Tony woke from a restless sleep, eyes blinking sluggishly in the dim morning glow. A light shone from the walk-in closet, followed by a curse. His brain then remembered that the sound of something tumbling to the ground had woken him up.
“You okay in there?” he slurred.
Pepper’s head poked out into the light, a concerned look on her features. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“That’s okay,” Tony assured her. He smiled, glad he had woken up and hadn’t gotten to miss her leaving that morning.
She smiled back. “I just broke a heel.” She gave a little frustrated huff that made Tony’s insides flutter affectionately. “Go back to sleep. I’ll see you when I get home from the office.”
“But…your shoes…” Tony said stupidly.
Pepper raised an eyebrow at him. “Tony, I have other shoes.”
“Course,” he said. “It’s Friday, right? We can go out.” He began to sink back into the mattress when a stray thought occurred to him. He sat up straight. “Jarvis, date.”
“It is Friday, September 13th, 2013, Sir.”
Tony’s eyes widened and he shot out of bed.
“Tony?” Pepper peeked her head out of the walk-in again. “Tony, what’s wrong?”
“It’s Friday the 13th Pep! You can’t go to work! We can’t leave at all!”
Pepper snorted, and then continued to get dressed. “Don’t tell me you’re superstitious now.”
Tony pressed himself against the glass windows, looking into the New York streets below. Most notably for random bad guys or alien spaceships that of course would pick this day to start a fight. “Pep, I’ve always been a victim of terrible circumstance-”
“Being Time’s Person of the Year is a terrible circumstance now?” she interrupted dryly.
“-but on this day I’m totally, completely, 100% jinxed!” he finished. He suddenly pulled himself away from the windows. “I’m going to make coffee and then hole up in the lab.”
“You better be out by 5, that’s when I’m coming back and we’re going out to dinner.”
“But honey, I-”
“Tony,” she glared at him. “I have been working my ass off all week to settle this deal with Oscorp. We. Are. Going. Out.”
Tony gave an indignant puff. “Okay, can I-”
“No, you cannot bring Bruce. He is a grown man, perfectly capable of getting his own dinner. As he told you yesterday. In front of me. When you asked him then.”
Tony nibbled his lip nervously, looking out at the sunrise over Manhattan. The unluckiest sunrise of all.
Pepper picked up her handbag, and guessing his thoughts, spoke out loud. “And you can’t bring the suit.” She came over to him, giving him a gentle kiss on the lips which he returned. “I’ll be back at 5, okay? I’m sure nothing terrible will happen between now and then.” She moved over to the door of the bedroom suite, opening it. She turned slightly back to look him in the eyes. “And if anything does happen, it’s probably because you’re you, and unrelated to the date.”
“What does that mean?” he called after her.
Her voice sounded faintly down the hall. “Goodbye, Iron Man!”
Tony frowned, but he got up and threw on a t-shirt and some sweatpants. The pants hung loosely on his hips. As he exited the room, his big toe got caught on the loose cuffs of the other leg. With a cry he fell forward. His hands smacked the tile painfully, and he lay there for a moment collecting his breath.
“Sir, are you alright?”
“Yeah, J,” Tony groaned. “Peachy.” He got to his feet and made his way to the kitchen.
He wasn’t surprised to find Steve there. The super soldier was reading a paper and sipping coffee. A plate of fruit and waffles was in front of him. Tony fought the urge to say something sarcastic about his complete, American breakfast, but pushed it down at the last moment. And people said he wasn’t getting better.
Steve looked up from his paper with a surprised expression. “You’re up early.”
“Nnng,” Tony replied eloquently as he reached for a mug.
“Special occasion?” Steve asked.
Tony roughly took the bag of ground coffee, pouring it into the filter. He didn't bother measuring it. “It’s the 13th,” he said quietly.
Steve blinked, uncomprehendingly. “Did something…happen?” Tony sighed loudly as the coffee began to drip. He turned towards Steve, staving off more questions.
“Friday the 13th.”
“Fri-” Steve’s eyes widened in sudden understanding and his mouth shaped itself into an “oh.” He took another sip of hi coffee as he raised an eyebrow. “Are you…superstitious?”
Tony snorted. “Please. I am a man of science.” He glanced back at his coffee mug before looking again at Steve. “That said, Friday the 13th is a day that has traditionally hung me out to dry.”
“I can see that,” Steve inclined his head to a spot behind Tony. The engineer turned.
The coffee was spilling over the pot. “Shit!” Tony growled, grabbing a handful of paper towels.
“Do you think maybe…”Steve said cautiously, “you’re being…sort of paranoid?”
“No!” Tony said, slamming down the paper towels into the counter. Coffee splattered everywhere. He sighed impatiently, grabbing more.
“Ohhh-kaaay,” Steve said quietly, going back to his paper.
Tony growled again and filled his mug. Dumb supersoldier, what did he know anyway. “I’ll be in the lab. All day. So don’t come looking for me.”
Steve made a non-committal “mm-hmm” noise.
Tony angrily brought his coffee to his lab. When the door whooshed open, Dummy rolled over happily. The bot spun his claw excitedly and Tony gave him an appreciative pat on the strut. He put his coffee down on his desk, flicking his fingers to bring up multiple screens with unfinished projects on them. Maybe he was overreacting.
