Chapter Four – In Brief Interludes...
If the stars don't shine, if the moon won't rise, if I never see the setting sun again,
You won't hear me cry, this I testify; please believe me, boy, you know I wouldn't lie.
As long as there is
You and me
It had been a week since she first arrived and already, Nita had carved a small place for herself in the Rogers' home. She was immensely grateful for Sarah and Steve for letting her stay in their place and she grew to be exponentially attached to them in that short period of time. She loved Steve's patience, obviously imbibed from his mother; she would never admit to it but Sarah's fretting over her warmed Nita's heart. The Rogers family were a kind and generous sort of people; noble and proud, they shared everything they had even if it was so little...and their nature made it so that she could do nothing but accept their generosity and say thank you. Nita wasn't afraid to say it, she was more than a little intimidated by Sarah's intensity.
Though mostly, Nita appreciated their lack of needing to pry; on their first evening together the two—along with Steve's friend 'Bucky'—had asked Nita questions about who she was, where she came from; and while it was hard to want to be honest with them, yet still remain rather ambiguous about her origins, the mother and son respected her lack of answers and was content enough (for the time being) to drop it and move on.
She explained that they couldn't possibly take her in, with no income or even a name for herself, she did not want to be dependent in the kindness of the family, but Sarah insisted, so far as to get her to wearing some of Sarah's old clothes that didn't fit her as good as it did half a decade ago and arranged for her to be able to take turns with Steve for either sleeping on the couch or the bed. So here she was, living her new life as Nita Quill: blond, sixteen (probably), standing over 5'9", and will be attending high school at the end of the summer: approximately in a month's time. They introduced her to the neighbours earlier that morning, thankfully not as the half-dead girl they picked up from the street; but as Nita, Sarah's niece, recently moved from Canada, with nothing suspicious about her at all; and if they might find her a bit odd-well, they simply chalked it up to the fact that they didn't know much about Canadian customs either. Nita figured she owed a lot to the "Great White North".
Nita was more than confused, "But why Canada?"
Bucky, whose hands were sticky from the apple he munched on wiped them on his trousers, "Because. No one bothers to check up on Canada anyway." he bit unto the apple once more.
Steve nodded quietly along in serious thought, "It's true."
It was deathly quiet as she entered the new room: in an instant, 29 pairs of eyes were glued to her. Nita cringed and felt like crawling back into her own skin, maybe eating herself bit by bit until nothing would remain but a mouth which led to a very full stomach, or even wishing for her father to come find her-well, almost.
The man who guided her inside wrote her name down on the board careful in sloping writing. A girl in the front row sneezed as the chalk got into her sinuses. Nita Quill fiddled with the end of her braid that reached just a little lower than her shoulders, patting down the soft strands to one side. Her hands cautiously moved downwards again to smoothen her borrowed skirt. She found Steve's eyes who nodded at her steadily, trying to reassure her in her uneasy state, her posture may not have showed it but the anxiety was in her eyes. Bucky, who sat next to Steve was positioned right beside the window, he had his hand propping up his chin, his teeth were biting at the nail of his thumb and he looked at her as if he was sharing some kind of joke. He smiled his wolfish smile.
The man in the front told her to introduce herself. She did.
He motioned for the only empty seat in the room, right in front of Bucky and perpendicular to Steve. Oh. Oh. She relieved at least that it was gonna be Barnes that would bother her (someone she knew) rather than a complete stranger.
29 pairs of eyes again followed her as she sat in her seat and took out her books and pens. She saw Steve nodding to her once more; kind, quiet Steve. The man on the front-the teacher began his lesson soon after, and the attention from the 29 pairs of eyes decreased. At some point she felt the hot fanning of breath on her neck, on the corner of her eye, she saw him, leaning forward from his seat. Neck craning, Bucky whispered to her in a secretive voice, his breathing tickling her sensitive ears, "Welcome to highschool Nita Quill."
Sarah was out doing another shift at the hospital leaving Steve and Nita alone for the rest of the afternoon. It was about 4.30pm, they were seated at the kitchen table sided by side, meticulously working through their calculus homework together. "I think I've got it," Nita exclaimed after a particularly hard question. She looks over her shoulder to Steve's neatly written worked solutions. Finding her answer completely different to his, Nita grumbles in frustration, harshly rubbing out her previous answer, "Never mind." she says.
