The Avengers alarm blared. Somewhere in the tower, Tony knew that the rest the team – not his team, no, never his team – were jerking awake and scrambling out of bed. Tony didn’t have that problem. He was standing in his living room by the window, looking out at the city. He could see his reflection in the glass, and what he saw didn’t exactly overwhelm him. An old, haggard, useless man who would never be worthy of the Avengers. A man who’d been a fool to think otherwise.
“Sir,” JARVIS said. The alarm switched off so that the A.I. could speak quietly. “Perhaps you should sit this one out. I could inform Captain Rogers that you are indisposed.”
“I wouldn’t even have to lie,” JARVIS said, because he was sassy like that. “You’re not fit for –”
“I said no,” Tony said, more firmly this time. “I’m fine. I can go.” He turned away from the window and limped over to the launch pad.
(They hadn’t prepped him, not the way they should’ve. He’d struggled when he’d felt fingers down there. Maybe that was a mistake because all that had earned him was a slap and a little bit of lubrication smeared around his hole. The first thrust had brought tears to his eyes and he’d tried to scream through the gag. It came out as more of a slurred grunt and they’d laughed at him, taunting him about enjoying it.)
It was cold when he stepped outside, so cold, but he barely noticed. He didn’t know what was going on, but he wasn’t about to let the team go anywhere without him. Thor was amazing at aerial support, but he didn’t always notice the little details. Tony considered it his responsibility to catch Clint when Clint threw himself off of buildings, or keep track of the Hulk, or grab Natasha when she needed help, or catch Steve when he jumped out planes without parachutes.
He felt better once the armor surrounded him, more centered. Nothing could hurt him while he was wearing the armor. Scratch that: no one could touch him while he was wearing the armor, and that was the most important thing by far. His heart rate slowed as the HUD lit up. JARVIS opened up the communication line and suddenly the helmet was flooded with voices. Tony just listened for a moment as he took off.
Then Steve’s voice, strong and commanding, cut through the chatter. “Iron Man! Report. Are you there?”
“Present,” Tony said with a small smile, though of course no one but JARVIS would know that. “I’ve left the tower and I’m on my way downtown. E.T.A. is two minutes.”
“We’re right behind you,” Natasha said. “Save some of the fun for us.”
Tony smirked but didn’t respond. Hearing a distant boom of thunder, he turned his head just in time to see Thor joining him. Thor beamed, red cape billowing dramatically around his shoulders, and Tony was grateful for the faceplate that meant he didn’t need to try and smile back. He wondered suddenly if Thor was afraid too. Did Thor worry that the team might get captured again? Did he worry that he’d be drugged again?
Probably not. Thor didn’t have cause to worry. Thor hadn’t been willingly handed over for –
(They’d put straps against his wrists so he couldn’t fight and then more straps around his ankles and thighs, spreading his legs wide. The straps, whatever they were made of, had rubbed his skin raw. He’d pulled and squirmed so hard that blood was running down his arms and probably down his legs too, but it didn’t stop. The hands kept touching him, sliding across his skin.)
“Man of Iron! We must continue,” Thor boomed.
“What?” Tony said, realizing he’d come to a complete stop. His skin itched. He had the nearly unbearable urge to flee back to the tower and take a long shower.
“Are you well?” Thor said, sounding confused. “Usually you are eager to be the first to reach the enemy.”
“I – I’m fine,” Tony said. This time, grateful that his voice somehow didn’t shake. “Sorry, JARVIS was showing me data and I got lost in thought.” He quickly scanned the info that JARVIS – thank god for JARVIS – pushed across the HUD. “Looks like we’re dealing with someone that’s got an affinity for electricity. Most of Manhattan is dead.”
“You should keep your distance,” Steve said over the comm. “That could cause damage to your suit.”
“My suit is better than that,” Tony said, aiming for cocky and falling flat. They’d stripped him out of the suit. Peeled it off him like it was made of latex –
“I should like to see this foe that feels they are good enough to use electricity as their weapon,” Thor declared. He waved Mjolnir around and gave a predatory grin that made Tony’s skin crawl. “Come, Man of Iron. Let us confront our new enemy!”
“Yeah, let’s do that,” Tony said numbly, kicking the thrusters into high gear. He flew after Thor but kept a careful distance between them. They reached the sight in less than a minute and a half; their ‘foe’ was immediately obvious, considering that he was the only visible person in at least a dozen blocks. Well, that and the fact that he was dressed from head to toe in bright red rubber.
“Avengers,” the guy said with a sneer. “I was expecting you to show up.” He threw up a hand. Tony and Thor dodged the bursts of electricity with ease.
But the guy kept shooting, so Tony kept dodging. He heard something explode and then Thor let out a yelp and he instinctively turned, realizing that Thor had disappeared and there was now a building imploding, crumbling in on itself. There was no way that the guy could’ve done that himself – but he had bombs, Tony realized belatedly, and he was setting them off remotely somehow.
“Guys, he’s got bombs set up,” he said quickly, and heard the other members of their team cursing. “Thor, are you okay?”
“I am well,” Thor said through gritted teeth. “Give me but a moment and I will be free.”
“I’ll be the distraction until then,” Tony said with forced lightness.
