the End Game
"We're in the end game now."
When Peter turned to dust in his arms, Tony had never hated a man more in this life than Strange at that very moment. If that man hadn't already been dusted, he would've killed that man himself with his bare hands. He would have blasted that man to moon and back twice. He would have stabbed him repeatedly with the first thing that he could get his hands on, and he wouldn't stop until his hands came back bloody and raw.
"Tony…There was no other way."
His anger was boiling through him, threatening to overtake him like it did when he learned Barnes had killed his parents. It was like he had taken a walk on the sun without any suit, and he was burning alive. The only thing keeping him sane and in check was this overwhelming agony in his chest, threatening to eat him whole. It was so painful that it felt like someone had stabbed him in the heart and was ripping it apart with a spoon. God, it felt like he was dying. Dying. His world was coming down in stacks around him, and he couldn't breathe. There was a heavy stone on his chest, smashing his rips. The weight of everything was coming down on him like a hailing ice storm. How was he still breathing? How was he still alive, while everyone else was gone? How unfair was that? How unfair was that!?
Forcing himself him to take a breath, he thought back to Pepper and the time he thought she had died. He could remember the pain like it was yesterday, threating to eat him whole. Overwhelming guilt and anger, but for some ungodly reason, that time didn't compare to what he was feeling now. This time was so much worst. Tony didn't just lose one person. Half the universe died; yet, he wasn't thinking about the whole damn universe. How many people on earth died because he failed? How many of his loved ones turned to ash? Happy? Pepper? Jim? R-Steve? Natasha? Clint? Sam? Vision-Shit. There was no way that Vision, with his mind stone, was still alive if Thanos won. Damn it all to hell. Really, fuck you all. Why the hell was he still alive? Why couldn't he have been killed instead? He didn't want to live, riddled with guilt and doubt. Besides, would anyone cared about his life?
Damn it all! His mind kept going back to Peter. Poor innocent Peter, who only wanted to help. There was a good chance Peter would've died either way, even if he didn't follow Tony into space. However, that didn't do anything for the guilt that was eating Tony up. It left him feeling hollow. Not Pepper and her possible death. It was Peter who did this to him, ripped him to pieces. God, he didn't know how or when, but Peter had warmed his way into his heart and had taken hold with an iron grip. Tony didn't know when Peter had overtaken Pepper in his heart, though that didn't mean he didn't love Pepper. He loved her. He did, but he was just broken, and he was unsure if he could love again. He was dead inside at the thought of Peter, one of most innocent people he had ever known, gone from this place.
He didn't think he could love another person again. It left him feeling empty. The only thing Tony could feel at that moment was anger and hatred, and it threatened to take him whole and spit out something that wasn't human. That should scare him, but it didn't. It just kept growing instead.
There was a long list of people that Tony hated, and it went without saying that included everyone who had ever tried to kill him: Stane, All Hydra Assholes, AIM, Killian, etc. He went back and forth with Wanda and Barnes, but they jumped throughout the list. His father was also on the list, depending on the day. Some days he was at the top for just being a total idiot. What kind of asshole transported Super Soldier serum with no back up? What kind of person placed his wife in harm's way? Forgetting about Howard being a drunk and an ass, he could never forgive that man for his stupidity alone. However, Dr. Strange had bounced everyone from that list and was squarely at the top.
That fucker knew everything. Everything. Knew Stardork would freak. Knew Thanos would win. Knew he would give up the time stone to save Tony! What happened to not giving up the time stone for anything? Tony knew that Strange saw only one way, but if there was a way to win, how the hell did they lose? Why did that fucker pick him over the universe? Tony would have gladly handed his life over for the half universe. He would have laid down his life in a second. He would have done it all. Why did Strange give up the stone for him? Why did he leave him with so little words? What made him special? God, why did the Strange think he was special? He was a murderer. He did not deserve to be saved. Or maybe, he did. This is his punishment.
Tony was stuck on this dead planet with this blue robot chick, and he had to live with the fact that Peter and probably everyone he loved was dead. He had to live with the fact that he killed the world, though he didn't know how to live with that. He didn't know how to live anymore. And as he collapsed unable to stand on his shaky feet, he just wanted to close his eyes and lay here—ignoring whatever that blue Alien was yelling at him. Maybe, he could just die here. Maybe, he could finally be at peace here, dying on this dead planet.
It felt like he was on fire, like his skin was melting. All he could do was scream.
