Steven Rogers sat at the desk in his apartment, his head in his hands, staring down at the pile of papers sitting before him, the way he spent nearly every morning since being thawed out. Peggy's file was laid out before him, lying atop Howard Stark's, and the smiling photograph of Peggy taunted him and haunted him with everything a photograph could. Immediately, Steve was filled with an immense feeling of remorse, depression, and above all, loneliness. Steve's aqua blue eyes flicked from the paper to the phone sitting on the dresser by the window, and he bit his lip hesitantly and nervously before looking back at the paper with the same expression. The paper marked Peggy as retired but still alive, living in Merryweather, England. It even listed a phone number she could be reached at during all hours of the day and night. Should he call? A part of him - a very large part of him, always present and tugging at the back of his mind - demanded he call her, just to hear her voice one more time. But what if she didn't even sound the same? It had been seventy years, after all. But what did it matter what she sounded like? No matter what, she would always be the Peggy that Steve truly loved, after all these years - always. But she has a life now. A family, a husband. Yes, that was true. Steve wouldn't be surprised if she had given up on him returning and had gotten married and had children - to be perfectly honest, he preferred it that way, so long as she was happy. So it was all coming down to one question, the same one he always mulled over; should he call her, and find closure for himself, and a peace of mind? Or save himself the risk of bringing up painful memories and uprooting Peggy's life?
With frustration and loneliness nearly engulfing him, Steve quickly stood and rushed into his bedroom, grabbing his old brown jacket and his wallet before heading out into the streets, breathing in the somewhat fresh air outside. The air itself was crisp with the sense of upcoming autumn, and the leaves of trees were already turning delicate shades of orange, yellow, and brown. People rushed by in jackets and coats, though if you stayed in the sun, you wouldn't need either. Running a hand through his blonde hair, Steve began walking aimlessly in a random direction, like he did most days. He didn't have much to do anymore. He didn't need a job - Nick Fury made sure everything he ever needed was paid for - and he didn't have any friends. It wasn't that he didn't want friends, but simply that he didn't think he could ever keep up with the modern age. To be perfectly honest, he was still getting used to being seventy years in the future. Everything felt hazy and blurry, as if he was in some kind of nightmare he couldn't wake himself up from. Some days he wondered if maybe he had been rescued from the ice and was still in the past, but in a coma of some sort, and dreaming everything up while Peggy sat bedside and held his hand. He didn't like to think of that too often. Putting his hands in his pockets and not really trying to hide his melancholy mood, he made his way down the street until he found himself standing in front of a lovely little diner that reminded him so much of home, of the Brooklyn he was used to. Steve walked into the diner, immediately greeted by the familiar sense of burgers and sodas, and he made his way to a red booth, taking his seat and relaxing deep into the plastic chair. He wasn't really hungry, but he couldn't allow himself to just stay in his apartment all day and mope around.
Later, if he felt like it, he would go to the nearby gym. Steve shifted uncomfortably in his seat, suddenly aware of the many pairs of eyes resting on him. He wasn't used to getting stares - to him, it always felt like they knew he didn't belong in this time. He sighed and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table, disregarding what he had been taught; that elbows were never allowed on the table during a meal. He hung his head slightly, blue eyes cast down at the gray table below him, wondering if he would ever get used to being in this time. He wasn't completely sure if he wanted to, but that wasn't up for discussion, now was it? He was stuck in this time, whether he liked it or not. Startling him out of his thoughts, a plastic menu was placed in front of him, and he looked up at the waitress with what he knew was an exhausted expression. She was looking at him expectantly with big, light green eyes that sparkled, and Steve realized she must've said something. "Excuse me?" He said quietly, his cheeks tinting the slightest shade of pink. "I asked if you'd like anything to drink." The waitress said, trying her hardest not to laugh. "Oh." Steve mumbled, embarassed. "I'm sorry, ma'am. Just a soda, please."
The girl raised her eyebrows at him curiously - well, it wasn't really fair to call her a girl. She looked maybe only a year or so younger than Steve was, in all reality. "You sure? The burgers here are pretty good." The girl continued, picking up the menu from in front of Steve. Steve bit his lip thoughtfully before smiling a bit and giving in. "A burger actually sounds pretty nice. I'd love one, if you don't mind." He smiled at her, the first genuine smile he'd ever given anyone in a very long time. "Comin' right up." The girl said, giving him a wink and a smile before walking away with a spring to her step. Steve looked back at the table, folding his hands in front of them and playing mindlessly with his thumbs. He was absolutely bewildered at the fact that he genuinely smiled at anyone. In under thirty minutes, the girl had come back, bringing his food and drinks, and he smiled and thanked her politely. She grinned back at him, seemingly surprised by his manners, before walking away. Steve decided to leave a tip larger than what was needed. He left early enough to go to the gym, but he didn't really want to anymore. He felt more at peace than he usually was, and for once, he really felt like relaxing. So he decided to sit in the cafe for a little longer, smiling and waving at people passing him and giving him funny looks.
