It was the beginning of April and Sam was diverting from his normal jogging run. The cherry blossoms trees on both sides of the path were in full bloom. Pink delicate puffs telling him spring was here. A chill still settled in the early morning air, but he took care of that by working up a sweat. His steady pounding feet took him down the path heading for East Potomac Park. He knew who he would find there. Steve.
Steve was sitting under one of the many cherry blossom trees, peering out over the pallid water. The pink explosions of color so different to the fiery ones two years ago at this very place. Soft petals gently rained down, not burning soot and twisted metal.
"He pulled me out, you know." Steve said, without looking at Sam. His eyes fixating on what was in front of him or maybe what he was remembering.
Sam pulled up and walked over to Steve. "Of course, he did."
"You believe me?" Steve looked up at Sam, an eyebrow raised. He was so ready to defend what he believed, but Sam side-stepped the question by agreeing.
"It really isn't a matter of believing or not, " Sam said, as he stopped at Steve's right side. He was a little out of breath, placing both hands on his hips, nodding toward the shoreline. "There were boot prints near you coming out of the water. They took off that way." Sam pointed near the treeline at the path the rescuer took. "Disappeared once off the soft soil into the trees."
"You were there." Steve squinted up at him, shading his hand to his eyes to block the morning's bright sun. It had all the making of being a perfect spring day including the sun and nearly cloudless sky.
"Who do you think gave you medical attention? I couldn't let all that PJ training go to waste. The government spent good money on it." Sam never thought he needed to tell him, it just was, what it was. He didn't feel the need to go into something that was so automatic, his training, like breathing. It was just something he use to do, in the past.
"Thanks." He was staring at Sam while dropping his hand down to his knee, drawing it up.
"For what?" Sam grinned, as he squatted down to be more eye level with Steve.
Steve didn't answer for a moment, before he broke eye contact and shrugged. "Don't know."
"Yeah, you do." Sam called him on it, his smile disappearing as he added. "You'll find him, you know."
"I don't think he wants to be found." Steve said, lips turning down as his eyes looked downward at his sneakers.
"Maybe, maybe that's true, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."
Steve turned his head, nodding out at the Potomac. "It's all so different now. It's like the helicarriers didn't fall right out there, two years ago."
"Mother nature is funny like that." Sam broke out in a grin. He looked around at the flowering trees showing off like damn peacocks. All proud and bold, daring the cold winter of the past to keep at bay. "I have an idea."
"Are you up to a challenge?" Sam cocked an eyebrow at Steve.
"What type?" And Sam could see a subtle change in Steve's posture, shoulders squaring. The sparkle in his eyes, the determine set of his jaw.
"You'll see. Come on." Sam stood up, offering his hand to Steve to help him up even though he didn't need it, but the simple act of offering was enough. Steve clasped his hand.
"Kites?" Steve was looking at the table filled with kite building supplies. A rainbow of colored paper and plastic, tape, glue, string and thin wooden strips were spread out like a crazy banquet. Kids at the far end were busy making their own masterpieces of sticks and plastic.
The annual 'Blossom Kite Festival' was taking place at the grounds around the Washington Monument. The second reason Sam changed his jogging route this morning; Steve was the first. He knew Steve might be going back to visit the Potomac because it was coming up on that anniversary.
Steve pulled his baseball cap down, adjusting his glasses, hunching his shoulders a bit to look smaller. Sam inwardly rolled his eyes. Steve just wasn't going to hide that tall, muscular frame.
"Sure." Sam gave an easy shrug as he picked up a sheet of bright red plastic. "Or do you think I'll show you up?"
"Oh no, you don't," Steve said, grabbing up a sheet of blue plastic.
"I don't know. I'm a pretty mean kite maker since I was ten." Sam said, gloating a little. He glance over at Steve rising both eyebrows in a silent dare.
"Five." Steve smirked. "I was five when I made my first kite."
"Okay, so you think you can beat me?" Sam pointed to himself. "Or are your skills still at five year old level?"
"I know I can." Steve stood tall before reaching for a ball of string.
"You keep talking, but I see no action." Sam palmed some tape. They both faced each other as if getting ready for battle.
"Just you wait." And the challenge was on.
The finished kites sailed into the cloudless sky with all the other dozens of flying bright and cheerful pieces of plastic and paper. The red, blue, white, yellow, orange, all mixing, darting, soaring like swooping birds in the blue, blue sky.
"Told you, I'd beat you." Steve's arced his blue kite, with the trailing white tail, in a loop.
"Excuse me?" Sam glared at him in amused annoyance.
"It was fair. The kids voted which one they liked better."
"So that's how it is?" Sam shook his head hiding a smile. He dipped his red kite with the orange tail and let the string ride out so it would go higher.
"Yep." Steve was all cocky grins as their kites did battle in the sky.
Sam just smiled.