Read. Enjoy. Review. (The reading and enjoying are for you, the reviews are for me.)
I own nothing besides my two leading ladies, Maggie and Meg, and their story lines. Marvel owns everything else.
December 1, 1940
It seemed like all of Red Hook was talking about her. He hadn't seen the broad yet, but just from the whispers he had heard about her in the dinner where he had breakfast, the gym he boxed at, and the dance hall he took his date to, he felt as if he knew her.
She was young, the waitress at the diner had whispered. Young and single. And it just wasn't right that such a young thing had moved to Red Hook all on her own. She should have been with her parents. She should have had a husband. There were many things the girl should have done and none of them amounted to her living in a crap apartment on the bad side of Red Hook all by herself.
She was doll is what one of the boxers at the gym told him. A real Irish beauty with red hair and green eyes. And the most gorgeous gams he'd ever seen. That had caused Bucky to raise his eyebrow. These boxers were much like him, a different woman every week, he found it hard to believe that this woman was any different then any of the other women they talked about, save for the fact that she was a bit of a mystery.
At the dancehall one of the waitresses whispered to his date that the girl was bad news. That the boss had hired her even though the waitress was sure that the girl was a quiff. His date had wanted to know what the girl had been hired as. The waitress sniffed, "A taxi," she answered, referring to the women that moved around the dance floor waiting for a man to buy a dance with her.
Bucky scoffed, the waitress had said the word as if it were the worst thing in the world, as if the entire town didn't know that she herself let men pay her for a hell of a lot more than a dance. "When's she start?" he asked before he could stop himself. He didn't really care about when she started. He just hoped that once more people in Red Hook knew who she was, the less they'd talk about her. She had only been in Brooklyn for a day and he was already sick of hearing about her.
"Are you interested in her, Bucky?" his date asked him. She kept her tone light and teasing, but there was a stiffness to it. She wasn't pleased with his interest.
Bucky shrugged his shoulders, "Haven't seen her yet," he told his date, not caring that much if he hurt her feelings. She was the one that asked and they were nearing the end of their week anyway. Come Monday he'd be finding a new girl. "But if she's new I might be able to buy a dance for Steve without him realizing it's a set up."
He hadn't realized the truth of his words until they were already out. But they were true. At least once a week he managed to drag Steve out to the dance hall. Several times he had tried to get him to ask a woman to dance, but Steve was always too shy, too scared of rejection. He had tried to persuade his friend to ask one of the girls who worked at the hall, they got paid to dance so it was unlikely that any of them would turn his friend down, but Steve hadn't danced with any girl in his life besides his mother and he didn't want his first dance with a dame to be paid for. But if this one was new, Bucky might be able to persuade Steve to dance with her without realizing that his friend bought the dance.
He glanced at the waitress, his eyebrows raised. "When does she start?" he asked again, still waiting for the answer.
"Tomorrow night," was the answer. "Though you might want to arrive early. The whole of Red Hook's going to be trying to get a look at her."
"You don't have to drag me along, Buck," Steve told him for what felt like the tenth time that evening and they hadn't even entered the dance hall yet. "Really I think you would have more fun if I stayed home."
Bucky threw his arm around Steve's shoulders and chuckled, "And why would I have more fun here alone?" he asked, ducking his head to make eye contact with Steve, his eyebrows raised.
"Something tells me you wouldn't be alone for long," Steve argued, side-eyeing all the women in line outside the hall that were staring at Bucky as if he were the most handsome man they had ever seen.
Bucky sighed, Steve hid it well, but Bucky knew that his scrawny best friend wished that girls would look at him the way they stared at Bucky. "These girls are a dime a dozen," he told his friend, his voice no longer joking. "One day we'll both find one that is worth our attention."
Steve laughed, a soft-depreciating sound. "I'll bet that it'll be easier for you than for me."
Bucky shook his head, "No," he promised his friend as they moved closer to the door. There was only one small group in front of them, five women and then they'd be in. "Because I'll have to find one who looks past your scrawny ass and sees the fighter on the inside."
He was alluding to his best friend's tendency to get in fights even though he was always the little guy and usually got his ass handed to him. Steve smiled, "And when she does, you're gonna lose her," he promised Bucky sarcastically. "She'll realize what a catch I am."
Bucky chuckled, "A real dreamboat," he assured Steve as they were finally permitted to enter the hall.
It was the busiest Bucky had ever seen it. The waitress hadn't been lying when she said that all of Red Hook was going to come to the hall to get a look at the broad. The old waitress from the diner was there. The boxer from his gym. His date from the night before with a new man. Everyone. But even with the crowd it wasn't hard to pick her out, Bucky would give the whisperers this - she was a real dish.
She was wearing a green dress, tight on top and then fanning out from her waist to her knees. There was a keyhole opening on the chest, showing off just a hint of cleavage and a bow tied at her neck. The sleeves went past her elbows. He wouldn't have guessed her job by looking at her dress, she looked fit to go to Sunday mass. The emerald dress really set off the red in her hair which was falling past her shoulders in large curls, her bangs curled and pinned into a large barrel roll on the left side of her face. She was wearing a bit more make up than a woman he'd see on the street and there were dark circles under her eyes, telling the story of long, sleepless nights. But she was beautiful.
