Apologies for the uber-short chapter- the next one will be longer, though I can't guarantee you're gonna like it. And finally, I wrote a conversation with Steve in it that actually sounds in character. welp.
"Let me ask this again, just so were clear. Your telling me you had him and then you lost him?"
Steve winced at the quiet rage he heard in Fury's voice. He forced himself to sit up a bit straighter for the nurse attempting to check his pupils for signs of a concussion while another bandaged his arm, the bullets already removed.
"Yes, Sir," Steve replied, the self-loathing evident in his voice.
"Did you at least get a license plate we can work off of?"
"No, Sir," his voice was pained.
"Then tell me, Captain, what did you do?" Fury's voice was quiet.
Steve swallowed, "I...I broke down the door."
"You broke down the door?" Fury's voice took on a hint of disbelief. Clearly, he wasn't expecting the soldier to say that.
Steve could only nod, his voice leaving him for a moment.
The nurse used the tense silence: "Everything checks out, Captain. You got a nice knock to your head, but your body is working through your concussion at warp-speed. You might experience a bit of nausea and dizzyness, but nothing to worry about. A good night's rest and you'll only have a bit of soreness in your arm to remind you that there were any bullets there."
Steve nodded his thanks as the nurse walked away before looking at Fury in the eye. "I'll make this right."
Fury sighed, "Captain, to be honest with you, you've become more of a liability to this case than an aid. Mistakes aren't an option in this line of work. You have an order and you stick to it. Mistakes happen for a reason. If you're emotionally compromised, you can't do the job the way you were meant to."
Steve breathed heavily, his nostrils flaring, his patience waning, "With all due respect, Sir, what other option do you have?"
Fury crossed his arms, considering Steve, "Fair point. You were our best option. I don't know if you still are."
Steve looked to the horizon, his eyes squinting, "Well we're not getting anything done by me sitting here. God knows where they have Tony right now."
Fury's eye narrowed when he heard his captain using Stark's first name, but if Steve noticed his mistake, he didn't let on.
Tony went through several wake cycles, never fully regaining his consciousness before slipping back into a drug-induced oblivion. Images flashed behind his eyelids and a voice droned on, perhaps it was even his own, though he was too out of it to be sure. He felt comfortable, but he definitely felt like his movement was his body was comfortable, his mind felt like it was thrashing every which way, and more than anything, he just wanted it to stop.
The next time he woke, he saw a warm glowing screen before him, a set of complicated but not impossible equations set out, waiting to be solved. His brain took immediate comfort in the familiarness of the task, and he quickly worked through each problem, the images and droning voice fading into the background.
What felt like only seconds later, the equations were solved and he was met with blissful silence. Finally satiated, Tony fell into a dreamless and glorious sleep.
"He worked through those quantum mechanics algorithms like they were children's fodder!"
"And he took to our external stimuli even better than we could have expected. I recommend you reward him with something more complicated. Keep it positive until we need to change tactics."
A small chuckle could be heard over the communications system. "And I have just the thing for him."
Aww, look at Steve, all emotionally compromised.