Chapter 1: Agony
Pure, white hot agony.
Tony can’t breathe, can’t think. He has no idea how that car hit him while he’s four stories up, but he knows that his left leg is currently a seething mess of metal, skin, bone, and blood. He feels himself start to dip in the air, but Jarvis take over. Over the rush of white noise in his ears, Tony hears Steve shouting into the comm asking if he is ok, Coulson asking for Tony to report, and Jarvis replying that Tony is severely injured and going into shock. He hears Coulson tell Thor to fly Tony back to Stark Tower. The last thing Tony remembers before it all goes black is hearing the Hulk roar from below.
When Tony comes to, he recognizes the scratchy sheets of the Med Floor of Stark tower. He can feel that his left leg is in traction and that his arm has IVs in it. The nasal canula in his nose itches. He opens his eyes to spot Bruce sitting Indian Style in the hard plastic chair beside his bed. He is clearly trying to meditate, but the green tinge of his skin betrays how much good its actually doing. The pale green actually makes him look like a type of fae Tony once read about, albeit a fae with curly salt and pepper hair, with glasses perched precariously at the end of his nose, and a green rage monster alter ego.
Tony turns his head slightly to glance at the other side of the room and finds Natasha curled up in a chair, nearly motionless, watching Bruce carefully. Tony wonders if Coulson tasked her here, or if Bruce asked her to be present. Probably the latter.
It's not surprising that Bruce blames himself. Its pretty much inevitable. Bruce blames himself every time Tony gets hurt (which is a lot. He and Clint are ‘frequent fliers’ on the med floor). It doesn’t even matter if Bruce could have saved him, or the Hulk could have saved him, Bruce always going into this self deprecating mode of “I should have gotten there first, focused on Tony first”. Tony wonders if he can ever break Bruce of this.
Tony opens his mouth to speak, but realizes his mouth is pretty much the Sahara. Licking his lips, he manages to croak out “Bruce.”
Bruce’s skin goes back to normal in an instant, but as his eyes snap open, Tony can see that his irises are still green. He unfolds himself from his chair and rushes over to Tony’s bedside. Out of the corner of his eye, Tony sees Natasha slink out of the room. Knowing her, she probably already knew that he was awake.
“How long?” Tony asks, after taking a sip from straw in the cup Bruce is holding out.
“15 hours,” Bruce answers, settling cup back down on Tony’s bedside table. “They sedated you once Thor brought you here, and immediately got to work on your leg.”
“How bad is it?” Tony gestures at his bandaged and casted leg.
Bruce’s eyes slam closed, his face turning pale green again. Tony places his hand over Bruce’s.
“Bruce, there is nothing you could have done. None of this is your fault. None of this is ever your fault. Even I didn’t see this coming, and I notice everything. No one expects to get a sedan flung at them while in midair. Or ever, for that matter. You were busy pummeling giant winged spiders. This. was. not. your. fault.”
Tony reached up and laid one hand on Bruce’s cheek, stroking it with his thumb. Slowly, the green tint in Bruce’s skin disappeared and his eyes opened, revealing dark brown eyes. Bruce reached out to caress the green helix tattoo that circled Tony’s left wrist. Tony reached up and caressed the identical blue helix that was wrapped around Bruce’s left upper arm, a place usually hidden by a shirt. After quickly glancing around, Bruce leaned down and pressed a quick and gentle kiss to his secret husband’s face.
“Jarvis, what are the extent of my injuries?” Tony queries after Bruce extracted himself from Tony’s lips and sat back in his chair.
“It is good to see you are awake sir. Your left leg sustained 5 separate comminuted fractures, 2 on your tibia, 1 on your fibula, and 2 on your femur. Your kneecap was shattered, and your ACL and LCL were both torn. Everything has been surgically repaired. No metal was needed due to the regenerating polymer that you and Mr. Banner produced. Estimated healing time is 1 and a half months.”
Tony groaned. He could already feel the itchiness of bed rest, and it had hardly begun. He did not do sit, stay, be still, very well. As if Bruce could read his mind, he laid a calming hand on Tony’s.
