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For I have Kissed Thee a Thousand Times

Forehead Kiss

Sometimes, he wishes everything could be normal. Not that he doesn't appreciate what's happened to him— even if he resents little pieces of it. But he can't really hate what he has or what's happened in his life, because it brought him to her. His beautiful Russian spider with a temper as fiery as her hair and wit as sharp as one of the knives she wields like an extension of her hand. The reason he handed Fury $10 back on the helicarrier, although he'd never tell the other man that.

"Why'd you do it, Nat?" he whispers into the darkness of the room. The smell of sterile equipment and the iron tang of blood makes his nose itch, but he doesn't move. Not while his very own sleeping beauty is wrapped up in bandages that cover her marred flesh. He's seen her scars, has kissed and tasted and caressed every one of them, but nothing weights more on his heart than the ones she's gained now.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Her lying in a hospital bed and him with nothing but a broken arm to show for the battle. It should be him in that bed, not her, because a day passing without the sight of those beautiful dense jungle green eyes, that beautiful Cupid's bow curved into a seductive smirk, is a day he's not living.


"Cap, you gotta get outta there!" his earpiece crackles as Sam screams out a warning.
He wants to listen to his friend, he wants to get out of there, but he can't. Not without her by his side. He knows the danger of going back into the fray, where there could be more grunts waiting for him with guns and RPGs.

"Cap, if you don't get out in five minutes, the whole things gonna collapse on you."
"Thank, Sam, but I'm not leaving without Nat."

He can hear boots pounding against the concrete floor, signaling the incoming grunts. As soon as he steps into the hallway, they are shooting at him. All he can hear is Sam screaming in his ears to get out and Natasha's voice completely nonexistent, but he has to find her. He has to.

So he presses on, throwing his shield at the bad guys and blocking bullets that ricochet off of the metal. There's the sound of something like a gun from one of Tony's video games charging up in the background, but his shield is on the other side of the hall, still taking down bad guys. He brings his body down into a crouch and waits for the hit but at the last second, when he can almost feel the heat whiz over his head, something small yet with a large amount of force, pushes him out of the way.

This scene isn't what he had in mind when he, along with Natasha and Sam, followed one of the many lead's they've gotten on Bucky over the last few months. He and Sam had been doing a horrible job of finding him on their own and then, like a godsend, Natasha returned to save him one more time.

Now, he shakes his head to ward off the coming dizziness of being slammed into a wall and turns to see what hit him. The sight has his stomach in knots. Natasha is curled up in a ball of the floor, fiery hair spread out like a halo, and there is a man standing above her with what looks like a plasma gun. Without thinking, he tackles the man and manages to break his neck, cursing when the weapon goes off at hits one of the other men, but at least it isn't pointed at them. Once all of the guards are taken care of, he turns back to her.

"Nat…" he whispers, shaking her shoulders. "Natasha, wake up!" She groans and coughs, bring up little beads of crimson liquid that drip from her mouth. "Why? Why would you do something like that?"

"Wouldn't you like to know," another cough and blood splatters across her chin and hand. "Cap, you've gotta…" she cringes as the pain washes over her, "you gotta get out of here."

"Not without you," comes the stern response as the red, white, and blue hero picks up his fallen partner, being careful not to rub against what looks like a horrible burn running up and down her side. He leans down to pick up his shield, putting it on his arm to protect them from any further bullets, and leaves the building.

(End Flashback)

As soon as they'd gotten to the newly named Avengers Tower, Banner had gone to work on the Black Widow. She's taken a large hit to the side and the burns were going to leave scarring, but she would be okay, eventually.

"Hey, solider," comes a rasp from his left. Jolting, he's at her side, looking down at her with worried ocean blue eyes, scanning her face for any wisp of pain.

"Hey." His voice is rough from sleep, but hers sounds like she's been a smoker for years. "Do you need anything? Are you in pain? Should I get Banner?"

She reaches out, her hand shaking, and takes his chin in her hand. "I'm fine." She rubs her thumb over a familiar scar on his cheek. "Are you okay?" Her eyes are full of concern as she looks him over, a frown marring her features as she notices his arm in a sling. "You're hurt."

"It broke when you threw me into that wall," Steve sighs, grabbing her and interlacing their fingers. "I still can't believe you did that, Nat. What were you thinking?"

"That I couldn't let you get hurt." She turns away from him as a single tears slides down her cheek. "I'm expendable, Steve, but you're like the blood of this country. They need you."

He shakes his head, almost in disgust as she presses her face into the pillow, wincing as she rubs the sheets against her bandages. "And I need you." His voice is strong, but she can hear the crack in it. "Please, don't ever do that again."

She rolls her eyes, but they're full of tears and concern and something akin to love that it almost breaks him. "I don't make promises I can't keep." She bites her lip as she pulls him down to her level, looking straight into his eyes.

"Just remember that you're not expendable to me…" he whispers. Natasha sighs and pulls him closer, pressing her lips against the warmth of his forehead, unmarred by scars.

"Thank you," she breaths against his skin as the painkillers kick in again and she drifts off to sleep, clutching his hand tightly against her chest as she does.



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