Tony sighed again as his eyes flickered to where the gauntlet of his suit had a tear in the outer casing. It would have to be repaired. His hands shuffled around his desk, pulling his goggles and his torch out from underneath a pile of scraps. Dummy rolled over and picked up his fire extinguisher with a questioning coo. Tony narrowed his eyes at the camera that served as Dummy’s main visual stimulus. The moment was interrupted however when the door whooshed open again and Bruce, whom Tony had given free access to his lab, came in.
“Good morning,” Bruce said waving with his mug of tea to Tony and Dummy. He was already fully dressed, even if his hair did look a bit rumpled. “What are you two up to so early in the day?”
Tony strapped on his goggles and cleared a space on his desk. He slapped the gauntlet down onto it, igniting the torch. “Oh, you know, the usual. Repairing the titanium alloy outer shell of my full body prosthesis which doubles as a protective armory for not only the country but the world as a whole.” He leaned forward, focusing on his work. He heard Bruce give an amused chuckle behind him and set his own mug down.
“Just so you know,” Bruce said loudly over the torch. “I checked on the samples earlier this morning. Nothing’s changed yet.”
“How early were you up?” Tony grunted. The jagged tear of the metal started to turn a bright orange.
“I’ve only been up about two hours. I checked on it first and wrote down the readings there.”
“Where?” Tony turned his head to see where he was pointing.
Dummy made a loud warning squawk. Tony flinched violently as the open flame from the torch grazed the skin on his forearm. He dropped the torch with a clatter and choked off a yell of pain. There was a loud hiss and suddenly Tony was being drenched in a cloud of wet, smelly chemical moisture. He automatically threw himself backwards and away from the offending substance, falling off his stool to the ground with a crash.
He clutched his burnt arm to his chest, shutting his eyes against both the pain and the spray around him. He kicked meekly at Dummy to make him stop, and the robot did with a proud-sounding beep! He vaguely felt someone grab his shoulder.
“Tony! God, Tony, I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” Bruce helped him sit up and Tony groaned, shooting a glare towards Dummy.
Bruce gently took his arm and Tony let it be pulled away from his body. “I’m cursed,” he moaned.
“Tony, you’re not cursed,” Bruce said helping him stand and leading him over to the sink. “I made a stupid mistake and distracted you. This is my fault.” He turned on the faucet and put Tony’s arm under the water, making the billionaire hiss in pain. “Did you hurt yourself anywhere else? Hit your head when you fell?”
“No!” Tony snapped, somewhat angry now. Dummy rolled slowly towards him, giving an apologetic cooing noise. “I’m fine, Banner.”
“You’re not fine, this is beginning to look like a second-degree burn and I-”
“Stop, just stop.” Tony interrupted. His friend’s face looked exceedingly guilty, as if he’d just transformed into the Hulk and destroyed the building. Which he hadn’t, so Tony was already sick of his little pity party. “It’s not you. Seriously. It’s the date.”
He saw Bruce’s brow crease together slightly in thought before his face abruptly transformed into an exact copy of Captain America’s from an hour earlier. “You’re saying it was Friday the 13th that caused you to hurt yourself.”
“And Dummy to douse me!” Tony affirmed.
Bruce closed his eyes and shook his head. He turned off the water and dropped Tony’s arm, pulling a medkit out from under the sink. “Tony, lab accidents are a regular part of your life, and Dummy loves that fire extinguisher.” Dummy beeped loudly in agreement and spun his claw around. “Are you sure it’s not just…you?” A slightly amused smile appeared on his face as Bruce unwrapped some gauze.
“You know, people keep saying that and I’m starting to feel self-conscious,” Tony grumbled.
Bruce raised an eyebrow as he applied some cooling gel to Tony’s arm.
Bruce shrugged, smiling, but said nothing.
Tony gave a loud “Hmph” before taking the gauze out of Bruce’s hands. “Thanks, but I can take it from here.” He put it over the burn which was an angry red color and beginning to blister. He winced, taking the offered medical tape from Bruce’s fingers and taping on the pad. “Not even 9 AM and I’m already the most jinxed person in this house.”
In answer, Bruce just rolled his eyes. “People who give credence to superstitions end up causing all the harm themselves.”
“Who said that, Mark Twain?” Tony growled.
“No, I did. Just now.”
Tony gave him a sarcastic smirk. “Ha-ha, Science Friday. I’m going upstairs, away from all this dangerous stuff.”
Bruce gave him a small wave. “See you later then.”
Dummy cooed with disappointment as Tony angrily stomped up the stairs. He looked over his shoulder briefly and saw Bruce give the robot an encouraging pat. Tony hoped Dummy would spray the other scientist with the fire extinguisher. See if he liked it.
In the kitchen, Clint had joined Cap and was at the table, drinking coffee and scrolling through something on an iPad. Steve was washing his dishes at the sink. When he heard Tony enter, he glanced over his shoulder. “I thought you were going to be holed up in the lab all day,” he said. Tony stalked over to the coffee maker, pouring another mug full of the hot, steaming liquid.
“Yeah, well, that didn’t work out,” he growled.
“What happened to your arm?” Clint asked. Steve turned further, an interested look on his face.
“Burned it. In the lab.”
“You okay?” Steve asked concerned.
“Fine,” Tony bit out. “I told you, though, it’s this goddamn day,”
“Oh, Friday the 13th?” Clint piped up. Tony squinted, not able to tell if the archer was being sarcastic or generally interested. “Sure, man.”