His mind was all over the place, unable to focus on anything besides pain. It was like he lost some IQ points, as he found himself unable to think. He barely had the sense to form two-word sentences, yet alone trying to figure out what was wrong with him. Before he could get a handle on it, he felt a headache coming on, piecing him like a knife. Make it stop, he yelled as his mind tried to focus. It was almost like his brain was going into two different directions, and he couldn't head or tails of what was up or down. "Make it stop." His head was about explode, feeling like someone was drilling a hole in his Skull.
"Sir, you are safe in Stark Tower."
How was Vision yelling at him? Talking to him? How was Vision here? Vision was dead, killed by Thanos for some stupid goal. Just like everyone else. Half the universe was gone because of this stupid goal, and it was his fault. He failed…He failed the world. He wasn't the hero in this story. Maybe, he was never the hero. Hero saved people, and he did not.
"Tony, wake up!"
Why couldn't Thanos leave him alone to die? To bleed out? Why couldn't he have just killed him? Did he care about Strange's deal? Was the purple idiot really keeping a stupid promise to dead wizard? Tony wouldn't have cared if he struck him down right there. It would have been better than this. Why did he have to mess with him? They lost. It was over. Why couldn't he have killed him and ended Tony's suffering? Why force him to live this curse?
"Sir, you need to wake up. Your heartbeat-"
Tony just wanted to die in peace. Why couldn't they let him die? Couldn't they see how much pain he was in? "Just let me die," he cried, as he swung blindly. Maybe, he could make Thanos kill him. His fist made contact with something… something warm. Should that surprise him, considering he was expecting the titan? However, this was anything but a sturdy titan. He could feel the object buckle from the hit and he heard a soft cry, but yet, he kept swinging. "I just want to die," he cried, his voice shaking. "Please."
"Tony." It out came out as a wounded yelp. It also sounded shattered.
As if a switch was hit, Tony froze, recognizing Pepper's voice. Sweet Pepper, the light of his life. However, there was something about her voice, pained- as if someone had hurt her. It broken him to hear her broken. Tony's eyes flew open, and forcing back his dread, he turned to her. His eyes were large as he took in his surroundings. Like a hawk, it took only a few second for him to zero on Pepper, who looked pale as a ghost. However, it wasn't her expression that caught his attention. It was the mark on her face that held him in place… He did that. He hurt her. He felt sick. "No. No."
"Sir, you are in your quarters. You are safe. Can you hear me?" Vision asked.
"No. No." Feeling like his heart was about to crack in two, he pushed himself out of the bed- Wait, what? How did he get here?- and put as much distance between them as he could, though it was still not enough. It was like she was poisonous, or rather, he was. "Pepper. No."
Pepper, stiff as a statue, didn't move from the bed, her eyes glued to him. "Tony, it's okay. It's okay." Her voice was calm, though there was a tremor in it.
"Sir, take a deep breath. It will be okay."
Tony forced himself to look forward and not at the ceiling. In the past, he had made fun of Rogers and everyone else who looked up to talk to JARVIS or FRIDAY. The AIs were not in the ceiling, though there were speakers in the ceiling. Maybe, it was nightmare that was throwing him off, as they kept him up at all hours of the night, but what the hell? Why was Vision acting like JARVIS? How the fuck was he even in his bedroom? And why did his bedroom look different? Was someone playing a cruel joke on him? Peter just died in his arms and someone wanted to play games with him?
Pepper, who for some odd reason looked 5 years younger, swung her feet off the bed. Her feet hovered for a second before lowing herself to the ground. "Tony, it's okay," she called out, eyeing him in the corner. "It's just a dream."
"Sir, everything is going to be okay."
It was going in one ear and out the next, as everything started to blend together. The pounding in his head got worse with every word. Why couldn't they just shut up? He couldn't think like this, not with all the questions whirling around in his head. God, what was happening? "I'm fine, Vision," he uttered, again confused why Vision was acting like JARVIS.
Pepper made a weird face, confusion written in his expression. "Vision? You mean JARVIS?"
"No, I mean Vision," he replies, sharply. It was harder then he intended, his confusion getting the better of him. He took a deep breath, trying to force back the headache that he felt coming on. Granted, he wasn't sure of anything at the moment. He didn't even feel like himself, feeling like he was thrown through a wall by a super soldier—something he knew very well. No. No, not going there. He had to get his thoughts in order; it was almost like whip lash. There really wasn't a way to explain what he was feeling, and nothing was adding up. Maybe, Thanos did something to him, messed with his head.
Pepper pushed herself off the bed, getting to her feet. With an expression covered in pain, she took a hesitated step forward, holding her hand against her chest right above her heart. Her eyes were large, taking in Tony who had balled himself in the corner. "Tony, talk to me?" she pleaded, tears forming in her eyes. "JARVIS, I've never seen him like this before."
