Its the author! hello readers! I am absolutely gobsmacked from the amount of response the first chapter received! I got a lot of favourites and follows and 5+ reviews, which for me, is insane. My previous stories took several chapters and months before getting a review. Honestly, thank you so much.
Lucille eyed the Chupa Chup package, bright gold corner peeking around the cupboard door. More packs, tin cans and jars dominated the lower shelf, powdery substances like flour and cocoa neatly arranged on the second level, and the highest taken up by noodle packs and pasta. She was almost done, just a few tinned vegetables and fruits to go… then she could feed.
"Surely you don't have to buy so much…"
She glanced over her shoulder as her fingers pushed a tin of pineapple chunks further into the shelf. Steve was crouched before the fridge, bottom tray out as it waited for the onions and potatoes in Steve's hands. Lucille rolled her eyes. Big beefy dude.
"I know ya eat a lotta food, so quit it."
Steve looked almost guilty, god knows why. SHIELD was ready to throw a ton of money away for Steve, and that included the massive shopping spree that resulted in this.
Steve only arrived at the house a few hours ago, babysat by sweaty suit-clad agents. Lucille had already been there for a while, sipping lemonade on the verandah. The house had been empty of food except for the few convenience store things Lucille bought yesterday, so she had proposed to go shopping. It was a two birds one stone situation; it was a chance to see how Steve interacted with the world, and Lucille was starting to feel a bit peckish.
Almost three hours later, and Lucille still hadn't had a bite. Tragic.
But what was intriguing was Steve's behaviour–at least something was accomplished. The Captain was certainly curious–observing the shopping centre with wide eyes, picking up food with intent, flicking through the radio channels of Lucille's dual cab on the way home. But Steve didn't ask. The pursuit of knowledge, a basic human trait, failed to appear in Steve, and that rubbed Lucille the wrong way. She didn't know if it was his stifling polite personality, or something more worrying.
She didn't really know Steve, didn't know his background (the one out of the spotlight), didn't know his habits, didn't know his relationships. But Steve was a human being in a strange new world. Once Steve got past the shock, he should be bursting with questions.
The last can slid into place, the white door closing softly not long after. Maybe it wasn't time for a Chupa—she was more thirsty, and it was close to dinner time.
"My apologies," Steve said as she leans over his crouched form to grab the half-empty lemonade bottle from the fridge door.
Lucille picks two cups out, because fuck, they've gotta talk. "Join me when ya done."
The view from the front balcony is slightly hindered by the row of paperbark trees between the house and the open road, but the sight of the ocean glinting through the dark green canopy is no less brilliant. When Steve joins her, there's a second where he pauses and just breathes. Her powerful hearing picks up on the minute pops of the lemonade's bubbles, each rustle the leaves make when rubbed together and perhaps the sound of the tension seeping out of Steve's shoulders. She politely doesn't notice him until he picks up the untouched cup.
"Want to know something about English?" She asked, waving at the other wicker chair across the round glass table. It creaked as Steve settled. He had a particular way of sitting, she noticed. Either his back was picture perfect straight, legs planted flat on the floor, arms clasped separately on his knees, or he parked his ass on the edge of the chair, spread his legs wide and propped his arms on his knees. On this particular chair, he favoured the latter.
"Well, I call this lemonade. It's actually carbonated lemon-flavoured soft drink. In Australia and th' UK, if ya ask for lemonade ya can also get soft drinks called Sprite and 7-Up. But in America and Canada, lemonade is th' sweetened lemon juice with water."
Steve studies his drink and takes a tentative sip. His eyebrows shot up (isn't it sad that was the first time she saw him react to something so extremely?) and he took a larger, longer swallow.
"It's sugary, but it's not bad."
"See? Today ain't that bad. Somethings are definitely shitty —" hilariously, Steve winced at Lucille's use of the strong word, "—but shitty things come hand in hand with humans."
Steve doesn't say a thing. Maybe she said the wrong thing? That might've been a touch too middle-aged white Facebook mum—Steve would've gotten enough of that at SHIELD. Onto another topic.
Lucille isn't really good at conversations.
