Fireangel76

My Writtings

Month: October 2016

Aftermath

Steve had closed his eyes as Bucky continued kissing him swooned into his warm kiss. Suddenly Bucky felt Steve´s body over relaxing; he broke the kiss worryingly.

Half asleep but satisfied eyes fixed on him; now that the danger had passed the physical exhaustion of the past days had caught up with him. He exhaled in a sigh smiling as he timidly asked. “Can I sleep now?” His pleading tone, the question itself … not even Steve was aware of how close they had been to breaking him … Bucky bit his lip heartbroken wondering just how much would Steve had endured during his captivity. He was still scrambling into his brain for an answer when Steve interrupted his thoughts. “You are so warm …” He snuggled closer to him trying to draw even just a small part of his body heat into his own skin. Bucky frowned puzzled by his remark; he didn´t felt warm. As a matter of fact his clothes were still damp; after their race to the Quinjet he had managed to fight the cold, but he didn´t felt warm. Concerned he touched Steve´s cheek, he was still stone-cold despite the jacket Clint had placed on his back and the emergency blankets that wrapped the rest of his body.

 

“Steve … you are freezing.” Bucky volunteered looking worryingly at him.

 

“We need to get him out of those wet clothes.” Clint told him dryly. They didn´t had the time to do it before.

 

“I think we might need to get those shackles off him first.” Tony volunteered with a frown in his face.

 

“I can´t break them.” Bucky informed them heavily. “I´ve tried.” They had thought of everything.

 

“Maybe I could try cutting them off with the laser.” Tony thought out loud which draw everyone´d attention to him. That didn´t sounded like the best idea. “Or … maybe not.” He offered feeling everyone´s shocked glares on him.

 

“Men.” Natasha spat annoyed pulling out a small picklock that had been hidden on her belt. “A lock is a lock.” She plainly informed them while approaching Bucky and Steve. “Can I?” She asked Steve kindly; none of them knew exactly what Hydra had done to him yet but they could make an educated guess based on his appearance. She didn´t wanted to startle him nor awake any recent memories.

 

“Umm, yes …” Steve agreed placing one of his shackled wrists on her extended palm. He sighed; sleep would have to wait. After fidgeting with the picklock for less than a minute the shackle fell to the floor with a loud clank. Dark bruising as well as red angry lines had been hiding under it.  Natasha looked up at him upset by the state of his wrist. Steve had winced slightly while she manipulated the lock; grimacing in pain when the pressure of the shackle suddenly lifted, now he observed his own wounds absentmindedly. He remembered the pain as he was hoisted up.

 

“Steve …” Natasha´s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. Steve frowned confused for a second trying to concentrate on what Natasha was telling him. “Uh? I´m sorry … I´m just so exhausted.” He offered his other wrist to her.

 

“It´s ok.” Natasha accepted his apology even if that wasn´t the reason she had called his attention. He didn´t needed to worry about that sort of thing right now.

 

When both of his wrists were free Steve softly nursed them, wincing when he touched a particular sore spot. At least he was free now.

 

Clint swiftly offered Steve a bundle of clothes as he told him. “I´m afraid we didn´t brought an extra set of clothes for you; this was all I could find. They might be a little tight except for your jacket but at least they are dry.

 

“It´s all right.” Steve thanked him with a small smile.

 

Tony was distracted working on a mental list of everything he now thought the Quinjet should be equipped with; he just hated feeling unprepared. A medical compartment equipped with anything they could use during an emergency; it couldn’t be big; but it would be useful if  they could use it also as dressing room. The thought had popped into his mind when he noticed there really wasn´t a place in the craft to change in private. Not that it mattered much; after all they had all seen more than enough of Steve on the hospital. But it would be nice to have some sort of privacy on the Quinjet. His mind began to wander about introducing Loki to the Mile-High Club when Steve removed Clint´s jacket from his shoulders.

 

The whole team had dropped silent shockingly staring at the condition of Steve´s back; their expressions varying from pained to enraged. Hydra hadn´t lost any time torturing him; all kinds of cuts and bruises crossed all of his back, older and fresher wounds coexisting in the same places. His healing factor had played against him allowing Hydra to pursue his reeducation relentlessly.

 

“God, Steve!” Bucky was the first to speak expressing his concern while at the same time burying down his anger. “If I ever get my hands on whoever did this to you he´ll be lucky if I just kill him…” He hid the dark thoughts of Steve knowing they would upset him.

 

“We´d better fly him straight top the base.” Natasha suggested distraught. “He might need a medic after all.”

 

“Humans!” Loki growled vexed. “I´ve had it with your archaic forms of healing!” Without waiting for any reply to his outburst he knelt next to Steve. Looking at him sternly he ordered. “Give me your hands right now!”

 

“But …. Loki!” Tony complained instantly; they had been fighting for at least two hours.

 

“I don´t want to hear it Stark!” He warned him irked before sighing upset. He hadn´t meant to sound that harsh. “They are only flesh wounds Tony.” He looked back at his lover trying to comfort him.

 

Steve looked at him astonished; besides from Tony he didn´t recalled Loki offering to heal one of them. They usually had to ask him, and he didn´t used to do it if we was too tired unless it was a real emergency. “Loki … are you sure?” He asked him flabbergasted feeling his heart pumping hard at the unexpected gesture. “ I mean … I …”

 

Loki interrupted him smirking warmly at him. “What´s the worst than could happen Steve? That I´ll need to rest afterwards? The enemy has been defeated. I think I can take the risk.” Next he leaned to whisper on his ear. “Now … stop blushing.”

 

Steve bit his lip nervously as he blushed even more. It just wasn´t a reflex he could control. “God … you are terrible.” He acknowledged with a wry smile as he surrendered his hands to Loki.

 

Loki took a deep breath and closed his eyes, but before he started the incantation he opened them again as he warned everyone. “Keep quiet; this isn’t as easy as it seems. I really need to concentrate…” He closed his eyes again only to open them a second later annoyed by something. “Tony … you are thinking too loud.”

 

“What??!” Tony spat shocked at his comment. Loki just gave him a stern look that spelled  “Stop staring at me”.

 

Tony huffed nodding in disbelief; yes, he was staring. His boyfriend was healing not only their friend but the person he had kissed less than a week ago. It might be petty of him, but he still felt a pang of jealousy. “I´ll go to the cockpit” He volunteered shrugging it off rather annoyed. Half way there he smirked nodding amused; Loki definitely knew how to put up a show.

 

Bucky frowned intrigued by the whole scene and just looked at Loki questioningly.

 

“Do you want to join him?” Loki questioned him sternly startling Bucky who just surrender a dry. “No.”

 

“Then be quiet.” Loki ordered him; he knew Bucky loved Steve deeply and vice versa but that didn´t meant he liked him. Not right now at least.

 

Clint and Natasha just looked at each other amused; something had definitely happened between Steve and Loki during the time they had been away. Whatever “it” was it would be worth risking Loki´s wrath to find out.

 

“Ahem.” Loki cleared his throat staring right at them unamused.

 

“Umm, sorry.” Clint volunteer; next he mocked him wryly. “We´ll think quietly.”

 

Steve just couldn´t refrain from laughing any more.

 

Loki looked back at him equally amused by Clint´s witty comment; but most of all he was glad of hearing Steve´s laugh. Scolding him softly he motioned his silence. “Shhh.” He explained him pained. “I´m sorry, but this might sting a bit.”

 

“I understand; I´ll be fine.” Steve nodded in agreement.

 

Taking again a deep breath Loki closed his eyes, he kept breathing deeply until he felt concentrated enough. A green aura lit around him traveling from him to Steve´s body closing any opened wounds on its path; as well as any internal ones’. Bruising faded as the broken blood vessels under them healed. Loki frowned deeply as he struggled to maintain the spell a little longer; but he was too spent from the battle. He broke it off suddenly with an exhausted panting leaning into Steve´s forehead opening his eyes; they both looked equally exhausted. “Better?” He sincerely asked.

 

“Much better.” Steve admitted with a relieved smile; he had been in quite some pain even if he had refrained from mentioning it to the others. They were worried enough. “Thank you”

 

“That´s what friends are for.” Loki volunteered while accepting his gratitude; changing his tone for a sterner one he told him. “Don´t you ever do something like this ever again. We all were worried sick about you.” Everyone nodded their heads on approval as they voiced out their endorsement to Loki´s statement.

 

“I´m … sorry.” Steve admitted taken aback by their reactions. “I really hope that nothing like this ever happens again.”

 

“Don´t tell Tony … but, I think I over did it.” He suddenly offered with a sly smile.

 

“I heard that.” Tony spat surprising Loki who just smiled weary at him. He had come back as soon as Loki started casting the spell.

 

“I thought you had left.” Loki acknowledged spent.

 

Tony knelt down in order to help him up as he slyly told him. “I hate people telling me what to do.” He volunteered while helping Loki up. “Besides, you know I would never leave you alone again.” Loki looked at him pleasantly surprised; he had remembered his promise.

 

“If I wasn´t this tired ….” He acknowledged looking lovingly at Tony as they sat on the left seat isle of the craft.

 

“I know …” Tony whispered lustfully in his ear before he leads Loki´s head to rest on his shoulder. “Chocolate?” He offered playfully a small wrapping that Loki snatched delighted before hurryingly unwrapping it and taking a satisfied bite. “Mmm … I love you.”

 

Tony snorted amused. “Are you talking to me e or to the chocolate?”

 

“Both.” Loki offered jokingly. Everything was fine; he hadn’t felt at peace in such a long time.

 

Clint, Natasha and Steve smiled warmly at the scene; it has been ages since they had seen Tony and Loki that happy.

 

Bucky´s gaze went form one person to the next wondering what had been all of that about. Also he was making a mental note about asking Steve about his relationship with Loki. He had felt strangely jealous about their interaction.  Looking back at Steve he asked him. “Do you need any help?”

 

Steve looked intently into Bucky´s eyes; if they were alone he just might had said yes. “I … think I can handle.” He volunteered abashed.

