14 – Discoveries and Regrets.
I marched into my office, discovering Fury standing quietly. He studied the whiteboard I'd set up in the corner, where my theories were scribbled around photos of Johann Schmidt's aircraft and maps of the Atlantic ocean. My heart raced, not from my sparring match with Barton but because maybe we'd finally found Steve.
I dropped my sports bag beside my desk. "Is it true Fury? Have they found something?"
He glanced over his shoulder at me. His lips curved, but the smile didn't reflect in his good brown eye. "Yes, it's true. Your contact's fishing vessel found the remains of an aircraft this morning. The Directors have asked we send a crew out there to inspect the sight."
I inhaled a deep breath and slowly released as my knees wobbled beneath me. I'd dreamt of this moment and now it was here I wanted to run and hide. "When do I leave?"
"There's a chopper waiting on the roof." He faced me as I braced my hands against my desk, trying to keep my breathing under control. "He might not be there,"
"I know, but still…finding the aircraft is a big deal."
"You don't have to go."
I frowned at him. "You brought me in on this, I can't turn back now no matter what I think and feel."
"You've got ten minutes, Agent Coulson will accompany you. And don't forget your snow gear." He nodded to the black bag on my desk and walked out of the office with his leather jacket flapping lightly behind him.
I pulled my hair loose from the ponytail and combed my hands through the tangles. I unzipped the bag, pulling out the white snow gear and began dressing. My mind was racing, what if Steve was there? Would he be frozen as he was? Would he be dead or alive? More importantly would he have his memory?
"Stop it Gin, you'll drive yourself crazy." I muttered pulling a white beanie upon my head.
I headed out of the office zipping up my jacket and took the nearest elevator to the rooftop. I stepped out, only to turn my face away as the helicopter propellers kicked up a harsh gust of wind, I carefully walked towards the aircraft and climbed aboard. I secured a headset over my ears, gazing over the city skyline as the winter evening quickly emerged.
The pilot glanced over his shoulder me. "Oh his way ma'am."
I looked out the window again and watched as Coulson appeared, jogging towards the aircraft and hopped into the front. He had a wide grin plastered upon his face and gave me the thumbs up. I lightly shook my head, as he signalled for the pilot to lift off.
The compact snowflakes crunched beneath my boots. I followed the glowing path to where a team had spent the day excavating out the area surrounding the large aircraft Steve had crashed decades before. I rubbed my gloved hands together; glancing at Coulson who wore a delighted smile. He was like a kid in a candy store.
"Isn't it a wonderful sight?"
"Depends on what else we find Coulson."
We made our way to the makeshift tents already set up, pulling off our goggles as we entered the white open space. There were small teams of men and women dressed in white snow gear, studying computer screens and fragments brought out from the belly of the aircraft.
I saw Marion waving nearby, a SHIELD researcher who'd been assisting the search into Steve's whereabouts. I stomped over as she grinned at me.
"I heard your radio transmission, you've found something?"
"Only what you've been looking for," the thin lines around her brown eyes crinkled as she smiled, leading me into the tent next door where a medical team had set up their equipment.
My hazel eyes focused on the table in the middle of the tent, ignoring the three people surrounding the man I'd been yearning to see again for almost seventy years.
"Are you sure it's him?" I whispered and glanced at Marion as she nodded.
"Yes. He's been perfectly preserved, and as far as we know he's a picture of health thanks to Dr. Erskine's serum." She nudged my side. "Go and have a look."
I stood rooted to the spot for a long moment, but then I extended a boot and slowly walked towards the table. The three members of staff stepped back as I pulled off my gloves, stuffing them in my pocket as I came up beside the table. I closed my eyes briefly, reminding myself to breath before I opened my eyes as stared down at the super-soldier still dressed in his stars and stripes uniform, even his golden hair was neatly combed off his handsome face. He was exactly how I remembered him in my dreams.
I listened to the heart monitor beep behind me, a slow but steady beat and unwitting reached out, pressing two fingers to his throat feeling his pulse jump against my fingertips. I couldn't help myself, my fingers lifted from his throat, tracing his broad jaw causing the icicles to melt the longer my warm flesh kept in contact with his blue tinted skin.
"I'm so sorry. I should've told you that day in the forest that I loved you…I've always loved you." I whispered running my thumb over his lush lips, pausing when they parted slightly beneath my touch. His eyelids moved, and his eyelashes fluttered causing me lean forward. "Steve?"
I jumped back glancing at the doorway where Coulson stood, watching me with a raised eyebrow. I cleared my throat glancing down at Steve to find him still. "Is the aircraft here?"
"They just landed, is he ready?"
"Yeah, he's all yours Marion."
I allowed the medical team to sweep in and take care of Steve for his long-awaited journey home to New York. Coulson lingered at my side as we quietly watched him be carefully wrapped up, and carried out of the tent.
"I'm riding back with him, and your chopper is waiting to take you back to headquarters."
"I can't believe he's been here all this time." I murmured staring down at my hands where the cool water still stung my fingertips and I quickly pulled on my gloves.
"He'll be taken care of at headquarters; the Director's already set up a room for him. He doesn't want the Captain to freak out when he wakes up,"
I frowned at him as we tramped back through the tents and out into the bitter cold wind. "He's waking up sixty something years in the future, of course he's going to freak out."
"The Director has appointed an Agent to be the Captain's liaison, they'll help him adjust to life and get him up to speed." Coulson explained as we paused outside the tents, looking over at the small aircraft where Steve's body was being lifted inside. After years of believing he was dead and nothing but a memory, it just felt wrong that some stranger should come in and take over. "Agent Renard? What's wrong?"
"I need to get back to headquarters fast! I need to speak with Fury." I marched towards the aircraft waiting for me and climbed aboard, closing the door. I refused to let Steve slip through my fingers again.
As soon as the helicopter landed at SHIELD headquarters, I jumped out of the craft and marched with fierce determination to Fury's office. I ignored his protesting second in command; Maria Hill, stalking into his office to discover him sitting behind a large oak desk surveying a video upon a screen held within his hands.
"Can I help you Agent Renard?" He casually lifted his gaze from the screen.
"You've already assigned someone to Captain Rogers?"
"I did the moment the aircraft was located."
"How could you do that to me?"
"He's in good hands, I've arranged for Agent Russell from our L.A branch to fly out tomorrow, she has a History major –"
"I don't care if she's the bloody Queen of England! I'm the only one here that actually knows the man!"
"That's exactly why you weren't asked,"
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked not bothering to hide my irritation.
"You were romantically involved with Captain Rogers before the war," Fury lowered the screen as my cheeks filled with instant warmth. "And only a couple of years ago you were still involved with his best friend. You're too close to this." He reclined in his leather chair, silently letting his words linger before speaking again. "Agent Russell will be his liaison, and you'll be back in the training room in the morning."
"I want to see him!"
"That's impossible at the moment, he's been placed in the care of our medical team –"
"You came to me Fury!" I snapped and then sighed roughly. "You said you couldn't imagine what it was like to live without the person you loved…well it is the worse type of torture. There's not a day that goes by when I don't think about Steve. I remember every moment we spent together and apart, and there's nothing I regret more than the last day we were together." I tried to ignore the handful of tears that were rolling down my face as I spoke because it just proved Fury's theory right. "He told me he loved me, and I said nothing…I didn't even say it in the moments before he crashed the plane. And I've wished every day since that I had."
Fury didn't say anything for a long moment. "I'll contact you when the medical team gives me the all clear."
I managed to give him a curt nod and turned on my heel, stalking back out of the office. I ignored Maria, marching into the elevator and slammed my hand against the button so the doors closed as I choked on a sob.