A/N: Hey there, me again! With more Avengers action. Big props to the people over at The Beta Branch for letting me take the whumps they did in other stories and putting it in a new Avengers one. We had to make lists. Seriously. Anywho, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy! The next chapter shouldn't be too long in coming.
There was a blinding pain in his leg, consuming all other sensation. He groaned as he returned to consciousness, not opening his eyes. Besides the molten fire that was in his leg, the rest of his body felt like it had been thrown through a concrete wall.
Steve had a sudden realization that he had been thrown through a concrete wall.
The memories came flooding back. The super-enhanced Hammer drone had shot something at Iron Man's helmet, propelling him downwards into Steve and Clint, through the street in Moscow and now…
Steve opened his eyes, searching frantically for the hole they had made when all three of them fell through the street, and looking around to see why they weren't buried under the earth. They were in some sort of subway tunnel, but judging by the moss growing down the walls, it had been abandoned for years. Steve looked above him, but asphalt and more concrete were now covering what they fell through. They'd probably have to walk. Steve cursed, as he tried to sit up to gauge what had happened to Tony and Clint and why neither of them were currently running their mouths.
A jolt of pain shot through his thigh, and he bit off a scream as he fell back, breathing hard. His femur, then. If it had been his lower leg, he might be able to hobble out of here, but with a broken femur his right leg was as good as useless. He turned his head to one side, locating Clint a few feet away. The archer was on his side in a tangle of limbs, unconscious. Steve could see blood matting his hair over his left ear. He turned his head to the other side, and saw the Iron Man armor facing away from him, unmoving.
"Guys," he whispered painfully. Neither answered. He touched a finger to his ear, trying to get his comm to work, but he heard only static. He looked at Clint again, who was breathing normally, and didn't seem to be bleeding too badly. Mentally apologizing, he started to crawl towards Tony, dragging his busted leg behind him. Each movement sent unbelievable waves of pain down his leg, and he moaned every time he moved, sweat cascading down his face and back.
He reached Tony and rolled him towards him, gasping at what he saw.
The drone's missile had penetrated the facemask, but failed to explode. It was now sticking out of the helmet like some comical gag, right under the left eye. Steve reached for the "ear" of the helmet, trying to find the manual release for the mask. He fumbled around for a few minutes, before he finally found the release valve, and the mask popped open. Luckily, the missile itself hadn't hit Tony's face, but the man was unconscious, and he could already see angry red welts around his eyes and cheeks. "Oh, Tony," he winced in sympathy. He did not look good. He took off the ruined helmet. The effort still jostled Steve's broken leg, and he did his best not to cry out. He briefly looked at the faceplate again, startling when it gave a spark. He winced, looking again at Tony. Not only did it look like his hope of using Jarvis to call for help was dead in the water, but Steve was now pretty sure that the defunct missile hadn't caused Tony's burns.
He started pulling his way across the rubble back over to Clint, moaning painfully. It worried him the archer still hadn't moved. Also, if he wanted to be honest with himself, he needed his bow to splint his leg. It was the only thing long enough. By the time he made it over, he was drenched with sweat, and he angrily pulled back his cowel as he checked the archer for more injuries. The head wound was deeper than Steve thought upon closer inspection, but luckily only bleeding slowly. Steve tore away part of his sleeve, holding it to Clint's head.
He had only been holding it there for a few minutes before he heard Tony groan.
"Tony?" he called tentatively.
Tony groaned again painfully before Steve caught a mumbled "Did I lose a fight with Banner again?" Steve allowed himself a relieved smile. At least Tony had his sense of humor.
"Listen, Tony, you may not want to open-"
He was cut off by a cry of pain and the sound of metal shifting over rock. "Tony?"
"Fuck, FUCK!" Steve hurriedly placed a rock next to the cloth on Clint's head, holding it in place as he tried to crawl quickly back over to Tony. His third crawl proved pretty difficult, and he was winded and light headed by the time he made it over, to see Tony on his side and reaching for his burned eyes.
"No, Tony don't! You'll get them infected!"
Even with the gauntlets Steve could tell that Tony's hands were trembling as he held them in place an inch away from his face. Whether in pain or frustration was hard to say. "Do they hurt?"
"Why can't I see, Steve?" Tony whispered painfully.
Steve's heart sank. "I think the burns are superficial. They'll probably heal soon," Steve tried to reassure his friend. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"
"Oh, you mean besides being completely BLIND?" Tony snapped.
