“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?” -Laini Taylor


6. Six

I paced back and forth in my living room as I waited for Rogers to arrive. I’d spent most of the afternoon furiously scrubbing the place clean just to keep my mind from wandering. I hadn’t seen him all week, and the only contact I had with him was the one visit from Sam and a few texts from Romanoff as she tried to build a cover story.

Romanoff had the whole story already planned, and she was having way too much fun with it. She had an elaborate story for me to tell, but I decided it was best to stick with the truth as much as possible. I didn’t think Barnes was likely to question me much. And if he did, he’d probably only want to know about Rogers anyway. Barnes could come up with his own ideas about how we met and why we didn’t act like two people in love.

The only thing I really needed was an explanation for why Rogers came to my house a few nights a week. His own apartment was wrecked during Director Fury’s assassination, and his new place was surrounded by government officials. So he would have to come to my house periodically, and we’d have to be affectionate enough for the story to sell.

I was nervous. Not only was my bed too small for a guy like Rogers in the first place, I hadn’t slept beside someone in a long time. Well, at least not in a way that didn’t lead to, or come after sex. I just hoped Barnes didn’t question it. Though I didn’t think he’d care.

Rogers was known for being somewhat punctual, and the minutes were ticking toward his expected arrival. I twisted my fingers as I paced and waited. Before this night, Barnes would have a small chance of knowing I existed. He might have seen me at the diner if he’d followed Wilson, but that was unlikely. And he wouldn’t have gotten much out of that meeting anyway since all we did was sit at a booth and talk for a few minutes.

The doorbell rang at nine o’ four. I already knew he was there since I heard his motorcycle on the road, but I decided not to answer until I had confirmation. I took a deep breath before approaching the door. I’d taken drama classes in high school, and though nothing ever came of that brief interest, I was familiar enough with the concept. I was supposed to be kind and gentle and non-threatening. But I didn’t know enough about Rogers to know if that was even his type. I shook out my fingers and opened the door, pretending to be comfortable and not the least bit awkward or nervous.

“Steve,” I said, but then the awkwardness returned. He stood on the front steps looking as uncomfortable as I felt. I suddenly didn’t know what to say as I tried to remember Romanoff’s suggestions. But everything felt too fake. Rogers was a stranger to me. His smile was forced like he didn’t want to be there, but he was willing to do whatever he could to get his friend back.

“Hi,” he replied. There was a moment of silence where I wondered what Romanoff’s Jo would have done. Let him right in, or stand and talk for a minute? “I’m sorry,” he continued. “For being late. And not calling. I just—didn’t want to get you involved.” I nodded slowly, hoping Barnes (or Stark) wasn’t listening or didn’t know Steve well enough to notice how uncomfortable he was and how unfamiliar we were with each other.

“I figured,” I said, holding onto the door. He nodded and looked around the front yard, begging silently to be let inside, so we didn’t have to do this anymore.

“Can we talk inside?” he asked. I was grateful for the chance to drop the act and quickly jumped out of the way.

“Please, come in. I’m dying,” I whispered. He finally gave a real smile as he passed and I shut the door.

“That makes two of us,” he remarked. I turned to him and slapped my hands on my thighs.

“Well—I’m glad that’s over. Water? I feel like that’s something my alter-ego would offer.”


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