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Clint had brought the paper and pen with him, knowing there wouldn't be any to be found in the room itself. It wasn't the way things were done anymore. Everything was electronic, printed in triplicate with fill-in dashes in all the right places. He had worked to master technology. He could by-pass 87% of the firewalls he went up against (SHIELD demanded at least 75% success for any senior field agent). He could fly planes so advanced the world didn't realize they existed yet. He was responsible for the invention and, at least in part, the creation of most of his specialty arrows. But whatever he might be capable of, Clint was always going to be a little analog.

So he'd come prepared. Lined paper, because his eyes were gritty with exhaustion and his hands shaky with something else. A handful of cheap Bic pens, because he expected to run out of ink at least once. The soft, dark material that still covered three of his fingers made his first attempts a little clumsy but he started over, kept working until the script came through clean and neat and smooth. Not knowing any of the numbers beforehand, he'd brought as much paper as he could get his hands on.

Once he was in the security system, it was only slightly easier for Tony to maneuver around. Despite whatever flippant comments he might make about government-issue equipment (and he did make them), he had to admit that the interface was rather sophisticated. At least more so than he was used to seeing from the military, who often eschewed such things in favor of ease of use. Still, the Hellicarrier had been built with top-secret technology in order to develop top-secret technology, which meant that anything related to what he would've classed as R and D (ie, anything in the labs) was more protected than almost anything else.

"I don't think we should be doing this," Steve said. They'd found out what Natasha was doing there but going any further seemed too intrusive. "I'm sure whatever Barton is doing, it's none of our business."

"You know, the last time you said that, you followed it up by physically breaking into their storage room and doing your own snooping," Tony said.

Steve shook his head. "That was different."

"Uh-huh. How?"

"Disobeying an order you believe to be wrong isn't the same as prying into a friend's private affairs because you're bored or curious."

"And dressing things up with pretty words doesn't make the actions you take exactly the same," Tony shot back, not looking away from the screen.

Steve had opened his mouth to respond when he caught sight of Bruce, shaking his head with resignation. He remembered the doctor's words about their team being a time-bomb, an unstable and explosive chemical mixture, and he reminded himself that from everything he had seen the "Avengers" were comprised almost entirely of people used to working alone. He shoved away rising anger or annoyance. Though his rank named him a captain, the nature of the missions he undertook during the war meant that he was actually closer to a fire team or squad leader, since he rarely commanded more than the six soldiers who comprised the "Howling Commandos". Of any of the them, except perhaps Thor, he knew how small group dynamics could play out. He'd weathered more than his share of team shouting matches (though those were just as likely to come in French, Gaelic or Japanese before) and he'd seen what forced interaction could mean when big personalities were in play. If they were ever going to work together - and, frankly, they should because they could be one Hell of a team when they did - they would need to do better than this. He would need to be better than this.

And it would have to start with showing Bruce that they weren't just bickering children who'd turn on each other at the first chance and convincing Tony that disagreement wasn't necessarily disapproval or judgment. So Steve took a breath, turned away from the doctor and studied the scientist, still focused on the computer, for a moment. He hadn't known the other man long, a couple of days all told, and a little less than half of that had been spent with both were wearing their respective masks. But he recognized the emotion, even when played out on unfamiliar features, now that he thought to look for it. "You're worried," he stated with surprise.

Tony scoffed but Steve knew he was right. "Don't talk to me about using words to hide what you mean. You could've just said you were worried about them. We are, too."

"And would that have changed anything?"

"Maybe," Steve said. "Intent can count for a lot."

Tony shook his head, clearly still not agreeing with what he considered little more than semantics, but when he rolled his eyes, it wasn't dismissive or full of scorn. "And I am not worried," he scoffed. "Agent Romanoff was acting strangely and Barton's somewhere he shouldn't be. I'm just...in. Oh. Very nice."

The screen switched to what had to be the internal camera, mounted in a top corner. The time stamp read about three hours ago and showed an empty room, about half the size of the lab Bruce and Tony had used. It definitely seemed to be meant more for viewing scientific results than for experimentation. The three of them watched as the door slid open and Clint walked in, grabbed the one chair available and set it in front of the nearest monitor.

"What's he doing?" Steve asked.

"Looks like he's doing some hacking of his own," Bruce said. "He's obscuring the screen, though, there's no way to tell what he's looking for."

"Can you do the little thing you did before, but move it, uh, forward?" Steve twirled his fingers.

Tony, in a show of admirable restraint, didn't say anything to that. He fast-forwarded through Clint's breakthrough into whatever he was trying to get into and slowed it a little when the archer flattened some papers he'd brought with him on the desk and pulled some pens from his pocket. "Seriously? He's going to copy whatever that is on little tree strips? Why not just bring a stone tablet and carve it in?"

