It didn’t take long for the panic to set in as he felt water wrap around his body and pull him further from the surface. Tony knew - and you didn’t have to be a genius to know - that he didn’t have a lot of time (in fact, time, oxygen or energy) left until the other shoe dropped. Looking back at his feet, he tugged in a final effort to pull himself free of the invisible coils. But again, his efforts were for naught.
It seemed that all hope was lost. The light of the surface looked bleak, impossible to reach - he did the math and with the current variables, and unless an external force acted on him to help him launch himself to the surface he wouldn’t make it in time. God, he wished he had his suit.
Tony mentally sighed as he shut his eyes. ‘So now ends the legend of Tony Stark, the man of Iron,’ he thought. The genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist who had just saved the world from an alien invasion brought on by a manic with reindeer horns. Some way to go. He didn’t even know where the hell he was.
A voice broke through the silence making the engineer frown. It was familiar... JARVIS? No...it couldn’t be. It had to be a hallucination. It didn’t make any sense.
“Sir.” the voice said more firmly.
Okay, so it wasn’t a hallucination.
“Delta waves beginning to fluctuate erratically. Heart rate accelerating. Initiating Protocol DN-949,” the voice said again.
Tony’s eyes snapped open and to his horror, the water began to warp, becoming more viscous and oil-like. His heart began to race as he felt what was left of the oxygen in him being squeezed out. His vision began to fail as the dark liquid began to consume him, blind him.
Suddenly, flashes! An ear-splitting screech - the sound of metal on metal. Screaming, and brief bursts of electric blue, his arc reactor glowing eerily, and a voice roaring in an unknown language. It was too much to take in at once. Tony tried to scream, cry out, anything, but just swallowed the ooze. He could taste the tang of metal as it surged into his body. Burrs scraped along his insides leaving painful, burning trails behind them. Tony convulsed, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth. He squeezed his eyes shut and let out a growl of pain.
And then it stopped.
He felt his stomach lurch as something began to pull him up. The force pushed hard against his body as he was propelled out of the hellhole. It was like he was in some kind of vortex. His vision tunneled, thin lines of light darting away from him.
Tony sat upright and regretted the movement instantly. That was not a good idea. Tumbling out of bed he made a dash for the bathroom. He was going to-
So, he didn’t manage to make it to the toilet...the sink however was the next best thing!
Tony turned the faucet on, cupped a handful of water and wet his face. He then studied his reflection. God, did he look terrible. Hair slicked back from perspiration, shadows under his eyes, it looked like death was upon him.
Propping his hands on the side of the table he leant forward slightly and swore under his breath. ‘Another one of those nightmares,’ he thought as he stared at his arms. Despite the position he was in, he could still feel himself shaking. Tearing his gaze away from his arms and taking great interest in his collection of colognes, instead he blew out a long breath. A nice hot shower would do him good, he thought.
“Thanks, JARVIS,” he said softly. But really, who was he trying to kid? Tony knew he really wasn’t in a good place right now.
“You’re welcome, sir. However, might I suggest speaking to the other members of the Avengers Initiative of this recurring problem? Perhaps Dr. Banner, or any agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?” The AI asked with a hint of concern in his voice.
He glanced furtively at the command board at the door. “No, no, not necessary,” he replied hurriedly. “No need to worry them.”
“What was I thinking? You’re usually correct about things involving your personal health, Sir,” the AI returned dryly.
Tony twisted to face the command board, leaning casually on one elbow. “Like I said before, contrary to popular belief, I know what I’m doing.” A tired smile crept up on his face. As much as it was fun to go a few rounds of verbal boxing with JARVIS, he really was exhausted. And from the silence that followed after his response, it seemed JARVIS picked up on the slight fluctuation in his voice patterns.
Tony quickly undressed, set his normal shower settings and stepped in. The hot water was welcoming on his skin, soothing his sore muscles. Tony stood there and allowed himself to be doused by the high pressure water jets, and he finally felt himself relax. That was one hell of a nightmare. Tony’d had his fair share. It wasn’t uncommon for the man to have consecutive restless nights in the company of memories he’d attempted to repress - the constant reminders of what happened during his not-so-awesome time in Afghanistan. Drowning and suffocation were old friends, and occasionally there’d be times when he could feel the pain of ghost-shards slowly making their way into his heart... But the black ooze? The visions? They were new, different, and not the kind of different he liked. Tony didn’t know why, but it seemed so vivid, so real. It was more real than any other dream he’d ever experienced, and that terrified him.
