“Funny seeing you here.”
Your eyes widen, taking in air that feels colder than you thought it was, but you look up to the voice nonetheless and, yes, Steve is standing there. In a hat and jacket appropriate for the weather, but he’s…well, here.
He even hands you a cardboard cup of something. “I could say the same,” you say. Steam exits through the tiny drink flap like it’s a kettle about to go over, but you barely feel the heat through your thin gloves. “What are you doing here?”
“I was looking for you.” He looks around at the moderately busy harvest fair. “I figured this would be a good place to start. You’ve been very…seasonal, lately.”
You shrug and put the cup to your lips as he sits next to you. “I, uh, like fall,” you say and gently tip the cup back. You think it smells good, like something you’d like, but it doesn’t taste like much of anything.
“I guess,” Steve says. “You’ve really thrown yourself into it this year.”
You’ve tried. At the prospect of a new season, and one you do normally like, you went whole hog into it– leaves, sweaters, blankets; pumpkins and spice and everything nice. You tried to be effusive and enthusiastic, but it didn’t…fix anything. You kept trying, because ‘the power of a positive attitude’ and whatnot, but even standing in the middle of a nice autumn festival in upstate New York hasn’t so much as nudged the controls up to save you from this decline. Milling around perfect strangers has let you hide away, but with Steve sitting here you’re more exposed than ever.
“I like it,” you say, for lack of anything else. You push up on your voice, to try to sound at least somewhat happy. “It’s nice.”
“It is,” Steve says.
You both sit in silence and you keep your back straight and freeze a pleasant expression on your face, because all of this is nice and you should be happy. You have good friends, and a job, and a home, and food to eat, and the ability to come here, and other people are so much happier with so much less. You should be happy, you think.
Steve slides his hand over yours. “Is there anything I can do?”
That’s a question you’ve asked yourself a lot. About the same thing. You let your Mildly Pleasant expression fall, and in the midst of a crowd it goes unnoticed. By most.
“No,” you say. You add, “Sorry.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” He leans his face in a little closer. “Do you want to be alone?”
“Doesn’t Captain America have about a thousand better things to do?” you ask, trying one last time for a lighter tone and failing miserably. How appropriate.
“Absolutely not,” he says.
You shut your mouth. “Do you want to be alone?” It seems like a stupid question in the middle of a crowd, but you know Steve gets it, and so you have to think about it. You think about what you want. And you think about what you need.
“Stay?” you say, softly, uncertain if you should ask.
Steve responds by readjusting both your hands so that his can remain comfortably wrapped around yours for the foreseeable future. You don’t know when (or if) you’ll feel better. But you have what you need for now.