“Are you serious? Don’t tell me you believe in this superstitious…phooey too.” Steve had a look on his face that was somewhere between confused and disappointed.
Tony was about to say something about Steve’s choice in nouns when Clint spoke up first.
“Totally, Cap. I ran away from home on a Friday the 13th. Once I had a dog that was hit by a car on Friday the 13th.” Clint gave a small chuckle to himself as he took another sip of coffee. “Got recruited by SHIELD on a Friday the 13th.”
“You’re right, that is pretty terrible,” Tony smirked.
Steve rolled his eyes. “I think that’s coincidence. And Tony gets injured in the lab all the time.”
“Why does everyone keep saying that?” Tony whined.
“Cause it’s true,” Clint smirked. “But still. Friday the 13th is a real thing, Steve. Gotta respect it.” Clint gave Steve a knowing nod, which did nothing to remove the look on the other man’s face that was oozing doubt.
“Captain, Director Fury is calling for you. He says it’s urgent,” Jarvis interrupted.
“Put him through, please, Jarvis.”
Nick Fury’s voice suddenly flowed around them. “Cap, I need you to get everyone and suit up. We got a situation downtown.”
Tony’s internal alarm bells went off. “Does everyone have to go?” he asked.
“Yes, Tony, everyone has to go,” Steve told him patiently. “Be ready in five. Jarvis, please alert the other Avengers.”
Tony grumbled, but jogged back down to his lab as Clint and Steve ran off towards their own rooms.
“Bruce, suit up!” he shouted as he entered the lab.
Bruce looked down at his wrinkled khakis and his loose, yellow polo shirt before looking back at Tony. “Okay, that’s done.”
Tony rolled his eyes, before thrusting both fists towards the workbench. The gauntlets on it flew through the air and settle on his wrists with a solid thunk before they began to expand and clink up his arms. The chest plate was next, followed by the abdominal plates, helmet, boots, and knees. The parts began all clinking together, snapping into place. Tony flipped up the facemask to smile smugly at Bruce. “Well, no one can say we’re the slowest.”
A few minutes later, everyone was inside the quinjet with Tony flying alongside it. He opened a communications channel to the others. “So what exactly is the situation? Robots? Aliens?”
“Um, Fury actually said something about…goblins?” Steve said hesitantly.
“I thought it was ghouls,” Natasha’s voice chimed in.
“There are a lot of them and they are about the size of a lion and have a lot of teeth. I think,” Clint added.
“I don’t see why you need me for this,” Bruce sounded amused.
“Friend Banner, we wish for you to participate in our glorious battle!” Shouted Thor. Tony winced, as a sharp static noise came over the comms because of the volume.
“Okay, let’s focus up. Almost there,” Steve’s voice interrupted. Everyone was instantly quiet, even Tony, which he took as another sign of impending doom. That, or they were really becoming quite fluid as a team, which was a possibility Tony was just unwilling to accept.
They touched down on the Upper West Side, in a quiet neighborhood. Well, it would have been quiet except there were grey, humanoid things crawling all over a building and throwing trash cans into the street. Their faces resembled more bulldog-like, with a barely protruding muzzle and a lot of sharp, needle-like teeth. They moved on all fours, their limbs eerily long for their bodies. And they moved fast. The HUD in his helmet highlighted one particularly nasty one that was trying to break into a window. A terrified woman was standing ready with a baseball bat as it gnashed its teeth at her. Its tail whipped wildly back and forth. Tony aimed a repulsor and shot if off the fire escape.
“Are we just supposed to kill them all or…” he trailed off, unsure of the plan.
“Yeah, just...keep them from hurting anyone. Or escaping these blocks,” Steve said. They piled out of the quinjet, Natasha already shooting some who started sprinting on all fours in their direction.
“Good news is bullets put them down,” she said. Clint started rapidly climbing a nearby fire escape. Tony cleared the way for him, hovering in midair and blasting more ghoul-things out of the way.
Bruce’s voice crackled over the comms. “Steve, can you bring me a dead one? Maybe I can start to get to work on its genetic makeup.”
“How are you going to do that in a quinjet with an iPad?” Tony asked.
“I can take samples and photographs,” Bruce said calmly. “It’s clear you don’t really need me here.”
There was a sudden clang, and Tony looked down to see Steve’s shield hit a ghoul in the head. Steve ran to the thing to make sure it was dead, before hauling it back to the entrance of the quinjet. Meanwhile, Thor looked like he was at a carnival game as he threw his hammer at each ghoul that attacked him. It would knock their heads off in a spray of black goo, and then he would raise his hand to summon the hammer back to him. As soon as he caught it, he’d send it at the next one.
“I am not sure that Director Nick Fury needed us for this assignment, as engaging as it is,” the Asgardian said dryly.
Natasha shot a ghoul who jumped from the top of the quinjet nearly on top of her. As she did, Tony saw a wash of black blood spray from its chest towards her. She took a step back, but not before some of it reached her forearm. She hissed loudly over her comm and cursed.
“Nat! You okay?” Clint’s voice was cool, but concerned.
“Ah, shit. It’s burning! It’s…” she hissed again. “Get it off, get it off!” Her voice had taken on the slight edge that Tony knew now was associated with Black Widow panicking.
Tony turned his head and saw Steve run over to her. She had dropped her guns and was yelling nonsense words of pain over the comms. The ghouls had sensed the lack of offense, and were starting to converge on both her and Steve, so Tony blasted some more repulsor shots from where he hovered in the air. Clint cut down the ones he missed with arrows.
