Different Kinds of Torture @trekkiehood
24 - One Bullet

I really hope you like this chapter because it is one of my favourites!

I do jump around and backtrack a lot. I'm sorry if that annoys you. There are just so many different things going on I want to capture them all the best way I can.

And I introduce a new perspective in this chapter!

Warning: Same as last chapter.

I really hope you like it!

~TH~

Day 16

Steve

Steve had been wandering down the halls, taking out random Hydra personal whenever he came across them. When he heard the sound of battle, he followed it almost instinctively and found Natasha and Clint fighting off dozens of agents. Hulk was smashing in the opposite direction.

Feeling a rush of adrenaline, he threw himself into the fight. Natasha eyed him critically, but he only nodded at her. It seemed to be enough.

The battle was over quickly, and Clint had gone to find the Hulk. Steve felt a sudden wave of exhaustion and leaned against the wall. Natasha began to make her way over and he glanced up to smile at her.

Suddenly his brain ignited. Pain raced from his head down to the rest of his body until everything hurt. There was a loud piercing noise that threatened to drive him mad, and he tried to stop it, grabbing at his ears. When he just couldn't take it fell to his knees, he sensed someone's hands on him. He didn't respond. He squeezed his eyes shut against the pain. He could hear nothing but the loud buzzing and feel nothing but the white-hot agony ripping through his skull.

But one sound broke through. One small, seemingly unimportant around slipped past his screaming: the sound of the Iron Man suit dismantling.

Steve's head jerked up. As soon as he saw Tony, anger rose up within him. The buzzing stopped and he pinned the person beside him to the floor. In a moment he realized that it was Natasha, but it really didn't matter.

He placed a foot on her, pressing just hard enough to keep her down, but not cause permanent damage. She didn't matter. He had no reason to want her dead.

He pulled out his gun from earlier. One bullet. He remembered distinctly that he had one bullet. Didn't matter. One bullet would do the job.

"Hey, Cap, you - uh - you wanna put the gun down and talk this out?" Tony asked, clearly trying to hide his terror.

Steve's answer came in a low voice. It came to his lips before it had even come to his mind.

Something deep within him was fighting it. He wanted to put the gun down, but couldn't. All he could feel was the rage boiling up in him as he looked at the other man. He knew what he wanted.

A gentle voice answered him. It answered him in Russian, and his conviction wavered. His anger wanted to fight it, but the voice was so compelling. It reminded him that these were his friends.

When the voice - Natasha, it was Natasha - asked him why he was doing this, why he wanted revenge, he couldn't remember. He had no idea why he wanted revenge. He felt the cold hardness slip away as he whispered brokenly,

"I-I don't know. The-they said..." his mouth shut as his body began to convulse again. The fire was back in his brain.

He needed to stop this. All of this. He didn't want to hurt anyone, but this screaming in his brain wouldn't let him rest until he did. He never should have saved the stupid bullet.

Wait, he had one bullet left.

One bullet was all it took to end a life. He made a decision.

He looked down Natasha, an apology written on his face. Her eyes widened, and he knew she understood, her desperate clawing at his leg confirmed that.

Then he locked eyes with Tony. He hoped he understood, really he did. He was sorry. He was so, so sorry for everything.

He put all of his energy into turning the gun on himself. The screaming in his head got louder and louder. It was maddening.

Natasha started to say something. She switched between English and Russian, trying to make him understand, but he just needed her to stop. He couldn't take the reassuring tone in her voice, the way she slipped and sounded panicked then would go back to being calm. He needed her to stop. He pressed a little harder with his foot. She gasped, but it didn't stop the flow of words.

He kept pressing until she went silent. He looked down; she was unconscious. He released the pressure but kept her pinned down in case it was an act.

Tony was shouting something now, but he couldn't hear it over the screaming in his own head. His hands shook as he held the gun in place. He was ready. Ready to just end it all.

Then his eyes caught movement to his left. He turned his head to see a very surprised, and very confused, Clint Barton.

