Four days after he had been defrosted and time seemed to go by slowly. He'd walked around Manhattan, the bright lights and the dazzling sights continuously unnerved him. He'd watched the people as he sat down on a park bench, his hands laced together, and his fingers drumming against their selves in his feeble attempt to keep his mind calm. He'd watched as people walked down the streets, devices held in their hands and pressed to their ears as they continuously laughed at them or shouted down them. He'd been informed it was a cell phone after overhearing someone one day.
Of course, he'd been told that it would take time to adjust to this modern world which he now knew. The modern world where men and women were treated equally and people spoke in different terms. He often wondered if he'd find himself ever coming to adapt. Technology held no interest for him and he didn't long to catch up with the styles he had found himself missing.
No, he spent his time at the boxing gym, his mind consumed with images from the past. His fists kept pounding against the punching bag, trying to remain calm but failing as he saw men fall and the woman he loved fade from his image. He didn't think he'd ever manage to go five minutes without watching the punching bag fly across the room, breaking into pieces whilst he gasped for breath, his head bowing downwards and his hands resting on his thighs, supporting him as the memories left him.
He finally called it a night, realising that he didn't want to break anymore of the punching bags or people would become slightly suspicious. He grabbed his gym bag and headed towards the showers, turning it on with relative ease and allowing the water to wash away the sweat. He'd hoped it could clear his head, but, he never had such luck. His mind was a constant whirlpool of activity, telling him things that he already knew over and over again. He sighed after a moment, wrapping a towel around his waist and drying off as he stood in the abandoned changing rooms. He found his checker shirt and his brown pants and slid them onto his body, giving his hair a quick tug with his fingers before he slung the bag onto his shoulder and took off.
Walking at night was much more preferable than during the day. He found that the streets were slightly quieter and cooler, but, they were still quite busy. He wondered if anything would ever become peaceful in the bustling city. Did people not sleep? He knew that he didn't if he could help it. Seventy years of sleeping was more than enough to satisfy him for a lifetime.
The walk back to his apartment was brisk and quick, he found himself passing people and saying nothing. No exchange of pleasantries or brief smiles. His mind wandered as he watched people move past him, couples rowing or flirting, friends giggling or complaining, singletons musing or glaring.
He finally made it back to the apartment block, looking up at the old style building of brick before he pushed the main door open and made his way inside, looking around for a moment at the pigeonhole which was used for mail. It was rare he had any and today was no exception.
He kept on walking up the steps, stopping for a moment as he heard yelling move down the hallway from the first floor. He looked down the rows of doors, wondering what was happening and if his held was needed before he thought about it. The yells came from a woman and a man, both of them waking the neighbours with their high pitched screams. But, no one moved from behind the safety of their metal door. No one stirred and it took him a moment to realise that everyone kept themselves to themselves. If it wasn't their business then they didn't help.
He remained stood on the spot, listening intently for another few seconds as the woman kept yelling at the man, her voice full of fury and rage as she did so. And then she went silent. His brows furrowed together as he listened around, his ears intent on picking up some form of noise before the door opened wide, banging against the wall as it did so.
"You can't do this to me!" she shrieked out loud and he realised that the time for action may have approached him. He walked down the corridor with purpose, his bag still slung on his back as he watched the woman being pushed into the corridor, her body pressed against the free wall as her head hit it and the man continued to grasp onto her hair, pulling it tightly as he glared at her.
"I can and I have done. Who do you think you are?" he snapped at her, spit raging from his open mouth as she began to cower slightly, the anger she was seeing in front of her worrying her terribly. She'd never seen him look like this.
"Sir," his voice suddenly spoke and the pair of them turned their heads to the side, looking at the man stood down the hall. "I think that it would be more prudent if you stopped hurting this young lady."
"Stay out of it," he barked back and returned his glare back onto the woman, his eyes dangerously looking at her. "I never want to see you here again. Do you understand me?"
"Sir," the man said again. "I don't want to intervene."
"Then don't," he snapped back, his hand touching the woman's reddening cheek and gently stroking it. "We're done here, aren't we, Lizzie?"
