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Keep Your Enemies Close but Your Friends Closer

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Present Day

"Steve! We have to go!" Tony yelled, blocking Steve's path to the entrance.

"I can't hold them much longer Tony," Hawkeye warned from the ramp on the jet, his arm a blur as he shot arrows. Everyone was already on it, ready to leave. Everyone except for 3. One wasn't going to make it. One was trying to save him. And one was trying to save the other.

"I can't leave him!" Steve rushed forward only for Tony to push him backward. Steve stared at him in disbelief trying to get past him, "Tony we can still-"

"No! Steve look at me," Tony said firmly as the fight got more physical, "You can't-" He blocked a swipe Cap made with his shield with his arm, eyeing him warily. The two engaged in a struggle, their arms locked and Tony finally cursed under his breath and blew Cap backward with a pulse from his palm.

Steve landed in the torn up and charred grass and he struggled to his feet, groaning and already starting forward but Tony had finally gotten a hold on his wrists. "Cap! Steve! That's enough," Tony yelled. "They're already inside. You go back in and they'll kill you. You hear me? You go back in, you die!"

Steve knew he was right. He grit his teeth as hard as he could and shoved Tony off him, yelling a curse at the top of his lungs with a broken voice. Glaring at Tony, even though he knew he had just saved his life, Steve turned around, almost pulling at his hair as he jogged backward and headed for the jet. Steve's breathing was rapid and he picked up his pace, turning it into a sprint. He jumped for the jet and rolled inside as it took off, Tony landing beside him.

The ramp closed up and the jet sped off, the last of the bullets that were on target pinging off the back. Then they were in the sky after one small jolt.
Spiderman stumbled over, tapping Tony on the shoulder, "Wait but we left- Bucky's still- Tony what about-"

"I know kid," Tony said sadly.

"Oh," was all Spiderman said, sinking into a seat next to Wanda who was healing a gun shot graze on Sam.

Steve was still on the floor, shaking, every color dulled, ever sound muffled. There was a ringing in his ears and his eyes were clouded by hot tears of fury. His heart was filled with disbeliefe. He flinched as a flashback overtook him.


"Buck! Bucky!"


The 4 HYDRA agents grabbed him from behind, shoving a syringe in his neck.


Steve sprinted forward, only for a grenade to soar into his path. It sailed high and Steve batted it away determinedly but a second one landed a few feet from him, already rapidly blinking.


"NOOOO!" Steve roared. He didn't slow down or speed up; neither would have made any difference. He just kept running, straight for it, because beyond that was his best friend that he had already lost once, getting dragged back into that hell hole.

Steve grit his teeth, letting out a yell as the ground blew up in front of him, hurtling him backwards. He hit the ground tumbling, and lay on his back as his vision closed up, but not before he moved his head slightly and saw his best friend dragged back into that compound, his machine gun dropping from his hand. And the doors closed once he was inside.


Steve winced, his hand shaking. He blinked once and slowly stood, waving off Wanda who had finished healing Sam.

"Do you need me to-" she asked gently.

"I-I'm fine," he lied, leaning against the wall before he sank into a chair with his head in his hands. She couldn't heal these wounds.

"I'm sorry Steve," she whispered, rubbing his shoulder before she went over to Vision who put his arms around her.

Tony walked over with pursed lips, his head hanging, "Steve I- I'm sorry. We'll get him back." He clapped him on the shoulder but Steve barely felt it.

"Yeah," he nodded slowly, his voice trembling. He nodded at Tony with an apologetic gaze. Tony knew he would never get a thank you from Steve for saving his life, because to Steve all he had done was turn his back on his best friend. Tony nodded and then stepped back, giving Steve space.

Silence filled the ship.

No one knew what to say, or how to act, because this had never happened before. No one thought it would happen. Everyone was still shocked it had happened. Horror sank in as everyone realized they were in the air with one less person than when they had started.

 

4 Hours Ago

"Don't tase me Parker," Tony laughed, moving his hand away from where Peter was working.

"Sorry," Peter grinned, before he flawlessly completed fixing the rest of the Iron Man gauntlet.

He and Tony were working on fixing his suits at the compound living room. The rest of the Avengers were scattered around the room, most of them lounging on the couches or chairs. Wanda and Vision were talking, sitting on the same couch as Natasha. Bruce and Rhodey were in the 2 chairs. Sam and Bucky were arguing, leaning against the far wall. Steve and Clint were laughing, clinking their beers on the other couch.

