marvel: steve rogers

fic:normal(ish) life | btvs, captain american | gen

Title: normal(ish) life
Series Title: we ain’t ever getting older
Rating: FR13
Disclaimer: Captain America and all related themes are copyright of Marvel Entertainment and Stan Lee. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related themes are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. No infringement intended.
Synopsis: Buffy comes down with a not so slight case of the transtemporal.
Note: Like I needed another series… sigh

+

“Beth!”

A brow quirked and the corner of Buffy’s mouth followed its upward momentum as she watched her boss step out from the back. His voice might’ve been of the booming variety, but his frame was slight. Shoulders perpetually hunched after years spent manning the griddle and a wife that waved a mean spatula given the right provocation.

His smile, however, was always welcoming.

Buffy didn’t mind the few teeth missing along his left side, but Henry tended to keep the patrons on his right if he could help it. A pencil was tucked behind her ear as Buffy looked around at the few still loitering. Most were taking up space at the counter, but all had their bills neatly placed in front of them—just as Vera had taught her.

One of their regulars was engrossed with the paper, but his coffee was dangerously low. Edwin needed a refill before he headed into one of the local factories for the late shift. The Owl Diner was open twenty-four hours, but Buffy usually ended her day as some of her best customers were beginning theirs. Henry was snagged by of those customers and Buffy used his distraction to grab the coffeepot.

Edwin smiled as she topped him off and tilted his head towards the latest bit of decor. “Tell Vera it’s the best one yet.”

Buffy glanced at the painting and tried to fight a smile. “She doesn’t need the encouragement.”

“Sure she does,” Edwin snorted.

The peach colored walls were covered with paintings of owls. The newest addition was ordinary enough, but the artist had spent a substantial amount of time on the bird’s eyes. Making them large, detailed and an ominous orange that unsettled the soul. Buffy preferred the salt and pepper shakers shaped like owls littering the counter.

At least they were cute and not nightmare inducing.

She shared a smile with Edwin as he added a generous dose of cream to his coffee. While he stirred Buffy propped a hip against the counter, easing some of the ache in her lower back after spending too many hours in heels. The two-tone pumps were adorable, but painful after working a full shift. Henry’s uneasy chuckle brought her upright and she returned the coffeepot to the warmer.

Her boss disentangled himself from a messy conversation about the current war efforts and Edwin glanced at his watch before mutter a curse—or what passed for a curse nowadays. He left the money on the counter and tapped the coin beside his coffee. The wink that followed shook her head before she made a shooing motion.

Henry was still extracting himself so Buffy busied herself collecting Edwin’s money. The dime next to the coffee was slipped into the pocket of her dress— big spender today as he usually left a nickel—before she crossed to the till and finished ringing him out. The hard to press keys weren’t kind to Henry’s arthritis, but they made Buffy smile and she liked the sound the coins made when she closed the till.

The familiar jingle lifted her spirits and reminded her of Anya. Buffy patted the smaller jingle of her tip pocket in memory of her. Money stretched further in this decade, but she’d found it impossible to find a job in her skillset in the six years she’d been sequestered here. Theft had been her primary source of income and clothing until she’d been offered work by Henry and Vera.

Buffy had fallen asleep on the couch in Andrew’s apartment in Brooklyn in 2006 and woken up in the same apartment in 1937. In a world (apparently) without monsters and in time when women didn’t seem to be considered much. If at all.

This lead to jonesing for something undead or demonic—she wasn’t choosey—to slay. Her nose wrinkled as she’d taken to jogging in the early mornings in an attempt to burn off some of that frustrated energy with her hair tucked up while wearing her neighbor’s old clothes.

Steve wasn’t much bigger than her and had left her with some of his things when he’d finally been accepted into the military. What they planned to do with an asthmatic who weighed less than her, but still somehow managed to be unfairly taller, was anyone’s guess.

A rough thumb rubbed at the crease between her brows and Buffy’s frown eased into a smile as she looked up her boss. He dropped his hand and stepped back before stating, “Vera’s running late,” he cleared his throat, “But if you’d care to head out now I think that’d be alright.”

Buffy saw they’re customers had dwindled to two while she’d been was lost in thought. An exhale turned into a raspberry at her own distraction before she nodded. “I’ll collect the bills and straighten up first.”

“Good, good,” He pulled out an envelope from the pocket of his too loose slacks and handed it to her. “I know Vera usually gives out pay, but since you’re off tomorrow…” he trailed off and his face flushed with color.

“Thanks, Henry.” Buffy smiled, knowing that reading was difficult for him and writing even more so as she accepted the envelope. She slipped it into her apron without peeking. Vera would fix any mistakes and they’d keep it between them. “Now get back into that kitchen. The evening rush will be here before you know it.” She tipped her head towards their customers, “I’ll check in with them before I go.”

“You’re a good girl, Beth.” Henry’s use of the name he’d technically given her made her smile widen.