"Get the hell off of me," she swiped back. The man continued to look on as she suddenly raised her knee, allowing it to make contact with his groin as she pushed him from her, moving away and back down the corridor. But, before she had the chance to act, his hands was on her again, holding her hair and stopping her from moving down the hall. She shrieked loudly as the stranger to the pair of them finally moved, his hand resting on the man's shoulder strongly, the brute force of the simple notion was enough to make him gulp as he dropped her hair from his hold and she flounced off, watching as the stranger pushed her former partner against the wall, his hand wrapped around his neck.
"Now," he spoke, "where I come from it is classed as disrespectful to treat a lady in such a way as you did. Respect costs nothing and bullies aren't tolerated."
"Lady?" he spat out, looking at her as he did so. "She's really no lady."
"Asshole," the woman named Lizzie spat at him and the stranger shook his head.
"It is irrelevant," he assured him. "You do not treat her like that."
"And who the hell are you to tell me otherwise?" the man snapped back and he glowered at him, shaking his head as he considered increasing the grip around the man's neck. He'd met bullies before. He'd dealt with many during his time. He considered them the scum of the earth and nothing more than that. He shook his head, releasing him from his hold and realising that he was not worth his time.
"You don't want to know," he growled in response to the question and the man scampered back down to his apartment, glowering at Lizzie as he did so before he threw a large black bin bag at her feet.
"Are you okay, ma'am?" he asked her as soon as the door slammed shut and Lizzie looked up at him, her face confused as to the sudden stranger stood before her. She nods once, grabbing onto the black bag which contained her clothes and she sighed to herself, feeling her stomach churning and her head pounding after the last hour of fighting.
"I'm fine," she told him, her voice clipped and curt. "I had it under control."
He had expected a thank you. Maybe even a small smile of appreciation. But, no, it was clear times had changed indeed.
"No offence, ma'am," he responded politely. "I don't think that you did."
"Well, whatever," she mumbled, pulling down at the pencil skirt which she wore before she moved down the corridor. She wasn't in the mood to deal with some stranger. She didn't know if she could handle it. He watched as she walked away for a moment before he shook his head, following her to make sure that she was okay.
"Look, ma'am," he called after her as he saw her running down the steps, her hand pressed to her eyes, "I can tell that you clearly don't want to speak with me. I just want to make sure that you are all right."
"Alright?" she snapped back the word at him, turning on the steps and feeling her legs shake as she did so. He remained stood a few steps above her, his hulking form defining him as her glare took over her and her arms flapped wildly by her side as she sobbed gently. "What part of that seemed like I was alright?"
"Ma'am," he said again, slightly hesitant when he saw her slump down against the white painted wall, her body moving until her bum fell against the step and the black bag dropped from her hand. He had expected her to cry profusely. But, she simply sighed and wiped away her tears whilst he watched her. He'd never been trained what to do in a situation like this before. He found it odd. He could deal with an attack from an army but he couldn't handle a crying young woman.
"God, everything has turned to crap," she complained, her eyes focusing on the wall opposite her as he remained stood up and she shook her head. He took a chance to take in the skirt which she wore. He considered it far too short, but, women apparently wore shorter than that. The black contrasted with the pinkish coloured blazer she had on over her black vest top. Her face was thin, almost gaunt looking, overwhelmed by a large nose and small mouth along with bland green, watering eyes. Her hair was straight and a mucky blonde, pushed behind her shoulders.
He sighed before dropping his bag onto the floor beside him, sitting down on the step and resting his hands on his knees as she looked at him, her brow arched with wonder as to what he was doing as he continued to look at her.
"I'd consider it improper if I left a woman by herself when she was in such a state like yours," he told her after seeing the questioning stare which he was receiving from her. She continued to look at him, wondering who spoke like he did in modern day Manhattan. It was no one she knew, that was for sure.
"I'm fine," she informed him.
"You just informed me that you weren't, ma'am," he told her. "Remember? You were stood there and shouting."
"Well...I don't need a babysitter," she said to him and he shook his head.
