hey gearhead


Steve chewed his lip nervously. What were they going to do?

He took a deep breath, and analyzed their current situation.

Bruce was crumpled in a corner, completely tranq’d up. He would be deadweight unless they found an antidote or were here long enough for it to wear off. Which was possible, but he didn’t want to depend on HYDRA being too dumb to administer new drugs once Bruce started to wake up. Smart people didn’t take chances with the Hulk.

Smart people. God, Tony. They’d left him alone in a desert. One of the places most traumatizing and least useful for their precious engineer.

No. They were going to get out of here. They would find Tony before he died. You lasted three months last time. We’re coming for you. Just stay alive. He prayed.

“You alright, Stevie?”

He stiffened, then relaxed. “I should be asking you that, Buck. How are you holding up?” Will we have to fight you too to get out of here, Buck? Will I have to fight you? Will I have to leave you behind?  

No. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t lose Bucky. Not even for Tony.

Bucky wiggled his hand in the air. Steve frowned in confusion. Bucky grinned. “That one means ‘so-so’ Cap. How come you’ve been fully conscious for years and picked up less than me?”

“I’ve been busy!” Steve protested.

Buck rolled his eyes. “You live with Barton and Stark. There is no excuse for your ignorance. Resistance is futile.” He smirked.

Steve groaned. “Oh god, you’re going to be as bad as them soon, aren’t you.“ At least he’d still have Banner and Thor to retreat to when the pop culture references got too much.

What he would give for Thor to be here right now. But no, there was some fancy ceremony in Asgard that as the Crown Prince, he was apparently not allowed to skip. Especially since all they’d had scheduled until he came back was the one scouting mission. If Heimdall sees us, does he get to come help? There was a nice idea.

But not something he could build a plan on. No, that he had to do with the team in front of him.

“Helloooo? Earth to Stevie? Anything in that pretty head of yours?”

“I’m trying to plan, you jerk.”

“Yeah, planning around you can be pretty trying, punk.” Bucky snickered at his own joke. Steve magnanimously ignored him.

Back to situation. One drugged Bruce. It would take one of their people to carry him. Natasha. She wasn’t a supersoldier, and Clint was better than her with improvised or found weaponry. None of them were seriously injured, that was a plus. And given that the light tranqs had worn off on him and Bucky, Phil, Natasha, Sam and Clint should be waking up in thirty to forty-five minutes.

The room was a problem. It was basically a metal cube with sturdy rings in the walls that they had been chained to. Steve noted that there were four empty rings. Not that they would be likely to do much good, he’d already tested his strength against the one he was chained to. Maybe Tony could’ve given him some tips on the best angles to pull at. Don’t think about Tony.

Right. There was a magnetically sealed hatch in the door, one by eleven inches. Steve wasn’t sure what it was for. None of them could move more that about seven inches from their rings, so he was pretty sure that it wasn’t for feeding them. He toyed with the idea of ripping it off its hinges. Possible, but it would have to wait until he got out of these damn shackles.

`A soft moan drew his attention. “Clint? How do you feel?”

“Lurglurgh.” Was the eloquent reply.

“Alright. We’re in a HYDRA base, so be careful about what you say, okay? I’ll give you five minutes to wake up.”

“‘Kay. Tanks Ca.”

Good. That meant that the tranqs were a little lighter on the others, and that they would be waking soon. That was relieving, serious tranqs could do serious damage. But it did not bode well that HYDRA was being careful with their wellbeing.

A shiver ran down his back. What if they wanted to make all of the Avengers into Soldiers?

…that would explain why they left Tony but took his suit. Most of Tony’s value lay in exactly what they would have to destroy in order to make him compliant: his brilliant mind and sheer stubbornness. Also Steve was pretty certain that letting Tony anywhere near the kind of wiping chair Bucky described when woken from his nightmares would end up with Tony building some terrifying electrical weapon.

A thump echoed into their cell, jolting Sam awake with a squawk. Natasha and Phil woke up too, but anyone who hadn’t lived with them would be clueless. Good. If their captors came in, their non-archer spies might be able to take them by surprise.

Angry shouting started, and the bangs stopped. The silence had a quality that Steve couldn’t quite name. It felt heavy and light and tense and important, but he didn’t have a word for it. A fleeting wish curled across his mind, that he had actually taken the time to read the dictionary that Tony had given him. It had been for the first mission where he hadn’t had to scold Tony.

The shouting stalled.

The door swung open.

Tony was smiling. And in his suit.

“Miss me?”

Steve gaped.

Tony turned to the cowed HYDRA agents behind him, and glared. “Get them out of those.”

They obeyed, making sure to keep their hands in sight as they let the restraints check their retinas.

Steve rubbed some feeling back into his wrists, trying to compute what he was seeing.

“Hey, gearhead!” Bucky called. “Remember what happened when you put a screen over the vent in your lab?”

Tony snorted. “Of course I do. Barton’s face was hilarious. I’m me, don’t worry.”

“How’d you get here?” Steve finally managed.

A corner of his mouth lifted. “I’ll give you the deets later. Cap. Gotta keep tricks away from the rabble.” He jerked his head at the HYDRA agent hovering in the doorway. “Now c’mon, let’s round them up and give local law enforcement a present.” He frowned. “Except Bruce. Can you carry Bruce until he wakes up? I’m pretty sure that giving him adrenaline is a terrible idea.”

And the Avengers did, willingly following Tony’s direction on which ones would give them trouble and what defenses were along the way. He was, after all, the one who’d hacked into the defense systems. All but Tony were a little dazed. Most from relief and leftover tranquilizers, but the supersoldiers from, ah, something else.

Tony could be quite something all riled up.

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