The Past Remembered

Characters: Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk) Steve Rogers (Captain America)
Rated: PG
Summary: Zinda and Steve go dancing and reminisce before a taking a leisurely stroll and discussing how to move on and healing old hurts.
OOC Date: Sun Feb 18 00:48:49 2018
IC Date: Sat. Feb. 17, 2018
Where: A big band club in Manhattan.

Big Band clubs are a little out of vogue, but there are still places to hear the latest Benny Goodman song in New York. Granted, it's not exactly a club known for being the hottest spot in town— but it's still a big band with a swell brass section and a jazz pianist who could have held his own with Cab Calloway scatting on stage.

Swing music is popular with a strange cross-section of New Yorkers. College students looking for good, clean co-ed fun; Harlem residents who carry on a tradition going back to the original Savoy Ballroom. Senior citizens recapturing a bit of their youth. Frankie Manning was often see shuffling a rheumatic lindy-swing that was somehow more graceful with age, not less.

And Steve was learning how to dance. It's hard to wish for a better partner than Zinda Blake, who had broken hearts across the Eastern Seaboard and Allied bases across Europe. Some swell dancers thought they had the moves to get her attention, but dancing with Zinda was a little like swinging with a hurricane— the last words they often heard was 'You better hang on to something'.

"Wait, okay— is it left step ball change?" Steve asks, looking down at his feet again for the nth time, holding Linda loosely in his hands. "It's left, right, step, left step, right, turn?" he hazards, pushing Zinda the wrong direction as he steps in another. He's dressed informally— button down shirt, tucked into Levi jeans, and Converse sneakers that Zinda assured him were quite in vogue.

Alright, so Zinda waa a little… rambunctious in her youth. But! She never once got a complaint and always made sure to show the boys a good time. Of course, it helped that she loved to dance. Which may explain why Steve was stuck at the 'club' with her tonight. Really, even if he didn't know how, Zin couldn't think of anyone else she'd rather have with her. And shewaa more than a little confident in her ability to teach him.

Dressed in a black blouse cut low in the front and a loose red skirt that ended about her knees, Zinda looked as if she could have walked right out if the 40s. Right down to the slight heels she wears and the way she's done her hair. If she broke hearts in their day, she never knew it.

There's a faint roll of her eyes as he pushes her one way and steps the opposite. "You were right the first time, Steve," is said with a chuckle. "Eyes up here, hon. And remember to let go if you're going to step back.Or pull me back in." Thankfully, a lot of Swing Dancing could be improvised. "Would it help if I started shooting at you," is teased.

"Maybe?" Steve says, giving Zinda a level look ruined by a grin. "It'd help if you'd quit swinging your hips around, you keep throwing my count off."

He steps twice, gets off beat immediately, and puts his foot right where Zinda's needs to go. He immediately goes back to staring at his toes, trying to put them specifically where the instructor had told him. "Okay, step, step, turn, pivot—" he's too busy staring at his feet to keep track of where Zinda is, and when she steps forward to pass him, he's completely obstructing her pth forward. "Gosh darnit, this is harder than it looks," he mutters, losing his count completely and going dead at the end of Zinda's fingers. "Step, step, ball-/change/ step… no, that's not right," he says, frustratted.

And Zinda laughs. "As, Stevie. My hips distract you?" She gives a playful shake before trying, in vain, to quit smirking and be serious for him.

"Steve… You're putting too much thought into it." She reaches out and puts both hands on his shoulders. "Hey… The point of dancing is to relax and have fun. This isn't a mission, Cap. Just take a breath, jeep your eyes on me and move with me, okay?"

Steve gives Zinda a look of flat remonstration, but laughs a half a second later. It's a safe place, this club— New Yorkers are accustomed to celebrities, and in a place like this, Steve and Zinda have some room to just… be themselves. Not some icons of a lost generation, not the celebrities of the tabloids. Two friends, dancing.

"I don't want to screw this up, is all!" Steve protests, shaking his head at Zinda. "I've always wanted to know how to swing. Bucky always made it look easy," he remarks, making a face. "'Gee, Steve, just take her on the dance floor'," he says, mimicking his long-deceased friend. "You and Bucky would have been absolute terrors. He was always good with the dames," he says, rolling his eyes tolerantly. "Okay, one more time, let's get through one step," he declares. He pulls Zinda in, lets her out, twirls her around, and sends her out again. He's a bit ham-handed about it, but he manages to get through a proper rotation without tripping the curvy blonde.

The look is met with a small snort and an arched brow. "Oh, don't give me that look." She almost preens triumphantly when he laughs a heartbeat later. That's much better. Yes, the club was chosen very carefully to allow them the freedom to just let go for the evening and enjoy each other's company, the music, the food and the dancing without the risk of pictures being taken. Or, at least, a minimal risk of it.