About an hour into waiting there, the waitress popped up beside Steve's booth, smiling down at him with a hand on her hips. "Waiting on a hot date?" She said in a joking manner. Steve smiled a bit and shook his head. "No, ma'am." He answered, laughing a bit. Glancing around, the girl slid into the booth in front of Steve's, smiling at him brightly. "I'm Joanna. But everyone calls me Jo." She said simply. "Steve Rogers. It's nice to meet you, ma'am." Steve said, extending a hand to her. Jo gave him a funny look, a smile that was silently asking if he was joking, but she shook his hand anyway. "I'm impressed. The only people that ever shake my hands are the people that interview me for jobs." Jo laughed, a cute little laugh that made her nose crinkle and her dimples show. "I'm sorry. It's just the way I was raised." Steve said, though he wasn't sorry at all. "Don't apologize, Rogers. It's perfectly fine. It's refreshing to meet a gentleman after all these sleazy guys hanging around, you know?" She grinned at him, laughing. Steve only smiled back, not sure of what to say to that. "Joanna!" A rough male voice yelled, distracting both Steve and Jo, causing them both to turn and look at the man who was yelling. A man standing behind the bar, taller and stronger-looking than Steve, was flaring angry nostrils at Jo, glaring daggers at her. "Sorry, Steve. Gotta go." Jo said, pulling her wavy strawberry-blonde hair out of her ponytail before retying it and standing. "It was nice meeting you, Jo." Steve said, giving a small wave to her as she left.
Left in a complete trance by her upbeat attitude, Steve left the tip on the table and walked out of the diner, deciding to head to the gym merely out of habit and ritual than actually needing to get some exercise done. Brushing his blonde hair back, Steve walked into the nearly-empty gym, putting his clothes away and changing into his workout outfit, hanging up a punching bag before going to work. He stayed there, punching the thing and thinking, for nearly three hours, as people came to stare at him before becoming intimidated and walking away. As Steve stood, thinking of that fatal day when he drove the plane into the ice, an image of Jo flashed through his brain. The image of her laughing and smiling, of how scared she looked when she was called upon by that big man behind the bar. A surge of unexplainable rage zapping through him, Steve delivered that final blow that sent the punching back off the hanger and into the nearby brick wall, sand flying everywhere. Sighing regrettably, Steve picked up a new punching bag and hung it up before hitting the showers and changing back into his dayclothes.
As he walked out of the gym with his bag over his shoulder, he felt a faint smile on his lips as he thought of how he had to pass Jo's diner on his way back to his apartment. He walked happily those few blocks until he saw the diner up ahead, though by this time it was nearly seven in the evening and those early shops were already closing. Steve made his way to the diner, setting his bag down and pressing his hands and face to the window, looking into the dimmed building. There were only a few shapes moving about inside, and he could tell that none of them were Jo. Sighing dejectedly, Steve bent to pick up his gym bag when he heard a frantic and pained yelp coming from the alleyway in between the diner and the pawn shop beside it. Already reacting to the sound of danger, Steve sprinted to the alley, shocked to see Jo struggling to get away from the man that had yelled at her earlier. He had her by the wrist and was nearly lifting her off of her feet, yelling obscene and mean things at her with complete rage in his eyes. "Let her go." Steve said firmly, stepping into the alley. Jo's head snapped around to look at him, a mixture of joy and fear on her face when she recognized him. "Rogers! Go get the police or something!" Jo yelled, tears stinging her eyes. The man holding her shook her violently, and she yelped again like a helpless puppy.
"I'm only going to say it one more time, buddy. Let her go." Steve repeated, stepping closer to a trashcan on his right side. "This doesn't concern you." The man told him gruffly, pushing Jo against the wall of the diner. Steve gripped the handle of a trashcan's lid, ready to pull it off at any moment. "It does concern me." Steve argued. "She's stealin' my food and harassin' my customers. This got nothin' to do with you." The man yelled, pulling a knife from his pocket. He stood in front of Jo, blocking her exit. "I wasn't harassing anyone! I can't talk to anyone without you saying I'm harassing them!" Jo yelled from behind him, standing up to face him. Quicker than lightning, the man spun around and hit Jo across the face with the back of his hand, sending her flying across the alley and into the wall. Jo let out a grunt as she fell to the floor, unsconscious. Unable to handle it any longer, Steve threw the trashcan lid at the man with everything he had, hitting him dead on in the chest. The man grunted unpleasantly, staggering back but not falling. Grabbing a nearby crate, the man let out a furious growl and threw the crate at Steve, who easily dodged it and charged at the man. Before hitting him, Steve stooped and picked up the trashcan lid, using it as a shield in place of the one he was used to, giving the man a rough uppercut and sending him tumbling back onto the dirty floor of the alley.
Steve towered above the man, who was now cowering and trying his hardest to stay away from Steve and the trashcan lid. "Who the hell are you?" The man said, trying to sound mean and angry, but failing to hide his quivering voice. "I'm just a kid from Brooklyn." Steve answered simply. "But I'm a friend of Jo's. And if you ever accuse her or anyone else of doing anything they didnt, I'll make sure something real bad happens to you." He added, silently cursing himself for not coming up with any better comebacks. Giving one last glare at the man, he dropped the trashcan lid and bent and picked up Jo in his arms, carrying her to his apartment and setting her down on his bed, remembering vaguely what his mother had said to him so many years ago: If a lady invites you into her room, she isn't much of a lady. Smiling faintly, Steve went to the kitchen and prepared a cup of hot chocolate before returning to the room, surprised to see her standing by his desk, looking at a file...
Nearly dropping the cup of hot cocoa, Steve rushed across the room and placed a hand over the file, shutting it quickly. "Glad to see you're up and at 'em. I was worried about you, ma'am." Steve grinned, a bit nervously. "Who's Margaret?" Jo asked, looking up at Steve with a curious expression in her eyes, one of complete innocence, one lacking judgement. Before he could even stop himself or think of what he was doing, Steve had bent his head slightly, pressing his lips against hers softly. He pulled away after a few seconds, looking at her with a bewildered expression on his face. "Steve... how old are you?" Jo asked, though she still didn't seem to be judging him. They still stood only inches apart, her breath warm on his lips, her eyelids half shut. "That's a long story." Steve said quietly. "It's a good thing I've got time, then." Jo answered just as softly, pressing her lips to his again.