“Hey Tones! Do you wanna watch a movie with us?” Tony’s breath hitches just a little bit every time he hears that voice. Losing Peter on Titan broke him, but when he returned back to Earth and found out Pepper is also gone, it almost killed him. Rhodey was all he had, the only one he could talk to, only one who cared whether he lived or died, but… there was always this little but… apparently while Tony was in space with Strange and the kid, Rhodey decided it is fine to welcome back Rogers and his merry band of traitors.
“Kind of busy, maybe later. Thanks” he tries not to show his bitterness. Everyone is acting like the Civil war never happened. Yes, they defeated Thanos and returned all those taken by the soul stone, but it doesn’t mean everything is suddenly okay. Tony is certainly not okay, Pepper returned only to break up with him again, Rhodey glued himself to Wilson’s side and if Tony didn’t know Rhodey is straight he would be convinced the two of them are fucking and Vision follows Wanda like a lovesick puppy. The worst thing is, that the world sees Rogers as a hero again and the UN is tripping over itself to cater to his every wish. His wish being, that the Avengers are reinstated and all of them bond as a team by living together. The day they told him he needs to live with them in the Compound and ‘bond’ with them, was one of the worst in Tony’s life. It was also the first time in 5 years he’s got drunk.
“Come on man, you can’t hide in your cave forever. We have pizza!”
“I told you I am busy, can’t you just leave me fucking alone?!” he can’t help it, he lashes out. He just CAN’T! Can’t sit there pretending everything is fine, can’t listen to their laughter while he sits there trying to stop a panic attack every time he looks at Rogers or the witch. He wishes he could turn back time, he wishes he never heard of Steve Grant Rogers or the Avengers.
“Fuck you Tony! Stop playing the victim, Thanos is gone, the team is back, we saved everyone. Everyone is moving on, the only one ruining it is you, you do not even try to forgive, all you do is lock yourself up in this fucking workshop and drink all day. I thought you grew up, but no! You’re the same selfish prick you were after you returned from Iraq. I had enough!” Rhodey storms out and Tony doesn’t even try to stop him, all he can do is to slide down against the wall and try his best to hold back desperate tears at the sight of his last friend leaving him.
“Hey Boss, maybe…”
“Not now FRI, leave me alone. Mute.” there, not even his A.I. can talk to him now, he is alone, as he always was….
“Hey, where did you leave Tony?” Steve asks the moment Rhodey returns to the common room. He is lying on the couch, Bucky snuggled into his chest. Those two finally pulled their heads out of their super soldier asses and confessed how much they love each other. Like it was not clear as a day to everyone except the two of them. Apparently all they needed was one of them truly dying in front of the other’s eyes to give them the courage. Now they were inseparable, making out all over the Compound, almost never leaving each other’s sight, they were almost disgustingly sweet.
“He won’t come, said he has work to do.”
“Again? Come on Rhodey we all know he is lying, he is avoiding us!”
“Yeah, I know, but what do you expect me to do about it? I tried to talk to him, I tried hanging out with him, but I can’t force him.”
“Rhodey is right” Sam pipes in “Stark has a lot of shit on his plate, we need to give him more time. We need to show him that he is welcome amongst us and not force him and he will eventually come back.”
“Uuuu, all listen to Mr. Psychology here, he knows best!” Clint mocks, carrying a huge bowl of popcorn and a soda, while Steve tries to shove Bucky off of his chest “I will go talk to him.”
“You won’t do no such thing doll. Lie down and let us enjoy the movie, Wilson is right, he will come when he will be ready to come.” Steve doesn’t like it, he knows it is mainly he himself who Tony doesn’t want to see, he screwed up, royally so, he knows that now, but every time he tried to make it up to him, every time he tried to talk to him, Tony ran. With a heavy sigh he nods and shoves his hands under the blanket grabbing handfuls of Bucky’s ass, that ass always makes him feel better.
It is morning and the newly re-formed Avengers slowly start streaming into the main kitchen. It became their habit, having breakfast together, every since they defeated Thanos. Everyone who is in the Compound at the moment comes, except Tony, he never joins.