"Peter, don't kill Iron Man please. We kinda need him," Rhodey smirked at the intern who gave him a sheepish smile as he handed over his finished work to the billionaire.

"Yeah, he pays for everything," Clint called from the couch. Steve chuckled next to him, crossing his arms.

Tony shook his head, suppressing a smile; he knew his fellow Avenger was kidding, "Love you too Legolas." Clint let out a loud laugh.

"Does it work?" Peter asked.

Tony wiggles his eyebrows, pressing the gauntlet on Peter's hand. The nano particles covered his forearm and Tony nodded at Peter, turning him around with a hand on his shoulder and pointing at the far wall, "Let it rip."

"Duck and cover," Sam called out, teasing the teenager.

Peter looked up nervously at Tony as he raised his arm and the Stark gave him an encouraging nod. Peter stuck out his tongue in concentration and let off a shot, hitting the far wall. Natasha whistled and Peter and Tony admired their prize: charred wallpaper and a broken picture frame from when it fell to the ground.

"Oh my..." Pepper came storming in furiously and Tony quickly stepped in front of Peter and transitioned the Iron Man gauntlet from the kid's hand to his before she could see.

Steve was the only one who caught the exchange and he held back a laugh. Tony winked at Peter before he turned back around who went from scared out of his mind to clearly relaxed from the fact that he was in the clear.

"Honey!" Tony said, scratching his head with the gauntlet and giving her a sheepish grin.

"Mhm." Pepper pursed her lips, "You're buying another one."

"Yes, yes I am," Tony grinned, nodding, accepting the punishment.

Pepper sighed and did her rounds of hello's before she kissed Tony on the cheek and put her hand on Peter's shoulder and gave Tony a sideways glance, "Is he being good?"

"We were just fixing a wire failure," Peter squeaked.

Pepper smiled and then turned, her gaze finding Cap next as she left the room. "Steve? You're the responsible one. Make sure he doesn't blow up the house."

"Yes ma'am," Steve grinned, nodding at her.

"You hear that Tony?" Rhodey called. "Think you can handle that?"

"Yeah, yeah yeah," Tony said, waving off his friend. "Hey. Don't make fun of the man who controls your war machine suit."

Whistles echoed the room. Steve laughed and then straightened, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He held it up and frowned, "Ross."

A chorus of groans echoed across the room.

"Tell him to screw off," Clint said as Steve walked away.

"God I hate him," Natasha sighed. A second later Steve was back in the room, his expression sober. Everyone turned.

"Vacation's off. They found a HYDRA base," he said slowly, giving a sideways glance to Bucky who straightened, taking a deep breath. "They want us to take it down and get back a piece of equipment that was stolen 4 months ago. Our window's tonight."

"Alright everyone, suit up," Tony announced.

"You have 10 minutes. Take what you need. Stealth assult, we'll take the jet," Steve said, already heading back to his room, "meet in Hanger 6."

Peter nodded at Tony, "I should go. I'll see you tomorrow though right? After school?"

"Yeah kid," Tony said, calling his suit and ruffling Peter's hair, "good work Pete." The Avengers all patted Peter on the shoulder or waved at him as they jogged down the hall to get their suits. 

"Bye Mr. Stark," Peter said seriously, slinging his backpack over his shoulder and jogging out the door, turning and giving Tony a look. "Be safe."

"Always am," Tony smiled after him. Peter walked out.

"Just call him son already," Clint teased, laughing and avoiding a jab from Tony.

 

"Is everyone here?" Steve asked, doing a headcount before they closed the door of the jet.

Spiderman swung in, pressing a button on the back of Sam's falcon wings, making them pop out. "Hey everyone. What'd I miss?"

Everyone loved the wall-crawler. Steve grinned as Spiderman took his place at Tony's side.

"Glad to see you kid," Steve nodded.

Spiderman had asked to keep his identity a secret, unlike everyone else in the jet. All they knew was what Tony had told them.
Guy, in his 20's, caught Tony's attention on social media and was recruited by him. After their fight was over and everyone had reunited, there was an anonymous vote to add Spiderman to the team, and he had graciously accepted.

He didn't come by the compound often, only for major missions. Steve respected his reason though, because unlike the rest of the team, this guy would step in with the little things, earning the nickname the friendly 'neighborhood' Spiderman. No one knew his name, or his face. He was just a guy doing the right thing, helping out the little guy and saving the world at the same time.

