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Five Times Tony Touches Other People's Stuff (and One Time He Breaks His Own)

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The first time Tony tries to use one of the other Avengers' gear, he nearly hits himself in the face. It's a mixture of a few of problems that Tony can hear himself going over in the debriefing.

One: overcompensation for weight, even though he knows how light vibranium is. The shield is big enough to cover the torso of a six-foot tall supersoldier; how was he supposed to know how light it was? Tony will blame it on something about a glitch in Jarvis' newest physics model, and Jarvis will let him.

Two: terrible aim. Tony will blame it on a lack of depth perception due to half of his HUD going out in a power surge, which Bruce will tell him makes perfect sense, scientifically. Thor will start to protest until Natasha holds up a hand and subtly shakes her head.

Finally, three: an awful pull at his gut that Clint will happily tell him was balls-to-the-wall panic.

But why shouldn't he be panicking? Tony looks down the alley at the twenty-foot, blue flamed blaze that kept Steve trapped down here in the first place. His HUD is helpfully telling him that the only way out is up, and that's great - or, at least, it would be, if the fall hadn't damaged the repulsors beyond reckoning. If the top of the building weren't more than fifty feet overhead. If he enough power to lift himself and Steve beyond the staggering height of a dainty hop.

"Cap? Cap! Hey, c'mon, old timer, you're worthless to me unconscious." Tony crouches next to Steve, grabbing his shoulder and shaking hard.

Nothing. It takes something the size of a mack truck to knock Steve out for more than a second, so when Tony gets nothing more than an extremely undignified head loll, it's time to freak out. Just a little. Clint and Thor are both ringing in his comms, voices crackling and asking urgent questions that probably need answers. He ignores them.

The Bronx is a mess for five city blocks, but Tony is convinced that he and Steve have landed in the epicenter of total shit. The fire is pressing hot at the end of the alley, closing in at a slow pace that Tony frankly finds melodramatic; the building to his right is toppling over, brick wall buckling outward; the building to his left has no doors or windows for several floors. Seriously? The dumpster toward the back of the alley is overflowing with something that Tony is fairly certain is month-old Chinese takeout, and isn't that just the goddamned icing on the cake?

...there's also that fire escape hanging directly over their head from the collapsing building, the ladder a tempting fifteen feet away in its locked position.

Maybe that's somewhat useful.

Tony's eyes drift to Steve's shield, still strapped to his arm. "I'm gonna have to borrow this." He almost sounds apologetic - almost - as he pulls the straps off of Steve's forearm, metal ringing against metal as he has to remove the shield with some force and ends up lightly knocking himself in the chest with the thing.

"Shit, sorry..." But it's not as though Steve is awake to scold him, so Tony isn't sure why he bothers.

He looks down at the shield, taking its edges in two hands, hefting it a couple inches in the air to test its weight. It feels like nothing... but then, the ladder is high. Tony tilts his head upward, the helmet's display zooming in on the latch to the ladder for him as he stands.

Right. So this should be nothing. Ultralight, throwable projectile, a lever that you can see from twenty feet away? This'll be fine. How does Steve throw it? Tony holds the edge in one hand, arm across his chest like a frisbee... no, that's not how he does it. There's force to it, like a discus.

“Okay... here we go.”

Tony's never thrown a discus. Or anything resembling a discus. Oh, hell. He winds up anyway, arm stretched out behind his back instead.

He remembers the shield hitting the latch on the latter and letting out a victorious whoop – followed by his HUD beeping about an incoming projectile.

“Oh, shit.”

It's only out of sheer luck that Tony manages to duck out of the way, the ring of the shield loud in his ears as it flies over his head by near inches. He looks over his shoulder in time to see the shield skitter across the pavement in an undignified, decidedly uncool looking fashion before lodging itself firmly under the dumpster at the end of the alley. The one with the aging chow mein spilling out of it.

“Yeah, well, whatever,” he mutters to himself, practically able to hear the lecture from Steve already. Something about being responsible with the rest of the team's gear.

He turns back to look at the ladder that's now hanging a manageable foot off of the ground and can't help but feel proud of himself. Never mind the fire that's still closing in, or his busted suit that can't get them past anything bigger than a crack in the sidewalk, or the fact that he's going to have to carry a six-foot-something supersoldier in a fireman's carry over his--

“Tony?”

Well, scratch one of those problems off of the list. He looks over to see Steve staggering to sit up from where Tony had left him on the pavement a few feet away, shaking his head to try and clear the dizziness that Tony is all too well aware of.

“Hold still,” is Tony's only reply as he moves over so that he can scan Steve through the suit – pupil dilation, apparent heart rate, oxygen intake. Unsurprisingly, everything seems to be in good order, but it never hurts to check – not that he'll never admit to actually being worried. It only takes a few seconds, but Steve still manages to look perturbed in that short amount of time. He never seems to like exactly how much Tony can see from behind his helmet.

“Tony, where--”

“We have to go, Cap,” Tony says urgently, turning back to look at the flames that are rapidly pressing in closer. The suit is working harder to keep its internal temperature down, and cooking inside of it has never been on Tony's to do list. “When we're out of here, you're going to tell me what the hell happened that knocked you on your ass for a good three minutes. I thought that your freakish limbic system could withstand that kind of shit.”

“Where's--”

“The suit's busted. We're going have to head up to the roof. I'm assuming you can walk?” He stands up, offering Steve a hand. “I'll have to get Jarvis to send a signal out. We're going to need a pickup. Are you--”

Tony,” Steve interrupts, this time with that voice that Tony associates with giving orders – and lectures. His Cap voice. “I need you to tell me where my shield is.”

“...oh. Um, well...” Tony turns his head toward the dumpster without even thinking about it, and Steve, the bastard, has the sense to follow his gaze.

Something that probably used to be kung pao chicken hits the center of the shield with an odd mixture between a vibranium ringing and a disgusting plop, and Tony knows when they get out of this, he's probably going to get even more familiar with the Cap voice.

Once Steve has gone to retrieve his shield, wiping the food off of it with deliberate motions that seem unbecoming of them being in a slightly life threatening situation, they manage to get to the top of the building largely without incident (Tony slipped once – it doesn't count) up the ladder. The quinjet drops by within minutes, and Barton loads the two of them in with an amused smirk.

They all sit together in the back in battle-exhausted silence, Clint next to Tony, Steve across from the two of them. While everyone else has loosened their proverbial tie knots, Steve hasn't even taken off his cowl, gloves still on, shield propped up against his knee.

Clint looks between the two of them like he desperately wants to say something, but Steve speaks up first, leaning over his knees and the shield so that he's closer to Tony as he gives him a steady, stern look. Tony's still several feet away, but he feels like he should be leaning away. You know, for his own safety.

“When we get back,” Steve says, absolutely serious, “we're going to have a talk about you being responsible with the rest of the team's gear.”