Characters: Steve Rogers, Arnie Roth, non-canon neighborhood characters (Scotty, Jake, Mort)
Word Count: 999
Warnings/ Kink: None
Con Crit: Please do.
Summary: A day on Coney Island.
Beta: None, but fiercely self-edited.
Notes: I researched the background for this piece to the best of my ability, but if you spot any glaring errors of history or canon, please let me know! Much love to valtyr for her encouragement. My thanks to harmonyangel for providing me with last-minute additional info on Steve and Arnie.
A “black cow” is an old-timey term for a root beer float.
There is the sound of trampling feet in the hallway, and Steve's mother sighs and opens the door. “Good morning, boys.”
She gets a chorus of friendly greeting. Bent over, tying his old shoes on, Steve can see his mother smile in response. “He should be almost ready. Let me see.” Someone, probably Scotty, whistles the beginning of “Puttin' On The Ritz”, and the group at the door starts to snicker.
“I'm coming!” Steve ties his last knot and makes for the door. “Bye, Ma.”
Mrs. Rogers lays a kiss on Steve's cheek as he brushes by, making him blush. “Have fun, Stevie. You boys be careful! Be home by dark!” This last was shouted down the hallway as the troop made for the stairs.
The Stillwell Avenue station, when they get there, is a confusion of stairways and railings and slim bright stripes of sun splayed over the floors. Jake and Mort split in different directions at one of the signs, and Steve has to yell and wave his arms at Jake - still heading stubbornly up a stone staircase - when they've finally made it down to the station floor. When they step onto the street, the sunlight hits with a sudden punch to the eyes, and Steve has to screw his face up for a moment until his vision adjusts.
He's been here before. They all have, at some time or another, but Coney Island never fails to make his stomach swoop in excitement. The noise, the colors, the food, the lights...everywhere he turns, there's something new and thrilling, some exotic offering heard of but never before seen.
“Look, the Wonderwheel!”
“I wanna try a roller coaster! Let's go on the Tornado.”
“Nah, I want to ride the Cyclone!”
“Let's get a bite, we can split a Hershey bar.”
“It's Steve's birthday, let's do what he wants first.”
Steve shrugs a little, ears flushing red. “I dunno. Let's just walk around a little.”
“You know, it is Steve's birthday.” Jake says this slowly. “And we didn't give him his present this morning.”
“Naw, Jake, we never did.” Mort sidles up next to Steve and grins at him. Arnie elbows him in the ribs, just a quick touch.
“Birthday punches!” Scotty squeaks, and then Steve is surrounded by his buddies, slamming a friendly tattoo on his shoulders and back with their fists. He curls up, protecting his belly and his head, laughing as Jake dances around the scrum and Scotty almost trips over Arnie.
“Ow! Ow! Okay, okay, you buncha hoods!” Arnie slaps him on the back once more for good measure. Mort blows on his knuckles like a prizefighter, making them all laugh, and slings an arm over Steve's shoulders.
“All right, gentlemen. Let's say we treat Mister Rogers here to a...” he trails off and looks to Steve. He can feel the grin stretching his face.
“How about a black cow?”
Midday, and something's going on in front of one of the food stalls.
“Can you see?” They're all on their tiptoes, hopping back and forth in the crowd. Arnie's the tallest; he huffs out a breath and sinks back.
“Nope. Hey, there's Jake.” Steve tilts his head; there's a waving hand at the back of the crowd with a crop of mussed ruddy hair beneath. “Think he's found something?”
“Upstairs,” he says when they get to him, “I found a place, follow me.”
'Upstairs' turns out to be 'on a roof'. Jake hops up on a barrel, over to a pile of crates, and shimmies his way over the gutter and onto the flat shingle. Scotty follows, then Arnie and Mort. When Steve gets to the gutter, he strains, feet kicking against the wall, before Arnie reaches down and pulls him up and over. Steve stumbles to his feet, face flushing. Arnie gives him a little smile, small and easy, and pushes him forward, to where Jake is waving and yelling something about a hot dog eating contest.
Steve looks down the boardwalk and squints. The sun's rolling down the sky, long lines of shadow stretching from the stands. Next to him, Scotty stops mid-whistle to stifle a yawn. “Guess we'd better get home.”
The train station is no less confusing this time through. This time, at least, they stick together. Eventually they find the right train and pile in, slumping over the seats. The windows are wedged open and their hair rustles a little in the breeze. It's quiet. Steve leans his head against the window and watches the city roll by beneath them.
“What's it like?” He blinks; someone's asked him a question.
“Huh?” Arnie and Mort are looking out of the opposite window. Jake has his eyes closed, head dangling back. Scotty's leaning into the seat, staring dreamily up at the ceiling; he asks the question again.
“What's it like at night? Coney Island, I mean?”
“At night?” Steve relaxes back into the seat and thinks. The car bumps and sways, the soft irregular movements lulling his senses. “At night all the lights come on,” he says drowsily, leaning into the window. “It's...incredible. It's like a sorcerer built the whole place, and you can see where he worked...all the little lines and circles, all the people carried along in them...and the lights make shapes in the air, and the people all laughing...it's magic.”
He can see Scotty smiling, Arnie and Mort nodding a little at the description. The corner of Jake's mouth turns up. Maybe he's not asleep. Steve closes his eyes and can see it all again. Colored lights and calliope music, darkness and laughter and the thrill of wandering through the night, the planks under his shoes and the great companionable silence of the ocean behind it all.
“We'll go there together, fellas. One of these days.”