Of course, Tony tried to ignore it and push it to the back of his head, but it wasn’t so easy. Sure, he could focus on his tech - analyse the schematics of everything that made Stark Tower his baby, or play with a few numerical methods and theories (because calculus was fun, no matter what anyone said), but the nightmares would always wriggle in the back of his mind and no amount of coffee, mind numbing ethanol or world-changing project could shake them off.
His way of coping with the nightmares hadn’t gone over well with Pepper, nor the other variables in his life. The stress had finally gotten to the redhead. Running the company, and then running to the man who owned the company after twelve hour shifts wasn’t a compatible mixture. He found that out a few months ago.
“Tony I love you, but this...the stress, worrying whether or not you’re actually going to come back alive - and even when you do you look like you’ve gone through hell and back and I can’t take it. I love you but it’s just too much...I just...I’m sorry Tony.” He could understand where she was coming from. Really, she deserved better. But that didn’t stop it from sucking. Or hurting. A lot. He always did prefer the company of machines. People worrying and all those not-so-fun expressions of human emotions for him, were the primary reasons why he’d rather deal with his problems himself. It probably didn’t help the relationship that he was isolating himself from the human world a little more. Although in his defense, this time it was for Pepper. The look on her face, her eyes, the way her skin paled and her body trembled when she’d shaken him awake when the nightmares first began... It was more than enough to fuel his actions.
So he was alone. Again. Kind of... Well, not really. Pepper was still his CEO, friend and part time PA (she was right in saying he wouldn’t last a week without her). It was weird at first - being ‘friends’, ‘work colleagues’ - and not being able to just... take her hands in his or trail his fingers against her waist... But he managed. Alcohol was good company and when he was out of the workshop, surprisingly, so were the rest of the Avengers Initiative (Happy and Rhodey too, of course). They were an acquired taste - thankfully, though, Tony was all about acquired tastes. He’d have to agree with Banner - they were a complex molecule, unlikely elements somehow (God knows how) covalently bonded by chaos and curiosity. And Tony, being Tony, loved it - what could he say? He hadn’t played with his chemistry set in a while. He liked Banner, and although the feelings weren’t necessarily mutual, he got along with the rest of them well enough too - even the Captain.
The star spangled man with a plan seemed to tolerate Tony more after the Chitauri’s failed invasion. It was probably because Tony did what he normally did - prove people wrong. Given, he really hadn’t expected to survive the incident, but the whole living thing was a bonus in itself. Some people would say he had a destructive personality, that he was unstable because of the little value he gave his own life. But if it was all the same to them, he’d rather not be the reason why there was a giant crater where Manhattan once was (on multiple occasions). It was him being responsible!
Tony’s stomach punched itself. Fuel. Fuel was a good idea. He wondered if they had some leftover pizza? If he left it much longer he would have abdominal bruising... After all, he had just recently expelled what he had eaten in the past eight hours. Turning the knobs of the shower he dried himself off, and then quickly got changed and headed off to the kitchen.
Ah... Pizza. Yes, pizza would be perfect. Much as he loved high class eating, there was no denying that Tony was an engineer and so foods that were efficient, i.e. high energy, quick to eat, easy to access in godforsaken hours and probably extremely bad for you were his favourite - most of which required paying an almighty boon to a machine. It brought back memories of him in the MIT computer labs, slurping on some cup noodles and waiting for the loops in his code to finally stop and give him those glorious numbers he so needed to get his already well deserved degree (he’d often leave the assignments last minute, getting distracted with his own personal projects and endeavours).
Tony paused upon entering the kitchen. “Huh, fancy seeing you here, Cap,” he said, mildly surprised to see any other human being awake at - he glanced at the clock - three in the morning. “Couldn’t sleep?” He asked as he made a beeline to the coffee machine.
“That’s part of the reason...” Steve began, folding the newspaper and placing it on the table in front of him. Tony didn’t like where this was going. He could already feel Steve’s eyes boring at the back of his head.