"I don't think that you do, either," he told her. "I'm simply here to make sure that you're going to be okay. I consider it the correct thing to do."
"Yeah?" she snorted back at him before looking at the wall opposite her. "Not many people would consider it the proper thing to do around here. Chivalry died a long time ago."
"I'd like to think that some of it still survives today," he informed her and she looked back at him, wondering who he was as she sniffed against her hand.
"I haven't seen you around here before," she commented and he nodded.
"I recently moved in," he told her. "Four days ago."
"Makes sense," she mumbled to herself. She was sure that she'd have noticed someone like him if she passed him on the staircase on her way to work. He had a face which was going to be hard to forget, she knew that much.
"I suppose I should introduce myself," he spoke, looking down at her. "I'm Steve. Steve Rogers."
"Elizabeth Meyer," she replied back to him, wondering if she could stand up yet. "Like I said, you didn't need to get involved earlier. I'd have managed."
"And like I said," Steve responded, "I didn't mind. It was no way to treat you, Miss Meyer."
"Miss Meyer?" she scoffed and shook her head. "Just call me Lizzie."
"If you insist," he said, slightly uncomfortable with that. "That man had no right to lay a finger on you. A gentleman would never have done such a thing."
"Well, he did," Lizzie shrugged, feeling the stinging in her cheek. "And gentlemen are hard to come by nowadays."
"Why is that?" Steve asked her, slightly confused. Wasn't it deemed correct for a man to look after a woman? How could that have moved on along with anything else? He thought something's were meant to stay the same.
"They don't exist," she said flatly, standing back up and grabbing her bin bag, flinging it into her arms as she looked at him.
"I'm sure they do," Steve told her and stood up, watching as she continued to stare at him.
"Trust me, this is New York City," she mumbled. "They're a rare creature to find around here."
"But not extinct," Steve quickly jumped in and she smiled once at hearing him, nodding as she pointed to the door.
"I'd best be going," she said and Steve nodded at her as she continued to speak to herself. "I don't know where, mind you."
"Well, you can't go wandering the streets this time of night," Steve said and she shrugged.
"I'm tough. I'll manage," she assured him. "Thanks then...well...for helping me."
"Even though you had it under control?" he checked, his face slightly confused. Why was she thanking him when she was adamant that she didn't need his help? Were all modern people this confusing? She shook her head, her hair moving to the front of her blazer as she did so.
"Well, it was appreciated," she said to him and began to move down the steps and out onto the sidewalk. Steve watched her disappear; thinking of what his mother would say if she saw him now. There was no way she would have been approving if he had just let Elizabeth walk off into the night alone. No, he needed to remember his manners. They were the one thing which he wouldn't let the modern world change about him.
"Ma'am!" he called out, forgetting about his gym bag as he dashed onto the street as saw her stood on the sidewalk, playing on the device known as a cell phone. She looked up and over to him as he stood with his hands on his hips and she arched a brow.
"Hello again," she said and he nodded.
"Evening," he said. "I'd like to accompany you until you find a safe residence, Ma'am."
"Why?" she wondered from him as her cell died on her and she shoved it into her pocket. "I don't even know you."
"Like I said," Steve shrugged, "there are still some gentlemen in the world."
She eyed him with suspicion, trying to size him up but failing terribly as she shook her head.
"I don't have anywhere to stay," she admitted to him. "I don't know where I'm going to go or what I'm going to do. I have thirty dollars in my pocket and that's it."
"Well," Steve spoke for a moment. "I can lend you some money if you so wish."
She scoffed at hearing that, shaking her head at him as she began to walk down the street. He followed her, wondering where she was going until she turned into the coffee shop she worked at in the afternoons. It was still open and she quickly placed an order for two coffees before sitting down in a booth, dropping her bin bag onto the floor, attracting some stares as she did so.
Steve remained hesitant, stood near her as she ordered drinks and then sat down, pushing her hair from her face.
"You didn't need to follow me," she told him and he shook his head.
"I made a promise," he said.
"I'm not taking your money," she informed him. "I don't even know you, do I?"