 

Clint and Natasha looked back at them. “We´ll be in the cockpit.” Natasha volunteered dragging Clint along. “Let´s take all the love birds home.” She whispered with a smirk to Clint´s ear who almost busted laughing. “Um, yes; what she said. We´ll be in the cockpit.” He agreed utterly amused.

 

Tony and Loki seemed to have fallen asleep content of being in each other´s arms.

 

“Bucky I …” Steve looked at him unsure of what to say first.

 

Bucky smiled warmly at him; he could see the questions piling up inside Steve´s brain. “We´ll have enough time to talk. Let´s get you dry first.” He caressed Steve’s cheek gently as he smiled fondly at him; he was safe at last. Next he asked worryingly. “Did they fed you? He knew Hydra´s methods all to well.

 

“No.” Steve admitted distraught. There was only one reason Bucky could knew to ask him that. He frowned with a heavy heart imagining Bucky been subjected to the same tortures he was; only … no one had come to his rescue. “I´m sorry.” He confessed with tears on his eyes.

 

“You keep saying that.” Bucky pointed out concerned as he dried Steve´s tears. “Even when … I stabbed you. “He looked at him pained by the memory. “Steve, what on God´s name you have to be sorry about?”

 

Silent tears kept rolling out of his eyes as he explained. “I … I should´ve looked for you … back then. Maybe if I hadn´t just assumed you were death …” There was true pain in his eyes.

 

Bucky sighed deeply before snatching a t-shit from the bundle of clothes Clint had given Steve; as he pulled it over´s Steve head he told him. “You couldn’t have known.” He motioned Steve to help him with the sleeves. “I have nothing to forgive you about Steve. It wasn´t your fault.”

 

“But …” Steve protested weakly as he rolled the shirt down. It was a bit tight as Clint had told him; it probably was Bruce´s.

 

“Steve … you are cold, hungry and exhausted. I know we have much to talk and we will.” Bucky acknowledged kindly; Steve always seemed to forget about himself. “But for now you need to dress up, eat and get some sleep … so, unless you want me to help you with your clothing …”

 

Steve blushed fiercely at his words …. If only they were alone.

 

“Oh…” Bucky felt bemused and aroused at the same time; he did want him too. He bit his lip conflicted. “I … don’t think this is the right place for …”

 

Steve nodded his head swiftly in denial still flustered. “No, it´s not. I just …” So many thoughts and feelings overwhelmed him.

 

Bucky smirked mischievously at him. “We´ll have enough time to talk about … that … maybe we can do more than … talk.” He kissed him hungrily feeling Steve´s quickening heart beat; his Steve. This time he really was his.

Just … hold on

They were just minutes from landing the Quinjet; knowing there was a big possibility Hydra was prepared for them was an unsettling feeling. If Bucky was right and everything was a trap to lure him in, he would be the person with the best chances to get Steve back.

 

“I think you should have this.” Clint told Bucky gravely as he offered Steve´s shield to him. Natasha had retrieve it before the enemy base collapsed.

 

Bucky refused quickly holding up his hands in denial while nodding his head negatively. “No, I can´t.” It represented everything Steve was; and he now wasn´t.

 

Clint pushed it into his chest sternly. “Yes you can and you will! “ Looking at Bucky´s bewildered expression he added. “I know you know how to use it. Besides … Steve might need it.”

 

Bucky sighed defeated as he nodded in agreement; he was right. “all right. But I´m just holding it for Steve.”

 

“For Steve.” Clint agreed gravely; none of them had ever thought his absence would weight so heavily on their hearts.

 

“Are you sure we can´t get Thor or Banner back?” Tony asked Loki one more time.

 

Loki grunted annoyed. “I´ve told you already that the answer is no. It´s not like I just can give him a call. And even if I could somehow reach him the odds are that he´ll have his own problems to handle. He wouldn´t have taken Bruce with him otherwise.” He reminded him sternly.

 

“So … it´s just us then.” Tony scowl worryingly. What if Hydra had a trap designed specifically for every one of them?

 

“What do you mean it´s just us?” Loki eyed him more than annoyed by his comment. Like if they weren´t going to be enough.

 

“No … sorry. I didn´t mean it that way. It´s just … I wish they were here with us. You know, for …” It didn´t mattered he had been so angry at him only a couple of days before; he was too worried now to care about that. “Are you really going to make me say it?” He whined discomforted.

 

“It wouldn´t hurt you to say it.” Loki reprimanded him angrily. Tony´s frown grew even bigger. Loki sighed in disbelief. “He won´t give in that easy.”

 

“Are you talking about Steve or Bucky?” Tony asked curiously.

 

“Probably both.” Loki acknowledged; he might not like Bucky but it seemed he did care deeply about Steve. “Now stop looking so gloomy.” He ordered him firmly. “We have work to do.”

 

“Ready guys?” Clint spoke up as they maneuvered to land in a snowy plain field between some trees. “Let´s just stick to the plan. Whatever happens one of us must get to Steve, all right?”

 

Everyone agreed. “Yes.”

 

“Now let’s go get our boy back!” He ended while getting an arrow out of his quill.

 

Fight broke out the second they step out of the Quinjet just as they had expected. As they got deeper into the base one by one they were separated until only Bucky remained. They wanted him alone; that much became obvious when he walked undisturbed through several levels. Still there was no sign of Steve anywhere. Suddenly he walked into what it seemed an underground harbor under the poor lighting. No one in sights as in the levels before.

 

Taking him by surprise all the lights turned on. “I´ve been expecting you … soldier.” Shuralov welcomed him from behind a control panel.

 

“Where´s Steve?” Bucky yelled angrily while pointing his gun at him. They better have not killed him …

 

“Captain Rogers?” Shuralov asked feigning surprise before changing his tone. “so rude of me … I almost forgot.” With a maniacal grin on his face he pulled up a lever.

 

A metallic sound called Bucky´s attention; placed at the middle of the harbor there was a chain in the water that now was being pulled out swiftly by the pulley mechanism. His heart skipped a beat when a couple of shackled hands emerged. His eyes widened in horror as he recognized Steve´s battered body. As soon as his head was above the water Steve began coughing harshly; some of the water had found its way into his lungs. Bucky paled with rage wondering how long had he been submerged before he arrived.  The chain kept pulling him up until he was about 50 feet above the water. His chest and feet were bare; his trousers were the only clothing item they had left him. Bucky clenched his jaw vexed at the spectacle feeling his blood boil as Steve raised his head; he had a split lip, a black eye that was beginning to fade and a large purple bruise on one of his cheeks.

 

“Bucky” He spat in a sigh; forcing a weak smile. They had come for him … during the last past hours he had begun to fear they wouldn´t get to him on time.

 

Bucky heart sank at his state. “I told you I would find you.” He said loud enough for Steve to hear. Just hang in there Steve … I’m here for you. Turning to Shuralov he ordered menacingly. “Let him go!”

 

“I don´t think so.” Shuralov volunteered smiling with an air of self-satisfaction.

 

“I don´t think you understood me.” Bucky yelled enraged while aiming his riffle at him. “I said let him go.”

 

“No.” Was Shuralov´s calm answer looking straight at Bucky in defiance. Next he flicked a switch in the console. Immediately an electrical current ran through the chain towards Steve who screamed in pain when the discharge reached him.

 

Bucky took his shot against Shuralov; nothing happened. He shot again sure he had hit the mark the first time. Shuralov laughed before he pressed another button turning some extra-lights on just before flicking the switch off. The whole panel was encased in a bullet proof glass; Bucky´s shoots haven´t even dent it.

 

Bucky frowned upset lowering his gun as he alternated his gaze between Steve who shivered hiding his face from him after the electric shock and Shuralov who smiled pleased.

 

“Now that I´ve made myself clear. Give up or I´ll …” He flicked the switch on again zapping Steve again.

 

Bucky snarled at him irked for an instant before turning his eyes anguished to Steve who writhed in pain. “Wait!” He yelled distressed; down casting his gaze he added. “Let him go … and … I´ll surrender myself to you.” He couldn´t bare Steve suffering like that anymore.

 

“Bucky no!” Steve yelled alarmed through tears of pain.” Don´t do it! I ….” He contorted under a new wave of electricity.

 

“Be quiet.” Shuralov harshly scolded him taking his time to flick the switch off. “We are talking.”

 

Steve trembled strongly in a superhuman effort to quiet his sobs. If Bucky saw him that broken … he fell at the end of his strength.

 

“Surrender yourself … and I´ll let him go.” Shuralov offered in response without any intention of holding up to that promise.

 

Bucky frowned as he kept eyeing both Steve and Shuralov. “How do I know you´ll keep your word?” He asked sternly, he wasn´t sure how much Steve could withstand. He had to think of something …

 

“You don´t.” Shuralov acknowledge wryly. “You can either give up or …” He pulled the lever down dropping Steve a couple of feet’s before stopping his fall harshly; extracting a painful grunt from Steve in the process. “I could just immerse your friend while I flick the switch. I´m curious; what do you think will give out first? His heart or his lungs?” He said arrogantly thinking he had already won.

 

Bucky knew there wasn´t a chance that he would deliver on his word. He turned sideways slightly trying to position himself in the right angle and at the same time keeping his movements hidden from him long as he could. Reaching for Steve´s shield with his left arm he threw it as swiftly as he could against the chain snapping it in half dropping Steve into the water with a loud splash. “How about you die instead?” Within a second he started firing against the bullet proof glass relentlessly knowing it would only take some time to pierce through it. He looked askance at the water surface; there was no sign of Steve. He grunted upset firing one more time at the glass; just small cracks had appeared … he didn´t had the time for that. Without any further delay he plunged into the water after Steve. He found him a couple of meters from the surface struggling to untangle himself from the heavy chain that dragged him down. Swiftly he reached him; their eyes meeting for a few seconds; Steve´s face filled up with relief at his presence warming Bucky´s heart. He tried for a moment to free his hands from the shackles in vain; it was useless they probably had been made for him. Knowing Steve´s air supply wouldn´t last too long he untangled the heavy chain from the shackles and pointed Steve up. Steve nodded in agreement as he laboriously started to make his way to the surface.

