Tony’s been missing for thirty hours now, and Steve hasn’t been able to relax since he got the phone call. His jaw aches from how he’s been unable to stop clenching it; same with his fists.
"Status," he barks, and Natasha’s voice comes over the comm almost instantly.
"No sign of him. I’ll try to be more persuasive."
As she turns her two-way comm off, Steve hears someone choke the start of the word ‘please.’ He hopes the next words out of his mouth are ‘please stop so I can tell you everything,’ because otherwise things aren’t going to go well for the guy, Natasha-wise.
Honestly, Steve kind of hopes Natasha is a little too hard on him. He’s directly involved with the guys who have Tony, and right now he’s the only person they have who can tell them Tony’s location.
"Barnes," Steve says, putting his hand to the earpiece. "How are we?"
"Not good," Bucky answers, the line crackling. "No-one knows shit. They just tell us the same thing-"
"Captain," Natasha says in his ear, and Steve sits up in his car. "We got him."
Over the line, Steve can hear a man’s cries of pain, and he’s not particularly concerned when they stop suddenly even though Natasha’s line is still live. “Sending you both the co-ordinates now,” Natasha says.
"Break every speed law known to man," Steve says, talking as he jams his keys into the slot and twisting them. He checks the co-ordinates as he hears them both say, "Yes, Captain," and spares a second to say, "Good job," before he hangs up and tears out of the parking lot.
They get there just as the explosions start.
The first one rocks Steve’s car, blows his windows out, and Steve gets out of the car with several bits of glass embedded on his skin. He rips them out- they’re shallow- and wipes the blood away distractedly as he heads towards the epicentre of the explosions that used to be an abandoned warehouse and is now a crater.
Smoke runs thick, and Steve coughs out, “Check- check everywhere,” and Natasha and Bucky both nod and cock their guns as they run. The warehouse is half-falling down but it has most of the ceiling and walls, and they run room to room to find nothing.
Down the hall, Steve hears a shout, and it’s not Tony but he runs for it anyway, Bucky and Natasha in tow. There’s half a dozen men standing and more of them on the ground, and there’s Tony in the middle, throwing some sort of lightbulb-grenades at whoever gets close enough. Someone tackles him and Steve aims, but Tony is biting at the man’s hand and jamming broken glass into his eye and the man jerks away to scream and then get shot in the chest by Steve.
They take out the rest of them, but they barely have to raise their guns. Mostly, it’s Tony: Tony with his self-made weapons, Tony executing clumsy movements that they taught him weeks ago, Tony drawing blood and stopping lungs and only pausing for breath when all the men are on the ground, lying around him.
"Jesus," Bucky says, a combination of proud and impressed, and Steve runs to Tony, who limps towards him and half-collapses into his arms.
"Out, we need- countdown-" Tony is coughing harder than Steve, and Steve remembers the asthma attacks that stopped so many years ago.
"Yeah, yeah," Steve says, and there’s a fire somewhere, and the smoke smothers them, clinging over their mouths and noses, making them choke. They stumble through hallways, through big rooms and finally out into the air that they gulp in, stomachs heaving.
"Go," Tony manages, clawing at Steve and slapping his shoulder. "Go, we need to go, there’s another bomb-"
They make it clear in time, but only just. This explosion nearly knocks their cars over except for Natasha, who parked further away and just gets a fine sheen of rubble coating her van.
Steve stares at what was a warehouse ten minutes ago, and Tony yanks and Steve goes and they all pile into Natasha’s van and speed away before the sirens come.
Tony is bleeding, he has burns on his arms, but it could be worse, considering. “They took me cause they didn’t agree with my latest decisions in SI,” Tony says after he’s drained half a water bottle. His grin is wild, bloody, and his fingers are singed. He laughs. “Guess they learned not to give me pointy things.”
Natasha’s driving, Bucky’s in the passenger’s seat, Steve and Tony are sprawled out in the backseat, and Natasha glances in the rear view mirror, her lips pursed in the way that means she’s suppressing a smile. It comes anyway, small and adrenaline-wrecked.
"Stark," she says, and Tony’s head rolls to look at her, and Steve catches what looks like taser marks on the back of his neck.
"Have we ever mentioned we’re fucking glad you’re on our side," Natasha says, and Tony’s laugh is near-manic. He has blood in his teeth from where he bit someone, and Steve doesn’t like the look on him, but it doesn’t look wrong, either.
Tony’s movements are charged, electrified. He’s bright-eyed and jumpy, he has a bruise darkening over his right cheekbone, his clothes are battered and torn on him, as is some of the skin underneath.
He looks like he could take down a whole army with his hands and a tool kit.
Steve supposes he could.