Natasha had fallen on the ground, uttering choked off screams every few seconds. Tony saw Bruce sprint out of the quinjet with two bottles of water, before he dumped them on her arm. She fell into Steve’s arms, who tapped his ear piece. “She’s okay. Burned her arm badly. It melted a huge hole in her suit. Stay clear of that blood, guys.” Steve handed her off to Bruce, who helped her back inside the quinjet. He saw Steve punch the button that would raise the door latch, slipping out as it slid closed.
Tony’s HUD beeped loudly and highlighted something in his peripheral. He turned his head and the cameras followed. “Oh, shit,” he breathed. He kicked the thrusters into a higher capacity and shot towards the roof of the building Clint was on. “Clint! You’re about to have about 20 right on your head!” Tony landed heavily on top of one of the ghouls and felt its spine crunch under his boots.
“Hawkeye, get out of there while Iron Man holds them off. Thor, defend the quinjet.” Steve’s orders drifted over the comms, but Tony was only halfway paying attention. No less than five ghouls all leapt at him at once. He fired reuplsor blasts at two of them. One landed on his chest, which he quickly tore off, but two landed on his back. He felt the back thrusters start, and his weight shifted abruptly as the two scrambled around him like snakes. His HUD flashed red in warning as he felt something puncture the plating just above his hip bone.
“The armor has been breached,” Jarvis calmly informed him.
Tony cursed and grabbed the wrist of the thing that just bit through titanium steel and tossed it over the side of the building. He made a grab for the other one, but a new one had slithered around his leg. The HUD flashed red again as the new one made a hole in the plating that covered his calf.
“God DAMMIT!” he shouted. He kicked it off and blasted a whole through the midsection of the one still attached to him.
“Sir, there is a corrosive substance rapidly burning through the rest of the outer shell and into the inner armor where the puncture marks are,” Jarvis said. On the left side of the HUD, the affected areas over his hip and calf turned red, along with numbers that flashed wildly. Tony roughly blasted another one off the roof.
“Iron Man, report!” Steve shouted over the comms. He must have heard his curse.
“Sir, at the current rate of decomposition, the substance will reach your skin in 46 seconds. I suggest you exit the armor.”
“Dammit J, I’m not getting out on the rooftop with these things!” One leapt at him, claws extended. He caught its arms and swung around. He let the ghoul fly into two more that were leaping at his flank. Two came at his front again and he blasted them back, as three more charged his left side. He blasted them away, but stumbled over one that was on the ground behind him.
“Sir!” Jarvis’ voice sounded alarmed. Tony looked up to see four soar through the air right as his chest. He hit two of them, but the momentum of the remaining two was enough to push him backwards, off-balance.
And over the side of the rooftop.
He didn’t get a chance to fire his thrusters, because right then a searing pain in his hip, and immediately after in his leg, wiped out all thought. Like a forest fire destroying everything in his path, all he could think about was escape from the all-encompassing pain. His body snapped forward as he hit a fire escape on the way down, then again as he hit the second balcony. He may have been screaming, but a sudden impact with something much more solid than a metal ladder hit him, and he mercilessly blacked out.
The next thing he was aware of was voices. A dull ache in the back of his head began to make itself known more vehemently. There was also something wrong with his side. And his leg. He winced slightly, giving a soft moan.
“Tony?” a voice said softly.
He struggled for consciousness, but it felt like with every ounce of progress he was making, the pain was just intensifying. He moaned again.
“Tony, can you open your eyes?” The same voice said.
Tony slowly cracked his eyes open, the sunlight making new, sharp lances of pain run through his head. Captain America’s head was also there, bright blue and smiling down at him.
Something touched his hip and he flinched violently. The movement made something metal dig into his back, not to mention aggravate his headache. He hissed through clenched teeth, rolling his head slightly to see Bruce there. The scientist gave him a sullen look.
It was then Tony realized the armor had opened around him, effectively leaving him exposed.
Tony remembered the pain of the caustic ghoul spit burning through the metal and into his skin. He tried to turn his head to look at his side, but Steve stopped him with a gentle hand.
“He’s not talking. That’s bad, right?” Steve said, turning to Bruce.
“Ask him some questions,” the scientist replied. Bruce was fumbling in a med kit for something.
“Tony, do you remember what happened?” Steve said, turning his attention back to the injured man.
“Ghouls. Acid…spit,” he said. Steve gave a relieved sigh.
“Tony,” Bruce said, and Tony rolled his head towards him again. “The spit ate some holes in your armor and burned you, but it didn’t go through the skin. It seems like it’s much less effective on organic material, ironically. I’m going to put some stuff on your hip, alright? The EMTs will be here soon, but I know how you hate ambulance rides.”
“Kay,” Tony said.
Bruce looked over him, sharing a look with Steve. “Concussion, I think,” Bruce said knowingly.
“Jusa slight one,” Tony moaned. “Don’t talk about me like imnot here,” he said. Tony frowned at how slurred his words sounded. “Natasha?”
“She’s okay, same condition as you, more or less. Clint and Thor are looking out for her. Once you fell off the building, Thor fried a bunch on the ground, then finished off the remaining ones. He thinks they came through a portal,” Steve told him.
Tony growled. Damn portals. He angrily shoved the thoughts of portals away. He didn’t really want to deal with that now.