"I have placed a call to Colonel Rhodes. He's on his way." Vision replied.
Nodding, she took another small step forward. "Tony," she called, forcing her hands to the side. "I'm fine. It's okay. See?"
Tony glanced up, peeping over his knees as he eyed her face. Even with the light bruise and tears in her eyes, she was still breathtaking. A woman that he had always thought was too good for him, and Tony stared at her for a few good seconds, unable to take his eyes off her. Why did she look younger? Not, that she wasn't always amazing, but she was different. Vision was acting off. This was not his bedroom. Well, it was, but it wasn't… This wasn't the Avenger's compound in upstate New York. This was the Avenger's tower… which he sold. And how was he even on Earth? The last thing he remembered was Peter- Oh, God, Peter—turning to dust in his arms, because he failed. "FRIDAY." He called. "FRIDAY." He repeated when the AI didn't answer.
"Who's FRIDAY?" Pepper asked, getting down on her knees to look at him in the eyes. Her eyes were heavy with worry.
How did she not know who FRIDAY was? FRIDAY, though could not replace JARVIS, was everything to Tony, becoming so much more than Tony had ever expected. She was an unjudging ear, someone to bounce idea against, and someone that could smile. She was much more than an AI. "FRIDAY is… FRIDAY!" he uttered, his voice quacking. How could Pepper not know FRIDAY? That AI was his baby girl.
Pepper looked like she wanted to cry as she looked upon Tony's face. "That doesn't really explain. Who is FRIDAY, Tony?"
"Sir, maybe there is something that I can assist you with?" Vision asked.
Closing his eyes, Tony took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He really couldn't comprehend what was going on right now; he couldn't even begin to describe it. "No, Vision."
Pepper gave him a puzzled, troubled look, as she forced herself to take a large, deep breath. "I don't know who Vision is, but that's JARVIS, Tony."
No, JARVIS was gone, destroyed by Tony's stupidity. By his ego as he thought he could do no wrong, he thought he was saving the world. Shaking his head, Tony slowed pushed himself up using the wall for support. "No," he replied, a hard tremor in his voice. Maybe, he was dreaming. Or maybe, Thanos really did kill him.
"I don't know what wrong is with him, JARVIS." Pepper said, gently—almost too safe for Tony to hear. Her voice was dripping with worry. "How far out is Jim?"
"Colonel Rhodes is 10 minutes out."
A fit of annoyance roared through Tony, pushing back his confusion and disorientation. It overtook everything as it forced him to his feet in a fit of defiance. He was not broken, and he didn't need Rhodey to play parent. He did not need a baby sitter. Shaking his head, he turned to the door and bolted from the room. He could hear Pepper call after him, but that didn't stop him. If he could see pass his big head, all he could see was the mark on her face that he put there. Just like everything else, he had ruined it. He had ruined her.
Tony, out of breath, made it to the lap in a few short minutes, though it felt wrong. It all felt wrong like he had put on the wrong pair of pants. Well, he felt wrong. It was like he was hit by the bus. Well, he was stabbed… Wait! He was stabbed. How was he not feeling that? He could feel it in his mind, remember how it felt when Thanos gored him. But he wasn't feeling it. Leaning against one of the lab tables, he lifted up his shirt, something he didn't even know he was wearing. – When did he changed his clothes?- His right hand dropped to his side, running his fingers up and down. To his surprise, his skin was completely smooth, like he had never been stabbed. What the hell was going on?
Letting go of his shirt and letting it fall, he pushed himself off the table. Was this all a dream? It didn't feel like a dream. None of it did. "V-JARVIS, shut down the lap," he uttered, his voice still raw. What was he missing?
"Sir, I do not believe that would be wise. Colonel Rhodes has just landed. He is on his way down."
His annoyance flashing back, he hated that Pepper pulled the 'Call Jim' card as if he was a child. What did that say about their relationship? He loved that woman, but man. He didn't need a third person in it. "Just do it," he hissed as he made his way to his work station. "I am not inept."
V—JARVIS replied, "I did not mean insult, Sir."
"And dim the glass for me," he ordered, waving toward the glass walls. He just needed time to think. He just needed time to collect his thoughts. His brain just needed to wrap itself around everything, even if there were no answers to them. He was an engineer, a scientist, and a theorist. He could figure this out. Again, he just needed time, and as time passed, he was beginning to feel more like himself, though he wasn't any closer to an answer. What did he know? Pepper looked 5 years younger. His serious injury was no longer there. His clothes were different. FRIDAY was gone, replaced by Vis- No, replaced by JARVIS. He was in Avenger's Tower. "Doesn't make sense," he muttered as he looked at his hazy reflection in the metal table. Even though his face was nothing more than a blur, he looked younger-much younger. Years taken away from stress and age.
