|steve rogers (willingtopay) wrote in the100,|
@ 2016-04-04 13:23:00
|Entry tags:||!storybrooke, carol danvers / captain marvel (616), steve rogers / captain america (mcu)|
storybrooke: carol & steve
Who: Carol & Steve
When: last Fridaaaaaay
Where: Marine Garage!
What: Steve has to bring his bike by so he makes awkward small talk with his favorite mechanic and Carol imagines him naked. Careful, you two.
Warnings: Naaaah except for cussing.
There were other mechanics in town who were perfectly capable of taking care of his motorcycle. Steve had been to see them before, when his usual choice wasn’t available for whatever reason. And they did a fine job.
Really, they did.
He just liked coming to see Carol.
It was easy to explain exactly why. She knew her way around bikes -- but then again, so did other people. It was more that she was just easy to talk to, and easy to relate to. Since he’d returned home from war, he found a lot of people looked at him differently than they had before. Like he was fragile, like he was broken, like he might snap at any moment. They were wary, or they pitied him. Steve appreciated their concern, but he wished they’d treat him like anyone else. He wasn’t special -- or at least he wasn’t any more special than anyone else, just because of what he’d done. Moving to Storybrooke meant a lot of new sets of eyes on him, and a lot of people to tell his story to. At least no one here expected him to be the same guy he’d been before the war, unlike everyone in his old neighborhood. The move had given him a fresh start, and he’d jumped in head-first, just like everything else in his life. People still treated him differently, though. Maybe that was just his lot in life now.
Carol was different, though, and she understood that part of his life. She’d been through the ringer too, and she knew what it was like to face all of that attention. It’d been nice to connect with someone who got it. Part of him hoped he’d be able to help her, too.
Steve pulled up in front of the garage and parked his bike. It looked quiet, but it usually did. One of the other mechanics waved at him and pointed to the garage, so he headed that way. “Hey, Carol?”
Carol was bent over and had her face in the engine of an old Ford Taurus. At the sound of his voice, she looked over her shoulder and grinned. "Hey there, soldier."
She knew how hard it was to come back from war. She was ex-Air Force, she'd been in Afghanistan, and she got her ticket out of there thanks to a devastating head injury that left her in recovery for years learning to walk and talk again. It shattered most of her memory, and she still had problems with names and faces, she still could forget a conversation mid-conversation, but given the state that she'd been in when she came home, it was actually a miracle that she wasn't a vegetable.
She had her hair up in a ponytail and grease smeared across her jaw, and she had the top half of her mechanic's jumpsuit down around her waist and tied so she could get away with wearing nothing but a men's a-shirt on top.
"Don't tell me your bike needs fixing again."
“Well…” Steve began, wrinkling his nose, trying to pretend like he’d messed something up again, but he couldn’t keep the act up for long. Whatever else Steve was, he was a horrible liar and he wore his heart on his sleeve.
After a moment, he smiled and shook his head. “Nah, nothin’ like that. She’s still in good shape. Oil change.” He could have done it himself, he knew how, but… Steve liked helping keep local businesses afloat. “If you’re not too busy. I can come back...” He felt guilty, all of a sudden, like he was bothering her over nothing in particular. He really could have handled it himself. He brushed his hands on his jeans and then stuffed them into the pockets of his leather jacket. “And I wanted to make sure you weren’t replacing me with some other guy’s bike. You can never be too careful.”
Carol didn't mind being bothered.
She was starting to get the feeling that Steve wanted to come by, but there never seemed to be a situation where he could just ask her out for a coffee or take her out for a drink. She wasn't going to say they were friends. They were friendly, and Carol liked him a lot, but … Steve was married.
Carol had friends who were guys, but there was a reason he was keeping her at arm's length while still coming around, and she had a feeling that being married was a huge part of it.
That worked out for her. Married guys who got too close were bad news.
"You know you have my favorite bike, soldier, there's no replacing you." She beamed at him, shoving her hands into her pockets.
This was stupid, Steve thought. He could have just done it himself. He should have.