"We're all here. Let's recap this mission," Steve announced. "Tony, you draw them out with some heavy fire."

"My pleasure," Tony said, arming the jet while Clint got it in the air.

"Clint, Sam will give you a nice perch to pick off the stragglers."

Clint shouted something muffled from the cockpit and Tony called back, "He said screw you Rogers I'm gonna go commando. I don't know exactly- ow," Tony laughed as Clint threw an empty container at him from the front and yelled,

"Not what I said!"

Steve smiled and looked down, chuckling and composing himself before he continued, "Viz, you'll lead a team inside with Nat, Wanda, and Bruce on the East side. Destroy what you can, kill who you can. These people don't deserve a trial. They've killed thousands, separated families, and would rather die than be taken back with us. So give them early graves," Steve said firmly.

The mood immediately sobered and there were looks around the jet; everyone understood how grave this mission was. There would be no prisoners. HYDRA didn't deserve prisoners.

"Then Bucky, myself, the kid, and Tony will head in the West wing and retrieve the piece of equipment stolen from a shield base. Sam and Rhodey you circle, draw their fire, keep them occupied and take out anything and everything attempting to leave."

"Got it," they nodded.

"You get hurt?" Sam shouted.

"Hurt em back," Natasha mocked.

"You get killed?" Tony grinned, shouldering his friend. "Come on Cap finish it."

"Walk it off," Cap laughed.

"You heard the old man," Sam nodded.

"Old?" Steve recoiled.

"You're 100 dude," Bucky grinned, putting a hand on his back.

"You're supposed to be on my side," Steve laughed, clapping his friend on the shoulder.

"Guys we're 10 minutes out," Clint came on the speakers. "Game faces."

Everyone divided into teams, setting up comms. Tony knocked over a folder sitting on the ledge and cussed, not knowing his helmet speaker was still on. 

"Steve? Tony said a bad word," Nat shook her head.

Rhodey pointed, "Cap doesn't like that language."

"Ok, it's been long enough now, what 3 years?" Steve said.

Tony clapped him on the back and winked, "4 actually. Never going away."

 

Clint and Nat switched places so he could make his way to the back with Sam. Nat landed the ship safely, reporting from her scanners that there was no activity yet. Their arrival had been a secret...so far. She opened the ramp and the cold air swirled into the ship. Tony flicked off the lights inside, his helmet shutting over his face. Vision's group went first, making their way out slowly. 

"I'm still not completely sure how I come in handy," Bruce whispers, wringing his hands in his normal nervous fashion. "If you want the element of surprise the Hulk isn't exactly subtle."

"We'll go code Green last resort. Wanda's got you covered for now," Nat assured, loading her pistols. Wanda nodded and led them down the ramp, her fingertips swirling with red magic. They dissapeared into the night after nodding at the second team. 

"Legolas let's go," Sam said. 

"I'm tired of that nickname," Clint grumbled, snatching his bow and arrows and jogging down the ramp. Sam grabbed his harness and then took off, shooting them both  into the sky. Rhodes nodded to Tony before he followed them, keeping his suit silent.

"Stay on comms," Cap said, clicking his shield into place, Bucky at his side. Tony and Spiderman flanked them. 

"Ready?" Cap asked.

"Let's go," Tony nodded. They closed off the ship and walked out, going the opposite direction as their other team members. 

"I'm sensing an energy field around it. We're gonna have to split up. I can disarm it if I find an energy source. FRIDAY is scanning," Tony said. 

"Source located."

"I'm gonna poke it with a stick," Tony said, about to fire up his boots but Steve stopped him. 

"Tony no. Our advantage is the element of-"

They heard a huge roar from the other side of the compound. 

"I think the Hulk's out," Spiderman whispered, his lenses focusing.

"Element of what?" Tony smirked and Cap grinned, shaking his head. Tony saluted, "be right back."

Gun shots were already starting to sound from high up on the towers and roofs and Spiderman looked at him for the signal. 

"Do your thing," he nodded.

The wallcrawler nodded and jumped into the air, whooping and spiraling forward, the iron suit that he and Tony had used as a prototype glinting in the lights that were starting to come on throughout the compound. He shot a web and swung forward, flipping and landing on the platform flawlessly to take out the few men stationed at the watch towers and take down the guns that were being manned. Alarms blurted out and Steve heard men marching forward.

"Just like old time," Steve grinned. He and Bucky jumped out and started firing and fighting, taking down the first squadrant that had surfaced. 

