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Under Fire

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The attack was over in seconds, but the alarms didn't stop blaring. Cursing to himself, Steve ran for the lab level, and Tony. There had been no indication of danger at all prior to the attack.

The helicarrier lurched under his feet, throwing him off his stride for a moment as it began listing to starboard... or whatever the term was for a flying aircraft carrier. Grimly, Steve caught himself on the wall as he stumbled, keeping to his feet, and kept moving.

The lab level, as it turned out, had been among the hardest hit and possibly even the target of the attack. Debris littered the floor, small fires burned merrily throughout the level, and smoke drifted through the corridors unobstructed save for the various cave-ins of the flimsy ceiling tiles that had happened.

Steve, wishing he had his uniform or shield, carefully forced his way into the lab itself, breathing slowly through his sleeve to filter out the worst of the drifting soot and smoke, looking for Tony or Bruce, but hoping he wouldn't find them. Hoping they'd made it out. He hadn't found any bodies -- unconscious or dead -- yet.

Through the haze, he could make out the lab, now, most of the delicate equipment lying shattered and broken on the floor. The large room was eerily empty, quiet save for the occasional spark coming from the broken electronics and scientific instruments. The smell of burning plastic was nauseating. Or perhaps it was the nagging worry over Tony and Bruce.

It was difficult to tell.

Wanting to shake his head at his own thoughts, Steve carefully crossed the room, pausing when the helicarrier lurched underfoot once more, and forced the door on the far side open. Once it did open, he stopped dead. The hallway beyond had been obliterated, leaving the lab door to open on empty air. The same could be said for a large half-circle of deck above and below the lab. The smell of burning chemicals and hot metal came and went with the gusts of wind rushing through the now-open area.

Suppressing a sigh, Steve turned, leaning carefully against a nearby section of intact wall. Now what?

He couldn't easily go farther, and neither scientist had been responding to the hails he had heard Hawkeye making over the comm as he'd left to begin his search. He *really* should have stopped to get his gear, Steve reflected wryly. Rushing in like this had been stupid. But then, he'd made a career out of rushing in where others hesitated.

As he turned to make his way back through the lab, the familiar roar and high-pitched whine of thrusters quickly grew in volume. Steve snorted to himself. Trust Tony to have a suit within arm's reach at all times. The red and gold armour came into view, climbing slowly through the levels of the helicarrier. Probably keeping an eye out for him, Steve realised, and called out to his teammate. "Stark!"

"Cap! I thought you'd left to join the real party by now."

"What party?"

"Didn't Clint tell you? And where's your uniform?"

"No, and I didn't have time to grab it."

There was a moment of silence from the suit. Steve wasn't sure whether that was an indicator of surprise or Tony's brand of planning. Which tended to lend itself to being as fast and dramatic as possible. "Fine," he said, breaking into Steve's thoughts, "I'll give you a lift. Come join us on the top deck when you're suited up." Without another word, he swooped in close, threw an arm around Steve's waist and hauled one of Steve's arms over his shoulders. "Don't look down."

Luckily heights didn't bother him. "Don't drop me," Steve quipped, answering in kind.