Work Header

Looking for You (I'm Lost) in the Desert

Work Text:

"This is it," Natasha said, looking up from her tactical tablet and motioning at the expanse of sand surrounding them.

Steve shielded his eyes with his hand and looked around. He'd been walking for ten minutes from where they'd crash-landed the quinjet, following Natasha, who was following their best estimate of where Tony should've hit the ground. The high-tech missiles that had disabled the quinjet had caught Tony first, and he'd fallen out of the sky like a stone. It'd felt like Steve's heart had plummeted right with him.

Even though a minute later, the quinjet had taken a hit as well, and they'd had some very tense moments and a rough landing that'd ended up with the 'jet half buried in sand, Steve hadn't quite been able to shake that sight of the red and gold figure disappearing among the dunes. They hadn't seen or heard from him since; the quinjet's communications array had been damaged in the attack, and since it was Stark tech, similar to what was in the Iron Man amor, it was possible his was equally out of action.

Either that, or he was unconscious, or worse, but Steve didn't want to think too much about those alternatives.

They needed to find Tony, and fast.

"This looks like a dozen other places we saw on the way, and there's no sign of Tony," he told Natasha. It was unfairly snappish. It wasn't as if it was her fault that he wasn't there.

"It's not his actual location, just the best guess we've got," she reminded him, much more patient and calm than he was. "I think we should split up here. I'll climb up that dune, you take the other side."

"Okay, let's do that," Steve agreed. It made a lot of sense. They were in a valley between dunes with a very limited view of the area, and getting to higher ground would help them spot Tony, if he was anywhere in the vicinity.

He hurried up the sandy incline, wishing the ground were more solid so he could get more purchase and move faster. He wondered if Tony might've ended up buried in sand. If he had, they might not be able to find him before they got the quinjet back in the air and all its advanced scanners functioning, and by that time, it might well be too late.

After a few long minutes of climbing, Steve reached the top of the dune. At a glance, the view opening up in front of him was the same in every direction: a deep blue sky and a sea of sand, an unchanging, monochrome stretch of undulating hills continuing all the way to the horizon. It was the kind of view that'd give a city kid agoraphobia. So vast, and so lonely.

Shifting his eyes away from the skyline and to the nearer distance, he realized there was, in fact, one fleck of color breaking the uniform sandy beige: a splash of metallic red reflecting the sunlight in the very next valley.

"Natasha! I found him!" Steve shouted as he started half running, half sliding down towards Tony.

Steve was only some hundred feet away, but it was still difficult to estimate whether the armor was intact, or rather, how badly it'd been damaged. The fact that it was on its back, looking like it hadn't moved since it'd landed there, didn't bode well at all for the man inside.

Steve was about to call out for Tony when he heard Tony's voice.

"I've waited long enough! I swear, if you don't let me get up right now, J, you'll spend the rest of your days as the most advanced camel traffic control system the world has ever seen," Tony complained.

The relief was so overwhelming, Steve stumbled and barely avoided ending up on his face in the sand. Instead of any kind of a coherent sound, all that came out of his mouth was breathless laughter.

Everything was going to be all right.