Spoilers for Infinity War
You've been warned.
No one had quite been able to process what had just happened. Friends had dissolved before their eyes. The weight of the lives lost fell heavily upon all of them. This... They had lost fights before, but never like this. Worse was the fact that they had no time to lick their wounds. Wakanda was in disarray. They had to get into the city. Had to help the injured and put out the fires caused by people disappearing from the world. Steve wound up at the vibranium mine, hauling out people that had been stranded when one of their cargo pilots vanished. The unstable vibranium they were transporting had fueled a big enough explosion to cave in a section of the mine on top of the survivors. It had taken hours to save the people inside.
When he made it back to the city, Okoye asked him to sit in on the call to debrief the governments they had been able to get ahold of. Some of the ones that had answered their call weren't even world leaders. They were secretaries and body guards and advisors. All of them were briefed on the events; all of them were told why their people had disintegrated around them. None of them knew what to do.
Steve felt the sturdy satellite phone T'Challa had given him a while back when it vibrated under his protective suit. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to answer it, but he stayed attentive to the meeting. When Okoye finished talking to the various, now slightly more informed, governments, she signed off and turned to Steve.
"Perhaps you should get some rest, Captain. We do not know what comes next, but it will likely need your full strength." She told him, her voice strong and certain. Steve knew she was still reeling from the jarring loss of her king; for the second time in far too close of a conjunction. Her brave exterior was as strong as any soldier he had ever fought alongside and he admired her greatly for it.
"I doubt I can sleep. There are still people around the city needing help. And even more around the world." He shook his head gently. "Someone has to-"
"Captain, I appreciate your dedication. But you cannot save the world tonight. Let us take care of that. We will likely need your full strength soon. A night of rest could mean you save more lives tomorrow than you could have tonight." Okoye insisted gently. Her formal attitude dropped for the briefest of moments and she gave him a fragile smile. "And if there is a way to undo today's events... Perhaps fighting Thanos again... You'll need your strength."
Steve warred with himself inside, then gave a curt nod of his head. He would go. Try for a bit of sleep and in a couple of hours he could be back on the streets to help. It chafed against him inside, knowing that he could be helping, but a couple of hours would help to heal his battered body. It could save him from potential failure later. Just a couple of hours.
He went out into the halls, heading for a room Okoye had assigned to him. He was near it when he saw Bruce and Natasha in the hall. Their heads were bowed, expressions grim. Steve offered a tight smile, though it came out as more of a grimace, when they looked up at him.
"Were you kicked out to rest too?" Natasha guessed knowingly. Steve nodded.
"I'm only going to rest a couple of hours, though. I want to get back out there." He replied. Bruce sighed, raising a shaking hand to the back of his neck.
"I know we all need a break sometime, but I don't like this... I could be helping." He said nervously. Nathasha put a hand on his back, her eyes looking at him sympathetically before they turned back to Steve.
"He was helping with the medical relief staff, but they told him to rest because they couldn't afford to have him start making mistakes." She phrased it as gently as she could, but Steve still saw the man flinch. He reached out to give Bruce's arm a light pat.
"It's not easy, but try to get some down time. We can get back to helping soon." He assured him. Bruce frowned.
"And then what? We spend the rest of our lives doing damage control from Thanos' destruction?" He inquired bitterly. He looked angry; an expression Steve wasn't used to seeing on Bruce's face unless he was busy turning green.
Steve looked at the floor. A leader should have something to say at a moment like this, he was sure, but he felt just as lost and angry as everyone else at the moment. "We'll..." He started, projecting more confidence than he felt. That died in his throat when he saw the tired, hopeful expressions on their faces. He sighed, unable to hide how lost he was. "We'll figure out what we can do as soon as we get people safe here. Then, we either hunt down Thanos or travel to help the next city we can get aid to. We hope and pray and try. It's all we can do for right now."
Bruce nodded slowly, fidgeting with his hands in that nervous way he did. Natasha gave Steve a nod, then put her arm around Bruce and started herding him towards one of the rooms gently.
Steve let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding, closing his eyes tiredly. Then he startled as his phone began to buzz again. This time, he fished the device out from under his body armor and opened it to a familiar caller ID. He hit the answer button as he renewed his stride towards his temporary room.
"Steve?" The voice on the other end asked worriedly. Relief flooded over him at the sound of it.
