Hello dears! This story was kind of like a personal challenge because there's hardly any interactive dialogue until closer to the end; most of it is just Tony rambling lol. I hope he didn't end up sounding too much like Deadpool O.o Also, sorry for the hate of 50 Shades of Grey; I know a lot of people like it but Tony is definitely not one of them lol! Hope you all like it! :D
Disclaimer: I own nothing =/
"You know Steve, we've been friends for a while now and I've suddenly come to the realization that I have no idea what your favorite color is. That's weird, right? I mean, favorite color is kinda like "friendship 101" territory, you know? 'Hi, my name is Bob. I live in Tulsa. My favorite color is blue. Let's be friends.' It's just common courtesy to tell someone what your favorite color is. I don't know why, really. Reasons, I guess." Tony's voice bounces off the walls around them, loud and booming in the silence of the tunnel.
Its dark, the ground lit only by the single beam of light extending from Tony's helmet. Its cold too, the tunnel extending far below ground level to the deeper depths of the subway tunnels that push and flow all over the place below the city. Normally, they'd be worrying about the possibility of getting run over by one of the subway trains that criss-cross through the tunnels but the bomb threat prevented a large majority of them from running on the lower levels. Just as well, honestly; said bomb had destroyed a large chunk of the rails and the tunnel on the lower levels and it would have been a complete disaster if a car had been running through here at the time of the collapse. There weren't any cars to get caught in the cave in though, just Tony and Steve. Two is better than two hundred any day.
"I mean really, I'm almost certain I've told you my favorite color at least once. I don't see how that could have been avoided. It's orange, by the way, just in case you forgot," Tony babbles on because he hates the silence and he really hates this tunnel and he especially hates the fact that Steve's not answering him. The super soldier is currently hanging limply next to Tony's side, one arm draped around the billionaire's neck and the other dangling by his side uselessly. His face is cut and bruised, blond hair matted and caked with blood, and his skin has taken on an unhealthy pallor in the dim light of the tunnel. Tony had long since given up trying to get him to walk on his own, seeing as how Steve was completely unconscious by this point, and had resorted to simply dragging him along.
The tunnel rumbles overhead ominously and Tony feels just a tiny sparkle of apprehension in his stomach at the sound. Just before his communications went offline, JARVIS had told him that the rest of the tunnel was stable but that it wouldn't remain that way for long. They needed to get out of the tunnel and back to the surface soon before the entire thing collapsed on top of them. That had been well over a half hour ago and Tony felt like they were no closer to the surface than when they'd started.
He blinks up at the darkened ceiling, pulling the light away from the floor for a minute to examine the pseudo-intact tunnel above their heads. It was still standing but large, angry cracks webbed their way across the thick concrete and rained dust down on top of their heads as they walked. Tony could hear tiny pieces of concrete bouncing off his helmet occasionally as they walked, each one pinging off the scratched, dented metal and disappearing off into the darkness of the ground. If any of it was falling on Steve's head, it didn't seem to bother him; hell, he didn't even seem to notice. He'd been deadweight and unconscious nearly the entire time they'd been walking, eyes closed and face streaked with blood that seemed to get darker and more noticeable with every minute they stayed down in this tunnel. Tony figures that's what happened with head wounds but he's not a doctor so he can't really be sure. He needs Banner for that diagnosis but Bruce along with the rest of their team is above ground tending to the teeming masses of people evacuated from the tunnel. They're on their own until they get closer to the surface.
"You know, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say your favorite color is probably something really obvious like yellow or purple. It better not be blue…I swear to God, if you say any combination of red, white, or blue, I might punch you in your broken leg. It can't be any variation of the color either; you can't like crimson, azure, or antique lace. Seriously. I will punch you in your broken leg if you say anything at all relating favorite colors and patriotism. The others will probably sign your cast but I'll punch you."
Tony stops just long enough to readjust Steve's weight on his shoulder before he starts walking again. The damage done to his own suit made it nearly impossible to carry Steve for more than a couple minutes and he was pretty sure he hadn't walked away unscathed from the collapse either. One wrist aches and throbs in a way that makes it pretty clear it's broken and he's pretty sure his left shoulder is dislocated. Coupled with the cuts and bruises he'd sustained from the tunnel caving in, he wasn't faring too well either but he was definitely doing better than Steve.