“Not a portal. It’s the date,” Tony growled.
Bruce gave him a very flat look as he placed gauze over his hip. Tony squirmed slightly, mostly from the pain. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s get you into the quinjet and back home.”
“No! I’m not getting into that death trap today!” Tony sat up, wincing as the pain in his head intensified, but made his thoughts a little clearer. “Jarvis, let’s go.”
“Sir, the structural integrity of the suit is not sound. I highly advise-”
“Then call a cab!” Tony shouted, getting to his feet. He swayed slightly as he tried to not put weight on his injured leg which still burned. Steve caught him before he fell over.
“Tony, the quinjet will be much faster, and you need-”
“Actually,” Clint’s voice cut him off. He was walking with Thor and Natasha on either side of him, Natasha’s arm wrapped up with gauze as well. “Some of the ghoul things spit all over the hull. It melted through the fuel and weapons systems, so we’ve called a car.”
No one said anything for a moment, before Tony spat out, “See?! You almost killed me, Steve!”
“Well, not just you would have been dead,” Clint mumbled.
“What time is it?” Tony demanded angrily.
Everyone was quiet, startled by the change in topic before Jarvis piped in helpfully. “11:14 A.M., Sir.”
Tony let out a wail of despair, making most of them jump. “It’s not even noon! I’m screwed!” He swayed again and nearly did fall this time. Steve wrapped a tree trunk arm around his chest, holding him up. Tony suddenly felt drained of all his energy. Vaguely, he remembered he had a date with Pepper that night. “Oh man, Pepper’s gonna kill me. If I don’t die first,” he moaned.
Steve started hauling Tony over to the SHIELD hummer that had just driven up. Tony distantly heard the clacking noise of his suit reassembling and preparing to fly off.
“I think she’ll understand if you skip dinner because you have a concussion,” Bruce said from behind him.
Bruce was right, but Tony still felt pretty bad. Maybe a nap would help. He started to drift off as Steve placed him in the backseat and fastened his seatbelt. “Is jus’,” he mumbled back to Bruce, “’M always getting hurt. Blowin’ her off.” His eyes slid shut, but a hand on his face made him open them again.
“Tony, you need to stay awake,” Bruce insisted. “And don’t think that. She understands, trust me.” Bruce climbed into the seat next to him, and Steve climbed into the passenger seat.
“Mmkay. Will you jus’…do me a favor. Tell her I’m con…cuss…” Tony faded out before he could finish the thought.
Tony woke up when the car stopped in front of Stark Tower. Bruce and Steve helped him into the tower first, followed by Natasha, Thor and Clint. Natasha was walking unaided, though the skin round her eyes seemed pinched, betraying the pain she was in.
They went up to their living quarters, accompanied by doctors that asked both Tony and Natasha an annoying amount of questions. Natasha and Tony were both diagnosed with second degree burns (Tony’s second of the day), and Tony had a light concussion.
Bruce went to work immediately on trying to determine where the portal had come from. Thor helped him, trying to identify the species that had come through the portal.
Tony had tried to help, before being ushered to the common area where Steve could keep an eye on both him and Natasha. Clint was not helping, continually throwing magazines at both Natasha and Tony to keep them occupied. He stopped though when Natasha threw a knife back.
Unfortunately, Pepper chose that moment to walk in.
“Oh my god!” she shouted as a knife embedded itself in the wall six feet away.
“Miss Potts!” Steve jumped to his feet, looking very alarmed as he moved to the wall to pull the knife out. Clint didn’t seem to be bothered.
“Pep?” Tony’s head popped over the top of the couch.
She gave an uneasy smile to Steve, moving to the couch.
“But…Pep…the deal…” he protested weakly.
“We closed. Everything’s settled. What do you think, I’m an amateur?” she teased. She took his hand in hers, noting the bandage on his arm. Her eyes glanced down to the gauze covering his hip and she sighed. “Agent Sitwell called the office, left a message for me about what was going on. How are you feeling?”
“Told you, unlucky,” he mumbled.
“Yup,” Clint agreed. Steve had given the knife to Clint, who sat on the floor next to the couch Natasha was on. He tossed it in the air as she glared at him.
Tony sat up completely so Pepper could sit on the couch next to him. He rested his head on her shoulder and wrapped his good arm around her waist, which she then covered with her own.
“How are you, Natasha?” Pepper asked concernedly.
“Fine, it’s just the arm.” She said it tiredly, but she gave a slight smile back at Pepper. “It should be fine in a few days,” she added.
“If we live that long,” Tony mumbled into Pepper’s neck. She ignored him.
“Maybe we should just all eat in tonight, bring up some wine,” she said quietly, looking at the tired faces around her.
Tony made a noise of protest. “You said we were going out! Just us!”
Pepper rolled her eyes. “You are in no shape to go out, and you didn’t even want to earlier today and you wanted to bring Bruce!”
“Wait, you were going to bring Bruce and not us?” Clint turned his head and faked a hurt look.
“Beside the point,” Tony growled, headache intensifying.
Clint was stopped from replying by Bruce’s voice coming over the P.A. that was usually attributed to Jarvis. “Guys, I think we have a problem. Shield’s detecting a wormhole with the same readings as earlier, except much, much larger. Nothing’s come through yet, but-”
Everyone groaned and started to get up.
“Sir,” Jarvis interrupted. “Urgent call from Director Fury.”
