He leaned low over the front of the bike as he roared through the snowy forest. The sounds of gunfire and explosions boomed all around him. He followed close behind the tracks that Natasha and Barton were leaving in their jeep. He snarled in fury as he snagged one of the HYDRA soldiers out of the air, slamming him into a tree.
A near inhuman snarl emerged from his mouth as he hurls his shield at one of the firing HYDRA soldiers. Ever since the fall of HYDRA and the rebuilding of SHIELD, the Avengers had been battling with the terrorist group, trying to rescue one of their own.
Sy. His ward, his teammate, his friend. His sister in all but blood. The seventh, final and youngest member of the original Avengers team. She’d been held prisoner within HYDRA for nearly nine months after having been captured the previous September. Guilt clawed at him as he used an embankment as a ramp to jump over a squadron of enemy soldiers. It had been partially his fault that she’d been caught by the terrorist group. He, Tony and Bucky had been fighting and forced her to intervene. In the aftermath of the fight, HYDRA had attacked while they’d been weak and vulnerable.
And they took her.
Now they were going to get her back. He landed hard, pulling around to roar down the road in the opposite direction. The Hulk roared as he tore through soldiers. Steve and Bucky raced on either side of an open air jeep that Natasha was driving as they advanced on the HYDRA base. The whirring of machinery behind him signaled to Steve that Tony and Sam were behind them, providing aerial support. The crackle of lightning and the green mist filling the air were their two resident gods. Everyone they knew, every ally they had, had come together to help rescue the youngest Avenger.
He and Tony had been forced to work through or put aside all of their problems over the last few months. Finding and rescuing Sy took all precedent. He jumped over another embankment, shield swung defensively in front of him as they cleared the final major lines of defense that HYDRA had set up.
Steve swerves hard, avoiding the fierce fighting as he focuses on the goal. She was being held in one of the final major HYDRA outposts. That outpost was the Sokovian fortress he finally had in sight. He threw his shield at another group of soldiers, knocking them off balance so that Bucky could pick them off easily.
“Shit!” Tony’s voice suddenly echoed through the comms unit.
“Language.” He commented without thinking.
“JARVIS, what’s the view from upstairs?” Steve asked. The cool automated British voice answered immediately.
“The central building appears to be protected by some sort of energy shield. Strucker’s technology is well beyond any other HYDRA base we’ve taken.”
“She has to be here. Strucker wouldn’t have bothered to mount such a defense without her.” Thor growled through the earpiece. Steve wove through the trees, wheels skidding over snow as he sped towards the fortress.
“This is Chitauri enhanced technology. She must be here.” Loki added, fear and anger evident in the trickster’s voice. The god and Sy had a close friendship that Steve didn’t fully understand. It had something to do with debt and control. At first he’d thought that the trickster was in love with Sy, until he walked in on the god giving her a serious lecture on the dangers of men and how she would be best to swear off of them entirely. It had been pretty entertaining to watch her chew the god out over letting her make her own choices and how her dating life was none of his business anyways.
Loki blamed both him and Tony for her capture and had yet to forgive either of them. It made for tense mealtimes most days. Not that the god was wrong. Steve wasn’t sure if he could ever deserve that forgiveness, and he didn’t think he would ever forgive himself . But none of that mattered anyways; forgiven or not, he just wanted Sy safely at home in New York.
“At long last, we will bring her home.” Thor muttered. They were all feeling the same jittery anticipation of finally bringing their friend home.
“At long last is lasting a little long boys.” Natasha reminded them. Steve frowned, gunning the bike even harder. He punched another soldier, and grabbed his buddy out of the air, tossing him into another flying HYDRA soldier.
“Yeah, I guess we’ve lost the element of surprise.” Clint voiced sarcastically. Steve heard an explosion through the comm’s mike. Tony piped up again.
“Wait a second. No one else is going to deal with the fact that Cap just said ‘language?’” Steve almost smiled at the familiar banter that had nearly disappeared after Sy had been taken.
