Hi guys! So, this idea has been eating away at my brains for months! And I decided to finally let the plot bunny loose! This is my first long story and it's also my first romance that I don't intend to kill everyone in...sooo let me know how it is!
It had been another bad night.
Steve had been ravaged by nightmares, flashbacks, and painful memories for the last six hours, and he couldn't take any more. He pulled on his SHIELD sweatshirt and blue jeans and left the tower for a walk. Usually, he went to the gym and beat Hydra out of his mind, but he felt emotionally exhausted. "Hitting things doesn't solve every problem," he reminded himself. The soldier had no destination when he began, but he soon ended up in a park that looked out over the Hudson. It was still cool at five am, but the April morning showed promise of becoming a sunny day. Steve leaned against the railing and stared out at the churning river. It was grayer than he remembered it. The buildings were higher, the streets were busier, and life was faster. Steve tried to be positive about the current century, but it was hard sometimes. I like the Tower, I love my team. He recited in his head. I like my new motorcycle, I like new movies. I like Chinese food and Bruce's bad puns. Steve had compiled a mental list of good things about the current time, and when he longed for the forties, had taken to reminding himself. It usually worked fairly well. I think Natasha's obsessive gun-polishing is funny. I love when Bruce and Tony argue about physics that no one else understands. I like Clint's sensibility and sarcasm. I love DVR and the Brady Bunch. I…I… Steve sucked in a sharp breath and clenched his teeth. I miss Bucky. I miss Peggy and I want to go home. No! I like cheese steaks and I like fast cars. I love…do I have anything else to love? Steve let his head rest on the rail and allowed the sadness to wash over him for a moment. He took a steadying breath and straightened up to look at the river again. Then he felt someone watching him. Steve's eyes widened. He slowly turned, eyes scanning for a threat. On a bench behind him was an old man reading a newspaper, and a girl bent over a sketchbook, blonde hair blocking her face. A toddler slept in a stroller that a young couple pushed along the path. A squirrel darted behind a tree. Steve turned around again. Wow. I'm really getting paranoid, aren't I? Pathetic. Tony would laugh at me and Bucky-Steve stopped that thought there. Bucky wouldn't do anything because he was long dead. His brow furrowed as the feeling of being watched came back. He heard a nervous swallow.
"Um, excuse me?" Steve spun around again. The blonde-haired girl stood in front of him, sketchbook hugged tightly to her chest. Ah ha! I was being watched. She was biting her lip, and her expressive green eyes reflected her obvious nerves. Steve almost smiled. She's more nervous to talk to me than I am when I talk to girls! Strangely, he drew comfort from the thought.
"So you're who was watching me," he said. She grimaced.
"I'm sorry, I probably should have asked first," she apologized, "I-um, I'm an art student at NYU, and I'm taking this class on human expression. I came here for inspiration, and you were right there and-" she spoke quickly, "Well, I kind of drew you. Can I use it for a piece?"
"You drew…me?" Steve was confused. What would she bother with me for?
"Yeah," the girl pulled an escaping lock of golden hair behind her ear, "You just had a very interesting expression on your face. I wanted to capture it."
"Can I see it?" Steve asked hesitantly. The girl hesitated too. She looked down at her sketchbook anxiously, then turned it so he could see. The soldier gasped. It was like she'd taken a picture. But somehow infused it with feeling. He looked at the graphite image of himself leaning against the railing, the Hudson in the background. "It's just a pencil sketch," the girl said quickly, "It'll get better, I promise."
"No! Don't change it at all, it's amazing...just...wow," Steve continued to stare in awe at the drawing. "You're great," he said with a smile at her. The girl ducked her head and blushed. The movement accentuated her height. Or lack thereof. Jeez…she's tiny. He looked her over again. This little thing can't be more than five foot two. Steve cleared his throat. "So…what emotion were you trying to capture here?" The girl paused and studied her drawing again.
"I would say…longing. And sadness. But also wanting to be happy. Maybe trying to move on?" Steve was impressed with the accuracy of her perception. "Bad breakup?" she guessed. The soldier laughed tightly.
"No, but you were right about everything else," he said. She grinned.
