A Hero's Savior II:
I Need a Hero
Breathe. It's really simple. In, out, in, out.
I know it hurts, I know, but breathe.
Blind, mute, wrists bound, naked and running as fast as he could through what he assumed was a dense forest. As many times as he'd run into trees, fallen over roots and bushes he couldn't be anywhere else. They hadn't truly let him go; they wouldn't have left him alive if they wanted him free. He had a husband to get back to, had to get somewhere he could breathe.
Now he was moving, every inch of him in agony, blindfold tight around his eyes, wire digging deeper and deeper in his skin, verging on reaching bone on his hands soon, snow threatening to freeze him soon. Each time he tripped he was weakened further, not so much running as staggering anymore. Each drag of air through his nose was sharp, constricted and horribly painful, like razorblades sliding down his throat and into his lungs with each ragged gasp.
He tripped again, ramming into the ground with already raw and bruised knees, a tired sob jumping into the duct tape layered on his lips. He forced himself back up again, whole body trembling, terrified. His heart pounded, out of rhythm, just adding to the unholy pinching in his chest. His skin blazed with fever, covered in blood, deeply bruised, bones broken here and there.
Please, please, someone help me…Help me…
He was so tired and weak, but God help him, he had to keep going. He had a husband to get back to, a beautiful, wonderful husband who needed him.
Hurried footsteps heavier than his own sent his heart into another frenzy. He stumbled into a tree, hiding behind it, so scared.
Oh God, don't take me back. Please, please, anything else, but don't take me back. Please don't take me back there, I can't...I'm not strong enough…
He cried, gasping and knowing he needed to be quieter.
"STEVE, BABY, CAN YOU HEAR ME?"
"Tony!" The sound was muffled, weak. He broke away from the tree, out into the open, screaming again. "TONY!"
"Steve? Oh my god, STEVE! Stay there, baby, I see you! I'm coming, baby, I see you!" Tony watched the small, bird-like figure fall down into the snow, relieved and weak. Tony sprinted toward him, falling in front of him, touching his face immediately. "Steve, hey, honey, I'm here, it's okay," he assured, taking off his coat and wrapping it around him. He looked him over, eyes wide, smoothing his cheek when the blindfold was gone. He swallowed his own worry, his own unfathomable fear seeing him like this.
He imagined this is what Steve had looked like years ago, before he was taken from the ice, before he was given the serum. Three weeks ago when he had last seen him Steve was about a foot taller and nearly one hundred pounds heavier. But that didn't matter right now, getting this gag away from his mouth so he could kiss him and tell him it was going to be alright mattered. Getting the wire off of his wrists so he could hold him close and get him warm, that mattered. Seeing how small he was, that didn't matter. God, that was the last thing that mattered.
"There, there we go," he smiled, tears in his eyes while Steve gasped raggedly for air.
"Tony, help me," he whimpered, tears streaking down his cheeks, voice soft and barely there. "Please, please don't make me go back there. Don't make me, plehease! Look what they did to me, look at me."
"Shh, hush, hush, it's okay. You're not going back. No one's gonna take you anywhere. You're gonna come home. With me, okay? I'm here, it's alright. I've got you, alright?" He held him, carefully untwisting the wire, freeing him from them, and hugging him close. "Okay, let's go, baby. Let's go. I've got you."
He was so light, so fragile, like glass. He held him to his chest, listening to him wheeze, soft, weak puffs of air that wouldn't sustain him long. "Steve, what's wrong? Why can't you breathe?"
"A-asthma," he squeaked.
"Oh god. Okay."
He'd never moved so fast, so urgently. Fear clogged his throat, but he kissed him anyway, determined. "It's alright, we're going. We're gonna get your better, alright? It'll be okay."
Steve's eyes drooped, head lolling against Tony's chest, the lack of air only aiding his descent into unconsciousness. "T-Tony…" He wheezed.
"Shh, just rest. Just shut your eyes and rest. You're safe now, I've got you." The state of his body, his battered, fragile little body was almost too much for Tony to both comprehend and accept. How he had still been moving when he'd found him was a mystery. He smiled, just a little. Brave, beautiful, stubborn and stupid Steve. He kissed him again. "Almost there, baby. Almost there."
He felt him fall asleep in his arms. His body got just a bit heavier, limp and gasping, the grip on his shirt slackening just a bit. Tony knew he shouldn't let him, that he should make him wake up and watch him shiver and cry and try so hard to breathe when they both knew he couldn't.
He looked at him, wrapped in his coat, still trembling but somewhat peaceful, broken bones, blood and bruises aside.
He didn't know how they did this, take away his power, his height and his health all in one fell swoop. But he did know the people who had hurt him this way were the same that had been responsible for harming him. It was the same reason he knew they'd find Steve today and no sooner. Because today marked one year since Steve had walked into that room and discovered him.
"It's okay, baby," Tony whispered, getting closer to the caravan waiting for them, waiting for everyone to get back from looking for him. "We'll get through this, just like before. I'll take care of you just like you took care of me. I won't let you down, Steve, I swear."
Bruce turned green for a different reason when Tony laid Steve on the bed in front of him.
"What happened?" He breathed, realizing himself and snatching up his stethoscope and pressing it to Steve's chest, listening to the harsh, low rumbles in his chest and the awful wheezes managing to come through his throat.
"I don't know," Tony gulped, his hands trembling. "I-I don't know, I just found him out there in the snow and he…" He smoothed his hair back, his hands shaking, the adrenaline slowly starting to work his way into his body, working tears into his eyes. "He-he can't breathe, Bruce, please, he can't breathe!"
The doctor was already pressing a mask to Steve's lips, helping to prop him up once it was in place, easily maneuvering him to the upright position.
