"My secondary mutant power is /shenanigans/."
<NYC> Central Park
Perhaps the most famous urban green space in the world, Central Park's over 800 acres of green and blue is a popular escape from the City's hustle and bustle for residents and visitors alike. It houses not only stands of trees and water features, but Belvedere Castle, the Alice in Wonderland statues, and the Central Park Zoo. Those areas tend to draw tourists like a magnet - it is, perhaps, for that very reason that places like Bethesda Terrace tend to attract more New Yorkers than not, if just to escape the press of tourism that infiltrates the whole city.
There's a wide stretch of the Great Lawn that has been temporarily gated off, this sunny spring afternoon. Sturdy but temporary metal barricades wall off a large section of grassy field, which for some time earlier had been dominated by happy yaps and playful growls as a host of rambunctious dogs tumble and roll their way through a very /enthusiastic/ fundraiser. A large yellow banner hanging near the front gate reads 'NEW LEASH ON LIFE'; somewhere toward the far-far back of the cordoned off meadow a stage has been erected; there's tables with food (heavily depleted) and beverages and cheerfully pawprinted swag.
By this point in the day, though, many of the /humans/ who had come for the fundraiser are trickling out. Several of the ambassadogs have already headed home with their foster caretakers, though some still linger, gnawing bones or lounging tongue-lolling in the sun or, in the case of one overly zealous half-grown Shepherd puppy, trying hard to coax others to continue playing.
At some point, maybe, Ryan was trying to leave as well. Maybe! Who's to say. He's currently been /waylaid/, by a very enthusiastic silky black mutt who is dropping (for about the fiftieth time) a very slobbery ball right onto his toes. At some point earlier in the day when he was actually /on/ stage he looked more the part of a rock star, but at the moment his hair is suffering a good deal of muss from the combination of post-performance sweat and many enthusiastic dog-kisses, and whatever shirt he /was/ wearing has been hidden under an oversized oh-so-stylish New Leash On Life tee with a silhouette of a dog play-bowing, carrying the end of its own leash in its mouth. "Okay but /really/ the last time." He's probably trying to convince /himself/. The dog doesn't look discouraged, racing off eagerly as Ryan sends the ball arcing high and far across the grass.
"Yeah, I don't buy that for a minute." This comes from a young woman standing nearby, looking on with a bright smile, thumbs hooked to the bottoms of her suspenders. She has warm brown skin, long thin dreadlocks gathered into an elaborate plait, and a plain black kippah on her head. Smartly dressed in a black jacket unbuttoned over a white dress shirt with black pinstripes and black trousers, she does not, perhaps, look much the part of a bodyguard. But an observant eye with no regard for personal space might glimpse that her suspenders are a part of a more elaborate harness for a series of knife sheaths hidden by her jacket.
Up by the stage, Steve has been waylaid for a good long while, though by humans rather than canines. A couple of the event's organizers latched onto him as soon as he had extricated himself from the press, and at some point /he/ has also been adorned with a New Leash On Life t-shirt (one that actually fits, if just tightly enough to display his musculature to somewhat distracting effect). When he finally gets free, he ambles across the field toward Ryan and his unassuming bodyguard, shrugging on a brown leather jacket. "Do you need a relief pitcher?" he calls, watching the dog take off in pursuit of its ball. "That was a great performance. I definitely preferred it to the last time I heard you live."
"I can't help it," Ryan protests with a laugh -- /as/ the dog is returning and he's picking the ball back up obediently to throw it again. "She's /very/ convincing, I cannot resist big brown eyes." He's wiping his hand off against already kind of grubby jeans -- this is clearly not the /first/ dog to have swayed him into playtime today -- when Steve comes over. His eyes skim up over the other man, lingering a few beats longer than necessary on the t-shirt as his grin broadens. "You shouldn't offer that lightly, you don't even know what you're getting into. I think she's solar powered, she's relentless." He skims his (non-throwing, less dog-slobbery) hand up through his already mussed hair, dropping it afterwards to hook a thumb through his beltloop. "Thanks, man." He sounds /more/ than a little wry. "I was working with better material this time around. And a /much/ better audience." The sweep of his free hand /mostly/ indicates the lounging dogs.
"She knows a sucker when she smells one." The young woman grins wider, and shifts into a slightly more ready stance when Steve starts toward them. "Oh hey, Captain America!" She doesn't relax all the way back into standby mode with this recognition, though her smile does not dim. "When's the last time you heard him play?"
"I'm pretty relentless, myself." Steve comes to a stop and watches the dog boomerang back toward them. "I may not be solar-powered, but people have been offering me food all day, and it seemed rude to refuse." He flashes a smile at the young woman -- if he noticed her guarded stance, he doesn't let on. "Please, call me Steve. He came into the shop where I worked a few weeks back. Did an impromptu performance of that 'Shallow' song that seemed to be playing everywhere for a while." To Ryan, sympathetically. "You had to work with what you had." He looks back at the woman. "And you are, Miss...?"