"Are you saying I need help being a terror?" She manages to look mildly offended for a moment before her smile blooms and she winks at him. "You aren't nearly as inept with the girls as you seem to think, Steve." It's a serious comment but made with a cheeky grin. "Alright. Again then."

He moves and she steps in perfect counterpoint with each move. She doesn't make any exclamation of success or draw attention to the fact that he did it, but that smile is full of pride in him and for what he accomplished. "Again. Faster." And she'll work with him on that one step until he has it down perfectly before moving on to the next.

If learning to dance means that much to her friend… So be it.

Steve sticks with it until Zinda deems his work acceptable. What it means to her to have someone along as a friend— well, if having someone along means that much to her, so be it.

They walk off the dance floor and find one of the tall tables, settling into it comfortably. Drinks are delivered, though Steve sticks with a ginger ale. Liquor isn't as fun when you can't get drunk. He sips from the tall glass, straw tucked between his fingers.

"I think it's slowly making sense to me," he says, after their companonable silence. "It's just the counting that gets me. I keep going one-two-three, one-two-three, instead of one-two, one-two," he clarifies. "Sixes instead of threes, I suppose?" He grins at Zinda. "Don't worry, I'll figure it out."

By the time she walks off the dance floor with him, Zinda is grinning ear to ear and even leans over to give his arm a hug. "Thanks for coming out with me, Steve. Really." It did mean a lot to her. And that he'd learn to dance to do it…

Next to him, legs crossed at the ankles, Zinda brings the straw of her cola up to her lips for a sip before grinning at him.

"Of course you will. There isn't a doubt in my mind." Because when Steve Rogers sets his mind to something… "Should we try ballroom dancing next time? It's not a style I ever got the chance to try often." And more one-two-three in rhythm. "Ooh. We can learn to tango!" At least she wasn't asking him to learn salsa dancing?

"Easy, hold your horses, cowpoke," Steve laughs, slashing his wrists ahead of himself with a grin. "Lemme get the swing dance down first before you start inflicting new dances on me."

He sips his ginger ale, watching the kids dancing— and it's hard not to think of them as 'kids', though if it were 1940 most of them would be in wartime service positions, even in their 20s. There is something /young/ about them, innocent of the world's cruel demands.

"I don't think I'll ever be an expert dancer. It's just nice to know it's not as tricky as I thought it was," he tells Zinda. "I always thought the swing clubs were some kind of weird magic, you know? Like some special skill that no one could just go out and pick up. It's funy how… I don't know. -Easy- this is."

"Cowpoke? Really, Steve?" She humphs playfully, arms folding over her chest while lips twitch in an effort not to laugh. "I'm a girl, you know. At least choose an appropriate slang." The 'annoyance' last all of three heartbeats before she grins.

Her eyes follow his and the glass that had been lifted for a drink is set back down. "It's strange, sometimes. Technically, we aren't any older than them." She nods towards the kids on the dance floor. Because, yes, they are kids. "And yet…" There's a shake of her head. "Things are so much more complicated and so much easier at the same time, now, than they were then…" Those kids are able to remain innocent because kids like Zinda and Steve weren't.

"You don't give yourself enough credit, hon. I know you. Better than almost anyone. Once you set your mind to it, you'll master it. You won't settle for anything less." She gives him a smirk before another laugh comes from her. "No magic. Just a bunch of kids with a lot of time on their hands." And then there's a blinks and her head tilts. "How easy what is?"

"Isn't it?" Steve agrees softly, looking out there. "They've got their whole lives ahead of them. No war to fight, no rations to manage or rubber to salvage. Lookit'em," he says, lifting his chin. "Half the boys would have been in OCS by now. Some of them would be lieutenants or captains. The women would have been WACS or nurses or running salvage centers." He shakes his head, half wonderously, half envious. "Whole lives ahead of them. No wondering if they are going to get a draft number called up tomorrow."

He sips his ginger ale. "

"I'll get it figured out. This, I mean," he says, wiggling a finger at the collective dance floor. "It's not as hard as I thought it would be, dancing. I'll get the footwork figured out. Hey, I learned how to lead a company into combat, I can learn how to dance," he grins. "I'm just glad Peggy isn't here to give me grief about it. You remember how she liked dogging me," he says, with a tolerant roll of his eye. "Between you two and the Krauts, I'd take the Germans."

The smile on Zinda's lips flickers for a moment. "I don't regret a single choice I made but there are times I wonder what the other path would have been like, you know?" Her eyes slide over to him and then back out to the dance floor. "At the same time… There's parts they're missing. Things are taken for granted so much these days. No one seems to understand how fragile it all really is."

Shifting topics is good though. "Peggy certainly had a way abouther." And the he compares her to the Germans. "Hey! I'm not that bad." She pouts at him. "Am I?" Cue the fluttering of lashes over big blue eyes.

