Chapter 8

Danielle woke up curled in a comforter she did not recognize. She sat up, rubbing her eyes, remembering falling asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. Steve had insisted repeatedly and determinedly that she would take his room, and not the couch.

She crawled towards her duffel, which sat at the end of the bed, and pulled out her laptop. She skimmed her emails. One was from her boss, telling her they were so sorry to hear she was ill and couldn't wait for her to return to work. She sighed, deleting a few spam messages.

She peeked out the slightly ajar bedroom door, leaning from her seated position on the bed. Steve was still asleep. She typed his name into the search engine, and began reading up. She chewed on a thumbnail as she read his wikipedia page. He'd done so much...good. Surely, he was just a man, he had to have some sort of flaw. She silently pulled herself out of bed and over to his dresser, where there was a shadowbox of military medals.

The room seemed empty. Despite the furniture, there was nothing else on display. He had a laptop on a desk in the corner, but when she slid her finger over the top of it, a fine layer of dust gathered on her fingertips. There was a small bookshelf, but with only a few things on it. An odd assortment; the first Harry Potter, a book by Bill Clinton, a military manual from the early 70's, the bible. She found a pen on the desk, and clicked it absentmindedly as she looked around the room. There was a TV on the wall in the corner, but the remote, which sat on a small table, was also covered in dust. It appeared all he did in the room was sleep.

She rounded the corner to the bathroom. Everything was so immaculate. There wasn't a comb or bottle of cologne not at a perfect right angle. She picked up one of the bottles of shampoo sitting on the corner of the tub, reading it. It looked like high priced stuff, which surprised her. She heard Steve say her name, walking into the room. She startled, and dropped the bottle onto the floor. It burst open, the soap going everywhere.

She sighed, and appeared in the door, smiling up at him.

"I was snooping and I dropped a bottle of soap." she said, grinning. He gave her a bemused look. "Sorry. I'll clean it up really fast."

He stepped into the bathroom behind her as she grabbed a wad of tissues and wiped it off the wall where it had exploded. She laughed again.

"Probably cost you 3 dollars when I did that."

Again, he gave her a confused look.

"Natasha bought it for me." he said. "Said she hated the smell of 99 cent shampoo, so brought me a bunch of stuff. Is it expensive?"

"Yeah, it's designer brand stuff. Not much of a shopper?"

He shook his head as she tossed the tissues into the trash.

"Seemed like an Old Spice kinda guy to me."

His eyes brightened, and he scooped up a bottle of the cologne, showing it to her.

"No, I saw that. I meant...shampoo."

"They make shampoo now?" he asked.

She leaned against the counter, nodding. "How often do you get out?"

"Err," he fidgeted. "I don't even like going to the grocery store."

"There's a grocery store around here?"

"Yeah, the one on the corner. They don't really carry what they used to, though."

"That's a convenience store!" she said as she remembered passing it on their way in. "Cigarettes, soda, magazines." she laughed. "I'd be amazed if they had frozen dinners."

He shrugged. "I mostly order in or eat at the diner down the block, anyways."

"Come on." she said, breezing past him. "I'll make you breakfast."


"I suspect, though, I'll have to get to a real store to do so. If your house is as empty as it looks, I'm sure the kitchen is no better."

"I think I have some milk, maybe?" he said with a smile.

After she changed into a clean set of clothes, she led Steve down the block and then up two more streets, before they arrived at a proper grocery store.

"Look, they have things to drink other than beer!" she said, pointing at the back fridges heavily stocked with milk and juices. "You need bacon and eggs immediately, Captain. What else? What sort of things did you even eat in the 30's?"

"The Great Depression? Not much, I can tell you that."

"Okay." she thought. "Cream of wheat?" she wagered a guess.

He made a face. "Awful stuff."

"How about potatoes?" she grabbed one, tossing it lightly. He shrugged.

"You're going to have to make the call. I'm pretty terrible at cooking."

"You've got a mean right hook though, so we've got that going for us." she said as she opened a fridge and pulled out a dozen eggs. "OJ, butter..." she traced the aisles quietly as Steve followed her, watching her so he could remember exactly what she did.

She paid quickly before he had a chance to insist. Back at his apartment, she commandeered the kitchen and spent a good half hour making everything. Steve sat at the counter, watching her cook, trying to memorize everything she did.

"What?" she asked after a few minutes of silence.

"Trying to learn from observation." he said.

"You're welcome to scramble my eggs for me." she said with a smile. "Don't touch the bacon, though, too advanced."

He stood, and she handed him a spatula.

"Having fun yet?" she asked after a minute, moving to the other side of the kitchen.

"Loads." he said, moving around the mostly raw egg whites and yolks around. He frowned, lifting up the pan and looking down at the electric stovestop. "Is this thing working?" he said, poking the red surface and then pulling his hand back quickly, hissing.

"Steve, oh my god." she said, turning back around from the fridge and taking his hand. "I look away one second." She ran her fingers carefully over his singed hand.

"Sorry, thanks." he sputtered, and looked back at the stove. "It's electric." he said.

"Have you really not used it?" she asked, and he shook his head.

"Well, if you'd put the pan back on the burner, we'll eat in a minute or two." she bumped him with her hip. "I'll handle it. Sit."

"Yes ma'am."

The next moment, she slid him a plate heaping with food. He grinned.

"Looks better than the diner." he said.

"That was the point."

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