"Is he gonna be alright? Is he gonna be okay?!" Tony demanded, on the verge of hysterics, panicked, tired and so terrified. Bruce held his shoulders, urgent himself but trying to keep himself relaxed for Tony's sake.
"He'll be fine, I promise, Tony, I'm not gonna let anything bad happen to him, okay? But you've got to step out for awhile and let me help him. Just for a little bit and then you can see him again. Alright?" He said, the rattling of Steve's attempts at breathing the only sound between them.
Thor appeared seemingly from nowhere behind the billionaire, having been watching carefully from the door in case Tony would have to removed with more force than originally anticipated. He carefully touched his shoulder, turning him from Bruce and his husband, guiding him out into the hall allowing the doctor to work.
Tony fell into a chair, knees unable to support him anymore, hands trembling, a cold sweat on his face. Thor sat beside him, silent, waiting for him to speak, ready to stay stationary and silent if he didn't.
Tony's face fell into his hands, tears that had been stinging and pooling in his eyes escaping slowly, like bleeding. He took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to tell himself that the Asgardian's hand on his back wasn't comforting. "Fuck…" He gasped, chest twisted and gnarled, so scared.
"Captain Rogers' body may be weakened, but his spirit never will be," Thor said softly. "His strength from within will keep him going, Tony."
Tony nodded, throat clutching and swollen now, no sound coming out when he attempted to speak. Thor was silent again, waiting, he supposed. "He-he's so small," he rasped, forcing the words. "He's…who would do something like that? Why? How-how could someone look into his eyes and, and torture him like that?"
"Someone with cruelty beyond your means," he said, still quiet and gentle. "We will find who's done this, just as we did when you were injured."
Tony's eyes were closed, the image of his husband seared into his memory. Quaking on the bed, shattered, skin marked with remnants of tortures and agony. His voice rasped, spent screams and shrieks running it down to nearly nothing. His lungs were rung and weary from air attempted to draw in, throat burned for the same purpose. His eyes still begged for mercy even when Tony had looked into them, red-rimmed, puffy, purpled from his broken nose and constantly leaking tears.
Imagining what he had gone through, how many times he'd plead for Tony to rescue him, to see him again, for mercy clenched his already ragged heart. How much did they do to make him cry? What did they say to break his heart? Did they touch him as they had him that past year? Did they laugh when he shook and cried for mitigation from their bodies because he was married, because he was in love? Did they spit in his face when he told them he couldn't breathe? Did they choke off his words with iron grips around his neck when he squirmed and stammered that Tony would find them and kill them? Did they hiss that he would never come for him, that he was trapped there and force their mouths on his to silence his protests?
He shut his eyes, hearing one soft, shaking little word echoing in his ears. "Tony…"
Thor jumped when Tony hurtled across the room and grabbed the edge of the trash can. He threw up before Thor could ask what was wrong.
Foggy, hazed sight, too dizzy to focus on much. The light was too bright, the man grinning in front of him, waving something out of focus. His stomach flipped, already aching head flaring with pain again. He shook his head to clear it, wincing when a grip strong enough to harm him held his face.
A vial. That's what he was holding, filled with some liquid. It was sickly purple in color, bubbling sluggishly as if alive.
He tried to focus on words, finally working out that he was naked and exposed in whatever room this was, shackled to some strange chair. He was cold, he realized, maybe bruised judging by how much his joints ached.
"Do you understand?" The words came through at last. He blinked, still unable to see, room tilting and spinning. "You understand what this is going to do to you?" The words were a low, resounding echo in his ears. It hurt. He shook his head, trying to speak with a deadened tongue.
He was struck, the blow hitting his temple and sending his mind whirling again. He might have cried out, he wasn't sure.
"Not paying attention is very inconsiderate, Captain." The man held his face too hard again. "This is going to make you what you were. What you are without all the bells and whistles. A weak little boy. You're still that in here, aren't you?" A sharp pain resounded in his chest, burning his skin, just above his heart. He hissed, desperate to think properly. "Time the world got a look at that now, eh?"
"D, don't," he slurred, shaking his head, watching this being walk to a machine beside him. He noticed the tubes, now. The tubes hooked to needles positioned to pierce his skin; up his arms, down his legs and into his torso. "Pl-please!"
Everything vanished, whiter than the celestial light above him, blinded in agony he did nothing to deserve.
He was screaming now, his throat wouldn't hurt so much if he wasn't, tensed muscles growing smaller, heart hammering the last steady beat before going into an alternate, unhealthy rhythm. His wrists shrunk in their bindings that stayed morphed to their form. The white hot anguish that ripped through him tore his energy away, needles deep and stuck, allowing the ungodly goo to seep into him.
He writhed and jerked, both in anger and panic, shrieking. "NOOO! STOP, PLEASE! STOP IT! TONY! TOOONYYYY!"
But Tony didn't come. And when everything stopped, when he could breathe again and try to see again he knew he didn't want him to.
He stared down at himself. Small, frail, weak. The child he was in Brooklyn a lifetime ago with the bad heart, severe asthma and nearly nonexistent immune system.
"N-no," he whimpered, voice nearly inaudible. "Please no."
"And there it is," the man giggled gleefully. "The real Captain America. Just a bunch of toothpicks held together with skin, eh? So easily broken."
Steve took a breath, realizing himself, realizing what was happening. He looked up at him, right in the eye, jaw set. Anger sparked in his assailant's eyes. He struck him, punching hard enough that Steve saw stars popping up in his vision. "You've got some nerve, faggot," he snarled. Steve didn't waver, still looking at him, taking the next blow and not letting it phase him. If he let it there was no telling where he'd be later. "You think you're tough, huh?"
Steve swallowed, knowing what he was doing would cost him. Regardless, he smiled, just a little. "I can do this all day."
A/N: Please review and tell me what you thought! Thank you!