There were a lot of things he should have done, these days. His life was comfortable, but it was full of inaction. Nothing changed, in any direction. That should’ve been a welcome feeling after everything he and Salli had been through, and yet...
Steve shook his head, trying to shake his thoughts from his mind, and smiled back at her, lop-sided and a little bashful. “Well, you know. She is the most beautiful one around. I’m glad you can see that too.” And while Steve was biased, he didn’t think he was far from the truth. He’d spent a lot of time on that bike, and he knew there was something special about his vintage Harley. “Besides, she doesn’t like anyone else. We had a real heart to heart last time.”
"I like that you trust her with me," said Carol with a smile. "She's the prettiest girl I see, so if you put her in someone else's hands, I'd be real disappointed."
She went to grab a rag in order to wipe off her hands, clean herself up a little bit. It never really worked, it just smudged the grease over her skin. "You gonna leave it here, or do you want to hang out while I work on her?"
“I…” It probably wasn’t super cool to have so little to do that he could just hang out at the mechanic for a while, but since his students already questioned how cool he was sometimes (especially the older ones), Steve wasn’t really concerned. Although, that was probably countered by the fact that they knew he had a motorcycle, once he thought about it.
“I haven’t been by recently, so… hang out for a bit?” He sounded hopeful, and a little hesitant, but only because he wasn’t sure if that was okay with her. He rubbed the back of his head, ruffling his hair. “Unless you need me to get out of your hair and stop bugging you. I should probably get some homework done. My 5th graders made their own versions of Starry Night. It’s pretty cute.”
Carol grinned. "No, please, stick around. Avoid your homework. Who does homework, anyway? Grab a seat, get cozy."
She left him then, in order to grab Steve's motorcycle, put it in neutral, and push it into the garage. She'd been around enough bikes to be able to push it around easily despite the weight, and it almost looked as effortless as walking a bicycle down a sidewalk.
"What grades do you teach?" she asked when she came back. Steve had told her. He'd probably told her a couple of times, but Carol's memory wasn't good.
There’d once been a time - not very long ago, actually - when Steve would’ve turned his nose up at doing more homework, but then he’d gotten into teaching, and he found his free time quickly soaked up by lesson plans and planning new projects. Truthfully, he didn’t mind. He didn’t have to deal with reading essays or writing exams, since his students were so young and all he really had to do was encourage their natural creativity. At their age, there was really no wrong way to draw a picture, as long as it came from their hearts and as long as they followed the few rules he put into place.
He watched Carol for a moment before finding a chair and dragging it closer. He had his messenger bag still strapped to the bike, which was where he had a portfolio of the kids’ work.
“K through 5,” he answered. It wasn’t the first time Carol had asked, so he wasn’t surprised. He’d figured it out fairly quickly, and still rarely knew what to say. Or if he should say anything. He chose to act like she hadn’t asked him a dozen times. “Elementary. I almost took a job at the high school when we moved here, but… I dunno. It’s fun, with the little ones. They have such vivid imaginations. It’s a blast getting to see what they come up with when we have a project.”
"Dinosaurs on fire being ridden into battle by sparkly princesses?" Carol offered. "I dunno, that's what I'd draw if I were in your class."
It didn't occur to her that she'd asked him before about what grades he taught. She asked him a lot of things about his past that she just couldn't hang onto. Her memory for some things was good -- she picked up on little details and kept them in her head, but seemingly basic things seemed to fall away.
It was the kind of thing that was easy to ignore if you didn't talk to Carol often, but the more Steve got to know her, the more obvious it was. She zoned out. She lost things. She asked Steve the same question multiple times in a conversation. She had a better memory for things she did with her hands. She never messed up a job. If she could touch it, feel it, work it out, she kept it in her mind.
-- It was probably why she could remember what he smelled like, and why she still remembered how soft his beard was, after touching it weeks ago.