“I’ll help keep you occupied. So long as you stay out of trouble.”
A cleared throat sounded from the partially opened doorway. Natasha was giving them a pointed look. She allowed Bruce to scoot his chair back to a proper distance, then allowed the onslaught of Avengers, plus Coulson and Pepper, into the room.
“Tony! I am glad you are ok!” Thor waved his arms wildly, almost hitting Tony’s leg. Clint pulled him back in time.
Tony pulled on his widest smile (which unfortunately was mostly fake, since his leg was starting to ache and he just wanted to cuddle with Bruce. Alone).
“I’ll be fine. Did we win?”
Clint grinned. “Yep. After you were carted away, the Hulk kinda went wild and ended the battle pretty quickly.”
Tony hazards a tiny glance over at Bruce, who is looking almost embarrassed, and, thankfully, not green.
“How are you feeling?” asks Pepper, who manages to squeeze past Thor to get to Tony’s side.
“Well I’m pretty drugged up, so honestly I don’t feel much in the way of pain. Jarvis says that I should be up and about in about a month and a half, thanks to me and Bruce’s little healing invention.” A yawn escapes his mouth before he can catch it.
Pepper and Natasha shoo everyone except Bruce out. Tony wonders if anyone thinks this is strange. To everyone except Pepper, Natasha, and Jarvis, Tony and Bruce are just really good friends that do sciencey things together. But, as his eyes drift closed, Tony’s glad that he is loved.
Bruce manages to convince the doctors that he is perfectly capable of taking care of Tony, so by the next afternoon, Tony finds himself sitting in his own bed. Bruce sat next to him, working on a project on a StarkTablet. Tony’s left leg is propped up with pillows, and he is so drugged that he’s not really watching the episode of Mythbusters that is playing on the TV across the room.
Tony enjoys this alone time with Bruce. Sure, they spend a lot of time together in the lab, but they both are focused on their own projects. Bruce moved into Stark Tower shortly after the Chitauri incident, but actually moved into Tony’s apartment (it was a complete floor to itself) a month after that. They had taken an instant liking to each other while trying to find the Tesseract, but hadn’t started dating until after Loki left. They had gotten married 6 months after their first date in a ceremony officiated by Jarvis and with Pepper and Natasha as their witnesses. Bruce and Tony decided to keep their marriage a secret, even from the other Avengers. Thor couldn’t keep a secret to save his life, and every time Coulson and Clint even kissed, Steve immediately left the room, his cheeks flushed. Plus, the press would have a field day.
Tony snuggled into Bruce’s shoulder. Bruce’s free hand ran its fingers through Tony’s hair, his eyes still on his tablet. They were at peace.
There’s a pounding knock on the door of the apartment. The words out of Tony’s mouth are not allowable on television. Bruce just smirks at Tony and gets up to walk out of the bedroom to the front door. Tony watches Bruce’s ass as he walks away.
Bruce quickly returns with Coulson, who is holding a file folder. Bruce grabs his tablet and clears off one of the chairs in Tony’s bedroom so that Coulson can sit.
“Tony, I’m going down to the lab until dinner. Let me know if you need anything.”
Tony tries not to pout as Bruce heads down to their lab by himself. But since he is bed bound, he has no choice but to listen as Coulson debriefs him.
Several hours of nap later, Tony woke to a squeal. Dragging himself awake from his drugged state, Tony saw Dummy next to his bed, his hand holding out a tray of food. Tony dragged himself into a sitting position, accepting the tray of lasagna and garlic bread. It must have been Clint’s turn to cook. Clint never cooked anything except Italian.
Patting Dummy, Tony pulled up a holoscreen in front of him as he dug into his food. He pulled up the camera in the lab. Bruce was sitting at his workstation, bent over a set of petri dishes. His hair was all over the place and his glasses were as far down his nose as they could get without falling off. Tony longs to be down there, standing right behind Bruce, discussing whatever the heck Bruce is working on. It doesn’t even matter to Tony if it is something he has no idea about. Just being in Bruce’s presence is enough.
