“Good morning, Sir,” JARVIS greeted.
Tony pushed his face further into his pillow. He tried to force himself back to sleep but even after a few moments he knew it was no use.
“How’s cleanup coming J?” he asked.
“Approximately 68.2% of all Chitauri mess has been cleaned up,” JARVIS informed him.
It had been weeks since New York. Weeks since Tony and flown the nuke into the portal. Weeks since he had saved the damn world (and the damn Avengers). And yet he had yet to hear a damn thing from them or from Hill, their babysitter-slash-Director of SHIELD.
“Keep ‘em at it J,”
The past couple years had been very busy for him. First there was Afghanistan and Obadiah’s betrayal. Not to mention the arc reactor and Ho Yinsen and the cave. Then the Palladium poisoning and the new element. Castle “stealing” the War Machine suit. Then the Wakandans and their nanotech. And to top it all off there was an alien invasion and Tony had ended up flying a nuke through a wormhole to destroy the rest of the alien army.
“Anything from SHIELD?” he asked.
Tony just shook his head and made his way to the kitchen to pour himself a mug of coffee.
“Anything new at all?”
“Just some important emails from the Secretary of State,” JARVIS said.
“I’ll look at those next week,”
Tony took a sip of his scalding coffee and drummed his fingers against the mug. He was only slightly bothered with the whole SHIELD thing.
“Sir, may I remind you that you don’t trust SHIELD,” JARVIS stated, seemingly reading his mind.
“You’re right J,”
“I do try, sir,”
Tony smiled softly.
Tony knew he should look through his emails and actually read some of the military contracts that Pepper gave to him, but he decided to forgo all of that in favor of helping Dum-E re-learn how to make smoothies without adding in too much protein powder or motor oil.
“Atta boy Dum-E,” Tony said quietly, taking the smoothie from the bot.
“No motor oil!”
He held his hand out for a high five. Dum-E trilled excitedly and gently tapped his claw against Tony’s palm.
“Go tell U and Butterfingers,” he said.
Dum-E, as always, did as instructed and wheeled himself over to his brother and sister to- no doubt- tell them all about the smoothie he had just made.
“He’s learning every day, huh J?” Tony asked with a small smile.
“He’s been doing very well,” JARVIS agreed.
“Aw Dum-E, you hear that? Big brother things you’re doing great,” Tony called.
Dum-E beeped a number of times before going silent. Tony smiled softly and sat back in his chair.
“Sir,” JARVIS called.
“Captain Rogers is talking about you on the news,”
“Turn it on!”
A holographic screen popped up in front of him. Captain Rogers stood at a podium, behind him were the Avengers. Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner (one of Tony’s favorite friends), and Clint Barton. Thor was still off planet dealing with his overly dramatic brother.
“What Iron Man did was incredibly reckless, but in flying the nuke through the wormhole he not only destroyed the rest of the armada, but saved millions of people,” Captain America was saying on the tv.
“But they still won’t invite me to join the Avengers,” Tony said a tad petulantly.
“Sir, you say that as if you want to join the Avengers,” JARVIS drawled.
“I don’t! I would just really love the opportunity to turn them down,” Tony said, crossing his arms over his chest. He winced at the pressure the motion put on the arc reactor. It was getting more sensitive as of late, which meant Tony was going to have to start taking better care of himself and do things like drink water and eat a vegetable or too.
He turned to the mirror and lifted his shirt to inspect skin around the arc reactor. It didn’t look inflamed. He frowned and let his eyes wander over the bright blue arc reactor and the silver veins of the nanotech. He looked more machine than human. The nanotech inlay in his skin had only been possible thanks to Wakandan technology. But now, no matter what, he’d never be without the suit.
“Sir, Miss Potts is approaching,” JARVIS said.
Tony tugged his shirt back down and pulled up a few schematics. He had a number of things to finish up for SI.
“Good afternoon Miss Potts, what do I owe this visit to?” Tony asked when she walked in.
“Just checking in on you,” she told him.
“I’m fine,” he assured her.
He watched her glance at the schematics behind him.
“You know I haven’t heard from the Avengers yet,”
She closed her eyes and grinned softly.
“I don’t understand. I saved the world Pep,”
“Tony,” she started, a gentle smile playing on her face.
“I thought you didn’t want to be in the Avengers,”
Tony pulled a face, quietly mocking her words- even though she was right.
“I don’t. But after what I just did I expected them to be more impressed,” he said at last.
Pepper huffed out a laugh and shook her head.
“They still see Iron Man and War Machine as vigilantes. Besides, you, rolling up to the scene and saving the day doesn’t really scream that you’re ready to play well with others,” she told him.
“I play just fine with Castle, thank you,” he shot back.
Whatever she was going to respond with died as she caught sight of something behind him.
He really didn’t want to turn around to see what it was.
“Tony,” she said quietly.
He turned to see a shimmering white mist in the middle of his lab. He looked back at Pepper, she looked as confused as she felt.
“It just came out of nowhere,” she said.
“It appears to be some kind of portal,” JARVIS said.
“Analyze it. Where the hell’d it come from?” Tony whispered, leaning toward the mist.
“Tony!” Pepper warned.
And that was the last thing he heard before the mist grabbed hold of him and pulled him into the portal.