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Razor's Edge

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Steve is wearing the Iron Man boots and the Iron Man gauntlets; Jim knows in an instant that something is horribly wrong.

A second later he realizes the form slumped over Steve’s left shoulder is Tony.

“Oh my god.” He scrambles to his feet, running for the platform.

Steve touches down, wobbling slightly. He steadies himself and then reaches up to pull Tony forward into his arms. He’s speaking, but Jim can’t hear what he’s saying over the noise of the wind.

“What happened?” Jim yells, eyes already seeking out the damage. A frisson of fear runs through him when he sees the bloody mess of Tony’s forearms.

“Jim!” Steve says, relief thick in his voice. “Thank God.”

“Rhodey?” Tony’s head turns and Jim steps forward, reaching to cup his jaw.

“Hey, Tones, yeah, it’s me, I’m here. What happened? Now you’re just letting anybody put on the suit?”

Tony laughs weakly. “You try to tell Captain America no.”

“We should go inside,” Steve says and Jim nods, moving out of the way. He takes the time to get a better look at whatever it is Tony’s done to his arms. Beneath all the blood, razor thin cuts crisscross Tony’s skin all the way up to his elbows in a strange diamond pattern. His face is drawn, wan and lined with stress.

Inside, Steve gingerly lays Tony out on the couch and then proceeds to tear out of the pieces of the Iron Man suit, his own helmet, and the top half of his armor.

Tony props his elbows on his own stomach, holding them elevated away from his body. There’s blood everywhere. When his eyes inevitably land on them, his mouth trembles and he looks away quickly, throat working.

“Jesus,” Jim murmurs. He’s seen a lot of horrific things, men’s bodies rent asunder, but this is something he’s not even sure he knows how to process. The cuts go all the way to the tips of Tony’s fingers. How in the hell—

“It’s okay,” Steve says to Tony, dropping to his knees next to the couch. He cards his fingers through Tony’s hair, brushing the sweaty locks back off of his forehead. “It’s gonna be okay, Tony.”

“We need to take care of these, before they get infected,” Jim says. “What the hell happened?”

Tony sighs shakily. “Let’s just say there was razor wire involved and leave it at that. The rest of the Avengers are taking care of the asshole responsible.”

“I sure fuckin’ hope so,” Jim says vehemently. “Tony, these cuts go all the way around your fingers—”

“I know,” Tony snaps and then tips his head back with another shuddering breath.

“Your hands are going to be fine,” Steve says, jaw hardening.

Tony’s eyes take on the bright sheen they always do when he starts to lose his grip on his emotions. “They cut my fingertips, Steve. The scarring—”

“Don’t,” Steve says severely. “Don’t do that to yourself. There’s no way for you to know that.”

“If I can’t feel my fingertips, I’m screwed, Steve— I won’t be able to—” His voice chokes off, panic seeping over his face. “Oh god.”

“Hey. Hey,” Jim says, and takes his face in one hand. “Knock it off. What the hell kind of attitude is that? You built a robot suit out of scraps in a cave in Afghanistan. You will find a way to function if you sustain a little nerve damage. Right?”

Tony blinks back the tears gathering in the corners of his eyes and nods jerkily. “Right,” he croaks.

“Okay then,” Jim says. He glances down at the mess of blood on Tony’s shirt and says, “Are you strong enough to stand? Don’t bullshit me, on this, I will kneecap you.”

“If we go slow, probably,” Tony says.

“Okay, then. Steve, grab an arm.”

Steve does as he’s told, pressing a kiss to the side of Tony’s head as he settles his grip. Then the two of them maneuver Tony upright.

“You good?” Jim asks.

Tony takes a breath, looking paler than ever, but after a minute he nods. “Yeah, I’m good.”

When they stand him up, however, his knees fold, hands clenching and he hisses. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, okay,” Jim says, “breathe. We got you.”

They stay like that for another minute while Tony collects himself. Confident as Jim had been in dismissing Tony’s concerns, he’s still worried that what Tony fears will happen. They’ll have to be extra careful treating the wounds.

The three of them make their way to the nearest bathroom. Once there, Jim has Steve stand with Tony in the shower to make sure he doesn’t fall while they clean the wounds. For once, he’s grateful for Tony’s obsession with removable shower heads.