"I need to know, Tony."
"Don't think so," he mumbled.
"Good, because I need your help."
Tony groaned. "What the fuck happened to you?"
"Broke my femur," Steve said succinctly.
Tony moaned. "There's no hope. No fuckin' hope for us…"
"Tony, suck it up, Clint's still unconscious, and we WILL get out of here." Unbidden, Steve fell into commanding mode, which probably wasn't the best thing to do with Tony.
"Suck it up? YOU suck it up, you old, order-taking, goody two-shoe…SPAZ! I'm BLIND. Do you realize how WORTHLESS I am now? I won't be able to do ANYTHING, be Iron Man, write software, make goddamn…origami boobs…"
"Don't you get it? We're not getting out of here, and even if we were, I'm gonna be a fucking welfare case! I can't…I can't…" Tony's voice had been gradually rising, but now he trailed off with a deep sniff.
"One thing at a time, Tony," Steve said gently. "You just woke up, and first thing's first, we have to get out of here. If I direct you, can you get Clint's bow?"
Tony took a deep breath, rolling over and getting to his knees. Steve inwardly took a deep breath of relief; Tony could be difficult at the best of times, but it seemed at the worst of times his propensity to actually help people won out.
"He's not gonna be happy when he wakes up," Tony mumbled.
"Okay, now take three steps forward…those are too big of steps…take one back…good. Now turn 35 degrees to your left. Take two steps forward-"
There was a crash as Tony tripped over some rubble and fell to the ground. Steve sighed as Tony cursed, trying to punch the thing that tripped him and missing completely, his armored fist making cracks appear in the concrete floor instead. That was Tony's second fall and he was becoming increasingly more frustrated.
Steve tried to distract him for a moment. "How does your armor still move so easily without your helmet?"
"It's on manual, just attached to the arc reactor for power," Tony mumbled, getting to his knees again.
"You can probably reach the bow from there. It's about three feet in front of you," Steve said. Tony leaned forward and felt around, until his hand came into contact with the bow's upper limb. He pulled it forward than got to his feet. Steve continued to try and give him directions.
"I can fucking get back!" he snapped. He then immediately tripped again, and the already abused bow string snapped, sending the limb flying back into his burned face. Tony cried out in agony as the pain multiplied from the hot burn into a solar flare running down his neck and through his torso. He moaned, cursed, and just tried to breathe through it.
Steve could only watch helplessly while his friend shuttered in agony. He didn't know what to say. He couldn't ask if he was okay, he clearly wasn't. He couldn't tell him it'd be okay. He waited for Tony's moans to die down until it was only the mumbled "fucks" and hisses under his breath.
"Tony?" he asked gently.
"Still here, Captain," he mumbled. "But ready to kill myself. Unless that shield of yours is…" he paused as another wave of pain ripped through his face. "Fuck!...some kinda…vodka dispenser."
"Vodka's not American," Steve joked. Tony let out a snicker, getting to his feet again with an exhausted sigh. They both paused as another moan came from a few feet away.
"Clint?" Tony called hesitantly in the direction of the noise.
"Where…where am I?" Steve exhaled a relieved sigh. At least Clint was back with them, and not blind, or with any more visible injuries aside from the head wound which seemed to have stopped bleeding.
Tony gave a sarcastic chuckle. "Oh, look who decided to join the fun. Glad you're awake, get over here."
"Iron Man? What…are you doing with my bow?" Steve saw Clint sit up with a very confused expression on his face.
"Clint, are you injured anywhere else?" Steve called over. Clint turned to look at him then, and his expression became even more confused.
"Who are you supposed to be?" Steve gave a shocked look in Tony's direction before remembering the other man couldn't see it.
"Your dearest leader? And all that nonsense? The guy who generally keeps us out of trouble?" Steve heard the note of confusion in Tony's voice.
"My leader? Who is he? Also, why are you here?" Tony looked like he was about to press his hand in frustration to his face before remembering the burns, and Steve's heart sunk for the second time that hour.
"We are so fucked," Tony moaned.
Luckily, it seemed that Clint hadn't forgotten too much of his SHIELD training, or that he was in SHIELD. As soon as Tony had explained to him that they needed the bow to splint Steve's femur, he had reluctantly agreed to help. Steve was currently trying to explain who he was to someone who had forgotten about the past yearof current events. It was an odd feeling, being more in the know about it than someone else. Tony was sulking, sitting on the ground with his back towards the pair. Steve spared him a few sympathetic glances now and again, but generally was too consumed by the burning sensations that shot down the whole right side of his body whenever Clint moved it slightly.
