A/N: This is the final chapter (honest, really) in Cap's Shield: Versatile in Vibranium. This is the h/c part of Chapter 6.
6. Weapon, Part 2
Attracted to the high ground as usual, Hawkeye moved catlike across the tops of the parked cars. He leaped gracefully from one roof to the next, making almost no noise. Slinking along in the shadows, Black Widow couldn't imagine how he moved so quietly in combat boots.
Clint came to an abrupt halt, signaling Natasha to stop. Clint straightened up, gazing into the open area ahead. "Well, that's something you don't see every day," he said, but his urgent rush forward belied his light words.
He leaped off the final SUV into the well-lighted, open area. To the hostages, it seemed as if he had appeared out of nowhere. They flinched back, until they recognized the archer rushing toward them and the injured man at their feet.
Even as he ran, Clint snapped photos of the scene, because no one was going to believe it without proof.
When Natasha cleared the last car, she broke into a run as well, spurred by sudden fear. And yet, in the back of her mind, she had to admit Clint was right. You didn't see this every day.
A fallen hero lay at the feet of a man and a woman who were bound to two concrete pillars with bright green det cord and metal straps. If that wasn't strange enough, the man was standing on Captain America's leg.
Don had toed off his shoes and planted his stocking feet on Cap's leg just above the knee, using his weight to put pressure on the wound. The woman had shuffled her feet to cradle Cap's head and prevent him from moving, which might have made his injuries worse.
It was all the bound and gagged hostages could do to help the man who had saved their lives.
They kept their eyes firmly on Cap, avoiding looking at the shattered remains of the terrorist just a few feet away. When Clint approached, Don gave him a pleading look, tipping his head toward the dead man. The archer nodded. He checked the man who was obviously dead, then covered him from sight with Cap's shield — which was already covered with gore.
Anissa sighed with relief, then looked a plea at Natasha before aiming her gaze back at unconscious Cap. Natasha sat cross-legged and shifted Steve's head to her lap while she ran her fingers over his skull and neck.
Clint couldn't cut the metal bands that fastened the hostages to the pillars, but he used the serrated edge of his combat knife to cut the plastic zip ties that held the gags in their mouths, then he quickly cut their wrists free, before he dropped by Don's feet to look at Cap's injured leg.
"I think you can get off him now," he suggested.
Don started to move, then an odd look crossed his face. "I don't think I can. I'm stuck."
He raised one foot and Clint saw the black sock was stuck to the wound. Well, not stuck exactly. The sole of the sock was embedded in the scab that had formed on the wound. Cap healed so fast, he had healed to the socks.
"I'll cut you loose," Clint decided. He had Don raise his feet to stretch out the socks, then Clint shaved the fabric as close to the leg as he could.
"If Cap wasn't so nice, he'd be downright creepy," Clint told Nat.
"I think I can beat your creepiness," Natasha replied. "Cap's got a depressed skull fracture. I can feel the bone shifting under my hands."
"C'mon, even Cap's bones don't set themselves," he said skeptically. The Avengers knew that from unfortunate previous experience.
"I don't think the bones are moving themselves," Natasha said. "I think the brain is … uh, rebounding into its normal shape and that's pushing the bone fragments back into place."
"Brains don't do that," Clint protested.
Natasha gave him a severe look.
"Right, we're talking about Captain America," Clint agreed. He checked Steve's pulse, which seemed surprisingly steady. Deciding he couldn't do any more for the wounded man, Clint began to investigate the hostages' bonds.
"Cap. Widow. Hawkeye. Can anyone hear me?" Ironman's voice came over the comms.
"Cap's out for the count," Clint replied. "But Widow and I can hear you."
"How bad?" Tony asked anxiously. He was kicking himself that he'd been so far away.
"If it was me, I'd be dead," Clint said. "But Cap seems to be healing OK. Where are you?"
"About 30 seconds out," Tony said. "I'll be with you in moments."
"Stark, you can't do anything for Cap right now. We need you to clear the rest of the building," Natasha said coolly. "In addition to the timed explosives, we had one suicide bomber with a det cord bomb vest. We need you to scan for anyone else in the building and for any more explosives."
"Roger," Tony said reluctantly. "The fire department's just arriving to answer the fire alarm. I'll tell them what's going on. And it looks like there are 103 people in the building, not counting the six of you grouped in the parking garage."
"No one evacuated?" Natasha said puzzled.
"The bomb guy said he trapped the VA staff," Don contributed.
"All right, I'll get them out and check for any hidden baddies," Tony said.
"When you know it's safe, send us paramedics and bring your lasers," Clint said. "I've got two hostages who are tied up with metal straps, like you use to secure a water heater in earthquake country. I don't have anything to cut them free."
Don and Anissa sighed in resignation. The security guard groaned. Tony acknowledged the instructions. And Steve's eyes opened.
He stared blankly at the ceiling, despite Natasha calling his name.
She patiently talked to him, figuring even a super soldier needed a few moments to recover from a dented skull.
On the other side of the pillars, she could hear Clint swearing as he tried to free the hostages.
Steve's eyes blinked and he started to turn his head toward the sound of Clint's voice.
"No, eyes front, soldier," Natasha ordered.
Steve obediently stopped turning but looked up at Natasha leaning over him.
