Hi! Me again! Can't remember if I've asked this before but regardless - are we going to see anymore of LaTroy and Sylvie in upcoming fics? 😊
I don’t think you’ve asked that before, I don’t think anybody has. I originally didn’t plan to have them appear again, but everybody seemed to like LaTroy and his family, so, yeah, we’ll see them again.
I have one that I started but I haven’t finished it, because I wasn’t sure if I liked it. So it ends sort of abruptly, and it’s a first pass, so it’s probably pretty rough, but, I’ll happily share it with you. Enjoy, and Thank You!
LaTroy was sitting at a table in his deli, going through their supply and grocery orders. He had a little office in the back, but it was too easy to let that room eat away a whole day. Nobody wanted to disturb him there — even though he was always plenty glad when they did — so they’d leave him alone and the hours would slip away into numbers and accounts. It was awful.
Besides, he liked to be in the heart of things in case somebody might need something. Please, Lord, let somebody need something. Even if it was wondering where he put the napkins.
Going through the paper costs for the month, he was gratefully distracted when somebody joined him at the table. Glancing up with a smile, expecting his wife, he happiness faltered when he saw Darcy L. smiling back at him. It was months since he’d seen her or James. Just that one time, actually. Then neither hide nor hair of either of them until right now.
“Do you bake your own bread?” she asked without preamble.
LaTroy stared for a moment, not sure she wasn’t a bizarre vision; the result of too many numbers doing weird things to his head. “No. There’s a local bakery we order from. We do some of our own special breads sometimes, around the holidays mostly, and we make probably half the desserts.”
“Cool. Do you cater?”
Scratching at his jaw, LaTroy was trying to figure out what exactly was happening. She came out of nowhere, no greeting, just straight to business like they’d been talking all along. “Sure. Breakfast, lunch.”
“Nice.” She grinned at him and nodded. “Good to see you again, LaTroy.”
Letting out a small, bewildered laugh, he nodded back. “And nice to see you around, Darcy L. You bring James with you today?”
“No, just me.” She kept smiling, but there was something under it now. Like a warning. LaTroy frowned.
“How’s he doing?”
“Good. Maybe better than good. He’s got the property for his dream bar, so he’s busy planning and knocking down walls, as you do. He’s on cloud nine, or whatever the freeze-dried soldier equivalent is.”
LaTroy licked his lips and kept staring, not sure how to respond to that. Darcy didn’t seem to notice.
“So, can you do lunch for 15?” she asked, getting back to their business - the business he didn’t know they had until he was dropped right into the middle of it. Did Bucky ever feel this confused by her? “Or maybe 20? Make it 25. Like, box lunches. You know, sandwich, chips, potato salad, whatever else?”
“Sure,” he replied, trying to work around his bemusement. He pulled out an order book from his pocket. “When are you aiming for?”
“Friday. Is that too short notice?”
“Nah. It’s Tuesday. Plenty of time.” He wrote down a note. “Delivery and setup?”
“Okay. Where we headed?” She rattled off an address in Williamsburg and LaTroy felt his confusion grow a little bit bigger. “Nobody closer?”
“Probably,” she told him with an easy shrug. “But, we’re friends.”
“Suppose we are,” LaTroy muttered, but he wasn’t really getting friendly vibes from her. In fact, it was peculiar how much this little slip of a woman was unsettling him. More than James did, even that first time. “This an office lunch? You want drinks?”
“I’ll handle the drinks. And, no. It’s for the construction crew. A) they have to put up with Bucky looming and hovering, and b) it’s been a couple hot, gross, sucky weeks, weather-wise. I figured they deserve lunch, you know?”
“That’s nice of you,” he said and wrote another note on his order book. It seemed smart right now to stick to business. “Assorted?”
“Yeah. Maybe five of the veggie option if you’ve got one, but the rest, just like turkey, ham, roast beef, corned beef, and whatever your usual build is.”
He dutifully wrote that down then glanced up at her, and watched as her eyes traveled over the deli. It was almost an absent look, not like James and his jumpy eyes. But, he still felt bothered, watched; hell, surveilled.
“You know,” he said as he turned back to the order book, “if you’re worried, I never said anything to anybody about him.”
“I do,” she said with a nod and a little obnoxious smirk. “Lt. LaTroy Walker, 75th Rangers. Your CO was way disappointed when you retired so suddenly, by the way. He had big plans for you.”
Licking his lips, he set down his pen and rested his hands flat on the table. So, yeah, this was a warning. Clearly.
