It was the first sensation he recognized. Although he retained no conscious memory of being frozen in ice all those years, Steve Rogers could remember the way he felt when the doctors were waking him up.
And it had felt a lot like this.
Yet, this was a little different. Even though there was ice all around him, he could still manage a small range of motion. He moved his head slightly, and caught sight of a particular shade of auburn that he knew he would recognize even if he was blind.
Steve turned his head to see… Natasha… trapped in the ice with him. She was beside him, her eyes closed with her arms outstretched over her sides, almost as if in a cross position. Her lovely face almost seemed serene and peaceful as glints of sunlight sparkled off the ice around her eyes.
However, there was nothing peaceful or serene about this situation. They were in freezing ice. His body could probably withstand it, but no matter what derivative of his serum she had been given, he knew that hers wasn't designed to handle this.
The super soldier's body went into overdrive.
Steve's eyes focused.
Suddenly, on top of the ice lake surface above them, a large section of the ice was shattered into a million pieces. It almost seemed as if a bomb had exploded under the surface. Steve's blonde hair and blue uniform rose almost majestically out of the ice, the crystals falling down around him almost as if in slow motion. He quickly stepped up onto the frozen solid surface, pulling his mighty shield with him.
He knew he wouldn't need it.
Dropping the shield and raising both hands up above his head in a power fist, Steve swung down in a single powerful strike. The surface of the lake bed shattered again, this time resounding with massive cracking sounds as the elements gave way beneath Steve's strength.
Then, he reached down and wrapped his arms under Natasha's shoulders to carefully pull her up.
The spy immediately began to stir, and she suddenly looked up at him in confusion as she took in their surroundings.
"Steve?" she asked in surprise. "Where are we? What… What's going on?"
"Just hold onto me," he said quickly.
Steve's heart rose within his chest at Natasha's reaction. Without hesitation, she turned and wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tightly. The Black Widow didn't trust many people, if anyone at all. The way she responded to his voice in the midst of uncertainty gave him a glimpse of what he meant to her. From Natasha, this act of trust was monumental.
"Keep holding on," he whispered as she drew one of her pistols from its side holster and held it at the ready as she again checked their surroundings.
Sliding one arm under her thighs and the other around her waist, Steve began to sprint the short distance over to the shore. Just as he set foot on the snowy shore, he heard the loud clack of the gun dropping onto the ice.
Still floating in his arms, Natasha held up her hand and looked at it. It was shaking almost uncontrollably and quickly turning a light shade of blue. She couldn't feel her fingers.
"St… Steve," she whispered as she looked at him. "Hypothermia."
"I'm on it," he responded with haste.
The super soldier carried the spy a short way up a small hill near the frozen lake close to a forest area. Sweeping his feet under them, he cleared off a wide circle of space beneath them and lowered her down in its center. His analytical mind took note of the fact that the snow covering the ground was only light and breezy, almost like a cluster of lone snowflakes. It should have been much more rigid if the temperature was cold enough to freeze the lake completely through. He filed that information away for later and leapt back into action.
He sprinted back down to the lake and retrieved his shield and her gun. Then, he ran back toward Natasha. When he reached the shoreline, he drew back and swung his mighty shield in a wide arc. The powerful disc impacted off one tree beside the clearing and then ricocheted off two others in a semi-circle before swinging back to Steve's hand. He caught it and maintained his smooth stride up the hill. Each of the three trees had been split perfectly, and their severed top halves landed in front of Natasha in a near perfect crossing patten. Reaching them, Steve quickly scraped his shield hard across the wood, instantly igniting a small fire. He then fanned the flames to give them strength. Surprisingly, the atmosphere wasn't very frigid, but he couldn't let Natasha's condition get any worse. He had no idea how long they had been under that ice.
The spy looked up at him and managed a smile. Her body was shaking and trembling uncontrollably, and she couldn't feel her own skin at all. Her lips were trembling and her muscles were clenching, and she used her arms to cover herself in an attempt to generate what little warmth she could.
It wasn't working. She was freezing. She was fairly certain that it wasn't life-threatening, but it was extremely unpleasant.
Steve was more worried than Natasha. After making certain that the fire would endure, he stepped over to Natasha and sat down behind her, extending his legs out on either side of her and pressing his thighs against her waist.