"Natasha, why are you upside down?" he asked calmly. Then he assessed the scene — mostly ceiling of the parking garage. "Scratch that. Why am I lying on the floor?" he amended.
"The explosion threw you headfirst into a concrete column," Natasha explained. "You cracked your skull and I'm pretty sure you dislocated some vertebrae. I need you to lie still until we determine whether you damaged your spine."
"Unlikely," Steve said, sounding more like himself every minute.
"Why do you say that?"
"Because my left leg hurts like the devil," Steve answered.
"The explosion tore that up, too. But it's stopped bleeding now," Natasha said.
Clint came around the pillar to study Cap who was lying with his head in Natasha's lap.
"Every time I see you, you're cuddling with my bestie, Rogers," Clint said sternly.
Steve shrugged. "She's more cuddly than the average spider," he said.
Natasha rolled her eyes and threatened to punch them both.
Cap directed his gaze to his left. "Why are the hostages still tied up?"
Clint made a disgusted noise. "The terrorists bolted the metal straps to the concrete, then filled the bolts with putty. It's dry and hard and we're going to need tools, like Stark's laser cutter. We're waiting for Stark to clear the building, because I don't have the tools to cut them free," Clint explained.
"I do," Steve said. He extended a hand for Clint to help him up.
"You sure?" Clint asked doubtfully.
Hawkeye pulled Cap to his feet, steadying him when he wavered. Steve rotated his head and his neck bones cracked back into place with a sickening crunch that made everyone wince and the pregnant woman gag.
"Sorry," Steve apologized.
"They probably saved your life," Clint commented. "Don here applied pressure to your leg with his feet. Pretty quick thinking," Clint said in admiration. "And Anissa kept your head from rolling around, which could have caused more damage."
Steve thanked them sincerely and Natasha, too.
"You saved us first," Don pointed out.
Cap stood straighter and sounded more like Captain America. "Let's get you free." He reached for his shield. Remembering all the blood, Anissa winced and closed her eyes.
"Hold off for a second. We need to cover that body," Clint suggested. He looked back at the parked cars.
"That one on the end is mine," Don offered. "The Highlander. I've got a couple of beach towels and some cleaning supplies in there." In answer to a questioning look from Hawkeye, Don continued, "My sister and her boys were in town for a visit. My nephews are 3 and 5 and they made a god awful mess in my car."
"That benefits us," Clint said. "Where are the keys?"
Don shrugged. "They were in my hand when these terrorists knocked me out. I don't know where the keys went. Just break a window."
Hawkeye broke the window and took the beach towels, then he explored the back and found a bottle of spray cleaner, along with window cleaner, tire dressing, Turtle Wax and a box of clean rags. Don was busted as a clean freak.
Clint covered the terrorist's body with one towel, then cleaned and disinfected the shield with the other. He handed the shield to Cap, who seemed steadier on his feet by that time.
"A little less red on the white and blue," Clint said.
"Thanks." Steve slung the shield on his arm, hefted it a couple of times, then warned the others to cover their ears. He swung the shield back and forth, then struck with the edge of the shield. Once, twice, three times, the shield rang against the concrete pillars and neatly sliced the metal straps.
Steve winced. His head ached fiercely and the clanging noise didn't help.
Clint caught the still dazed guard. The other two hostages gratefully stepped away from their respective pillars. By common accord, they all moved away from Noman's body. They ended up with Don and Anissa sitting in Don's SUV, while the guard lay in back. Cap and Natasha sat on the floor, leaning against the vehicle and Clint perched on top, still on guard.
Tony found them chatting when he arrived with paramedics. Cap waved them off, directing them to the severely concussed guard. Tony was disappointed that he didn't even get to use his suit to free the prisoners.
"I could have stayed home," he complained. "You didn't need me at all."
"Well, I could really use a sandwich," Steve mused. "Or three." All that healing made him hungry.
"Ooh, yes, please," Anissa said. Growing a person made her constantly hungry, too.
"So you want me to take the most advanced personal combat suit in the world and make a deli run?" Tony said incredulously.
"Yes," Steve said.
"Please?" Anissa said, giving Tony a pleading look that the former playboy could not resist.
"Fine." Tony took everyone's orders and told Jarvis to transfer the information to Bernie's Deli.
"That's halfway across town," Clint pointed out, not arguing.
"Yes, but they know me there."
Stark blasted off.
A young man stood at the curb outside Bernie's Deli, holding a sturdy box.
"That for me?" joked a passing motorcyclist, as he waited for the light to change.
"No," the clerk looked up. "It's for him."
The biker gaped at Iron Man descending.
"Thanks, Chuck," Tony told the clerk.
"We didn't have any bananas, Mr. Stark," Chuck said, as he handed over the box. "But I ran over to the ice cream shop and got one for you."
"Excellent man. I've got a pregnant woman with a craving, so that banana is very important. Double the usual tip," Tony both promised the clerk and instructed Jarvis. Then he took off again and returned to his friends.
"Where should I put it?" Tony asked the others who were lounging around the vandalized SUV. The civilians were sitting inside and Clint had joined the other two Avengers on the floor. He flipped Cap's shield to create a bowl — a thoroughly scrubbed bowl — and gestured for Tony to deposit the Avengers' sandwiches there.
"Sure, why not," Tony said ironically. "Might as well get some use out of the thing."
A/N: I uploaded from my work computer. Went much faster this week!