Bruce reached forward and, edging Tony out of the way a little, resumed fast-forwarding. Clint had fallen into a simple pattern, reading, judiciously, whatever it was on the screen before taking up the pen and writing with just as much focus. "It doesn't look like he's just copying," he noted. He elaborated when Steve looked at him. "He's not writing continuously, glancing up at the screen every now and then. He reads through a section and then focuses entirely on what he's writing."

Tony frowned. "And this is useful how?"

"Just an observation," Bruce replied.

Steve slapped Tony's shoulder lightly. "He seems healthy enough, from what we've seen."

Tony turned a stubborn glare on the blond. "I was not worried."

"Of course you weren't," Bruce said.

"You," he pointed at Bruce, "are supposed to be on my side."

It had been a long time since Bruce had had enough people around for there to be sides from which to choose and he smiled a little. "What gave you that idea?"

"You - " Tony stopped when Steve, who had turned back to the screen, suddenly made a startled sound and then bolted toward the door.

Tony and Bruce looked at the camera and realized why immediately, faced with an image of Clint sprawled on the ground and his papers settling around him. Tony jumped from his seat and was a half-step behind Bruce in heading for the doors.

Steve had far outstripped them by the time they reached the first turn of the hallway. Being at least a decade younger, far more used to physical exertion and with the super soldier thing, it wasn't the least bit surprising. But Bruce felt a surprising amount of frustration welling up at having been left behind. He focused on keeping his heartbeat as steady as he could, even while his feet pounded on the metal plating. He knew that anger, fear and pain most easily called to the surface that Other Guy, but he considered the possibility that concern might do the same.

While he'd cared for the sick and injured wherever he'd gone, to the best of his abilities and to forestall the guilt that always followed him, he wasn't used to having a personal investment in such care. He wondered if it was normal to feel so involved with people after so short time. Had it been like this before he'd dropped off the face of the Earth? Had it always felt this way, when he'd had friends? It was hard to remember, except in the most general of terms, what life was like before, and he became acutely aware of the fact that he was only thinking about these things now in order to avoid thinking about what could possibly be going wrong.

Keeping even pace beside him, Tony was yelling and waving his arms to clear the path of anyone who was in the way. Cursing Clint's name all the while for being too stupid not to be at the infirmary if he was injured.

"You're supposed to be in the infirmary," Bruce pointed out between breaths, because he remembered the argument between Tony and the doctor and the very beautiful blond woman on Tony's phone while he was getting his own check-up (he was fine, as usual). They'd told the billionaire that he was battered and bruised, that they didn't know the effects of spacial vacuum on the suit or on the man inside the suit, that he should stay in bed while they ran some more tests. Tony had insulted the doctor and said "love you, honey, bye" before hanging up on the woman. Then he'd walked out of the infirmary with Bruce, toward the lab.

"We...we're going to have to talk about the whole "being on my side" thing. 'Cause you, you're not good at it."

"I'll work on that."

Steve thanked God for his art training, as he ran through a long corridor and ducked through the fourth door to the left. It was something he'd discovered early on in his military career, that those years he'd spent studying proportion and space and composition had given him a good eye for maps and floor plans. And though he'd been in Central and Western Europe for most of the war, he'd spent just enough time on carriers to know they could be notoriously difficult to navigate (that is, he was on a USN carrier once for about three hours and had been hopelessly wandering for two of them). Seeing the Hellicarrier's size and design, it was one of the first things he'd asked to see once he was aboard.

The knowledge enabled him now to make quick work of getting to the lab, made easier by the fact that all the labs were on the same level. He didn't wonder at Bruce and Tony's being able to follow him (and he didn't doubt they would). Tony had just been there, but Steve wouldn't be surprised if both men had memorized the schematics for the entire thing, along with all the jets on deck.

One more corner. Then, "Agent Romanoff!"

She'd already been turned in his direction, he wasn't trying to be quiet, when he approached. "Captain."

"You need to open the door, Natasha," Steve said, deliberately using her name for the first time. He'd held back on it, referring to her either by her patronymic, her title or ma'am, out of a natural sense of professionalism and the unspoken feeling that she might prefer it that way. But right now, he wanted her attention.

The verbal tactic worked and she skipped right past confusion and declination to ask, eyes narrowed and voice serious, "What's going on?"

"Tony was curious," he saw her tense, "and worried, so he did whatever to the cameras. He wanted to know what was inside. It's Clint - "

"I know it's Clint," she snapped.