"Sir, are you okay?"
Why did JARVIS keep asking that? Did he think Tony was suddenly going to answer and be okay? That wasn't possible right now, but he wasn't sure if he was ready to yet everyone in. "I'm fine, Buddy," he replied with a light sigh. He was definitely not fine, but V-JARVIS didn't need to know that. JARVIS also didn't need to know that he was missing FRIDAY like a fish missing water. Oh, how Tony missed how she called him 'Boss'.
"If that is true, Sir, may I let Colonel Rhodes in? He is quite worried about you."
Tony closed his eyes, as he took a deep breath. Did he really want to let him in? With his nerves on fire, the genius wasn't sure if he could deal with Jim in parent/older brother mode. "And he is walking fine?"
"And why would he not be, Sir?"
He really didn't like being called Sir, but he didn't have time to snap over that… or maybe, he did. It was almost like time had reversed. Things that happened hadn't happened, but that wasn't possible…. Or was it? Time travel wasn't unheard of, especially lately. Everything was possible now.
"Tony…There was no other way."
Dr. Strange's words popped into his head like a curse. Fucken Strange. Stupid Fucken Strange. Why didn't he keep his fucken word? Why- No, Tony yelled at himself. He didn't have time for this crap. He had to figure out what was going on. Was Strange behind his? He did have the time stone, which he could have used to send Tony back. But why would he do that? Why did the Wizard save him? Why? Didn't Strange understand that Tony broke everything? Just ask Rogers. Rogers would tell you the truth. "What year is it JARVIS?" he asked.
With a deep breath, Tony opened his eyes as his brain started to kick into motion, recalling everything that happened in the last 4 and half years. A lot, he thought. A lot fucken happened. But if he was remembering correctly, 2014 was the year that SHIELD fell, and James Fucken Barnes was unleashed onto an unexpecting world. Now is not the time, he told himself, forcing out those negative thoughts about the brainwashed man. "Thanks, JARVIS."
"Do you need any assistance?"
Tony suddenly hated that voice, a painful reminder of everything that he had lost. JARVIS was more than an AI. Much more. When he lost that AI, he had to get used to VISION sounding like JARVIS while unable to escape from it, and now, he had to get used to JARVIS sounding like Vision. Vision's death, even though Tony didn't know how he died, flashed in his head, played on repeat. "I'm fine." That was if he believed this whole time traveling thing. Yes, it was possible with the Time Stone, but it was just going take him awhile to wrap his mind around it. Granted, it was harder to wrap his mind around the fact that Strange saved him.
"One usually does not ask 'what year it is?' when he or she is fine, Sir."
Unable to stop himself, Tony chuckled. "I guess you have a point there." That relaxed Tony somewhat, remembering that having JARVIS back was a gift. Yet, he still missed FRIDAY.
"Can I allow Colonel Rhodes to enter?"
After Peter dusted (Dusted? Was that how he was describing it?) in his arms, he had allowed his mind to drift to his best friend. He was only to able panic for a second before waking up in bed with Pepper, who looked just as confused as he did. With four and half years floating around in his head, Tony just wanted to hide in his lab until he figured it all out, but he wanted to see his best friend. He wanted to see him walk without any kind of help. "Just him," he uttered, still not able to see Pepper and that mark on her face that was surely forming.
"Thank you, Sir," the AI replied as the doors opened to the lab.
Tony took a deep breath as he spun to face the door. He would deny it until he died, but he was holding his breath. His heart skipped in his chest, laying eyes on his best friend. Having been on the other side of the universe—or what it felt it-, he had no idea if Rhodey had dusted like Peter. He hadn't really thought about, or rather, he hadn't allowed himself to think about it for more than a second. After seeing everyone around him turn into nothing more than ash, he couldn't take it. "Rhodey," he uttered, his voice dripping with emotions.
Jim gave Tony a look that was mixed with confused and worry. There might've been a smile mix in there. "I don't know if I like that smile," he said, slowly. His eyes drilled into him, taking in every inch of this best friend.
Would hugging him be out of the question? It might worry Jim more, but Tony just wanted to hug him, hold onto him until the sun came up. However, he forced himself to remain seated. If this truly was the past, he had time. Nothing was going to happen… well yet. Nothing was going to happen yet. Granted, there was a whole lot that he could change if he was willing, and he was willing. "Well, you came rushing over here like a knight in shining armor, so you tell me."
