Captain Rogers was only unconscious for a few minutes, but it was long enough to terrify you. His injury was far worse than you suspected.
Once he was awake, you helped him to his feet and back inside. He asked to lie down, his voice low and quiet, almost timid. You led him to the tiny spare bedroom in the back of the cabin, so small it only had room for a twin bed and a small nightstand. You apologized for the tiny bed, but he didn’t seem to notice or care. He lowered himself onto it, carefully, threw an arm over his eyes, and thanked you for your help.
“I...I’ll let you rest,” you whispered, pulling the door closed.
You left Captain Rogers - Steve, he’d asked you to call him Steve - to sleep and made your way back to the kitchen. You printed his Wikipedia page so he could read it later, then you washed the few dishes that were in the sink. By the time you finished, you were wobbling on your feet. It was still early, only about seven, but you could barely keep your eyes open. It had been a long, exhausting day, both physically and emotionally.
You grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and made your way to the living room. You grimaced at the horrifying squeal your couch made when you sat on it and the way it kind of sank in the middle. You were pretty sure that Steve had cracked the frame earlier, but you’d have to worry about it later. It wasn’t exactly at the top of your priority list right now.
What was at the top of your priority list was Captain Steve Rogers. You leaned your head back and closed your eyes. You tried to wrap your head around what was happening. It was obvious that he was suffering from some kind of amnesia, which honestly, given his head wound shouldn’t have surprised you. Except he was supposedly able to heal from all manner of injuries - like the gunshot wounds on his chest, which were nearly healed by the time you had gotten him back to the cabin. Shouldn’t that be the case with the injury to his head?
You scrubbed a hand over your face and sighed. You weren’t a doctor, you had no idea how Steve should be reacting. You had no idea how bad the trauma to his brain had been or why his supposed super soldier brain wasn’t healing like the rest of his body had. Truth be told, you had no idea what you were doing and it scared you. You weren’t sure you were equipped to deal with his injuries. Even your time working in the field hadn’t prepared you for something like this.
Despite your need to stay away from everyone and everything, you were going to have to contact someone and tell them you had found Captain Rogers and he needed medical attention.
The metallic taste of blood flooded your mouth. You were gnawing on your lower lip. You released it and took a deep breath in a vain attempt to relax. You felt like everything was crumbling around you. Of all the places in the world that Captain America could have turned up injured, he had to do it practically in your backyard, turning your life upside down.
You needed help, needed someone with more medical knowledge than you had to help Steve. But that meant letting people into your carefully constructed world. The last people on earth you wanted anything to do with were the only people you could call to help Captain America.
You decided to wait, to talk to Captain Rogers and see if he wanted you to contact someone. He’d already been thrown for a loop; bringing in a bunch of armed strangers certainly wouldn’t help the situation. He had no idea what had happened to him over the years, let alone six months ago when S.H.I.E.L.D. had fallen. You didn’t want to make things any harder for him. It was going to be weird enough if and when he realized that the two of you had known each other in your past life.
You yawned, briefly considered going to bed, and then decided the couch was a good place to sleep. You grabbed a blanket and pillow from the basket on the floor and laid down. You were asleep before your head hit the pillow.
The shout startled you, sending you to your feet, reaching for the gun at your back that you no longer carried. It took you a second to realize that the noise had come from the back of the house. While you were sleeping, the sun had set, leaving the cabin in darkness. Fortunately, you knew your way around. You scooted around the coffee table and sprinted down the hall. You slid to a stop in front of the bedroom where Steve slept and where the shout had emanated.
“Captain Rogers? Steve?” you called, tapping lightly on the door. When there was no immediate response, you eased open the door and peered into the room.
The moonlight streaming through the window washed over Steve, illuminating half of his face. His long lashes were dark against his pale skin and beads of sweat had formed on his forehead and were trickling down his cheeks. His hands were fisted in the blankets beneath him as he thrashed on the bed. He was muttering, but you couldn’t understand what he was saying.
“Captain Rogers?” you repeated, stepping into the room. You put your hand on his shoulder, gingerly, bracing yourself for what you thought would be the inevitable - Steve leaping from the bed, forgetting where he was and most likely attacking you. You’d seen it countless times in other injured agents.
As soon as your hand hit his shoulder, Steve let out a shuddering gasp, his entire body trembling from head to foot. He turned on his side, curling in on himself, a horrifying groan leaving him.
You dropped to your knees beside the bed and took his hand. That was when you realized that what you thought was sweat trickling down his cheeks was actually tears. You cupped his cheek in your hand, your thumb brushing the tears away.
“Steve?” you whispered.
His eyes opened and the fear you saw in them made your heart twist in your chest.
“Bucky’s dead,” he murmured.
“Steve, I…” You swallowed around the lump rising in your throat. Was it possible he’d remembered what happened to his childhood best friend?
He rolled away from you with an angry grunt and buried his face in the pillow. “I...I remember a train...and Bucky falling, his screams…”
You could barely hear him, his voice muffled by the pillow. His shoulders shook, the sight breaking your heart into pieces. Without hesitating, you slipped into the bed beside him, one arm sliding around his waist, the other pressed to the center of his back. There was barely room for both of you in the small bed; you had to plaster yourself to his back to keep from tumbling to the floor.
Steve stiffened, his body rigid in your arms; he wasn’t even breathing.
“I’m sorry, Steve,” you whispered. “I’m so sorry.” A tear slid down your cheek as you rubbed circles in the center of his back while murmuring what you hoped were soothing words. After a few minutes, he went lax, exhaling a slow breath.
“I’ve lost everything,” he sighed.
You had no words, nothing you could say would change what had happened. Steve had lost everything, not once, but twice. The life he’d built after he’d come out of the ice, the people he loved and cared about, that was gone, like a wisp of smoke in the night air. He remembered none of it. Not only that, but he was suffering from the loss of the life he’d known before World War II, a life he had now lost twice in his long lifetime. It was as if the universe and whatever God was out there were conspiring to destroy Steve Rogers. You were afraid they were succeeding.
You weren’t sure how long the two of you laid in the tiny bed, crammed together, but it was long enough that not only were you dozing off, but you thought Steve might be too. You didn’t want to move, didn’t want to leave; not if your presence was even a small comfort to Captain Rogers. You’d stay as long as he needed you.
Steve huffed loudly and rolled over, your arm sliding off of him. For a brief moment, you considered slipping out of bed and going to your room, until Steve reached for you, pulling you into the circle of his arms, hugging you to his chest, his chin resting on the top of your head, a contented sigh leaving him.
Not in a million years would you have ever imagined that you would be falling asleep, snuggled in the arms of one of the men responsible for your husband’s death.
Funny how things worked out.