“I’m getting really tired of things zipping through wormholes,” Tony growled. Pepper didn’t even try to stop him from leaving, despite his injuries. Both she and Steve were giving him very disapproving frowns though. “Jarvis, which armor is ready-”
Tony was cut off by Bruce’s voice again. “Something just came through. And it’s huge.”
Steve blinked. “How huge?”
“Have we shown you Godzilla yet?”
Clint, Tony and Natasha looked at each other, a little sick.
Pepper stood up. “Get going. I’ll make sure the building is evacuated, and-”
“Captain, Avengers!” Tony grimaced at Fury’s voice, a little angry Jarvis had gone ahead and let him through. “There’s a giant inter-dimensional being headed straight for the tower, you all need to move, NOW!”
There was a brief moment of shock, and then everyone was moving. Steve sprinted off down the hall relaying orders via Jarvis to Thor and Bruce. Natasha and Clint were hot on his heels. Tony started running up the stairs towards the balcony. He could get Jarvis to send whatever suit was ready via a side-door on another floor and receive it there. He pulled Pepper along, intent on flying her to safety. She had her phone out and was already issuing orders to security in it. They had just reached the door when something blotted out the sun.
They both froze, looking skyward. A massive, grey shape was flying downwards towards the tower. It was a much larger, scarier version of the things they had already faced that day and it was pissed. Its beak-like mouth was the size of a UHaul, and some of its teeth were the size of Thor. Its wings flapped once, and it extended massive talons forward towards the rooftop. Pepper and Tony turned and began to sprint away from the windows, diving for cover behind a couch.
It wasn’t a moment too soon, as the entire building shook with the impact of the monster hitting it.
Pepper screamed as glass exploded inwards, Tony covering her body with his. The couch tipped backwards, and Tony pulled Pepper out of the way. As he did, they both looked up to see a huge claw groping around, knocking over furniture, and getting closer to them.
Tony stumbled over debris as he pulled Pepper towards the elevator, but the huge claw was getting closer. Part of the ceiling had fallen down, and Pepper struggled over it as Tony tried to help her from behind. He turned his head and saw the giant claw getting closer. He kicked at it, which essentially did nothing. “Tony!” Pepper called to get his attention. She was over the pile of rubble, and he grabbed her outstretched hand as he scrambled over after her. He turned his head again, sucking in a huge breath as the claw was only about a meter from his chest.
There was a loud thwip and an arrow shaft buried itself deeply buried itself deeply in one of the finger joints. For a moment, the creature didn’t seem to notice, but then the arrow exploded.
There was a loud, inhuman scream and Tony was bowled backwards into Pepper from the force of the explosion.
Tony lay dazed for a moment, feeling Pepper move underneath him. There was a high-pitched whine in his ears, that Tony knew from experience was the direct result of being too close to an explosion. Hands wrapped around his upper arms and he blearily looked up into Clint’s concerned face. The archer’s lips were moving, but Tony could only hear a muffled noise. His head turned to Pepper who was also looking at Clint with confusion.
Clint pulled Tony upwards, then reached down to pull up Pepper. Clint looked at Tony and made a gesture like he was firing a repulsor, then pointed to the enraged beast outside that was still screeching. It clutched the stump where its hand had been, which was spurting the same black blood its smaller counterparts had. Tony concentrated, flicking his wrists in a sharp movement and bringing both arms in front of his chest to call the armor. He was sure Jarvis had already sent it, but it had to get a few floors up. Clint tapped him in the head (rather harshly) and Tony turned to see Clint pointing at himself then Pepper. He then grabbed Pepper’s wrist, and began pulling her with him away from the monster. Pepper watched him wide-eyed, even as she let herself be pulled along by the archer.
Tony turned his attention back to the monster outside, which swatted something in the air angrily. Tony strained his eyes, seeing the small propulsion units that marked them as pieces of his armor. He held both arms out, waiting.
The monster shrieked again, its undamaged claw following the pieces of the armor in. Tony’s eyes widened, and he started moving the opposite direction of Pepper and Clint. His armor pieces followed, and so did the monster’s claw. The gauntlets slid easily onto his arms and the chest piece clamped around his torso a split second before the giant wrist snapped, sending him into a concrete wall.
For the second time that day, Tony blacked out. His awareness skipped from the pain flaring out sharply from the back of his skull to glass and plaster raining down around him, his face buried in a layer of grime on the floor. The armor had partially assembled around him, but parts of his body were still exposed, including his head, back, and left leg. He let out a whimper of pain, struggling to get his hands underneath him.
There was something tugging his leg harshly, and he turned his head, blinking his eyes blearily.
The Hulk was yanking him to safety behind the huge green beast, teeth bared and growling. Tony bit back a cry as his burned hip, which was unarmored, scraped over some debris. The Hulk hesitated.
“Go,” Tony said breathlessly, pointing at the giant monster still outside. The Hulk spared him a glance and grunted, but then roared at the beast outside. He charged, using his arms to propel him forward like a gorilla, before he launched himself through the air and landed on the beak of the giant goblin.
Tony rolled over with a groan, scrambling around in the dust for his helmet. He couldn’t focus enough to make any of the armor move anymore, and he didn’t much feel like a face full of titanium steel and a broken nose for his troubles. It had just been that kind of day.