"Yes, you do," he spoke. "I'm Steve and you're Elizabeth."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know," he grinned at her and she looked at him before smiling back softly. "I don't mean to intrude...Elizabeth...but...what happened?"
"What happened when?" she wondered. "What happened to make me end up here with less than fifty dollars and no home?"
"If you like," Steve said as a waitress laced coffee in front of them. Lizzie smiled up and the woman assured her that it was on the house after gently squeezing her shoulder.
"It really isn't anything important," she told him. He looked around, sensing her hesitation as he took in the tiled black and white floor and the red booths which lined the room along with red chairs and tables. The counter stood at the far end as some people sat there, draining coffee and eating cake whilst chatting to each other.
It was peaceful.
"Due to the mark on your red cheek, I'd say it is," Steve responded to her and her hand instantly went up to it as he leant across the table, his fingers outstretched as he removed her hand from it and he gently touched it, his touch cold on her skin as she winced at contact. He cheeked for broken bone, but, it just seemed bruised. "What made a man do that to you?"
"I found out about his affair," Elizabeth mumbled, his hand roaming her cheek as she did so.
"An affair?" he checked with her. "You're married to him?"
"No," Lizzie said, flashing her hand in his direction to indicate that there was no wedding ring. "Thank God. We dated for a while before moving in together."
This was another change of the time which Steve couldn't understand. Marriage was supposed to be the first thing. Asking a girl's father's permission was how it was done. He'd court her before asking and then they would live together. But, times had moved on as he was continuously told.
"And he slept with another woman?"
"A few, by the sounds of it," Lizzie said to him. "I told him to leave. But, he had other ideas."
"What type of a man would do that?" Steve asked, dropping his hand from her face and she sipped on the coffee, feeling her pounding head calm slightly.
"Like I said," she whispered, "chivalry is dead."
"That's just wrong. I cannot imagine a man doing that to a woman. Surely a relationship is something that is sacred. You don't want anyone else if you have someone you love," he told her and she looked at him for a second, searching his baby blue eyes to see if he really was so naive.
"Love?" she checked with him. "Love is an emotion which has no use to me."
"And why is that?" Steve wondered.
"Prince Charming doesn't exist. There's no Princess in a tower who needs rescuing. There's no damsel in distress nowadays. There are things as partnerships...but...the happy fairy tale ending with love? I don't believe in that," she shook her head, drinking some more of her coffee and Steve watched her with intrigue. How times had changed.
"Well, I think that there is a Prince Charming for every woman who wants one," he told her.
"You're not from around here, are you?" she chuckled to him and he shook his head, smirking slightly.
"Not quite," he answered slyly and she folded her legs. "New York is certainly different."
"I wouldn't know," she said. "I've lived here my whole life...look...thank you for all that you've done...I mean it. I don't think I've ever known a man like you before."
"I do hope that to be a compliment," he checked and she nodded.
"It is," she promised. "But time is getting on and I need to find somewhere to stay."
"You can stay in my apartment," he told her, blurting it out and she looked at him suspiciously. "I have a sofa bed. I believe it is called that," he mumbled, thinking about what he had as she bit down on her bottom lip. "It wouldn't be right for you to spend your night wandering around the city, would it?"
"Like I said, I don't really know you," she replied and he shrugged.
"I can tell you all about myself on the way back, ma'am," he said. "I'm afraid the answer no really isn't an option."
"My mother warned me about trusting strange men," she informed him and he stood up, picking up the black bag from the floor as she remained seated and looking at him.
"I'm not strange," he assured her. "I'll tell you everything you want to know on the way back and then that way I won't be a stranger."
"Fine," Lizzie spoke and she stood up as he held his arm out to her, offering for her to take it. And she did. She clung onto a man who she had just met in the hope that maybe there were still some good people out there.
And he had offered her his kindness because he considered it the right thing to do. He knew how women deserved to be treated and he wanted to show her that there was just one ounce of goodness left in the world. That there was such a thing as a Prince Charming. Yes, he didn't ride a white horse or wear a suit of armour. Hardly anyone did. But, as the time passed, Elizabeth came to see that he rode a Harley Davidson and wore a spangly suit.