"JARVIS called. For an AI, he sounded worried," Jim replied, slowly. "And after speaking to Pepper, I know she was worried too." Giving Tony a relentless unyielding look, he took a step forward. "You don't look so hot."
Pepper's name brought him right back to his guilt. "I hit her," he uttered, his voice cracking. If he wasn't already broken over Peter, he probably would've broken down right then. He may be able to fix the broken future, but he would never get over the fear in Peter's eyes. Peter was a teenager. He was a young man becoming an adult, far too young to die. Far too young to face the end. God, Tony didn't think he would ever be able to forget that look, Peter's petrified voice. Not going to break down now, Tony yelled at himself, feeling a breakdown coming.
Jim's eyes softened a bit. "You were having a night terror, Tony. You were thrashing about like someone was killing you. You couldn't control yourself. You-"
Tony loved Jim for this, for defending him when no one else would, but it only made Tony feel worse. He didn't deserve it, not when he failed Peter. "Those are just excuses that I refuse to use," he snapped, interrupting Jim.
"No, it's the truth. I had JARVIS show me the feed while I was waiting for you to let me in—thanks by way for letting me in." he replied, his face betraying him. His emotions were written all over him; he was troubled by what he had seen. "I've seen it." His voice was soft, almost too gentle. "You were begging to die… Die, Tony!" His voice cracked. "I don't think I have ever seen one like that… I don't ever want to see that."
Taking a deep breath, Tony closed his eyes. "No excuse."
Jim took a few more steps toward Tony, hesitating slightly. "No one holds you accountable for that, not even Pepper. She's kicking herself in the pants for it. Blaming herself, because she was trying to restrain you. Some say you shouldn't wake someone from a night terror for this very reason." Noticing Tony's glare, he adds, "I'm not blaming her either. I probably would've done the same thing. She thought you were going to hurt yourself, which I get. This was just an accident, Tones. Can you see that?"
There was a part of him that knew Jim was right, but it was hard to admit that, not with the shit show of the future that was haunting him. "You know me."
"Yes, I do, which is why I worry."
Taking a deep breath, Tony got to his feet. "Well, don't. I'm fine."
"Stop that." Jim's expression changed slightly, narrowing his eyes at Tony. "You wanted to die, Tony. You were begging for it. I don't think I can overlook that. I refuse to overlook that."
"It's nothing." Tony replied, without having anything better to say. What could he say? 'Hey, I'm from the future. I got thrown into my past body—weird right?- , or rather, that's what I think happened. This could all be in my head. Thanos could be playing with me to make me go crazy, not that I'm not already insane. I did just watch my surrogate son turn to dust in my very arms while I could do nothing to stop it. That I have no clue how many people are alive, and I have no idea if future you is alive.' Jim may love him, but Tony had no doubt that that would end up with him in the nut house. He couldn't have that.
"Why don't you give me something that isn't a lie?" He gave Tony a hard look. "You look like shit."
If he looked like shit now, Rhodes had no idea. He probably looked ten times worse in the future. "Why don't we go chill and Netflix?" he asked.
"Tony." Jim paused for good few seconds, thinking. "I'm not some chick, but fine." He uttered through his teeth before his expression softened. "And we will talk at some point."
Tony expected more of fight from his best friend, but he couldn't say that he wasn't happy Jim let it drop so easily. Granted, screaming 'let me die' and the fact that he looked like death probably was what stopped his best friend from drilling him. Jim didn't want to break what was already broken. Now, that did not stop Jim from staring at Tony like he was about to fall apart at any second. Tony could do without that. "Who has time for talk when there is Netflix to watch?!"
With Tony's cry still fresh in his head, Jim had no interest in leaving Tony's side, even after hours of Netflix. Even after Pepper had join them with a forced smile and a hesitation in her step. God, the awkwardness could be cut with a knife as they avoided direct eye contract. Tony couldn't say that it didn't hurt when she took a seat few feet down from him. However, he didn't know if he could handle her sitting right next to him with that bruise on her cheeks, haunting him. Jim's words echoed in his head, reminding him that this wasn't his fault… Now, he just had to believe his best friend, which was a problem for another day. Maybe, when he wasn't so raw, he would be ready to forgive himself. Maybe, if he wasn't so raw, he could trust his best friend like he would any other day.