 

Shuralov had hidden behind the panel when the first crack appeared on the glass. When Bucky stopped firing he rose up catching a glimpse of him diving into the harbor. Furiously he growled. “This isn´t over … soldier.” Resentfully he pushed a red button. The whole base blinked with red lights; he had activated the self-destruction. Laughing manically while the first explosion caved the ceiling above him unexpectedly. Blood splattered everywhere when a heavy block squashed him. More heavy blocks fell into the water.

 

When Steve rose up from the water big rubble chunks kept falling all around him. He twirled around looking. “Bucky! Bucky!” He yelled desperate; there was no sign of him anywhere. He huffed distraught; next he took a deep breath and submerged looking for him; nothing. “Bucky! Bucky!” He kept calling for him in despair. Forsaking the fact that the whole place seemed to be falling over his head he dived again. This time he went deeper despite his shackled hands. Through murky waters he finally found him; a beam had fallen over him pinning Bucky against the bottom. He tried lifting it up unsuccessfully; looking worryingly at Bucky´s unconscious face he frowned deeply before rising up again. Once in the surface he inspired repeatedly trying to get as much air as possible into his lungs before diving back. Struggling he held Bucky´s face between his shackled hands. “Please …” He begged as he closed his eyes and proceeded to blow all the air in his lungs into his mouth. “Don´t leave me … not again …” He prayed with all his heart.

 

Maybe it was the air being blown into his lungs; maybe it was the soft touch of Steve’s´ lips on his own, but whatever the reason Bucky suddenly came to. He squinted surprised when he found Steve blowing his own air into him with his eyes closed; frowning in deep anguish at his current predicament. Knowing there might not be another chance Bucky held Steve’s’ temples gently and kissed him. If he was going to die he wanted to steal that one moment; he poured his entire soul into that one kiss trying to convey all the love he felt for him. Steve opened his eyes startled. Bucky … his Bucky was … kissing him? His heart pounded hard in his chest overjoyed … if only he wasn´t trapped under the beam. He knew it could very well be their last moment together; he would never abandon him. Closing his eyes again he kissed him back heart fully letting himself fade into their kiss, wishing it could last forever.

 

Suddenly he could feel some movement in the water as well as a low hum growing. Instinctively he opened the eyes to find Tony in his Iron-Man suit looking at them with his arms crossed. Tony was grinning widely inside his helmet. “Just look at you two.” He thought to himself. “The whole place is falling down and you are canoodling.”

 

Steve tapped Bucky´s shoulder hurriedly before breaking their kiss. He pointed the heavy beam to Tony, next he pointed to Bucky and lastly to the surface.

 

Yes, I know. Your boyfriend is pinned down under it.” Tony thought still amused. He nodded affirmatively as he joined Steve in his effort to release Bucky from under the rubble. Between both they raised the beam out of the way not without some effort; Bucky winced slightly when they finally did free him. Noticing Steve signaled quickly to Tony. “Take him up.” Tony swiftly nodded in agreement as he fired his propellers lifting Bucky to the surface in a matter of seconds.

 

Unknown to Tony and Bucky was the fact that Steve had given Bucky all of his air leaving none for himself. After all he had thought he could hold his breath for a very long time; and it would´ve been the truth … if he had been in optimal conditions. Delayed by the weight of the shackles and his worn out body his slow ascent was interrupted by the undeniable instinct to breathe. Betrayed by his need for air, cold water filled his lungs instantly. His eyes widened panicked for an instant as he choked; then … nothing. “He´s safe.” His last conscious thought as he surrendered himself into the darkness.

Tony flew Bucky up to a ledged that oversee the harbor formed by rubble that had fallen from the upper levels where Loki waited for them anxiously. He coughed harshly as he spat some water that had found its way in. “Steve.” He asked hastily between coughs.

 

“Don´t worry he …” Tony turned around expecting to see Steve on the surface waiting for him to lift him up. “Damn!” He coursed out loud plunging back immediately. It didn´t took him long to find Steve´s lifeless body slowly drifting with the current on his way to the bottom of the harbor. “God, no …!” He exclaimed distraught muffling a sob. Gently but quickly he cradled Steve’s body within his arms. He looked at him through tearful eyes; he looked like a sleeping angel, a peaceful smile in his face despite his injured features that were softly stroked by his golden hair floating disarranged with the current.

 

“Tony! What´s wrong?” Loki asked alarmed over the comlink after hearing him. He feared the answer his mind was giving him.

 

“Take Bucky outside …” Tony ordered gravely straining his voice not to break. “I’m taking Steve to the surface with the others … Loki … hurry!”

 

His tone confirmed Loki´s fears; he paled at the thought.

 

“What happened?” Bucky yelled equally alarmed. Something was wrong …

 

“I … don´t know.” Loki lied to him. “He’s´ taking Steve straight to the Quinjet. We´ll need to run.” Loki told him anxiously, he didn´t had enough energy to teleport; not after the harsh battle they had been in.

 

Bucky raised up hastily; without any further word between themselves, they both started running to the exit through the rubble that kept falling in some points of the structure. Their hearts beating fast not only because of the effort but also by the fear of not getting to Steve on time.

 

“Clint!” Tony called out anguished while swiftly making his way through falling rubble. “It´s Steve … he needs help!”

 

“What happened?” Clint inquired worryingly. He only recalled hearing Tony that alarmed before … when Doom took Loki away.

 

“He … drowned … “He could feel the weight the words as he uttered them; making everything real. “I … the whole place is falling down … God!” He struggled to find the right words unbalanced by the loss of his friend.

 

“Tony calm down!” Clint ordered sternly. “How long was he down?” He demanded strongly. I´m not going to lose him.

 

“I … I´m not sure … a minute, maybe two … I don´t know.” He volunteered distraught. Not Steve, not like this …

 

“We haven´t lost him yet, you hear me Tony?” He yelled trying to snap Tony out of his grief. “We haven´t lost him yet! Bring him in as fast as you can. You hear me? Fly him straight to us. “

 

It took Tony a moment to pull himself together; breaking the silence he answered. “Copy that.”

 

Clint and Natasha looked at each other relieved of hearing Tony more calm. In less than a minute they could hear the sound of Tony´s repulsors and quickly scanned the skies for him.

As soon as he landed they ran towards him. Their eyes widened for a second harrowed; Steve´s lips had a blueish tone, partly because of the lack of oxygen partly due to the ice cold water he had been plunged in.

 

“Oh God!” Clint exclaimed distraught as he meant to take Steve from Tony´s armored arms. Steve was stone-cold and soaking wet nothing on him except for his trousers. Without thinking it twice he removed his jacket and wrapped Steve with it as he lifted him with great effort and took him inside the Quinjet. Lying Steve in the floor of the craft he told Natasha hurryingly. “I´ll do the compressions, you breathe for him.” Natasha agreed with a nod as she started to count the compressions. Thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths; they had to stick to that rythm. Clint pushed with all his strenght, suddenly he looked up for Tony. “We need to raise his temperature … bring the emergency blankets and … I don´t know; does this thing have a heating setting or something?”

 

“If it doesn´t it will have in a minute.” Tony volunteered removing the rest of his armour as fast as he could.

 

Loki and Bucky arrived as Natasha leaned to listen for normal breath sounds, checking for Steve´s breath on her cheek and ear. “Nothing.” She volunteered anxiously.

 

“Don´t do this to us Steve …” Clint scolded him distraught while continuing with the compressions. Natasha kept giving him two breaths every 30 compressions expectantly.

 

Tony placed his hand over his mouth nervously. He had done everything Clint had asked of him; having nothing else to do made him feel useless. Loki knew exactly how he felt; healing spells didn´t covered deaths by drowning either. He walked up to Tony slowly and looked into his eyes sorrowful. Tony took his eyes from Steve when he felt his gaze on him; their emotions mirrored in each other´s teary eyes. They held each other hands with a tight grip desperately trying to give each other the slightest measurement of comfort, soon their eyes were brought back to the scene playing in front of them.

 

Bucky was on his knees beside Steve; hoping against all odds for a miracle. Thick tears travelled from his eyes soaking the floor beneath him s time passed. Fearfully he reached for Steve´s motionless hand and very sweetly hold it in his. He broke down heartbroken leaning down enough to hold Steve’s hand to his face; he kissed it softly sniffling … he was so cold, so cold.  With great effort he quiets his own sobs; he needed to say it even if it was too late. “I … I kept my promise Stevie … remember? I told you … that I would find you … no matter what.” He had to stop as he sniffled letting out a heart broken sigh. It wasn´t fair … he had lost him … he had just got him back and now he had lost him … again. Bawling he reproached him. “You just had … to … hold on.” He couldn´t continue; it hurt too much. Almost at the same time a choking sound came from Steve´s throat followed by harsh coughing that threw some water out of his lungs.

 

Swiftly Clint and Natasha turned him sideways allowing the rest of the water to come out. When he finished coughing they laid him down again. All of them were crying tears of joys without exception; feeling fortunate to have him back with them.

 

Steve looked at them questioningly through tired eyes and gingerly asked in a coarse voice. “Who died?”

 

“You did! You stupid punk!” Bucky told him while leaning down to embrace him; scooping him up between his arms tightly as he kept crying overwhelmed.

 

“No … I didn´t … jerk.” Steve jokingly answered relieved everything had ended. He was on Bucky´s arms; the only place he had always felt safe. He sighed satisfied just as he had done so many times before when they were kids. “Bucky … you are squeezing me too tight.” He complained wincing under Bucky´s tight embrace.

 

“Tough luck.” Bucky repplied strong headed as he loosen his embrace to look Steve straight to his eyes. “Because I´m never letting you go. You hear me? Never again!” Next he kissed him passionately, surprising a wide-eyed Steve that melted within a second in his arms.

In Enemy Hands

Warning: Steve´s been tortured by Hydra while Bucky looks for him relentlessly.