He then leaned forward and wrapped his large arms tightly around her, drawing her firmly back into him and enveloping her small frame. He held Natasha's trembling body close and tight, trying to add his warmth to her own.
"St… Steve?" Natasha whispered quickly.
"Yeah?" he answered.
"Not … working," she said through teeth that were nearly chattering. "We … We need … shared bodily warmth. Like … survival … training."
He had already thought about that. He just hadn't planned on suggesting it.
"Right," he answered quickly, standing up behind her.
Despite all her trained detachment, which she had been slowly trying to lose in favor of attempting to live something of a normal life, she had to fight to resist the urge to turn around. All reports stated that the super soldier was absolutely the perfection of the human male species. Natasha was a deadly assassin, but Natalia was still the woman inside her, and contrary to popular opinion, she did sometimes feel some measure of womanly desire. She had been feeling much more of these intermittent pulsing desires ever since the first day that this gorgeous man had been brought back to the world. She didn't want to embarrass Steve, but she was totally certain that he wouldn't have anything to be ashamed of. Still, the thought of his discomfort more than anything else kept her from ogling him.
Steve stripped off his suit and hurriedly sat it down next to the fire to warm. With only a little hesitation that he hoped she didn't notice, he again sat down behind her and reached forward to grab her uniform zipper to pull it all the way down past her navel. The spy hurriedly shimmied her arms out of the top of the uniform and let it fall past her shoulders. She then pushed it down to her waist. The slender spy leaned to her side and waited for Steve to follow through. They had become flawless partners over time, learning each other's hints and clues and responding without fail. After only a moment's hesitation, she felt his large strong hands pulling the garment down over her waist. The redhead shimmied her hips to help slide it down to her thighs, and then she leaned forward to slip off her boots and the rest of the uniform. With her hands still shaking profusely, she leaned forward again to finish undressing.
Natasha suppressed a slight gasp as she felt Steve's large muscular arm slip underneath her thighs. Bracing her slim back against his broad chest, the soldier lifted her as if she had only the weight of a mere leave and was a delicate as a flower. She watched him spread his heated uniform below them before he lowered her back down to the ground so gently that she barely felt it. The warmth of it did very little to help her condition.
After a few more moments, Natasha felt the hard, hot, and heavenly feel of his glorious pectorals pressing against her back. Noting that she didn't shy away from their skin to skin contact, Steve slid forward and enveloped her chilled body. He raised his knees up, and kept her thighs set between them. Then, he wrapped his muscular arms all the way around her torso and placed his hands over her own on her shoulders.
She could just start to feel the warmth emanating from his enhanced metabolism which always kept his skin heated. He held her close and tight, and although the spy felt vulnerable and exposed since she had no control over the motor functions of her freezing body, she reluctantly accepted the safety and comfort of his arms.
The spy had always felt so cold inside, and the soldier's warmth seemed a perfect counterbalance for her. They held each other for several long moments.
Being this close to Natasha, which had unwittingly happened in his dreams far more times than he cared to admit, Steve was surprisingly able to control his mind and keep it from wandering, but controlling his body was a different matter entirely. He had felt a slight arousal, despite the cold, when he had helped her to undress, and he had told himself that surely there would be no increase of this given their situation. Having her soft, velvety skin against his own, it seemed, proved to be too much. Unable to use his legs to restrain his anatomy, he had carefully tried to tuck himself low under her, hoping not to cause an issue.
That hope was fading fast. She just felt too tender, too vulnerable, too good. He felt movement below. He sincerely hoped she wouldn't notice.
No such luck.
"Wow," breathed the sexy redhead with a smile in her voice. "Even this cold doesn't stop your metabolism?"
"What?" asked Steve.
"Well, is that a shield in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
"Oh! I'm sorry, Natasha," Steve said quickly, starting to slide himself back from her. "Sorry about that. I…"
"No. No. It's okay, Steve," she told him, taking a firm hold of his fingers to keep his arms around her. "I'm just joking. It's okay. Really. I'm just feeling drowsy from the cold and I'm trying not to pass out. I'll take it as a compliment."
Steve hesitated for a long moment before he relented. "Okay, if you're sure?"
"I'm sure," she looked back up at him to show him her smile. "You shouldn't be embarrassed. You certainly have nothing to be ashamed of. It's just a physical reaction. I understand."
