Blame

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"Steve, man, you've gotta call Tony," Sam warned, watching Steve hesitate before dialing the number. "This is way bigger than what's going on with you guys. If you don't do it, you know damn well that I'm gonna." He waited patiently for his answer of what Steve would do, standing steady in a striking contrast to the trembling nerves that had taken the confidence from the normally unwavering man in front of him.

"I know," he groaned, "but what do I even say? Hey, Tony, not only am I harboring the guy who killed your parents, but now I've got (Y/N) thinking that it was her because she did something that I never should have asked her to do in the first place? If he ever considered forgiving me for everything that's happened, I've completely shattered that idea now."

"She told you not to do this to yourself. You promised her that you wouldn't take blame for her decision."

"Yeah, well...I lied." Steve's fingers hovered over the numbers, unmoving in his fear as to what he would hear if and when Tony answered. He closed his eyes and pictured the man who he had once called friend, and his heart ached for that easier time; this had become something that he never could have predicted, but he maintained his self-blame that he should have known better than to pursue it. He had been so selfish; it was how he used to see Tony, and the tables had turned so fiercely that they were flipped and splintered in his mind. When he finally took that last breath of decisiveness, his fingertips danced over the screen until the ringing began and he was committed. When the line opened, his fear almost hung it up before he could speak.

"Rogers? Is that you?"

"Y-yeah...hey, Tony..." he stammered quietly, his voice uncharacteristically timid.

"Why are you calling me? What's going on? Did something happen to (Y/N)?"

"Um...well...I'm not sure how to say this...exactly-"

"You spit it out, that's how you do it. Now."

What Steve couldn't see or hear on the other end of the call was that FRIDAY was working at top speed to trace him while Tony was stepping into a suit before he even knew what was happening. But the Captain was a smart man, and he knew that it was inevitable that Stark would be standing face-to-face with him very soon. "She was working with Buck-"

"And? I knew that already. Just cut to the chase, dammit, and tell me what's wrong."

"She cleared his memories, Tony...but in the process, she took them and now...now..." he whimpered into a nervous cough, feeling his throat tighten with each word, "now she thinks that she's the Winter Soldier."

Steve wouldn't hear any more from Tony after that, instead, it was the sound of the line closing that let him know that the conversation was over and that things were about to explode around him. Tony had to be on the way, and he needed to be prepared for whatever he brought with him; Steve had to be prepared to answer for this, even though he could barely understand it himself. He stood from his chair and looked at Sam, whose eyes were wide with anticipation of what was said as he waited for the other shoe to drop as to what was happening.

"He's on the way," Steve told him plainly, "and he's coming for me, so I want you all to leave. It's not going to be safe for you here soon."

"What?" Sam gasped, crossing the room towards his friend. "No, we're not going anywhere. There's no way in hell that we're leaving you here with Stark, especially when he's this pissed off. We've been in this together for this long, and that's not changing now."

"Sam-"

"No, Steve. That's my final say on this. You're obviously not thinking clearly, so this is my decision to make. We stay."

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