"Which reminds me, I owe you a punch in the junk for throwing yourself on top of me when that tunnel was giving way. You just had to go and martyr yourself out and make me look bad, huh? Damn masochist… I have the suit Steve, an iron suit which is pretty damn close to full body armor that protects me from things like falling rocks and slabs of concrete. You don't; you have a shield and a body suit that looks suspiciously like footy pajamas. Seriously, we're going to have to talk to Coulson about redesigning your suit, it makes you look like a star-spangled toddler running around the city. I saw the pictures of your old costume back in the 40s; very stylish and very manly. I think it would make Chuck Norris weep patriotic tears out of pride. You have no idea who that is, do you? The suit was quite fetching if you ask me. But that's not the point; the point is we need to fix your suit. And you're an idiot. Mostly the point is you're an idiot."
There's a crackle of static in his ear and Tony stops again, freezing almost instantly in the hopes that there might be some chance he's getting signal again. He doubts it, they're both still too far down to get signal for much of anything, but still, it's worth a shot. He waits for a second, hoping to hear the crackle again but nothing happens. Frustrated, he walks over to the closest wall and carefully lowers Steve to the ground, propping him against the wall gently before walking back to the middle of the tunnel and walking a few feet forward and back trying to gain some kind of signal. He lifts one arm in the air, tilts his head to the side, even jumps a few times (which was a mistake he regretted instantly as it jarred his injuries painfully) all in the hopes of gaining some bit of progress but its useless. They're way too far down and his suit is way too damaged to pick up anything more than the occasional crackle and buzz of static as they walk. He sighs and walks back over to Steve.
The soldier is slumped against the wall, head hanging down and eyes closed behind the bruises that scatter across his face. He'd almost look like he was sleeping if he wasn't covered in blood and barely breathing. The cowl had been torn away at some point, the material hanging in a shredded, bloody clump around his neck that makes it look like the world's saddest hoodie. A deep, bloody gash extends from his hair line, across his temple and disappears behind his ear; there's some slight deformity beneath the gash and Tony has a sickening feel it means some kind of skull fracture but he can't be sure. Steve's right leg is covered in blood as well, long tears and rips cutting their way through the material and exposing the bruise-blacked skin beneath it. Steve's leg wasn't just a little bit broken, it was really broken in about four or five different places. Super soldier or not, Tony knew an injury like that wasn't going to heal itself over night and for the first time he was silently glad that Steve had been unconscious for most of this trip. There were probably a lot more injuries he couldn't see, things hidden beneath that red, white, and blue body suit he'd been giving Steve so much crap for. Internal bleeding and broken bones, cracked ribs and punctured lungs; Tony didn't know how to check for any of that but he knew that if they stayed down here any longer, chances were that Steve would eventually succumb to one of those injuries.
He takes off the helmet carefully and sets it aside as he leans forward and presses his ear to Steve's chest. He can't exactly check for a pulse when his hands are covered in metal gloves and since JARVIS is offline and isn't displaying the vital signs readouts on the visual display of the helmet, he'll have to do things the old fashioned way. Steve's heartbeat is weak and uneven, his breathing thready and shallow, and Tony is more convinced now than ever that there's definitely some internal bleeding. He sighs heavily as he pulls away and grabs his helmet.
"You know, you're not allowed to die down here. Coulson will have my balls in a jar on his desk if he finds out I let you die down here. Yeah, he looks all sweet and innocent on the outside but that guy could kill both of us in more ways than we know how to die. There's a reason he's Fury's right hand man." Tony reaches forward and grabs Steve's arm, looping it back over his shoulder and standing slowly. Steve hangs next to him limply like a life-size rag doll. "We should keep going, don't you think? I've never been really big on enclosed spaces or being buried alive. This tunnel is kind of enforcing both of those insecurities to the surface right about now."
They walk in silence for a while, more Tony walking with Steve being dragged along beside him than anything. There's a very slight ray of hope when the tunnel begins to open up a bit further ahead, the air easier to breathe and the cracks in the ceiling shrinking into tiny fissures rather than gaping crevices. Tony figures they have to be getting closer to the surface now, they've been walking long enough and it shouldn't be too much farther before they see the first breaks of light indicating the opening of the subway platforms. It gives him more hope than he's had for the past hour so he keeps trudging on, Steve dragging a bit beside him.
