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Challenges 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Challenges 1
Anna Jarvis knows very well how her husband is spending his time while Howard is on the run. What she doesn't get is why he doesn't tell her. She'd love to meet Peggy. for yalumesse

"So, you have settled her?" Anna asked. "The spy girl? In Mr. Stark's apartment."

Edwin jumped like she'd goosed him, and she laughed. She had goosed him the day they'd met, in Budapest, and he'd looked exactly like this… startled, and trying to hide the fact that he was delighted.

"I don't know what you mean, Anna."

"Stark's friend. She is an agent, no? Or am I meant to think you've taken a little tchotchka on the side…"


"Chippie, dance girl, you know."


She laughed again. "Oh, Edwin, I don't worry about such things. Such fears are for unluckier women. So, she is an agent?"

"I couldn't say."

"Of course not." Anna sat down at the dinner table and started picking at her chocolate cake. "I will say, then. She is English, I know that, because we suddenly have tea at tea time. You, my love, are homesick."

"No, I'm not!"

"This is no shame. I make goulash and stuffed cabbage when I miss Budapest. You make scones when you miss London. This is to be hidden?"

He sat down across from her and sighed. "All right. Yes, she's English."

"And under the care of Mr. Stark."

"Not under anyone's care."

"Ah. I say this incorrectly. She is… cared for by Mr. Stark? He cares for her."

"He cares for her. She isn't cared for by him."

Anna put a hand to her head. "No matter how many years I speak it, English makes no sense. They are the same thing!" She waved it off. "All right, she is English, and Mr. Stark cares for her. I know of such a person, you know. Peggy Carter, whose picture was in the war reels. Captain America took her picture into battle."

"Right so far."

"About her being an agent?"

"I wouldn't say."

"Ah, yes. You can't say. I will continue to say. She had an officer's uniform. Boxy thing. Dressing a woman as if she were a man, feh. Do they not notice we are shaped differently? The army would do better to hire a decent tailor."

"I don't think it was their first priority."

"Why not? Is it too frightening to the enemy to think that women might be giving commands?" She shuddered playfully. "No, no. Such a woman as could be an officer, and loved by Captain America… is 'loved by' all right, or is it different?"

"It's fine."

"English." Anna shook her head. "Such a woman is not going to be content in a typing pool. Add to it all of the late hours, and the secrets, and the fact that you won't tell me that she's anything else, and she must be a spy. Does she do undercover work? Has she infiltrated Russia yet?"

"If so, I wasn't with her."

"Oh, she has, then. I was only joking."

Edwin winced. "You're too smart for my own good, Anna. What is it that you want?"

"I want to meet her, of course!"

"Why on Earth…?"

"What does that mean?"

"If the situation were what… what you've outlined… then it could be quite dangerous. You know that, coming from behind the iron curtain, you're something of a target."

Anna gave an elaborate shrug. "I don't think someone helped by Howard Stark's kindness is likely a Communist."

"Why do you want to meet Peggy?"

She reached across the table and squeezed his fingers. "Because it sounds exciting, you silly man. And you certainly seem to be having fun."

"I wouldn't say it's fun…"'

"Of course you wouldn't."

Willow and Xander, something between them that Willow thinks is romantic and Xander agrees but won't admit it, the summer between seasons 1 and 2. for maidenjedi

"I'm not going to see The Full Monty, Will," Xander said on their third circuit of the mall in the last hour. "No way."

"It has very good reviews."

"It has naked Englishmen."

Willow felt a snort of laughter coming up in her nose, and forced it back. If Xander was ever going to kiss her, she could laugh every time someone mentioned the word naked.

Naked. Nekkid. In the nude. Englishmen. She imagined Giles in some kind of tweed costume, swinging around on a pole.

She took a drink from her cup, sucking through the straw, and that didn't help matters at all.

The laugh came out in a kind of half sneeze, which blew bubbles in her soda. It backed up and seemed to fizz in her sinuses.

Xander guided her down to a bench. "Whoa, there, Will. Didn't mean to overload you, there."

"I'm not overloaded."

"Really?" He pushed her hair behind her ear. "'Cause your ears are kind of matching your hair."

He left his hand on the side of her face, which only made her skin get hotter. She bit her lip, hoping it would draw his attention in that direction, but he didn't take the hint. His hand stayed where it was.

Disappointed, she looked at the line of movie posters. "Air Force One's still playing. You can't argue with President Harrison Ford."

