Chapter 14: Out of the Wreckage

Pietro came to slowly, his senses all fogged by pain and smoke. The room around him was utterly destroyed, patches of fire smoldering. Clint was still on top of him, unconscious. Pietro gently rolled him off and sat up, checking Clint's pulse. Thank God, he was still alive. He gave Clint a little shake, trying to wake him.

"Clint," he said, his voice hoarse from the smoke. "Come on, Clint, wake up."

No luck. He glanced around. The explosion had thoroughly demolished the room and it looked like the ceiling might cave in at any moment. They had to get out of there. Pietro got to his feet, then bent back down and lifted Clint in his arms. He was strong, but he certainly wasn't Captain America, and Clint was a lot heavier than he looked. Between carrying Clint and his own exhaustion, there wasn't much chance of a quick exit. He readjusted his hold on Clint, then began the painfully slow walk through the wreckage.

The explosion had ripped a hole in the side of the hotel, leading straight outside. Pietro stumbled over the rubble piled up there and emerged into the street through a massive cloud of black smoke.

"Pietro!" a voice called.

He looked up. Wanda was running toward him, closely followed by Natasha, the rest of the Avengers not far behind. Pietro smiled in relief and staggered forward a few more steps, then his knees buckled. He lowered Clint to the ground as gently as he could before collapsing into a coughing fit. Suddenly, Wanda was at his side.

"Are you okay?" she asked frantically.

Pietro just nodded. Natasha had joined them and was now kneeling next to Clint, looking worried.

"It's okay, he's alive," Pietro said.

"Oh thank God," Natasha sighed. "And the bomber?"

"She got away."


"We might be able to track her down, though," Pietro said. "She sort of told us more than she should've, probably 'cause she assumed we would die."

"Good," said Natasha. "Whatever these people want, I doubt they'll stop at just blowing up a hotel. They'll strike again."

Just then, Clint groaned and opened his eyes with a grimace.

"Hey look, we survived," he mumbled.

"Yeah, we did," said Pietro, smiling at him.

"Thanks to you. That's two I owe you, kid."

Pietro leaned down and kissed Clint on the forehead.

"You saved me twice today," he said. "I think we can call it even."

The End...

...Or is it?