Bucky threw him a grenade and Steve tore out the pin before lobbing it over his shoulder. Instead of falling down the steps to blow up a door, it bounced off an invisible barrier and exploded, setting a supply truck on fire. 

"Tony how's it coming with that shield?" Cap warned. 

"Drop your socks and grab your crocks," Tony announced, "we're about to get wet on this ride."

In the sky he saw Tony fire a missile. It exploded against the building and he saw the air around the compound shimmer and glow before it peeled away, the shield crumbling in on itself.

"Bullseye," Tony announced. 

"Advance at will," Steve spoke into comms.

"No we've just been hanging out," Natasha drawled sarcastically. 

"You know what Romanoff," Steve grinned, throwing his shield and knocking out 3 HYDRA operatives before sliding forward and flipping the last guard who tried to retreat. Bucky took out 4 more, 2 to their left and 2 to their right.

"Are we doing the counting thing again?" Spiderman called, flipping and webbing 3 agents who had just circled around the corner. "Because if so, I'm at 11."

"Show off," Tony said, landing next to him, "I'm at...12." He fired a shot at a HYDRA operative who had just peeked out behind a wall. "13."

Steve broke the lock and kicked the door down, holding up his shield to stop the gunfire that came at him the minute he walked in. He flung his shield and it did a loop around half of the room, Tony sliding in on one knee and beaming down the other half. Spiderman and Bucky picked off the stragglers and finished off the rest. 

"Stark, do you have the blueprints?" Steve asked, approaching slowly. 

"Do I have the blueprints," Tony scoffed, "Yeah. A left a couple rights, over the river and through the woods. To grandmother's house we go. Follow me."

"Spiderman, stay here, make sure no one gets through that door," Steve instructed.

"Instant kill if you have to. Be safe." Tony demanded.

The kid gave a thumbs up, "Always am."

Tony waved him off and then jogged down the hall with Bucky and Steve, who tried to remember where he had heard that exchange before.

Bucky shivered, "I remember this place. Each compound has the same layout. They probably locked these doors up here. They have multiple levels of shut down mode and the door coming up is always the first line of defense."

Sure enough, the doors were locked and Tony motioned for them to step back, "I got this."

Bucky put a hand on Stark's arm, lowering it and shaking his head. "We can go around. Those doors were meant to withstand huge missile blasts and titanium Stark. It will take you a while. I know another way," Bucky said, already starting down the hallway. 

Bucky took the lead, turning the corner sharply and firing at oncoming agents. Tony let a few missiles fly, closing the door on another group and blasting 5 others down the hallway with the help of a ricochette of Cap's shield. 

"They lined up for that, that was perfect," Tony said. 

"This way," Bucky said. He felt the walls, "This corridor was hidden so if the prisoners rebelled, the guards would have safe passage back to the main center. But it should loop back around to where we need to go."

"There's an air current," Tony pointed, pushing slightly on the wall that caved in and moved to the side, revealing a hallway. 

Bucky entered first, then Steve, then Tony bringing up the rear, blasting an agent that tried to follow. 

Steve put a hand to his, "How are we doing team?"

"Almost clear here," Wanda's voice came back to him, "Almost."

"We had to give code green. Vision says that there's another wave coming, but so far no one has gotten out completely. Rhodey, Clint and Sam are taking care of stragglers," Natasha reported. 

"Yeah I'd send you all a post card, but...kinda busy." Clint's voice crackled through the speakers.

"Kid? You hanging in there?" Tony asked.

"Thank God we made this suit bullet proof because- hey buddy I think you lost this-" There was gunfire in the background as Spiderman reported, speaking threw sighs of exhaustion and short quips that were the clear hand me down from Tony. "I'm- handling it. Going great."

"He's good," Tony assured. 

"We're almost to the check point," Steve said, slamming his shield into a man and throwing him into the 2 approaching. He flipped his shield and kicked it, leveling the man behind both of them. He walked over and stomped on the side of the shield, catching it midair and returning it to his arm. 

"Do you have to be so cool when you do that?" Tony mocked. 

"Guys, here," Bucky announced, shooting off the door lock.

"I'll cover you," Tony said, positioning himself at Cap's side as Steve forced the door open with all of his might. Bucky shot over Tony's shoulder as he blasted beam after beam. Steve slipped through the door last and rolled, coming up and slamming his shield into an agents chest before knocking another one out across the room. 