"I… I don't mean to offend you, you know?"
"You can't offend me, Steve," she said comfortingly. "I've gotten to know you a little over the years. I'm good with you."
The two of them gazed into one another's eyes for a long moment. Both of them glanced down at the other's lips, but kept themselves from moving forward. After a short tenseness, they let the moment pass, and snuggled into one another again.
Their little awkwardness had produced a surprising effect. They felt closer to each other, even more comfortable, sharing a unique intimacy together. Natasha drew a deep breath and laid her head back, allowing him to lay his cheek against her own. They stayed that way for a long time, both of them deriving more comfort from this closeness than they had imagined.
"You rest. I'll keep watch," Steve said quietly as he watched her eyelids flutter.
"Where are we and what are we doing here, Steve?" the spy drowsily wondered aloud.
"We're going to find out. Rest now," he said comfortingly.
Steve watched as her lovely face slumped against his cheek. Instinctively, he drew her even closer, holding her more tightly to keep her warm. He knew that she was going to be fine. It was morning, and the rays of the sun seemed to be heating up the atmosphere almost unusually fast. He decided he would put the fire out soon. At this rate, it would be a strangely scorching day.
The analytical soldier evaluated their surroundings. The locale was actually quite beautiful, perhaps the most idyllic scenery he had ever laid eyes on in all his travels. In the process of defrosting, the lake was sparkling like a diamond as the sunlight fell over it. The snow was a pure gleaming white, unlike any he had ever seen before. The air was crisp and clear, and his heightened senses deduced that it was devoid of the normal pollution of everyday life. This place seemed like something out of a dream.
Wherever they were, they seemed to be safe for now. The only thing he had to be concerned about … was the beautiful woman in his arms. He held her close and tight, trying to warm her body ... and her heart.
Some time later, Natasha's eyes sprang open suddenly as she sat up with a gasp.
"Steve!" she cried out.
Her chest was heaving as she tried to catch her breath and her skin was flushed and sweaty. She hurriedly looked around her to get her bearings.
She was in some kind of a small tent. Steve had either found shelter for them or had erected it himself from survival things he had gathered. She knew that he was a very resourceful man. While her ingenuity had been learned and practiced, she greatly admired his natural ability to overcome any obstacle placed before him. It was just one of the many things about him which stirred this reluctant attraction within her.
The spy tried not to admit to herself how much she missed the feel of him around her. She couldn't stop thinking about the way he had touched her. He had held her as if she were his most precious jewel or his most treasured gift. Steve had always had a captivating manner about him which she had tried to resist. With her, he had exhibited the perfect combination of the chivalrous gentleman and the manly brute. While the reputation of The Black Widow caused most men to fear to even speak to her or much less touch her, the soldier had never hesitated to manhandle her. He had shown no reticence when he had draped her over his hip to escape an exploding bomb, when he had slammed her against the wall in the hospital, when he had crushed her body against his own as he had thrown them out of a crashing car, or when he had held her protectively against him as an entire army base had exploded around them. The spy often had to try to not think about just how much her skin liked his touch.
Right now, her skin was burning up. The noon day temperature felt like it had to be near one hundred degrees. In her travels, she had been all over most parts of the world, and she had learned to gauge temperatures fairly well. It seemed almost impossible to have been cold enough to freeze a lake earlier and now be hot enough to boil an egg in the sun.
The garments covering her didn't help her situation. The chivalrous soldier had left her with his uniform over her and her worksuit underneath her, effectively providing a makeshift bed for her to sleep on. The spy couldn't suppress a grin. The man knew how adept she was at combat, how she had a high threshold of pain, and how formidable she was in battle, and yet he still went out of his way to try to make her feel like some kind of princess. Things like this could make it difficult for her to remember to keep him at a distance.
Well, she certainly wouldn't need this clothing in this heat if she didn't want to pass out from either dehydration or exhaustion. With a deft skill, the spy slipped a knife out of her uniform and began to cut it apart. She decided she would leave the spare material in good enough condition to be used as protection against the elements if needed. As she worked quickly, she could hear his approach off in the distance.