Xander didn't say anything, which was sort of surprising, as he was the one who would actually vote for Harrison Ford. His hand was still on Willow's face. She chanced a glance up.

He was looking at her in a kind of confused way, like he wasn't sure it was actually her face he was touching. And she was sure he was going to kiss her this time. It wouldn't be like the other six times this summer that he'd looked at her this way. He would really follow through this time. He'd…

He moved his hand and stood up, looking away. "I think I'm about to have a genius idea, Will…"

"Yes? We could… I mean, I would…"

"Why settle for Air Force One? Let's go to Blockbuster, rent all the Harrison Ford movies, and have a marathon. My place." He shook his head. "No, on second thought, your place."

"Oh, I thought…"

"What? Did you have a better idea?"

Willow looked down. "No. No better idea."

"Good. We'll start with American Graffiti. And then Star Wars, Apocalypse Now>…"

"No. No apocalypse. We agreed not to use the A word."

"Fine. Empire, Raiders, Witness…"

"Working Girl?"

He gave her a pained wince, then nodded magnanimously. "I'm open to the chick flick. Witness me being open to it."

"And it has nothing to do with Melanie Griffith in lingerie?"

"Oo, I didn't know that about it. I should have done my duty and watched it already." He jumped up onto the bench and pointed down the hall, toward the doors. "Onward to Blockbuster, troops!"

Willow blushed. Xander had always played soldier (Mom had forbidden Willow to play along with his fetishizing of the military industrial complex, though she'd finally consented to letting Willow play a non-combatant medic), but since he had his growth spurt after freshman year, he didn't look silly at it anymore. He looked strong. And handsome. And…

She sighed. He looked like he was planning to distract himself again. Every time they'd started looking at each other, it had turned into one of his hyper performance modes.

He jumped down and beckoned at her. "Paratroops! Over the side!"

He ran toward the door like it was the beach at Normandy, body curled over an imaginary gun.

She followed.

When they hit the sunlight, he stopped, peering under his hand. "I see the target, soldier. Should we go in?"

"You're the commander," Willow said.

"Yeah, but you're the smart one. The commander defers to the smart one."

"Not generally speaking."

He scratched his head. "You sure about that?"

"Pretty sure. Unless the smart one outranks the commander."

"Shouldn't the smart one generally outrank me?"

"I don't think it works like that."

"Hmm." He frowned, then grinned sunnily. "Well, that's how it works in my army." He pointed down the hill toward Main Street, where Blockbuster sat between the single Starbucks and a used clothing shop. "We need to take that video shop. What's the strategy?"

Willow bit her lip again (this time, he didn't even glance at her), then said, "Maybe we should go in undercover. You're an agent scouting for talent, and I'm the actress who… um… wants to keep the agent's attention." She looked up hopefully, thinking maybe he'd play along, put an arm around her. Maybe kiss her as a role play, and then decide he liked it.

He said, "That might be too subtle for the enemy. I say we charge in, weapons out -- "

"And by 'weapons,' you mean my dad's credit card?"

"There are many ways to fight a war." He ran down the hill, beckoning her along.

She shook her head, and followed.
13 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 10th, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, like I said... timelines are muddy in my head. And it's been a while since I took post-war history. According to Wikipedia, the Soviets did occupy right after the war.
hippie1025 From: hippie1025 Date: January 10th, 2016 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nicely done on Xander's dialogue. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 10th, 2016 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. :) I am insecure in the face of Whedon-speak.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 11th, 2016 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I kind of liked her myself.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 12th, 2016 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I just went looking for season 2 promos, and the woman handing Peggy a holster here is the one whose picture is on the Anna page of the Wiki I checked...
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maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: January 11th, 2016 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)

That is perfect Willow and Xander!!!  Thank you, that satisfies a serious yen.  :-)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 11th, 2016 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked it. I've wondered about that summer, too.
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: January 11th, 2016 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aw, poor Willow. I miss early Willow and the Willow/Xander could-have-been-a-ship. I wish they'd gone a totally different way with her character than they ended up doing, but hey, Joss Whedon.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: January 11th, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Man, I wish the show would give us Anna Jervis and make her this cool.

Man, the early Willow-Xander dynamic was so weird. It was like Xander being a pining Nice Guy to Buffy and Willow being a pining Nice Guy to her and yeah, awkward. Nicely portrayed here though.
cyndisuesue From: cyndisuesue Date: January 21st, 2016 10:44 am (UTC) (Link)
That Agent Carter bit was Bloody Brilliant and quite "Head-Cannon" to me now.
13 comments or Leave a comment