Alright, so she might enjoy giving him a hard time.

"Literally the worst person I know," Steve confirm, instantly. "And don't flutter your lashes at me, missy. I'm immune to your charms, unlike most of the boys in the 182nd," he reminds her, grinning easily. "I still remember you talking Bucky into asking out that Polish milkmaid. What was her name?" He searches his memory, fingers snapping. "Halina… Hanna… You remember her, right? Six feet tall? Wrists like a fencepost?" he inquires, one brow lifting.

Zinda laughs, tossing him a wink. "Of course you are. Which is why you're out with me tonight." There's a bit of a triumphant smirk there before she actually blushes a little. "Oh, they were not. Those boys just missed home is all."

And we're going to thank god she wasn't taking a drink. "Oh god. Helga? I remember, yes. That was… " She snorts a giggle and shakes her head. "It was his own fault. He should have known better. She could have broken him in half! And I still say he did it just to see if he could. It had nothing at all to do with me." It's bs and they both know it but that's her story and she's sticking to it. "And you weren't any better, thank you!"

"You make a good case for a pity date," Steve says, grinning at Zinda. "I just can't stand to think of you moping around your apartment alone on a Friday night."

"Me, I was a poster child for modesty," Steve reminds Zinda. "The amount of times Bucky tried to drag me out dancing alone— and then once we were in Europe, after that dustup in .. where was it. Koenigsberg? When we were at Mildenhall, and Bucky and Howie got flirting with the same girl? And then Jor-El said that human cake was our planet's greatest export, and then Polly—"

His smile freezes and he breaks off his story, glancing down at his drink, then looks over at the dancers with his expression partially hidden from view.

"Pity date? Steve Rogers, you take that back right now before I make you." Those blue eyes narrow at him and she'd look dead serious if it weren't for her smirk.

The story has her chuckling and shaking her head before it stops as suddenly as his story does. Reaching out for his hand to give it a gentle squeeze. "What do you say we go for a walk?" She'll keep her opinions on that particular matter to herself. As much as she wants to comfort him, she can't. She's watched her friend pine for too long over a woman she doesn't have the highest opinion of anyhow. What she can do though is distract him or, if that fails, be an ear for him.

"Huh? Oh— yeah, okay," Steve says, a little absently. He peels a few bills off of his wallet and tucks them under a napkin, a tip for the waitress, and gets to his feet. He offers a polite elbow to Zinda and they head out of the club, his feet moving aimlessly without any particular hurry. "Sorry," he concludes, a hundred yards later. "I don't mean to get all maudlin. Just… sometimes it hits me out of the blue," he remarks, quietly. "Howie and Thomas settled down. Jor-El went home. Kit met that nice girl, what's her name— Diana," he says, digging in his memory. "Can't belive she'd ever agreed to live in the jungle," he mutters. "Kinda weird, for a posh girl from South Houston."

Arm linked with his, Zinda wanders aimlessly down the sidewalk with him. There's no real destination in mind, she's just walking with him to let him clear his mind and get it off his chest. "She loved him." As if that explains everything.

"Look, Steve… You know my thoughts on the matter so I'm not going to give them to you again. Just because that's my opinion though doesn't mean you owe me any sort of apology." His arm is given a gentle squeeze and her head is brought to his shoulder for a moment. "I just wish I could do more than lend an ear. I don't like seeing you hurt." She'd throttle the woman causing it if she could. "You know I'm always here though. At least, I hope you do by now."

As much as she gives him a hard time and teases him, she loves her friend dearly and seeing him upset bothers her. Especially when she can't do anything about it.

"Kit wasn't so bad. Thomas was the nutjob," Steve says, with a fond grin for his friends. The notorious 'Owlman' sure was a strange character. "Howie and Bucky, they were two you would have figured were separated at birth," he says, wryly.

"It's just… I don't know. It's still raw," he exhales. "It still hurts. I keep asking myself, maybe I should have gone with the other team. Maybe I should have told her to come with us to the Arctic," he says, more speaking to himself. "I don't know. I know she had to be on the island. I know I had to be on that plane. I get it, I do," he says, with an absent gesture. "I just… I don't know. I guess I never thought we'd be the ones who ended up drawing the short straw," he says, wryly.

"I wonder if she ever thinks about me," he says, looking up at the moon overhead. It's a question soldiers have asked themselves for the entirety of human conflict— wondering if their special someone was looking up at the same moon and wondering the same thing.

Zinda lifts her head and takes a deep breath, clamping down on her temper. It's not something she does for just anyone. She normally has no issues letting loose with that cutting tongue of her's. "I'm sorry." It's all she can say, really. She knows her voice is tight so saying much else risks hurting her friend further.