Steve’s nose crinkled as he laughed. “I know I’ve seen something almost exactly like that before.” That was exactly the kind of imagination he liked to see. “This one time --” He was an animated person when he talked, often gesturing with his hands and expressing himself easily, and he was always fully invested in every person he was talking to. This time, he leaned forward, forearms on his knees. “I do this one exercise with the younger kids, when we’re learning about primary colors, where I ask ‘em to come up with the kind of superhero or villain they think the color would be. I should show you sometime. They come up with the damndest things.”
He tilted his head slightly, peering at her. “Have you ever been by the auction? It won’t be until the end of May, but you should come by this year. I’ll get you hooked up with a masterpiece. It’ll be worth a lot one day.”
Carol liked just watching him. A lot of guys weren't warm in the way that Steve was, or they held all of their emotion inside in order to look tougher, but Steve just seemed like an open book. Working with children probably helped — Ben Irons was the same way.
"You auction off your kids' drawings?" she asked, starting to smile. She wasn't sure if she was right, she really didn't keep up with the activities at the school — she didn't have kids, she didn't want kids, and if Steve had told her before about it, she didn't remember.
“Sure,” Steve answered with a shrug. “They get a portion of the sale, but the rest goes to charity.”
It’d been a long-shot when he’d first brought the idea up. Other teachers looked at him like he was foolish, and like it was something that wouldn’t even take off. How would he even find things worth selling? But Steve had faith, and the kids had been pumped to give back.
“The pet shelter, Heart and Home… the kids like knowing they’re making something that’ll help people, and they’re all so proud when someone wants to keep something they’ve made. Some people were worried that it’d end up some big competition between them, but they’re all real supportive of each other.” Steve smiled. Sometimes people tried to give him all the credit, but he didn’t deserve it. The kids did. “I’ll bring a flyer next time I stop by, so you can come.”
"I'd like that," Carol said with a smile. "I, ah. I don't have kids, I don't even think I want kids, but I do like kids. So, you know, anything to support them, if I can. I might even bid on something that catches my eye."
She fidgeted a little, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. She was supposed to change the oil in Steve's bike, but she seemed to have forgotten that his bike was there at all.
Steve beamed. “Great!” He sounded excited, and he could tell, so he took a breath and cleared his throat. His cheeks were probably pink, but there wasn’t much he could do about that now. “That’s great,” he started, with a little less enthusiasm. “If one of ‘em makes something of a sparkly princess riding a dinosaur into battle, I’ll put it aside for you.”
He and Salli didn’t have kids, either. He wasn’t sure if that was going to be in the cards for them, though once, years ago, he’d imagined it. He’d pictured a little girl with her hair and his eyes, and a little boy who was as much of a troublemaker as he’d been. Years ago was a different lifetime, however. Things had changed since then, and Steve had stopped imagining that life.
He’d forgotten about the bike, too. “You don’t want kids?” he asked suddenly. It was one of the most personal questions he’d asked Carol since they’d met, and he hadn’t really planned on it. A moment later, he looked embarrassed for asking, and waved a hand. “You don’t have to answer that, I’m sorry. It’s not my business.”
Carol frowned. "No. It isn't any of your business."
The response was immediate, shutting Steve down despite the fact that he'd already realized that he was prying into her personal affairs. She immediately felt bad about it, and she sighed, dragging over a stool so she could sit near him.
"I just don't want them," she said. "It doesn't all have to tie back to something, some people just don't want kids." The way she said it suggested it did all tie back to something, considering Steve really hadn't been pressing her for any other answer than Nah, I don't feel like it.
If he’d been standing, or if she hadn’t taken a seat nearby, that would have been Steve’s cue to leave. As it was, it would have been highlighted how he’d put his foot in his mouth if he’d tried to make excuses to leave, and she didn’t seem that bothered once she got the initial irritation out of the way. Or at least he hoped she wasn’t really that bothered.
“No judgment,” he replied gently, though he knew from experience that wasn’t easily believed. Whenever he heard that from other people, it always sounded like they were about to follow it up with some argument to convince them about how great kids were.
While he had a feeling there was more to it, Steve wasn’t about to ask just yet. He spoke without thinking already, and he didn’t want to risk pissing her off even more by prying into something that she wasn’t willing to share. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it,” Steve added. “I was just curious. Stupid, and curious. I get a lot of shit when people find out I don’t have any. It’s annoying as hell, but I can’t exactly say that to the face of one of my students’ parents.”