A sudden splash of ice-cold water awoke him abruptly. He gasped startled and found himself hanging from a chain; his arms bounded over his head; the chain was stringed so tight he had to stand on tip toes. His shoes and shirt were missing; the only clothing item they had left were his trousers.

 

He pulled forcibly from the chain in an attempt to break it or at least loosen it but his efforts were in vain. Behind him he could heard someone snort at his feeble attempt.

 

“Don´t waste your time. Those chains were designed to keep your friend Barnes in place while we reeducated him; you won´t be able to break them.” A tall thin man emerged from the darkness; his name was Nicholas Shuralov. He was the base chief and also one of Hydra´s Russian specialists in Dr. Faustus methods. He was a cold hearted man descendant of former aristocrats; for him brainwashing was a form of art and nothing pleased him more than practicing it. “You know Captain Rogers; Steve … can I call you Steve? I think it´s more personal that way and soon we are going to be very well acquainted with each other.” He grinned in anticipation of what he had planned to do to him.

 

“What do you want from me?” Steve asked sternly turning his head to face the man.

 

“Only to show you the truth.” Shuralov offered with a smile. “You´ve been fighting for how long? Since War World II? Do you really think you´ve made the world a better place? Every day in the news there´s a new conflict; a new war. Don´t you think it´s time to consider you´ve been fighting in the wrong side. Hydra wants peace, is it not what you want too?”

 

Steve listened while scowling, it was clear what they wanted from him.  “That´s a lie.” He spat angrily.

 

Shuvalov signed feigning disappointment. “I see. You are not ready for embracing the truth just yet …. but, you will be.” He ended in a menacing tone which made Steve´s heart race in apprehension. Turning to leave he volunteered candidly. “Don´t forget Steve, you are bringing this upon yourself; and you can end it at any time. You just have to … accept you are wrong.” Turning back with a nod he gave the order while he said out loud. “He´s all yours.”

 

The metallic creak of the chain being pulled up concealed the muffled painful moan that escaped Steve´s lips when he was hoisted above the ground. He was still struggling to overcome the pain the new position caused him when a swishing sound announced the first stroke.

 

Shuralov smirked with self-satisfaction as he closed the door of the cell hearing Steve groan in pain. They hadn´t expected to find Captain America when the container reached the base; but for him it had been a pleasant surprise. The ultimate challenge …

 

“Sir, we have a new report from the field. They searched everywhere but they couldn´t find the book.” A middle aged officer reported grimly.

 

Shuralov grunted displeased; the codes for activating the Winter Soldier were gone. The only ones that had knew them had perished. “It´s a shame comrade Alexandrov. Nevertheless, it will only delay our plans. “Unexpectedly that also gave him another opportunity to … practice his art and this time he would make sure to do it right. “We programmed him once, we can always do it again.”

 

“Certainly Sir.” Alexandrov agreed relieved, he stood still waiting for be dismissed.

 

“I have an assignment for you.” Shuralov volunteered suddenly. “According to our reports the Soldier is currently looking for the Captain. I want you to leak our position to him.”

 

“Sir?” Alexandrov questioned in disbelief. After the destruction of Karavayev´s base? He wanted to lead him to them?

 

“There´s no need to chase our asset back; not when we can just lure him back to us.” Shuralov acknowledged dryly. “We have the perfect bait. We´ll use the Captain to convince him to cooperate.”

 

“And if he doesn´t?” Alexandrov questioned with curiosity.

 

“It would be a shame but … the soldier is our priority. “ Shuralov admitted dryly; he had waited for a long time for the sort of challenge Steve represented, but he wasn´t the prize they were after. “You can leave now.”

 

“Understood Sir. I´ll see that it´s done.” Alexandrov saluted him as he left.

 

Steve was still shuddering in pain, drenched completely in sweat after the torture when the chain was swiftly loosened dropping him to the ground. Curling upon himself he nursed his aching arms against his chest; but the comfort of his new position didn´t lasted long as two pair of hands forcibly pulled him up. His wrists were still bound by the shackles which were bound together by a medium length chain; one of the men untangled it from the longer chain they had used to pull him up.  He felt too exhausted to resist them and just allowed himself to be dragged around. His wrists already marked by angry red lines caused by the stress of supporting his entire weight. Blood stains tainted his only clothing; they hadn´t held back at all. All through his ordeal theh only thing that had kept him from begging for them to stop was his team mates; no … his friends and Bucky. He couldn´t allow them to break him. He kept seeing the same image in his mind over and over again. Bucky stabbing him; but now he pictured himself in his place. If they managed to break him they would inevitably turn him against his friends; he couldn´t allow it. He´d rather die than allow them to break him. If more pain was inexorably linked to his resolution, he had no other choice but to endure it.

 

As a rag doll he was shoved into the metallic seat of a strange looking machine; snapping out of his thoughts he tried to resist being strapped down to it unsuccessfully as four men pinned him down bonding both his arms and legs to the seat. They didn´t even bothered taking the shackles off.

 

“You can´t resist us.” Shuralov told him sternly. “I thought you would´ve understood it by now Steve. Although … we might be able to do something about that.”

 

“I´ll never cooperate.” Steve spat stubbornly while attempting to loosen the bonds that held his arms in place.

 

“We’ll just have to see about that.” Shuralov admitted wryly as he picked up a rubber mouthpiece from a table behind him and approached Steve with it in his hand.

 

“My friends …. they will come for me.” Steve warned him while trying really hard to hide how scared he really felt. As Shruralov moved closer he turned his head away trying frantically to loosen the bonds that held his right hand in place. His heart pounding hard on his chest; there was no way out.

 

“I´m counting on that …Steve.” Shuralov informed him with an evil grin. “Now; open up. We wouldn’t want you to bite your tongue off, wouldn´t we?” He grabbed his chin strongly attempting to turn his head back to him. Steve struggled against him keeping his mouth clenched shut. He knew his resistance was futile; he was helpless but that didn´t meant he was going to make it easy for them.

 

“Have it your way.” Shuralov suddenly spat annoyed by his resistance. Making a gesture he moved away as another one if his men splashed Steve with ice cold water again. He gasped startled for a second before closing his mouth with determination, breathing hard as he shivered. “As a matter of fact … Steve.” Shuralov volunteered while he leaned over him. “I was hoping you would resist.”  He told him leaning close enough for Steve to smell his fowl breath.  Out of nowhere he pulled a small taser gun which he shoved into Steve´s unprotected side. He screamed in pain as the electricity jolted his body. Shuralov smiled devilishly before shoving the rubber mouthpiece into Steve’s´ mouth as he withdrew the taser gun to avoid being shocked himself. Without delay two pair of hands held the mouthpiece in place while they secured it with a gag.

 

Steve was panting hard; while clenching up his fists in anger he looked at him defiantly.

 

“Let´s see if you can hold on that attitude after you´ve been here for a couple of days.” Without any further warning he made another sign to someone behind them. The machine lit up. A strange sort of panels closed into his head; he struggled to get away from it watching the electrical discharges it produced. Instinctively he closed his eyes waiting for the unavoidable. His painful cries were muffled by the mouthpiece. He cried in despair; this time no one had his back. This time he was really alone.

Shuralov smirked; feeling the adrenaline coursing through his body. He made another sign and the machine was turned off. “I´m afraid we can´t allow you to close your eyes while we reeducate you… Steve.” Steve’s´ breath hitched, what else would they do to him? At this words another device was strapped to his head forcibly preventing him from closing his eyes.

 

The “re-education” technique was rather simple in its nature; random scenes were projected on the screen in front of Steve; and every time an image related to his own set of believes was projected he was zapped by the machine. Shuralov stood by his side for a couple of minutes until he grew bored and walked away just as Steve got zapped again. He laughed without even bothering to turn back pleased with himself leaving Steve to his ill-fate.

 

It had been almost 36 hours since Hydra had abducted Steve and Bucky kept growing restless by the minute. He coursed the fact that it had taken them longer than he had anticipated, but at last they had secured the location of a base where Steve was allegedly being held.

 

“Barnes …” Natasha told him somberly. “That was almost … too easy.”

 

“I know.” Bucky agreed with a grunt. “They lead us to him.” Their last lead hadn´t given the information easily, but he hadn´t put up much resistance either.

 

“So you know we are walking into a trap, right?” Clint interjected interested.

 

“Yes.” Bucky acknowledge dryly. Did it even matter at all?

 

“And why on God´s name are we doing that?” Tony asked bemused.

 

“Because Steve will be there.” Bucky told him angrily. “You can´t set up a trap without a bait.” It didn´t mattered … he had promised him.

 

“It makes sense.” Loki agreed making Tony raise his eyebrows surprised; he and Bucky weren´t exactly getting along. Loki sighed disgruntled eeying Tony´s reaction. “I hate to admit it but he´s right. That´s exactly what I would´ve done … if I was working for Hydra.”

 

Bucky clenched his jaw irked at the mention of Hydra. They were still an hour away from the location of the enemy’s base. He felt restless; he just couldn´t stop picturing Steve being subjected to the same type of tortures he had experienced over the years.

 

Everyone went quiet; it wasn´t hard at all to read what was going through Bucky´s mind. Silently one by one drifted into their own thoughts as they played their darkest fears on a helpless Steve on their minds. Tony shuddered remembering his time in Afghanistan and suddenly broke the silence.

 

“So … Buck. Has Steve always been the walking self-hazard we all have learn to love?” Anything to keep the memories off his head …

 

Bucky couldn´t help to smirk at his question. “Yes.” He admitted fondly. “Even before the serum.”

 

“You got to be kidding me. That skinny guy that appears on his army profile? How much trouble he could get in? He looked as if a strong wind could blow him away.” Tony volunteered jokingly.

 

“That´s how we met.” Bucky confessed. “An even sickly looking ten-year-old kid with a split lip lying on the floor after standing up against some bullies that had tried to take his lunch money.” He looked at the distance lost in his own memories. “I´ve never felt the need to protect someone else that fiercely.” He frowned for a moment; still angered with the bullies that had hurted Steve back then. “Those eyes .. those baby blue eyes …” He sighed deeply while smiling fondly at his recollections. “All I wanted in that very instant was to hold that kid tight until nothing and nobody could hurt him ever again.”