"Which one?" Bucky asked, referring to the layers of locked crates..

"Scanning," Tony announced, reporting through his blasts. "Uhhhhh 6th down. 4th row from your right hand. You're other right hand."

Bucky shot through the glass and Cap came over, leaving Tony to take care of the rest of the agents. He broke through the case as Bucky covered him and grabbed the converter. 

"Got it," he told Tony.

"Nice party down the hall if you want to take them out," Tony motioned over his shoulder. 

Steve handed off the converter to Tony who's suit opened to enclose it inside, "Well they're excited."

"Guys we've got a problem!" Rhodey yelled in comms, static overtaking his voice.

Clint took over, "Sam's been hit. His wings down and he's got a nice graze. He'll be good but he's down for right now. Rhodey's covering him, but that leaves us with just me taking the skies. Either one of you get out here, or we all call it a day and leave them to lick their wounds," Clint said.

"Sam you good?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, I just won't be passing you up at running for the next couple days," he groaned.

"Steve, do you have the package?" Wanda asked over the sound of gunfire. 

"Stark does," Steve said, breaking a door lock and slamming an agent through a window, picking up his gun and firing at the rest of the approaching agents. He batted a grenade back into the room and Bucky closed the door. The room blew up, smoke rising in front of the window.

"So we fall back," Vision announced.

"He speaks!" Tony joked, and Cap could hear his voice in his ear and through the wall. "Vision do we have a clear path out of here? FRIDAY can't get heat signatures, there's too much fire everywhere."

"Yes," Vision responded.

"Then I say we get the heck out of here. We can't let them circle us or we'll be done for and we've thinned out enough," Steve decided. 

"What's the play Cap?" Tony asked for conformation, blasting through a wall by his side.

Steve bit back a curse and clicked his shield into place. "Fall back."

 

Peter ran through the hallway, webbing up guards and engaging in hand to hand when he needed the adrenaline rush. "Tony? Tony, do you copy?"

He was on their private server. 

"Pete where are you?" Tony relayed back; he had obviously muted his outside mic.

"West hallway. I kinda got turned around. Karen can't track you yet, too much heat," Peter said angrily.

"I've got your signal, I'm coming kid. Stay put."

"Kind hard to do at the moment!" Peter yelped, flinging himself through a wall in attempt to get away from another grenade.

"Why?" Tony snarled. 

"Ummmm, no reason. Just being chased by a lot of angry guys with grenade launchers. I'm trying to lead them to hulk. I've already gotten blown up once, and it was not fun," Peter panted, following the roars of the Hulk from a couple hallways down. "Turns out? I work better in not enclosed spaces. Oh shoot-" 

"I swear to God-" Tony hissed.

A grenade bounced off the wall and landed right behind Peter who couldnt swing forward fast enough. He was blown off his feet, crashing to the floor, crying out in pain as he tumbled to a stop, his head hitting the wall. Peter crumpled, groaning as he slowly lifted his head, wincing.

"PETER!"

"Tony-" Peter struggled to get to his elbows, breathing hard as the 7 men advanced forward, guns pointing directly at his chest.

Just then Tony burst through the wall to the left. 

He looked down the hall at the agents and quickly stepped in front of Peter and fired up a massive missile,s snarling, "Don't touch my kid."

He blew up the whole hallway, turning and sliding to the floor to shield Peter from the blast. The dust settled and Tony let go of Peter and helped him to his feet. They both turned around, looking at the hallway collapsed into charred rubble. 

"Cool," Peter said happily. 

"I'm at 43," Tony then blurted.

"40," Peter grumbled. Tony laughed.  

"Are you ok?" Tony asked, his hand on Peter's shoulder. 

"I had that all under control Tony, I was fine," Peter grinned.

"Yeah, sure you did," Tony rolled his eyes.

Steve and Bucky ran in at the other end of the hallway, "Let's go. There's a fight outside. Clint needs help. Then we're out of here."

 

"I'll cover you," Bucky said. 

"You need help!" Steve insisted.

"i can hold the line. Go!" Bucky said, firing and taking out an approaching guard as if to prove a point.

Steve nodded, running forward to help Wanda with a truck trying to drive away. Spiderman swung over him, webbing the back of another truck and yanking as hard as he could before he dove forward, his spider legs coming out and slashing through the back tires. Natasha dove into the truck and it shook, guns firing. She then jumped out and it exploded behind her, Spiderman picking her up and swinging her away from the blast. 

