Steve wakes up in a bed that isn’t his own, his head pounding and his muscles aching. Vague memories of battles and blood clog his thoughts - how did he get here? What happened?
Most importantly, where are the others?
He blinks and tries to clear his head, looking around the small hospital room. In the corner, curled in a chair and looking far smaller and more brittle than usual, he finds Agent Romanoff. She looks as though she has had little sleep for days, and when Steve begins to push himself up she stirs, snake-fast, to turn her wide eyes towards him.
“You shouldn’t be moving,” she says, as stern as a drill sergeant. “I need to call a doctor.”
“I’m fine,” Steve insists, even though his ribs are burning with every breath. “It’s nothing.”
“You’ve been unconscious for a full day.”
“I was asleep for decades. One day is just a blink, right?” Natasha doesn’t smile at him in return. Steve frowns in concern. “How are the others?”
Natasha shrugs. “Clint has enough bruises to look like a mosaic, but that’s what you get when you think that throwing yourself off a building is an acceptable battle plan.” She rolls her eyes dramatically, but Steve can hear a thread of worry in her voice. “The others are fine. No casualties. No major injuries.”
“Other than me,” Steve clarifies.
Natasha’s gaze is unforgiving. “Other than you,” she confirms.
Steve can feel the anger radiating from her, but he doesn’t know what he’s done to cause it. “I’m sorry,” he says anyway.
She rolls her eyes and gets up from her uncomfortable plastic seat, crossing over to his hospital bed. When he struggles to get up again, she places her hand on his chest and stops him - gentle, asking instead of demanding. Steve sinks reluctantly back against the pillow.
“Do you remember what happened?” she asks. Steve has to shake his head. “You were saving me. I think that means I owe you one.”
“Natasha - “
“No. Don’t. You got injured because of me. I won’t let that happen again.”
It’s a point of pride. Steve could argue against it - they are a team; they are supposed to risk their lives for one another - but the cold fury in Natasha’s eyes warns him against it. She brushes stray strands of hair from his forehead and refuses to meet his questioning gaze.
“I thought I’d got you killed,” she murmurs. “Wouldn’t that have been great for my track record?”
There isn’t much that Steve can say in that situation - he has no way of defending her from her own thoughts. “I’m sorry,” he says in the end.
She shakes her head and looks away from him, but she doesn’t pull away when Steve encircles her hand. She doesn’t acknowledge it at all, but her hand is tense and cold against his palm. It’s all he can do to warm her.