 

Everyone looked at him warmly; even if they hadn’t been together long they had all noticed that every time Bucky talked about Steve something changed inside of him. It was as if all the love he felt for Steve shined through on those instants.

 

“And then I stabbed him.” He closed down again; grieved by the memory. It was as if a light had just been turned off.

 

“What made you remember him?” This time it was Loki who had spoken up for everyone´s surprise. He stared at him sternly while he waited for his answer in earnest.

 

Bucky down casted his gaze as a slight blush appeared on his cheeks; he smirked. “His eyes” He admitted with a silly grin on his face which soon disappeared as he continued. “At first I didn´t understood what was wrong. I just felt like … like I had lost something; but I didn´t knew what it was. I still don´t know why I didn´t returned to the base right then.” He sighed frustrated. “I … I just kept seeing the look on his face when I stabbed him the second time … that grief … and then it just came back. I knew those eyes. I´ve seen them that pained before … after his mother´s funeral.” He frowned. “I asked him to come and live with me … but, he refused. He said he could manage on his own. I told him he didn´t had to. I´m with you until the end of the line; that´s what I told him.” Swiftly he dried a fugitive tear that had escaped his eyes; he sniffed quickly upset. “I just hope he can forgive me.”

 

“Don´t be silly Buck.” Tony volunteered quickly. “He already did.” At that point he wondered how it was possible that Steve had been so blind back then to the obvious feelings Bucky had for him.

 

“You really think so?” Bucky asked almost afraid to hope.

 

Tony smiled nodding his head in disbelief. What a pair. “Of course I do. The man dragged himself out of the hospital the second he awoke because he just had to find you.” Looking straight at Loki he gave him a look that clearly spelled. “Can I fucking tell him?”

 

“No!” Was the unsaid response Loki gave him though a deep annoyed frown.

 

Tony snorted lightly, annoyed before adding. “He save you down there … from the trap I mean. I think that clearly means he has forgiven you.”

 

Bucky meditated on his words for a moment; then smiled at himself. Tony was right; he had already forgiven him. As he always did.

 

Meanwhile in the Hydra base one of Shuvalov´s minions roughly grabbed an unconscious Steve by this hair while checking him for any reactions. He had finally passed out during their last beating, worn out as much as from their tortures as from the sleep deprivation and the hunger.

 

“He´s out.” The brawny looking man told Shuralov´s.

 

“I can see that.” Shuvalov acknowledged angrily. They may have broken his physical resistance but they were not even close to actually breaking his mind.

 

Alexandrov walked in a hurry and swiftly saluted Shuralov´s before telling him. “Sir, our field agents reported that the soldier has procured the information about our location; and he´s currently on his way here.

 

“Good.” Shuralov answered with an evil smug on his face. “You know what to do.” He told to the bulky man eyeing him sternly. “Make sure that our Captain is properly prepared for the main event.”

 

When things can go wrong …

As Natasha, Loki and the rest of their team moved to find another way into the part of the compound Steve was trapped in they kept encountering dead bodies and fight signs everywhere they went.

 

“Do you think that…?” Natasha inquired pensively as she walked over another bloody body.

 

“It´s possible that Barnes is remembering?” Loki ended her thought; he had been considering the possibility himself.

 

“Yes.” Natasha agreed sternly. “There are cleaner ways to kill. He seems to be eliminating everyone he meets with extreme prejudice. This kind of killing … it takes rage. ”

 

“We can´t be sure of that; after all the meddling Hydra has done with his mind he could´ve just lost it. Either way I would rather get to Steve before he runs into Barnes again.” Loki acknowledged dryly; worryingly.

 

“I would too.” Natasha admitted sharply. “Don´t you think we should tell Steve?”

 

“No.” Loki answered firmly nodding his head negatively. “We can´t be sure of anything right now. In his state, bringing his hopes up… it might just end up getting him killed.” He ended grimly. Steve was an emotional wreck even if he refused to let it show. Why add to it?

 

“Look, stairs!” Natasha motioned everyone to follow her hurryingly.

 

“Sir, the soldier is eliminating all of our defenses.” The younger man reported unsettled.

 

“Is the trap set yet?” His commander officer inquired without showing concern at his news.

 

“Yes Sir, but …” The soldier tried to say something else but was harshly cut off by his superior.

 

“Tell the pilot to be ready for my sign.”  Karavayev severely commanded him. “And make sure the helicopter path is kept clear, soldier. Retrieving the asset is more important than this base or ourselves.”

 

“Understood Sir.” The soldier answered with compliance immediately as he saluted.

 

Meanwhile Steve hadn´t found much resistance on his way; only a few straggler soldiers that had somehow escaped Bucky´s wrath crossed his path. He observed quietly the lifeless bodies in his path uncomfortable. Maybe Natasha was right; the man he knew, he wouldn´t … or would he? And after all that Hydra had done to him, shouldn´t that …? He tried to shook the thought off; he hadn´t tried to justify anything like that since the war … maybe the problem was that the war never ended for people like them. The sound of gunshots at the distance snapped him out of his thoughts calling his attention. Immediately he approached to investigate stealthily suddenly emerging into a large high ceiling dome. It looked like the main headquarters of the base.

 

Bucky was shooting angrily against Novikov and Karavayev who ducked behind a control panel holding their position; waiting.

 

“Bucky!” Steve called out distracting Bucky, but not before managing to shoot Karavayev´s shoulder.

 

“No.” Bucky´s eyes widened as if he had seen a ghost. “I killed you!” He spat even more enraged. How dare they tried to steal that memory from him? “What kind of trick is this?” He demanded choleric getting all his attention back to the wounded commander.

 

Steve’s heart sank; Bucky finally remembered him but he didn’t want to believe it was really him. “It´s not a trick Bucky. It´s really me!” Steve told him closing on him while eeying the enemy forgetting about his apprehensions.

 

“No.” Bucky screamed vexed taking a step ahead while pointing his gun at him for an instant before thinking it over and swiftly turning it back against Novikov and Karavayev. “I know what I did. I remember the things they did top me … the things that they made me do.” He look at him sideways as he pulled the trigger. “It can´t be you.” The shoot killed Novikov instantly making Steve scowl.

 

He had to make a choice even if it meant breaking more than one promise or Bucky would never believe him. He would have to gamble all in one move. In his heart he knew that if he was forced to fight Bucky again he would break all the promises anyway. He proceeded to slowly close the gap between Bucky and himself trying not to startle the distressed man unsuccessfully; Bucky turn his gun at him on a second agitated and angry. Steve huffed upset while listening to the beat of his own heart. Without a word he raised his hands in surrender as he dropped his shield which fell down with a loudly clank before rolling a few meters away from him. Taking a deep breath, he looked straight into Bucky´s confused glare as he told him. “It´s really me jerk. I thought you said you remembered me.”

 

Bucky froze at his words as if the world had shattered on him once more; he couldn´t tell if he was more afraid of believing them, or them being a lie. Taking a tentatively step towards Steve holding his riffle with a tight grip on his shakily hands he asked fearfully. “Punk?”

 

Steve smiled openly as if the events of the previous hours had never taken place. Slowly he removed his helmet so Bucky could have a better look at him.

 

“I thought …” Bucky said through misty eyes undecided. He couldn´t understand how it was possible that Steve could be standing right beside him and even less how he didn´t seemed to hate him after … what he had done to him.

 

“I know.” Steve acknowledged with understanding seeing the guilt reflected in his eyes. Suddenly he noticed Karavayev moving swiftly into the panel and pressing some buttons. He looked around alarmed and barely caught a glimpse of some sort of platform quickly closing on top of Bucky. “Look out!” He screamed as he swiftly pushed Bucky out of the way. Unfortunately for him, he hadn´t been quick enough; he crashed heavily against the energy force field that had trapped him instead of Bucky.

 

“Steve!” Bucky rushed up instantly to his aid. It was an energy force field he wouldn’t be able to  break it. “Get him out.” He demanded resolute and unswerving as he ferociously raised his gun against Karavayev who just smiled maliciously at him while he pushed one more button. “Hail Hydra” He exclaimed just as he shot the panel. He had uttered his final words; Bucky relentlessly drove a bullet through his skull without even flinching. He growled vexed as he took a step towards the panel; it might take him longer but he would eventually figure out how to release Steve. Before he could take a second step a startled gasp made him turn around. There was some kind of gas being pumped into the small prison. Steve watched helpless as the gas started to raise; he had nothing to stop it.

“Steve!” Bucky rushed back alarmed; he looked even more scared than Steve himself. “This can’t be happening; not now.” He thought in despair.  He tried shooting both at the top and bottom of the container without any result; the bullets just bounced on it.  Desperate he punched the energy field with all his strength using his cybernetic arm; the field didn´t even flickered mocking his efforts. “Why do you always do this sort of things to me?” He leaned into the barrier reproaching Steve defeated.

 

Steve looked at him pained while he tried to stop himself from coughing while he volunteered an insincere apology; better him than Bucky. He had gone through enough already. “I´m sorry.” The gas had almost filed the case; Bucky kept staring at Steve´s prison trying to figure out a way to get Steve out when the container rocked and trembled for an instant before being forcible pulled up. The blades of a helicopter could be heard at the distance over their heads.

“Bucky!” Steve called out as he fell on his knees unbalanced by the unexpected movement. He coughed painfully bending over; he could feel his consciousness fading away as the sleeping gas began having its effect on him.

 

“I will find you Stevie. “Bucky screamed at the top of his lungs hoping with all his heart Steve could hear him. “I will find you! Doesn´t matter how long it takes. “ He vowed decided; no power on earth would be able to make him broke that promise. “Just … hold on!” Bucky yelled anguished as he managed to caught a glimpse of Steve as the helicopter carried him away. Steve soon collapsed inside the container unable to resist anymore.