"So I can use it?" Steve nodded. "Thank you so much!" she reached into her worn shoulder bag and pulled out a form. "Could you sign this saying that you give me permission? My professor will need to see it." Steve took her pencil and signed on the line, wondering only briefly if SHIELD would be angry. He quickly decided that he wasn't in the mood to care. "Thanks," she glanced at the paper, "Steve." She turned to go.
"You're welcome," he said, "But I never did catch your name." She paused and appeared to think about it for a moment, pulling her sweater closer against the cool breeze. Steve couldn't help it; a huge smirk broke out on his face. Did she forget her own name? The artist swiftly realized where Steve's thoughts had gone and hurried to explain.
"No! I, okay, my name is Christina, and that's what my mom calls me, but my dad calls me Chrissy, and my friends call me Chris. I wasn't sure which one to say," she said hastily. Steve thought for a moment.
"Does anyone call you Tina?" he asked.
"No," she shook her head.
"Alright, Tina." Tina smiled up at him, a blush creeping into her cheeks once more. The pink somehow made her eyes seem greener. Steve smiled back, feeling strangely light. Then he remembered she had been about to go. And he felt panicked. Steve realized he didn't want her to. What did people do nowadays? Do people still go dancing? Um…oh! Got it. Steve was proud that girly movie nights with Pepper and Natasha had paid off in some way. "Do you want to go get some coffee?" he asked, hoping against hope that this beautiful girl would want to spend a few more minutes with a tattered-hearted stranger. Tina's eyes widened, and so did her grin. Steve sighed inwardly in relief as she replied.
"Sure," she said happily, "Where?" Steve's brow furrowed. Nuts. Think things through, Rogers! He chastised himself for not having a place in mind. Thankfully, Tina seemed to realize this. "I know a nice spot," she offered. Steve laughed, feeling a little embarrassed.
"Swell," he said. She looked up at him in confusion. Jeez! Get it together, Steve! Steve bit his lip and frantically tried to cover his tracks. "I mean, um…cool." Tina giggled.
"I like swell. People should really say that more," she replied in her soft voice. Steve couldn't suppress the grin that stuck on his face as they left the park together.
Bruce worried as he made breakfast. Nothing was wildly different. Tony was still half-asleep. Pepper was still busy getting ready for work. Clint was being rude to Tony while he still could, Thor was eating like a black hole, and Natasha was cleaning her gun. But Steve wasn't here. Bruce knew that the soldier had had some rough nights, but those usually ended with him in the gym, punching something until he bled. Sometimes he ran a marathon or two. Today, JARVIS informed him, the captain had gone for a walk. His watch did have GPS and a chip to track his vitals attached, so Bruce knew he was still in the city, and still alive. Bruce was still worried. Usually Steve practically sprinted into the kitchen to see the team in the morning. He had left at four thirty, and it was nine thirty now. Where on earth could the soldier possibly have gone to?
"Friend Bruce," Thor began, eyeing Bruce's bacon. The scientist sighed and pushed his plate over. He felt too nervous to eat anyway. Was it too soon to voice his concerns with the others? Would he sound like he didn't trust Steve? That wasn't the issue at all…it was just…it was a big city. Things had changed a lot since his time. Maybe he was lost? Or kidnapped or hurt or having a breakdown or going to commit suicide or getting in trouble or picking a fight or crying or-
"Clint, knock it off, you know he's not awake yet," Steve said as he pulled off his sweatshirt. Clint sighed. Why did his fun always have to be ruined? Bruce released a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding.
"Where were you?" he asked, a bit more sharply than he meant to. Steve jumped a bit, startled.
"I went to the park," he responded, a bit defensively. Bruce nodded.
"Oh. Sounds nice." Steve pulled a few pancakes off the griddle and onto the platter.
"Yeah," he said quietly, "It was." Natasha's ears pricked up at his tone. She looked over at him casually, studying his posture and expression. He caught her look and she smiled a good morning. The spy went back to cleaning her gun until he looked away, then she caught Bruce's eye. They had both realized the same thing. The captain was hiding something. And Natasha was hell-bent on finding out what.
What'd you think? How long will Steve keep Tina a secret from his team and from SHIELD? How long can he keep his identity a secret? R & R please :)