“I know.” He groaned good naturedly. Steve grunted as he turned the bike in a tight circle before leaping off. He lifted the entire bike up, tires still spinning, and hurled it at the oncoming HYDRA soldiers. The resulting crash caused the tank to flip over and burst into flames. He stood up slowly, ears ringing from the crash.
“It just slipped out.” He said helplessly. Bucky snorted through the comms unit.
“Sure it did.” Steve glared at the sky, since his wayward best friend was fighting somewhere else. He noted the Iron Legion flying overhead; Tony’s way of minimizing civilian casualties.
“Buc- James you’re different. You can’t use curse words as commas. Not when we were kids and not now.” He shot back as he threw his shield, catching it when it came back. Steve sprinted through the forest, battling his way towards the massive fortress.
“Yeah yeah yeah.” Bucky mutters back.
“Clint!” Natasha cries over the mike. Something slammed into Steve, nearly knocking him over. A blue and white blur vanished into the woods.
“We have an enhanced in the field.” He related to the rest of the team.
“Clint’s hit! Somebody want to deal with that bunker?” Natasha snarled through the mike.
“The big guy and I got that.” Sam said. A minute later a huge crash echoed through the forest.
“Thank you.” She quipped distractedly. Steve nodded to nobody in particular as he fought his way ever closer, reassured that the most of his team was still ok. He hurled his shield, hitting a group of soldiers. He turned and his fist connected with a satisfying thud against another one. The soldier flew back and crashed into one of his buddies.
“Stark. We really need to get inside.” He panted. Tony’s response was clipped.
“I’m closing in.” No matter how much the two of them have worked to patch up the problems in their relationship, Steve couldn’t help but still see the gaping hole that remained. A Sy shaped one.
Steve glanced up to see Thor and Loki fighting side by side in perfect harmony. Steve fights his way over to the two brothers.
“Drawbridge is down people.” Tony announced. Steve summons his shield back with a magnet. He jogs over to the godly duo.
“The enhanced?” Thor asked. Steve sighed.
“He’s a blur. All the new players we’ve faced, I’ve never seen this. In fact I still haven’t.”
“Clint’s hit pretty bad guys. We’re gonna need a second evac.” Natasha reported. Steve felt irritation well up inside of him. Who knew what kind of shape Sy would be in when they got to her. She’d been a prisoner for months. But almost immediately he felt guilty. Barton was down and needed the evac. It happened in battle. People get hurt, and it wasn’t Clint’s fault he got hit.
“No. I’m fine, I want to help. I want to get her out.” Clint rasped through his own comms unit. Steve could hear the pain laced through his voice. Steve shook his head and glanced at the two gods. Thor nodded at him.
“I’ll can get Barton to the jet. The sooner we’re gone the better. You and Stark find Sy.”
“Copy that.” Steve replied nodding sharply. He glanced over the ridge, where a dozen soldiers and a tank were advancing on them.
“Looks like they’re lining up.” Thor commented blandly. Loki looked annoyed.
“No. Don’t do the thing. Don’t.” Steve raised his shield up in front of him, angled towards the HYDRA agents and Thor began to whirl his hammer.
“Well, they’re excited.” Steve replied casually.
“ And they’re doing the thing.” The trickster god sighed, backing away and raising a magical shield in front of him. A resigned expression crossed his face as the trickster braced himself. Thor hit Steve’s shield with his hammer, and the two of them recreated a much more controlled explosion than the one they’d made all those years ago when they’d first met. The blast sliced through the HYDRA ranks, clearing Steve and Loki a path towards the fortress.
“Find her. Bring her home.” Thor intoned before flying away; the smell of ozone the only trace the god left behind.
“And for gosh sake watch your language.” Tony added in sarcastically. Steve let a small smile slip across his face at the tease. Even if it was annoying progress, he wouldn’t have traded the barbs for almost anything after the months of tense and overly formal behavior between the two of them. After last fall, his and Tony’s friendship had taken a hard hit. This small sign of hope was all he needed to fuel him.
“That’s not going away anytime soon.” He groaned before sprinting towards the fortress imprisoning one of the most important people in his life.