Pepper and Jim, even with all their efforts, had fallen asleep half away though the night after several hours of Netflix. Tony, on the other hand, couldn't even close his eyes for a second. Yet, the nightmares wouldn't be an issue for him tonight. Even if he didn't see Peter dying in his arms every time he closed his eyes, he still wouldn't be able to fall asleep. His mind was going into overdrive with everything that he knew, playing it over and over in his head until it stuck like glue. So, while everyone slept, he headed down to his lab.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was making a list of everything that he could and would change. With time travel movies playing in his head like a harsh warning, it pegged the question should he change these things. It only took him a second to answer that unvoiced question. He was going to change it. Yes, he knew there would be consequences, but fuck the consequences. Whatever they were, he would deal with them. If he could stop Peter from dying, he was going to do everything in his power to stop it. He didn't care if that resulted in his death. He was going to do it.
So as he made his list, Peter was on the top, the very top; however, questions spouted from there. How far did he want to take it? How far did Tony change Peter's life? Did he interject himself earlier than what he did before? Take him under his wing right now? Or did he take a step back? How old was the kid right now? 12? 13? And when did Peter get his powers? "F-JARVIS," he called out, his voice dry. "I need you to find and keep an eye out on a certain kid for me."
"If I may, Sir, some of would consider that unusually behavior and arrest you. Maybe, a night rest would do you well."
"Geez, JARVIS." Tony, smiling faintly, took a deep breath, wondering how much he should tell JARVIS. Should he tell the AI? Did he want to tell anyone? Did he want to tell everyone? Would that do more harm than good? For example, he would always still be haunted by a future that never happened. He would always see Peter turning to dust in his arms, even if he changed it. He wouldn't want to burden anyone by that. Okay, he needed a manual for this crap. "Just keep eye on Peter, May, and Ben Parker. They live in queens."
"As you wished." It took JARVIS a few seconds. "Located. Young Peter Parker in the care of his Aunt and Uncle."
Tony nodded as his thoughts went to Uncle Ben. He knew the man would be killed just as Peter came into his abilities, but like an idiot, he had no idea when that would be. When he did his research into Peter, he didn't think it was important—a reminder to the callous he was. How could he stop Bed's death if he didn't know when it would happen? And then there was the heartbreaking question, should he stop it? Yea, there's the horrible person I remember, he shot at himself. It didn't take a genius, even if he didn't want to admit it, to know that Ben's death was a life changing moment for Peter. Would saving Ben change Peter too much? Having talked to the young man, Tony knew how powerful and life changing Ben's death was. Peter had even admitted that himself. If that was a life changing moment was gone, what would happen to Peter without it? "You can think about that later," he uttered to himself.
"Are you okay, Sir?"
Would it be too much for Tony to ask the AI to refer to him as Boss? Yes, it would, he thought. If he wanted FRIDAY, he could make FRIDAY, not make JARVIS into FRIDAY. His eyes went large as a realization dawned on him. He could make FRIDAY. He could make FRIDAY right now. A smile appeared on his face; relief flew through him. "JARVIS, you're getting a sister."
Tony smiled, a smile that reached up into his eyes. "You're going to have teach her your ways. Be a good big brother," He replied, as his hands were itching to start on the new AI. He might have created FRIDAY once, but the excitement was still there. Like a child in candy shop, his mind was already half way there. He could relax at the thought of having his best gal back.
"Very well, Sir."
If Tony didn't know any better, he would've thought there was a tone in the AI Voice. JARVIS sounded like a kicked puppy that the owner forgot to feed. "Thanks, JARVIS." He paused for a second, wondering if he was imaging the tone. Would creating and using FRIDAY years before he was supposed to change too much? How much could one AI change? It couldn't be much, right? "Don't worried. You'll be a good big brother."
"Is there any doubt? I already take care of you."
"Ouch," Tony cried out. "That hurts." With a smile, he let out deep exhale as he started to list everything that he knew that he could change. With a tablet and a stylus, he wrote everything out. With AI and a keyboard in front of him, he couldn't understand why he felt the urge to write it out by hand. Pen and paper may be dying out, a dying artform, but it helped the brainstorming. It helped him to think, so that was what he did.
1) Peter (And family)
With a deep breath, he started at those two items, pausing for a second as he hoped he was doing the right thing. It wasn't like he was known to do the right thing, even if that was his intention. It had been stated in the past that he didn't know the difference between saving the world and destroying it. He would be lying if he said he didn't believe that, because at times, he did. Just as Peter died in his arms, he believed it 100%, and even with a little distance, he still believed it. He was doubting everything that he did, especially now. Some say hindsight was a curse, because with time, you saw everything. Every mistake. Every missed moment.
"Anyhow, back to the list," he muttered to himself. There was something that belongs at the top: something that he regretted more than anything.