"I bet your favorite color is brown. Brown was a color back in the 40's right? They'd discovered the color spectrum by that time? You know, I went through this phase when I was about seven when I didn't primary colors existed until the 1960's. For some reason I thought everything before 1962 was just black and white and grey. Different shades for different occasions, you know? And everything else had this weird sepia tone like in the Wizard of Oz before Dorothy became a murderer and dropped a house on a woman. Back when she was in Kansas and everything sucked. Kansas sucks, it really does. Nothing but corn fields and windmills in my opinion. And I know you know what I'm talking about with the Wizard of Oz; you got that flying monkey reference Fury made so I know damn well you've seen that movie."
Tony's rambling, he knows he is, but he can't really help it. He tends to fall into this random stream of consciousness spouting when he's nervous and right now definitely qualifies as one of those times. Despite the fact that the tunnel is opening up ahead of them, they're still miles underground and Steve is getting heavier by the second, his wounds looking worse and worse, and Tony's own body is beginning to ache with effort. He can't stop though, at least not until they get closer to the surface and he can send a transmission for help. He winces as his injured shoulder is jarred a bit beneath Steve's weight and clenches his teeth. "I bet you had a crush on Judy Garland."
A few more minutes of silence passes as they keep pushing forward, Tony's breathing raspy and harsh in the silence of the tunnel and Steve's breathing barely making a sound at all. A fork in the tunnel looms up ahead, split and dark in either direction and Tony pulls to a stop, looking at both tunnels carefully. Both seem relatively stable, equally dark on either side, but there's the chance that one could take them deeper into the spider web of subway tunnels beneath the city and away from the surface they've been seeking for the past hour. Tony vaguely wishes he had a coin to flip because neither option seems more inviting at the moment.
"What do you think, super solider? Left or right?" Tony shakes his uninjured shoulder a bit, jostling Steve against his arm. Steve doesn't answer, he doesn't make any acknowledgement at having heard Tony speak at all. His blood coats Tony's metal covered arm in a sleek streak that looks a lot like oil in the darkness. A tiny drop of it drips off the tip of his chin, splattering against the ground below them. Tony can't really tell if the blood is coming from Steve's head wound or his nose and for a second he just stands there contemplating it, wondering where it came from and how long it had been there.
He looks back at the division of tunnels ahead of them, eying each opening critically. "I think we should take the left tunnel. That sounds just as good as any, right? Doesn't moss always grow on the left side of trees or something? I'm not really sure, I was never a boy scout. Banner told me you were though. I almost laughed before I realized he was serious. You probably made your scout master proud back in the day. Running, jumping, climbing trees and all that all-American youth crap. Me? I took apart car engines and redesigned them in the basement. Beat the hell out of summer camp."
Tony resumes his pace toward the left tunnel, hoping like hell he's right. As much as he hates to admit it, he could really use Steve's opinion right now. Sure, in the beginning stages of their tenuous friendship, Tony would rather jump in front of a bus than listen to one of Steve's lectures or his orders in the face of battle but now he just wanted to hear him say anything. Anything was better than the silence Tony was having to fill by himself and it was making him more and more anxious with each passing second. Anything was better than the guilt he was feeling about Steve throwing himself over Tony instinctively and taking the hit for him. He knew Steve was still alive, he could feel the faint vibration of his heartbeat against the metal siding of his suit and he could hear him breathing, no matter how shallow it was, but that wasn't doing much to relieve the tension he felt. A person could still have a heartbeat and be considered dead to the world.
"Alright, well if you have no opinion on the matter then we're just going to keep going left," Tony mumbles, trudging along through the darkened tunnel. "I think this counts as a "game of chance" situation, don't you? Kinda like flipping a coin or playing roulette. We have a fifty-fifty shot of being right and those are as good of odds as any. I should warn you that I've never played roulette though, the idea of a 5-to-1 chance of me blowing my head off never really sounded appealing. How about we consider this our first game of roulette? Either we picked the right tunnel and we'll make it out alive or we picked the wrong tunnel and…well, we're already underground so at least Fury would save money on hiring a grave digger."