“What’s going on with you? No one has properly seen you in two weeks. Pepper’s worrying about you - we all are, you’ve been ignoring Fury’s calls-”
“Well maybe he should think twice before pretending Phil’s dead,” Tony said, rather stiffly.
“It can’t still be about that.”
“It’s not about that.”
“...Then is this about Pepper?” Steve said, his voice a little softer and a little more hesitant.
Tony laughed as he poured himself a mug of coffee and turned to look at Steve. “This has nothing to do with my relationship,or lack thereof, with Pepper.” Before the blond could interrupt, he continued. “Look, really I’m fine. Seriously. I have an idea - you won’t understand, it’s all machine component designs and material selection and things that are powered by some form of electricity...” He smirked a little, noticing the slight scowl on Steve’s face. “...and it won’t go away until I make it happen so... making it happen. Now as much as I’d love to stay and chat and talk about my dad and how awesome he is, I’ve got things to build and Dummy to attend to.”
There was a pause of silence before Steve spoke, hesitant, “Do you want any company?”
Tony walked over and patted Steve’s shoulder. “You don’t have the clearance, Cap, and having been out of the ice for only a few months, I don’t exactly trust you with my tech just yet.” Looking up at the man for a brief moment, Tony noticed a plate of leftover pizza wrapped up behind him. Score.
“Oh...alright.” There was a flash of disappointment in Steve’s eyes. Yeah, Tony felt like a bit of a jerk. But there was a reason, or so he argued with himself. It was a bit harsh, but he’d rather not let anyone - especially Steve - in his workshop just yet, or know what was really going on. In a fluid movement he grabbed the plate, gave the Captain a pat on the back and winked. “See you later, Cap!” He was off to his workshop before Steve could say anything else.
Tony headed straight towards the main rig in the workshop and clicked his fingers. “Alright JARVIS, break’s over, let’s see how my meat suit’s going,” he said, rolling his shoulders as he watched the lights appear around him. “So what’ve we found out?”
Images of Tony’s DNA, blood samples and various test results were brought up through the interface. “Sir, there doesn’t appear to be any significant irregularities in the test results. The increase in gamma radiation levels can be assumed to have been a result of the incidents in the Helicarrier as well as during the battle in Manhattan against the Chitauri. Exposure levels seem low risk, especially in comparison to Dr. Banner. Exposure seems to be steadily climbing at a normal rate given Sir’s recent activities.”
Bars appeared displaying Tony’s radiation exposure over the past years. This year’s having a significant jump, however, like JARVIS said - nothing too serious. “Jump’s understandable given what happened...” He muttered to himself, his fingers drumming against the arc reactor as he spun to the left and right on his chair. “JARVIS, note there need to be alterations in the composition of the Gold-Titanium alloy. We’ll need to increase the density and thus reduce the risk of exposure to gamma radiation whilst still maintaining the appropriate strength to weight ratio. Tell me, do we have the materials to synthesise vibranium?”
“The materials would be difficult to acquire, and the synthesis of vibranium was thought to be statistically impossible. However...” There was a brief pause. “Sir always has a habit of doing the statistically impossible.”
“JARVIS, you’re such a charmer. I didn’t know you had it in you,” Tony said, a small grin on his face.
“I learn from the best, Sir.”
Tony chuckled as he made a sweeping motion with his hand. The radiation files that were in front of him were replaced with graphs and EEG reports. “Don’t need to be told what’s going on here.” He leant forward a bit. “That looks ugly...prognosis, JARVIS?”
“I would suggest sleep and regular balanced meals, but Sir doesn’t need to be told the obvious. Or what he won’t adhere to.”
“Words can hurt people JARVIS, words can hurt people.” Tony feigned a hurt expression, putting his hand on top of the arc reactor.
“My primary function is only to help Sir, whether it be rendering the Mark VIII, maintaining order in the house or caring for Sir’s well being. That which includes reminding Sir of his - as Ms Romanoff has reported - ‘erratic and dangerous behaviour’,” The AI replied.
Tony paused for a brief moment. “...Point.” He simply said, his fingers starting to drum on the casing of his arc reactor again. “Alright, next course of action?”
“Unfortunately my parameters are restricted - even with access to the world’s best medical publications.”