(He’d been the distraction last time, hadn’t he? Or maybe a more apt term was sacrificial lamb. Because the team had been promised freedom in exchange for sex, and it had taken the rest of the team all of twenty minutes to come to the consensus that Tony would do. Tony’s body in exchange for the team’s freedom. Yet the team must’ve known that was a lie, because they’d broken out while Tony was being taken, so really they’d given Tony over as a sacrificial distraction.)
Oh god. He couldn’t do this. His stomach rolled and he felt nauseous. The pain, which he’d blocked out until now, crept up in the back of his mind until it was nearly unbearable, and all that he could think about was that JARVIS was right. He wasn’t fit for duty right now. He shouldn’t have been out on the field. He couldn’t even bring himself to help Thor; the thought of entering a confined space with any of his teammates made cold panic sweep through his body.
His moment of being frozen cost him. The enemy yelled with triumph as he swung a huge gun up – from where? Tony didn’t even know – and blasted the Iron Man suit with some kind of beam. Immediately blaring red warning signs leapt up in front of Tony’s eyes, showing that the suit was losing power fast. He wasn’t that far from the ground, thankfully. He landed, going down on one knee while he barked orders at JARVIS.
But JARVIS didn’t answer, and it took him way too long to figure out why. The suit was dissolving, melting under and around him like snow under a hot sun. Tony stumbled free, left only in his jeans and muscle shirt in the cold, and turned to watch the last of his million dollar armor vanished. He stared in disbelief at the place where it had been, unable to tell if it was really gone or if it had been sent to another dimension.
“Tony!” Steve yelled, and Tony flinched. Belatedly he realized he was out here on a battlefield, armorless and defenseless, and Steve, Natasha and Clint were running towards him. There was no sign of Bruce, probably hanging back with SHIELD until he knew whether the Hulk was needed, and Tony didn’t know what to do.
“Now that I have eliminated my biggest concerns, I have demands!” the villain bellowed, and Steve grabbed Tony’s wrist.
It was happening again.
“No,” Tony whimpered before he could stop himself, panic and pain raging through him – he’d covered the raw skin of his wrists with make-up, but they still hurt like a bitch. “No, please, I can’t –” He tried to wrench away from Steve, but Steve’s grip was too strong. Of course it was. This was Captain America, and, if he wanted Tony to do something, then Tony had no say in the matter.
The panic took over then. Tony kicked and punched for all he was worth (it hadn’t mattered last time. He’d been still a little drugged up and there had been so many of them. They’d just held his hands in the end, when he was too weak to struggle, and caressed him and called him silly names and told him he was a good boy. That’s when he’d cried for real, not just because of the pain, but because these monsters were telling him what he’d always wanted to hear) until Steve, shocked, let go.
“Tony, what are you –”
“No. No. No!” Tony cried. It was all he could get out when the panic was tightening his throat and making it hard to breathe. He stumbled back. “NO!”
“Tony,” Natasha said. She took a step towards him. She’d been the one to suggest his name. She knew his reputation, she’d said, and Clint had laughed and called Tony a slut (“Come on, Cap, Stark’s a slut. He’s used to this.”) when Steve had hesitated.
Tony backed up more. His hands and knees were shaking equally hard. He stumbled over something and went down hard, curling in on himself, feeling phantom hands on his body. He slapped and scratched at his skin to get rid of them, but it didn’t work. He screamed when Natasha tried to get close; he was still clothed but clothes were so easily pulled off, and he couldn’t take it a second time.
“Steve, don’t touch him!” Bruce snarled somewhere above Tony’s head.
“But I don’t –”
“Focus on the enemy standing ten feet away! Coulson and I have got this.”
“Stark. Tony.” Coulson’s voice was closer, closer than it should have been, but Tony didn’t feel the familiar swamp of fear. If anything, the panic receded slightly. The team had met up with SHIELD after they’d escaped, so Tony wasn’t even sure if they knew what had happened.
“Please,” he gasped into his hands. “Make them stop.”
“Make what stop?”
“They’re touching me,” Tony moaned.
“Tony, no one is touching you,” Coulson said calmly, but not patronizingly.
“They’re going to. They’re going to offer me up again.” Tony’s breath caught at the thought. His hands shook. “I can’t. Please.”
“No one is going to do anything that you don’t want them to do.” Coulson’s voice had hardened slightly. “Can you look at me?”
Tony shuddered but obeyed. His face was wet with tears. He met Coulson’s eyes with a rising swell of shame, but he just couldn’t get a handle on the panic and fear. A quick glance showed that Coulson was right and no one was touching him – but there were new bruises now, on top of the old ones, where Steve had grabbed his wrist too tightly and the make-up had rubbed away. He could still feel Steve’s grip, and shuddered.
“No one is going to hurt you,” Coulson said, very slowly and deliberately. “Can I put my jacket around you?”
More clothes, not less. Tony nodded frantically. Coulson stripped off his suit jacket and stepped closer, wrapping it around Tony’s shoulders. It was warm and dwarfed him; Tony pulled it shut and continued to shiver. He turned his face into Coulson’s legs, fighting the urge to fling an arm around Coulson’s legs. Coulson didn’t move away, just stood over him like an immoveable object, while the rest of the Avengers fought.