The sun on the summer morning was the harshest seen in the year so far. Those who had opted to sit in the shade were easily the wisest- those sat in the rays' direct path were quite obviously struggling, fanning themselves with menu and wiping their brows with napkins.
Several months had passed sinced the Battle of New York and it was still on everybody's mind. Citizens still awoke screaming after nightmares, the death and destruction an ever-laying film in their brains. However, the New Yorkers were a strong bunch and in the aftermath of tragedy, they stayed defiant.
Steve Rogers was no in the mood to dwell on such events. Life had been very quiet for him, with no job or SHIELD commitments to keep him busy. The Super Soldier had opted to lay low which honestly suited him. His days were spent learning about the modern world- which mainly consisted of watching newer films, listening to music and reading books. His tiny apartment was a small comfort to him- it was quiet, with no nosy or noisy neigbours to annoy him. However, the café had also been welcoming. He'd discovered that wireless did not mean wireless radio, but actually on-the-go internet, something he was still pretty new to. Stark had devoted himself to being Steve's technical teacher but he'd found his teammate to be a less than capable (well, by his standards) student, so had just shoved some books in his face and thrown him out of the Tower. However, Steve had managed to work out his cell phone pretty quickly and was the proud owner of a Samsung. It wasn't by any means fancy, but he was able to call, text and take pictures, something that was enough for him.
He'd used his intellect and was currently seated underneath a large red umbrella. Next to his cup of coffee was a sketchpad and a pencil, a fancy artist one that his kind elderly neighbour Sally had bequeathed to him. She was a kind woman in her eighties whom Steve had first encountered when he'd helped her carry her shopping bags up the stairs. Ever since then, they'd become rather friendly and he'd even been to her apartment for tea a couple of times. It was a pokey little place with the strange smell of cats (which was rather curious, as pets were not allowed in their building), but Steve enjoyed the company nonetheless.
The book was currently empty- everything Steve had drawn had been immediately scribbled out. He had no muse, no creative juices.
He looked up at the waitress, the same one who'd tried several ways to grab his attention for the past hour. She'd been laying it on very thick and it kind of scared him. She smiled flirtatiously at him, holding a jug in one hand.
She bent over, letting the drink flow in.
"Will that be all, sugar?"
His cheeks tinged to a pink as he shook his head, "No, thank you."
Carla (her nametag gave that away) nodded and winked at him, sauntering away with a flick of her Pantene-style hair. Steve always felt uncomfortable around women, especially the ones who threw themselves at him.
To be honest, she was no Peggy.
Oh gosh, Peggy. Even the name gave him shivers. He could still remember her soft, heartwarming eyes, her happy laugh. Sometimes, if he really focused, he could feel her lips on his, the warmth and the passion rolled into one.
He'd checked the files. Married, well, widowed. She hadn't had any kids but he was unsure whether this surprised him or not. She'd retired from her job some thirty years ago, when she'd reached her mid sixties and was living in Britain. Part of him wished to hop on a plane and fly there, see her, hug her. What was he supposed to say?
He was ready to completely lose himself in thought when he saw her.
She wasn't particularly beautiful by any standards but she wasn't exactly plain- just pretty. But there was something about her that attracted the captain to her. He couldn't see her eyes, as they were obscured by her long, red-polished fingers which were resting by the side of her face. She was dressed simply in a grey blouse and what looked like black jeggins (was that the correct term, he wondered) which were matched by ballet flats.
He watched as she pulled the bobble from her messy bun, letting her hair tumble down. It was a deep brunette, long and wavy, past her shoulders. Running a hand through it wearily, she focused herself on one of those iPad thingys that he'd seen Natasha, Pepper and some of the others using. He understood it to be like a small computer which did not require a wire, unless it needed to be charged. He could bearly master his phone, so had not bothered with one. She tapped on it with little interest, seemingly quite bored.
Steve found it hard to tear his eyes away from her. It wasn't like she was extra special- she wasn't breathing fire or juggling puppies. But there was most definitely something there. He dearly hoped that she didn't turn around to see him staring at her, or it would be definitely awkward.
That's when it hit him.
He flipped open the sketchpad and took the pencil from underneath the white napkin. Slowly but surely, he began sketching the outline of her heart-shaped face. It was at that point that she turned to look in his general direction, but she was seemingly ignoring him, merely glancing into the distance. After making a basic outline he was pleased with, he drew it in a darker detail, so it was more profound than a simple sketch. Remember everything he could from the art classes of the 40's, he moved on to her facial features.
Her eyes were almond shape, something he found easy to draw initially, but difficult to draw. Deciding no to dwell on them, he focused on her nose and lips. Unfortunately, Carla blocked his way as she bent down to give the woman her drink. She seemed to be taking her darn time, he thought, considering how many customers there were. After she moved out of the way, it took him several minutes to make the features perfect. After several futile attempts, he was ready to give up but the determinator in him took over and soon enough, they were done to a satisfactory standard.
As she sipped her drink, carefully avoiding spilling it all over her iPad, he began to draw her hair. Deciding that her current style would be easiest to draw, he set to work, making sure the ends had the little flick like hers did.
So far, his drawing looked pretty good.
He decided that he was going to settle for just drawing her upper body. The top of the blouse rested under her shoulders, with no straps and ¾ length sleeves. The rest was pretty simple- just a smooth hem and buttons.
It didn't take him long to finish it and soon enough, her image stared back. Signing his name at the bottom, he was pretty content with it. Compared to a lot of others, this was one of his better drawings.
He almost jumped out of his skin as Carla placed a palm on the table, staring down at his work. She tried to smile, but her face betrayed her jealousy.
She looked up and noticed the girl.
"Want me to tell her?"