"Sooooo, you survived in suspended animation, for like...70 years..." Clint said dubiously as he lined the bow up from Steve's waist to his ankle, tying it around his leg with the two bow string halves.
Steve gritted his teeth. "Yeah...and we've...been on the same team...since..."
Clint snorted as he used the straps from Steve's gloves to further secure the bow in place. "No offense...Captain, but I find that really fuckin' hard to believe."
"Believe it," Tony grumbled.
"I also find it really hard to believe that you, of all people, would work for Fury. Or that he'd put up with you."
"Well, that makes two of us."
"Look, the only reason I'm helping you two morons out is because you're obviously Iron Man. No one else has that technology. But as soon as we're outta here, I'm outta here. I still don't really believe you guys about all this...random crap."
Steve said "That's understandable," at the same time Tony said "Get over it, Jerkeye, we're on a team, end of story."
Clint bristled at the comment."Wow, the tabloids really didn't lie about how much of an asshole you are."
Tony turned, not quite facing the direction that Clint was in. "Wanna fight about it tough guy?"
Clint barked out a laugh, wincing slightly as he touched his hand to his head. But his sneer came back quick enough. "You're blind as a bat, and you really want to fight me? All I have to do is sneak up behind you and poke you in the eye and you'll be down."
There was a whine as Tony charged up his repulsors. "That's all, huh?"
"Tony, knock it off!" Steve barked. The repulsors powered down,and Tony turned around, back to sulking.
Clint gave another doubtful sneer. "Oh, yeah, cause you really sound like a guy I'd be teammates with, trying to blow me up."
Tony whipped around, pure rage painted on the unburnt parts of his face. "You ungrateful little prick!"
"Guys! Both of you! Stop it! Barton, SHIELD put our team together, and you're on it. Your memory will come back soon enough, I'm sure. Tony, don't antagonize him, we've got enough problems as it is." Steve's commanding officer tone seemed to do the trick, and Clint shut up for a moment. Tony turned away, no longer antagonizing the situation, but making no offer to help it either.
Steve gave a deep breath, trying to think over the pain his leg was causing him. "So...I think...maybe if Tony carries me on his back...and Clint you can walk in front and be our eyes and hold my leg..."
"I am not piggy-backing you somewhere." Tony asserted.
"Then what do you suggest, Tony? Because quite frankly, our options are very limited!" Steve was starting to lose his temper. He knew the blindness and Clint's non-friendly attitude were pushing Tony towards the brink of insanity, but it still got under his skin. He breathed a deep sigh again. He turned to look at Clint. "Do you think you can do that?"
Barton gave a non-commital shrug. "Sure," he mumbled.
"Then help me up."
Steve groaned as he was moved, and even though the pain wasn't as bad before because of the bow-splint, he was still sweating by the time he stood up, as well as breathing hard and leaning heavily on Clint. The archer seemed to be having trouble holding his entire body weight as well, as a sort of green look came over him and he began breathing through his nose.
"You okay?" Steve mumbled.
"Me? You're the one who looks terrible."
Tony had gotten up as well, and was taking tiny steps, feeling for rubble with his boots as he made his way towards them.
"Okay, Tony, turn around." Tony did so, squatting a little and holding his arms out. Steve would have laughed at the image if he wasn't in so much pain.
"Piggy back time," Clint said before maneuvering Steve onto Tony's back, letting his splinted leg hang there for a moment. The movement left Steve winded and he shoved his face into the cool metal plating.
"Cap. you still with us?" Tony asked with concern.
"Yeah, just...just need...a sec..."
He felt Clint gently take his ankle and pull it forward around Tony's waist, holding it parallel to the ground. Steve continued to press his face into Tony's back, breathing through his teeth.
Slowly, they set off into the darkness ahead.
It was very slow-going as Clint, using the light from Tony's suit behind him, had to explain to Tony where to step. They must have looked like some weirdly colored rickshaw, with Steve hanging on Tony's back, his leg being held up in front of them both by Clint, who was decidedly unhappy about pairing with two people he didn't seem to know, one of whom he most definitely seemed to hate.
They had only been walking about twenty minutes when without any warning, Clint dropped Steve's leg and stumbled over to the side of the tunnel to vomit. The leg hitting the ground sharply made pain tear up Steve's whole side, which in turn made him flinch and grab Tony's face accidentally. Tony screamed, dropping him, as he tried to claw the stray hand off his burning face.
