Kind of a cracky one-shot. Apologies for the lack of a climax!
Haha more to come tomorrow(: I'm aiming for at least 5 chapters total.
Let me know what you think! Review, favorites, and follows are allllwwwways welcome. PM me ideas for future chapters.
Disclaimer: I own nothing... not even the Avengers on DVD.
"Welcome back, sir."
Over two months living in Stark Tower and Steve Rogers still wasn't used to Tony Stark's AI. The prospect of someone watching his every move made him feel uneasy, not to mention the fact that JARVIS wasn't even human being. But, slumped against the side of the rapidly-ascending elevator, Captain America could care less.
His suit was torn in a multitude of places, tattered and burned to the extent of probable replacement sometime in the near future. Blood had stopped trickling from the few gashes too deep to heal on the flight back, but there was deep maroon stains where the once crimson liquid had pooled around the wounds. All-in-all, Steve was a sight to behold. But, he had left missions in worse shape, so he denied the immediate medical attention offered— all he wanted now was to sleep.
Blinking against the fluorescence of elevator lighting, the Captain sluggishly leaned his head against the cool metal walling, counting his blessings once more that he was moments away from the sleep he had craved all week. It had been a relatively quick mission, only a week in Tibet to take down a small laboratory performing experiments on children.
However, it had been a sleepless seven days; not only because the mission required constant attention, but because the few times Steve had tried to close his eyes, all he saw was images of the children, hidden away in dark cages, their wide eyes begging him for help that hadn't been nearly quick enough.
Exhaustion was setting in, burning the Captain's eyes and weighing down his body. He needed to sleep. Steve was so tired that he felt like he could sleep for a hundred years- no pun intended, of course.
"Sir, the elevator has arrived at the floor you requested."
Steve thanked JARVIS under his breath, slowly lifting his head from the wall. The hallway briefly blurred out of his vision, elongating to appear unmanageably extended for him to pass through. One hand braced against the elevator opening as the super soldier righted himself with a groan.
There was a flurry of light and sound from the other end of the hall. "Cap? Is that you?" Clint was approaching him at a speed that Steve was incapable of matching at the moment. The archer was in his sleepwear, grey sweatpants dipping just low enough to expose his boxer briefs beneath the gap of his sleeveless top.
"Jeez, Cap, you look beat." And Steve felt beat, weak to the bone with exhaustion and grief for children who had seen more horrors than the soldier wanted to think about. But it was all he could think about. Every cut and burn on his body throbbed as a thousand painful reminders.
Clint rested a hand on his arm, and Steve flinched, but did not pull away. "It's alright, Agent Barton," he muttered, peeling himself off of the wall; the formal title had slipped out as his brain number itself, reverting back after weeks of goddamit Steve, we're living together, call us by our fucking names and the like.
But the archer did not release him. "C'mon Cap, let's get you to bed. Banner'll come up in a few. Rough mission?" WIthout responding, Steve appraised his colleague. Dressed for sleep, but fully awake and not appearing disheveled. He was waiting up for me. It was a tedious notion— he had been due back the day before, but stayed back to ensure that each and every child had been clothed, fed, and sent to safe locations authorized by SHIELD. How long have they been waiting for me?
The shorter man helped him into his room, but wouldn't allow him to collapse into bed as he so desired. "Wait until doc gets here. Then you can sleep." It sounded like too much work to Steve. Sleep sounded much nicer, easier to deal with. Sleep would bring him peace and quiet, and a lapse from the waking world, if only for a few hours.
He was so tired that it didn't matter if he dreamt of the children again.
Well, it did matter. But after over 70 hours of constant, waking movement, Steve would experience all of his typical nightmares if it meant he could sleep.
Whether it had been minutes or mere seconds, Steve was startled form his half-conscious daze by a tap on the chin, flinching as his eyes met a sharp, bright light. "Hey, Cap," Bruce whispered, brushing a hand through the younger man's hair as he not-so-subtly tried to search his scalp for contusions. "How'd the mission go?"
Steve blinked slowly, looking up at Banner while he and Clint attempted to remove the upper part of his suit. "Mission was finished," he said, the words slurring as they tumbled from his mouth in one long sigh. He could feel fingers on his chest, palpitating the bruises and abrasions, but there was no pain. Only numbness.
There was an acute pressure on his midriff, and then pain. Pain that startled him from his stupor, waking him from his open-eyed sleep, if only for a brief moment. "Stop," he gasped, jerking back from the doctor's experienced touch. "Don't. Stop."
Bruce brushed his fingers lightly over the dark bruised marring Steve's ribcage. "Broken," he noted, "they'll need to be wrapped tomorrow morning, before they begin to set on their own." With Clint's assistance, Banner had already bandaged the major cuts and burns on their leader's torso. His legs were relatively unscathed, albeit muddy.
With one final hand to Steve's cheek, Bruce rotated his head, as to check for any final injuries. "Where was the mission, Steve?" Excluding the large bruise that stretched from Steve's ear to his jawline, and the cuts that littered his chin and neck, his face was alright.
"Tibet, mountains," he grumbled, finally falling back to bury his face in the pillows. "Lab, kids. Cages." His sentence was unstructured, but the words were enough for his teammates.
"Jesus," Clint said, following Bruce to stand in the doorway. "Well, you got the bad guys Cap. Rest easy." The doctor and the archer lingered momentarily, watching the exhaustion fully take over their leader.
Lying in bed, wearing only his spandex trousers (too tight for the other men to remove without also compromising the super soldier's dignity), Steve looked infinitely younger. The lines that usually creased his face were smooth, and for once, he looked his own age, rather than the thirty-or-so years that added on with the weight of his leadership.
"Sleep, Steve. You've earned it."