You open your eyes, feeling groggy as you try to focus on the room. From the sterile white walls to the beeping equipment all around you, none of it seems familiar. This must be some sort of hospital room, you just don't understand how you came to be there.
It doesn’t make sense, the last thing you remembered was intense cold before everything going dark. Your eyes dart towards the curtain as you hear footsteps and voices approaching. Your ears strain to get as much detail as you can.
“I appreciate you coming down so quick, I didn’t want to do this without you.” You hear a man’s hushed voice explain as he lets out a heavy sigh. “We recovered someone from that old base during the routine sweep.”
“Is it a Hydra operative?”
Your brow furrows at the sound of the new voice. The rich timbre you hear seems familiar to you, like a melody you heard as a child but couldn't fully remember.
“Not sure, but I figured you’d want to be the one to question her.” The first voice responds and this time it sounds like the men are right on the other side of the curtain. You slide down into the bed, biting down hard on your bottom lip as he continues. “She was found with an S.S.R. pin on her.”
“She had an S.S.R. pin? I haven’t seen one of those since before I went into the ice.”
“Take a look for yourself.”
The curtain slides back and you look up. You may not have recognized his voice through your fogginess but you could never forget the handsome lines of his face.You feel your eyes widen in disbelief as you take him in. You can’t believe this, it’s simply not possible. Steve Rogers is standing in front of you, alive and whole.
The man you had given your heart to, the man you had spent the last year mourning, frowns as he holds your S.S.R. pin in his left hand.
“How is this possible?” The two of you ask at the same time and you find you are unable to tear your eyes from each other.
“Share with the class?” The second man asks, soft brown eyes moving between the two of you. Glancing at him you realize that he has a familiar look to him, but you are too disoriented to properly place it.
Without a word, you move to stand. You can hold yourself up but you wobble slightly as you try to walk. Steve is quickly by your side, wrapping his arms gently around you. “Can you tell me what happened?” He asks, his voice laced with confusion and disbelief.
For a moment, you stare into his eyes, finding concern etched around his features. You had thought about him every single day for the past year. Now, you can’t seem to make sense of what’s happening and that thought frightens you.
You heard him go into the ice, you'd never be able to forget that day. And yet, unless you've lost you mind, here he is. Whole and alive.
“I…” You start, speaking before you can gather your thoughts. “There were five of us…. I remember, I remember a fight…” You trail off and your eyes grow wide with panic.
“What’s the matter?” Steve asks, confusion clouding his face as he watches you.
Bucky… He’s alive.
You furrow your brow as you try to decide what to say to him.Telling Steve about his best friend would only hurt him. “My head’s foggy...” You settle on this answer, hoping that he won’t push further.
Steve’s voice brings you back to the moment. “Can you remember anything else?”
You bite down on your bottom lip once again, trying to put all the pieces together. “Uh. I remember cold. It was like an icebox…. Then nothing until I woke up here.”
It’s obvious by the look on Steve’s face that he’s just as confused as you are. He steps away from you, turning to the stranger. “Tony, I need your word. This stays from the rest of the team until I can sort this out.”
The stranger, Tony, gives a smirk. “Keeping secrets huh, Cap?” He quickly glances at you. “Whoo boy, what a Clusterfuck.”
“Language!” You and Steve scold him simultaneously. You smile up at him. Old habits die hard, I suppose.
Tony takes a half step back as he looks between the two of you, a mixture of shock and incredulity on his face. “Jesus Christ. There’s two of them!” You reflexively start to scold him again but he throws up his hands.
“I can’t.” He gives a chuckle and claps Steve on the shoulder. “You got this buddy. I’ll keep quiet to the team.” He turns on his heels and makes his way down the hall, still yelling ‘there’s two of them’ as he goes.
Steve shakes his head fondly and moves back to you. He gently helps you back into the bed, sitting on the edge of it once you've made yourself comfortable.
“This isn’t possible.” You tell him, peering up at him with misty eyes. Steve looks down at his hands, sighing softly. “The whole country mourned you. Steve, I mourned you!”
“I know.” His response is soft, infuriating you when he refuses to meet your eyes.
“I don’t understand, Steve. I heard you go into the ice a year ago…. Have you been alive this whole time?”
At that, he glances up at you. Deep cerulean eyes meet yours and you can’t help but feel your heart flutter wildly in your chest. “Technically, yes but it’s been a lot longer than a year sweetheart. And its a bit more complicated that you'd think.”
You tilt your head, brows knitting together. “How long?” You don't remember anything after the cold but surely you couldn’t have been out for longer than a few months, a year at the most.
Steve looks mostly the same as he did when you last kissed him goodbye at the base. Age hasn’t changed his features in anyway to indicate a significant passage of time. His hair is different, shaggier than before. Still, you want to run your hands through it and pull him close.
“Over seventy.” He answers hesitantly, meeting your eyes.
“Did you say seventy?” You can feel your stomach clench as he nods. Impossible.
“Give or take.” His smile is small and for a moment you think he's joking with you.
