Tony had been content. He had looked at the numbers and said, “Good.” He’d shaken hands with Generals and said, “I’m glad to hear they’re working as well in the field as they did in the lab.” He’d met Steve, and Steve told him that the weapons he had designed had helped his unit out of more than one scrape with no deaths for his men. He’d met Steve’s friend Bucky, and fell in love quicker than he knew was possible. He’d sent Bucky off from his leave with a swat to the ass, a wink, and a, “Stay safe, soldier. I like my men in one piece.”
Now he could scarcely begin to describe the shit storm that was his life. One of the accountants-- Virginia something-- noticed a pattern of unexplainable missing inventory, and Tony had to protect her job, fire his head accountant for accepting bribes, and try to sniff out who was responsible. Best case scenario is that is was someone outside the company with a hell of a lot of resources, because the alternative was someone inside the company stealing from him, and being good enough-- or high enough-- to easily cover their tracks.
Christine showed up with pictures of Stark Industries weapons in the hands of their enemies, and no amount of exclusive offers would have made her throw away the photos if she hadn’t seen Tony’s genuine shock. He went to Obadiah with the information, worried and pulling out his hair only to be called naive and pat on the back like a child who didn’t understand why they couldn’t live off ice cream.
Steve called and told him that Bucky got hit. Tony’s ears were ringing and all he could hear was his parting joke to Bucky. He couldn’t see the New York skyline in front of him, could only see the pictures of terrorists holding his guns, transporting crates with missiles he’d designed to keep Bucky safe.
Out of everything, that was the worst. It wasn’t enough that Bucky was hurt, it was that he’d probably been hurt by something Tony had designed with his own hands.
“Can I talk to him?” Tony croaked.
“He’s still out. Tony… he’s missing an arm, they’re gonna send him home.”
“Is this your phone?”
Steve was confused when he answered, “Yes.”
“Tell him to call me. When- uh, when he wakes up.”
Tony swallowed around the lump in his throat and massaged the back of his own neck. “How’re you holding up?”
Steve laughed, and it was ugly. “Let’s just say it’s lucky for the military that I signed a contract. You’re also lucky that you’re so fucking far away or I’d punch your teeth in.”
“That’s a common urge. Did I do something to deserve it this time?”
“They had Stark weapons,” he hissed. “A random-ass Ten Rings cell would not have scavenged that many guns in that good of condition.”
“We have a traitor,” Tony replied hoarsely, hurt at the venom in Steve’s voice, his easy willingness to believe Tony would do that. “I know. I’m working on it.”
Steve took a breath so deep Tony could hear it clearly. “Sorry Tony, it’s just- they- they blew up his arm. I had bloody pieces of my best friend on my face.”
He puked on his floor. He stared down at it, still feeling it drip from his mouth. “I’ll tell you when I have something,” he said, voice more than a touch faint, and he hung up without waiting for a response. “J, call cleaning.”
“Of course, sir.”
Tony stumbled to the bathroom and got sick again. He rinsed his mouth, brushed his teeth, brushed them again, and popped mints in his mouth that weren’t the same flavor of minty as the toothpaste. He started straightening up his clothes, feeling his resolve turn to steel. “What was the name of that accountant? Georgia or something?”
“Virginia, right. Could you call Miss Potts and tell her to go to my office?” Tony started heading for his office. He’d probably get there before her.
“What would this be concerning?”
“A promotion, a fuck-ton of work, and cleaning house.”
“She’s on her way,” Jarvis informed him. “Though she would like for me to tell you that if you want her as a maid, it doesn’t matter how much you’re paying her, she’s saying no.”
Tony snorted, feeling the amusement on some far off level. “That’s fair.” Days spent finding and skinning a traitor, nights spent making Bucky a new arm. It wouldn’t be great, but it would be honest.