“I think,” mused Willow, “that he kept looking for you, because you were his friend. And he didn’t want you to be left there, cold and alone. Frozen in time. He wanted to bring you home, if he could. And he never stopped trying, Steve. Never.”
She paused a moment.
“Yes…those people were poisoned by the radiation from the bomb. But—we did not know the consequences fully at the time we dropped those hellish things. It was a difficult decision, I’m sure. But…I suppose I’m not one to question history. Now—if you’ll excuse me a just a moment…”
She smiled, and went out of the room. She came back in about fifteen minutes with a large file case. She pulled out a single file, and offered it to Steve without preamble. Inside was a check-book, with every deposit and recent withdrawls scrupulously documented in Willow’s neat hand.
“As to your assumption about having no money, you could not be more incorrect. You have seventy years of back-pay sitting in that bank. We used some of it to acquire your apartment and to furnish it. I’ll arrange for a car, and we can go to any hotel you want. Consider me a shadow. It’s not my job to protect you, really…just to well, be nearby to help you get used to this time. This place.”
“To be your friend,” she said, giving Steve an unsure but real smile.
“We were friends but I don’t think we were that good friends for him to look that long.” Still there was something rather… heartwarming to know that people looked even if it was just to get ahold of his body and give him a decent funeral. After all he would have done the same for Bucky had he gotten the chance.
“Of course, how could anything other than hellish come out of dropping a bomb on people,” he frowned. He nodded and watched her leave, resting his elbows on the desk as he thought. Seventy years, it was a mindblowing amount of time that he was struggling to get his head around. Even the table was different, he realised quietly.
When she returned he took the file, flipping it open and eyeing the contents. “They really thought I’d come back?” Or was it just money from Captain America. “I take it the apartment isn’t like the ones I’m used to huh?” he said, flipping through the sheets. Howard, The Commando’s, events.. it seemed she had noted on everyone. “A friend.. well looks like you’re the only one I have.”
“Not the only one, Steve,” she said, “just the one to welcome you into this century. I was put in charge of your—well, case—for lack of a better term, when you were found. I did research…everything I could learn about your time. The apartment isn’t ready yet, because I am having it at least somewhat retrofitted. Furnished and set up in a way that’ll well—that I hope will help to ease you back into the world. Of course, if you don’t like something, it can be changed. But you’ll be able to move in a few days from now.”
She let him look over the file…inside the box was also the files on the Commandos, Peggy, Col. Philips and almost anyone Steve had known.
“The money is partly from the sale of Captain America items, and the like—some of it is back-pay. I do not know how they managed to pull that off, but someone up in command must have liked you to keep your paycheck coming for all those years.”
There was a gentle smile to her words as she took Steve’s hand again, giving it a light squeeze.
“I’ll call and arrange for a car,” she said, “and in the meantime, you can think about what, perhaps, you might like to eat or drink. You must be hungry. Excuse me a moment.”
Taking out her SHIELD-issued mobile, she dialed a number and spoke briefly, stepping over into a corner of the room to speak, low and gentle. She then put it away, coming back over to Steve with anticipation in her gaze.