There was a familiar clang as his gauntlet knocked into something metal, and he pulled it close. Dust continued to rain down as screeches echoed in the air around him of both the monster outside and twisting metal inside. If the Hulk was trying to be careful, Tony couldn’t tell. Kneeling, he fumbled with the helmet, until it was on his head. “Jarvis,” he breathed. He gave a slight cough, pulling himself to his feet.
“Sir, some of my sensors have been damaged. I cannot locate Miss Potts or the other Avengers in the tower. Emergency services are nearby, but they have been ordered not to come closer to the tower until the threat has been neutralized by the Avengers.”
“Better go neutralize it then,” Tony growled. “I need the other pieces. Just put them in front of me so I can see them, I’ll put them on myself. And find Pepper!”
In answer, several pieces of rubble became displaced as gold and red pieces of armor floated up slowly in front of Tony. He grabbed the remaining pieces, placing them on his body himself so he was sure they’d connect properly. He hissed sharply as the suit settled into place over his burns.
“Sir,” Jarvis’ voice interrupted. “The suit is still compromised from earlier. I do not recommend flight at this time.”
There was a roar, and Tony looked up to see the giant goblin reach up and fling the Hulk away from his face. Tony grimaced as the velocity would place him somewhere over the Hudson, he guessed.
There was a giant boom of thunder as the sky darkened alarmingly fast. Something slammed into the face of the monster, knocking it backwards. It fell out of sight, and Tony caught a blur of red as Thor persued.
Tony was about to follow when his HUD flashed red and internal schematics of the tower popped up. “Sir,” Jarvis’ voice came up. Tony hesitated. “I have located Captain Rogers and Agent Romanoff. They appear to be trapped.”
Tony rolled his eyes and then swung around, heading back towards the center of the building. The good news was with the exception of the plaster, it was mostly holding together through the multiple hits. Tony kicked some pipes that were blocking a stairwell out of the way, and went to push the door open. He actually pushed it a little harder than he meant to, denting it and knocking it off its hinges.
“Sir, you seem to be having trouble with your vision and powers of perception. Perhaps the multiple head injuries today?”
“Can it, Jarvis, no time,” Tony growled. He jumped down the first flight of stairs, putting cracks in the floor when he landed. Following Jarvis’ guideline on the HUD, he kicked open a door on the landing below. The air was thick with smoke, choking off the blue light from the reactor.
“Cap! Romanoff!” It was eerily silent here, the roars from outside just faint-sounding through the thick smoke. He followed the path on his HUD highlighted in red. “Guys! I’m here with Ben Kenobi! I’m here to rescue you!”
There was a cough from somewhere up ahead of him. “Funny,” a strong, but tired voice sounded.
“Romanoff! I didn’t think you’d seen Star Wars. Where you at?” His HUD switched to heat signatures, and he found two immediately, about 10 feet in front of him. He pushed through the smoke and dust, worry beginning to gnaw at his mind. Natasha’s upper body came into view, but her lower body was out of sight underneath a pile of debris. Jarvis began highlighting on the HUD where he determined the weak structural points of the pile. Natasha herself had a lot of dirt and some blood on her face, but seemed to be okay. A little angry though. “Where’s Steve?” he asked.
She grunted. “Behind me, I think. Somewhere…” she twisted, trying to point, but then cried out in pain.
“Woah, easy there Cowgirl,” Tony said reaching down quickly and taking hold of her upper arms. “Where are you hurt?
“Side,” she gritted out. “Didn’t…notice before. Get…get Rogers,” she panted.
“You first,” Tony said seriously, but then added brightly “You’re closer!” He grabbed the edge of something that used to be furniture and lifted. Natasha winced, but remained silent. Tony reached down the other hand, which she grabbed, and he began to slide her out. As he did, he caught a glimpse of blue behind her. “Hold on, just a little more,” he encouraged, noticing how sweat was beginning to run down her face and her jaw was locked tightly together. He bent over and turned around, wedging himself under the debris to keep holding it up. He remembered her burns from earlier, and made sure to take her other arm gently when she was free. She pulled herself the rest of the way and sat up, holding her hands tightly over her side. “Good?” he asked.
She nodded once, still breathing harshly. Her eyes traveled to Steve, and Tony turned to follow. He could just see the other man’s torso. Steve’s shield was partially above him, like he had tried to block Natasha falling in front of him. He hadn’t gotten his cowl up, and his blonde hair was matted and dark with blood. Tony grimaced, having had too much experience with head injuries today. He reached down and grabbed the shield, tossing it over near Natasha, before he grabbed Steve under the shoulders and started pulling him out. Jarvis started displaying Steve’s vitals on the HUD. The breathing and pulse looked normal, at least. He pulled Steve out the rest of the way, and lay him down on the floor next to Natasha.
“Do you believe me now about Friday the 13th?” He grunted.
She eyed him dryly. “No.”
He shrugged, reaching one arm under Steve’s knees and the other under his shoulder blades. He lifted him up, looking at Natasha. “Can you walk?” he asked.
She nodded, getting to her feet. She gasped sharply, holding her side, and he moved so that she fell into him instead of the floor.
“I’m fine,” she bit out.
“Why do you lie?” he laughed lightly even as he worriedly eyed the blood he could see running from her side.
She gave him a pained grimace back. “Good at it,” she panted.
“That’s debatable,” he said. “Come on. Fastest way outta here is to fly. Don’t worry, I’ve carried like, 13 people before,” he added when he saw her warily eyeing the back of his armor. “Grab on. You need the help.”
