Tony was so fucking tired.
He felt like he hadn’t slept for days (which was pretty much how it was, except for a few times he dozed off for a few minutes) and he only wanted to go home, fall into his bed and never move again.
No, wait, a little bit of moving would be acceptable. Like lifting a sandwich to his mouth. And chewing. He could survive a bit of chewing.
He was tired. He was hungry. And right now, he was also angry as hell.
He probably should have just gone home. He should have got some sleep. A day or two. Then he should have done the press conference. But no, he had to do it right after he got back to America.
And what the hell was he even thinking? Shutting down the weapons division was a bad idea, and he fucking knew it.
No, no, stop right there. It wasn’t a bad idea, it was just about the first right thing he wanted to do in his life. It was something he simply had to do, so the world could be a better place. Or something like that. He wasn’t even sure anymore, so fucking tired…
The problem was, to basically anyone else, it would of course seem like a terrible idea. Getting rid of the thing that made him money? Only an idiot would do that, right?
Okay. He was a giant idiot.
But he was an idiot with an important mission.
And it was his company, anyway, wasn’t it? No one could tell him what to do with it. If he says they are done with making weapons, then they are fucking done with making weapons.
“Mr. Stark,” said a voice right next to him, and he turned to see a very uncertain Pepper Potts.
“I’m all ears,” he said. “But only if it’s not about my announcement. If it is, you’d better save your breath. I won’t change my mind.”
“But Mr. Stark-”
“Miss Potts. I will not change my mind.”
It was quiet in the car for the rest of their journey to his mansion. Once there, he got out of the car and told Happy to drive his assistant home. No, Miss Potts, thank you very much, I don’t need anyone to fucking take care of me, I’m just fine and not going to drop dead the moment I’m alone.
Walking through the front door and hearing the voice of JARVIS, his AI, was pure bliss, no feeling on Earth could ever be better. Or at least he thought so, until he finally got out of his suit and shirt and even fucking underwear and slipped under the covers to get the first proper sleep in weeks.
Of course, his first proper sleep in weeks turned out to be restless, absolutely horrible and filled with nightmares about the cave in Afghanistan. Also very short, because hey, you can only cope with nightmares about the hell you just escaped from for a certain amount of time.
So his first proper sleep in weeks wasn’t proper at all, and only five or so hours after he’d gone to bed he found himself in his workshop, trying to drown his sleepiness in a giant mug of coffee.
“J, we’re gonna work for a bit, okay?”
“Sir, might I say-”
“You might not,” Tony smirked. “Yeah, I should be in bed. Yeah, I should be asleep. I need my rest. A human mind can’t work properly without a certain amount of sleep. Was that what you were going to say?”
“Something along those lines, sir.”
“How many times did I wake up screaming tonight, JARVIS?” asked Tony.
“The longest time I slept before I woke up screaming?”
“Seventy-five minutes, sir.”
“Total sleep time?”
“I would say approximately three hours and forty-seven minutes, sir.”
“Well, more than I expected. What’s your conclusion, J?”
“I am expecting you to say that it is useless to try to get more sleep, sir, if you keep waking up screaming.”
“Exactly. Also, I can go for days without sleep, right? I already have, many times.”
“Way too many, sir.”
“What was that?”
“I thought so,” Tony nodded and took a sip of his coffee. Oh, it was really strong. Good. He didn’t plan on getting back to bed anytime soon. “Okay. We’ll start with creating a few blueprints, honey.”
“Don’t even try it!”
“I was just going to ask if I should order something for breakfast, sir.”
“Were you? In that case, yes, please. Doughnuts. And waffles. Anything sweet you can find. And make me another coffee.”
The AI didn’t even try to argue with him.
He only got a few hours of peace. Way too few.
And suddenly, there was Rhodey, his best friend, dragging him away from his work. Tony tried to make objections, but Rhodey simply didn’t care.
Assuming that Tony was drunk (it was really his first glass of scotch on the table when Rhodey came in, damn it!), he placed a cup full of strong coffee in front of the inventor, after he’d made him sit down on a couch in the living room.
Tony wasn’t going to complain, though he probably was on his way to a caffeine overdose.
“Let’s talk,” said Rhodey.
“I’m not changing my mind. Not today, not tomorrow, not in a million fucking years,” Tony replied.
“I’m not telling you to change your mind, Tony. But I want you to think this through.”
“I have. Quite a few times, Rhodes.”
“You’re still upset about what happened to you, man. I get it, I completely understand. You have every right to be angry and sad and-”
“I’m not angry. Well, I am, but I am angry because even you will not fucking listen to me! Rhodes, I’ve been through hell-”
“I know. That’s why I think you should just… relax for a little while. Get some sleep, take home a girl or two, or a guy or two… Give it time, Tony. And if you still want to shut down the weapon-”
“All right, who sent you?” asked Tony, his face completely blank.
“Why would you think someone sent me?” Rhodey blinked. “Tony, I’m your friend, I can be concerned-”
“No, no. Not this concerned,” said Tony and shook his head. “Come on now, was it Pepper? No, she’d just ask you to check if I was all right. So Obie, was it Obie? Did Obie send you? Yeah, he’s the one who would be concerned about the company. Is it really bad, by the way? I mean the public’s reaction to my announcement. I wouldn’t know, haven’t really turned on the TV yet.”
“Everyone thinks you’ve lost your fucking mind, Tony. Even I do. What you wanna do if it’s not making weapons?”
“I have a plan,” said Tony.
“Do you? Would you like to share?”
“Depends. Do you really wanna know?”
“I want to know you’re not going insane, Tony.”
“Fine. I’ll tell you if you want. And it’s gonna be big.”
“Whatever it is, Tony, you should think it through first, don’t rush into anything, man, you know?”
“So you don’t wanna know.”
“I do, Tony, of course I do, I just-”
“I think Obie would wanna know.”
“He only wants to know if you’re okay and if you’re serious-”
“So he did send you.”
“You know what, I’ve changed my mind, I won’t tell you.”
“Stark you’re seriously-”
“Nice to see you, Rhodey. Tell Obie to send Pepper next time, she’s gonna be less conspicuous. Though it’s not that hard, you’re about as inconspicuous as a giraffe in a fucking cornfield...”
Two minutes later, Tony was back in his workshop.
The very same moment, but in New York, a dark-haired young man dressed in black leather pants and a green shirt suddenly appeared in a tiny, but lovely apartment. The apartment itself had appeared in the apartment building only a minute before.
“Hm… Yes,” the man nodded. “This will do.”
He would prefer something better, of course. More spacious. More luxurious. But that would be too noticeable. And he wanted to hide for a while.
He looked around.
“No TV?” he frowned. “Oh, well...”
He waved his hand and there it was, a giant television on the wall of his living room.
Well, that was maybe too much…
“Oh, no. Just a little luxury,” he murmured.
He fell on the couch and turned on the TV. He desperately wanted to drown his bad mood and anger in the stupidest reality show he could find.
The first thing that came on wasn’t a reality show, though. It was a press conference, from the day before.
He frowned and leaned in closer. Wasn’t that the man who went missing the last time he was in Midgard? Kidnapped or something like that… Yes, probably. That would explain the haunted look in his eyes…
Loki, the prince of Asgard, shrugged and switched to a different channel. He remembered one with some really stupid shows…