A/N: OK, big finale and then some Steve.
Chapter 9: Downfall by Downpour
In frustration, Iron Man began to throw things at the monster — a computer bank, a desk, a water cooler.
The water washed down the creature's flank, diluting the muck, washing a clean spot in the goo on the floor. The sharp-eyed spies saw it. Iron Man's sensors saw it.
"Thor!" they shouted together.
"Forget the lightning, make it rain," ordered Tony, who always talked faster than anyone else.
Wind whipped in a prelude to the storm.
"Stark, what if it gets into the water supply?" Natasha shouted in concern.
Jarvis supplied the answer and Tony pointed at a drain in the floor. "It's a holding tank to contain any scientific waste. We'll catch Lupe with her own proper laboratory procedures!"
A crack of thunder made their ears ring and a downpour dropped through the hole in the ceiling like a waterfall. The monster wailed and flinched away from the drenching, but had its back against the wall. Another stream of water joined the deluge. Clint hit the monster dead on with the fire hose. He played the stream, hosing off the floor, washing the dissolving slime toward the drain.
The monster dwindled, split in two and collapsed. Thor let the downpour diminish to a drizzle. Clint cut off the hose.
Two naked bodies, one male, one female, lay motionless on the floor. Natasha cautiously advanced to check for signs of life, while Jarvis' scanners did the same. They determined that two naked and lifeless bodies lay on the floor. Lupe Santos and her brother Emilio lay hand-in-hand. No, Hawkeye realized, their hands were merged. They were united in death, as they had been in insanity, Clint thought without sympathy. United by perverted, villainous science.
"That's what I call cleaning up the bad guys," Clint said cheerfully.
Soaking wet and beautiful despite it, Natasha called SHIELD. "Cleanup and containment is already here," she told the others with a quirk of a smile. "Something about a highly localized thunderstorm tipped them off to our presence."
With the battle done, Tony was antsy to leave. He fidgeted, which looked really odd on Iron Man.
"Go to your woman and our captain," Thor said. "We will remain on guard."
"Right, we've got this, Stark," Clint said.
Natasha nodded. "Keep us informed," she said. They knew that meant, "tell us how Steve is."
"Thanks, guys," Tony said, and shot away through the convenient hole in the roof.
Tony persuaded Pepper to go to sleep only by promising to stay until Steve woke up. He sat with his sleeping girlfriend on one side and his sleeping captain on the other. He rubbed his eyes and wished he could sleep, too. It had been a long, strange day.
He tuned in a baseball game on his tablet. Anything to stay awake. It was 2 a.m. when Steve spoke.
"'Zat a joke?" he slurred. His eyes were open. He stretched slowly, as if everything hurt, but he moved.
"What joke?" Tony asked.
"Playing a Dodger game on the radio," Steve answered. "S'what SHIELD tried when I first woke up."
"Ah, no, not a joke. The Dodgers went into extra innings on the West Coast. It's the only game still going and I needed something to keep me awake."
Besides, Tony followed the Dodgers because, 1, Steve did and, 2, he had a home in Malibu in Los Angeles County. Those were as good a reason as any to pick a team as your own.
Steve listened, satisfied to hear Vin Scully's voice talking about Kemp and Ethier and bobblehead night — certainly not a 1940s ballgame. Tony grumbled about the Dodger relievers. It sounded very familiar, which was soothing. Tony turned his chair and held the tablet where Steve could see the picture.
Pepper opened her eyes when the men gave a smothered cheer at the Dodgers' walk-off home run.
"Hey, you're awake! How do you feel?" she asked Steve.
"Like I battled the Chitauri again all by myself," Steve groaned. "Every muscle hurts."
Bruce came in just in time to hear that. "That's because every muscle was stressed by the rigor — by the stiffness. They're tired because they've been straining for hours. The good news is, your blood work is clear. No more poison."
"Thanks, Bruce, Tony…" Steve's voice was deeply serious. "Pepper, thank you for saving my life."
The CEO looked startled. "I was going to thank you."
Steve shrugged. "Saving people is kinda in my job description," he said with a modest smile. "But it's not in yours. I would have gone insane if I had woken up frozen and all alone." In an earnest voice, Captain America said, "Pepper Potts, you're my hero."
A/N: What's really weird is that when I started this story, the Dodgers were languishing in last place, so I wrote about them blowing the ballgame, but in just two months, they've turned the season around and shot up to first place in their division. So I changed the ending a little, because you should have a little bit of reality in this most peculiar story.
More baseball next week in a new chapter of A Very Good Team.