Debris rained down onto Steve's shield as he tried to block himself from the explosion. Great, he thought, as he dodged another rocket. First faulty info, then a small army, and now rocket launchers. It must be a Tuesday.
It had been months since the incursion with Ultron, and Steve finally felt that the New Avengers were getting their footing. Their training had started off rocky, what with trying to work with Wanda and Vision's powers, but the progress they've made was immeasurable. Sure, it wasn't the old team, but Steve still found himself enjoying the new kids on the block.
For one, Clint wasn't there to be late to training. Or fall through vents. There was actually edible food around because Thor was back on Asgard. Bruce was long gone, so collateral damages had decreased immensely. And of course, Tony wasn't there to blatantly disregard his orders. Or put himself in danger. But Clint wasn't there to crack his jokes. With his easy going Iowa smile and quick wit to lighten the darkest of moods. And Thor wasn't there to charge into the harshest of battles, all while laughing at his side. Bruce wasn't there, with his quiet reserve and calming reassurances. And Tony. Tony wasn't there. To challenge him, to keep him on his toes. To treat him as Steve Rogers, not Captain America. The only one to make him feel -
"Cap, look out!" Natasha cried.
Steve ducked just in time to avoid part of a collapsing building. Keep your focus, soldier. He couldn't keep lingering to Tony now, not with the mess they’re in. But where is he??
After Ultron, the best way to describe Tony was a broken man with a full retreat. He joked about starting a new life with Pepper, leaving avenging behind, but Steve knew a front when he saw it. After all, it was not too long after the Avengers moved into his tower that Tony had stumbled drunk onto Steve's floor when Pepper left him. Steve and Tony were still walking on eggshells around each other after New York, but that night changed everything. While Steve thought that Tony was all flash and no heart, he was actually more broken than himself. Steve stayed with him the entire night, letting him cry, scream himself hoarse. Then, he took Tony back to his floor, laid him in bed, and took a silent vigil over his teammate. When Tony woke up the next morning, hungover and depressed, he asked, "Why are you even here Rogers?" Steve had just walked up and handed Tony some Advil and water. "Because, that's what friends are for." Of course, it wasn't long before the too realized that once they got over trying to get under each other’s skins, they made quite a pair. Iron Man and Captain America were an unstoppable force, just as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers became inseparable. And of course, it wasn't even too much longer for Steve to fall for his best friend. Steve had lost count of the number of times he had gotten lost staring into his eyes. How they seemed to brighten up any room as Tony blabbered happily about a new upgrade. Or his hands. Steve had always thought that having artist hands was a blessing, but he didn't even compare with the hands of the engineer. How amazing it was, that those simple calloused hands can take a tiny idea, and make something as beautiful as the Iron Man suit. But his favorite was Tony's smile. Not the fake, paparazzi smiles, the ones like hardened plastic. No. They were the small smiles that Steve got when he handed Tony a fresh cup of coffee, like he was almost shy. Or the unexpected ones, where Clint would crack a joke and Tony would smile so broadly that even his nose would crinkle in amusement. But then Ultron happened. And Tony left. Sure, he was ‘just a phone call away’ but that could never fill the hole in Steve’s heart.
Speaking of which. Steve glanced down at his tracker, and sure enough, it was still blinking. Even though he wasn’t a full Avengers member now, Tony still decked them out with new tech. Not long ago, he sent Steve a ‘get out of jail card’, a tracker connected to Tony, for when he got too deep. Like now.
The Avengers had gotten tips that there were more illegal shipments of vibranium hanging around, so they had been sent out to the different locations to locate and retrieve the vibranium before it ends up in the wrong hands. The Vision, Wanda, and Rhodes were off somewhere in Asia, while Steve, Natasha, and Sam tackled the potential spots in the states.
It had taken Steve about 10 minutes to realize that their intel was wrong, and push Tony’s tracker. Their communications had been cut off from headquarters, and the warehouses where the vibranium was supposedly located were completely abandoned. Once the trio had exited the last warehouse, however, they found themselves surrounded by a small army of mercenaries. Which they still were, now.