She’d been in want of a job—see desperate—and Henry had been distracted when she’d introduced herself. He’d assumed her name was Beth Day and Buffy, painfully aware of how unusual her name sounded in any day and age, hadn’t bothered to correct him. If she’d known she’d still be working for him two years later she might’ve reconsidered.

Henry returned to his rightful place behind the griddle and Buffy set about collecting the bills from the departing patrons and welcomed the few that arrived. Coffee and menus were delivered and the counters cleaned until Vera breezed through the back door. The knowing smile on that lined face told Buffy that Vera knew very well that she’d found busy work to keep herself around so Henry wouldn’t have to worry about anything other than food prep.

Buffy inhaled the dry scent of clove as a kiss was pressed to her cheek. “You should be home with your feet up.” Vera’s words were chiding, but the arched brow, dark against her pale features, meant business.

A hand was presented to her, palm up and fingers making an impatient motion. Buffy frowned at her before her eyes widened and she retrieved the envelope. Vera cast a quick glance towards kitchen before she looked over the check. Her eyes softened before she returned it to the envelope. “He took care,” she handed it back, “Now go home. I will handle these rabble-rousers.”

The customers closest to them smiled at Vera and one ventured a comment about the newest painting which earned him a piece of pie and the envy of those that hadn’t thought of it first. Vera greeted a few of the regulars and welcomed the new faces. Buffy might’ve kept watching her in fascination if Vera hadn’t snapped a towel in her general direction.

A universal sign to get gone if ever there was one and Buffy ducked into the back.

Henry winked and offered a wave with his oversized spatula, reserved for hash that was equal parts butter and potato and deliciously terrible for you, as she passed him. They exchanged goodnights as she punched her time before gathering her purse from the cubby all the waitresses used and left.

Blissful quiet surrounded her as the door closed. Not much noise permeated Henry’s sanctuary, but it was nice to leave it all behind when work was done. The alley behind the diner was enclosed by factories that blocked the ambient noise of city for a few blissful moments. In cooler weather, when there was strong breeze, Buffy could smell the ocean. It never failed to make her smile.

It also never failed to make miss home like a phantom limb. A subtle ache that never quite left her no matter how long she’d spent in this world. A sigh and she rolled her shoulders back before making the short walk to the street. Her apartment wasn’t too far and she could ignore the subtle aches caused by too many hours on her feet. Slayer healing would make her right as rain by tomorrow, but in the here and now all she wanted was to follow Vera’s advice.

“Ma’am,” her mouth pulled down with that moniker, “Mind if I walk you home?”

The cadence was familiar and the offer didn’t feel threatening, but Buffy wanted to maintain the relative quiet and replied, “I’m good,” which came out bitchier than she’d intended so she tacked on a, “Thanks.”

There was a snort, also familiar, and the voice stated amused, “Never implied you weren’t.”

Apparently the quiet would have to wait until she was home; alone and without interruption.

Buffy inclined her head at her would-be escort. He was leaning against the wall, one boot braced on the brick at his back and there was a whole lot of the color tan on his person. From tie to button-up shirt covering a broad chest down to dress slacks that looked starched within an inch of their lives. The physique was impressive—she’d give him points for dedication without the aid of CrossFit—but she frowned at him until the foot dropped and he stood up straight under her scrutiny.

The movement force her to look up (and up) to see his face and she watched him sigh, shoulders hunching and her eyes widened as they meet with a pair of blue eyes that gathered at the corners when she got it. “Son of a...” His smile dropped a notch and Buffy took a step forward and then back. “Steve?”

“Buffy, it’s me.” His use of her name, her actual name which only one other person knew, cemented the notion that this stranger was indeed her neighbor and the closest thing she had to a friend.

“Did you make a wish?” The question came out as more of a demand.

He laughed, hands slipping into his pockets as he folded in on himself in embarrassment. “I’m sorry?”

It was so perfectly Steve in such a completely different body that Buffy was forced to shake her head again. “How?” She blinked, frowned, “When?” and tacked on another, “How?” for good measure.

“All good questions and I’d like to answer them,” his head inclined, “So how about that walk?”

Buffy searched a face that was vaguely Steve-shaped, mouth flattening into an unwelcoming line, before she shrugged, “I guess.”

He frowned. “You don’t sound entirely certain.”

“You don’t look entirely like Steve,” Buffy countered before starting to walk. He fell in step beside her and Buffy watched as the few other people on the street gave them a wider berth. Steve took up a lot of space now and she barely reached his shoulder—in heels.

She didn’t like that. Not one little damn bit.

Rather than grouse at him some more she settled on the direct approach and asked, “So what’s the what?”

“The what might take a while,” Bucky might’ve grasped her vernacular quicker than Steve, but he’d caught on eventually. “Let’s start with the how and work our way into the why.”

“How works,” Buffy side-eyed him and smirked, “Were magic beans involved?” He looked at her with such exasperation that it made her laugh. “What? You did sorta sprout like a bean stock. Which; unfair.”

