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The Winter's Shadow

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Spring - Brooklyn - 1936

The sun was shining high in the sky, heat swarming in the air as morning turned in to noon and the trees swayed slightly in the light breeze. The flowers were in full bloom, beautiful blues, reds, and yellows caught the attention of passerby as children ran to pluck them from their places among the lushes green leaves. Carmen sat far away from the crowd, tucked away in a secluded hole between the many trees and bushes of the park. She rested on the grass, careful not to ruin her dress as she picked random flowers and tucked them into the strands of her hair. Steve sat on a large root beside her, telling her about his day and what had gotten him into yet another of his signature fights. She shook her head at him, smiling slightly at the scrawny blonde as he attempted to justify his choice to take on a boy twice his size. He was lucky she had been there to pull them away, exasperated that he had to get into one while Bucky was on a date with another one of his flings.

She sighed, looking at him with pursed lips as she teased Steve, "I love your spunk, I really do, but ya really gotta learn to tone it down before you get yourself killed."

His guilty eyes met hers as his shoulders dropped in defeat.

"I know, Cam...But he was making that poor gal uncomfortable. I couldn't just stand there!" His gaze gained a new determination as he refused to give up on explaining himself.

She giggled, rolling her eyes at Steve as she playfully pushed him and resigned, "You're too sweet for your own good."

He smiled softly, shaking his head as he picked up his sketchbook once more. She returned her eyes to the flowers, fingers gliding gently over the petals as she enjoyed the peaceful afternoon. She began to run her fingers through her hair, minding the blossoms in the strands.

"When do you thin-" Steve began to ask, but as she turned her head towards him, hand still pulling through her locks, he stopped. Grabbing his art box from beside him, he looked at Carmen, eyes alight with excitement as he burst, "Don't move! Stay right there. Just like that."

She cocked her head at him, eyebrow raising as she chuckled, "What?"

He flipped rapidly through the pages of his book, finding a blank page as he brought his pencil to the paper, his posture now sheepish as he realized what he said.

"I wanna paint that...It looks nice. You look nice." He stuttered out, a light pink dusting his cheeks as he fumbled with the box of paints in his hand, "You and Buck got me these new watercolors and I haven't gotten to use them yet."

She smiled brightly at him, giggling as he ducked his head shyly, "Alright. Go ahead."

He lifted his head, joy overtaking his features as he sat up, "Really?"

Carmen smirked widely, "Of course, Steve! I want you to enjoy those. And besides, I've always wanted to be a model." Her voice became jokingly prissy as she pushed her shoulder forward, puckering her lips as she lifted her chin.

Steve let out a snort, nudging her playfully with his shoe. As she settled back into her natural position, he began to scrape the pencil rapidly onto the page.

They both sat there for a while, Steve quickly switching from pencil to paintbrush as he gathered different colors and began to bring his sketch to life. His tongue stuck out slightly between his lips, brows furrowed in concentration as his eyes darted up and down between her and his book. Every now and then he would look up to see her making a ridiculous face or pose, a chuckle from him filling the quiet space before he would return to drawing.

His hand began to slow down as his shoulders relaxed, head tilting to the side as he looked at the last details.

"I think I'm done." He said as he laid his brush gently into its box again.

Carmen scooted over carefully, making sure to avoid any dirt on her clothes as he turned the book towards her, a nervous smile on his face as he timidly asked her if she liked it Her eyes scanned the colors and lines of the picture, a smile slowly stretching on her face as she took it in.

Facing him with her eyes full of amazement, she exclaimed, "It's wonderful, Steve! It looks fantastic."

He seemed to sigh slightly in relief as he grinned, thanking her. He looked back at the painting, nodding to himself as he ruled himself pleased with the outcome. He placed it down gently, keeping it open to allow it to dry as he looked around at the scene in front of him.

After a few minutes, Carmen began to stir, standing up to brush her dress off and letting out a sigh, "We should head back. Bucky's date will probably be over soon."

Steve looked at her with a knowing smirk, mischief in his blue eyes as he quipped, "What? Wish it was you on that date with him?"

She whipped her head towards him, a scowl on her face as she shoved the man off the root and mumbled, "Shut up, Punk."

He laughed, sitting up in the dirt as he shook his head at her, "I'm just kidding...even though it's true."

Carmen crossed her arms, glaring at him, but failing to keep it as he laughed, a smile overtaking her features once more.

Rolling her eyes, she extended her reach to him, nudging her head towards the exit to the park, "Let's go, Steve-O."

Accepting her offer of help, she pulled him up. He dusted himself off and gathered his things, arms swinging slightly in unison with hers as they both walked home, hand and hand, through the streets of Brooklyn.