Steve just gives her a sympathetic look.
The apartment door opens with a bang. "Jesus, Buck! You gotta take it easy with that door, Ma says you're gonna take it off it's hinges." Steve begins scolding his friend who just takes him by the shoulders, ignoring his nagging.
"C'mon, let's get outta here." Bucky tells him, handing Steve his jacket.
Steve takes the jacket thrusted to him, his left brow raised. "Where are we going?"
"We're gonna sneak into Mazlow's Forum, they're showing that Frankenstein picture again!"
Steve scratched his head, and looked at nothing in particular. His friend has seen it four times already, none of those times were legally paid for. "I...I don't think Ma's gonna appreciate me going without paying… I mean we almost got caught last time."
Bucky gave him a condescending look, "Well do you got any money on you?"
The blonde shrugged, "No, but-"
"No buts! C'mon let's go! It's a perfectly good Friday and we're wasting it." Damn him, he made a good case. Or maybe it was just Steve's urge to assert himself to his friends, he wasn't sure.
Steve floundered,"What about Nita?"
Nita, who had been silently watching the exchange perked up immediately. Bucky gave her a look, it was the look an older sibling gave when a parent forces them to take their younger sibling out. Bucky had probably meant to just take Steve since it's been awhile since just the two of them did something crazy, the last time was way before Nita's appearance too.
She knew he just didn't want to be rude, she saw it in his face. Nita was happy none the less when the next words came out of his mouth. "Then we'll take her with us. C'mon, Nita." he said along with a gesture of his head "C'mon."
She smiled and shut her notebook, wordlessly slipping on her sweater. Nita had almost just put one foot out the door when Bucky stopped and turned to her, a finger raised in caution. "Just...don't go blabbing, alright? Then we won't be able to show our faces there no more."
It was like that for the most of their way there. It was understandable at first until it started being downright infuriating. Her eyes were going to be permanently glued to the back of her head at the rate she was rolling them at the boy. It was things like, "We're gonna have to be quick, so keep up!" or "Act casual, you wouldn't want them to sniff us out, do you?" or her favourite: "Don't act all prissy when we get there, alright? If you're in, you're in. Absolutely no backing out."
It almost took everything for her to stay quiet and not shake him by the shoulders shouting: "I get it, OK! You're the one being a flaming nag!" But she couldn't say anything, how could she? They'd kick her out most definitely if she protested.
Still, she proved herself by easily slinking over the chainlink fence of the Forum's back alley; Bucky was coloured impressed while leaving Steve wishing to be anywhere near as graceful. Next, she even showed them a thing or two when she proceeded to jimmy the lock of the backstage door, picking it under twenty seconds flat. The way Bucky turned to her was almost in horror, his eyebrows raised, he couldn't believe what he just saw. Smirking, she could recognise the sheen of pride in Steve's eye as if saying: "Look at my friend. Isn't she great?" she was sure he was sticking his chest out a little bit.
The three of them enjoyed themselves profoundly, Bucky even finding the couple of sodas he stashed the last time he was there. Their backs to the wall, the smell of musty curtains curling around them. Bucky handed her the bottle of pop with a nod. And she nodded back with a smile, taking the drink. He looked at her differently, a newfound sense of admiration. Nothing more needed to be said as they turned their attention back to the screen, knees knocking against one another.
They ended the night like this: three teens sitting shoulder to shoulder passing around bottles of warm soda as they watched Frankstein bring his monster to life, the images flipped as they watched the picture show behind the curtains, cramped together and bathed in the fantastic light of the projector.
The couple in the front row couldn't tell if it was due to the special tricks pulled in the picture that gave it such an eerie vibe...but they swore they could hear laughing, if not ominous, then privy to some inside joke they could not help but want to be a part of.
For the mean time, she supposed that it was good a time as any to find a job for herself. Nita had figured that she might as well work for some money to at least pay back the the Rogerses in miniscule increments she could afford. Plus, it was good to have something to do, it took her mind away from utterly depressive thoughts like:
What if I never find Peter again?
Does he know that I'm alive?
Does he think I'm dead?
How am I supposed to get back?
What if I really am dead; in which case, this is totally not the afterlife I signed up for.
