. "I /knew/ it. That would've been 5 quid. Granted m' sure I could've gotten ye out of it faster but that wasn't the bet." He pumps a fist a bit and then just has to grin, shaking his head. Weird thing to celebrate, especially when the other people who put money on the wager are mostly all dead, but there's closure to be found in such simple joys. The smile fades a bit as he thinks more on those days, those in the betting pool and he stares off at nothing for a moment before looking back to Steve.

"Keep doin' what you're doing. Its /good/ work and people out there need people like ye to turn their attention from the darker sides of tings. Every fight ye dun back down from, inspires another little lad or girl somewhere to push through tings when they know its the right ting to do." Emery shrugs a shoulder and clears his throat, pausing before he looks at the sky…staring and then swearing softly under his breath. "I better go." He jogs over to his duffel bag, shoving his stick and his broken pieces of stick into the bag and zipping it up. Its hoisted up to his shoulder as he turns to lift a hand to the Captain.

"It was good to actually get to talk with ye, instead of just starin' from a distance." He moves a bit closer and offers a sleek black business card, that has his name and number and email on it. "So I offer ye this. If ye ever find yerself staring at a crack in the balance between darkness and light, or ye need any help with anyting. Ever. Call me. I 'ad to desert me country to join a country's army that we'd always hated to fight wit' your country against dark dark forces. I went home and couldnt' speak openly about how I 'ad served. But ye inspired many of the lads I grew up with from a distance and they was willin' to fight too. So, I offer ye this favor to claim as ye please, if ye ever need it." He nods towards the card. "I also am very good at servin' tea." A wink given. And if the card is or isn't taken he starts to make his exit.

*

The blue eyes of Rogers take in Emery as the Irishman offers words of encouragement. It's clear Steve is attempting to draw insight from what's given and whatever is readily gleaned is known. However, Steve nods in agreement before he offers his own advice. "I will. Just remember, no matter what heroes there are in this world, few can ever take the place of their father. Nor should they. You're doing a good work too, so keep working hard to be the best father you can be."

The card is taken and a confused blink is given at the 'staring at a crack in the balance between darkness and light'. But he feels like he should know what that is because he's an EXPERIENCED HERO, so Steve just nods with a stern resolve that certainty isn't masking confusion. "Of course. It was pleasure talking with you, Emery." And once the man has walked off, Rogers will soon just do a little stretching and continue his pre-dawn jog. While not the most normal of times out in Central Park, as the butler has learned, it is surely not the strangest of experiences Captain America has had in the 21st century.

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