Steve was only half-listening and a 'yes' escaped his lips, before realising what he was agreeing to. Before he could stop her, Carla was at the table.
Steve cursed himself. What a creep he'd look like- no one went around and started drawing random folk, unless it was for a class or something.
The woman looked up as she spoke before turning to look at him, locking his eyes in hers. She spoke once again to the waitress, who nodded. Picking up her bag and shoving it over her shoulder, she strode over.
A million excuses flew through his head, each lamer than the next.
"Hello," she smiled, not looking in the least bit angry, "I heard you drew a picture of me."
"Yeah, I did," he blushed, "It's not something I usually do, trust me, I'm not the type. I was just looking for something to draw and you...you were there."
"May I take a look?"
He nodded and handed it over. She mused over it for several moments, biting her lip with a poker expression. He could simply not tell whether she liked it or not. Nodding, she handed it back.
"That's really good, brilliant in fact. You an artist or something?"
He shook his head, "Former forces, ma'am."
"Forces, eh? That's pretty cool. Do you mind if I come sit down?"
He was too taken aback by the request to reject and made a sign of acceptance. A sweet smile appeared on her face as she crossed back to her own table, picking up her cup in one hand and closing the other around the top of the chair. Dragging it over without making too much of a noise, she propped it across from where he was sitting. Placing the cup down, she placed herself down on the seat.
"So, what's your name?"
"Steve Rogers, ma'am."
"There's no need to call me ma'am," she smiled softly; "You can call me Emily. After all, that's my name- Emily Collins."
"You know, if you want me to rip up the picture, I will," he told her suddenly, "I mean, I'm in no position to make you uncomfortable. I don't think many people go around doing this kind of thing."
She looked at him, moderately surprised, "No, it is quite okay. So, do you draw a lot then?"
He shook his head, "I didn't take it up again until recently. I drew a lot a long, long time ago but then my job got in the way and I just didn't find the time."
"Are you still in the forces?" she paused, before face-palming herself, "Sorry, stupid question. You did say former forces."
"Honourable discharge a few months ago," he hoped that she wouldn't catch onto the lie, "I just fancied a change of pace."
They sat in silence for a while. He noticed that she was staring at him- not in a weird way, but in a curious manner, like she had many unanswered question she wished to ask. He tried to make new conversation at least a dozen times, but the words became dry in his mouth, turning into sandpaper.
"You know, I come to this place a lot, yet I've never seen you before. Are you a regular or is this your first time here?"
"I haven't worked since I left the forces, so I have a lot of free time and am either here or at my apartment. It's nice- I like it."
She nodded in agreement, "Which borough did you live in?"
"I lived in Brooklyn for most of my life but I moved to SoHo recently."
"SoHo? That's a pretty cool place; I've got a few friends there. Do you like Manhattan or do you prefer Brooklyn?"
"I miss Brooklyn a lot, I'm starting to wish that I was back there but I'm slowly getting used to Manhattan. What about you?"
"I live in Chelsea and I like it quite a lot. There's so many different people and cultures. I've lived there for a few years after I graduated from college."
"Where do you come from originally?"
"Pennsylvania. I lived in Connecticut for a while, when I was at Yale."
Steve was pretty impressed by that. He remembered in the 1940's when getting it into Ivy League was something extremely impressive. Seriously, if you got in, you were high up in everybody's mind. He remembered a conversation between Pepper and Tony a few weeks ago, when she discussed a family friend who had gotten into Dartmouth. It was a little less selective nowadays, but still impressive nonetheless.
"What did you study?"
"You a psychologist then?" he asked, interested.
She shook her head, "No, I just thought it would be useful in my career. I work in law enforcement."
"Well, if by law enforcement she means going round New York fighting off aliens with the help of a God and a guy who turns into a huge green 'monster,' then we're in the same line of work," he thought.
"That sounds interesting."
"It is," she agreed, looking strangely at him, "Different each day, never the same thing."
A ringing noise interrupted their staring contest. Looking slightly peeved, Emily fumbled in her bag and pulled out a smartphone.
He watched as she looked even more annoyed. It was obvious that she was talking to a boss of some kind, something about her having to go into work even if it was her day off. In the end, she just sighed and agreed.
As she hung up and locked the phone, she turned to look at Steve.
"Sorry about that," she looked very apologetic, "I'm supposed to have the day off but there's some kind of emergency and I have to go in."
She threw her phone back in the handbag and stood up.
"It was really nice meeting you. I'll look for you next time I'm in the café, which will probably be some time next week."
Ask for her number, come on. She's pretty and nice, much nicer than many other people you've met. There's no guarantee you'll see her again and even if you do, it might not be next week. It could be months away.
"Oh. Well, it was lovely meeting you too."
She took her cup and consumed the last remaning part of her coffee. Placing it back down, she smiled one last time.
Nodding slightly, she turned on her heel and strode away, her hair bouncing happily as she walked. Steve watched her retreating back and tried to eat away the feelings of regret.
Finishingg his drink, he barely noticed that Carla was back at the table.
"Are you done with that?"
He nodded and placed it gently on her tray. Reaching into his back pocket, he got a couple of quarters and put them next to the cup.
"Nice service," he told her politely as he stood up. Giving her a shaky smile, he briefly checked his person before heading off.
Whistling to himself, he waited at the edge of the crossing as the New York traffic sped by him. Even after a minute or so of parting, Emily had wormed her way into his brain.
After all, tomorrow is a new day.
So, there's the start. I hope you enjoyed it- this is my fifth version of it. I change my mind far too much.
Just to add, this is my first MCU story. I re-watched the Avengers a few months ago and became obsessed with the whole thing. I'd already some of the films, but hadn't really thought of them. No flames please and if you have something to say, such as constructive crisicism, I will try to listen.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon xxx