As luck would have it, menial duty was all it took to keep her thoughts blissfully blank and no where near as self-destructive as it initially was. And it was all thanks to B.J. Turner.
B.J. Turner was a little man, in his fifties with a long, hooked nose and a hideously unconvincing comb-over (made in an effort to hide his very large bald spot). He also tended to be very impatient, which was bad news for anyone he didn't like. However, the only thing he did have going for him was that he owned the only diner in the neighbourhood that can serve a halfway-decent cup of joe and an edible plate of short-stacks and eggs.
It was a good thing as it turned out that despite how much B.J. Turner wanted to fire some of his employees, he had no choice but not to do so. Take Marty, the cook, despite how much he whined about how much he liked to take his damn sweet time in the kitchen, nobody complained because it was so worth the wait. Betsy the waitress, was 42, and somewhat of a layabout, stubborn and coarse, but she's worked at the diner for so long that she just became a permanent face, and nobody could have imagined the place without her and the constant smell of smoke she puffed from the one cigarette she always pinched into the corner of her mouth.
Finally, Nita. B.J. wouldn't dream of kicking her out either, not since he hired her more than six weeks ago, she was his most efficient worker, she learned fast and got shit done. Additionally, the customers thought she was friendly and liked seeing a new face in the old joint.
Even though B.J. disapproved of her two loafing friends-the ones he called 'Knucklehead' and 'Runt'-he wouldn't do anything too bad against the boys. He was usually peeved as they hardly bought anything and preferred to hang around one of the booths waiting for Nita to finish her shift. But hey weren't the bad sort of kids who were getting into gangs and picking fights left-right-and-centre-he at least believed that they had a little more sense than that. So B.J. mainly let them go about their business, keeping his nagging to an occasional frequency-that is-as long as Knucklehead and Runt didn't bother Nita too much while she was working.
Currently, the girl in discussion was wiping down tables covered in spilled strawberry milkshake, "I don't see why you two insist on haunting this place." Nita said as she wiped the soppy linoleum surface, once or twice she had to wring the milky rag over a bucket to get it clean, the rag giving an off-putting squelching as she mopped the mess.
"Where do you propose we should go?" Knucklehead asked, his dark brow inquisitive whilst he gave a nonplussed expression. He spun the coin he was playing with around again and again on the tabletop.
Runt, beside him, scratched his blonde head as he sketched something on a napkin from the dispenser.
"I don't know," she replied. "Somewhere not here. I'm getting a lot of heat from B.J. as it is." Nita went behind the counter, searching for a glass which she quickly filled up with water and handed to a man in a booth near them.
"It's not like the old man's gonna fire you anyway, angel-face." Knucklehead declared, earning him a loud scoff from the old man who counting the money in the cash register.
"Not the point, Bucky." she said with a silencing glance aimed at the taller friend, she picked up the coffee pitcher and moved toward them. "Want a refill Stevie?" she asked the blonde with a smile.
Runt looked up from his detailed rendering of the diner interior, his pen stopping on the napkin. "Uh, sure, Nita." he answered, reaching into his jeans and taking out some change; the coins clattering on the table. Nita counted the exact amount and swiped the coins into her pocket, pouring another cup for her friend.
"Bah," Knucklehead-Bucky said, swatting the air with one hand. "We like it here, don't we Steve?"
"Hmm?" Steve barely acknowledged, not even taking his attention away from his drawing in which he was furiously applying more lines and shading to as if struck with newfound inspiration.
Bucky shook his head at the kid, making Nita laugh as she put menus away. "As I was saying, we like it here, it's nice, it's inside and we get to sit down. Plus, you get to serve us food and coffee. Ain't it fantastic?"
"Isn't it just?" Nita repeated with a bite of sarcasm, fixing her white apron over her pink uniform, "Any chance you're going to pay for this food and coffee?" She met his sparkling eyes, a smart challenge playing at the corner of her lips.
A new scene now. It was a scene with vivid greens, cheerful yellows, clear blues and palpable reds. It spun around her creating this new whimsical haze of glorious memory. Summer. August 5, 1935. Manhattan. It had been a year since Nita Quill came hurtling into their lives.
She was sitting on a green wooden bench eating a cherry-popsicle, sandwiched between her two friends: that's where Nita found herself one Wednesday morning near Central Park. Exhausted from a day of walking, the trio found a nice secluded bench to sit on and decided to splurge a little, buying popsicles from a nearby vendor.