"He collapsed, Natasha." At that point, Steve berated himself for not paying enough attention to the clock on the screen, because he couldn't say how long it had been since Clint had fallen from the chair. "I saw it happen."

Muttering something in Russian that he vaguely recognized as a string of expletives, she turned immediately to the keypad by the door. That it slid open almost as quickly as she'd punched in the numbers confirmed for him that she'd let Clint take his time alone. The rising volume of her profanities made it just as clear that she was blaming herself for doing so.

Clint lay on the floor, half on his side, his back to where they stood. They were kneeling beside him in two steps, heedless of the paper that crunched beneath their boots and knees. Natasha met his eyes and Steve nodded, helping her to gently situate Clint on his back. Then, with quick and sure hands, they began to examine him for injuries. "He didn't hit his head," Natasha said softly, running her fingers along his scalp.

"Makes sense. He didn't fall so much as...slide off the chair." And that wasn't necessarily better news, because if he'd hit his head they'd at least have a reason for why he was unconscious now. If he'd lost consciousness and then fell, it meant something else was wrong. Steve didn't find any tender softness in Clint's chest that might indicate broken ribs and the archer had seemed to have full range of motion after the battle.

"Bruises. Some glass." The cuts and abrasions littered his bare arms and Natasha knew that the rest of his body was likely the same.

"Yeah - "

They were interrupted by the sound of running feet and then Bruce was kneeling beside them. Steve pulled back a little to let the man with far greater experience continue the examination. Natasha, unobtrusive near Clint's head, stayed where she way.

"The medics are coming. I contacted them on the way over," Tony said, standing but staying close by. "What happened?"

Steve shook his head. "I don't know. He doesn't seem any more injured now than before. Doc?"

"Hold on," Bruce said with preoccupation as he unzipped the front of the uniform. Beneath the layer of leather and Cordura, Clint's tightly woven Kevlar undershirt seemed mostly intact. Because of the solitary nature of Clint's job during the Incident, it was more difficult to find a starting point for possibly injuries. The others had fought together, on occasion, so it had been easy for Thor to point out that Steve had been shot in the side or for Tony to say that Natasha had landed awfully hard on her shoulder when she'd rolled during a fall. Some cops had seen Steve fall off the second story of a bank and land on a car. Hulk had seen Thor clear out buildings and Natasha had, at least, glimpsed Tony's Jonah act. That everyone had seen Tony's last fall was a given. But no one could say for certain if they saw Clint take any particularly bad hits, not after he'd left ground level.

So, Bruce went as Natasha and Steve had. He started with the general and tried to find specifics. Without the bag he'd had with him even in India, though, it remained cursory and unhelpful until the medics arrived.

All four of them stepped aside to give the trained team room to work in the increasingly cramped space. Clint was loaded onto a stretcher and born away and Natasha and Bruce had gone right along with them. Tony was moving to follow when he noticed Steve kneel down to pick up the papers that were down stomped, torn and crumpled. Tony stepped back, glancing at the still active screen. The list of names, indicated by the date and time recorded, was of dead or injured following the attack on the Hellicarrier and Loki's escape. Tony swallowed when he ran across "Coulson, Phil" in the long line of deceased. "Why would he - ?"

"He felt guilty," Steve said quietly, straightening up with the last of the papers in hand. "Sometimes," he shrugged, "sometimes knowing their names can help."

Tony, who had read everything he could find on Dr. Yinsen and the Afghani town of Gulmira after he'd been returned to the States, couldn't think of a reply. Instead, he asked, "So, what are those?"

Steve handed him a few. "Letters."

Tony scanned through them.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mullen...

...Mrs. Yee...

...Mr. Aritakala...

...Ms. Hannah Corehaim...

...Col. and Mrs. Salvatore...

...I deeply regret...

...It is my hardest burden...

...I am so very sorry to tell you that your son...

...your niece...

...your fiance, ...

...your brother has been wounded during the attack on New York City...

...was killed in the defense of his country and his unit...


Author's Notage: Thank you to everyone who reviewed or put this story on alert. The response for Control has floored me. I'm sorry that this second part has been so long in coming and I'm grateful to everybody who's still reading and interested.

So, this is turning into more of a team fic than I'd first intended. XD Everyone else's issues and personalities are just really compelling, they kind of threw themselves in.

This story is completely un-betaed, so if I'm misremembering details from the movie or there are problems with grammar/structure/characterization, please let me know so that I can fix it. I know that POV in the second section is jumpy and I'm not entirely sure about that last part with the letter fragments. Feedback on anything is very welcome.

I hope that you liked this. I'll try to make sure the next chapter doesn't take so long. Thank you and God bless.