~A~

Clint

Why did he always get stuck babysitting the Hulk? He was an archer, not the Hulk's personal nanny. He got even more frustrated when Natasha's voice came over the comms, sounding almost panicked. Natasha didn't panic.

Eventually, the Hulk began to get smaller. That was a huge relief. Clint really needed to get back to see about Steve. Tony and Nat had probably gotten him onto the helicarier by now, but he still wanted to check in.

When Bruce had completely de-Hulked he looked exhausted, which was expected, but still frustrating. That meant it took twice as long to get out of the bunker as it would have if Clint had been by himself.

He handed off Bruce to one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, who helped the doctor sit down.

"Has the rest of the team gone up?" Clint asked, gesturing to the floating fortress overhead. The agents looked at him with confusion.

"No, sir," one of them replied. "You and Dr Banner are the first to come out."

Now Clint was worried. Very, very worried. They should have been out by now. And even if Tony had flown them out some other way, they would have at least checked in, right?

Clint took off, rushing back inside without an explanation.

When he reached the area that he last remembered seeing them, he moved in carefully. If there were still hostiles, he didn't want to get caught in the crossfire.

But there was no gunfire. There was no Hydra. There was nothing to indicate a battle. What there was, however, was Tony standing outside of his suit, perfectly still, Natasha lying on the ground, speaking hurriedly, and Steve holding her there with one massive boot pressed down on her chest.

Clint stood motionless for a moment, watching and trying to understand what was going on. Then Nat's voice puttered to a stop. She stopped moving too.

Clint panicked, reaching for an arrow behind him. If Steve had just killed Natasha, the archer was going to have the pleasure of sticking an arrow through his skull, Captain America or not.

He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her chest still rising and falling, ever so slightly. She was alive.

But now came the question, what was going on?

Tony had started shouting something about a gun, and it was then that Clint's mind registered the gun pressed against Steve's right temple. He could see the tremors that wracked the super soldier's body, and Clint watched as the man's finger began to twitch over the trigger.

Clint stepped out into the open; he had to do something. He wasn't sure what he planned to do, but he couldn't just stand there and watch Captain America blow his own brains out.

Steve jerked his head towards Clint. Tony only glanced sideways. Clint hazarded a question,

"Cap, what's wrong?"

He didn't answer.

"Cap, look at me," the archer insisted.

Steve's eyes slowly flickered across his face.

"Good, now can you hear me?" Clint asked, approaching slowly. Tony had stopped talking and was now watching, seemingly frozen.

Steve shook his head slightly.

"I-it's so loud," his voice came out slightly choked. "It's like- like fire."

Clint nodded. He remembered when he was under Loki's power, how something within him had tried to fight it. But he hadn't been able to. It had hurt too much to fight against it, so he had stopped. It looked like Cap was fighting the same way right now.

"Okay," he said. "Can you try to read my lips?" he pointed at his lips, trying to get the other man to understand.

Steve just shook his head violently. "No! Stay back, stay back now!" he pressed the gun more firmly to his head. "Or-or I'll pull the trigger! I'll do it."

His logic didn't make sense, but it worked. Clint raised his hands in resignation and began to walk backwards.

"I-I have to do this, okay? They won't leave me alone until I do it. Please, just leave me alone."

"Then stop fighting," Tony said loudly. Clint could tell Steve heard him. He seemed to be concentrating really hard on understanding him.

He shook his head again, "No- no don't -don't say that. It's better this way."

"No, it's not. Just do it, Steve."

"Tony, what are you doing?" Clint asked, not following the conversation at all.

"Just. Do it," Stark emphasized.

Steve shook his head.

"It will stop hurting if you just listen to me."

"No," came the heartbreaking whisper.

"Do it, Steve."

"Do what?" Clint finally blurted out.

Suddenly there was no fear in Tony's eyes.

"Turn the gun on me."

~A~

Tony

"Turn the gun on me," he said calmly, not feeling it at all.

Steve shook his head, "N-no I can't. I-I don't want to hurt you."

"Turn it on me, now."

"No."

Clint started to protest "Tony what are you-"

"Stay out of this, Barton," he said sharply before he refocused his attention on Steve. "Do it."

