The phone rings once, and Steve picks it up from his pocket immediately. Presses the phone close to his cheek, cradling it with both hands. His eyes are closed in relief and he feels back home, even in the crowded marketplace. “Thank god Tony, I thought you’d never--”
He hears a sharp inhale on the other side.
“Captain,” says a familiar voice. “I should have known Tony would hide something this important.”
“Where’s Tony?” Steve asks sharply, fear running through his veins.
A pause. “Check the news.” says James Rhodes coldly, and the line cuts off.
Steve’s team was not fast enough. They hid too well, too far from the state authorities. Stamford is in ruins, an entire neighbourhood wiped out in the explosion. The charred remains of little (too young, so young oh god) bodies are all that’s left of a nearby elementary school from the blast site.
Ironman arrived first in the scene. Managed to corner Nitro and his gang, until. He took most of the damage, but Nitro’s powers were unchecked. Uncontrollable. Over six hundred people dead, with Ironman reduced to a statistic.
A short, stocky man with claws (the only survivor) sluggishly walks behind Steve as he picks up a piece of Tony’s armor. The piece is minuscule, easily enveloped in his palm. Even the helmet was not spared.
Steve remembers easily ripping off Ironman’s faceplate to see big, brown eyes, full of tears. A vulnerable (still beautiful) face dripping blood and decorated with bruises, as Steve walked away and hid, waiting for a call.
He means to keep the only piece of Tony he has left--For what? I don’t deserve it, God--but then the tiny piece of armor crumbles easily on his fingers.
“What are you going to do?” The man with claws asks gruffly.
“You gotta think about this, Steve.” Sam implores. He’s been pacing back and forth inside the briefing room, and Steve has to hold back his irritation and stop himself from snapping at his friend. Tony paces like that when he’s worried, Steve thinks, but he didn’t push me, he isn’t--wasn’t--
“This is just one event. We’ll find another way. You’re--damnit Steve, you’re compromised.” Sharon says, gripping his arm, but he can’t feel a thing. Tony talked about compromise, Tony never wanted to hurt me--
“It’s not your fault,” Hawkeye says unnecessarily, but even his posture is hunched, defeated. Sad.
Steve’s always on the run, but his mind won’t budge. His word was always final. Steve Rogers the Unmoving.
Why didn’t you call, Tony?
Steve picks up the pen Tony offered to him. It feels warm.
He remembers the last time he wrote something on paper that meant so much.