Steve walked around the far edge of the lake toward the tent slowly. His search had found no sign of communications, but he had found many indications of previous life there. The trip had turned into a scavenger hunt. There had been many useful things left laying around everywhere, from poles already tied together to large scraps of cloth to even some scuba gear which had been left behind.
He had made certain to erect a small protection for Natasha before journeying farther, making a precise mental map of their environment. The temperature of the day had quickly risen to a scalding heat, and he had made his last and farthest circle of the area in just his waist combat undergarment and his shield. Natasha would need some food to fully regain her strength now, and he was anxious to get back to her.
To his surprise, she was already up and moving, seemingly in near perfect health as she walked out of the tent and made her way down toward him. Steve gazed up at her as he walked up from the lakeside, and his mouth involuntarily fell open.
Her beauty was stunning as she walked down toward him. She had made short work of her uniform. It was now made into a kind of makeshift bra top, leaving as much of her torso exposed to the air as possible. Her thin, well toned athletic waist was also open, but the heat still caused a light sheen of sweat to make her body glisten in the sunlight. She wore her black underwear underneath a wrap of her uniform which she had tied around her as a kind of towel dress. Her slim legs and feet were bare as she walked with perfect balance on the uneven sand toward him.
Steve couldn't take his eyes off of her. Natasha was stunningly gorgeous like this. The sight of her was more captivating than all the beautiful coastlines in the world.
When he spoke, his voice gave her pause. He didn't speak to her like a soldier talks to a comrade, or as a partner talks to a sidekick, or even as friends address one another. He spoke to her … the way a man speaks to a woman.
"I knew you would look terrible in a bikini," he said in a husky whisper.
Natasha was unable to find her voice. Her lips moved slightly, but no sound issued from them. She inaudibly cleared her throat and then tried again.
"Thank you, Steve," she said warmly. "For taking care of me. I owe you again."
With those words, she stepped forward and leaned up to kiss his cheek. Steve stepped toward her and leaned down, turning his head slightly.
The kiss she had intended for his cheek… touched the side of his mouth. Their lips brushed with a gentle, subtle contact, but neither of them pulled away. After a long moment, they finally stepped back, trying to ignore the obvious tension between them. She managed a brief smile to accommodate his awkward grin.
"You're welcome," Steve whispered intently.
Then, moving very slowly and deliberately, Steve stepped forward and leaned down toward her again. His large hands settled tentatively on her hips, just barely grazing her.
However, this time, their lips didn't graze at all. They kissed full on. Steve's lips moved against Natasha's firmly, and just this soft contact immediately opened up a world of desire for both of them. No matter how hard she tried not to, the spy was unable to resist the impulsive urge to open her mouth and deepen the intimacy of the moment. Their tongues touched and their breaths deepened. Her small hands found their way to rest on his firm broad chest before sliding upward over his shoulderblades to tangle in his golden hair. His hands then took a strong hold on her hips to draw her closer until her supple breasts pressed against his torso. After what seemed a moment too long and infuriatingly too short, they parted and stepped back from one another. Both of them were breathless and near panting, but they tried desperately not to let it show.
"How was your little … morning jog?" the spy said, a thinly veiled attempt to restore some semblance of normalcy to their relationship.
"Well, we're definitely alone on this island. No one in sight for miles. There are a lot of things left around from other inhabitants, but for now its completely deserted."
"So, what is this then?" Natasha asked with a wide grin. "Are you supposed to be Gilligan and I'm Mary Ann? Or are you the Professor and I'm Ginger?"
"What?" Steve said with a deadpan expression.
"It was a tv show called Gilligan's Island," she told him with bright eyes. "It was about seven castaways stranded on a deserted island and…"
"I know what it was," he cut her off firmly.
Natasha's happy gaze faltered under his stern tone. Then, his glare morphed into a boyish grin, and she smiled back at him. Unlike when she joked with him in the army base about the movie 'Wargames,' this time there was no danger around them, and they could enjoy the levity of the moment.
"Is there a way off this island or are we really marooned here?" she asked.
"There's a central cluster of islands off the coast. We have a better chance of finding comms there. You sure you're well enough to travel?"
"Try and keep up, super soldier," the spy said as she strode past him at a brisk pace. "Can you travel when they close the Smithsonian fossil exhibit?"
"That's hilarious," he said, unable to hold back a laugh.
This was going to be quite an adventure.