Steve and Sam are already back from their morning run preparing bacon and omelettes, while Bucky and Rhodey just wake up and are still sleeping a bit. Natasha and Clint left during the night, helping Fury with something super secret, while Wanda and Vision were gone on one of their ‘exploring’ trips and should be gone at least 3 more days. Bruce is slowly sipping his herbal concoction and reading the Times while Thor shovels in an impressive pile of Pop-Tarts into his mouth. Thor… changed since defeating Thanos, the loss he suffered, losing his home, people, brother… it left its mark on him, he no longer smiled so brightly, did not laugh as loud as he used to. Especially after they reversed Thanos’ snap and Loki did not come back, he was not taken by the soulstone after all.
Bucky plants a kiss on Steve’s shoulder and steals his cup of coffee, slowly moving to the table. One by one the others join in, until only Tony is missing, but that is nothing unusual. What is unusual is Tony’s A.I. FRIDAY interrupting their meal.
“Mr. Rhodes, if I may.”
“What is it FRI? Does Tony need something from me?”
“No, Boss did not call you, it’s me, could you please come to Boss’ bedroom immediately? There is a situation that I have no protocol for.”
Rhodey jumps up immediately, he is feeling guilty for yelling at him yesterday, Tony is his best friend, his brother and what he said was really unfair. Anthony Stark is the least selfish person on Earth, he proved that million times.
“Is he alright? Do I need to get my gear?”
“No, there is no danger, I think, but please hurry.”
Steve follows as well, he is really concerned about Tony and this might be good opportunity to see him without the A.I. blocking him up. Others, upon seeing their Captain joining, follow as well.
They run half of the way, silently cursing Tony for picking the bedroom farthest from the common area. They get there, Rhodey almost tears the door off of its hinges and then… freezes. Tony is not there, instead there is a small boy, maybe 3 years old sitting on the bed and rubbing his eyes.
“What the hell FRIDAY?! Who is this?”
“The DNA screens I did indicate that this is Boss just… small” the A.I. answers hesitantly, but Rhodey is only half listening because at his yell the little boy startled and noticed them for the first time. He is small, scrawny even, with thick bangs and giant soft brown eyes full of rising panic. It happens almost like in a movie, everything slows down, the boy’s eyes grow impossibly larger as he takes in all the adults filling the doorway, the moment Rhodey takes just one small step forward the kid, he panics. A sharp frightened cry makes them cringe and with almost unnatural speed the kid jumps out of the bed and runs through the balcony door outside. And so the chase begins….
Tony runs as quickly as his little feet will allow. He woke up in a strange room and then noticed the grown ups looking at him and there was a lot of them and they were very scary. He didn’t know them, didn’t know where he is or where is his Mommy….
He’s got scared, even though Daddy always says he shouldn’t get scared, Starks are never afraid, Daddy says so. But Tony is afraid, very very much. What if they want to hurt him? What if he is never going to see Mommy again? Or Jarvis? He can’t hold back a sniffle. He runs through the gardens hoping to see someone familiar, he avoids the open spreads of grass, trying to hide behind some bushes, but he does not have any shoes and it hurts. He can hear shouting, the bad men are chasing him! He knows they are bad, he can’t feel it! They will hurt him for sure! But Tony is tired, so so tired….
He rounds the house and notices a big boy coming in. The boy looks silly, he is singing and dancing as he walks up to the door. Tony giggles a little and decides to ask for help, he is not afraid of the boy, he decides to trust him. “Ugh, hewwo” he runs out of the bush where he was hiding “pweashe hewp? Imma woshth and and bad men chashing and I wanth mommyyy” he bursts into tears again, unable to hold it back anymore.
Peter skids into a halt at the first sight of a little boy running out of the bushes. The boy is barefoot, dressed in ripped pyjamas and covered in scratches. Peter can’t drop his backpack quick enough, he rips off his hoodie and wraps the boy into it. Two small arms wrap itself around his neck, almost choking him and loud cry rings in his ear, he probably won’t hear on his left ear ever again. Despite his own discomfort, and the kid is now rubbing his snot covered face into his neck, ewww, he picks him up and hugs close. His eyes scanning the surroundings, he did not miss the bad men chasing me comment, while he tries to calm the child down.
“Hey, shhh, everything is alright now. I’m here, I won’t let anyone to hurt you. shhh, everything is okay…” he repeats in what hopes is a calming voice, while rubbing the small, shaking back. The kid is breaking his heart, when he’ll find who did this to him, they will pay.