 

Natasha, Loki and what was left of their team suddenly busted in. They had come up on a different level from them; looking for another route they had found the surveillance center. While going over the cameras trying to locate themselves they had watched aghast as Steve dropped his shield while meeting Bucky again.  They dashed down to his rescue, raising more than a little swearing on their way. How could he had done that? After all the promises he had made … they just begged in their heads that they wouldn´t get there too late.

 

“Where´s Steve?” What did you do to him?” Loki growled crossed while forcibly lifting Bucky by his throat. He had been too distracted watching powerless as Steve was taken away.

 

“They … have him.” Bucky coarsely answered eyeing Loki angrily before realizing they were his best chance to ever finding Steve; masquerading the fury he felt he told them. “We … have to …get … him … back.”

 

Loki looked at him closely before letting him go; against of all odds he did remembered Steve. “We will.” He assured him resolute before punching him in the face. He wasn´t the kind of person that forgets easily. “That´s for stabbing him.” He spat angrily.

 

Bucky smirked wryly regaining his balance. “I guess I deserved that.” He admitted while clecking for blood using the back of his hand smiling wickedly when he found some. “Now, if you are finished …” He was interrupted by a loud explosion that rumble all over the place. “The base is self-destructing.” Bucky informed them more vexed than surprised. “Follow me before we are buried alive.”

 

Without any complaints except for an exasperated exchange of stares between Loki and Natasha everyone swiftly followed him through the maze of corridors. They had barely made it out when two Quinjets as well as Tony in his armour landed. The structure caved down after them raising a cloud of dust and debris; once it settled Clint asked them grimly. “Where´s Steve?”

 

“Hydra caught him.” Was Bucky stern reply. Hydra … the word itself burned him.

 

“You got to be shitting me!” Clint spat in disbelief nodding distraught; of all outcomes. Eeying Bucky cautiously he frantically asked Natasha with some signs “He´s in our side now?”.

 

“Yes, he´s on our side now.” She admitted out loud; at least for the moment. She had firsthand experience on the subject; brainwashing programming it wasn´t something you could easily erase though deprogramming would have to wait.  “How much do you remember?” She asked him with a serious frown.

 

“All of it.” Bucky grimly told them with a grave look while his mind played over and over Steve’s shocked face as he stabbed him. “We need to get moving and fast.” He remembered other things, not only his life before and during the war, or the assassinations; he remembered how they tortured him … how they made him to comply.

 

“Do you know where they took Steve?” Tony asked in hope while trying to make sure Loki was still in one piece. Loki just gave him a stern look and then returned his attention to Barnes.

 

“No.” Bucky regretfully admitted. “ But we need to find him as soon as possible.” They have him, they have him his mind repeated in frenzy; they had his Steve and he knew exactly what that meant.

 

“Why?” Loki asked acidly. The urgency in Bucky´s tone; his entire demeanor, it all gave him a very bad feeling.

 

“What does Hydra does to an enemy agent when it isn’t planning to kill him?” He offered them with a furious scowl. Wasn´t it enough then done it to him? Why Steve?

 

Clint and Natasha stiffed up in realization as they mumbled beneath their breath. “Brainwash” “Torture”

 

“They are the same.” Bucky agreed heavily. Breaking Steve … he dreaded the though. If they had the time, they would break him or worst; he would die.

 

Tony gasped alarmed by his revelation. “But … Steve is in no shape … he can´t endure that … not know, not after you …” He stopped abruptly.

 

“Stabbed him.” Bucky ended his sentence for him vexed. “I know.” He grimly added. Unavertable he had provided Hydra with a tool against him. “How did he … survive?” He inquired laboriously, regretfully.

 

“I healed him.” Loki volunteered in a stern tone. Bucky may have had stab Steve while brainwashed but that didn´t make it any better in his eyes.

 

“Thank you.” Bucky bowed his head slightly in gratitude. He wouldn´t forget it.

 

“I didn´t do it for you.” Loki spat at him annoyed. The arrogance.

 

“I know.” Bucky agreed while holding Loki´s angry stare. He understood the source of his anger but there was nothing he could do about it so he added. “Either way I´m grateful you did.” He rubbed the spot where Loki had hit him earlier. “Now, I have some ideas of how to find out where they holding him; are you coming?” He volunteered without waiting for their reply as he kept walking towards one of the Quinjets while he reloaded his gun. There wouldn´t be a stone unturned, not one.

 

“So that’s where he got that from …” Tony grinned almost amused by a not so distant similarity with Steve’s´ attitudes.

 

“We should´ve know.” Natasha plainly agreed trying hard not to smile. After all they had been best friends most of their lives; it shouldn´t have come as a surprise.

Searching for Barnes

“What´s your ATA BOYS?” Natasha asked over the comlink.

 

“We´ll have the base in sight in a couple of minutes.” Clint answered nonchalant.

 

“All right. We´ll be on stand bye until you do.” Natasha volunteered before walking to the back of the craft.

 

They had taken two crafts each; one for the SWAT and one for themselves. She sat beside Steve and gave Loki a discreet sign asking for some privacy. Loki made an excuse and went to the cockpit.

 

“Are you sure you are up to this Steve?” She asked with a concerned look on her face.

 

“I am Nat, I swear. You really can stop being over-motherly with me. I´ll be fine.” Steve reassured her.

 

“I´m not being over-motherly with you.” Natasha complained while securing the SWAT helmet to Steve´s head who in return gave her an amused look. “Well, maybe a little.” She admitted wryly. “Just … don´t let yourself get stabbed again, will you?”

 

“I didn´t …” Steve started to complain when Natasha gave him a very stern look. Steve sighed as he down casted his head. “I just didn´t thought he actually would do it.” He finally confessed.

 

“Well; now you know.” Natasha told him calmly; next she tilted his chin up. “Be careful; that´s all I want. All right?”

 

“I will.” Steve promised as he nodded his head affirmatively.

 

As soon as she walked away Loki returned to his side. Leaning to get a better look at him Steve asked slightly annoyed by all the attention he was getting. “Are you going to tell me to take care too? Even Tony did.”

 

Loki looked back at him puzzled by his question. “I´m quite sure you know how to take care of yourself.” Then he changed his tone for a very authoritative one. “But I don´t want you out of my sight.”

 

“Loki!” Steve whined distraught.

 

“I’m serious Steve.” Loki warned him sternly.

 

“God! You are worse than Natasha.” Steve complained wryly.

 

Loki just smirked amused for a moment before replying. “You are such an unruly brat!”

 

Steve didn´t knew what he could possibly say to that in a way it wouldn´t add to Loki´s point. Pouting like a scolded child he decided to stay quiet. Loki gave him a quick glance and smile satisfied with himself. But Steve’s´ silence didn´t last long.

 

“Loki … about earlier. You know I was lying, don´t you? I mean … I´m sorry.” Steve suddenly confessed regretfully.

 

Loki looked back at him. “You know I don´t give my friendship easily Steve. You should appreciate it more.”

 

Steve down casted his gaze ashamed at the unsaid reproach. “I know … I mean … I do. It won´t happen again.”

 

“They are in position guys. Get ready to disembark.” Natasha interrupted them.

 

At the same time both teams sneaked into their respective targets. Clint and Tony were met with heavy resistance almost immediately making Tony almost glad Loki wasn´t with him. Whereas Loki´s team mates walked uninterrupted for quite a while.

 

“Are you sure this is the location?” Loki asked Natasha softly just as they turned in a corner.

 

As if it was a reply to his question they suddenly were met by a bloody trace of savagely murdered bodies. The lights flickered giving the hallway an even more ghostly appearance.

 

“That´s what he said.” Natasha answered with irony.

 

“Shouldn´t we call the others?” Loki inquired while assessing any possible threats.

 

“We can´t be sure Bucky is here.” Steve reminded them.

 

“Steve is right. We need a visual confirmation.” Natasha agreed; it was a Hydra base after all, anything could´ve happen down there.

They kept advancing, moving noiselessly between the bodies. Suddenly the narrow hallway turned into a wider one that crossed their path from right to left. On the other side the hallway bifurcated into two. Without any warning bullets began to rain over them from all sides although it seemed that none of them were specifically directed to them. At least not at the moment. They took cover backing down through the same corridor they had come through when a figure flashed running past them on the pursuit of a group of soldiers rabidly firing at them as he deflected the attack of a bigger group that was in return pursuing him.

 

“Bucky!” Steve yelled running after him without a second thought as fast as he could through the blazing bullet rain.

 

“Steve!” Loki tried to pull him back but had to fall back immediately. Steve´s actions had given their position away. The team that had been following Bucky split in two. One half remained to stop the intruders while the other half continued their pursuit.

Enraged by their intromission Loki blasted them with a green energy ball as the rest of the SWAT team led by Natasha secured the hallway. When they arrived to the hallway Steve had disappeared into they were met with by a sturdy looking gate that sealed their path. They could overhear gunshots and fighting on the other side for a few instants; then everything went quiet.

 

“Rogers! Report! Where the hell are you?” Natasha inquired frantically through the comlink.

 

“On the other side of the gate.” Steve gingerly volunteered while leaning against the door trying to catch his breath. He tried to unsuccessfully muffle a painful complaint as he nursed a shallow wound on his left side. SWAT uniforms didn´t offered as much protection as his did.

 

“Damnit Rogers! Are you hurt?” Natasha asked him enraged.

 

“It´s just a grazed.” Steve volunteered while assessing the gravity of the wound.

 

Both Loki and Natasha growled in disbelief at that.

 

“Didn´t I told you not to get out of my sight?!” Loki scolded him vexed.

 

“I know.” Steve plainly agreed. “But I think we have a bigger problem. A lost bullet took the door panel off. I tried to fix it; but it doesn´t work anymore.” He acknowledged worryingly. “On the other side you can call our reinforcements. I had visual on Bucky for a second.”

 

“Clint … we have visual confirmation on Barnes.” Natasha reported angrily.

 

“What´s wrong?” Clint asked immediately concerned by her tone.