The engineer frowned as he looked at the holographic screens surrounding him, making sweeping motions with his hands once more as he read through his personal data. He then paused, stopping at an image of the arc reactor as he suddenly felt his heart tighten for a brief moment, recalling the nightmare. He grabbed the image and enlarged it, spinning the model slowly in his hands. “Without more data, we can’t run any more tests or further our investigations...” He muttered, eyes fixated on the synthesised vibranium triangle at the reactor’s centre. “JARVIS?”
“Keep running bi-weekly tests on radiation levels, put it with the standard physical tests we do. Keep the details in my private server. We’ll let nature take its course for now.” He grimaced slightly. He thought he’d never have to say that before.
“Very well, radiation level testing has been added to the schedule.”
“Good, now that’s over and done with, onto bigger and better things that make a lot more physical sense.” Sweeping the files into a folder as he got up and headed to the charging stations. “Alright, everyone up! We’ve got work to do. JARVIS, lights. Dummy, come here, you’re on fire safety again. If there is no fire and you do try to douse me,I’m going to turn you into a tie rack.” The robot dipped its head and whirred despondently as it followed Tony. “You, Butterfingers, I need you guys to help me with refurbishing the place - again. Daddy needs a new suit.”
Tony always enjoyed field testing - especially if given his desired parameters. So when an A.I.M. agent had decided to have the not-so-advanced idea to take on the Avengers, the engineer was beyond elated. Tony ducked, dived and rolled in the air, eyes glancing at the stats on his suit between his attacks.
“Flight stability has increased by 25%, vibration due to motions decreased by 30% and shock resistance has improved by 100%. As expected, the Vibranium enhancement has given significantly better results compared to Sir’s prior suits.”
“Tell me again why I didn’t do this earlier, JARVIS?” Tony asked as he stopped in mid-air and began scoping the area - visuals of the Avengers team and A.I.M. robots appearing on his HUD. They weren’t doing too bad, Clint’s new magnetic pulse arrows (courtesy of Tony) obliterated any incoming bots, Natasha ‘widow’s bite’ and Thor’s thunder and hammer of justice ceased their operation, Steve sliced bot-heads off, and Bruce...well, the Hulk did what he did best - smash. Unfortunately, the A.I.M. agent behind it all was nowhere to be found (but that wasn’t his problem. Hell, Natasha probably already called dibs on them).
“According to the collected data it has been projected that the continued synthesis of vibranium for further suits would have depleted the earth of its iron deposits by the year 2036. This would not result in a positive response from the rest of civilisation,” the AI answered.
“I see your point. You know, Stark Industries should consider space expeditions. Think of the new materials JARVIS-” Tony paused, something black flashed across the HUD. He blinked and tapped the temple of his helmet. “JARVIS?”
“A.I.M. signals screwing with my visuals?” He asked. “Very unlike you to be compromised. I’m more disappointed than concerned.”
There was a pause. “...I have no record of any interference, or going offline, Sir.”
Tony frowned. Okay, not good. Not good at all. That was practically impossible. If JARVIS hadn’t sensed anything in his physical surroundings...and if it wasn’t interference...then...a familiar feeling slowly started to take over. Oh, God no. Not again.Tony’s eyes widened. Black! Everything was going black! He could feel the panic setting in again as everything began to disappear.
“Sir?” JARVIS’ voice was beginning to warp. His senses were beginning to disappear, one by one. Sense of smell? Gone. Sight? Failing at an increasing rate. Touch? Fading as his body began to grow numb...
“STARK!” Another voice from his comm snapped Tony back to reality. His vision came back to him instantly - and he realised he was falling headfirst into the ground. He was accelerating at such a speed that from that height, the possibility of even reaching terminal velocity before contact was slim to none. “JARVIS! Emergency thrusters!”
“Activating emergency thrusters.”
Another quick series of beeps and whirrs and Tony was quickly able to turn to do a U-maneuver, the chest of his suit briefly scraping the ground in the process. “Whoa! What the hell?!”
His comms exploded with the worried voices of his teammates. Tony shook his head roughly before answering them all. “Just a little interference problem, I’m fine, it’s fixed - you know for a high tech criminal organisation, their tech isn't very advanced. Cap, I'm disappointed. You said this was going to be a challenge."