3) The Civil War
Tony always hated that term 'Civil War' whenever people described what happened. Now, he described it as a total clusterfuck. It was a clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks. With that curse of hindsight, he could see it for what it was. He used to say that if he could, he would go back and change it all. Now, he had the chance; though, it would be easier said than done. There was no deleting his memories. He would always be haunted by the image of Barnes and Rogers over him, seconds away from ending it. He knew he was partly at fault- refusing to take the full blame. He could have reacted better, but seeing his parents murdered brought out an anger that Tony had never felt before. It took him over. Thinking back to it, the anger terrified him. It almost felt like a hurricane, threating to destroy everything in his path.
However, at the same time, he was pissed. Still pissed. How did Roger not tell him? How could he not tell him that his father was killed by Hydra? Sure, he still would have reacted badly, and Rogers was just trying to protect his friend, but what was he? Crop liver? The fight could've been avoided if the Captain was just honest, which was a requirement in Tony's book for Captain America. "Not now," he told himself. He didn't have time for this crap. Forcing himself back to the tablet and his list, he picked up the stylus.
Now, the Civil War was caused by a few things, and he should probably break it out and deal with them separately.
a) Sokovia Accords
Tony didn't know if he believed in the accords because of his guilt or because they were the right thing to do. He couldn't break it apart from each other. Yes, there were things with the accords that he did not agree—a curse of hindsight, but in his mind, it was still needed… just not that version of it. A better version. One not born out of fear. One that protected everyone, regardless of powers. One that Rogers would be proud of, though that man needed a good punch to the face.
His shook a little as he wrote the next line, and he hated himself for it.
b) James Fucken Barnes
Yes, fucking. There were no other words to describe the former, brainwashed assassin. He was a weapon no matter what he did. Even if he was sleeping, he could probably still cause panic. He was a dangerous piece on the board. Half of what happened happened because of this man. No, poor man didn't cause them; he was the catalyst. He was a tool just by existing. He was framed for T'Chaka's murdered. He was the hammer that broke the Avengers a part. He was the thing that put an ocean between Rogers and himself. If Tony wanted to stop that, he would need to remove Barnes from the chest board, though not in the way everyone would think.
There would probably always be a part of him that hated the man. Some of it due to the fact that Barnes killed his parents, though Tony knew he was not in control—something that took Tony time to realize. He was used much like Tony had been. Barnes was forced by Hydra, and Tony knew it. It was just hard to acknowledge because it was his hands that Tony saw around parents' neck. Granted, the other part of Tony was angry because of what this man meant to Rogers. Tony was jealous in a sense though not in the same way that people thought. He was mad—shattered almost- that Rogers threw away everything for this man, while Tony meant nothing to him. If Tony did that, he would be burned at the stakes, not that he would ever put someone above the world…
He would put Peter above everything. That kid was everything. Did that make him as bad as Rogers? God, he hoped not.
However, if he wanted to throw a wrench into future, he would need to save a certain king.
The current king of Wakanda was one of the main supporters for the accords, and Tony couldn't blame him, not with the loss of life. He did lose people during a goodwill mission due to Wanda and her inability to control her powers. In Tony's mind, that just made it worst. Nothing was worse than friendly fire. She was a wildcard, though not on purpose. She was just a young woman who struggled with everything. The loss of her brother placed a heavy weight on her shoulder that was impossible to remove, and Rogers should have seen that. He should've done more for her, by giving her the help she needed. Tony blamed the Captain as much as he blamed Maximoff, though that did not let the woman off the hook. He still had issues with her but that was a story for another time. Right now, it was the king of Wakanda that Tony had interested in. Maybe, he could find some way to save him.
He also couldn't bring up accords without bring up a certain Murder bot.
Tony could not look pass the Ultron, which happened because of him and him trying to save the world. Yes, Bruce was there, but he was the one who spearheaded the thing without thinking. Hadn't he seen enough robot movies to know how that would turn out? He was the stupid, and he planned to correct that this time around. Granted, it could be simple as Tony not creating the thing, and he didn't have any interest or desire to make the damn thing. Besides, with his future knowledge, he was already had the weapons needed to save the world. He just to use it right. But what did he do about Vision? Vision would not exist without Ultron.
Okay, that wasn't going to be as easy as he thought, if he still wanted Vision but that was a thought for another day. There were a few other things he needed as well.
a. The Scepter AKA the Mind Stone.
Besides the fact that he needed the infinity stone to create Vision, he needed to make sure that the scepter was out of Hydra and everyone else's hand. Granted if he could figure out how to destroy these things, that would solve everything, but he supposed the infinity stones were a lot harder to destroy than he thought.