 

“Guess who managed to get shot already.” Natasha complained displeased.

 

“God dammit Steve!” Clint spat enraged.

 

“Will you all cut it out! You are making me feel like a third grader.” Steve spat equally enraged.

 

“Always in trouble Cap?” Tony asked in an amused tone after an awkward silence.

 

“Almost every day.” Steve confessed while he remembered his childhood.

 

“I got to say … I´m surprised he has lived this long.” Tony offered with sincerity. “How on earth did you manage to do that Cap?”

 

Steve smiled as he realized how. “I’ve always had someone to have my back.” First Bucky, then the Avengers.

 

“Don´t forget about that.” Tony reminded him sternly.

 

“I´m sorry guys. I think … I forgot.” Steve apologized heart fully. “But unless you can find a way to blast through this door I´m afraid you´ll have to find a way around it. You know I can’t just stay put.”

 

“We know.” Natasha agreed; the she asked Loki n a low tone. “Loki, could you?”

 

“Teleport to the other side, yes. Heal him, yes. But then what?” Loki acknowledged with a deep frown in his face. Using his energies for that when they could have dire need for them later; it just wasn’t an option.

 

“I know.” Natasha agreed heavily. “It´s not the best idea. Let´s save that option for a real emergency.” Next he told Steve. “You can’t stay there out on the open; it´s too risky. And we are bound to find another way in. Just … try not to get yourself killed this time. For real, not before we get to you.”

 

“I´ll do my best.” Steve promised with a smirk.

Preparing for the Mission

As Steve dressed up as fast as he could the rest of the team put each other up to speed on what they knew.

 

“so Nat, did your contact said anything else?” Clint asked frowning in deep thought.

 

“Nothing that could be useful. He gave me Barnes file but he doesn´t have a clue about where could Hydra be hiding him. All he knew was the location of two operational hydra bases in the city. Those are our best chances.”

 

“And if we attack one and he isn´t there we blow our chances of finding him.” Clint thought out loud, meditating on what he just said for a moment before sternly adding. “I hate to say this, but we´ll have to split up.”

 

“Can´t you send a SWAT team to one base while we take out the other?” Tony asked concerned. Dividing their forces; he couldn´t think of a worst plan.

 

“And if the SWAT team finds Barnes instead of us? They wouldn´t have a chance. Don´t you remember what he …” Natasha elbowed him hard while giving him a dirty look pointing at Steve with a nod.

 

“Ouch! Why?” Clint first complained before noticing Natasha signal. “Oh, mmm, well you know what´s he´s capable of.”

 

Steve had overheard everything and with a heavy sigh told them as he continued tying up his boots. “He stab me. You can say it out loud. And maybe I didn´t resisted him in the end; but he´s more than what the SWAT team can handle.”

 

Tony scowled grimly. They had a point. “All right. What are you suggesting?” He asked as he crossed his arms upset.

 

“We divide into two teams. Each team takes a SWAT unit for support. You and me take the base at the outskirts of the city. Natasha, Loki and Steve take the one in the abandoned industrial sector. As soon as one of the teams can confirm eyes on Barnes the other team will fall back to help them.” Clint explained while concentrating on the city plans appearing on his portable screen.

 

Tony´s frown grew even more. “Why don´t I take Loki with me? We´ll make a better team.”

 

“I need Loki with Steve, Tony. Just in case.” Clint informed him harshly.

 

“I am right here you know?” Steve complained upset. “And I´m just picking up my pace I´m not crippled.”

 

“You lost your say in this when you allowed Barnes to stab you!” Clint spat in anger. “And you are either going with Loki or back to bed. Your call.” He pointed to the bed with a severe look.

 

Steve clenched his jaw angry. He knew he couldn´t possibly beast that argument. “Fine. We´ll do it your way.” He agreed defeated still scowling.

 

“Clint is right Tony.” Loki intervened. “He needs someone to fills Cap´s position until he has picked up his pace.” He smirked with irony while catching a glimpse of Steve rolling his eyes at him.

 

“But Loki, the spell …” He wanted to say something else but the furious glare Loki gave him stopped him. Loki had been in bed only a week before; and even if Asgardians healed much faster than humans he didn´t felt comfortable about Loki fighting without him. Not just yet.

 

“I´ve had more than enough time to recuperate.” Loki answered eying him sternly. “There´s nothing to worry about.” He ended trying to soften his tone.

 

“But …” Tony started to complain.

 

“I said I´m all right.” Loki insisted more than slightly annoyed by his insistence,

 

“Are you sure?” Tony asked worryingly knowing he wouldn´t be able to change Loki´s mind.

 

Loki softened at the pleading look Tony gave him. “Do you want me to prove it to you?” He almost purred as he mischievously ran a finger over the chest plate of his armour licking his lower lip in anticipation.

 

Tony couldn´t thought of a come back to that and just uttered a flustered “Umm”

 

Both Nat and Clint complained instantly to the lover’s foreplay. “God guys! We are about to go on a mission here! Get a room when we get back.” Clint scolded then jokingly. Even Steve smirked amused at the scene.

 

“All right.” Tony conceded defeated. “And for your information whatever we do after the mission is not of your business.”

 

Clint lift his hands in the air as peace offer with a big grin on his face. “As long as we all come back in one piece I don´t give a damn.”

 

“Sounds fair to me.” Steve interjected.

 

“Shut up Cap! We wouldn´t be in this mess if it wasn´t for you.” Tony scolded him harshly; allowing his anger to get the worst of him he added. “But maybe we should get a room for you and Barnes. Do you want me to give you a few pointers? Maybe lend you some lub?”

 

Everyone looked shocked at him. “Tony!” The scold was almost unanimous. Only Steve had remained silent after an initial hurt scowl he had down casted his gaze mortified.

 

“That was uncalled for.” Natasha admonished him displeased before walking up to comfort Steve.

 

“Way out of line man.” Clint told him off before walking away. He had to set up the aircrafts and SWAT teams.

 

Loki remained in his place looking at him disapprovingly.

 

“This is both your faults.” Tony informed him wryly. He thought he had forgiven both Loki and Steve for kissing … but maybe deep down he still hadn´t. Loki just kept looking at him with his eyes crossed for a bit longer before telling him in disbelief. “We had a whole week to talk this over and you choose now to do this? Now … before we go into battle?”

 

Tony scowled while adverting his eyes; Loki was right. He couldn´t have picked a worst moment to let his jealousy get the worst of him. “I know.” He finally acknowledged grimly. “I just can´t help it. I´m jealous, ok?” He paused then pointing out at Steve he added. “I mean … just look at him. He looks so lost even I want to hold him tight.”

 

Loki snorted lightly at that. With a mischievous smile he whispered in Tony´s ear. “And that´s why he need a friend.” Changing his tone for a lustfully one he added. “And why you will get a not so friendly reminder of whom you belong to once this is over.”

 

Tony´s heart race at his words. He wasn´t sure if he should feel aroused or concerned; maybe a little of both. He opened his mouth to say something but Loki pushed his index to his lips motioning silence. “We´ll continue this later, all right?” Now help Natasha and Clint with the preparations. If they hadn´t thought of something make sure you do. I´ll talk to Steve. Are we clear?”

 

“Cristal.” Tony replied. “I´m …”

 

“I know.” Loki reassured him. “now hurry. We don´t have much time.” Then he approached Natasha and Steve who were sitting on the bed talking.

 

“Do you mind if I have a word with Steve?” He asked her politely.

 

“No, of course no.” Natasha agreed quickly. “Steve?”

 

“It´s all right. You have things to do.” Steve agreed still gloomy.

 

Both Tony and Natasha left the room arguing between themselves. As soon as they were alone Steve busted out. “He hasn´t forgiven me.”

 

“It will take him some time; but he will … in the end.” Loki admitted. “you shouldn´t let that botter you right now.”

 

“I know.” Steve agreed. “Do I look as bad as I feel?”

 

“Of course not. You look worse.” Loki jokingly teased him.

 

Steve smirked shyly at his joking tone. “Are you really up to this?” He suddenly asked Loki worryingly.

 

“I should be the one asking you that.” Loki admonished him.

 

“I´ll be all right.” Steve asseverated sternly.

 

“Then we shouldn´t speak of this anymore.” He volunteered willingly. “And … Steve”

 

“Yes?” Steve turned around intrigued.

 

“I apologize for what Tony said; but …if you do have any questions … “Loki looked him straight in the eye while saying it.

 

Steve dropped his gaze flustered. “I think … I´ll figure it out … by myself.”

 

Loki laughed whole heartedly at his shyness. “I´m sure you will.”

Waking Up

“I´m not Bucky!” The furious growl, the emptiness in his eyes; it hurt more than the blade that had just been pulled out of him. He could feel his breathing becoming constricted; a sensation not unknown to him. You never truly forget a feeling like that; the aching despair of forcing the slightest breath of air inside your own lungs. But not even that ached as bad as the void in his gaze while he stabbed him again. “I … am … sorry.” He forced his choked voice out. “For allowing them to do this to you” He screamed in his mind pained. “I …” The arrow flew between them.

 

“Bucky!” He yelled himself awake. His breathing agitated, his pulse erratic, his mind and eyes unfocused. A sudden pain forced him to bend over as a pair of hands stilled him. “Steve! You are safe! Come down.” A stern but concerned tone reassured him as the hands laid him down again.

He coughed hurtfully as he allowed himself to be guided back down closing his eyes overwhelmed. His eyes flickered several times until they adjusted to the light slowly recognizing the familiar figure standing beside him.

 

“Loki?” He frowned confused. How? No … “How long?” He asked in distraught.

 

Loki frowned equally confused by his question before asking in return. “Since you been stab?”

 

“I need to know, please.” Steve demanded anguished as he gave a small affirmation nod.

 

“Umm … a couple of hours, maybe a bit longer. I don´t know.” Why would that be important to him right then?

 

Steve sighed relieved, he could still be in time. He tried to sit up again despite the pain; trying to hide a scowl as he did.