Well, shit. Cap rarely used his first name. This didn’t bode well at all. Tony changed the topic back to their main concern - the army of terribly mechanised, hive-minded robots (their circuitry was so ugly). "Alright, quick scope of the schematics, and if I'm right - which I always am in these cases - that means that if we find the momma-bot and take her out, we win. Easy. Now let’s all try to find the most ostentatious bot out there."
“Sir.” There were a few warning beeps and Tony barely dodged an arrow. His comm-link switched to Clint. “...Well...you said most ostentatious.”
Tony couldn’t help but grin a little before he switched to his comm.“Barton, you’re a bastard. If you scratch my suit I’ll make sure that every alarm in the house is linked to my personal music collection. In fact, I’ll just re-route everything to my own personal music collection.” The engineer then heard some grumbling, a ‘fuck you, Stark’ and static. Barton had switched his comm line off.
“Hrm, I don’t think they’re too happy right now.” He really was in trouble.
“Very astute observation, Sir,” the AI replied.
He’d deal with it later. At that thought Iron Man flew through the streets of Manhattan, taking out the bots in his way before flying high into the air once more. It didn’t take long for him to find the mother of them all. The only problem was that she was surrounded by a sea of her bot-children. It was a minor issue really, easily resolved. “JARVIS, link me up to our illustrious leader.” There was a brief pause before text began to appear on his HUD.
[Connecting comm-link with AvengersInitiative_001: Captain_America – Steve_Rogers…]
“Iron Man! You found it?” Steve asked, not completely attentive to the comm-link – obviously mid-battle. Tony heard the sound of his shield crunching against a robot (probably its face, he swear he heard it scream). That didn’t sound pleasant at all. “Yeah, she’s up on fourth with the rest of the kids.” He responded. “JARVIS is analysing the schematics of ‘The Mother’ now.”
[Subject: A.I.M._Robot – ‘The_Mother’ – Power Level 8 – Material Analysis Pending… – Power Analysis Pending…]
[Material Analysis: 60% Ti-6Al-4V alloy 20% Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer 10% Other Polymer Varieties – 10% Unknown] – Well that made things mildly interesting.
[Power Analysis: Electromagnetic Energy Found and Increasing - Radiation Levels: High - Thermal Energy: Found and Increasing Rapidly ]
“Scratch what I said about poor mechanics. This one’s pretty good, better than I anticipated, standard choice in materials…But...You know what? I don’t care what you guys say, I’m taking some of it home as a souven-” His HUD flashed red and JARVIS cut through.
“I apologise Sir, but there appears to be seismic forces acting on the focused area.”
“Okay, not good.”
“What’s not good?” Steve sounded mildly concerned.
“We’re about to find out what that combination of electromagnetic and thermal energy does with A.I.M.’s mystery material,” Tony answered, his body somewhat tingling in anticipation. Half of him was eager, curious, and the other half was just a little bit terrified (thankfully civilians were evacuated, and it seemed none of the Avengers were close to the vicinity to get affected by the hypothesised damage area).
The buildings around them began to shake as the ground rumbled. There was a high pitched whirring sound coming from the ‘The Mother’. Electrical blue energy began to form at the mouth of the robot. It hummed dangerously, growing larger and larger by the second. Tony frowned, he did not like what was happening at all.
[WARNING: Launch Imminent]
“JARVIS! Get everything you can from that! I need its energy signals now!” Tony cried out as he flew up into the air.
[Power Level: Unidentifiable - Blast Radius: 1.5 Kilometers - Probability of Contact: 96.8%]
[Power Levels Increasing…50%...70%...75%...83%...]
He looked at his options, mind racing as he flew higher and higher. Flares would be useless. This wasn’t heat seeking, and it would probably just absorb the little heat they expelled. Repulsors covered too little surface area, the unibeam would drain his power and he’d fall into a horde of angry baby-bots. Things were not looking good.
Then he heard the blast. Tony looked back to see the energy beam shooting forward, the sounds resonating in the air. He stopped in mid air. “FUCK IT! FIRE EVERYTHING!”
“Initiating protocol: #&!@ it. Fire everything.”