"Ya know, Stevie, your problem is not that you're a skinny little snot. It's because you're too shy to ask anybody out. I'm sure Amanda Johnson might be too nice to turn you down. I say go for it." Bucky had this careless way of lording himself in any situation, his half-eaten popsicle wagging as he made swishing gestures with his hand. They were juniors now and Bucky would be damned if he didn't score his friend a date to the dance that coming Friday.
"I'm only too shy to because they've all turned me down in their minds even before I ask." Steve retorted, looking down at a clump of grass he was toeing with his shoe. "You remember when Derek Samuels told all the girls during freshman year not to go to the dance with me and they all went along with it?"
Nita pursed her lips in his crestfallen remark, but kept a close eye on her melting treat.
His friend huffed. "Nah, buddy. Don'tcha get started on that. All you gotta do is ask." Bucky urged, setting his jaw in determination.
"I still say, trying to save face might be the better option for me at this point." Steve nodded his head but kept his gaze on the ground. "C'mon Buck, who would want me?" he said in near whisper. Nita heard his voice like he was choking on gravel, for all of Steve Rogers' bravado and recklessness, she also knew about the boy's stunning insecurities. Her heart broke for him and she felt her blood boil for all the punks that ever saw to hurt her friend.
"See, there it is again, that's your problem!" Bucky accused pointing the dripping, half-eaten popsicle at Steve. "Too stubborn, an' I'm only try'na help."
"Will ya' lay off on him? Just drop it Buck." Nita said, "He'll be my date then, right? Their loss." She said eying the darker haired boy critically, he stared back at the girl with an unknown look that broke over his features, it lasted only for the fraction of a second. He huffed again, but the girl rolled her eyes dramatically. "We both get a date and save ourselves from boring partners that won't know any better. Win-win." Nita said with a breezy persuasiveness.
The blonde looked to the girl with a lingering smile. "You mean well Buck, but just save it alright?" Steve shrugged his shoulders and scratched his face.
"No. Steven. Grant. Rogers." With every intoning of a syllable he would continue to jut his popsicle stick closer, across Nita to point it directly at Steve. The popsicle itself dangled perilously over the tip of the wooden stick. "You do this all the time, c'mon. Amanda's great."
"I wanna go with Nita. You go have fun with your own date. Or bully someone else into taking Amanda out. I know you're only pushing this Amanda thing because you're going with Janet and she's Amanda's friend."
Bucky groaned at this reply, dejectedly putting his face in his hands. "Fine. I tried, I tried." He said talking to himself. "It's like talking to a brick wall!" At that final expression he flourished the stick he was branding, the aggressive flick sending the sticky frozen substance flat unto Nita's collarbone with a sickly PLOP!
Steve and Bucky watched on in horror, their mouths parted agape-an internal monologue of full panic racking their nerves as Nita sat there immobilised staring straight out before her, her mouth puckered small, eyebrows shooting upwards.
It was terrible and fascinating at the same time, Bucky pulling at the skin of his face, stupefied at the sight of the block of purple ice skidding ever so sadly down her chest unto the bodice of her yellow dress. At this point, they were already dead to make a run for it. "Ah, shit."
When love is real, you don't have to show it.
When it is true, then everyone will know.
'Cause there'll be no one but
You and me
A/N: Chapter 4! Who's excited?! From here on, I might be hopping around from event to event and as you've seen before there's a lot of flashbacks incorporated into the main storyline mix, so chronologically, it will be out of whack. More things to come, should actually head towards the canon MCU story pretty soon, and I can't wait. Now, I'll just have to write it, whoopee!
The song featured in this chapter is "You and Me" by the Penny Quarters. I've really enjoyed the music so far, what about you? If maybe you have any song suggestions that I should look at or suggestions, comments, review in general, I would appreciate it. I'd love to know what I should improve on and how to get better and just things you've liked about the story currently or something you've anticipated. I'd love to know or have a chat, so feel free to review or send me a an opinion? I want to hear it. Chapter 5 will be there when it will be there.
I do not own any characters you might recognise, they are the property of Disney and Marvel. Nor do I own "You and Me", if I did, I would actually then have some musical talent. I do own my OCs.
Many thanks! And happy fanfic hunting!