The funny thing about roulette is that you never know whether the bullet is in your chamber until you pull that trigger. That fear, the apprehension, the sickening dread of wondering whether or not the chamber is empty is the thrill of the game. Tony has no idea if the bullet is in their chamber, if they're walking toward certain death or search and rescue. He gets his answer a few feet further when the crackle of static lights up in his helmet again.
He stops instantly, looking up at the ceiling like the voice had come from above.
He frowns, trying to make out the voice through the layers of static and electricity. "Clint?"
"Tony!" Clint's voice is accompanied by a sharp bark of interference as it filters through the layers of earth separating them. "Thank God! We thought you guys were dead!"
"No faith, Clint. I'm wounded," Tony mutters back even though he feels a sag of relief at the assassin's voice. He still wasn't sure how far down they were, how long until help arrived, but at least they were closer to getting rescued that they had been earlier.
"Are you two okay? Where-" Clint's voice cuts out for a minute, static filling the connection like the buzzing of a horsefly.
Tony frowns as the static dies down a bit, squinting up at the ceiling in irritation. "You're going to have to speak up, darling. I'm in a tunnel."
"Where are you?"
"I told you, a tunnel."
"Jesus, Clint, I don't know," Tony snaps irritably because, as relieved as he is, the tension is beginning to creep back again because they're still stuck down here and Steve is getting worse by the second. "Last I checked we were in the E line but considering a lot of it has been reduced to a pile of rubble I'd say we're probably closer to the F or the D line by now."
There's another static filled pause before Clint breaks the silence again. "Okay, just stay where you are and we'll come get you. Fury's getting a lock on your position now."
"Don't tell me Fury hides some killer x-ray vision behind that eyepatch because that would be amazingly cool."
"More along the lines of heat seeking cameras and sonar devices but you can call it x-ray vision if you'd like."
Tony smirks a bit, relieved to have someone other than him to break up the silence of the tunnels. He walks across to the closest wall and carefully sets Steve down, propping him against the concrete like a lifeless rag doll. "Hang in there, super soldier. Help's on the way."
There's another sharp bark of static in his ear and Tony gaps and curses in response, one hand flying to his ear instinctively. "Jesus! You really need to start warning a guy before you go into AM speak!"
"Sorry," Clint's voice crackles through the helmet. "You didn't answer me earlier. Are you two okay?"
For one brief, fleeting second, Tony considers lying and telling Clint that they're both fine and try to save face but he knows that won't work. For starters, its really hard to play it cool with a broken wrist and a dislocated shoulder, coupled with an unconscious Captain America who may or may not be bleeding to death internally against the wall of a subway tunnel. Second, it would waste a lot of time and energy attempting to concoct a lie that would be instantly debunked the minute the rest of their teammates saw them and Tony just really didn't have the energy for that at the moment.
"I'll be honest with you, Clint. We're not doing so hot down here. I jacked up my arm when the tunnel collapsed and Steve's not faring much better. He's worse actually. A lot worse."
Heavy, static-filled silence greets his confession and Tony finds himself staring up at the darkened ceiling in the hopes that Clint and the others are somehow right on top of them. "Okay Tony, just stay put and keep an eye on Steve. We're coming as fast as we can."
Tony casts a glance at the unconscious soldier beside him and winces. Steve's face is an unhealthy shade of grey and his shallow, raspy breathing is sounding worse than ever. "You may want to come a bit faster, I'm not sure how much longer Steve can last." Static and silence are the only things that greet his pleas. With a sigh, Tony walks over to the wall and slumps down next to Steve.
He's not sure how long he sits there, listening to nothing but the harsh rasp of breath drawing in and out of Steve's lungs and praying to hear some kind of noise that would indicate they'd been found. The minutes stretch on like the darkness of the tunnels and Tony feels a cold, dampness seeping into his skin the longer they sit down here. He takes a deep, shuddering breath and stares at the opposite wall, his eyes making little images with the shadows playing across the dimly lit concrete.