He manages to resist the temptation to turn on the speakers in the room and bother Bruce. Startling a concentrated scientist with a rage problem, no matter how under control it may be, is never a good idea. Just as Tony is about to close the camera feed, Bruce glances up and looks directly at the camera. A tiny smile appears on Bruce’s face. Tony smirks as he closes the feed. Bruce knows him too well.
A few minutes later Tony hears the front door open and close. Dummy chirps a greeting at Bruce as he walks into their bedroom carrying his own tray of food.
“Hey,” Tony says as Bruce sits down next to him, kissing him lightly on the lips.
“Did you sleep at all?”
Tony snags a piece of garlic bread off of Bruce’s plate. “Yeah, I slept from the time after Coulson left to a couple minutes ago when Dummy brought me dinner.”
“Did you take your meds?”
Tony snorted. “Yes, mom.”
Bruce smiles up at Tony. “I love you, Ironman.”
“I love you , Big Guy.”
This chapter is dedicated to featheredschist, who bribed me into writing the next chapter. :P
Tony wakes up the next day to an empty bed. He feels greasy and uncomfortable. Probably because he hasn’t showered or changed clothes since yesterday. He’s not stupid enough to attempt to change by himself, though. He’ll need Bruce’s help with that.
“Good afternoon, sir. It is 12:32pm. Doctor Banner has told me to inform you that he is down in his lab and to have me contact him if you need anything.”
Tony sat up, stretching his back. “Thanks Jarvis. Did Bruce leave any food?”
The wheelchair that he had been brought upstairs in still sat next to the bed. Glancing down at his purple Hulk t shirt and running shorts, Tony figured it was time to go for an adventure.
He beckoned Dummy over from his folding and used him as a support to hop over into the chair with. Once firmly seated and his leg elevated, Tony wheeled into the bathroom to pee. Bruce had brought back a plastic urinal that was still sitting on the bathroom counter. Tony grabbed it and quickly relieved himself, dumping the result into the toilet. A quick glance in the mirror made him grab his brush and wash his face.
Tony headed down a floor to the living quarters of the rest of the Avengers. As he rolled off the elevator, he spotted Natasha’s red hair over the edge of the couch. Clint was cooking something in the kitchen while Thor looked on. Steve was the first to notice Tony’s appearance.
“Hey Tony!” Steve hops up to help, but Tony waves him off, zeroing in on the ever-full coffee pot. Thor sets his favorite StarkIndusties mug on the counter and Tony flaps his hand at Thor in thanks.
The first sip of coffee in two days is amazing. He can’t help but close his eyes and savor the delightful bitterness. He can hear Clint laughing at his expression, so he lashes out with his eyes still closed. The satisfying ‘oof’ tells him that his aim was perfect. “Shut up, Katniss.”
He opens his eyes to see Clint holding his stomach. “Don’t mock the cripple.”
Tony narrows his eyes. “Or I move your exploding arrows to the bottom of my to-do list.”
Clint’s eyes widen in horror. “You wouldn’t.”
“He really would,” Pepper puts in, getting off the elevator with Phil and heading over to the couch to sit next to Natasha.
“Clint, stop trying to get a rise out of Stark,” says Coulson, walking over to peck Clint on the cheek. (Tony sees Steve’s cheeks pink up out of the corner of his eye, but he stays in the room.)
Coulson responds by hitting him upside the head.
Tony snorts and refills his coffee. Butterfingers appears by his side, hand open, so Tony hands him his coffee. Steve manages to catch the mug before it hits the floor.
“Right, note to self: don’t give hot beverages to a robot named Butterfingers.”
Steve laughs and walks next to Tony as he wheels himself into the living room. He stops next to the couch and Steve sets his mug safely on the end table at his elbow.
“Thor, so help me, if you stick your finger into my Alfredo sauce again, I will chop your finger off!”
“He would!” Natasha helpfully supplied. Thor wisely backed off.
The Assemble alarm goes off minutes later. Tony watches as everyone immediately jumps into action and heads for the stairs. He notes that Clint has thankfully remembered to turn off the burner under his sauce. He does not need a repeat of the last time he forgot. Phil tosses him an ear piece before he too disappears.