"I'm here Phil." He replied. He arrived at his room and stepped inside. It was nice. At least that was the quick impression he got before his full attention turned back to the man on the other end of the phone.
"Are you okay?" Phil asked, his tone thick with worry. Steve lowered himself onto the bed, laying back and not caring that he was getting the covers dirty. A hand came up to cover his eyes as his heart gave a painful throb.
"Yeah... No... I don't know..." He breathed slowly, trying to quell a crushing wave of panic rising in his chest.
"Tell me what happened?" Phil's tone was gentle, like he knew exactly what Steve was feeling, how much he was hurting right now. Steve felt the tension eke out of his body and he sighed heavily.
"We lost... we lost so many... so badly... Bucky... T'Challa... Wanda and Vision..." Tears slipped out of his closed eyes, cutting tracks in the grime and soot and dirt on his face. "Everyone... We lost and now so many..." Phil listened quietly as Steve explained all that had happened. By the end, Steve felt like he was choking out every word. Part of him wished desperately that Phil was here with him. He wanted that warm comfort that came with having his love close. But he also knew that Phil would have fought alongside them and that chilled him. Coulson was still a strong agent; still very good in the field, but Steve couldn't stand the thought of him facing down those multi-armed monsters from earlier.
"Steve?" The Captain startled, realizing he had gone oddly quiet for a moment.
"Sorry. Sorry, I'm... Just thinking through it all..." He replied quietly.
"I know. I know." Phil said gently. "Just... We'll get through this, okay?" His voice was firm and certain, everything Steve wished he could be at the moment.
"How can you be so sure?" Steve asked, so softly he was almost surprised Phil could hear him.
"Because it's what we do. Because we have to. Because there are still heroes left alive and breathing. We won't stay down." The man stated firmly. Steve felt a swell of hope for the first time since the battle ended. He couldn't explain why, but he believed every word Phil said.
"I love you." He said suddenly. They hadn't said it before. This was the first time. But Steve knew how lucky he was that Phil was even living right now. Lucky that both of them were.
"I love you too Steve." There wasn't even a pause of surprise in his reply. His words were heartfelt and relief washed over Steve upon hearing them.
"Oh thank god." He breathed. Phil chuckled softly.
"Are you that surprised?"
"To be honest... I kind of am." Steve admitted softly.
"Well we can't have that. I'll have to show it more next time I see you." Phil answered. Steve could hear the smile in his voice.
"You should come to Wakanda." He blurted out, before wishing he hadn't. He did want Phil to come; wanted him close and safe, but he knew Phil too well to think he would put his own safety over that of the people around him. Phil's ensuing silence attested to that.
"I think I have a better idea." The man countered softly. "When I'm done here and you're moving to help somewhere else, I'll meet you there. Then we can see each other and still help the people that need it."
Steve thought for a moment. "Okay," He agreed, "on the condition that we bunk together when we have to rest."
Phil gave another of the quiet chuckles that Steve loved to hear. "Deal." Another knot of tension seemed to release in Steve's chest. It didn't erase the pain of today's fight, but it did help ease it a little. "Speaking of resting... You probably ought to be doing that."
Steve rolled onto his side, cradling the phone next to his ear. "Then I'd have to stop talking to you... I'm not so sure I want to do that."
"You could leave your phone on." Phil offered. Steve heard him shifting around a little and guessed that he was laying down somewhere too. "I can set the call to end in a few hours and we can both rest. It'll be just like sleeping in the same room. Sort of."
Steve decided he liked that idea. Plus there was one of Wakanda's wireless chargers by the bed, so he wouldn't run out of battery. "That sounds good." He moved to lay on the bed properly, putting his phone on speaker and setting it down on the wireless charge pad. He heard a little shuffling and a click, perhaps Phil plugging in his own phone, and then the telltale sound shift as the phone went on speaker from Phil's end.
"Can you still hear me?" Phil inquired, voice quiet.
"Yeah." Steve replied. He sighed softly as the exhaustion of the day started to overtake him. "I love you Phil."
"I love you too Steve. Sleep well."
"You too." Steve mumbled. Or he thought he did. It was hard to tell, as sleep swam up over him. The last thing he heard was the reassuring breathing of Phil next to him. The whole universe might be falling apart, but at least he still had one point of hope to hold onto.