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You had been staring at the ceiling for hours, unwavering while the room full of scientists, psychologists and doctors swirled around you like worker bees trying to figure out how to clear the Winter Soldier from your mind before it had completely taken over your persona. The memories were becoming clearer and more vibrant in your mind with each passing hour, but the essence of who you are was still in there behind it all, fighting to stay at the forefront of the muddled mess that was trying to silence you once and for all. Every so often, Nick or Phil would stop to stand next to you, looking down with both regret and anger at the situation, but never once aimed at you; for you, they felt overwhelming responsibility for letting you back into the world of the Avengers when they had worked so hard to pull you away in the first place.

"We could try TAHITI," Nick offered quietly, "but this isn't what it was built for. It would take some pretty significant modifications, and there's no guarantee that it would even work."

"No, I'm completely against that," Phil argued. "Take that off the list right now."

"That's the only thing on the list, Coulson. We have nothing else."

"Then we have nothing else. We have to do better."

"You could put me out of my misery," you mumbled to yourself, but you knew that they would pick up on it.

"That's not funny," Nick challenged, "so lock that down. I'm only listening to reasonable solutions, do you hear me?"

"Mmm hmm."

Phil snickered under his breath and crossed his arms tightly, shaking his head in his own amusement, "see, this is why she's dating Stark. They're the same animal."

"I'm not dating Tony."

The two men at your side exchanged cautious glances, having a full conversation in one look without a word being spoken. In the hours that you had been in their care, Tony had tried to contact them more times than they cared to count, each attempt becoming more desperate and harder to ignore. It had come to be that they finally couldn't stop the inevitable, and unbeknownst to you, he was in the building with you now, only not allowed to see you.

"I think you should probably tell him that, (Y/N)," Nick offered softly. "I'm pretty sure he thinks that you are."

Those were the words that finally made you turn your head to break your focus from counting ceiling tiles over and over; it wasn't a surprise to you that Tony was feeling that way, but rather the fact that other people beyond your immediate team knew about it as well. "He's here," you answered flatly, knowing that you were right.

"Yeah, about an hour ago," Phil answered for Fury. Your friend took a single step closer to you and knelt down at your side, bringing himself to your eye level rather than to continue the awkwardness of towering over you for any longer. "(Y/N), listen," he began quietly, "if you don't want him here, I'll take care of it. If you want him here, then I'll get him. This is your call to make, no matter what the guy standing behind me thinks. Director Mad-Eye can stare at the back of my head like he's imagining my murder all he wants, and I'm not changing what I said. This is up to you."

"I'm not imagining your murder," Nick scoffed, "I've already seen that, remember?"


Tony was actually much closer to you than you realized; he had been just on the other side of a two-way mirror and watching as the group worked around and on you with infallible focus. His anxiety was at a high as he tracked the movements of each person, pissed that he wasn't able to hear what they were saying and vowing to make learning lip reading higher on his list of things to get done. There were far too many moments when he wanted to smash his way through the glass and demand answers, but he held back not only for you, but because the two super soldiers standing against the wall behind him wouldn't allow it.

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