Logs:On Your Left

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On Your Left
Dramatis Personae

Sam, Steve

Memorial Day


"Morning's still young, you sure you don't want to fit in another twenty laps before breakfast?"

Location

<DC> Tidal Basin


It's going to be a hot one, later, muggy and sweltering in acute reminder that this city was built on a swamp. Early in the morning, though, it's pleasant, the sun just beginning to rise over the mall and cast the tidal basin and its monuments in a picturesque light.

A tall dark-skinned man with a neat-trimmed mustache and beard and close-cropped tight black curls has been out here for a short while, already, running at a steady pace around the tidal basin. Dressed in green and grey shorts, grey sneakers, a plain grey tee, a water bottle flask (with phone holder!) strapped to his hand. There's a light sheen of sweat on his forehead, but he's not yet breathing hard, just keeping a brisk clip beneath the cherry trees.

There aren't too many other joggers out just yet, so early on a holiday Monday, and Steve's idea of 'jogging' looks more like most people sprinting. He's wearing a gray athletic t-shirt so tight it looks painted on, blue shorts, and white sneakers. He gains rapidly on the other runner, calling out "On your left!" a few steps before passing him. He pulls ahead and continues along the waterfront, disappearing into the distance.

...Until he comes back around the the basin again, a bare few minutes later, with another "On your left!" before lapping the other man.

The first time around, Sam gives the other jogger not much notice. He moves slightly to the side, offering a small nod as he's passed, his pace holding steady and his eyes drifting off to the side to watch a pair of ducks squabbling in the water. The /second/ time, his brows lift. "Uh huh," comes his slightly breathy acknowledgment. Reflexively, he picks up some speed -- little difference though this makes in gaining on Steve. He's looked away from the water, now, dark eyes watching Steve (not-actually-) sprint off into the distance.

Steve rounds the basin again, in almost precisely the same amount of time it took to make his first circuit. This time he's visible in Sam's peripheral vision as he catches up yet again from around a bend in the trail, gaining fast.

Fruitless though it is, Sam's pace picks up again as Steve nears. The hand holding his water bottle lifts, wagging it in some kind of warning. "Don't you say it."

Steve does not speed up -- does not need to -- nor does he heed the warning. "On your left!" sounds just a /bit/ more spirited this time, just before he blows past Sam yet again.

"Man!" Sam expels a hard puff of breath, hand flinging upward. He presses ahead faster, powering over the Ohio bridge with an increased burst of speed that carries him nearly all the way to the MLK memorial.

When Sam makes it there, Steve is admiring the gold glint of the morning light on the tidal basin. He has one foot up on the railing, having apparently managed most of his cooldown stretch in the meantime. He's not sweating, not even breathing hard. The smile he offers the other man as he approaches, though, is not smug in the least.

In contrast, Sam's grey shirt has grown a dark triangle of sweat down his back, his face dripping until he lifts up the hem of his tee to wipe it dry. He jogs over to the railing, taking a swig from his bottle and then splashing some on his face. "Oh, what, you giving up already?" There's an easy laughter in his voice as he leans up against the rail -- offers the squeeze bottle out to Steve. "Morning's still young, you sure you don't want to fit in another twenty laps before breakfast?"

"Well, I wanted to figure in some time for museums, so." Steve shrugs lightly, stepping down from the railing and taking the bottle and raising it slightly. "Thank you." He takes a swig and hands it back. "Just taking full advantage of the part of my schedule I /can/ control. You got much further to go?"

"Think the Natural History's in the market for a new fossil? I'm no archaeologist but my non-expert opinion says this one's in pretty good shape." Sam takes up a spot on the railing as Steve steps down from it, resting a foot on the lower bar and leaning against the top. "Gotta meet my unit at Arlington later this morning. Morning jog's kind of a tradition every year this time. Find some quiet, you know?" His earlier smile had been warmer; the one that twitches at his lips now is more than a little wry. "Before having to go through all the hoopla."