"Did you know that there's someone who sits behind a beaker and lab goggles all day coming up with all the different variations of the color red? Seriously, I'd think it would be impossible to come up with that many different colors of the same color but they manage to do it. Imagine that; getting a degree in chemistry from Berkley or Stanford only to be hired by some pharmaceutical company and spend the rest of your life coming up with different shades of red." Tony fades off, adjusting himself against the wall a bit in order to get more comfortable. It doesn't work, it just reminds him that they're miles underground in a partially collapsed subway tunnel.
"Pepper has a lot of red nail polish in her bathroom. I think she likes to paint her toes red for the summer. I went into her bathroom looking for band-aids one time and found a drawer that had nothing but red nail polish in it. Like 38 different colors of red. And they all had different names too. 'Tijuana sunset' and 'cinnamon screwdriver' or something like that. I don't know, they all had fancy names and the same kind of bottles. And all red. Just fucking red! Some were a bit more orange or maroon and some had glitter but seriously; all red. How many shades of red nail polish does one woman need? 38 bottles worth of the same color apparently."
More silence fills the tunnel, a very slight rumbling from the world above filtering down through the earth and thundering around the stone walls. Tony continues to stare blankly at the wall across from him. "Did you ever read that book Fifty Shades of Grey? Probably not, the last book you probably read was the Great Gatsby. I haven't read it; Pepper was reading it the other day and decided to fill me in on the plot. She told me it was like Twilight fan fiction with BDSM. That's the last thing I need to picture…a bunch of awkward, gawky teenagers tying each other up and wearing leather lingerie incorrectly. What is the world coming to? You should have stayed frozen, Cap."
There's an echo down the tunnel, far off and reaching, and Tony is on his feet before he really has a chance to question how much of a bad idea it is to jump at anything. He sways a bit, catching himself against the wall for support, and looks down the tunnel in the direction of the shout. Its silent again and for one horrible moment, he thinks he had imagined it. Just as he was beginning to convince himself it was all an illusion, another shout bounces off the walls of the tunnel.
"Hey! Hey, we're down here! Hello!" Tony's voice is loud and reverberating around them but he doesn't care. If he has to play a bass drum and a tuba at the same time as loud as he can to get the rescuer's attention then so be it. A few seconds of silence passes between his shout and the next, the echoes of the tunnel taking a while to reach one end to the other. Another call, closer this time, and far off in the distance Tony can see the flicker of a flashlight beam across the dark tunnel.
Tony turns a bit too quickly and nearly stumbles again, catching himself against the wall once more to prevent himself from falling. It takes a few seconds to clear the starbursts from his eyes but when he does, all he can think about is that flashlight beam and getting out of this God forsaken subway tunnel. "Steve, time to rise and shine," he says to the unconscious soldier, walking over to him and looping his arm around his shoulder again. It takes a lot more effort to get Steve up this time and Tony's pretty sure his own strength is on its last leg. "Ugh…Jesus, have you gotten heavier in the last ten minutes? Seriously, you were not this heavy a minute ago!" Tony bitches and grumbles for a good thirty seconds as he finally gets Steve all the way up and starts dragging him down the tunnel toward the rescuers. "And I swear to God, if you ever throw yourself over me again and I have to carry you down a subway tunnel, I'm just going to leave you in the rubble."
"Tony!" A voice bounces off the walls a bit further ahead, loud and jarring compared to the silence he'd been dealing with for the past hour or so.
"Bruce?" Tony calls back in surprise because honestly, he didn't think Bruce would be among the rescue crew. The scientist tended to be a bit wary of any kind of enclosed spaces, subway tunnels included, in case he Hulked out for some reason so it was a bit surprising that he would be down here in the middle of it. Tony's doubts are quelled a few second later when Bruce appears in the distance, jogging toward them with the rest of the rescuers behind him. Down in a subway tunnel and leading the way? This scenario just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
Bruce catches up to him a few seconds later, doing a quick cursory glance of Tony and looking for any obvious injuries. "Are you hurt? Is anything broken? Did you-"
"No need to shout, darling, I can hear you just fine," Tony mumbles as he carefully passes Steve off to a group of medics holding a backboard. "I'm doing better than he is," he says, nodding toward Steve briefly before turning back to Bruce. "Couple of bumps and bruises but I should be fine."