“That’s impossible.” You murmur, out loud this time. Your voice trembles when you speak, betraying your anxious thoughts.
Steve stands, crossing the small room. He pulls the curtain back even more, revealing more medical equipment that you've never encountered before. As skilled as Howard Stark was, you know in your heart that this is even too advanced for him.
Your eyes slide to him as he tells you the year. Your pulse races as you struggle to comprehend what he's just said.
“H-how?” The shock in your voice clearly evident to the both of you. He moves back to the bed as he begins to explain everything.
Your head spins as Steve fills you in on the crash, being frozen, and being recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D., Which, he tells you with a small smile, is what the S.S.R eventually became.
“Is… Is that what was done to me?” You ask nervously as he finishes speaking.
The words have an impact on him that you weren’t expecting. You watch his body stiffen with tension. Uncomfortable confusion mingles with dread across his face. “What?” He whispers.
You don’t know how to answer. Bucky had been his best friend, and one of yours, but you have to keep this from him. You choose your words carefully.
“The agents at the Hydra base. We were ambushed -” Before you can elaborate further, a red headed woman bursts into the hospital room.
She looks to be about the same age as you are. You mentally correct yourself, were, but the long braid laying on her shoulder gives her a look of innocence you’re sure is a deliberate move. She looks you over for a moment before turning to Steve.
“Well, now I know why Tony was yelling.” She thinly smiles at you. “Our mystery woman is awake.”
Steve looks at you for a moment before standing. “Nat, could you give us a minute please?” He smiles easily but you can hear an undercurrent of discomfort and distress in the tone of his voice.
He doesn’t want her here.
You wonder why. They're clearly familiar with each other so the uneasy way his eyes slide from her to you makes your stomach twist.
“No, I will not.” The woman, Nat, folds her arms across her chest, defiantly standing her ground.
The two seem to wage a battle of wills, leaving an oppressive silence hanging in the air. You shift under the blankets as you finally find your voice again. “Excuse me." You don't mean to interrupt but the room is too filled with tension for your comfort.
Both of them turn to you as you speak. “Where is my satchel? It has all my belongings and I would really like to have them back.” You almost feel like a child who had interrupted your parents fighting. They’re your things, you’re allowed to ask for them.
“Everything you own is on your body.” Nat curtly replies. The tone is not unkind, just matter-of-fact but you feel your heart start to race anyway.
You know the panic is showing all over your face. There were things in that satchel that were of utmost importance. Things that shouldn’t and couldn't fall into the wrong hands.
Seeing the panic on your face, Steve nods slightly and lowers his voice, clearly in an attempt to placate her and not distress you further.
“Nat, could you get her something appropriate to wear?" Steve asks, turning to her. "Maybe a dress? I promise you I will tell you all I know, as soon as I’m able.”
Nat nods to him and heads back down the hallway with a word to you.
“I need that satchel.” You barely wait for her to be out of earshot. You need him to know that it’s important, that you can’t just forget about it.
“Everything was probably destroyed,” he explains. The words feel like a rock in your stomach. “But I will personally look into it.” He promises with a soft smile.
After only a few minutes, Nat returns. You can’t see the dress in her hands but you do see Steve shake his head at her. “Nat, come on.” His eyes move to you then the dress once more.
“Let me see?" You ask softly.
Nat turns to you, proudly holding up the dress. You stare at it, eyes wide as you take in the garment. It is nothing like you’re used to seeing.
The fabric is so sheer that you can almost see her through it and it barely comes to her mid thigh as she holds it against herself. “Uh… Where’s the rest of it?” You ask, trying not to let color creep into your cheeks.
She looks between you and the dress, humor sparkling in her eyes. “This is the most conservative thing that I own.”
Steve pulls her aside, lowering his voice once again. “Pretend like you’re dressing your Nana, okay?”
“This was a gift from my Nana.” You can’t tell if she’s serious.
“Of course it is.” He sighs, glancing over to you. “Just look up 1940’s fashion and start -”
“Maybe just a blouse and some trousers?” You ask, cutting him off. That should be a safe bet right? Nat and Steve exchange a look and she nods as she, once again, makes her way back down the hall.
“I’m so sorry, darling.” Steve answers sheepishly, shrugs his shoulders as he glances between the two of you.
You brush off the apology with a small smile. This isn’t your time and you have to try and remember that. Women’s fashion clearly has evolved since 1946. You have yet to decide whether its for the better.
So has men’s apparently.
Your eyes roam over the handsome man in front of you. Gone are the loose fitting trouser pants and button downs you're used to seeing and in their place are tighter fitting jeans and a cotton tee shirt. On Steve at least, you definitely approve.
Steve shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans as he walks back to your bedside. You reach out, touching the beard that now covers his jaw.
The action shocks you almost more than it does him, but neither of you pull away. “I like this.” A smile slides across your face. “You are planning to keep it, right?”
He returns the smile easily, making your heart swell like it did when you first met him. “Yes, ma’am.”