She hesitated, but then wrapped her arms around his.
“Hold on tight as you can,” he said. “Jarvis, thrusters half power. Let’s take ‘em down nice and easy.”
He leaned forward as the boots fired up, Jarvis keeping the back thrusters and stabilizers off. They moved slowly through the smoke, headed towards the window. “10 feet, Sir.”Jarvis intoned. Tony spun the wrist under Steve’s back, aiming the repulsor straight ahead and firing. He heard Natasha grunt slightly from the kickback. Three seconds later, they were in the open air, the wind at the this height beginning to buffet them around. He couldn’t feel Natasha because of the armor, but he heard the sharp intake of her breath.
“Hang on, we’re going down! Slowly! J, keep an eye out for-”
He heard something that sounded like a sail from behind him and Natasha’s choked off shout. He spun in mid-air his side facing the building, and took the hit that would have torn Natasha in two.
He tumbled downward, the HUD flashing wildly, as he tried to locate his teammates and also keep the monster off all of their backs. “Thor! Could really use a hand here, buddy!” Natasha was to his left, facing down, arms and legs spread in an attempt to create drag. He reached out, grabbing her forarm. She shouted something but he couldn’t hear it over the wind. He yanked her close to his body. “J, rockets!” He felt the flaps on his shoulders open, as a multitude of rockets fired and sped off towards the giant goblin swooping down at them. It screamed and fell back as about 40 impacted with its face and chest. Tony didn’t wait to see the effects, and turned instead, still holding Natasha around her waist as he sped towards the other falling figure.
He stretched out his other arm, yanking Steve a little harder than he intended, but he could hear the giant beast getting closer. And with the added weight of two injured teammates, he wasn’t exactly at his most maneuverable. As it was, he had both Steve and Natasha in a tight squeeze against his chest, and was looking for a safe place to deposit them.
“Sir, the beast is 5 yards away and gaining.”
“Unless you have a suggestion J, I don’t need the hints!” he snapped.
“As you wish, Sir. But I thought it might be helpful for you to know my sensors indicate the Hulk returning,” Jarvis said with a note of smugness in his voice.
Tony was flying just over the rooftops of the nearby buildings when suddenly a huge green mass reared up in front of him from one of the hotels. He pulled up short with a squeak as the Hulk leapt over him and onto the face of the beast, bringing it down again. But even the Hulk wasn’t enough to stop the beast’s momentum. With a clipped “Sorry!” he dropped Natasha and Steve the few feet to the hotel rooftop as both the Hulk and the giant goblin crashed into him.
For a few moments, they all rolled and Tony couldn’t tell what was up or down. This was not helped by the fact that his armor started taking hits from either stray punches or buildings they were tumbling in to. Tony’s vision greyed out for a few minutes, but the sharpness of metal pressing inwards against his skin kept him from passing out completely. His head was really pounding, and he definitely felt something hot and wet not only in his helmet, but in his hip and spreading to the armor around his thigh, and somewhere around his shoulder.
The greyness began to disappear, replaced by the crazed flashing of alerts on his HUD. Tony exhaled deeply, slowly, because he didn’t really have the energy to do anything else. There was pain everywhere, and even though he heard Jarvis speaking, he couldn’t make out any words. Tony blinked slowly as the HUD turned green. That was a little weird, he didn’t really like green displays-
Oh. It was the Hulk, blinking down at him. “Tin Man sleep,” he growled. “Hulk kill goblin while Tin Man sleep.” Tony exhaled deeply again, trying to muster up the energy to answer. His thoughts were punctuated rather harshly with a giant finger jabbing him in the helmet. “Wake up!” The Hulk roared.
But the jab had done what the rest of the afternoon hadn’t, and Tony’s vision tunneled into blackness.
Tony actually slept for three days, awaking only intermittently for short periods of time. Most of the time it was Pepper or Bruce by his bed, but the others would occasionally be there. Tony’s mild concussion had been upgraded to severe, on top of multiple abrasions, a few severe lacerations that required stitches and the already sustained burns.
Well, Tony had definitely had worse, but this was probably the worst Friday the 13th he’d had. The most wide-spread damage wasn’t regulated to the giant goblin tearing up a block of Manhattan with both Thor and the Hulk. That part wasn’t his fault, admittedly, and Thor had apologized to him for not taking it down sooner. Tony actually felt a little terrible that his tower had crumbled so easily and so many people had gotten hurt. Thanks to Clint, Pepper wasn’t seriously hurt, but Steve had a moderate concussion and Natasha had internal bleeding. Steve had recovered pretty quickly, but Natasha had been stuck in medical quarantine with him.
“For someone who…doesn’t believe in superstition…how’d I get off…so badly?” she whispered to him one afternoon. They were taking the afternoon out of quarantine. Barton had snuck them to Central Park on his way to a debriefing. Tony was slumped onto the bench next to Natasha, a half-eaten ice cream bar in his hand. He had had a few bites before deciding it didn’t go well with whatever medications he was on, and now he was debating throwing the rest at some hipster passerby.
He opted for the better part of valor, and just dropped it on the ground instead. “Pepper believes it now. Well, sort of. She said she wouldn’t make dinner reservations on a Friday the 13th again. But out of respect for my beliefs.” Natasha snorted.
“I still maintain it’s just…you.”
He grinned, turning towards her. “Us, now. Just us.”
She smiled back.