“My wife’s dad owned his place,” LaTroy said, explaining his retirement. He wasn’t sure why he felt he ought to explain to her, but he thought mostly it was important right now that they have an understanding. And it helped him keep his temper; her digging into his personal business and all didn’t make him happy.
“He got hurt pretty bad in a car accident. She came back to help the family out. I figured she needed me more than the army did. And I figured I needed her more than I needed the army. We were still dating then, but we got married a year or so later, when her pops was back on his feet.”
“That’s sweet,” Darcy said, and she offered him a genuine smile. “How’d you meet your wife?”
“You don’t know?”
“I limited my snooping to you.”
“Thanks, I guess,” he grumbled. He could see it, he supposed. If she was keeping Bucky Barnes safe, he’d guess she’d want to know who knew about him. It was just what it was that LaTroy found himself uncomfortably on that list of folks. “We met in college. Her family were always real good to me. They had their reservations at first; she’s Italian and I'm—”
“Not Italian?” Darcy interrupted with a guess and LaTroy laughed. Well, she was pretty polite about the snooping.
“Exactly. Not only that, but I’m not even from Brooklyn. I’m from Delaware. But, I guess you knew that.”
She snorted, but didn’t confirm or deny she’d dug that far. “So, how’d they get past that Delaware thing? My grandpa is from here, and of course, a couple friends. You’d think Brooklyn was some sort of Eden on Earth. I’m from California, so, you know, I don’t really get it.”
“It’s still a work in progress,” he admitted with a wry smile. “But, anyway, they were always good to me. Her grandma, well, she loved me more than my own grandma ever did, you know. So, when Sylvie’s dad decided to retire, we worked it so Sylvie and I bought the deli.”
“Nice. A real family business. Is that your son over there?” She nodded to the boy behind the counter, who was smiling at a pretty businesswoman.
LaTroy’s jaw tightened and he stared hard at Darcy. There were limits to how far he was willing to tolerate the intrusion into his personal business. Dante was way the hell off limits. "Why’re you here? You warning me?“
She looked away from Dante and shook her head. “Not the sort of warning you’re thinking of. Like I’m going to threaten you?”
He raised an eyebrow and gave her a pointed look over. His old army sizing-you-up look. She didn’t flinch away from it.
“I know,” she said with that aggravating smirk. “I’m not much, but I am scrappy.”
“I guess maybe you are,” he said carefully.
“Should you be saying that?” he asked, shooting his own look around the deli. It was the second time she mentioned his nickname, and it made him tense up every time. There were three other customers in there and his son. They could overhear maybe.
“Who’s going to notice? Unless you act all weird about it and make them notice you being weird. Relax.”
LaTroy blew out a breath and sat back. She had a point; the name only meant something because he knew it meant something. “Alright.”
“How did you figure it out, by the way? Did he tell you?”
He scoffed and gave her an incredulous look. “That guy doesn’t say anything.”
She laughed. “I know, so imagine how confused I was.”
“I saw a book; it had his picture in it,” he explained.
Darcy took that in and was quiet for a minute, looking thoughtful. “Did you ever play Howling Commandos when you were a kid?”
“Course I did.”
“Me, too. Then I grew up and one day Bucky Barnes sat down next to me. Weird, right?”
“Just like that?”
“Not exactly.” She leaned forward and gave him a very serious look. “Keep not saying anything about who he is. There are people who’d like to get their hands on him; really bad, awful people. I’d prefer they didn’t. Actually, we’d all prefer they didn’t.”
“I get that,” LaTroy agreed easily. Whatever the man had been through, somebody was holding onto him for all that time. And however he got away, somebody was probably looking.
“And I don’t want anybody to come here looking for answers. Bucky wouldn’t want you involved. Not as far as anybody anywhere would notice, you know? That the only warning I came to give, I swear.”
LaTroy nodded slowly and glanced over at his son again. He’d grown another inch or so. If Dante got much taller they were going to have to raise the ceilings. But, no matter how big he’d get, Dante would always be his sweet little boy. “I gotcha.”
“Okay.” She pulled out a card and handed it to him. “If anybody ever comes sniffing around, call me.”
He flicked a finger on the edge of the card. It was just her name and a number. “What’re you going to do?”
She watched him for a second then smiled, an actual smile and not that smirk. “Can I tell you another secret, LaTroy?”
“I guess,” he mumbled, hesitant about this whole thing. “This one need a warning?”
“No. My dad’s coming here.”
“Okay?” How was that a secret? This girl’s brain didn’t seem to work in any sort of straight line.
