Rumlow was not planning on leaving the situation alive. The Avengers had followed them, and were giving chase. He even had Captain America by himself, searching for himself and his team. The crowd surrounding them was perfect…it would make the good Captain have to hold back and be wary of the bystanders.
As soon as he spotted the soldier, Rumlow threw the first bomb, grinning behind the mask as it latched onto the famous shield, before frowning slightly in disappointment as Captain America threw both the shield and the bomb out of harm’s way. The shield hadn’t even been dented by the impact.
Not wasting time, Rumlow engaged the Captain in a fistfight, watching and waiting for his opportunity. Perhaps, if he could best the other guy in a straight fight, he might even get to keep his life and revel in the victory. As the fight wore on, it became apparent that this would not be possible. Rumlow was outmatched, and the Captain wasn’t holding back.
With both weapons gone from his armour, Rumlow pulled the mask off his face, looking the soldier in the eye to let him see the damage done from the hellicarrier.
“All things considered, I think I look pretty good,” he quipped, as the Captain grabbed him and pulled him round. Carefully, Rumlow felt for one of the bombs in his pocket, careful not to let the soldier see what he was doing.
“Who’s your buyer?” Rogers asked, sounding impatient.
Finding the bomb, Rumlow just smirked. Briefly, he considered sharing information about Bucky Barnes, Roger’s old friend, before they both perished. However, he decided against this. He had the perfect opportunity, and if he kept talking, he risked losing the moment.
“You’ll never find out,” he said ominously.
Before Rogers could react, Rumlow triggered the bomb. He was killed instantly in the explosion, gone so fast he didn’t even feel pain.
The ground beneath Wanda’s feet shook from the power of the explosion. Shop stands collapsed from the force of it. There were several moments of echoing silence, before the screams started. Wanda recognised the sound from her childhood, whilst her and Pietro had waited in the rubble of their old home next to the bomb. But she was not a child any longer, and perhaps she could do something to help.
Hurrying towards the sound of the screams, Wanda took in the devastation caused by the blast. There was a crater in the ground, and one of the buildings seemed to have had a chunk taken out of it. Somehow, it remained standing, but it seemed structurally unsound. Terrified people were running away in all directions, apart from those either dead or too injured to do the same.
Wanda took in the scene with a hand covering her mouth, blinking back tears. She stumbled forwards, before her eyes caught sight of something that made her crumble. Steve’s shield lay near the centre of the crater, dusty but otherwise undamaged.
“Steve,” Wanda murmured into the coms. “Come in Steve.”
“Wanda, what’s your position?” It was Sam’s voice, calm and collected.
“South side,” she answered, breathing heavily as she tried to remember how to deal with a situation like this. “There’s been an explosion...”
“We’re on our way,” Sam promised.
Wanda knelt with the shield, tears blinding her. Steve had always had such a calming presence...he couldn’t be dead. He just couldn’t.
It was much later when they stopped looking for any further sign of Steve. The estimated number of people killed in the blast kept rising as more bodies were found in the rubble. Wanda sat to one side. The paramedics had made her sit, and wrapped a shock blanket around her shoulders. The young woman stared ahead, not seeing the scene in front of her.
Eventually, Wanda was joined by Natasha. The Russian woman showed no outward signs of emotion, but inside she was hurting. She knew by now that they would not find Steve. He was truly gone, destroyed in the blast along with Rumlow.
“I was coming to help him,” Wanda said quietly, not turning to look at Natasha. “I thought he would need backup. If I had come quicker…” she trailed off, clenching her jaw to hold back a sob. “All this is my fault.” She took in the devastation the blast had caused…it seemed so much worse with the paramedics there.
“It isn’t your fault,” Natasha said, her voice flat as she struggled to contain her own emotions. “We don’t know that you’d have been able to stop a blast that powerful…you shouldn’t blame yourself.”
No matter what anyone said, Wanda would blame herself for many years to come.
The news was broadcast worldwide, and the world went into mourning for Captain America. In a hotel room in Cleveland, Helmut Zemo watched with dissatisfaction. Steve Rogers was one of the people he wanted dead, but he would just be replaced. The avengers needed to be destroyed. Unless they collapsed from the inside, they would just keep coming back.
He’d needed Captain America for his original plan to work, and now the man was dead. So much time planning, all for nothing. No matter. Zemo was patient, and he would wait for another opportunity. One was sure to arise, given the people that the Avengers were, and then he would stand back and let them fall on their swords.
Bucky found out from a newspaper stand. He’d gone to buy plums from the market, as he always did in the mornings, when he saw the headline from the corner of his eyes. He slowly approached the vender, exchanging a coin for a copy. He’d read it in private.
The decision to read the paper alone was a good one. Bucky was surprised to find that his vision blurred at the news. He touched his face, not able to remember the last time he’d cried. Later that night, as he tried to sleep in his make-shift bed, he cried in earnest. He’d been too scared to get back into contact with Steve, and now his chance was gone.
Bucky didn’t really remember the muscular man in the news’ pictures. The Steve in his memory was small and sickly. Someone that he needed to take care of. Someone too stupid to back down from a fight he was bound to lose. Bucky had thought that Steve didn’t need him any longer…the winter soldier was still in his head, and Bucky couldn’t stand to see his friend see him like he was. But now, he wished he’d made a different choice. He should have been there, watching Steve’s back like he always did. Perhaps if he had, Steve would still be alive.
Tony had been lucky to get the bad news from Vision, before it hit national television. The call from the surviving team would have come too late, though it was sort of nice that they tried. Despite the news coverage, it was hard for the billionaire to come to terms with the fact that Steve Rogers, overbearing goody two shoes, was gone. They’d never argue again. The shield would never be thrown to save his ass again.
To avoid processing his grief, Tony threw himself into work. He made improvements on everyone’s gear, trying not to think if there was anything he could have done for Cap that could have saved his life. Falcon’s wings would be lighter and more streamlined. Hawkeye’s arrows gained more tricks. Black Widow’s spider bites got an extra setting to stun any normal human.
It didn’t change anything. Sokovia still plagued his mind…and he should have been in Lagos, rather than giving speeches. Would it have changed anything if he was there? Perhaps, but he couldn’t know, and that niggled at him. Tony hated not knowing things.
When Ross called, telling him that the United Nations had come up with a bill for superhero oversight, Tony didn’t hesitate. The team had made many mistakes, and people had died. They needed to be put in check, and that was precisely what the bill aimed to do. A committee would deal with where and when the avengers were deployed. If that had been there before Lagos, perhaps Steve and all those people would be alive. Perhaps Tony wouldn’t have made Ultron if a committee told him no.
To the man’s surprise, the meeting did not go down well. The fact that Steve Rogers would never have agreed to the accords, combined with everyone’s emotionally compromised states led to a split vote. Tony, Rhodey and Vision agreed to sign, whilst the others refused. The press took to calling the disagreement amongst the avengers team a civil war, though that was truly an overstatement, as the team never came to blows over the issue.