“We’re running out of options, Cap,” Sam breathed over the comms. He was shot down from the sky about an hour ago, and was holed up, on the upper balconies of one of the buildings.
“Well maybe you just aren’t thinking hard enough,” Steve retorted. He flung his shield at the closest enemy while tackling his partner.
“We need evac, now. There isn’t any vibranium here; it was all a set up. The sooner we can get out of here, the better,” Natasha said. “I still haven’t been able to reach headquarters, so we’re still on our own. If we wait here too much longer, they’ll flank us, and we’ll be done for. You got any more bright ideas, Captain?”
“Yea,” Steve said while looking down at the tracker. “Just a little while longer.”
“We don’t have that kind of ti- shit!” Some of the mercenaries had climbed up two the second floor, pinning down Sam.
“Falcon, do you copy? Falcon! Sam!” Steve pushed his way across to the next building where he found Natasha. “Nat, go find Sam. I’ll cover you.”
“No buts, I’ll be fine. Get him, and we’ll start to pull back.” Steve grabbed the closest soldier, and used his weapon to fire on his companions. “Go!”
Natasha hopped over the crumpled buildings and dashed inside, taking down men as she went. Steve glanced down at the tracker again. Come on Tony, please. Using his shield as a fulcrum, Steve managed to flip a smashed car to use as cover.
Natasha’s voice filtered through the comms, “Cap, I’ve got Sam. We’re retreating through the south exit. Get out of there.”
Steve, peering over the car, saw that there was no way he could get past the horde of men to reach the south exit. But, he could buy his teammates some time. They could reach their drop zone, and connect with headquarters. “Negative, Black Widow, I’m going to have to try option B. Get to the drop zone. I’ll meet you there when I can.”
Steve began to hear Natasha’s protests, but it was blocked out by a beeping sound. The tracker. Steve grinned.
“Captain America. We have you surrounded. Come out with your hands up, or we will kill you,” a soldier yelled.
Steve took a deep breath. Show time. He strapped his shield onto his back, and with his hands up, he slowly stood up from behind the car. He could still hear Natasha and Sam screaming in his ear, but he blocked them out. He counted each of the remaining soldiers, their guns, and potential weaknesses.
“Well, well, well, Captain America. It’s funny how you claim to defeat gods, and here you are, surrendering to me,” the man sneered. “Your team has abandoned you, you have no communication, and no more flares to contact anyone. Surrender now, and make this easier for everyone.”
Steve chuckled. “No more flares you say? Out of all of the people here, who is A – wearing a spangly outfit and B – not of use?”
The soldier looked around. “What?”
“Don’t you get it? I am the flare.” The mercenaries got about five seconds to comprehend before a red and gold suit blasted out from the closest building, taking out two men, and scooping Captain America up in the air.
Steve couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re late,” he gasped as they zoomed through the different buildings. They finally touched down at the furthest warehouse before the faceplate opened revealing a smirking Tony Stark.
“Fashionably,” he said with a wink.
Steve couldn’t help it; he swept his best friend in a huge bear hug. “Thank you for coming,” we whispered into the cool metal of the Iron Man suit.
“Well, you asked so nicely, I couldn’t refuse. Besides, kicking some ass with you sounded a lot better than a board meeting,” Tony beamed. Steve watched in awe as Tony’s eyes darted around the room, taking in every detail to use to their advantage. He’s gorgeous like this.
Steve snapped out of his head, returning to his Captain America façade. "Well, minus the ones you already took out, we’ve got thirty two mercs left, all with heavy artillery, and experience.” Steve smirked at Tony. “So, let’s wrap this up, and be home for dinner. You in?”
Tony’s faceplate slid down. “For you Cap? Anything.” Steve’s heart fluttered. Turning to the east, Steve heard the army break down the doors and flood the warehouse floor.
“Let’s do this.” Tony gave Steve one final mock salute before engaging the enemy. Steve watched as Tony swooped through the air, as effortlessly as usual, his combat style as fluid as a waltz. How he was able to make a rigid metal suit flow so smoothly through the air was always a mystery to Steve. Steve shook his head before entering the fray himself. With his new backup, Steve couldn’t have foreseen any problems.
