“You can’t be serious!"
Steve’s voice rang loudly in the large empty space of the S.H.I.E.L.D command center.
Nick Fury scowled and gestured toward the screens behind himself. “We’re fresh out of options, Captain.”
“He is severely unstable and too powerful to control. You know he can’t be reasoned with!”
“I don’t like this anymore then you do but the fact of the matter is that we don’t have any other choice. He’s been locked up here for months now, he might just be willing to negotiate to help us.”
"At what cost?" Steve asked.
"Just make sure Stark is ready with that containment unit." Was all he said in return and Steve nodded stiffly.
"I'm not even going to ask how it went." Tony said the second he picked up his side of the connection and Steve chuckled dryly.
"How's it going?"
"How do you think it's going? I'm done here and ready when you are."
"Okay. Let's get this over with then. Meet me at the holding area and I'll make sure Thor is ready."
"You got it Steve. See you in 5."
Steve severed the connection and headed down to the sublevel of the Helicarrier where the more dangerous superhuman criminals were kept. Thor was stationed right outside the door to Hyperion's cell room, expression dark and foreboding. He didn't like this idea any more than the rest of them but could not deny that their need was great and there was little choice left to them.
"We're ready." Steve said in greeting.
"Are we really, Captain?"
He wished he had something hopeful or encouraging to say but the truth was that without Hyperion the Earth was at risk but with him out and about they could well be putting the Earth right back at risk all over again.
Steve just steadied his resolve and gestured for the doors to open, entering the dimly lit room and advancing on the large rounded structure currently keeping Hyperion contained. Beyond the clear force field, the alien was already standing and his expression left no doubt that he knew what was going on. The look of triumph there burned at Steve and he grit his teeth against it.
“Captain America. Whatever brings you down here with the one you’ve imprisoned?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what’s going on. You know why I’m here.”
“True.” Hyperion said, teeth showing in a shiny white smile. “I do. And I know just how much it bothers you to be standing there about to beg me for my aid.”
“Understand this, Hyperion. There will be no begging from any of us, this is a bargain only.”
“Oh, a bargain you say? And what exactly are you offering in return for me fighting your battles for you?”
The doors slid open again before Steve could respond and Tony was the one to answer as he stepped inside, suited up in the armor and with a pair of containment manacles in his hands, Falcon right behind him. “How about not spending the rest of your very long life trapped in that glass box?” He stopped alongside Steve, head tilted in Hyperion’s direction.
The alien took a few steps closer, eyeing the cuffs intently. “So you offer me a gilded cage instead? What a bargain.”
“You’re dangerous, we can’t ignore that.” Steve said and Hyperion snorted loftily, already unimpressed.
“Better these then that, if you asked me. Walking the same cubic feet would get so tedious.” Tony said.
Hyperion looked thoughtfully at Tony, brown eyes inquisitive. “You speak as though you have experience in a cage.”
“I did a stint, vastly different circumstances, of course.”
“Of course.” Hyperion repeated, giving a seemingly genuine laugh. “Very well, I will bargain for my aid. However, it will be on my own terms and I will only speak with Stark.”
“No way.” Steve said instantly, Sam at his back saying the same thing but when he looked at Tony the other didn’t even seem surprised. “All of us or not at all.”
“Steve.” Tony began but Hyperion spoke over him.
“He is the mind behind your team, yes? Then what need is there to have you here? Are there not more important things you could be dealing with pertaining to a certain power cosmic maniac? Leave us, Stark and I will come to an agreement.”
“I am not about to-”
“Steve!” Tony hissed, “I got this. Let’s not piss him off and let me talk to him.”
Knowing that Hyperion had superior senses but wanting that illusion of privacy anyway, Steve took Tony by the arm and pulled him back a few steps, turning them away.
“I don’t like that we’re doing this in the first place, let alone leaving you in here with him.”
“I know, I get that.” Tony said softly, reaching across to grasp Steve’s hand from his arm and squeezing it gently. “But he’s not wrong. We’re running out of time here, just let me talk to him.”
Steve shook his head, looking over at Hyperion to find him watching them with open amusement, smiling widely when he noticed Steve looking back.