'Impromptu performance,' Ryan mouths, head shaking. "He means that while people were there trying to /kill/ me the fucking coffeeshop was blasting Shallow like it just wanted me to die miserable." When the dog drops the ball this time, he nudges it with a toe gently toward Steve. "Shit, my manners. Steve, Alma. Alma, Steve. I don't think she's /entirely/ forgiven me for ditching her that day at Montagues, either." He doesn't look particularly chagrined, though. "But I've made sure to drag her at /least/ three interesting places to compensate." With his dog entertaining duties turned over he tucks his hands into his back pockets, shoulders relaxing and his head tipping back toward the sky. "Think you earned your free food. I saw a /couple/ people writing decent checks. And I'm sure they'll get a lot more online with all the -- pictures of Captain America petting puppies they've got for their Twitter now."
"Ohhhh..." Alma nods knowingly. "Yeah no, you're gonna have to work a little harder to get back in my good graces." Despite that, she drifts back over to stand at Ryan's side, her posture more fully relaxed now. "But 'Shallow', really? I had no idea it was /that/ bad," she says, shaking her head in solemn amazement, "and I /saw/ the hole they punched in you! I'm here to keep anyone from doing that again," she adds, for Steve's benefit. "Not to say Flicker and Isra didn't do a great job. And you, for that matter"
Steve gamely picks up the ball and gives it a casual, overhanded throw. It sails off into the distance with the pup tearing after. "Honestly, I have a hard time imagining you going to fewer than three interesting places on any given day. Everywhere you go seems to just.../become/ interesting." The ball keeps going until it hits the fence on the far side of the enclosure, the pup still desperately trying to catch up. He smiles. "Yeah, I think at one point the volunteers were just seeing how many puppies they could pile into my arms. They keep 'atting' me when they post the pictures. Not sure what to do about that, exactly.'"
"My secondary mutant power is /shenanigans/." Despite his smile, Ryan's shoulder twitches slightly at the mention of the hole that was in him. "But hopefully moving forward less of the /shooty/ kind. There's this music festival I've been invited to in Istanbul and I'm hoping --" He holds up both hands, fingers crossed, "that if I plan like, a whole fucking week around it /and/ don't get any bullets in me I might earn at least -- half a point back." His lip catches between his teeth, eyes once more dragging quite openly over Steve's form. "What to /do/ about that? Man, pile /more/ puppies onto there and at them right back. Arms like that, you gotta take full advantage. Just --" One arm curls outward, the other lifting (just a little stiffly) to mime snapping a picture. "Puppies tumbling every which way. Mountain o' pups. What are all those muscles /for/ if not puppy jungle gym?" The look, the hand, he throws out to Alma is very clearly imploring like. Back him /up/ here, right?
"And mine is being a stick in the mud." Alma sounds cheerful enough, for all that, and even more so at the mention of Istanbul. "Oh, I have wanted to go to the Grand Bazaar for /so/ long. You would get one /whole/ point back for that kind of trip." She snaps her fingers at Steve. "Yep, he called it. I'm /all/ for punching Nazis, but those arms are /made/ to cuddle puppies." She looks over at where most of the dogs are lounging in the grass and gives a piercing -- surprisingly loud! -- whistle. Many ears perk up, but only a couple of the dogs abandon their comfortable lounging to come investigate. That is, until the silky super-retriever comes dashing back with the ball in her mouth, feathery tail swishing high. The excitable young shepherd comes tumbling after her first, and the rest follow in a cascade of bounding, panting excitement.
Steve blinks at Ryan, then at Alma. It's not entirely clear which part of their dialogue has stumped him, but clearly /something/ has, because he's almost caught flatfooted when the tsunami of Dog arrives. Still, when he turns to brace himself for impact, his expression is one of sheer, startled delight. The dog who had been playing catch comes to an obedient stop, dropping her ball, but all the rest bound right on up to Steve. He laughs and sinks down to one knee, opening his arms to gather the chaotic scrabble of puppy hugs.
"Ooh." Ryan holds his hands up, squinting appreciatively through the frame of both thumbs and forefingers. "/Dayam/, see? Get a load of those puppies." He's taking out his phone, now, taking a quick snapshot of the flood of dogs overwhelming Steve before he drops down to join them, plopping into the grass beside the dogpile. He scoops up the grimy wet ball, drawing the attention of the silky black pup. Before he throws the ball again, though, he lifts his phone, leaning in beside Steve to snap a bright-smiling picture of the two of them together, pups and all. Phone held in his right hand, the ball doesn't go nearly as far this time when he throws it with his left, a small wince accompanying the motion.
Alma laughs, too, and continues laughing while she shuffles out of Ryan's line of fire with the slobbery ball. "Well, boys, that's just too adorable." She crosses her arms and shakes her head, looking on. "I smell a dank meme in the making."