“We’ve been making a point to have a daddy/daughter date every few weeks. And, I told him about this place. So, he’s on his way now. We’ll grab dinner to go.” And as if that explained anything at all, she kept on smiling and sat back. “I’m serious. Call me. Even if somebody’s looking sort of shifty. Like, you’ve just got a bad feeling. Don’t second guess it. I mean, you were a Ranger, you know the drill.”
“Okay, but, really, what’re you going to do?” LaTroy demanded again. She might know Bucky Barnes, and maybe then by extension Captain America, but … what? They were more set up to help if somebody nasty came around. So, what did she think she’d be able to do? Was she one of those weird aliens they said looked human? Inhumans, right? Was she one of those? That’s the only way he could figure she’d be much help.
“Oh, I’m way helpful,” she assured him. Then she jerked her chin at his order book. “So, are we good for Friday?”
“Uh, yeah,” LaTroy said, and finished tallying up the order.
While he was still puzzling over Darcy L. and still wrapping up their business, the door opened and a man in old jeans and a faded t-shirt strode into the deli. LaTroy glanced up reflexively, as he always did with a new customer — somehow Darcy snuck in on him.
Squinting a little, he took the man in. This fellow might be dressed down, but he was wearing expensive sunglasses, had an expensive haircut, and everything about him said expensive.
He looked around the place, bemused, until his eyes landed on Darcy. “Hey, kid.”
“Hey.” She grinned at him and stood, then waved a hand at LaTroy. “This is LaTroy, he and his wife own the deli. LaTroy, Tony.”
When recognition hit, it was a surreal moment for LaTroy. Part of his brain said that was Tony Stark standing there, but another part of his brain refused to accept the idea that Tony Stark of all people would be in his deli.
Tony’s lips twisted in confusion, like he wasn’t sure why they were being introduced, either, but he nodded. “LaTroy.”
LaTroy got to his feet and offered his hand. “Mr. Stark. It's—”
“Yeah, you’re stunned and amazed and it’s nice to meet me. Got it. Good to meet you, too,” Tony said and gave him a brief handshake. “So, I hear you’ve got some kind of amazing soup? Like, Darcy didn’t shut up about it for a week. It was weird and, frankly, irritating. So, obviously I need to try it myself.”
"My wife makes it. Uh, we’ve got minestrone, tomato, and french onion today.” LaTroy was still processing the strangeness of Tony Stark, and okay, so he was a little slow about realizing exactly what was happening. Darcy said she was telling him another secret, and what she’d do if somebody threatened him, and that her dad was visiting.
Damn. Not just damn, but day-um!
“I’m feeling tomato,” Tony declared and drifted over to the counter.
LaTroy shot her a wide-eyed look and dipped his chin in question. Darcy patted his shoulder and said, “So, if somebody worries you, you’re going to call me, right?”
“Uh, yeah. I will. Promise.” Did she … she just said … Wait, wait. That was Iron Man, and she was Iron Man’s kid, and she knew Bucky Barnes and he’d already figured she’d know Cap. So, she must know all the others, right? So she just said if there was trouble, he could call in the Avengers. That’s what she said without actually saying it, right? The Avengers. For him? For real?
“Cool.” She started after Tony, but stopped and turned back to LaTroy. “You were nice to him, to Bucky. Nobody was kind to him for a long, long time. He told me how you met, how you tried to get him to come in. He wasn’t in a place to accept that then, but he appreciated it.”
“Wasn’t hardly a thing,” LaTroy said with a shrug.
“It was a huge thing,” she said, rolling her eyes at him.
At the counter, Dante was helping another customer and hadn’t noticed Tony Stark yet. That was going to be entertaining when he did. Though, LaTroy thought he should probably scoot on over there and spare his son the embarrassment.
But, before he moved, he asked the girl next to him, voice low, “Why’d you tell me?”
Darcy, who had an amused anticipatory smile as she waited for Dante to notice Tony, too, shrugged. “You kept Bucky’s secret. It seemed only fair.”
“How’s that work?”
“It’s the currency of trust. Right? I pay you back with my own.”
“You didn’t have to do that. I didn’t do it for you.”
“Look, he’s my partner.” Darcy turned away from watching Dante and gave him a very serious look. He didn’t know her much at all, but thought the serious look was probably a pretty rare one; worth paying attention to her, he figured.
“It matters to me that you noticed him,” she continued, “that you cared before you knew who he was, that you cared enough to figure out what was going on with him. And then, after you figured it out, that you still cared. You didn’t have to do that. You didn’t have to care. You didn’t have to wonder about him. And you didn’t have to keep quiet. It’s nice to remember there are good people in the world.”
LaTroy felt both humbled and baffled by her reasoning and could only manage a mumbled, “Man’s a hero.”
