Clint took Loki to an improvised cafeteria on the same floor; it was evident all personal belonged to SHIELD. As Loki gave Clint an inquisitive look he swiftly explained as he shrugged his shoulders. “I thought it would be safer this way.”
Loki frowned upset. What kind of mission had they been into? Why hadn´t they called them sooner? He stopped on the spot and asked him vexed. “Safer? You´d better explain me what´s going on. Do you expect them to come back for Steve and finish the job?”
“No … well, not really. I´m not sure.” Clint said to appease him; next he huffed defeated. “I guess I´d better just explain this from the beginning. Do you mind if we eat something while I do? I´m not sure I remember when was the last time I had a decent meal.”
“All right.” Loki acceded; he needed to replenish his energies too. He followed Clint to an unoccupied table; as they sat Clint signaled someone and within a minute two food trays were brought to them. “Now, speak.”
“Ok” Clint agreed as swallow the food he just stuffed in his mouth a moment earlier. “Natasha and I were sent to investigate a sudden chain of “accidents” to several scientists working on human enhancement projects a couple of weeks ago. We found out that this so called accidents were nothing but assassinations; someone had done a very good job covering them up. As we tried to get ahead of the hitting list we run into him.”
“Him?” Loki inquired puzzled.
“He was supposed to be only a ghost, a story between intelligence agencies; but he turned out to be quite real. We only know him by his code name “The Winter Soldier”; he´s probably Hydra´s top operative.” Clint acknowledged with a frown. “For what we have seen an expert marksman, with extensive training in explosives and combat techniques.” He volunteered before hurryingly stuffing another spoonful on his mouth. “To make matters worse we think he´s an enhanced super soldier like Steve and I haven´t even mentioned his cybernetic arm.”
Loki observed him pensively. “Why didn´t you called us?”
“I did … a week ago. But … Steve thought we three alone could handle it … “He scowled as paused annoyed. “He was wrong.”
“Even if the soldier is an enhanced human that´s not something you hadn´t deal with before.” Loki leaned considering everything Clint had told him. “There´s something else you hadn’t told me. What is it Clint? Nothing you have told me so far would lead me to believe the soldier would try to come back for Steve.”
“You are right.” Clint agreed wryly. “Did Natasha told you that Steve didn´t even defend himself?”
“Yes, she did. She also told me about his last orders; to bring the soldier back unharmed.” Loki volunteered gravely.
“I know this doesn´t make any sense; but hear me out. We were guarding the last of the scientists in the list, Dr. Ignatyev. We knew the soldier would come out after him sooner or later; and that would be the best chance we would get to stop him. The Doctor´s attendance to a Scientific Council in the Kremlin was the perfect opportunity for the soldier; as we anticipated … he took it. Steve noticed the soldier in one of the surrounding buildings after we successfully spoiled his assassination attempt. We pursued him to the sewer system under the park. The place is a maze … and with half flooded tunnels covering our own tracks it didn’t took long for us to get separated. When I finally picked up Steve´s trail I could overhear voices at the distance. I couldn’t make up what they were saying but I know they were arguing.” He stopped for a moment angered at the memories; he continued his recollection with a deep frown on his face. “When I finally saw them at the end of a narrow tunnel it seemed Steve was pinning the soldier against the wall … I didn´t knew he had already stabbed him; not until I watched him tore the knife from Steve´s side only to push it rabidly into his abdomen. “Clint stopped again as he remembered how useless he had felt in that exact moment. He took a sip of his drink. “I took a shot at him; of course the bastard just ducked it and fled away. I ran to Steve immediately. “
For a moment Clint remained in silence as he gathered his thoughts. “I think Steve knows him … when I got to him he wasn´t … I don´t know … angered, scared or whatever you might think is normal for someone who just got stabbed. He looked … sad, shocked; like he couldn’t believe the guy just stabbed him. And then he made me swear to bring him unharmed.” Clint fists clenched unconsciously. “He´d better have a very good explanation for that because that´s one promise I really don´t want to keep…”
Loki tilted his head pensively as he told Clint. “He probably does.” As Clint scowled at his words he added. “You can ask him about it when he wakes up.”
Clint sighed with resignation. At least he was waking up. He doubted for a moment he would when Natasha and himself called for the medical team back on the tunnels.
Suddenly a young agent approached them. “Agent Barton, sir …Dr. Franklin asked me to report to you that they finally moved Captain Rogers to the recuperation room.
“Thank you agent.” Clint acknowledged his report and added. “Tell Dr. Franklin we´ll be joining him in a moment.”
“Understood sir.” The young agent volunteered before leaving.
Clint hastily ate the rest of his food before asking Loki. “Are you coming?” He had asked him out of courtesy and was surprised when he accepted. While on their way to the recuperation room Clint couldn´t hide his curiosity and longer and plainly told him. “Loki… if you don´t mind me asking … I mean you look genuinely concerned about Steve; and you two … well, you never seemed to saw eye to eye; if you know what I mean.” There wasn´t a real animosity between them; they just didn´t seemed to get along; at least not until now.
Loki frowned annoyed at his unspoken question. “The fact that the Captain and I don´t always agree doesn´t mean I don’t care about what happens to him.” He spat vexed. “He is an important part of this team; and he almost died. I think I´m more than allowed to be concerned.” He growled, he didn´t owed him an explanation.