"Your lessons. I'm gonna start at th' end of world war one. Things become clearer after th' event ends, so I'll discuss th' causes of No. 2. Then I'll cover ya war—I might cover things ya already know, but please be patient. After that is th' repercussions of th' world wars, the Cold War and th' proxy wars, and several social movements. I'll cover som technology as well. I havta focus on America, but I won't hold back." She meets his eyes. America has done some fucked up shit, and still is, and her time in America hasn't really impressed the idea that many of them know what their country they're so proud about really did and the repercussions. If Cap's patriotism is bruised and battered after she's done then, oops! What a shame.
Steve nods in acknowledgement. Either because of her unsaid words or simple active listening, she didn't know. And to be honest, didn't care.
"At first, we're gonna use those texts from th' bookshelf for sources, but later I'll be showing ya how to navigate laptops and phones. I want ya to be able to use them confidently. Pop culture also makes up society, so I'll be goin' through som books, films and other critical pieces. I won't quiz ya on this—you'll just have some books and films to watch every now and then. We won't be stuck in th' house until we're finished, might I mention," she added, turning her eyes back to the trees. Behind them stretched a beach, a small island and more. "I have some things I wanna do, like th' embroidery group, and I do like to leave th' house frequently."
"Sounds like a plan," Steve smiled, finally sitting back in his chair, breaking his tense posture. He looks like a golden puppy dog, she notes sourly, I can almost feel the American patriotism growing in me.
Which was ridiculous, because she wasn't even American. Well, she hoped she wasn't.
"And Lucille, ma'am? Thanks for getting me out of SHIELD."
She raised her eyebrow. "Careful, they might hear ya," is all she replied with. "Also, never call me ma'am."
She stumbled out of her room sometime close to seven. Right—dinner. The colourful packages shoved into the fridge and cupboard failed to spark an idea. What should they have for dinner? Spaghetti? Sweet & Sour Pork?
Fuck, why was this so hard? Any other day Lucille would go with whatever she was craving at the time, something simple and tasty. Steve lurked in her mind though, and suddenly a slapdash dish of karage didn't seem so appealing. Well, if she's suddenly so considerate, it might be best to ask for opinions.
Steve is easy to find; about an hour ago she heard him enter the house via the back door, and judging by the smell, he parked himself in the lounge room. Steve didn't really seem like a man who'd prefer to be cooped up in his small room.
"Whaddya want for dinner?" Sure enough, Steve had been reclined on the largest couch, thick book at hand. He sat up at Lucille's voice, peering over the cushions to where Lucille stood in the doorway. "Spit out some names and I'll see if I can make it." If not, well there's always the internet.
"I, uh, anything would be good." Steve, the ever polite man, assured her, but all it does is make her eyes roll.
"If I knew what I wanted, I wouldn't be askin'," Vaguely, she recalled one of the multiple emails from SHIELD. It annoyed Lucille that they asked ('asked' in SHIELD terms was more like a death threat, a heavenly command and strongly worded criticism all rolled into one) her to follow their 'guidelines' (like 'asked' only in a list) when regards to food. The superspy organisation had already started Steve on dishes he was familiar with and expected Lucille to pick up from there. In two months, they would switch over to 'slightly familiar' dishes.
That was utter bullshit, though. In Lucille's opinion? Steve was tougher than what SHIELD though. He could handle the strangest dishes right away.
"Well, I guess, fajitas wouldn't be so bad. They looked good on the package." Steve handles his book with care and respect, tucking a bookmark in between pages and leaving it to rest on the coffee table. He then moves to the edge of the couch, legs rigid with twin fists resting just before his knees.
Oh. Steve was—shy? Awkward? Too many adjectives. It occurred to Lucille that the next few months were setting up to be excruciatingly stiff.
"Come on, let's talk in the kitchen," she said, turning back to the hallway. Social interaction. Maybe it was a mistake to bring Steve all the way to Australia; SHIELD certainly made their displeasure known.
Lucille took out the beef and aforementioned fajita package and allowed herself to recenter. No. She knew exactly what SHIELD had planned for Steve. Confined to HQ, given an agent to learn from, every second planned out—that's wasn't a situation anyone should live in, much less assimilate to a new century. Steve wouldn't have grown.
Here, in Mackay, Steve was away from idiots who only saw Captain America. Away from fools who wanted to throw him back in the limelight ASAP. As much as Steve needed to wake up, he shouldn't be subjected to cold, unloving hands wrapped in colourless surgical gloves.
But for Steve to make the most of this trip, he needed to trust and befriend the only human who knew his situation (and had regular contact with. Those agents SHIELD planted don't count). That meant Lucille.