The gun turned in the soldier's hand slowly, unwillingly. As soon as the gun was leveled on Tony, his shaking stopped.

"Now step away from Natasha."

Steve didn't respond.

"Come on, this is between you and me, let Natasha go."

Steve nodded, stepping away from her limp form. "Get her," Steve said in an almost unnatural voice. It was directed at Clint, even though his eyes stayed locked on Tony.

Tony nodded to Clint, who looked sceptical, but collected the unconscious Natasha.

"Now get her out of here."

Clint didn't move, but Tony turned back to Steve.

"Now shoot me."

"Stark-"

"I said stay out of this!" His head snapped to glare at the archer. "You weren't there. You don't know what happened. He has every right to kill me." Nobody moved for several seconds. Then Clint glanced between the two Avengers, then at the woman in his arms. He made a growling noise, then took off, carrying Natasha.

Tony's eyes found their way back to the blue ones, vacant on the surface, but conflicted underneath. "So do it."

Steve's hand began to shake, and Tony could see the battle raging within him.

"Kill me."

Still no answer.

"Do it. I know you want to. I'd want to if I were you." He gave a short, bitter laugh, "I want to anyway. So just do it. Complete your mission. Make everyone happy."

Tony stood perfectly still. His heart was racing. He wasn't even sure what he was hoping for. For all his talk and thoughts of suicide, he realized that he didn't really want to die, but he couldn't just let Steve shoot himself. Not after everything. Not after everything that was his fault.

Steve's hands shook, and then held still. Then they shook again, and held still. Completely still, like a perfect soldier.

The shaking continued to intensify until suddenly Steve's eyes cleared. He may not have been one hundred percent, but there was enough of Steve in there for him to be in control, not whatever that other thing was.

But he still didn't put the gun down.

The gun stayed straight, pointing directly at Tony's skull. Between the eyes, if he wasn't mistaken.

So that was the truth. It wasn't just Hydra who wanted him dead. It was Steve. Steve wanted him dead just as much as Hydra did.

"Do it," Tony said in a whisper.

"Why?" Steve asked, equally quiet. His hand vibrating with such force it looked like it might come off.

Tony raised his eyebrow slightly, "Why what?"

"Ev-" something like a broken off sob came from Steve's throat.

"E-everything."

Tony felt as though someone had ripped out his heart. "I don't know," he whispered back. "I don't know and I'm sorry. You've got to believe me, Steve. I'm so, so sorry."

Steve's hands started to lower slightly, he seemed almost too tired to hold the gun up. Then it steadied again. Tony was starting to feel nervous again. There was a very good chance that Steve was going to kill him right here. That terrified him more than it should have. It wasn't so much the death part. It was that Steve Rogers, Captain America, his friend, literally hated him to the point that he was willing to shoot him. Not because he had been ordered, not because he had been brainwashed but because it was what he wanted. The problem was, Tony couldn't blame him. He schooled his features again.

"If you're going to do it, just do it," he said, monotone. "I mean, I deserve it. I certainly did enough to you, didn't I?" He laughed and shook his head. "I mean, I let them do whatever they wanted to do with you. I never tried to stop them. In fact, I helped them a couple of times, didn't I? I was given a final chance to save you, and instead, I let them blow your brains out. Or at least, I thought they did. Would love to figure that one out," he said with just a touch of dark humor. "So do it. Just do it and get it over with. It's best for both of us."

Steve's eyes seemed to soften a little. His hand began to lower. Then his eyes filled with so much hatred that Tony subconsciously took a step back. The gun was once again raised, and Steve cocked it, his finger noticeably twitching as the rest of him seemed to go unnaturally still.

Then Steve smiled. It was an angry, bloodthirsty smile. "I feel like this would be more satisfying with my shield," he turned the pistol slightly, as if admiring it, "but a gun will do."

It felt as if everything was in slow motion as Steve pulled the trigger. Tony closed his eyes as he heard the shot ring out. It's echo was deafening. He waited for contact, for death.

Nothing happened. Not piercing pain, not blackness. He was still very much alive. It wasn't until then he registered the thud of a body dropping to the ground. Tony's eyes snapped open, partially in confusion, partially in fear.

