The gunshot echoes off the walls and ceiling of the warehouse.
Tony, gun clenched in his fist, blood dripping in his eyes, doesn’t take his eyes off the two goons in front of him. But that doesn’t mean he can’t see the way everyone else freezes at the sound of the shot.
It wasn’t him - his hand is shaking from bloodloss and adrenaline and exhaustion. He hasn’t been willing to risk taking a shot when he’s half-convinced he’d miss anything more than an inch away from him.
Then there’s a sudden movement to his left, just inside his peripheral vision. The sound of a fist hitting flesh, a hard groan, the scuffle of feet.
Then Steve’s voice. Harsh and angry and so fucking beautiful. “Hawkeye, you have my permission to shoot the next person who so much as breathes.”
Relief kicks Tony in the chest so hard he almost sobs. He gasps for breath and the gun in his hand wavers a little.
Then Steve is standing between him and the thugs, his hands cupping Tony’s face, ignoring the gun entirely. “Baby,” he says in a low voice. “Who did this to you?”
Tony blinks blood out of his eyes. He’s bloody and bruised. His bare feet are cut up, his stomach and chest are a mottled mass of black and purple. There are cigarette burns across the back of his shoulders, and the fingers of his left hand are broken. He looks like shit and he knows it.
"I didn’t tell them anything," he spits, determined and angry. "Not a fucking thing."
"I know you didn’t." Steve’s voice is low and gentle. Over his shoulder Tony can see Natasha giving him a fierce grin. "Who hurt you, Tony?"
"They thought I was easy because I’m a civilian." Tony let his mouth curve into a smile, not minding the way the blood spilled over his lips. "They thought I would make you weak."
"We know better." Steve brushed his thumb over Tony’s mouth, wiped the blood away. "Tell me who was stupid enough to mess with you."
Tony doesn’t let the gun drop - it had been too hard to get his hand on it to begin with, he can’t bring himself to let it go while they’re still technically surrounded and in enemy territory. But he does gesture with it.
The man who had ordered Tony’s abduction and interrogation jerks as two bullets embed themselves in his skull. The spray of blood that spatters across the concrete wall behind him is almost viscerally satisfying.
"He’s not going to be that stupid again," Steve says. He presses a kiss to Tony’s temple. "Nat, Bucky, clean up in here. Bruce and I are going to get Tony home."
He positions himself carefully so that Tony can’t see whatever it is that Nat and Bucky are about to do. But he can hear the shouts, the sounds of men running. The pop-pop-pop of Clint’s gun.
It probably shouldn’t make him feel safe. Loved.
But it does.