"Happy late birthday, punk."
The streets of Brooklyn are crowded with people and a celebratory air. The sun has nearly set, most of the people milling on the streets headed for Queens. One James Buchanan Barnes, Bucky to his friends, fights against the current with precious cargo in hand. A new bottle of Steve's heart pills rattles in his pocket, but he's more focused on protecting the two glass bottles he carries. They're still ice cold, sweating in the July heat like everyone else, and Bucky wants them to stay that way until he reaches his destination. Finally, he's able to break away from the pack, stumble into a crumbling brick apartment building, dash up the stairs two at a time. There's a moment where he misses a step, nearly breaks his neck and the bottles both, not that it slows him down any.
He's panting by the time he bursts through the door to the roof. "I miss anything?" he asks between gulping breaths, walking over to the roof's edge. There's a devilish instinct to press one of the bottles to the back of Steve's neck before he hands it over. Bucky, of course, goes with it. "Got caught up at the pharmacy. They got a new Nehi ad up."
Steve is perched on the edge of the roof, one leg folded up in front of him as a resting place for his elbow, the other dangling down. In concession to the heat, he's partly stripped out of his work clothes, clad and just a white undershirt and threadbare grey trousers. His sketch book, which has mostly gone untouched these last few months, sits closed beside him. The horizon that he is facing is quiet and dim, and he twists around at Bucky's approach to offer a wry smile. "Sorry, Buck, they're all done. Thanks anyway, though." He takes the bottle and presses it to his own neck. "As long as you took, I thought maybe you'd met a nice girl, wooed her, and wed her on the way. Would have been faster if I'd gone."
Bucky is too busy pulling his own shirt over his head to answer. Once his head is free, hair now mussed, he cheerfully replies, "Who says I didn't? Gonna need ya to find a new place, she's moving in tonight." His shirt drops softly to the roof, before he settles down beside Steve, mimicking the same position. He's still in his boots and jeans from the docks - Steve might be the religious one of the two of them, Bucky is still praying to whoever will listen for a breeze. With his free hand, he digs the pill bottle out of his pocket and sits it beside the sketch book. "Happy late birthday, punk."
"What, you're not gonna keep me around for a pet?" There's just the hint of an edge in Steve's voice, here, though he's smiling still. "Guess it's the seminary for me, after all!" He tilts his head back to look at the darkening sky -- hazy still, but as clear as it was likely to get in a muggy New York summer. "You weren't late." He picks up the shiny black Faber-Castell pencil that had been tucked beside his sketchbook, twirling it between his fingers. "And if anything, I was early. Ma always said she was aiming for the 4th, and I never could tell if she was just pulling my leg."
"Nah. Butler maybe." Bucky takes the bottle from the back of his neck, holds the lip against the roof to open it with a whack. There's an attempt to catch the bottlecap before it clatters, bent and metallic, down the side of the building. Only an attempt. "Too impatient to wait three measly days? That sounds exactly like the Steven Grant Rogers I know," he grins, bumping his shoulder against the smaller man's. There's a slight hope underneath the teasing, unspoken but there when he glances from the pencil in Steve's hand to the sketchbook beside him.
"Gee, that's a lot of confidence to put in a fella who can't look down his nose at anyone over the age of twelve," Steve chuckles. "I best start practicing being fancy." He bends to open his own bottle. It takes him three whacks to manage it, but when the cap pops up he catches it deftly out of the air and flips it to his friend with a smug grin. "Would Sir care to see an illustration?" He's picking up the sketchbook anyway, flipping past old sketches to one Bucky hasn't seen before. The new pencil does make a difference -- the lines are clean and sharp, capturing Sarah Rogers's wry smile as she looks over her shoulder, tucking back a loose tress of hair escaped from her kerchief.
Bucky does his best to scowl and tosses the bottlecap harmlessly against Steve's chest. "Show off." Still, he eagerly leans in to look closer as Steve flips through pages, crowding over his shoulder. "Nice to see the money I spent isn't--" His words die in his mouth as the likeness of Sarah comes into view, throat suddenly closing. Reaching out, he gently touches the corner of the page. After a moment of silence he pulls back and takes a long sip of soda, barely tasting the orange flavor or feeling the fizz of bubbles. It's enough to open his throat again. "She looks beautiful. Did a good job."
A faint whistle fills the air, and in the distance, three smoky trails of light rise higher and higher, before... pop. Red, white, and blue fireworks burst in the sky, lighting up the night.
The corner of Steve's mouth tugs, his smile faint and bittersweet. "Thanks," he says softly. Takes a sip of his soda, too. Then, with something almost like his usual bravado. "Well. You know, they are really great pencils, after all." He looks up as the fireworks begin. The brightness in his eyes is probably just reflected light from the light show. Probably. "Happy Independence Day, Pal."