Agent Ryan leaped up from her seat as Steve entered the room, looking guilty for having sat down at all. "Absolutely, Captain Rogers," she said, saluting yet again. "I'll wait outside." She was quick to escape, much to the amusement of the little family she'd been paying close attention to in his absence.
"Was it something I said?" he asked to no one in particular as the agent quickly retreated. "Anything left?" he continued. "I'm starving!" He forced a smile for his family's sake, relieved to find them as safe as he'd left them, and tossing a wink at Martin, as if admitting to his hunger was some personal joke between the two of them.
"There's sausages and mashed 'tatoes, and peas, and pudding!" Lianne told her father cheerfully from where she was sprawled on the bed, her head in Martin's lap.
Lucy chuckled painfully at their daughter's enthusiasm, Jamie held in her arms. The toddler had finally succumbed to his exhaustion and was fast asleep, his thumb stuck firmly in his mouth. "Everything said that needed to be said?" she asked, keeping it vague on purpose.
"And did you eat all your peas, little lady?" Steve asked, moving to tickle his daughter lightly in hopes of eliciting a little light-hearted laughter. "Yep," he told his wife. "Nat's on it." He really didn't need to say much more than that, until later, when the kids were asleep. "What do you say to staying overnight in your parents' old quarters? Maybe we'll even make a tent. It'll be an adventure!" he suggested, hoping it would make not going home a little less painful at least for one night.
"We stay here for sleeps?" Lianne asked, her sleepy face brightening. It had been a long day for all of them, and bedtime for the children wasn't far off anyway.
"I think that sounds wonderful," Lucy agreed, her own smile far more relaxed than it had been before. She hadn't liked being separated from her family, and this way, she wouldn't be.
"All of us, together," Steve told them, just to make that point clear. He and Lucy weren't being separated from their children tonight or ever. "As soon as we get the word, but until then ..." he said, lifting Jamie out of his mother's arms and tucking him in beside her instead. "... we are going to make do here. Lianne, can you tuck yourself in on the other side of your brother?" he asked, meaning Jamie. Steve looked to Martin, who was really too big to squeeze in with the others.
"C'est bon, Papa. I will sleep in the chair for now," the boy volunteered.
Lucy raised her brow as Steve settled the children to bed already. "I am capable of walking, you know," she pointed out. "We could just go back to our quarters. I know Clint's out there."
"We'll go in a bit," Steve explained, giving Nat or Clint time to go over the room again and make sure it was clean. "Besides," Steve said, snatching up an unopened tray of food. "I'm hungry!" he told them with a grin. The fact was that he hadn't eaten in hours, and while his enhanced metabolism could withstand hunger longer than most people, he also burned a lot more calories than the average human.
Perched on the edge of the bed, with Lianne drifting off and Jamie already asleep, Lucy smiled at her husband. She could tell he was still tense, still pissed off, but he seemed happier in himself, which suggested to her that some kind of plan was underway. "It's good food," she nodded. "Agent Ryan enjoyed it, too, didn't she, Martin?" Lucy hoped that the children didn't know why she had insisted Agent Ryan eat a little something off everyone's plate, including Steve's, but thankfully the agent had been more than happy to do so.
"Non, Mama," Martin interjected, disagreeing with his mother on just one small point. "She said she doesn't like peas," he told his parents with a small grin of his own. He was feeling better, too, now that his father had returned. It wasn't that he didn't trust Agent Ryan, but he just felt safer when his father was there, especially after what had happened today. "You're not going away again, are you, Papa?" Martin asked, uncertainly.
Steve frowned at his son's question and glanced to Lucy, as if for help.
"I stand corrected," Lucy laughed carefully, her fingers gently stroking through Lianne's hair. Martin's question, however, made her smile fade as she caught Steve's eye. "We're going to go somewhere safe," she told their son gently. "Papa needs to come back and make sure that the people who did this to us can't do it to anyone else. But he won't be alone. He'll have Uncle Tony, and Nat, and Clint, and Uncle Johnny, probably. And he will call us, every night, won't he?"
"Every night. Promise," Steve assured both his son and his wife, realizing Lucy needed to hear that promise just as much as Martin did. "You trust me, right?" Steve asked them both. "Everything's gonna be okay. I promise," he said, reaching over to ruffle his son's hair. "Why don't you try and get some rest? I'll wake you when it's time to move."
Martin frowned, but nodded his head. "Oui, Papa," he said, feeling as exhausted as his siblings, but more worried. He curled himself up on the chair and Steve set his dinner aside a moment to tuck an extra blanket around him.
Lucy watched quietly as Martin settled down in the chair, her eyes traveling to where Steve was polishing off his own dinner. "I wish none of them had had to see that, this morning," she said quietly. "They'll worry for you. I'll worry for you."
"I'll be fine, Luce. It's you and the kids I'm worried about," he replied as he finished off his dinner, which truth be told, only put a small dent in his hunger, but it would have to do for now. He set the empty tray aside and drew up a second chair on the other side of her, before reaching for her hand. He lowered his voice, unsure if anyone was listening. "There is nothing as important to me as you and our family. Nothing," he repeated, putting an emphasis on that word that should tell her that not even S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers were as important to him as they were.
She sighed, curling her hand into his as she leaned closer, touching her forehead to his. "I wish you weren't in this position," she admitted in a low whisper. "I never intended for you to ever have to choose, Steve. I'm so sorry." But what was she sorry for? Without his love, she'd be nothing. She certainly wouldn't be a wife and a mother. All she was truly sorry for was the decision he was now facing.
On the contrary, it wasn't much of a decision at all - at least, not to him. Things had changed since he'd met Lucy Broderick; his whole life had changed, and if he had to choose between S.H.I.E.L.D. and his family, there was only one choice he could make. "This is my fault," Steve admitted. "If it wasn't for me, you and the kids would be safe," he said, knowing it wasn't entirely his fault, but if it really was the serum HYDRA was after, they'd never stop until they had it, one way or another, no matter who got in the way.
"If you say that one more time, I am going to slap you silly," she informed him pointedly. "This is not your fault. It's no one's fault. You don't know everything, and you can't be everywhere. It's under control, love. Even I know that."
He might have said more, but he didn't trust the room not to have any hidden listening devices, and he knew Lucy would only berate him further if he insisted on the attack being his fault, at least, in part. "I shouldn't have left, or at least, I should have insisted on a full security battalion while I was gone." All the what ifs and should haves weren't going to change what had happened, and like Lucy had said, he couldn't have known.