Carol rolled her eyes. "Trust me. I know. I'm thirty-six, I'm not married, no kids. The wine moms of Storybrooke all wonder what's wrong with me. Even lesbians are married with kids at this point."
She shrugged a shoulder. "I'm surprised you get shit. You're a man, I don't hear a lot of crap about men not having kids. Your biological clock's not ticking, after all."
“No, but --” Steve frowned. Salli probably got the brunt of people’s bad attitudes, but he was the one who faced more of the parents. Luckily, their friends were good about not asking. Some of them would probably tell them not to have any kids. “I teach them,” he continued, “and their moms like to ask when we’re going to have some, since I’m so great with theirs. Sometimes, they get this look, like they’re sad for me. Like they pity me.”
Steve’s voice trailed off for a moment and he sighed. “Everyone thinks they know everything about how life’s supposed to work and what we’re all supposed to want. Despite only seeing, you know, a fraction of another person’s life. We only show each other the good parts. So people make these snap judgments about what other people could do without knowing what’s really going on. It’s frustrating.”
Carol listened, leaning back in her chair a little bit. She understood the pitying look, and the knowing look where surely she'd change her mind when she had her own kids, or that slightly disgusted look where people assumed she was heartless, or something. People were weird about other people having children.
"What's up with you and Salli?" she asked after a moment. "None of my business, obviously, but you've clearly got shit going on."
“It's --” He’d been about to lie and say it was fine, nothing was going on, but he stopped himself short. Steve tried not to lie if he could help it, no matter what the circumstances were. With Carol, however, it didn't feel quite right to be fully honest and open. She barely knew them; the last thing he wanted to do was give someone a reason to judge either of them.
Finally, Steve just shrugged. “I probably shouldn't… you didn't sign up to be my therapist on top of taking care of my bike.” It was a lame joke, and a poor attempt to lighten the mood a little. “We've been through a lot. My deployment, her injury…” How could he explain the feeling that something wasn't quite right, but he didn't know what? They weren't unhappy, in any case. They didn't argue like some of their friends did. “It's probably nothing.”
Carol frowned slightly. "If you have to say 'it's probably nothing', that means it's probably something," she said. She didn't want to insist that something was jacked up in his marriage, of course she didn't, but Steve seemed concerned and the least she could do was validate that feeling instead of dismiss it.
Deep down, Steve knew Carol was right. He could feel it, picking at the back of his mind like a woodpecker. Even though he couldn’t place a finger on what was going on, he knew there was something.
It was probably him, at the end of the day. He couldn’t think of what he’d done wrong, but if he had... all the puzzle pieces would fall into place.
He exhaled slowly and nodded. “Yeah.” He nodded again and looked up at her, smiling sadly. “Sorry, didn’t mean to unload on ya there.”
Carol shrugged. "Hey, no worries, we all got problems, and I happen to be a good listener." She reached out and smacked Steve's leg with the back of her hand. "And lucky for you, I might always forget this conversation in a few minutes, so there won't be any witnesses."
She was embarrassed about her condition, it was a glaring weak spot, but the least she could do was be defensive and cover it up with humor.
“Thank God, otherwise I'm not sure how I'd look you in the eye later,” he joked, slipping easily into the same sort of humor Carol used. It was obviously not a good thing that she might forget; he hoped she didn't think he really thought so. But they'd known each other long enough now that he wasn't too worried.
He hadn't ever pried about what was wrong, or about what had happened. He knew enough pieces of her life to put it all together, but he'd never felt comfortable asking. Now, though, his guard was down a little more than usual. “Combat?” he asked gently. There wasn't any pity in his eyes, only curiosity. He figured she'd know what he was getting at without him having to spell it all out. “If you ever want to talk…” He hesitated just a moment. “I'm a good listener too.”