"Don't have a tradition yet, but I hear you about the quiet -- sorry if I'm intruding." Steve doesn't seem overly worried on that count, his smile skewing crooked. "If the Smithsonian wants me, it might be preferable to some of the displaying I'll be subject to later." A brief pause, his gaze flicking back out over the water. "After I meet /my/ unit in Arlington. 107th Special Tactical Unit," he adds, offering his hand to Sam, "Steve Rogers."

Sam clasps the offered hand in a firm shake, nodding once. "You know somehow I'd guessed that already. Sam Wilson. 58th Pararescue." He leans back against the rail, sipping again at his water. "Got no doubt they have all kinds of plans for showing you off today. But, uh. /You/ got any plans? For you? Going to actually get to spend some of that time with your boys before they start the parading?"

"Right. Sorry, it's just -- a surprisingly persistent habit." Steve blushes, just a touch. "Pleasure to meet you." At the question his smile comes back kind of rueful, kind of tight. "Yeah, I've got some time carved out for them, but I imagine it's going to be a busy day for everyone." He steps back from the rail, making to leave. "Nice talking to you, Sam. Best of luck with -- all the hoopla."

"Yeah, you too, man." Sam half-turns, leaning sideways with just one elbow propped on the railing, now. He lifts his bottle for another swallow, lifts his chin in a nod to Steve, watching the other man turn before looking back out to the water.

A moment later, then, looking back to Steve. "It's your clothes gets hard, yeah?"

Steve stops. Looks back over his shoulder at Sam, his expression briefly startled. "Pardon?" But then he looks down at his too-tight shirt. Chuckles self-consciously. "It's ah...kind of weird, yeah. Too many choices, it's like..." He looks up, searching for his answer in the lightening sky.

"It's the little things. Whole world of options, it should be exciting but you just get -- frozen." Sam shakes his head, his arms crossing loosely over his chest. "Swear I wore the same outfit for two weeks straight before I got it through my head there wasn't anyone giving me orders but me."

Steve nods. "Sounds about right." Runs his fingers through his short blond hair. "First time I went shopping after I got out, I just got a pile of identical clothes in slightly different colors." He gives a small shake of his head. Looks at Sam sidelong. "You been back long?"

"Just a couple months, this last tour. New York's changed. But --" Sam's shoulders lift, for a moment. "Been working at the VA since. If I learned one thing there, it's that no matter what stories we come in with, everybody has adjusting to do. All got that in common."

Steve's laughter is bright this time, and seems to catch him by surprise. "It sure has." When he settles, there's no awkwardness in his momentary quiet. "That --" He nods emphatically. "-- I believe it. Glad you're there for folks." A small but sincere smile. "Guess helping people is a hard habit to break, too."

Sam laughs, giving a small shake of his head. "You see some kind of reason I should be /trying/ to break it? That's what my momma, God rest her, always told me was wrong with the world today, she would say," he's leaning forward to /confide/ this with an exaggerated amusement, voice dropping slightly, "/Too/ many people looking out for each other. If more of us just kept to our own damn selves we'd all be just fine. Who'm I to let her down, huh?" He looks back over Steve's shoulder, past the white stone of the memorial behind them and off into the distance. "'sides, I figure today --" This just ends in a shake of his head, a quicker smile. "I shouldn't keep you. You could lose all day in those museums."

"Well, I'd hate to contradict your mother," Steve hedges with the mischievous half-smile of a man about to do so anyway, "but I think we can always use more of that." He glances in the direction Sam is looking. "Hah! If only -- but some quiet museum time does sound great. Good luck with the rest of your day, too. Maybe I'll see you around." He turns to go again, but stops himself this time. "The VA up in Kips Bay?"

The curl of Sam's smile, his small lift of chin, when Steve stops this time is -- just a little bit knowing. "Mmhmm. Right up on 23rd." He lifts his bottle, waggles it in a casual wave. "Any time you want to stop by, make me look good in front of the lady at the front desk, I'm not gonna say no."

Steve lifts both his eyebrows slightly. "I guess it can't hurt to take an easy mission every once in a while." He can't /quite/ suppress his grin as he turns to go, for real. "Take care, Sam."