That meant social interaction.
"What dishes do you know?" She asked, sliding the chunked of meat into a bowl. Next, vegetables. Onion, red capsicum, carrot, snow peas and more.
Steve shifted slightly from where he leaned against the fridge. "Not many 'official' dishes. During the Depression, it was just whatever my ma and I could get thrown together. In those days, it wasn't much, and I often skipped meals to save. In the war, it was just rationed. On the occasions, Howard took us to dinner there was just so much food it all blurred together."
"So the plan SHIELD sent is useless." Nice to see the soulless agents tripping over their own words.
"How about you?" She turned just to see Steve's small gesture to her. Lucille thought about it for a second. God, where to even start? Thanks to her lost memories, she doubts she could tell the truth to herself.
"A bit of everything. Having something set is easier for shopping and choosing a meal on the fly. I know quite a few dishes from every culture and country, and apparently, they're decently made." The first time she made dinner for the adults at Chuckle's school, it was because the previous night Jean attempted sushi.
Lucille pursed her lips for just a touch of a moment. Right, time to move on.
"What hobbies do you enjoy?" She said, just trying for anything.
"Art," Steve immediately replies, "and although I don't think it really counts, I did get into quite a lot of fights. Unintentionally!" Lucille grinned slightly, just enough for Steve to see her lips quirk up.
"I suppose I enjoy embroidery," That had been an unintentional discovery. One moment she was repairing Scott's torn denim jacket, the next she was threading tiny yellow flowers at the cuffs. Lucille finished it anyway—too bad Scott's threatened ego felt the need to make its royal ass known again. "I found a group that embroiders together every Thursday afternoon. Wanna join?"
Steve seemed uncomfortable. Lucille didn't know if that was fragile masculinity or just his polite personality balking at joining something so casually. If it was the masculinity, then Steve better be on his fucking toes.
"I'm sure I could find an art group too." The meat sizzled as Lucille threw it into the pan, a beautiful scent rising from the seasoned meat. It may be the white version of the Mexican dish, but it still smelled heavenly.
The conversation paused as Lucille speeds through the last few steps. The first few minutes of dinner is preoccupied with Lucille showing Steve how to make a fajita. Once they've got something in their belly, Steve continued.
"This is really good," he said, gesturing to the food. He certainly acted like he appreciated the food, taking big bites and was already on his third roll. Thank god Lucille already knew Steve would eat a whole package alone and opened two.
Oooh, she wanted to ignore him. She wanted to cut the conversation with a grunt. She just wanted to eat and then possibly go read something. Or sleep. Anything but a dumb fucking conversation.
"The authentic version is much better." Fuck—that wasn't a conversation starter. What else can she talk about? Anything but the war, right? "Glad to hear that you like it, anyway. Do you have anything that you don't like?"
Steve thought about it for a second. "I guess eggplants?"
"Glad we're on the same footing." Scott always thought it weird that Lucille could taste the difference between the smallest things and was a near perfectionist with cooking. It wasn't as if she liked a delicious taste - actually, because of her healing factor her taste buds couldn't die. Cooking was a love-hate relationship with her.
"What do you like?"
"Asian cuisine, yakiniku in particular. Ya cook little strips of meat on a stove—real tasty." Lucille takes another bite of the fajita. The cool strip of sour cream really brought it all together. "But other than that, it's a mix and match of various dishes from all sorts of cultures."
"Happy to eat them all." Steve lightly laughs. She files away the small show of enjoyment. It was relieving to hear his stoic soldier personality finally buckle. Even the strongest of facades could crumble to a delicious dish.
Or maybe it wasn't the food; maybe it was the company. Hmm. Lucille did not file that away—instead, she shoved it under the rug. Those words carried something within them that she found herself extremely touchy about.
"Good to hear." She said, leaving it at that. But she couldn't, didn't she? She was required to respond in kind because Steve was a lost soul without a cornerstone. "I'll cook up the wildest dishes, and you shower me with compliments, cool?"
They shared a chuckle. Inside Lucille was shuddering over the straight people light talk.
When they retired for the evening, Lucille vanishing back into her room to continue to plan. But for the first time since she stepped into the house, she felt herself relaxing.
Maybe it wasn't so bad that she was living with Steve. Who knows where it might lead?