“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.