"I'll be the judge of that," Bruce tells him, catching his chin in one hand and looking into his pupils carefully. He runs his fingers of the lines of Tony's cheekbones and jaw checking for breaks or abnormalities and Tony resists the urge to make a face at him. He can't check for much under the suit at the moment but he notices the way Tony's shoulder is hanging at an awkward angle and the way he's favoring his left wrist and comes to the conclusion of a break pretty quickly. "Can you move your arm at all?"
"Not very well," Tony answers honestly because now that they've been found he's beginning to feel the depletion of adrenaline that kept him going for so long. Bruce must notice this too because he carefully guides Tony over to the wall and props him against it in case he falls.
"Well, its dislocated, I can tell you that much. We'll have to wait to get you out of the suit before we can do anything about fixing it though." Bruce looks Tony up and down one more time just as a medic appears beside him. "Let him check you out fully and we'll get your arm fixed. I'm going to check on Steve."
Tony just nods and sits still, watching the medics working on Steve from the corner of his eye. He answers the medic's questions automatically: what day it is, his full name, where they are; all checking for levels of consciousness. Tony's not so much worried about his own level of consciousness as he is Steve's…or lack there of.
He watches the grim-faced medics wrapping Steve's head and attempting to do something about his leg in order to stabilize it until they get to the surface. He watches them hook up a number of IVs and wires in an attempt to bring Steve back from that precarious ledge he's leaning toward. He watches Bruce stabilize his head and neck with a look of stark determination and can hear him muttering soft reassurances to a man who is far too unconscious to hear any of it. Tony watches until he can't watch anymore, until he's carefully lifted on either side and supported by two surprisingly strong medics who walk him slowly down the tunnel. The medics carrying Steve and the backboard are right beside him, walking slowly and carefully to avoid jostling his injuries any further. Bruce is on his other side, continuously casting glances between Tony and Steve and watching both for any signs of distress.
Tony should feel relieved by the rescue, thankful that the ordeal is finally over and that they're getting out. Anxiety is a funny thing though, it wears you out without you knowing. Tony has been on the ragged edge of panic for the past hour now, worrying himself sick over Steve and how they were going to get out of the tunnel. Granted, he would never tell anyone he was worried; he'd play it off like he always did but it would just be an outward front. Inside he was tied up in knots and hovering just on the verge of dread and he didn't like that feeling. Tony should have felt relieved but instead he just felt tired.
"-and that's why you never piss off a woman holding a lighter, Steve. I swear to God, she lit my pants on fire. I couldn't grow hair on my legs for over a month. It was ridiculous."
Steve becomes vaguely aware of someone's voice close by, speaking in a way that makes it clear they're not talking directly to him but more like at him. Talking with him in the room and leaving room open for a response that more than likely won't come. Its strange and he tries to place the voice through the murky fog in his head.
"-always been like that though. She was the only one too…well, until you came along. She never put up with my crap. Gotta respect a strong woman, you know? If you don't you can easily become the subject of an arson investigation…"
There's another noise in the room with him, a steady, distant beeping noise. There's a rush and wheeze of something mechanical above his head that reminds him of being stuck too close to an air vent. Something sticky is pressed onto the skin at the crook of his arm and he can feel the very slight pinch of a needle in his arm. Hospital, his brain supplies somewhat belatedly and Steve feels a momentary wave of confusion as to how he got here.
"So this Japanese company contacted me the other day about making a set of Avengers action figures but the designs they sent me were all wrong. First of all, you looked like Captain Canada instead of Captain America, they had something that looked an awful lot like a leaf in the place of that star. And the Hulk was grey. Grey! Not the big green guy we all know and love. Thor looked like a hippie and I don't even know what to say about the plans they had for Black Widow and Hawkeye…something like you'd see in a fetish lounge in a back alley in Taiwan. And then the Iron Man suit…ugh, that was awful. Colors were all wrong, purple and silver as opposed to red and gold…it was terrible."
Steve manages to place Tony's voice but it takes much longer than it should for his brain to catch up with the recognition. His head feels like someone just jammed an ice pick into his temporal lobe and wiggled it around to see what would happen. He's dimly aware of a swathe of bandages wrapping around his skull and he wonders how long they've been there. The injury, whatever it was, must have been pretty bad if he still had the bandages covering his head to prove it.