Vision came out and together he and Wanda crushed the 3 exits in, collapsing the first half of the building. 

Tony was making his way to the ship and he handed off the converter to Sam who was already in the jet, Rhodey circling. Clint was on the ground now, taking out who he could. Steve slammed his shoulder into an agent and swung him, giving him an extra boost with a shield to the chest. He crashed into the other approaching guys and Tony landed by his side, bouncing another beam off his shield to blast through the rest of the oncoming agents. 

He was by his side when they heard the strangled scream and the absence of the machine gun fire. 

Steve turned and he tensed, starting to jog forward.

"Buck! Bucky!"

4 HYDRA agents grabbed him from behind, surrounding him. Bucky fought them, but these were different men than before. These were smart and 3 held him down while the 4th one circled him, shoving a syringe in his neck. They had been gunning for him. And Steve had left him alone.

Steve sprinted forward, only for a grenade to soar into his path. It sailed high and Steve batted it away determinedly but a second one landed a few feet from him, already rapidly blinking.

"NOOOO!" Steve roared. He didn't slow down or speed up; neither would have made any difference. He just kept running, straight for it, because beyond that was his best friend that he had already lost once, getting dragged back into that hell hole.

Steve grit his teeth, letting out a yell as the ground blew up in front of him, hurtling him backwards. He hit the ground tumbling, and lay on his back as his vision closed up, but not before he moved his head slightly and saw his best friend dragged compound, his machine gun dropping from his hand. And the doors closed once he was inside.

He got to his feet, breathing hard, ready to run back and slam that door open and get his friend back.

"Steve! We have to go!" Tony yelled, blocking Steve's path to the entrance.

"I can't hold them much longer Tony," Hawkeye warned from the ramp on the jet, his arm a blur as he shot arrows. Everyone was already on it, ready to leave. Everyone except for 3. One wasn't going to make it. One was trying to save him. And one was trying to save the other.

"I can't leave him!" Steve rushed forward only for Tony to push him backward. Steve stared at him in disbelief trying to get past him, "Tony we can still-"

"No! Steve look at me," Tony said firmly as the fight got more physical, "You can't-" He blocked a swipe Cap made with his shield with his arm, eyeing him warily. The two engaged in a struggle, their arms locked and Tony finally cursed under his breath and blew Cap backward with a pulse from his palm.

Steve landed in the torn up and charred grass and he struggled to his feet, groaning and already starting forward but Tony had finally gotten a hold on his wrists. "Cap! Steve! That's enough," Tony yelled. "They're already inside. You go back in and they'll kill you. You hear me? You go back in, you die!"

Steve knew he was right. He grit his teeth as hard as he could and shoved Tony off him, yelling a curse at the top of his lungs with a broken voice. Glaring at Tony, even though he knew he had just saved his life, Steve turned around, almost pulling at his hair as he jogged backward and headed for the jet. Steve's breathing was rapid and he picked up his pace, turning it into a sprint. He jumped for the jet and rolled inside as it took off, Tony landing beside him.

The ramp closed up and the jet sped off, the last of the bullets that were on target pinging off the back. Then they were in the sky after one small jolt.
Spiderman stumbled over, tapping Tony on the shoulder, "Wait but we left- Bucky's still- Tony what about-"

"I know kid," Tony said sadly.

 

Present Day

Oh how moods can change.

The ship touched down back at the compound and the team got off, helping one another down the ramp. Steve caught up to Sam, slinging his arm around him. Sam winced as he walked, his bullet wound only partially healed from Wanda.

"You ok?" he asked.

"I'll live," Sam said through gritted teeth before he squeezed Cap's shoulder, "I mean, I've got to. We've got to get that annoying metal armed iceman back don't we?" he nodded.

"Yeah," Steve said sadly.

They made it inside and Bruce helped Sam off to the med bay. Spiderman went with Tony to return the piece of equipment and tear Ross up for not having their backup ready. The rest of the Avengers went back to their rooms to try and wrap their heads around what had just happened. Even though they had won; they had. They had accomplished the mission. They had lost more, which canceled out the win.

They had lost a solider.

Steve had lost a best friend.

He didn't know how long he sat there but Steve sat there for a long time.

Head in his hands.

Shaking.

Trying to focus.

Blocking out everyone and everything.

Replaying the scene over and over of when his best friend was dragged through those doors. He went through it in his mind and each time he tried to do something different, try something else- every time it ended the same.