Everything went off. It was insane. He had to thank past-Tony’s brilliant idea of having a ‘total freak out’ protocol as well as having the brilliant idea of vibranium-plating. Even if it didn’t completely match the power of the mother-bot, it definitely packed a punch that just so happened to create a wave of energy with enough force to catapult him into a building - or a few. Paying for collateral damage wasn’t going to be fun – if he survived this (which he knew he most certainly would – his HUD displayed the Avengers moving very quickly to his location and the plating on his armor had managed to absorb/resist most of the shock.), S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to kill him. He broke a fairly large portion of Manhattan (mind you, it wasn’t entirely his fault, the Mother-bot was half to blame, in fact, completely to blame).
Tony finally crashed to a halt, his ears ringing and head pounding. Everything ached. The man tried to move, wriggle out from under the debris but he was starting to lose focus. It was only a matter of time before his world went black yet again.
“Thor! Light those bots up! Hulk! Destroy the robot controlling them! Smash it to pieces! Hawkeye! We need a visual on Iron Man! Black Widow! You’ve got the A.I.M. agent!” Captain America ordered as he jumped over the bodies of broken robots, dodging shrapnel that flew everywhere as ‘The Mother’ began to go haywire from the force of the blast, somehow managing to survive and still be somewhat semi-operational.
The last time they saw Iron Man was a fraction of a second before he was absorbed by the blast. Steve had felt his heart clench at the sight, but he knew Iron Man couldn’t die yet. Hell, Tony Stark had a habit of surviving near death experiences and the man would definitely not allow himself to be killed by ‘lesser’ technology. He was better than that - Steve could hear those exact words coming from the engineer’s mouth.
The rest of the Avengers Initiative were doing very heavy damage to ‘The Mother’ and its horde. Hulk had jumped on ‘The Mother’, roaring as he began ripping off sheets of metal and smashing through its circuits. It flailed wildly, attempting to throw off the green rage-beast - but it only made him angrier. He grabbed cables and wires, shredding through them like they were nothing.
Thor let out a triumphant cry, Mjolnir raised in the air he swung down on the mother-bot, lightning erupting from the sky and striking the bots around them. The bots didn’t know what hit them as electricity surged through their bodies - too much so that their circuits began to combust as they reached well over capacity.
The A.I.M. agent overlooking the assault had made a run for it - a terrible idea, because once Black Widow had a visual of her prey, it was only a matter of time before they were captured and in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s not-too accommodating interrogation room. They wouldn’t even have the pleasure to attempt to munch on a pill before Natasha would have her legs around their neck and make them taste floor in a matter of seconds. Which is precisely what she did - the poor bastard didn’t stand a chance.
"Ugh...I was not expecting that." Tony groaned as he stirred from the moment of unconsciousness - he probably was suffering from a concussion, but he’d have to check that later. Even with the vibranium absorbing a majority of the force, the impact had hit him pretty hard. Well, he was pushed back, into a building, and another. Probably three or five buildings or so -he wasn’t really counting, you could say he was enjoying the ride maybe?-, the blast was pretty huge.
“JARVIS, put all the power we have in the thrusters. Let’s get out of here.”
“Sir, unfortunately the initiation of the final protocol has depleted the suit’s power. We are currently running on emergency generators.” Great. This was excellent. Tony looked around, he’d been in worse situations, but he really didn’t like the idea of not being able to move under all the weight. Tony lay his head against the rubble and looked up at what was left of the ceiling. "How do I get myself into these kind of situations?" He asked himself. He was stuck playing the waiting game. He hated waiting, it was long and boring and he could not entertain himself long enough for the life of him.
He heard a crunch next to him and turned his head to the direction of the noise. To his relief, it was Hawkeye. “There’s a sight for sore eyes, mind getting me out of here Legolas? I’m kind of, having a little trouble breathing-moving in general?”
A quick flash of concern appeared in the marksman’s eyes as he reached for his comm. “I’ve got a visual, Cap, he’s alive, I’ve found him, but it doesn’t look too good,” he said into the headset before letting it dangle off his ear. “You know, you’re one lucky bastard.”
“Luck has nothing to do with it, Hawkeye, it’s skill and intelligence,” he retorted, trying to move again. He shook his head and blinked furiously. He had to keep the conversation going - Tony could feel himself clocking out.
“Well, can skill and intelligence help you out of there?” Hawkeye seemed to get the same idea, and verbal boxing with the marksman was almost as fun as boxing with JARVIS. But the AI was keeping quiet, conserving the little energy they had left. The faceplate of his Iron Man helmet flipped up and Tony shot Clint an unamused look. “Way to kick a guy when he’s down. You’re enjoying yourself, aren’t you?”