 

“What do you think you are doing?” Loki scolded him harshly. “Are you out of your freaking mind? You barely made it this time. The doctor said …” He kept admonishing Steve as he forcibly tried to kept him still.

 

“I have to find him.” Steve exclaimed distraught in half a breath.

 

“Find who?” Loki inquired vexed. Who could be that important?

 

“Bucky” Steve volunteered leaning against Loki´s strong hold. Wincing at every move he knew there was little he could do to stop him from pushing him back to bed.

 

“Who?” Loki asked in disbelief with a deep frown.

 

“The soldier…” Steve huff in despair looking straight into Loki’s eyes in deep plea.

 

Loki´s expression changed from disbelief to pure anger. “Can´t you see you are in no condition to go anywhere? He almost killed you!”

 

“He … doesn´t know what he´s doing.” Steve offered distraught nodding his head negatively in disbelief.

 

Loki opened his mouth enraged for a second before clenching it close again. With a feral growl he stared vexed into Steve’s eyes as he asseverated. “I saw your wounds Steve. He knew exactly what he was doing! The only reason you are still alive is because of me!”

 

Loki´s ferocity startled Steve for an instant. He never thought he would really care that much. He closed his eyes biting his lip hard; he needed to find a way. Sighing he opened them again; misty eyes looked at Loki´s pleadingly as he begged him once more in a low tone. “Loki, please … let me go. You have Tony … please, let me go.”

 

Loki stared at him in disbelief. His plea hid a soft unsaid reproach. One that merciless pulled a threat on his mind. The same thread that made him run into his aid. He owed him; not only for saving his life and bringing Tony and himself together again. He had hurt him; both on purpose and unintentionally. And what made matters worse was that Steve had known it all along and he … he just allowed him do it anyway. There were a few handful of things he really felt guilty about and that was one of them. He had given everything back to him and in payment he had broken his heart. Maybe if he hadn´t … he wouldn´t have … gone away. He sighed nodding his head negatively. “ I can´t.”

 

Steve widened his eyes appalled. “Why?” He asked anguished.

 

Loki looked into his eyes bemused by the unexpected question. “Because … I actually do care if you live or not.” He answered with a frown before reproach him hurt. “What kind of question is that? Do you think I was lying last week when I told you …?”

 

“I wished you hadn´t.” Steve interrupted him shaken. “I wished you hadn´t meant a thing.” He regretfully, painfully lied. “We would be better off if you hadn´t say a thing … you would´ve just let me go …”

 

Not even Loki realized he had slapped Steve until he saw the hurt in his eyes as he nursed his throbbing cheek. He froze surprised by his own reaction. “I … I … I didn’t mean.” He leaned worryingly but Steve backed away from his touch.

 

“It would´ve been easier.” Steve acknowledged down casted. “I´m sorry but that´s the truth.” He sighed upset before continuing. “Loki I do understand you saved my life and I´m grateful about it. But you don´t ow me anything … I … I got to do this on my own.”

 

“Why?” Loki asked concerned.

 

“I don´t know what Hydra did to him; but he is … dangerous. I got to do this by myself. I don´t want anyone else to get hurt … If someone dies on my account … I wouldn´t be able to handle it.”

 

Loki smirked half amused, half annoyed. Like he hadn´t figured that part by himself. “No.” He added sternly. “Why is he so important to you?”

 

“Loki, we are wasting time.” Steve huffed distraught. “If his trace goes cold I´ll never be able to find him again.”

 

“And just where do you think you are going?” Clint ask with a frown as he walked on them. He had overheard Steve´s last words. “You are not going anywhere … not until the doctor says it´s ok for you to leave.” He ended as he crossed his arms with a determined look upon his face.

 

Steve facepalm distraught nodding in disbelief; as if nearly convincing Loki hadn´t been hard enough.

 

“To find his old team mate.” Natasha volunteered walking right behind Clint. Walking right to Steve she added. “I get he is an old friend Rogers and that you must feel guilty for what Hydra did to him; but he´s not the man you knew. That man is long gone. He just tried to kill you for God´s sake!”

 

“No …” Steve denied distraught. “Bucky would never hurt me. Whatever Hydra did to him … I got to undo it. “ He looked up at them with stern resolution in his eyes. “I´m not asking any of you to come with me. I´m just begging all of you to let me do this. Just let me go, it´s better this way.”

 

“What?!” Clint yelled enraged. “you are barely waking up and you want to go after him … alone? Fuck no! You are staying in that bed even if I have to tie you to it.” He informed him vexed while menacingly approaching the bed. Loki stood up between them releasing Steve who seized the opportunity and swiftly hurled himself out of the bed falling loudly while almost knocking down the IV cart along with him.

 

Three worried faces ran to his aid while Steve pounded his fist against the ground frustrated by his own failed effort. His legs hadn´t been able to sustain his own weight. As two pair of strong hands tried to help him up he refused them.

 

“I can do this.” He growled through clenched teeth as eh laboriously sat himself up panting at the effort. He needed to get his strength back and fast.

 

“This is ridiculous Steve!” Clint scolded him running his hands through his hair in disbelief. “Just … just forget about him.”

 

Steve felt his blood boil at his words and clumsily, painfully dragged himself up using the bed as a support. “No!” He spat vexed.

 

“Why on earth no?” Clint spat back irked.

 

“Because I love him, that’s why!” Steve confessed abruptly.

 

“You what?” Clint asked bemused.

 

“Because I love him.” Steve replied astonished by his own confession. He had never voiced it out loud.

 

Loki´s eyes widened with the realization of who Bucky really was. “They are gone.” That´s why he was so desperate; he could hardly blame him.

 

“But … Peggy?” Clint frowned confused.

 

Steve snorted wryly. “What about her?”

 

“I thought you loved her … you …”Clint offered confused.

 

“And I did, deeply.” Steve admitted. “As it was expected of me. But … that doesn´t mean … I didn´t loved him too. But … it couldn´t be … not back then.” Steve added painfully.

 

Natasha frowned distraught as he informed the rest of the team. “It was illegal.”

 

Steve nodded affirmative biting his lip. “It was.” He sighed before adding. “I never ever told him. Even if he … they would´ve made an example of both of us if anyone had found out. So … I never said a word.”

 

“You would´ve gone to jail.” Natasha added helping Steve to stand up.

 

“Or worst.” Steve admitted through tearful eyes.

 

“I don´t understand.” Loki admitted confused.

 

Natasha explained quickly. “It was illegal for two men to be on a romantic relationship back then.”

 

“Actually it´s still illegal in some places.” Tony added walking to them. He had arrived a few moments before.

 

Loki looked at him shocked.

 

“What? I don´t do the laws.” Tony volunteered wryly. “Now, if you ask me I find it extremely … pleasant.” He winked an eye at Loki. “Now will any of you explain to me what´s going on and why is Steve out of bed after we almost lost him?”

 

“Please, we don´t have the time. Just give me some clothes and let me go.” Steve pleaded in a whining tone. “You can explain him once I´m gone.”

 

“You are not going anywhere!” Clint growled still very angry. “We are going to get your long lost boyfriend back! And you are going back into bed right now!” He took a step forward.

 

“But …” Steve complained distraught.

 

“Clint …. could we …. have a word?” Loki suggested sternly while he cut into his path abruptly.

 

“But …” Clint complained bemused.

 

“I insist.” Loki gravely added.

 

“Fine…” Clint agreed reluctantly.

 

Loki took Clint to one side of the room while Tony and Natasha were left to deal with an uncooperative Steve who refused to get back into bed.

 

“Clint.” Loki started calmly.

 

“I know what you are about to say Loki; but we can´t take him with us.” He eyed back at Steve who was laboriously walking away from Tony and Natasha while refusing to stay still.

 

Loki looked back for an instant before telling him gravely. “You know as well as I do that if we don´t take him with us he´ll find his own way out of the hospital. And then we won´t be able to stop him.”

 

Clint couldn´t deny it, Loki was right. Even if he ordered Steve to be in lock down he´d eventually escape. He sighed disgruntled. “You are actually suggesting we take him with us? In his condition? “He nodded in disbelief. “I don´t know Loki but it seems like a very bad idea.”

 

“At least we´ll be able to keep an eye on him. “ Loki suggested. “There´s no telling what kind of trouble he can ran into on his own. You know him better than I do Clint; tell me if I´m wrong.”

 

“I don´t like this.” Clint surrendered annoyed.

 

“You don´t have to.” Loki admitted; he wasn´t fond of the idea either.

 

“Don´t you just stand there stalling!” Steve reproached Tony and Natasha irked while dragging the IV cart with him as he ransacked the closet. “Help me find some clothes … and stop staring at my butt!”

 

Loki turned immediately at the sound of that and half amused, half annoyed called out. “Tony!”

 

“What?” Tony whined annoyed. “It´s not my fault hospital gowns don´t …” He made a grabbing gesture with his hands while pointing at Steve´s. “… cover that area.”

 

“Or that he has a really nice ass.” Natasha added shamelessly while smirking in complicity with Tony at the deeply offended scowl Steve was making.

 

“Fine!” He growled vexed while trying to close the gap in the posterior of the hospital gown with one hand. “As everything is a joke to you I´ll find some clothes myself.” Without waiting for anyone’s reply he directed himself to the door.

 

Clint stopped him hurryingly.  “No, wait! Wait!” He sighed defeated. “I´ll find you something to wear. Just … stay right here.” He was about to step out when he turned and warned Tony and Natasha. “And will you two behave and stop trying to send Steve to an early grave?  He has had a really bad day!”

 

“Ok mum, we´ll behave.” Tony replied with irony. Noticing Loki’s disapproval glare, he elaborated. “We were just trying to cheer him up. “Loki frowned. “All right we won´t do it again, sorry Cap.” He offered insincerely.

 

Within a few minutes Clint walked back with a standard SWAT SHIELD´s uniform, a pair of combat boots and his shield.

 

“Don´t make me regret this Steve.” He told the blond man sternly as he handed him the clothing.

 

Steve smiled warmly for the first time since he woke up. “You won´t. I promise.”

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