“All right, here we go,” he says, double checking the temperature of the water. Tony still flinches when it hits his skin.

The cuts have partially clotted, which is unfortunate. Jim tries not to pay attention to the way Steve wraps himself around Tony, one thumb tracing slow back and forth strokes on his shoulder, his head tilted to support Tony’s. He runs water over the cuts until the water runs clear and then lathers up his hands with the bar of soap sitting next to the sink.

Tony tenses up as he reaches for his left arm and Jim grits his teeth. “Sorry, Tones.”

“Just do it,” Tony bites back.

He spreads the lather over the injuries careful to work from the tips of Tony’s fingers all the way up to his elbows to make sure he gets them all. That goes okay—the soap is mild so it doesn’t really sting. Then he fetches a washcloth to give everything a good scrub.

That part’s harder.

Tony locks his elbows, shaking with the effort of holding them up in the wake of the bloodloss. He bites his lips, but it’s not enough to stifle the occasional whimper. Jim feels like a heel, working the washcloth in circles methodically from top to bottom again, front and back. The cuts start to bleed again, but as awful as it is, he knows it’s necessary to make sure the wounds are clean. And these have to be clean. They have to heal well.

“Almost done, Tones,” he says, working the washcloth around each of Tony’s fingers.

“So soon?” Tony says, but the waver in his voice takes all the humor out of it.

By the time he finishes, the washcloth is a gnarly purple color. Jim tosses it into the corner of the shower and then tugs Tony forward to rinse again. Tony sighs shakily as the cool water soothes the inflamed cuts.

“Can he sit down now?” Steve asks. Jim curses when he looks and realizes that Tony’s practically leaning his full weight into Steve.

“Yeah, yeah, come on, over here.”

They move Tony over to the counter and Steve hoists him up, cupping a hand quickly around the back of his head to stop him from smacking it on the mirror. That he doesn’t protest or make a joke is telling of how exhausted he really is. Jim and Steve exchange a worried look.

Each of them take an arm and pat it dry with a towel. Then those get thrown into the shower, too.

That’s followed by a careful application of antibiotic ointment and they use up two full rolls of gauze securing the bandages. When they’re done, Tony looks like a mummy.

He stares at his hands.

Jim grips his shoulder. “You’re gonna heal fine, Tony. Those wounds are clean enough to eat off of.”

Tony wrinkles his nose, but it’s a half-hearted gesture. “Let’s not, huh?”

Jim huffs. He can tell by the look on Steve’s face that he’s dying for a minute alone with Tony, so he says, “I’m gonna go put some food together. You can get out to the couch?”

Steve nods eagerly. “I can give him a hand.”

“Or two,” Tony jokes, but his face crumples a second after it leaves his mouth. When Jim slips out, Steve is crowded close to him, kissing his cheeks and murmuring reassurances.

~ * ~

The recovery is tough.

It’s thankfully not long, but it’s tough. Jim usually can’t find the time to stick around Tony’s for long, but he can’t bring himself to leave Tony like this, even with Steve watching out for him.

So he works in New York for about a week and endures the irritated video calls from his superiors.

Tony is a nightmare. He works, but it’s a struggle. Anything that puts pressure on his hands is out, but he has to make sure to keep moving them to ensure he retains his dexterity as the cuts heal, otherwise the scar tissue will limit his movement. His bandages have to be changed every few hours and he loathes that he can’t do it himself.

Jim and Steve hover, which makes Tony even crazier, but Tony’s a dumbass and keeps trying to do things he shouldn’t so he should be grateful they don’t let him get away with it and fuck up his recovery.

Finally, after six days Jim can’t put it off anymore. The doctors seem optimistic about how well the cuts are healing, so he pulls Tony into a tight hug and says, firmly, “You’re gonna be fine. As long as you don’t drive Steve to homicide, anyway.”

Tony rolls his eyes. “I’ll call you, Sugarbee.”

“See that you do,” Jim says, and then boards the plane they’ve sent for him.

Four days later, Tony calls him wearing a grin big enough to split his face. He waggles his fingers. There are still thin pink lines crisscrossing his hands, but they’re smooth. “I’m back to work!” he says gleefully and Jim smiles.

“See, what did I tell you?”