“C’mon Steve, trust me.”
He looked at Tony, so fiercely determined and unafraid as always, and sighed before giving in. “Okay, fine, but I’m not going far. And, please, be careful.”
“Always.” Tony said, grinning up at him in a way that made Steve’s chest constrict with unease. They were on the brink of destruction and relying on a super powerful alien with delusions to save them, his willingness to do so hinging on the genius standing in front of him. He had no doubt in Tony, none at all, but Hyperion pushed all of his buttons in a major way and Steve hated everything about this.
“I mean it, Tony.” Steve said, quieter but no less fierce.
The smile dropped from Tony’s face, settling into something much more serious. “I know. It’ll be okay. Now, go.” He gave Steve’s hand one last squeeze before stepping away, turning back toward Hyperion. The alien gave him a jaunty finger wave and Steve had to grit his teeth once more in irritation before backing out into the hall, door closing in his face and locking Tony beyond his view alone with a madman.
“Tony knows what he’s doing, Cap.” Sam said at his back. “He’ll be okay.”
Steve turned away from the door, facing his two other Avengers. “I know. Head on above ground and see what aid you can offer to the others. I’ll wait here.”
Thor and Sam exchanged looks but nodded to their Captain before heading down the hall, Steve watching the swishing of Thor’s cape without actually seeing it. He reached up and tapped his communicator.
“I want ears in there.” He said softly, knowing he would be heard by the one who mattered.
There was a beep from within the suit that was Jarvis letting him know Steve was requesting audience to his conversation and Tony studied Hyperion from his safe vantage before declining. The look of surprise on the alien’s face told him he’d made the right move.
“Hmmm. Not wanting the good Captain to listen in on our negotiations? You must have something delightful to offer me after all.”
“Let’s just cut the crap.” Tony said shortly. “You and I both know this isn’t about what we can offer you. The fact of the matter is that if we don’t stop Korvac then he will straight up destroy the Earth. Now, you’d survive it, I’m sure, and find another planet to swoop in all regal and majestic like to manipulate them into worshipping you.”
Hyperion curled his lips into a smirk and purred, “You truly think me majestic?”
Tony sighed and manfully resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Just tell me what you want in return for helping us."
"Very well." Hyperion said, allowing the other to avoid the question. "I will offer my aid to Earth in exchange for my safe passage away from this planet. You will not allow me free here therefore I request to leave. As you said, I can find a home elsewhere."
"That's about what I figured you would say. Fine, help us defeat Korvac and you can leave Earth, provided you never come back."
Hyperion gave a boisterous laugh, "I like you Iron Man, you say what you think."
"Yeah, that's not always a good thing." Tony muttered before stepping over to the containment unit's control panel.
"Oh?" Hyperion watched curiously as Tony tapped at the screens. "Allow me to differ. A man who is willing to be truthful to themselves and others are a rare kind. I find that they are strong of heart and mind."
"Uh huh, sure. Alright, I'm letting you out now but we still have a few things to go over before we get out there and face Korvac." He typed out a few more commands and the barrier fell with a soundless flicker. Tony watched warily as Hyperion looked around and stepped out before shooting him a wide smirk.
"Name your terms then." He said, stepping closer.
“One, you have to wear these until the fight begins.” Tony said, gesturing with the manacles. “I know you can probably break them but let’s take it as a show of faith, huh? Two, where you go, we go. You need to be under supervision at all times. Three, and this should be self explanatory, no attacking or threatening anyone.”
Hyperion scowled at the cuffs but shrugged. “Fine, I will wear your chains as a symbol of my dedication towards you. However, in regards to my supervision, it will be you who shadows me not the good Captain or your Asgardian or anyone else you would have. I don’t mind if the others are nearby but I want only you at my side.”
Tony blinked and narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Wow, that’s not fishy at all. Okay, as long as we’re understood. Now, put your hands out and remain still please.” He sent a ping through the commlink to Steve and stepped in close to Hyperion, who stood obediently still.
He took hold of one wrist and began attaching the cuff to it when Hyperion put his other hand at the hip of Tony’s armor and tilted his head down, leaning into Tony. “As attractive as you are in your armor I bet you are even more gorgeous out of it.”