“Fuck yeah, it’s not every day Tony Stark’s at your mercy,” Clint smirked before leaning over the edge of the building. “On a serious note, Captain America is on his way. So, just stay awake,” Hawkeye said firmly, pulling back his bow and taking down a few robots that had escaped from the rest of the Avengers team.
“Oh, hey, yeah that’s just great. You know I’ve probably traumatised him with all these near death experiences. Speaking of which, I never really got that day off...” He stifled a yawn, the dizzy feeling was creeping back and his eyelids were starting to get a little heavy. “You know when I get out of here, I want a drink.”
“You might have some issues if it’s the Balvenie you want.”
“...You’re a bad person, you know that? It’s one thing to kick a man while he’s down, it’s another to take his favourite scotch.”
“It tastes good with cola.”
There was a pause. Tony’s eyes snapped open and his jaw dropped. “No. You... you...no.”
Now, Tony Stark was a fairly rational man, he prided himself on being cool-headed most of the time business was involved - or so he liked to think. Hell, he learnt he had to play nice to these people, learnt about ‘sharing’ and the whole ‘mi casa su casa’ thing that came with the Avengers staying in Stark Tower (because the ‘Avengers Mansion’ was still under refurbishment). However, he under no circumstances would tolerate getting his things taken from him, procured and used in the most... He shuddered. It was just wrong. However, before he could formulate any plans to teach the marksman a lesson on scotch etiquette, Captain America jumped into his line of vision.
Tony looked relieved. “Captain, how nice of you to drop by. Pleasantries aside though, mind using your super-soldier strength to get me out of here? I’m feeling like deep frying some poultry right now.”
Hawkeye shook his head, giving Tony the ups before he whispered something in Steve’s ear. Captain America nodded, muttering something in return. Tony did not approve, and was mildly concerned that he couldn’t exactly focus on what they were saying. He did notice however the way the two of them tensed slightly.
“Alright, Stark, anything we have to worry about before we get you out of here?” Steve asked, taking a step forward, eyebrows quirking into a frown for a split moment before unslinging his shield. Yeah, neither of them had a good poker face, something was definitely up. But Tony decided to play along for now, he really wanted to get out of there.
“Aside from a mild concussion, nope,” he answered slowly, his body itching to get out as he lifted his head, watching as Hawkeye began to get rid of the smaller pieces of debris to make way for Captain America’s shield strike. “I’d get myself out but...I’m out of juice.”
The Iron Man faceplate snapped closed and moments later he heard the sound of the shield striking the concrete. As soon as he felt the pressure on him disappear as the slabs were thrown aside, he breathed a sigh of relief and forced himself to sit up. “Well, that was easy.” He said as he took Steve’s arm and stood up. “Good work guys, job well done - seriously though, proper intel would be nice. I do not want that to happen again.” He staggered slightly, feeling the rush of blood go to his head and almost fell on Steve. Perhaps he had gotten up too fast...Then without warning, the interface on his HUD flickered briefly.
Steve suddenly grabbed his shoulders, concern written all over his face. “You alright Tony?” He asked. His voice began to warp slightly, getting distant as if Tony’s ears had popped. The engineer’s vision began to blur, and before he fell into unconsciousness he saw a flash - Hawkeye grabbing his bow, Captain America’s eyes widening and then something behind them, a shadow with a grin.
When Tony regained consciousness, he was happy to see that he wasn’t in a hospital or at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. but rather in his not-so-humble abode. What he wasn’t so happy to see - but unsurprised to see - were the unimpressed looks on the faces of his team. The thought was getting quite repetitive, but he really was in trouble.
Seeing them glaring at him with folded arms, he began to understand just how terrifying it must be and how many balls you had to have to go toe-to-toe with the Avengers. Being at the mercy of two master assassins, a super-soldier, a god of thunder and the HULK, you didn’t want to be at the receiving end of their wrath. He almost felt pity for the villains they had taken out - almost.
Before they spoke, before they could do anything, he raised his hands in the air defensively. “Okay, so I may not have been entirely honest with you guys.” He paused for a moment and took a deep breath. “...Here’s the thing...”