His 'question' is rhetorical. She knows it is. She knows she shouldn't answer and yet, "If she's got half a brain, she does," comes out anyhow. Followed immediately by a wince and her clenching her jaw. Damnit! Two heartbeats later… "I shouldn't have said that." Not that she didn't mean it. Just that she shouldn't have said it.

"God, I wish alcohol still did anything," is muttered a second later. She'd really love to get drunk right about now.

Steve glances at Zinda, then looks away with a tolerant roll of his eyes skywards in mute supplication to whatever god is listening. "Zinda, c'mon," he reminds her, with a tone of gentle remonstration that few others could manage. "We all thought we were… I don't know. Immortal," he says. "Jor-El used to walk through minefields just to clear a path for the tanks. I saw Lucky Jimmy walk out of a foxhole after someone rolled two grenades into it. We all thought we'd live forever, even you and me," he says.

He walks on a few steps, memories disjointedly rambling back to the frantic planning session that had split up the Defenders during the height of the war. "You know Polly. She always had to be in the middle of the biggest fight. I don't think anyone could have convinced her to walk away from Themyscira during an invasion, not even for me— and I sure wouldn't have asked it of her," he says, bumping Zinda with his elbow. "And I wasn't about to let Schmidt get his hands on that alien machinery. I just know he would have turned Brooklyn into Coney Island, just to rub my nose in it," he mutters.

"I said I shouldn't have said it. It's as close as your getting, Steve." She isn't going to apologize.

"Yes. I remember. You know what else I remember? I remember reading about our friends' deaths. I remember reading about the families they left behind. I remember they found their happiness."

There's a defeated sigh and Linda slouches somewhat. "She chose to, Steve. She didn't have to. And I don't believe she isn't aware that you're alive now… I just… I don't want you waking up one morning and realizing you had this amazing opportunity to be happy with someone and you let it pass you by because you were still pining over that woman."

"I know you weren't. And I wasn't going to let anyone else fly you." She shrugs. "It is what it is, Steve. Some of the past was wonderful and some of it wasn't but we can't live in it forever. If we can't find a way to move on, we might as well have died that day."

Steve glances down at Zinda again, a little pointedly. "So you're saying you /had/ to fly me? Not that you /chose/ to?" he says, unable to resist the urge to gently needle her irrationality a little bit. He squeezes her arm reassuringly to take the sting out of his words— and also so she can't get the leverage to punch him. Zinda's got hard little fists when she think she's being teased.

"I know she's out there somewhere, Zinds. That's what makes it hard. She might as well be on the moon," he reflects, glancing skywards. "Worse than that, now— we can /get/ to the moon. I wouldn't even know how to get to Themyscira. I don't even know how I got there to begin with, and I don't think I want to go another round with crashing a DC-17 to see if lightning strikes twice."

"Of course I chose to! A choice I'd make over again in a heartbeat even if the result meant my death. I could have let anyone else take you. I chose to do it myself. You and I both know that I was the best chance at getting out of there. I failed, yes but I was still the best chance. There's a big difference there, Steve and you know it. I'm sorry. I am. For you, I wish I could feel differently. But… She left that island before so what's stopping her now?"

She shrugs. "I happen to think you deserve better. And you and I both know what you'd be saying to me if the roles were reversed here." She pauses the walking to turn and hugs him if he allows it. "I'll try to hold my tongue. I swear I will. I just hate seeing you hurt like this and I'm so afraid you'll never move on from it. Of all of us, Steve… You deserve to be happy."

"We didn't fail, Zinda," Steve reminds the blonde woman. "We stopped Schmidt. And in all fairness, I'm pretty sure there isn't a pilot in the world who can fly a plane with no running engines," he reminds her.

He accepts the hug, and hugs Zinda back welcomingly. "Some hurts can't be fixed, Zinds," he reminds the aviator, exhaling. "It's nothing she did and it's nothing we did. It's just… life, I guess," he says. "But you can't seriously think I'm too good for a queen of immortal warriors," Steve tells her, tapping her between her finely arched brows. "Besides— she's immortal, and I'm technically in my late nineties. 'Forever' is a long time, and anything can happen in the span of 'forever'."

"We'll have to agree to disagree on… most of what you just said. And yes, actually, I can."

She surpasses the sigh as she pulls back. "C'mon, Steve. Walk me home. I'm getting hungry and there's a new recipe I want to try tonight." And let's face it, talking in circles wasn't getting them anywhere and neither was going to change their opinion. And walking home was, in Zinda's opinion, better than smacking her friend for being what she considered dense about the whole matter.

"Yeah, okay," Steve says, with a tone of long-suffering tolerance. Convincing Zinda of anything was a little like arguing with a mule.

A particularly obstreperous one.

"As long as it's real food," he tells her, suspiciously. "Whatever that stuff you made last week was terrible. I'm still not convinced that tofu was actually inteded for human consumption."

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