"The Hulk has been unleashed at the ground of east wing, Agent Romanoff is injured. Does anybody copy?" Director Fury's voice rang clearly through trough every earpiece in S.H.I.E.L.D.
"This is Steven Rogers, I copy." Steve replied, running as fast as he could to the scene.
What could have happened to her? Oh god, she'd better be okay. Steve's mind whirred with a million questions all at the same time. His brain throbbed at the sudden inrush of intense thought.
He bounded down the staircase and gasped at the sheer destruction such a serene soul could make when he lost control. It seemed unthinkable that their very own Doctor Bruce Banner could hurt a fly. He crept down one of the halls, his eyes darting around for any signs of the green beast. Steve wondered whether his shield would give him any protection whatsoever when it came to the Hulk. There was only one way to find out and Steve really didn't want that to happen, not today.
He stopped completely still as he heard a soft moan.
"Natasha? Natasha, are you there?" Steve said as calmly as he could muster. There was a long, dead silent pause before a reply,
"Steven Rogers. Where are you?" He asked.
"I don't know... I... really don't... know." The voice spluttered. Steve was positive the voice belonged to Natasha. And he was sure he needed to find her quickly.
"Shh, I'll find you. Don't move." Steve reassured her and began to, gingerly, walk forward.
He noticed a slightly movement between two pieces of rubble. He walked towards them and peeled one off revealing Natasha.
Her temple was bleeding, sending a thin red ribbon down her cheek. Her eyes were bulging with fear and her knees were scrunched up to her chest. She was pale and broken. A dry husk of her former self. Steve lowered himself down to her level and began to wipe the blood away.
"I'm so sorry." Natasha coughed.
"No, there's no need, really." Steve replied.
"I don't know where the Hulk's gone... I'm sorry." She cried. Steve's heart lightened somewhat at the fact the Hulk was gone but it was still very heavy.
"No. None of that matters. All that matters now is you." Steve hushed, sitting down beside her.
"I remember the Hulk coming for me and I wasn't fast enough and he threw me over here. I lay here until you came, fearing for my life. I was calling for you, Steve." She said.
Steve's heart leapt. She was calling for him? He should have come earlier, he should have been quicker. His mind vividly pictured her weak calls for him. It pained him to think that she was ever in such pain. Then the memory of the icy water pouring over his body, numbing every muscle in him. The cold suffocation whilst he heard Peggy calling his name through the radio, her voice cracking through the tears and the water pouring into it. He remembered trying to call her back, to tell her he loves her. To tell her he'll be fine and she mustn't cry over him as this is what he wants. To tell her she'll be fine, she'll live a long life and she must move on from him and love again. Tell her she must do everything he will fail to do if he was her. To let her know how much he loves her and how much he always, always will.
"It's okay, Natasha. It's fine." Steve said.
"No, it isn't..."
"Shh, I promise. This is a minor bump in the road. One that a master assassin wont let shake them."
"I really, really like you, Steven." Natasha turned to him, smiling wearily.
And this was the second chance. To let someone know how much he loved them.