She was walking around the outside of the dance floor doing her best not to make eye contact with any of the men that were trying to catch her attention. Being new to town the men didn't seem to feel safe approaching her outright or just grabbing her and pulling her toward the dance floor like they did with the other hired dancers. They seemed to want her to approach them. It wasn't good for business, Bucky understood that the girls got paid a bit just to show up in the dance hall, but the real money came from the tips men paid them for a dance. By avoiding men's gazes she was loosing out on money. But it sure made his plan easier.
He turned toward Steve and smiled, "Why don't you go get us a drink?" he asked his friend, nodding toward the crowded bar. Steve raised an eyebrow as if to ask Bucky what he was going to do while Steve got drinks. Bucky nodded toward the dance floor, being careful not to look too long in the red head's direction. "I'm going to see if we know anyone."
"You're going to look for a dance partner, and you're going to leave me in the back corner waiting until you're ready to go home," Steve corrected. Though he was smiling and he didn't put up any other argument before he walked away from Bucky toward the bar.
Bucky waited a beat, making sure that Steve wasn't going to turn around before he made a beeline for the red head. She must have been paying enough attention to see him coming for her because when he got close enough to speak to her she quickly turned around and started to walk in the opposite direction. Her steps quicker than they had been before. Bucky widened his steps and caught up with her easily. "You know doll, you're not going to make any money if you keep giving all these guys the brush off," he told her, laughter coloring his tone as he moved around her to stand in front of her, blocking her path.
She glanced up at him and for a moment Bucky was thrown by her gaze. Her eyes were green. The kind of green that pushed its way through the piles of dirty snow in the winter to remind him that spring was coming. The kind of green that budded on grey twigs, bringing life back to their branches. That churning, passionate green that the ocean turned during a storm. The color of the forest after it rained. The green color that promised hope and life no matter what had happened. When he looked into her eyes he could see all of that. And when she raised one delicate eyebrow he had the distinct feeling that she knew it.
Bucky looked away from her, a bit uncomfortable if he were being honest with himself. He lifted his hand to the back of his neck and scratched, a habit bred from insecurity that he had picked up from Steve. "I was wondering if you were free for a dance," he told her, his voice softer than it had been a moment before when he was teasing her.
She looked at him for a moment, her nose wrinkling slightly as she made a decision about him. Finally after a moment she shook her head, "I'm sorry," she told him, and she truly did sound sincere. "But I think I've made a mistake. I was just on my way to Mr. Harris to tell him that I will not be able to work here."
She was about to turn away from him. Bucky's hand shot out and he caught a hold of her wrist. "Wait," he asked her, almost desperate when she turned to look at him again. "It's not for me. It's for a friend of mine. He's shy, paralyzingly so. He's never danced with a girl though I've managed to drag him here at least once a week for the past year. He's too shy to ask a girl to dance and he won't ask one of the hired girls. But you're new to town, he doesn't know who you are. So I understand if you're not completely comfortable with the job, but before you quit could I please pay you for one dance with my friend?"
Her nose was wrinkled again, she was thinking. After a moment she sighed, glancing behind Bucky. "Which one is your friend?" she asked him.
Bucky smiled, sure once she saw Steve that she would agree to the dance. Even if the girl was a bit afraid of all the male attention she was getting it would be impossible for her to be afraid of Steve. He placed his hands gently on her shoulders and turned her to face the bar. "You see the scrawny one?" he asked, nodding in Steve's direction. Her eyes widened a bit, she hadn't expected that. Bucky nodded, "That's the one. His name is Steve."
This time her nose didn't wrinkle. She didn't need to think about her answer. "Sure," she told him with a nod and a slight smile. "I'll dance with him."
"Swell," Bucky agreed, reaching into his pocket to pull out some cash to pay her. She shook her head and waved him off.
"You don't have to pay me," she told him with a gentle smile. "If your friend won't dance with any of the other hired girls I bet he'd take it as a bit of an insult to find out that you paid for his first dance with me. This one is on the house."
Bucky raised his eyebrows, he hadn't expected that. He held his hand out, "My name's Bucky," he told her, figuring that he needed to introduce himself.
She smiled and gently slipped her hand into his, "Maggie," she told him.
Bucky held onto her hand for a beat too long before he dropped it, "Nice to meet you Maggie," he told her. He couldn't look away from her eyes. He didn't see the blush rise on her cheeks, but he did see when she dropped her gaze away from his, she was uncomfortable. He quickly looked over her shoulder toward the bar, "Come on," he told her, placing a gentle hand on the small of her back. "I'll introduce you to Steve."
Steve looked surprised when Bucky brought her over. He had just moved away from the bar, two beers in his hands, when Bucky approached. "Well, Buck," he announced. "Had I known that you were going to find a friend I would have gotten another drink."
Bucky chuckled, "Steve this is my friend Maggie," he gestured between them. "Maggie this is Steve."