It wasn’t long before the numbers within the warehouse began to decrease, either with a shield to the head, or a repulsor beam to the gut. Steve was almost giddy. This is how it should be, him and Tony, side by side. He turned to watch Iron Man punch someone through the wall, only to feel a sharp pain in his side.
He barely had time to gasp in pain before he heard a strangled “Cap!” right behind him.
Tony flew up, and incased him in a metal hug, blocking any other raining bullets. “It’s ok, just a graze.” Steve could already feel the serum working in his favor.
“That doesn’t make me feel any better. Come on, we’re leaving.” Tony picked up Steve bridal style, and shot off towards the roof. Only for a well-timed explosion to take out his thrusters. Both men fell back to the floor hard, luckily behind some barrels for cover.
“Shit,” Tony whispered. He glanced back over at Steve who had already picked up another gun, and was back to the fighting as if nothing had happened. Tony rolled his eyes. “Come on, Capsicle, we need to get out of here.” He made a move to stand up only to be forced back down by the weight of the suit. “What the -?” It clicked in Tony’s mind. EMP. Crap. Steve had said they were experienced. They must have planned for everything, and everyone. “Shit, shit, shit, shit,” Tony mumbled under his breath as he tried to reconnect his systems. He dove into the gauntlet first; they needed some firepower.
“Tony?” Steve saw the comforting blue of the arc reactor was gone. He paled. Sure, Tony didn’t need to survive with one anymore, but still, no arc reactor, no Iron Man. This also meant to more comms for Steve. Steve saw Tony already ripping through the wires of the gauntlet. Right, buy him some time. But they had no time. Steve glanced down at the now empty barrel of his gun. “Uhh, Tony? Now would be a really good time for a new escape plan.”
“One second, almost there,” Tony mumbled, his fingers moving over the wires at lightning speed. “Aha!”
Steve saw the repulsor come to life, and he helped drag Tony to a standing position. He was too busy helping his friend to notice that the shooting had stopped. Once he was standing, Tony whipped his gauntlet over the boxes locked and loaded. Only to come face to face with an empty warehouse. Tony and Steve exchanged confused looks before looking around the warehouse. “Maybe they gave up?” Tony’s head swiveled across the warehouse floor before he froze. Oh god.
A bomb. They left us in the warehouse with a bomb and, Tony glanced down, yep, something tells me these barrels are flammable. Glancing back at Steve confirmed that he had come to the same conclusion.
“Come on!” He yelled, only to be stopped by the dead weight on Tony’s suit. Tony looked back at the bomb, and then at Steve. We’re not going to make it. Not with the suit down. Oh god. “Go.” Tony pushed Steve towards the rear doors.
Tony could almost hear the gears turning in Steve’s head. “No. Absolutely not.” Steve tried to pick up Tony, but with side still bleeding, the pain was too much.
“Cap, the suit’s dead, you need to –“
“I’M NOT LEAVING YOU HERE.”
Tony looked up at Steve’s face. Open concern clouded his clear blue eyes. Those blue eyes that could get him through any storm, those blue eyes that he dreams about. Those blue eyes that won’t be open anymore if he doesn’t do something. Tony glances down at his repulsor, at the bomb, and then lastly, at Steve. “I’m sorry, Steve.”
Before Steve could reply, Tony fired his repulsor at Steve, sending him flying through the rear door. Tony collapsed back to the floor and he heard the beeping of the bomb stop. He closed his eyes. I’m sorry.
Steve groaned as his body was flung through the outside of the warehouse and onto the pavement. His mind finally caught up with him, and he tried to stand up. He needed to get back in there. Steve took one step before a fiery explosion pushed him back to the ground.
Steve could feel the heat scorch his face and uniform, and the debris flying everywhere. He looked up only to be faced with a collapsed and burning warehouse. Time froze.
No. No no no no no no. Tony. TONY!