Disclaimer: I don't own Marvel comics or characters or movies, and am making no money off of this fic.
AN: Written for the October 28th Spooktober prompt: bone.
Do What We Can (and pray it's enough) by luvsanime02
Natasha hears the snap of bone, and she doesn't flinch. She does stop moving as slowly forward through the duct system as before. She does stop being quite so careful about whether or not anyone can hear her.
The worst part is that there's no response. No shout. No scream. Not even a hitch in Barnes's breathing, as far as Natasha can tell.
It's not surprising, of course. It is sad, though. Natasha's had the unfortunate experience of breaking someone's bone here and there over the years. Breaking someone else's arm is a lot harder than it looks. You have to apply just the right amount of force and pressure. It's all physics, she tried to tell herself the first time. And Natasha wasn't wrong.
It's also pain and screaming and the betrayal in that person's eyes, as much as they try to hide it, that you would hurt them in such a fundamental way. Breaking someone else's bones is personal, as much as Natasha has always tried to distance herself from her actions during those times.
Barnes isn't looking betrayed, Natasha knows with grim certainty. She can't see his face right now, can't read his eyes, but she can read the silence in the next room over well enough. Barnes has been hurt too much over the years, by too many people. He's not feeling betrayed. She wonders if he's even feeling the pain, or if he's distanced himself from the feeling in the same way that she would have.
Natasha's had her own bones broken before, too. Once her arm, twice her leg. One time was on a mission. The other two times were controlled situations during training. Those were worse. There's a certain amount of awful helplessness you feel while watching a teacher break your arm or leg and knowing that you cannot retaliate. That you can do nothing but watch.
Natasha has no doubt that Barnes has experienced that same sense of helplessness. If the people who have Barnes right now are trying to break him this way, then they obviously have no idea who he actually is. Which is something of a relief, even though Natasha is baffled by their ignorance. It's not like there are all that many stealth operatives out there with an artificial arm.
This works in her favor, though. Natasha crawls forward until she's over the room, briefly looks down to assess where everyone is, and then she drops the tear gas. Barnes will not thank her for that, but neither will he complain, and he should have seen the canister fall and had enough time to close his eyes and control his breathing so that he won't be as affected by the chemicals.
Natasha waits thirty seconds, and then breaks through the vent, falling lightly into the room. The four people standing barely even notice her in the room with them before she's killed them all. Probably, Natasha could have cleared the room by knocking them out. Maybe there would have been some intel she could have gathered from them first.
Like how in the hell they'd managed to capture Barnes if they didn't even know who he was.
She can get all of that information from Barnes, though, and even if not, Natasha doesn't care. She'll deal with the consequences later.
When everyone else but the two of them are dead, Natasha turns towards Barnes and assess his condition carefully. He's been hit quite a few times, with a pistol by the looks of the bruises forming, and his right forearm has a sliver of sharp, white bone sticking out of the skin.
"Fancy meeting you here," Natasha says breezily, like she wasn't called in and given a mission specifically to find and extract him. She walks over, telegraphing her moves carefully, and works on releasing Barnes from his restraints. And that's when she notices that, even for him, Barnes is being quiet and docile.
Natasha eyes him from closer up, and finally sees how blown-out his pupils are. Great. They've drugged him. And with something good, from the looks of it.
"What did they give you?" Natasha asks briskly, in no mood to try and carry a high supersoldier through a compromised building. Hopefully, it's something that will wear off soon enough.
"500 mg of laudanum," Barnes mutters quietly.
...What. What? Surely, Natasha is mistaken. Barnes couldn't have said what he just did.
"Why?" Natasha asks, raising an eyebrow. Why would they capture someone and then poison them right away? Why go to the effort of putting Barnes in a cell if they're just going to kill him? Because 500 mg of laudanum would kill anyone but Barnes and Steve - and Bruce, maybe.
Barnes shrugs. His broken arm is definitely not bothering him at the moment. No wonder. He should be dead. He would be, if he wasn't a supersoldier.
"Wanted S.H.I.E.L.D. intel," he says, sounding surprisingly lucid, all things considered. "Figured they could get it out of me before I died."
Except Barnes has no S.H.I.E.L.D. intel to hand over because he's not a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, for all that he sometimes supports certain missions. Except Barnes isn't going to die after being injected with laudanum, because he has advanced healing.
Natasha still really needs to get him to a doctor. He's going to like that about as much as he probably enjoyed getting his arm broken. Or even less.
"Let's get out of here," Natasha says, instead of mentioning anything else that's running through her mind.
Barnes nods, and then promptly passes out, and Natasha takes two seconds to curse quietly in her head before she pulls out her phone and sets off the remote detonators that she set up earlier. Natasha didn't want to have to use that option, but she needs a way to get through the hallways without being noticed by every single damn person in this building.
She also clearly needs a gurney or a wheelchair, or some other way of carrying Barnes around, and goes on a quick search of the nearby hallways. Ten minutes later, and Natasha has a rickety table on wheels that she's pretty sure is normally used as a breakfast cart.
She gets Barnes up on the table, and honestly, she might have strained her shoulder pretty badly in the process. Dead weight, Barnes is very heavy. She had to brace them both against a wall to even lift him up about a foot off the ground. He's on the table now, though, and so far, it's holding his weight.
Natasha starts pushing. The whole thing creaks alarmingly, but it goes forward when she puts enough effort behind her shoving. It's slow going, but they are making progress. Everyone else inside of the building is preoccupied with the explosions, and Natasha only runs into three men on her way out. She handles them easily, and then they're outside.
Natasha wheels them over to a van, maneuvers Barnes into the back, and then gratefully abandons the cart and hotwires the vehicle. She won't be able to use the van for too long - doesn't trust that there's no tracking on it somewhere.
It'll do for now, though. At least until Barnes wakes up.
Natasha does not believe this shit, sometimes. She hasn't even had time to wrap up Barnes's arm, and with anyone else, she'd be worried about infection, but she doubts that'll be a problem here. Even if Barnes does end up getting an infection, they can deal with it.
Laudanum. Natasha still isn't over that. She glances in the rear view mirror and sees Barnes still unconscious, the white jut of bone sticking up out of his arm, and thinks to herself that at least she should be able to track down some more members of that organization through the sale of the drug.
Laudanum is understandably a very controlled substance, and while Natasha doesn't doubt that there's black market options available, she'll still be able to use her contacts and find out where and when. That's all she'll need to find out who sold it and who bought it, especially in those quantities.
Natasha drives and plans, and focuses on getting Barnes to safety. He'll appreciate her efforts when he wakes up, she's sure. He'll appreciate the broken arm less, but they'll deal with that then, too. That's what they do, she thinks grimly, people like them. They cope with the hurts dealt to them.
At least Natasha can help Barnes - is helping him right now. She can't heal his broken bone or clear his system of the poison that he's been injected with, but she can get him somewhere safe. She can kill the people who hurt him, and take him to the people who can heal him, and so that's what Natasha will do.
It's enough. That's what Natasha has learned. Her efforts may not be able to magically fix everything wrong, but she tries, and that's enough. It's all that anyone can do, really.