Shocked, Tony’s head snapped up to stare at the superhuman who was giving him serious bedroom eyes. Before he could retort or do anything the door slid open and Steve was instantly there, shouldering him away from Hyperion with a pissed off shout.
Hyperion put his hands up, the manacles dangling from one wrist, and backed away a few steps.
“What was that.” Steve demanded, back stiff as a board and one hand splayed protectively over the glowing blue circle at Tony’s chest.
“Stark is a very beautiful man, I was simply letting him know, Captain. Nothing more, nothing less.” He replied calmly with a bold smirk.
“Well stuff it, we’ve got more important things going on.” Steve ordered before turning slightly toward Tony. “Are you alright?”
Tony brushed his hand over Steve’s arm reassuringly. “I’m fine. A little creeped out but fine. We’ve come to an agreement so we need to get the team together.”
Steve nodded and glared over at Hyperion. “Finish putting your cuffs on and let’s get this show on the road.”
“Aye, aye, Captain.” Hyperion said with a mocking bow and serenely attached the second cuff to himself.
Tony shot Steve an exasperated look and activated his commlink, “Avengers assemble.”
Korvac had gone to ground just outside Brooklyn by the time the Avengers and their ace set down. S.H.I.E.L.D. and the city police had evacuated as much of the immediate area as was possible before their arrival.
The flight over was spent going over the last details of the grueling upcoming fight. The entire time of which Hyperion stood unnecessarily close to Tony and met every one of Steve’s glares with an arrogant smirk. Tony just did his best to ignore them both.
"Now remember, Korvac is powerful but all we have to do is knock him down. Tony has a device that can revert him back to his normal form." Steve said to the gathered heroes and they nodded in understanding. "So the goal here is to catch Korvac off guard enough for Tony to get close and activate his device."
"Once I have Korvac contained S.H.I.E.L.D will swoop in and take him off our hands. Easy enough." Tony waved a small, complicated looking piece of tech and Clint groaned.
"Oh, yeah. This will be a breeze."
"Afraid you won't be able to keep up?" Natasha asked and Clint scowled.
"I didn't say that."
Steve resisted a sigh and turned toward Thor, catching Hyperion with his eyes focused awfully low on Tony's back. It took a surprising effort to ignore the superhuman and give Thor the signal to head out. He just hoped they wouldn't come to regret letting Hyperion out of his cage anymore then Steve already did.
So far Kovac had proven to be just as hard to take down as they were expecting, even with Hyperion's strength on their side. The power cosmic maniac was fast and powerful, shaking off most of their hits like it tickled. Only Hyperion and Hulk were even putting occasional dents in the guy.
"We can't keep this up." Tony said over comms. "I can't get close enough for my power dampener to even begin to effect him."
Steve caught his shield off a rebound and paused to take stock of their situation. "I know. We need a new plan."
"I have an idea, but you're not gonna like it."
"Tony, no." Steve scowled, focusing on the red and gold blur zipping through the sky.
"I think it's our only shot, Cap."
"How dumb is this plan?" Clint asked before Steve could shoot Tony down again.
"Eh, it's not my worst."
Natasha tone was highly unamused. "That's not as reassuring as you seem to think."
"Do you often second guess the genius on your team?" Hyperion wondered, sounding genuinely curious.
Tony snorted, "Ugh. They never trust me."
"Hey! He's not the only genius here." Sam muttered over the line, petulant.
Steve forced back a sigh of frustration, "Cut the chatter. Tony, what are you thinking?”
"Well, I need to get close and so far the closest I've gotten to him is when he's trying to fry me."
"You're not seriously considering letting him hit you just to activate your tech!" Steve swung the shield on his arm in a wide arc in emphasize of his disbelief.
There was conspicuous silence on Iron Man's end of the comm.
"No, Tony. That is a terrible idea."
"Do you have a better idea?"
"Any idea is better than that!"
"Uh huh. I'm going for it. Someone is probably gonna have to catch me, just FYI."
Steve's heart started to pound with fear, "Tony! Don't you even dare!" He looked to the sky but Iron Man was already on course.
