Title: (and I didn't ask you) why
Subject: Correspondent AU
Rating: TA (f-word, yeahh)
Pairing: Livvy/Dick, beginnings of Jo/Joe
Word Count: 1824
Disclaimer: I don’t own Band of Brothers or anything relating to them and I base my fiction entirely on the actors and their portrayals. No disrespect intended. And The National's lryics are obviously there's and that quote is on my blog somewhere but idk where, anyway carrying them with you isn't something I came up with on my own~
Author's Notes: Fooooor Shoshanna~
The newsroom is nearly empty. With good reason, too, as the clock above Jo’s head is clicking closer to midnight with each passing moment. It’d be silent, too, if not for Johnny’s mumbling on the phone (can the person on the other end actually hear what you’re saying? Jo wonders) and the constant movement from Livvy’s desk (she’s working on covering their whiteboard in notes, and if Jo had to she’d readily admit to her doing quite that).
Jo herself adds the smallest of noises every now and then, spinning her mouse wheel with the ending of a paragraph to bring the next one into view, occasionally hitting print near a particularly meaningful passage, the little noise that signals a message sent or received on her phone. She blushes with the realization that she’s been looking at said phone for the last several minutes. It had been about an hour since Joe’s last text, but she’s habitually, oddly, returned to the photo he’d sent - himself side eyeing a girl at a small party he and Bill had spent the evening at. He wasn’t even smiling, and still it set something aflutter in her stomach.
She shakes her head and realizes Johnny’s looking at her with a half a smile. He was good at that sort of thing. If anything, Jo found it a bit unnerving how much she fit with him and Livvy. Or, rather, she knew she should have found it unnerving. The truth was it felt as natural as anything, perhaps more natural than breathing itself (she wouldn’t have been able to say such a thing three years prior. Three years prior, she would’ve asked, what could be more natural than breathing?).
“We’d really like to be there, get you some good coverage in the Tribune - I think it might bolster some spirits, don’t you?” Johnny’s voice is a little louder than it has been. Jo takes that as a sign that the conversation is coming to a close - that maybe they’d actually need to be heading out soon.
“Nearly midnight. Probably a good idea to get that wrapped up,” Livvy murmurs, capping the marker in her hand and dropping it at the bottom of the whiteboard. Jo’s not sure if she’s talking to her or to Johnny but they both nod absently. “Anyway,” Livvy continues, her right hand absently rubbing at her left (broken somewhere overseas - Jo expected she’d hear the full story in time, or read it herself if the time ever presented itself), “If Dick’s still in London, it’s nearing six. D’you mind?”
“Course not,” Jo replies, already working on shutting her computer down, phone screen bright in her hand as she finds herself looking at that photo again. She chides herself as the ringing starts from Livvy’s direction. It was much too soon to be thinking or feeling the way she was. She shouldn’t be anticipating the ding of her phone with such eagerness. There was so much they still had to figure out on their own, let alone together.
Her mind drifts back to a few months before when Johnny had taken her out for breakfast after a particularly rough night, despite Livvy’s greeting of “Hey, Major.” It had been pouring, and it still was when he’d picked her up. She had somewhat guiltily confessed to having spent much of the night pacing or simply trying to remember to breathe.
For Johnny’s part, he’d recognized it right away. How she considered it something to be ashamed of, that is. He’d been around the business of war and it’s stories for much longer than someone his age ought to have been, he’d read all the books, written a few of his own, knew all the signs. And even when he felt like he didn’t know what to say, somehow, he always did.
He’d told her about a passage that a Marine had shared with him once, something undoubtedly picked up from someone else and probably even someone else before that. He’d have looked it up, he’d mentioned, were he a better writer, but that was beside the point. The point was that none of them could forget the people they used to be. The best they could do was carrying them with them, pulling their weights willingly. After all, life was about gains and losses.
Jo had been unspeakably grateful for the lesson, as she was for so many of Johnny’s lessons. He didn’t even realize he was giving them half the time.
“Is that John, I hear?” Jo hears the voice from the other side of the world off to her left. Livvy nods, turning her laptop slightly to afford the boys a look at one another. Jo finds herself grateful for the layout of their office space - a place that affords her more control than just about anywhere else in this city. They sit in an incomplete rectangle - three sides, instead of four - and from her spot on the left side of the door, she has a clear line of sight to both Johnny and Livvy, and the door. The design was obviously something of a thought out venture, as they all liked to be aware of everything they could - habits picked up from the people they used to be.