“Of course you are … I didn’t mean …” Clint apologized embarrassed. “Just forget I said anything.” He offered to placate Loki´s foul mood. All things considered getting on Loki´s his bad side was ill advisable at the moment.
When they entered the room the doctors had conditioned as recuperation room and saw Steve again they both visibly relaxed. They had changed him into a clean hospital gown. All the blood and filth had been cleansed away. There were still two central IV´s attached to his arm and neck; feeding Steve fluids and antibiotics to help him on his recuperation. There was no breathing tube; that meant he was breathing on his own.
“He´s still under the effects of the anesthesia.” Dr. Franklin informed them as they walked in. “Although he´ll probably awake in an hour or less.”
“What´s your prognosis Dr?” Clint asked sternly.
“There wasn´t any permanent damage to the organs due to the blood loss; but I would strongly advice some rest; at least for a couple of days. Even with his healing factor and Loki´s healing spell the stress his body was subjected too is likely to leave some side effects.”
“Side effects?” Loki inquired worryingly.
“Widespread pain, weakness, confusion; all related to the blood loss. We are still giving him fluids and antibiotics to lessen this effects. Now that the bleeding has finally stopped his body should start healing itself. “He made a pause. “Agent Barton; I wonder if we could run over some details; you know; paperwork.”
“An agent´s work is never done … not unless the paperwork is done.” Clint acknowledge wryly. “all right Dr. follow me to my office.” He turned to Loki. “Are you coming?”
“I wonder if I could stay.” He said to no one in particular; noticing Clint baffled look he added. “He probably shouldn’t wake up alone. The doctor said he might be confused.”
“It might be a good idea for someone to be with him when he finally does.” The doctor agreed giving Clint an approving look.
“All right.” Clint agreed in disbelief. “I´ll be right back.”
“Take your time.” Loki volunteered as he sat in the chair next to Steve’s bed. For a while he just sat there contemplating Steve´s face; he looked so pale. He sighed; only a week ago their roles had been reversed. He wondered what could´ve gone through Steve’s´ mind while he sat guarding him back in the mansion. He leaned closer rearranging a lose strand of hair. Humans were so fragile; even enhanced ones. He stroked Steve´s hair gently again; if he hadn´t been researching ley lines already … he dreaded the thought. “What happened Steve?” He asked in a low tone. “You should´ve called me and Tony sooner.” He ended pained; he knew exactly why he hadn´t … and it had almost costed him his life. Suddenly he gasped; he had forgotten about tony.
Standing up to the farthest corner of the room he called the A.I. “Jarvis, patch me to tony.”
“Certainly sir.” The A.I. complied instantly.
“Tony?” He asked anxiously.
“Still on my way. How´s Steve?” Tony replied worryingly.
“He´s resting now … “He sighed overwhelmed. “It was a real close call Tony. If it hadn´t worked.”
Tony could hear the strain in Loki´s voice; he frowned. Loki wasn´t that easy to shake up; it must had been a real close call. Sternly he reassured him. “But it did. Are you all right?”
“Yes, a bit tired; but that´s normal. How long till you arrive?” He longed for him.
“Missing me already?” Tony joked wryly.
“You wish.” Loki spat jokingly; next he asked again. “How long?”
“An hour maybe.” Tony volunteered. “don´t worry I´ll be there before you miss me.”
“I already miss you.” Loki confessed with a serious frown.
“Then I guess I´d better hurry up. Are you sure you are all right?” Tony asked concerned, he sounded worried.
“Sometimes I forget how fragile your lives are.” Loki offered candidly. “And then something like this happens …”
“That close, uh?” Tony frowned worried before trying to reassure him. “Don´t worry we are more resilient than you think. You´ll see; I bet Steve will be …”
“Don´t you ever die on me, all right?” Loki plea interrupted him. He couldn´t stop thinking it could´ve been Tony in that bed if things had been different.
“Loki …. I … I will try not to, ok?” Tony offered softly. What else could he tell him? “Please, don´t worry.”
“I can´t help it.” Loki smirked sadly. “Only a week ago Steve was taking care of me and now … there was so much blood, and all those tubes and doctors. If something like this happened to you; and I wouldn’t be able to get to you on time…. I don´t know what I would do.”
“Nothing will happen to me.” Tony asseverated adamantly. “Not as long as we are together; all right?”
“All right.” Loki agreed softly.
“I will see you soon.” Tony volunteered trying to cheer Loki up. “Take care of everyone till I get there; all right? And make sure to give Steve the scolding of his life for scaring us like that. I´m counting on you!”
Loki smirked amused by his suggestion. “All right.” He agreed unconvinced; scolding Steve … that was something he wasn´t planning on doing. At least not before giving Steve a chance to explain himself. A soft whimper caught his attention; Steve´s sleep was becoming restless.
“I got to go now.” He told Tony hurriedly as he walked back to the bed concerned.
“All right.” Tony agreed dryly, by the sound of Loki´s voice something had had to came up. “I love you.”
“Me too. See you soon.” Loki said before abruptly cutting the communication as he stood next to Steve´s bed concerned. Steve eyes fluttered as he stirred again; a distraught frown appearing on his face. Would he be dreaming? Remembering maybe? Whatever it was it didn’t seemed to be a pleasant one.