Korvac was glowing brightly in the sky and Tony was a red and gold blur heading straight for him. There was nothing Steve could do from the ground but watch the train wreck about to happen. In an effort to somewhat protect himself, Tony was laying on the repulsors though it did him little good. Korvac was withstanding the attack effortlessly. Just as Tony was close enough to set off the device, Korvac got bored with him and retaliated, deflecting the repulsors with ease. He struck out at Iron Man with a powerful golden burst of pure cosmic energy and there was no avoiding it.
The blast hit the armor head on and Steve stopped breathing, terror gripping his heart. Everything got very bright, painfully bright, and by the time they could look again Tony was falling from the sky with smoke billowing from the armor. Steve looked frantically for someone who could reach him in time but to his shock it was Hyperion who snatched Tony from his downward spiral. Having already been running toward Tony, Steve reached the two only moments after Hyperion touched down, the armor held in his arms like a bride.
The superhuman set Tony down with surprising care and backed up without a fuss as Steve fell to his knees beside Tony.
The armor was in truly terrible shape, the energy having warped and blackened the metal alarmingly.
"Tony!" Steve called, his fear evident in the tremble of his voice though his hands remained steady as they hovered over the armor. "Tony, can you hear me?"
With no response forthcoming, Steve deftly went for all the hidden latches to get Tony free of the armor himself. The helmet he removed first to reveal Tony's pale face and he immediately leaned down to ensure the man was breathing. Reassured of that much, Steve breathed a sigh of his own in relief before going about and removing the rest of the badly damaged armor.
The comm crackled in Steve's ear, Sam's voice coming through hesitantly. "Cap? Is he alright?"
"I think so, won't know for sure until he wakes up. What's the situation?"
"Well, it worked. We've got Korvac contained."
"Good. Contact S.H.I.E.L.D and call for his pick up."
Now, if only Tony would wake up maybe Steve would stop feeling like he was going to be sick. As if on cue, Tony groaned and cracked his eyes open to peer up at Steve.
"Hey, soldier." He coughed out and Steve wanted to strangle him for being such an amazing idiot. "Did we win?"
Steve shook his head and set his palm over Tony's heart. "Yeah, we won."
"Oh good. See? I was totally right."
"Shut up, Tony." Steve said, not even trying to hide his giant grin.
Tony just beamed back at him before flailing a hand in his face. "Hey, help me up would you?"
"Are you sure you're okay?" He asked, carefully pulling Tony back to his feet.
"Oh, I am bruised like hell but it could have been worse. Who caught me?"
"Hyperion." Steve answered, remembering the superhuman standing nearby as he did. The other was watching them with an amused expression that actually didn't make Steve instantly uncomfortable.
"Huh. Thanks, big guy." Tony said with a wave of his hand.
Hyperion smirked and gave the genius a slow once over. "My pleasure." He said with a smarmy tone to match the look.
It was then that Steve realized Tony was now only wearing the undersuit, which was rather...form fitting. He gave Hyperion a glare and shuffled even closer to Tony in offer of support. And if that meant Tony leaned a little more on him, well, so be it.
"Okay." Tony said, side eying the superhuman suspiciously. "Is S.H.I.E.L.D on the way?"
Before Steve could answer, the Helicarrier and a slightly smaller space ship made their noisy arrival.
"Ah, speak of the devil." Tony muttered. He looked at Steve and grinned, "Shall we?"
Resisting the urge to smile back like a smitten fool, Steve nodded and began leading Tony toward the aircrafts. He remained perfectly aware of Hyperion following behind them.
By the time they limped to the ships, Fury and the Guardians were waiting for them, along with a med team. Tony waved the team away right off and Steve let him for now, well aware that they had one last problem to take care of.
“Pretty risky move there, Tony. You alright?” The blond with the weird helmet asked.
Tony laughed, “Yeah, fine. You know me, risky is my middle name.”
“More like stubborn idiot.” Steve muttered and Tony shot him a mock offended glare.
“That hurts me, Steve. Right here.” He said, hand over his heart.
Ignoring them both, the other Guardians were eying Hyperion.