Steve hit the floor, writhing, with Tony dropping to his knees beside him breathing loudly, hands held inches from his face and unable to alleviate the pain, and Clint dry heaving somewhere off to the side.
In short, they were a mess.
When Steve could speak again, he apologized profusely to Tony.
" 's fine," Tony mumbled, his voice strained.
Steve frowned, before turning in the direction he last saw Clint dive off to. "Clint?"
The archer's tired voice answered him as he came back into the light. "Is it…like this with you people…all the time?"
Steve said "No," at the same time Tony said "Yes."
"To be fair, we normally win," Tony added, his voice pained.
"Well…you didn't win against this," Clint said sourly, sinking to the floor.
"It's your loss too, asshole!"
"I don't remember being there."
"Doesn't mean you weren't! God, you stubborn, piece of shit!"
"Come over here and say that to my face…if you can find it."
Tony let out an infuriated, pained growl before he got to his feet and stumbled off in the wrong direction, tripping again with a crash.
"BARTON! Stop it. Please, just…" Steve took deep, calming breaths as he listened to Tony's harsh, angry breathing. He didn't know how they were going to get out this. "Just…don't talk to each other, please."
For once, neither of them replied. Steve knew Tony was frustrated and scared about his loss of vision, but he was probably more hurt by Clint's sudden loss of friendship than he cared to admit. Steve knew from personal experience, Tony didn't let people in easily, and it had taken months of close calls for him to be able to trust the others enough to completely drop his façade.
As for Clint, the other man was in an unfamiliar situation with unfamiliar people. When he had first met Clint, the man had a different sort of lone wolf thing than Tony had, and Steve could see him slipping into it now, using insults to set up a buffer between him and at this point what he counted as liabilities.
Steve understood all this, but it didn't make him less disheartened by it.
"We shouldn't have to go too much longer before we find some sort of exit…" Steve tried to assure them, but not at all sounding convincing.
They all caught their breaths before Tony reluctantly got to his feet and Clint came over to help maneuver Steve back onto his back. It went a little quicker this time, though Captain was still our of breath by the time he was on Tony's back. As they started, he realized not only was Clint taking slower, steadier steps, but Tony's had gone from cautious to almost sluggish. Tony was probably beginning to go into shock from not having those burns treated properly, and Clint's head wound wasn't doing them any favors besides the amnesia. Steve's leg sunk down on the pain scale from unbearable to hurt like a fuckin' mother (he had Clint and Tony to thank for his expanded 21st century pain vocabulary), so he hoped it meant it was starting to heal. He still wasn't sure how fast his own regenerative capabilities were, especially in the wake of a broken femur, but he'd take every positive sign.
Steve heard a contemplative "Hmm," from Clint then and stretched to peer over Tony's shoulder, noting the blocked tunnel ahead of them.
" 'Hmm'? What's 'Hmm'?" Tony asked irritably.
"The tunnel's blocked," Steve answered.
Tony said nothing for a moment before he bit out a "Fuckin' fantastic."
"Well, wait," Steve said. "If Clint can aim your repulsor at a corner of it to blast it out of the way…the tunnel won't collapse, right? Because it's not attached."
"That…could work," Tony said tiredly. Clint looked back at them skeptically, but seeing the determined look on Steve's face, gently lowered his leg to the ground, freeing the use of Tony's hand. Tony held it up, and Clint sidled up next to him, taking a hold of his wrist to aim.
"Don't you dare say anything about this," he grumbled.
"Wouldn't dream of it, princess. Besides, it's not that bad. You're just my targeting computer. It's the Captain here that's getting a free pony ride."
"Just do it, Tony." Steve sighed.
There was surprisingly little kickback as Clint aimed and Tony fired. Steve continued watching from Tony's back as the rocks and concrete were blasted further back down the tunnel and out of the way.
"See? We are a team," Tony said sarcastically. Clint gave him a heated glare before dropping his arm and moving back around to pick up the Captain's leg. They heard a noise from the tunnel then, and everyone paused as it grew closer. It was the sound of metal hitting concrete lightly.
Steve gave a dumbfounded look as a Hammer droid stepped lightly into view.
"What IS that?" Clint said.
"What? What? Can't see here!" Tony said, worriedly.
"Looks like the drone's back to finish the job."