“Thanks Agent!” he hollers after him.
It turns out that the giant spiders from the other day are back, so Tony pulls up a screen and watches in envy as the team pummels the enormous arachnids. Unfortunately, he soon starts to feel the effects of his medications and succumbs to sleep.
He awakens to a sore back, pain in his leg, and the smell of pasta. He cracks open his eyes to see Bruce standing in front of him, holding two plates of fettuccine Alfredo.
“Hey, you hungry?”
Tony’s stomach growled loudly in response. Bruce just chuckles and hands Tony his plate. Tony digs in with gusto.
“I take it you forgot to eat today? No wonder you fell asleep so easily.”
Tony shrugs. He notes that the rest of the Avengers are sitting in the kitchen like civilized people. “How’d the fight go?”
“It went fine. The Hulk really likes smashing spiders.”
Bruce ate with the same enthusiasm as Tony. Tony noted the dark circles under Bruce’s eyes that often came with a Hulk outing. They may get along, but the Hulk still took a lot out of Bruce.
By the time he had finished eating, Tony was yawning again. As much as the medicines helped him, he really hated being so tired. Seeing Tony yawn, Bruce quickly brought their plates to the kitchen. Tony heard him say that he was helping Tony upstairs. Tony rolled his eyes. It was mostly Bruce’s idea to keep their relationship secret. Sometimes the secret was a pain in the ass.
Bruce and Tony headed back to Tony’s floor. “Tomorrow, you are getting a bath.”
Tony fluttered his eyelashes as Bruce helped him settle into bed. “Why Brucie, was that a proposition?”
Bruce just rolled his eyes as he stripped down to his boxers and climbed in next to Tony. He handed Tony his pills, which Tony quickly downed with water.
Adorable Steve is adorable.
Tiny chap! I had this brainwave in the shower, which is where I come up with most my writing ideas. Weird, I know.
Two weeks later, Tony was trying not to climb the walls, but it was a near thing. One more week until he got his transition brace. Since Bruce had banned him from creating his own brace, Tony was currently working on an improved version of Natasha’s Widow’s Bite in his workshop. He hated being in the stupid wheelchair, so he was sitting on a stool with his bum leg resting on his office chair. Dummy was holding one of the bracelets still while Tony welded on a new knob to adjust the electrical output.
“Dummy, if you move one more time, I am donating you as scrap metal to the local high school.”
The bot made a sad chirping noise, but held still. Tony quickly finished before it got any other ideas.
Tony heard a soft knocking behind him. “Come in, Steve.”
“How’d you know it was me?”
“You are the only one that knocks. Everyone just barges in.”
Tony heard Steve walk over and sit down on a nearby stool. “Tony, can I ask you a question?”
“You’ve dated a lot of people, right?”
Tony looked up then, flipping up his welding helmet. “Cap, are you asking me for dating advice?”
Steve’s full body flush answered the question. “Have you ever dated a friend?”
“You know I have. I dated Pepper for 2 years before we realized that we were both gay.” Tony arched his eyebrow. “Why?”
“I…um…I want advice about asking out…Thor.”
Tony sat upright at that, staring at Steve. Then he burst into relieved laughter. Steve’s face fell.
“I promise I’m not laughing at you, Steve. It’s just that the rest of the team just assumed that you were homophobic, due to the way you react to Clint and Agent.”
Steve shook his head. “No, I’m definitely bi. As far as Coulson and Barton, it’s like watching your parents kiss; it just makes me…embarrassed? Awkward?”
Tony shrugged. “I guess that makes sense. So Thor, eh? I guess that makes our whole team bent.”
Steve blushed. “So advice?”
Tony thought for a second. “Honestly, he’s Thor. He’s a very enthusiastic Norse God. Just ask him on a date. I’m sure he’ll say yes. Hell, you could ask him on a sparring date. God knows he’s the only one who can actually keep up with your strength.”
Steve grinned, his eyes crinkling. “Thanks Tony, I’ll go find him now.”
Tony waved him off. “Just call me the matchmaker.”