“Is this the guy?” Rocket asked, not looking or sounding impressed. Not that he ever did.
“Yeah, this is Hyperion. In return for his help today, he gets to leave Earth. You guys are his ride.” Tony said gesturing toward the superhuman.
Hyperion looked surprised for a moment before the expression faded into grudging admiration. “Well played, Stark.”
Tony shrugged, “You never said how you wanted to leave. And these guys are more than capable of handling you.”
“Indeed, I did not.” Hyperion smirked and spread his hands out wide. “Gorgeous and cunning, you are spectacular.”
Caught off guard yet again, Tony just blinked while Steve gave Hyperion a fierce glare, both ignoring the Guardians’ snickers.
“The Captain is a lucky man to have you, Stark. Should you ever desire something more than he can give you, well, you know how to find me.”
At that, both of their faces bloomed red, Tony with honest embarrassment and Steve in fury at the implication he could do better for Tony.
The snickers of the Guardians had grown to full on laughs and Fury was looking blank faced in a rather suspicious way. Tony recovered quickly and glared at them all.
“Oh, that's real mature.” He looked at Hyperion and scowled, “And not on your life. There’s only room for one arrogant person and that's all me.”
Hyperion simply smiled back at him and Tony huffed, purposely curling his arm tighter about Steve’s waist. What? He got knocked out the sky by a cosmic maniac, if he needed a little help staying on his feet then what of it? Steve just smirked at Hyperion and returned Tony's tightened hold.
"Yeah, yeah. Let's wrap this up already. In case you all forgot we have a city in need of clean up from this mess." Fury said, as unimpressed as ever.
"Right." Peter Quill leveled a plasma blaster at Hyperion. "You gonna come easy or what?"
"In respect for a masterful plan, yes." Hyperion turned away from the two Earth heroes and gave Star Lord a flirty wink. "Besides, I do like blondes."
Peter's eyes narrowed in affront while everyone else either stifled snickers or blatantly hooted with laughter. He looked at Tony and scowled. “You owe me, Stark."
“Consider yourself owed.” Tony said with a grateful grin. He gave the crew a jaunty wave as they piled back into their ship, herding the superhuman with them.
They watched in tired silence as the ship rose up and disappeared with a hypersonic burst. Fury gave Steve and Tony a nod then turned back to board the Helicarrier.
Steve looked at Tony, the other man leaning comfortably against him and still staring thoughtfully after the Guardians. "What is it?"
Tony just shrugged and gave him a wry little smile. "I kinda feel bad for them."
"Don't worry, Peter can handle Hyperion."
"Oh, I know. But still, poor guy."
"I'm just glad to see him gone." Steve said truthfully.
Smirking slyly, Tony shot him a sideways look. "Uh huh. I bet you are."
Steve caught the look and frowned, "What?"
"Nothing. You just aren't as subtle as you think you are." Tony said with no small amount of glee.
"Subtle." Steve snorted. "You're one to talk. Besides, maybe I wasn't trying to be subtle."
"Oh yeah?" Tony lifted a brow and met the Captain's eyes evenly.
"Yeah. Maybe I wanted him to know what he was up against." Steve said with complete confidence.
Tony stared at him for a moment before shaking his head with a pleased smile. "You dork. As if it even mattered. Like I said, I'm all the arrogance anyone needs. Besides, he may be superhuman but he's no super soldier."
Steve grinned bashfully, just as smitten as the genius. "Good." He muttered, feeling warm and happy.
Who could resist that expression, Tony thought and leaned up to give Steve a (mostly) chaste kiss. Steve made a pleased sound but pulled back before anyone could get too excited.
"You need to be checked out by the med team, Tony."
Heaving a petulant sigh, Tony nodded, well aware Steve would not be deterred.
"Alright, alright. Lead on, soldier boy."
Nodding, Steve settled Tony more comfortably against him and guided them up into the Helicarrier.
Deep in the vast reaches of space, one Star Lord was deeply regretting ever having met a certain Earth genius.
"I swear if you touch me there one more time you will lose that hand and find yourself chained to a distant moon for a very long time."
"Feisty, huh? I like that!"
"Damn you, Stark."