“I thought that might bother you.”

She didn’t need to see the smirk to know it was there. Buffy jerked her chin up and prompted, “You were talking about the how…” She trailed off and waited for him to fill in the blanks as they made their way past the factories and into the neighborhoods.

Steve’s gaze swept the street from time to time searching the shadows in a way that made her chest ache as he spun his tale. It took the entire trip home and up to her front door for Buffy to learn about science, which smacked of magic, and technology that sounded frightening and a smidge sketchy. She also fully intended to pry him for details about this Peggy he mentioned all casual like. There was a story there. Most definitely.

“So basically you let Doctor Frankenstein have his way with you.” Buffy stated as she unlocked the door.

“Dr. Erskine was a good man.”

His tone turned her around. The glare Steve was attempting to pin her with was sort of impressive, but she’d fought bigger, scarier things and while Steve was bigger he was in no way scary. However she’d known him long enough to know he was quicker to anger while he was hurting. She’d stumbled through that particular quirk in his personality after Bucky had enlisted and he couldn’t.

She reached out, catching the arm closest to her and fought not to wince at how solid it was beneath her fingers. A small part of her had expected it to be some sort of elaborate illusion. She pushed those thoughts back so she could tell him, “I get that he meant a lot to you. I do. But you could’ve died and I like you very much alive.”

His shoulders dropped with his next exhale. “He believed in me.”

“I know of a few other people who believe in you,” Buffy quirked a brow.

Steve frowned, “I’m explaining this wrong.”

Her head shook and Buffy stepped back to finish opening the door. She dropped her purse and keys on the small table beside the entryway that led directly into the kitchen. She hit the light switch. It fizzled and brought for the faintest scent of burning before muted light flooded the one room apartment. Cabinets lined the right side of the wall above her sink and stove and the only other door in the apartment was on the left and led into the bathroom.

Buffy frowned down at her dinette set. It’d fit Bucky and Steve from time to time, but now it seemed woefully undersized. “Have a seat. I’ll make some coffee.” She caught Steve’s frown and guessed, “You’ll make coffee?”

“A better plan,” Steve reminded her that she sucked in the kitchen without the aid of modern appliances.

He made his way around her and set about boiling some water. Completely comfortable in her home and unafraid to take over if give half the chance. Buffy shrugged and moved passed him into the area reserved for her bedroom that consisted of an overstuffed chair that was missing a leg and balanced precariously on a stack of books and the lumpy mattress that masqueraded as her bed.

She retrieved her tips and paycheck from the apron before draping it across the back of the chair. The shoes were removed next and the balls of her feet ached as she pressed them against the wooden floors. Rising on tiptoe and rocking back down to stretch out the abused muscles and fend off their need to cramp. She crossed to the dresser to prop the envelope against the mirror to remind herself to deposit it before dropping the tips in the bottom drawer of her jewelry box.

“You like to dance,” Steve brought her attention back to him and ducked his head at the look she was giving him. “I told you about Senator Brandt finding a better use of my time.”

Buffy nodded, “He saved you from becoming a lab rat.”

Steve frowned, but pushed onward. “Well he thinks I can help by selling bonds.”

“Selling bonds?” Buffy parroted in confusion.

Steve exhaled and Buffy got the distinct impression he was more comfortable talking about his time as some doctor’s science experiment than what this senator had signed him up for and he confirmed it by blurting out, “I got you an audition.”

Buffy blinked, frowned. “What?”

Steve glanced at the aluminum coffee pot as if he could will it to boil and distract him. It didn’t and Buffy rolled her lips inward to hide her smile as he turned back to her. “There are dancers and since you like dancing I thought you might be interested.” He took a step towards her, hastily adding, “You’ll get to travel. You and Bucky used to spend hours talking about the different places you’d like to see.”

Buffy held up a hand and Steve tampered off as she tried to register the exact offer. Steve might get tripped up on Buffy-speak from time to time, but she was fluent in anxious Steve. “You’re going to be traveling around the country selling bonds to the American people and you want me to be your backup dancer?”

Derision. There might’ve been some in her tone.

Steve frowned as if he didn’t like how she’d worded that, but couldn’t find fault in it either. He sighed before adding, “It pays $31 a week.”

Well that was a kick in the teeth since she only made $25 a week currently. Including tips. Buffy sighed before entering the kitchen and taking a spot at the table. She motioned Steve to do the same. “Tell me more.”

He sat and started to his pitch again, but with more confidence and details. Oddly fitting stage name aside Steve made it sound like some grand adventure and that they’d be doing right by their country. Buffy had always been a sucker for enthusiasm.

“I’m going to regret this.”

“No, you won’t,” Steve countered and then grinned, “It’ll be fun.”

Captain America was a damned liar.

Yay! I'm glad you liked it. I have a couple more shorts planned for this series and it's mostly lighter stuff which is a nice break from all the heavy/dark stuff my muse usually throws at me. Thank you for reading!