Then there was Vibranium.
He couldn't lie; there was a part of Tony that wanted it for himself. There would be no limit to the Iron Man suit if he had that metal, but that would not help him with the greater picture. He lasted for years without the magic element; he didn't need it now. Besides, it was much more valuable as a bargaining tool. Wakanda was more advance than anyone knew, and they would be a valuable ally. Now, he just had to find it; though, he had a good idea of where it was thanks to Ultron, who had stolen it—bought it really from a thief, but who counting. He would be able to find it when Wakanda could not. Ulysses Klaue would not be able hide from him.
With a heavy breath, Tony's thoughts bounced back to an earlier thought that he had, regarding a certain witch and her brother.
c. Maximoff twins.
Okay, he had no idea what to do with them considering the damage had already been done. Their parents were already killed by one of Stane's dirty deals, and Tony had already shut down the weapon department of his company. Too late to bring back the dead, but maybe, he could help the area. That might help, though they might see it as him throwing his money at them. Tony wasn't sure, but he would have to put some thought into it, even if Wanda still made him a little jumpy. There was no forgetting what she had done to him.
There was only one other big event that popped into his head, and this one stretched wide and far. This one probably had the most consequences.
5) The Fall of SHIELD
In general, Tony didn't know how he felt about SHIELD, but he knew SHIELD was needed in some degree. Like their name suggested, they were the shield that protected the world from things that go bump in the night. But how did he stop their destruction? Hydra had already grown into a massive weed inside of SHIELD, infecting everything that it touched. Right now, he only knew of a few agents he could trust: Fury, Hill and Sharon Carter. Barton and Romanoff popped into his head, but he couldn't bring himself to trust them. Sure, their current self hadn't broken his trust, and though it may be unfair, he couldn't help but see their future selves' betrayal. He didn't see that ever changing anytime soon, as he did not see himself as important to those two. Just an asset.
"Not now," he reminded himself. He had to deal with the next item on the list.
a. Fucken Hydra
Yup. He would burn those fuckers to the ground. In his mind, he didn't need anything else. No other planning. He was going to destroy them. They would see why you never pissed off a Stark.
With a deep breath, Tony moved onto his next point. He rewrote the name and drew an arrow to it's first appearance on his list. He had already noted he had to do something about this man, but this just strengthened his resolve to take this piece off the board.
b. James Fucken Barnes
Enough said. Tony just needed to do something with him.
6) Stephen Strange
Tony wasn't sure what to do about Strange, but he knew he would have to keep an eye on him. Just need to make sure that he existed? Well, he existed. He just needed him to be that stupid wizard that he met. Tony knew very little about him, though it would probably be wise to do some research on the man. How did he get his powers? What was his full powers? Did he really need to do anything with the good doctor? No, he just had to exist. It would probably be best to keep his distance from the man as not to change the future. He still wanted to punch the man, but he still needed him.
"JARVIS," Tony called out, putting down the tablet and stylus. He glanced over a list, making sure he hadn't missed anything. He would probably add more to the list as time went on. "Add Doctor Stephen Strange to the 'keep an on' list. I want to know everything about the man. If he gets an scratch I want to know."
"May, I ask why, Sir?"
Tony let out a deep sigh as he leaned back in the chair. "You got to trust me, Buddy."
"Very well." There was a second of silence before JARVIS added, "Located Dr. Strange."
"Send everything you have on him to the tablet. I will read it later." He uttered, finally feeling his exhaustion. With a deep sigh, he glanced up at the ceiling. This was going to be a nightmare, but he was going to do it. He had to save the world—Save the universe from Thanos. Tony tried to ignore the nerves traveling up his spine, as he focused on what he needed to do. His list may not be complete, probably missing a few things—he was working off memory-, but these were the major things he was going to fix. He had to. He looked back to the list and circled a few items: FRIDAY, James Barnes, the Vibranium and T'Chaka. "JARVIS, ready a suit for me."
There was a second of silence before JARVIS answered. "Sir, there are no suits."
Tony shot up, his eyes large. "What? What happen to them?"
If JARVIS could sound worried, he would have. "You destroyed them, Sir. Do you recall not doing this?"
"Crap," he muttered. Bitterly, he remembered when he was stupid enough to do that. That was back when he thought he could give up the suit, which he now knew he couldn't. Iron man was apart of him, buried deep inside of him. There was no pulling it out, no matter how much Pepper wants to rip it out. "Then I guess we got a job to do." He went back to his list and wrote 'Suits' in large print.