“I agree. But, not a lot of other people do.” She let out a long breath through her nose and rubbed at her forehead. “He was a POW for more than 70 years. Brainwashed. They made him do terrible things.”
Licking his lips, LaTroy remembered that article he found online that said Barnes was the man who ripped apart the D.C. SHIELD building. He didn’t want to believe it when he read it, but it made awful sense now. “Hydra?”
“Yes.” With narrowed eyes, she watched him for a long moment. “It wasn’t his choice. He fought them every way he could for all that time. And he’s not that man anymore. He got away.”
“Good,” LaTroy told her, firming up his lips. That was good. Good for him. And to hell with Hydra. How dare they. Monsters. They were monsters for a whole lot of awful reasons — this one just felt personal. “Hope he took some of them down on his way out.”
“Well, that’s an ongoing process,” she said, laughing a little. “But, buddy, let me tell you, it is satisfying as hell to blow up a Hydra base.”
Raising an eyebrow, he looked down at her and asked, “You do that?”
“Once I helped, and once I did it on my own,” she said proudly.
“Good for you, girl,” he praised and clapped her on the shoulder and was struck again by how petite she was.
He glanced over at Tony’s back, and then down to her again. Stark’s kid. His daughter. A beautiful little girl, the man somehow kept out of sight, safe from the world. LaTroy liked to think he was a modern man, but he didn’t think he could let his little girl go do something like that. Actually, he got a little shaky thinking of his boy doing that.
He had to ask. “Don’t take this wrong, but, how in the world does your dad let you go out and do that?”
“Another ongoing process,” she told him with a sigh.
LaTroy frowned for another minute and, finally, Tony was the next costumer up. Dante didn’t realize who he was talking to. Not yet, anyway. But, LaTroy wasn’t entirely noticing now, either. So, how’d Stark’s kid end up in a place where she was blowing up Hydra bases? With her partner Bucky Barnes? Bucky Barnes who, apparently, was the guy who took down the SHIELD building and who —
“Damn. You a SHIELD agent?” he asked in a strangled whisper.
“Who? Me?"she asked, and then laughed.
"I thought SHIELD was gone.”
“It is,” she said.
Dante finally noticed who he was talking to and was giving LaTroy a panicked look, pleading for help.
“Bucky wanted a bar, I used to bartend in college, and you know, for a little while, seems like a good place to rest,” she said simply. It didn’t really explain anything, but that was probably the point. A gentle nudge telling him to butt out. He supposed he could accept that, she made amends for her poking into his life and he got why. Guess it was his turn to back off.
“Sounds good. I’ll have to come by for a cold one sometime.”
“On the house.”
LaTroy nodded and headed for the counter, ready to rescue his son from having to get Tony Stark a bowl of soup. “So, lunch for 25? Let me ring you up.”
“Make it thirty,” Darcy said, following after him. “They’re hard-working, burly men and women. They get hungry. My partner will eat any leftovers.”
LaTroy noticed Stark make a face at the partner comment and she raised an eyebrow back at her father. “What?”
“Nothing,” Stark grumbled and flashed Dante a grin. “How old are you, kid? Want a job?”
Dante stared for a second before remembering his manners. “No, sir. I have one, but thank you.”
“You sure? I’ve got an opening for an assistant. My last one left me to go be a bartender. What the hell is that, huh?”
“Uh …” Dante shot LaTroy another desperate look.
“I wasn’t your assistant,” Darcy protested.
“You assisted me with things.”
“Tony,” she sighed and kicked his ankle. “I haven’t gone anywhere.”
“Fine, fine, whatever.” He leaned over the counter and gave Dante a serious nod. “Think about it. Give me a call if you change your mind. Give him one of my cards, Darce.”
“I don’t carry your cards on me. Why don’t you have your own cards?”
“If this kid was my assistant, I bet he’d have my cards on him. Pepper always had my cards.” He looked back at Dante. “What’s your name?”
LaTroy, who’d watched the exchange with amusement while he fixed up two bowls of soup, decided his son had been tortured long enough.
“This is my son Dante, Mr. Stark. And he’s seventeen and he’s got school, so there’s no going across town to be passing round your business cards. He’s got a job here and homework he probably ought to be getting to.” He patted his son on the shoulder and nudged him away from the register. “You go on, Dante.”
“Yes, pops. Thanks,” he muttered and his shoulders rose and fell on a relieved sigh. He bobbed his head self-consciously at Stark and said, “It was nice to meet you Mr. Stark. Enjoy your meal.” Then he hustled through the door to the kitchen as fast as his long legs would carry him.