Carol's eyes flickered toward him. For a moment, it seemed like she'd blow him off and not answer, but she nodded. "Afghanistan," she said. "I don't remember any of it. I know I was out there, I know there was an explosion, and I know the TBI was severe. I lost a lot of memory. I … well, you know how bad I am, I know that I've asked you multiple times about things. I'm not a flake, it's not that I'm not listening."
That was about as much detail as she'd offered Steve before, that she had a bad memory. "I spent a long time in the hospital, long time relearning how to do basic shit. Walking, talking. Doing… y'know, shit with my hands." She wiggled her fingers.
No matter how many times Steve had wished he could forget some of the things he’d seen overseas, he wouldn’t have traded those memories in for what Carol was facing. It was a sobering reminder of how different someone’s experience could be. Trauma had many shapes and sizes, he knew that from experience, and he wouldn’t want to invalidate someone by comparing them to someone else, but -- he was lucky.
“Well, the rehab did a good job there, I know you’re great with your hands.” It took a moment for Steve to realize that it might sound a little suggestive, and then he laughed, embarrassed. He nodded his head towards his motorcycle. “I mean with the bike. I never thought you were a flake, don’t worry. I’ve been trying to figure out how to ask…” He wrinkled his nose. “And failing. You’re not the first person I’ve known to have that kind of injury out there. I’ve seen a lot.” He almost reached out for her hand, to offer comfort in some way, but changed his mind half-way there. “Sounds like you’ve come a long way, though.”
Carol caught the movement of his hand and her breath hitched. She felt a wave of disappointment when he pulled back — damn it, Carol, he's married. He was married, he was happy, and Carol wasn't going to do that fucked-up thing where she slept with a married man like she had with Dean Wesson. She wasn't going to do that again, and Steve was a way, way better guy than Dean.
Problem was, now she was imagining sex with Steve Shields, here on the floor of the garage.
She blushed hotly, looking up and away. "Yeaaaaaaah. Yeah, no, I have. I got lucky, I worked my ass off."
The only way Steve would have missed that blush would’ve been if he hadn’t been paying attention. As it was, he noticed. He didn’t pry, but it made him smile, and he wondered what had prompted that sort of reaction. It was a good look on her, he thought.
He smoothed his hands over his knees, catching a glimpse of his ring in the light.
“Sounds more like perseverance than plain ol’ luck, if you ask me.” There was plenty of luck associated with Carol surviving in the first place, if you could call it lucky to face what she had. He’d met veterans who wouldn’t have seen it that way. “It shows. You’re doing great. Honestly.” He meant that, too. He didn’t know if she felt like she was doing fine, considering how often she asked the same question, but Steve was impressed. “I don’t mind repeating myself if it helps you out. It’s not a problem.”
"I… thanks. I try not to bring it up, but it gets obvious if you talk to me enough. Shit just falls out of my head."
Carol looked down at her feet, rubbing the back of her neck. "I, uh. So I should start workin' on your bike, huh. You don't really want to watch me, do you?" God, she hoped not. Or, really, she hoped he did, but she wasn't sure she could handle his eyes on her, because she got flirty with him. She made sure she moved in such a way so he'd look at her, she was all too aware that she wanted him to look at her ass whenever she bent over.
“Ah, right. Yeah, you probably...”
Tempting as it was to keep her company, Steve knew he should probably get out of her hair and stop wasting her time. He probably shouldn’t hang around, staring at her like some sort of pervert, either, or let her flirt -- she did do that, sometimes, right? Or was that just in his head? Did it matter? he wondered. Neither option was a good one. “I’ll --” He’d told Salli he would let her know when he got here, so she could swing by. Carol wouldn’t take that long on the bike, if she didn’t have anything else going on, but he should at least let Salli know where he was.
Steve cleared his throat and stepped over to the bike to grab his bag and swing it over a shoulder. “I’ll be out front,” he told Carol, a crooked, warm smile on his face, hiding whatever awkwardness that lingered. “I gotta give Salli a call now that I’m here, anyway. Wouldn’t want her to worry. Let me know if you need me.”
Carol gave him a little wave, biting her lip to hide her grin. "Catch you in a bit, soldier."