"-and Pepper told me you've never tried Indian food either. That's a shame really, you don't know what you're missing out on. Granted, you risk food poisoning every time you go in for it but that's life, you know?"
"You really can't stand to be quiet, can you?" Steve mumbles, his voice sounding heavy and thick from disuse in his ears.
"Steve!" Tony's continuous litany screeches to a halt and he's suddenly focused entirely on the bed in front of him. "You're awake!"
"Hard to sleep with you talking non-stop next to me," Steve retorts softly, opening his eyes slowly and blinking up at the ceiling. He's definitely in a hospital room, a row of monitors and machines lining the wall over the top of him. There's an IV hooked to one arm leading over to a drip next to his bed and few electrodes hooked to his chest beneath the stiff hospital gown. One leg is braced heavily with a thick cast and its hard to move it more than an inch or so without it aching down to the bone. Huh, what the hell happened to land him here?
"Well someone had to keep the conversation going since you decided to check out and leave me to fill the void," Tony snaps back but there's no heat in his words.
"Sorry for being unconscious," Steve teases, smiling weakly at Tony's feigned outrage.
"You should be. Its hard enough putting up with your Dudley-Do-Right attitude, let alone trying to carry on a one-sided conversation with you."
Steve smiles again and closes his eyes, trying to piece together the last few memories he had before waking up in the hospital. He remembered going down into the subway with Tony, trying to find the bomb before it went off. They'd ended up in the right tunnel just as the bomb detonated, sending large chunks of concrete down on top of them as the walls collapsed. Tony was too close to one of the walls and the whole thing began to cave in, threatening to crush him. Steve had called out his name, running and throwing him down on the ground, covering his body with his own to protect him from the wall and then…nothing. Darkness and silence and pain, filtered only with the occasional muffle of words that sounded like they were being spoken through a layer of cotton.
Steve's attention is drawn back to the present and he opens his eyes again, taking in Tony's haggard appearance. The billionaire looks tired, his eyes heavy from lack of sleep, and there's a layer of stubble indicating he hasn't shaved for at least a day or two. One of his wrists is bandaged tightly and his left arm is in a sling but other than a couple of scrapes and bruises, he looks relatively unscathed.
"Don't ever do something that stupid again, alright? The next time you feel like taking on a collapsing wall in my honor I'm going to leave you pinned underneath it like a moth." Tony is trying to come across as harsh and uncaring but Steve can see the lingering spark of worry in his tired eyes, the apprehension he'd been holding on to until Steve woke up. Its touching really but Steve knows better than to call him out on it so he just smiles.
"Someone had to keep you from doing something stupid like getting crushed. And I certainly wasn't going to be the one to tell Pepper or Rhodey that you got yourself turned into Iron Man jam down in that tunnel." Steve smirks a bit, which hurts, but it feels good to be back to their old banter.
"Yeah, well don't get used to it. Pepper's not too happy with you at the moment because of that little stunt you pulled so you didn't exactly prevent that catastrophe from occurring." Tony tries to cross his arms over his chest but realizes he can't with the sling so he just settles for crossing one leg over the other and fixing Steve with a pointed semi-glare. "Her threats were actually a lot more violent than mine; I can't ruin your delicate sensibilities with them right now."
Steve smiles and leans back against the pillows. "I'll apologize to her in the morning. It's a tough job keeping you alive Tony."
"I could say the same for you Steve."
The two fall into a comfortable silence then, broken only by the beeps and buzz of the machines in the room. It lasts for a while, long enough to where Tony thinks Steve has probably nodded off again so its surprising when he speaks up.
"In case you were still wondering, my favorite color is green."
Tony smiles tiredly and nods, leaning back against the chair. "Good to know," he says quietly and this time Steve really does begin to drift off again. "Get some sleep, super soldier. I'll be here when you wake up."
Fun fact: Did you know the Hulk was actually supposed to be grey in the original drawings? He turned up green because the grey ink wouldn't print properly and they found that green showed up better leading us to have the big green guy we all know and love! :D *PSA jingle* The more you know!