Maggie smiled and held her hand out to Steve. Bucky had to give it to the girl, she knew exactly how much effort to put into the smile. Too much and Steve would have been uncomfortable, too little and Steve would have guessed at her lack of enthusiasm. But this smile was just enough. "Nice to meet you, Steve," she told him.
Bucky glanced between them, "Do you drink beer, Maggie?" he asked her. She glanced at him and nodded. He smiled, "Great, you can have mine," he leaned around her to pluck one of the beer bottles out of Steve's left hand. "I'll go get another one for myself." He meant for them to go dance but when he turned around, half way to the bar Steve had led her toward a table and they were sitting down and talking. For a moment he felt disappointed, but then he realized that even this was a big step for his friend.
Unlike for Steve, men and women moved out of his way at the bar. It didn't take Bucky nearly as long to get a beer as it had for his friend. Within minutes he was back at the table with Steve and Maggie. They were sitting next to each other, Steve was talking and Maggie's head was thrown back as she laughed. Bucky slid into the booth on the other side of Steve, trying to make it clear to his friend that he had no interest in the red head. "What's so funny?" he asked, glancing between the two.
"Steve was just telling me about the day they worked on figure drawing at art school," Maggie told him, her laughter still sparkling in her eyes at whatever Steve had said.
Bucky grinned, "Yeah," he agreed. "Had I known that is what they worked on in art school I might have gone."
Maggie arched an eyebrow, "You would have gone to art school to draw naked men?" she asked him, her voice teasing. She shrugged a shoulder, "Huh, I wouldn't have guessed that."
"What?" Bucky asked, leaning forward. "I thought he had -"
"I wouldn't have told her about the day we drew women," Steve interrupted him. "And apparently I shouldn't have told you either."
Maggie smiled and shook her head as she looked between the two men. Bucky couldn't be sure, he didn't know her well enough. But he thought that maybe she was actually enjoying spending time with them, not pretending to. He liked that. Most of the girls in Red Hook wouldn't give Steve the time of day, especially when Bucky was around. But this girl, she was paying more attention to Steve than Bucky, and she seemed genuinely interested in him.
For that fact alone Bucky decided that he didn't care what people whispered about her. This broad was alright in his book.
She and Steve were laughing at something, something he had missed when making his mind up about Maggie when the band finished one song and started another. Maggie turned her head, glancing almost wistfully at the dance floor. "Indian Summer," she murmured, naming the song the band had just started to play.
"You like the song?" Steve asked. It was a slow song, a fox trot. The dance floor cleared a bit as many of the younger couples who were there for the more upbeat songs left the floor. Maggie didn't turn away from the floor as she nodded. Steve smiled and turned toward Bucky, silently nodding toward the red head and signaling that he wanted Bucky to ask the girl to dance. Bucky shook his head and nodded at Steve. His friend turned, glancing toward Maggie for a moment and debating. Then he cleared his throat awkwardly, "Would you like to dance, Maggie?" he asked her.
She turned away from the floor to look at Steve, "Only if you want to -" she started, her voice filled with uncertainty.
Steve smiled at her, "Wouldn't have asked if I didn't," he assured her.
Maggie smiled at him and stepped out of the booth, waiting until Steve stepped out too before moving toward the dance floor. He didn't hold her hand and when they got out there he looked as if he was scared out of his mind. But he put a hand on the small of her back and took her right hand in his and for a moment Bucky allowed himself to smile. His plan had worked.
But before they could start dancing a man came up and put his hand on Steve's shoulder, easily pulling the scrawny kid away from Maggie. Bucky couldn't hear what the guy said to Steve. But it seemed to upset Maggie. Her jaw clenched and her eyes narrowed as the man grabbed her waist and tried to force her to dance with him. Bucky stood from his seat, prepare to go push the man off of her when Maggie did it herself. She brought both of her hands up to the man's chest and shoved him so hard that he tripped and fell on his ass on the floor in front of her.
Then, with a whispered word to Steve, the red head quickly ran out of the dance hall.
Gams - legs.
Quiff - a prostitute.
Taxi - a girl who is paid to dance with gentlemen at a dance hall.
I kept saying that I wasn't going to post this story until I was completely finished with it. I kept saying that I wasn't going to post any new stories until my GoT story was finished. I kept saying a lot of things.
And then tonight while watching The Winter Soldier I decided that it was absolutely time to start posting this story.
And so here is the first chapter. I hope that you enjoyed it.
Just as a heads up, the next chapter is going to be set in the present day (or as close to present day as CACW. The story will bounce back and forth with each chapter past, future, past, future - Maggie, Meg, Maggie, Meg. And the plot will, for the most part, be completely of my own imagination with some touches and references of MCU. And then toward the end the stories will start to merge with their Captain America movie counterparts (CAFA and CACW).
Each chapter comes with a date. And all chapters set in the past will be completely in italics to try to keep it from being completely confusing.
But yeah, you've been warned.
If you enjoyed this chapter, please take a moment to favorite it or add it to your alerts lists. If you loved it, please write a review! They're like oxygen to me and let me know I'm doing something right!
Until next time,