Bucky gone, and Steve turning his back on him the minute he took one foot towards that jet.

"Steve, hey," Natasha came over and put a hand on his shoulder, jolting him out of his state.

"Hey," Steve offered.

"Sam is healing. Should be fine in a couple of days. The rest of the team is...shaken up, but we'll bounce back. We'll go get him Steve, I promise," She assured him before she nudged him gently. "How about you? How are you holding up?"

Steve looked at her and didn't answer for a while. Then he took a breath, "I lost Bucky before. And it just felt like it happened all over again."

"We'll get him back Steve. We will. We need to regroup and recover and we'll go in first thing," Natasha promised.

"Thanks," Steve said, his worries still not calmed.

"Hey, so look, there's a meeting. Talking about what went wrong, and there's a live video for a scavenger SQUAT team that's heading in. HYDRA abandoned that base after we left. Tony's tracking them now. If you wanted to join or..." Natasha said gently.

Steve gave her a sad shake of his head before he stood up and grabbed his coat, "I'm gonna take a walk."

... 

The man walked forward, standing at attention and saluting, "Sir. Alpha 4 just landed with the cargo."

"Our Winter Solider has come home," he said thoughtfully. He rubbed his chin and smiled, trembling in anticipation. "Hail HYDRA," he whispered.

"Hail HYDRA," the solider gulped, looking at the man being dragged through the hall unconscious. 

 ...

Steve opened the door, walking out of the building and onto the grass.

He walked for almost an hour, watching the sun disappear behind the mountain and most of the lights in the compound shut off for the night. Only the bright ones that illuminated the sidewalks and parking lots were still on. Steve couldn't really feel the cold, and he couldn't tell the difference between him being cold, or just the shaking in general.

The flashbacks from when Bucky had dropped from the train so many years ago and him being dragged through the doors fused together and Steve walked faster until he was sprinting, sprinting to clear his mind, sprinting to run faster than he had, to prove that he could have saved Bucky just to beat himself up more.

When he finally did 4 full loops of the entire compound he came to a stop, breathing hard, resting his hands on his knees. He was barely breaking a sweat but for the first time in forever. All the running had made him tired.

Not physically, but mentally.

He walked slowly back to the main entrance when his phone rang again. He looked at the number and when he didn't recognize it he frowned and answered it cautiously.

"Hello?"

"Captain America. Steve Rogers. The first Avenger. You go by many names."

The voice was rough, low, conniving and hoarse. The reception was bad wherever it originated from. 

"Who is this?" Steve demanded, looking around him to see if the caller was anywhere near him.

"Someone who has the upper hand. We took something of yours. Someone...close to you."

Steve froze. Bucky. Immediately he was high alert and he snarled into the phone, "I don't know who you are or what you want, but let me tell you how this is going to go-"

"You've got it completely backwards Captain. I tell you how this is going to go because there is only one way you will ever see your friend again. Now are you listening?"

Steve tensed, squeezing his eyes shut and speaking through gritted teeth, "You have 1 minute."

"Have you ever heard the expression eye for an eye?"

Steve already hated this but he forced himself to answer, "Yes."

"We're going to have an old fashioned trade. You give us who we want, we will return the Winter Solider."

Steve closed his eyes and lowered his head. He spoke softly, "Who?"

"You call him Spiderman. We call him a successful experiment. You have 1 day to make your decision. Then call this number back. If you don't call us back or you say no, you will never see your friend again. And I can assure you that Captain Rogers. I do not play games. I make the rules."

Steve slammed his finger on the end call button, shoving the phone in his pocket. His breath clouded in front of him rapidly in the cold air. His mind spun, his heartbeat speeding up. The cold air made him numb or maybe it just added to how he was feeling. He couldn't feel his fingers. He shook his head, running his hand harshly through his hair. Then he pressed a trembling hand to his face.

Was it bad he was even considering this?

No...worse. Was it bad he was already thinking of how to do it?

It was Bucky... and he didn't really know Spiderman. It would be better that way- no! What was he thinking? He can't- but it's Bucky. It's his best friend. It's his fault he was taken in the first place. He would make the trade quietly- No. It was an innocent person, practically a kid! The guy was only 20 years old for gosh- 

Steve sank to his knees with an exhausted and overwhelmed cry, his head spinning. His ears were ringing and he lowered his chin to his chest his thoughts deafening him.

But it's Bucky...

"Oh God..." he whispered.