Steve was still standing in front of him, eyes blazing with hatred, his jaw firmly set. Tony was confused until he realized, none of the anger was pointed towards him. It was past him. He spun around and found the recipient of the bullet, dead on the floor.

Mori Rubrem. Dead. A bullet neatly between the eyes.

Suddenly, a hoarse scream sounded behind him. Tony felt himself panic as he turned around. Steve was clutching his head between his hands. The gun clattered to the floor and he kept screaming, shaking even more ferociously than before. Then his eyes rolled back into his head and he collapsed, huddled on the ground.

Tony ran towards him, falling to his knees beside the broken soldier. His panic turned to terror. Now that he was closer, it was easy to see that Steve had multiple bullet wounds which were bleeding profusely. His suit was completely soaked through, but that wasn't the worst. Now blood was oozing from his ears and nose. This was bad. This was really, really bad. Tony felt for a pulse, a heartbeat, just something to prove that his friend was still alive. He couldn't find anything.

"What happened!" Clint said, rounding back into the room.

Tony shook his head, "I-I don't know! He just-just-"

The archer pushed him out of the way and began to perform chest compressions. "Don't just stand there, call for help!" He shouted at the billionaire, trying to force breath into their Captain.

Tony stumbled into his suit. "Jarvis, alert S.H.I.E.L.D medical. Tell them to-" his mind went blank as he watched Clint trying to resuscitate Steve.

"To what, Sir?"

Tony didn't answer. "Move," he said to Clint, scooping Steve into his arms.

"Alerting medical," Jarvis supplied.

Clint protested, but Tony was already gone, flying as fast as he could to the helicarrier.

"Come on Cap," he whispered. "You can do this. Just hang on. Hang on Cap."

He landed on the carrier and was immediately met with several medics pushing a gurney. Tony placed the motionless form down and the doctors immediately began assessing it. An oxygen mask was placed over Steve's face and the doctors began yelling to each other as they wheeled him away.

Tony felt like he was ready to collapse. If not for his suit, he probably would have. He backed up against the wall and leaned against it.

"Tony?"

The billionaire jerked his head, startled. "Bruce?" He raised his face mask.

"What happened what's going on? Tony, you look terrible. You need to get out of that suit."

Tony had to take a minute to process. When he realised what his friend had said, he opened the suit and practically fell into Bruce's arms.

Bruce helped him to a chair before he collapsed into it.

"How'd you, uh, how'd you get here?" Tony choked out.

"When the Other Guy finally calmed down Clint got me to S.H.I.E.L.D., then took off again. A few minutes later, he dropped Natasha off. Then they brought us here. They took Natasha to medical and I haven't seen her since. No one's told me anything. Tony, what happened?"

"Cap, uh, Cap wasn't acting like himself," Tony said in explanation. He was exhausted and he couldn't think. He just kept hearing Steve's scream. It had brought everything back. Everything. Afghanistan, New York, but most prominently, the week they were in captivity. Had that really only been two weeks ago? He just kept hearing that heart breaking scream. And it was his fault. Both times it was his fault.

"Woah, woah, Tony look at me," Bruce said, crouching in front of him.

Tony hadn't even realized he was hyperventilating. He tried to focus on Bruce, to calm down, but he couldn't. He just kept hearing the scream over and over again.

Bruce's voice became background noise as he continued to try to force air into his lungs.

There were more voices around him, closing in on him. Someone was touching him. It was Hydra. It had to be. He wouldn't let them take him again. He couldn't. He'd rather die.

He fought against the hands; he had to get out. Get out now before something even worse happened. Someone grabbed him firmly, holding him still. He fought even harder. The voices got louder. Why couldn't they just leave him alone? Then he felt a small pinch in his arm, and everything slipped away.

~TH~

Be sure to let me know what you thought of this chapter!

I'll be planning out the next part in detail soon, so let me know what you would like to see and who your favourite POV is.

If you enjoyed this chapter, leave a comment and a vote!

God Bless,

Jamie

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