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Tony's finally fully conscious after all the surgery. In the end they had kept him in an induced coma throughout all the stitches, examinations and the next couple of days. The next week after that he was too doped up on pain killers to do more than slowly blink at any visitors. Pepper visited a lot. So did all the Avengers. They had set up base in the SHIELD medward, to both protect Tony and find his torturers. They had several leads and Jarvis was very useful with tracking them.

Steve timidly knocked on the door and entered with his gift of fruit in tow. He'd carefully chosen ones best for making smoothies and then placed a small smoothie maker in the centre.

He was not surprised to see all the Avengers and one Pepper crammed in the room with Tony. Tony who was still so very pale and bruised, with huge bags under his haunted eyes. He moved slowly while his eyes darted everywhere, flinching at sudden movements and pained when he needed to use the bathroom. Pained from the injuries and pained that he needed help to direct his bruised penis. Steve was surprised when he didn't seem to afraid to have the Avengers help him, just strangers.

Steve is so very careful anyway, Tony's trying to put on a brave face but at times he'll zone out, or break down. Something would set him off, a colour, a smell, a phrase. The Avengers were all tiptoeing around each other, not any better in their shared trauma.

Steve had run into each of them having their own breakdown. He found Pepper in deep, empathetic conversation with Fury on what exactly should be done to their captors. He was left feeling impressed in the face of her rage. He found Clint yelling at a vending machine for not giving him a drink, apparently it had reminded him of objects being stuck into Tony. He ranted at Steve for a bit before heading home to burn all his arrows. He'll get new ones he promises. Bruce had doubled his research into what drug could possibly keep Steve weak and the Hulk down. He hasn't found it yet, but he did throw several beakers at the wall before sitting down for some yoga. Natasha has taken to hovering around Tony, as if her presence could fight off the bad dreams for both of them. Steve catches her freaking out when she can't find Tony immediately. Steve helped her and found him hunched up under a spare bed in an empty room. He asked Tony if he could join him, then carefully eased his bulky frame under. Tony was hunched up tight, arms wrapped around the reactor and his legs crossed.

Steve lay there with him, whispering reassurances as Tony slowly came back to himself. He gave a whimper and crawled over to Steve, resting his head on Steve's shoulder.

"I remember the pain, Steve. I don't remember all of it, or the specifics. But I remember being in so much pain and I was holding on to you, you were trying to help me. You let me hide in your neck and ground me," Tony's hoarse voice trails off. They lay like that for a few hours, until they both were too stiff from laying under a bed and kind of hungry. They stumbled off to the cafeteria where Tony complained about the food and wishes for smoothies. They tasted better and hurt less when he needed to go.

Steve carefully placed the basket on the table as Tony crowed in delight, "You got me a smoothie maker! Oh Steve you're a great man. Can you bring me coffee next time? Sneak it in all sneaky like. No-one will search Captain America." Tony's voice is strained as he jokes, but the humour is there however faint. Steve's pleased.

Their joking is interrupted as Fury scowls his way into the room. His eye scans over the Avengers sitting on chairs, leaning against walls, sitting on floors. Pepper raises her head from her position next to Tony on the bed. He gives a nod at them.

"We've got them, two of them. Two died in the capture, the guards I believe. The other two are enroute to the carrier and will be placed in Hulk's containment unit. There will be interrogations, then they will be imprisoned for the rest of their life." Fury frowned at the air, "We expect the rest of their life to be a few months at most. We've been having problems with spiders in our prisons of late. Biting out prisoners. Very hard to find. Shame.


Steve's surprised that determined glee came from himself. The others seemed equally surprised, but nodded in agreement.

Tony's fists are clenched in the beds blankets as he works his jaw, eyes blinking furiously. As they wait, his head lowers to his hands and he starts sobbing brokenly, huge shudders wracking his body. Pepper immediately goes to him and the rest of the Avengers stand around in quiet support with Fury. They're there and they'll protect him.