“Tell him thanks, if you don’t mind,” the voice continues. Jo had never met Livvy’s fiance, but she knew he was a Major stationed somewhere in Europe, was something that she and Johnny would paint as someone almost holy, but clearly had a penchant for loving those with the strongest vices - the pack of cigarettes on Livvy’s desk seems a little harsh in light of remembering this, but Jo supposes he expects it. “And the mysterious J.R. Brandt, too.”
Livvy bites her lip, waving toward Jo to bring her toward her. Jo acquiesces after a moment’s hesitation. The image that had been built up in her head was more than a little intimidating. But she’d been to war for Christ’s sake. Been to war and here she was, back in a big city on a bigger lake back in the States with a job to her name and a handful of people she could say she really cared about.
And besides, the photos she’d always seen were bright with smiles.
“Please, call me Jo,” she says, without any sort of preamble, stepping into the computer camera’s shot as Livvy wraps an arm around her waist in something of a half hug.
“The Tribune’s newest resident darling,” Livvy bites her lip, but, (Jo realizes now why she was doing it) it doesn’t stop the smile from spreading.
“Hardly,” Jo brushes the half jesting compliment off with a bit of a blush as the ginger haired man covering the entire laptop screen gives a laugh.
“It’s good to finally meet you, Jo,” despite the laugh, there’s something genuinely sincere and kind in the statement that puts her completely at ease. “And I mean it, thank you for this.” He waves the first book of a small stack to his left - a signed copy of Jo’s own manuscript. “Apparently, Taylor’s got a bit of a thing for correspondent collections.”
“Not a problem, sir,” she replies, feeling a bit like she’s back in a stuffy office with a two star sitting across from her telling her that her collection was quite something.
“Call me Dick, Jo,” he smiles at her. Hell, having Dick giving you thanks felt more like a five star.
“And thank you, Liv,” it’s so emphatic, Jo suddenly feels like an intruder. The book he’s moved to the top now is something she recognizes, something that used to sit on the shelf behind her co worker, immaculately kept in a spot of honor. She sincerely wishes that maybe one day - but here her thoughts return to the man in the apartment below hers and she chides herself once more. “I wouldn’t normally suck up like this, but I really think they’re making a mistake and I can’t get anyone to push the conversation -”
“It’s nothing when it comes down to it. Whatever you need,” Livvy cuts him off with a sigh of words. She had a habit of speaking that way, all sighs - tired, heavy, exhausted. “I take it that Vat on your desk doesn’t belong to you?”
Jo doesn’t realize it’s a roundabout way of asking about someone else until that someone else shows up on the screen.
“Pretty sure he hadn’t made it to bed until about thirty minutes ago,” Dick’s voice narrates the shot of a dark man rather impressively curled up in a chair in the corner of the room. “I’m hoping he’ll have it out of his system by the end of furrlough.”
“You’re too good to him, you know,” Livvy murmurs, quietly. Almost as an after thought adds, “Too good to me, too. I miss you.”
Jo thinks this is the appropriate time to step away, feeling like a bit of an intruder on a moment she had only been half invited to. The image of Dick glancing down for the briefest of moments sticks with her, like a punch to the gut. Worse, Johnny’s sparing that thoughtful look her way again on his way to the whiteboard to add what little he’d gained in the last half hour’s phone call.
Fuck it, she thinks, and sends a text his way.
Hey, are you awake?
Yeah, I’m right here.
She smiles despite herself. Somehow, as though the fates had aligned, the first band they’d discovered they shared on their iTunes happened to be The National. Leave it to Joe to find a way to bring the fact to the forefront of her mind when it couldn’t have been further away.
If you’re coming home any time soon, I’ll still be awake - a little German lesson of any interest to you?
It had surprised her how he’d taken her heritage and asked to learn more. How sometimes he’d come at her with words she knew she hadn’t taught him, but still asked for more. Just the day he called her liebling made her feel rather weak at the knees.
Count on it.
“It’s noon, on the dot, tomorrow, ladies, so you’ve got a solid twelve hours for some shut eye. You need a ride, Jo?” Johnny asks, pulling his coat on. Jo looks up from where she’d paused in her own collection of things. Livvy’s slowly closing her computer - but seems to jump from her desk to the door in less time than, well, anyone.
“Sure,” she replies, knowing he’d not let either of them walk home at this time of night, anyway, despite what they could do, had done.
We can’t leave the people we used to be behind. We just have to carry them with us.
Tonight, she thinks, I’ll let her teach some German.