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The One Left Stranded

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Tony always had trouble sleeping. During the night he would make his way down to the kitchen and pull a chair up to the counter to reach a cup and pour himself a glass of water. Most nights his dad was up late in his workshop and he could see the light flooding the hall and hear him cursing and banging things together. This night was different, his parents were out of town and left him alone with his nanny and the maids.

He got his glass of water and went to push his chair back towards the table when he saw the woman standing outside the large glass doors that led to the backyard. She was soaking wet from the rain and smiled as she pointed towards the doorknob. He didn’t recognize her, he didn’t think she worked anywhere in the house so he didn’t move towards the door. After a few minutes a man stepped in next to her and fiddled with the door.

“Move, kid.” She said, pushing past him once he unlocked the door. Three men appeared behind her, turning from behind the wall and rushing in through the door.

“I could have picked that lock just fine.” One of the men said, pulling his dripping hood off of his head.

“Less suspicious without the forced entry. Someone watch the kid so he doesn’t wake anyone.” The woman said and pulled off her raincoat, replacing it with a bandana over her mouth. “He wasn’t supposed to be here. What kind of parents don’t take a six year old with them when they go out of town?”

One of the men shrugged. “Who cares? He’s here. Just see if he can be useful, Buck.”

Everyone stripped out of their wet coats and boots and covered their faces before continuing through the house. They put their wet clothes in a large bag and put on new pairs of boots. Tony worried his cup between his hands as they quickly exited the kitchen. He glanced up at the man who had stayed behind with him.

“Do you need something? Papa’s not here if you’re looking for him so you’ll have to come back.” Tony said. The man looked down at him and sighed. He grabbed him by the arms and lifted him up to sit on the table. “That’s rude. You shouldn’t grab people without their permission. That’s what my mama says.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” The man said, kneeling down to look him in the eye. “You’re daddy actually sent us to pick up a few things. Do you think you can show me where he works?”

Tony shook his head and rubbed his tired eyes with his free hand. He knew the rules and he didn’t trust these people. He made a quick glance at the security camera in the corner of the kitchen. It was facing away from the back door but saw most of the room. The people hadn’t shown their faces since they got in so it was useless and they wore hoods when they were outside so those cameras probably didn’t see their faces either.

“Sir, you seem nice but I’ve known my papa longer than I’ve known you and he don’t let anyone in there. I’ve only been a few times.” Tony said. “Also, you guys are probably robbers. That’s stupid because there’s security all over the place because my papa is a genius. I’m probably smarter than you at this point.”

The man sighed again but didn’t let go of his tight hold on his arm. Tony tried to wiggle free, jumping down from the table and pulling lightly towards the door. The man yanked him back and shook him slightly. He didn’t like these people, especially the one who was hurting his arm with too strong of a grip and was growing more angry at the moment. Tony glanced at the back door quickly. It was still raining heavily but he didn’t mind. He liked the rain and it was only a short walk to his Aunt Peggy’s house. All he had to do was get free and make a run for it.

“Papa didn’t send you, did he?” Tony asked.

“Sure he did. Just needs us to pick up something from his office.” He said. “You can trust us. My name is Buck and I’m a nice man. Look, we even took off all our wet shoes so we wouldn’t track footprints all over your big nice house. Wouldn’t that make your mom happy?”

“I think she would be happy with people not breaking into her house.” Tony said. His head snapped back from the force of the hand slapping across his face. Tony was tempted to keep talking, anger bubbling inside of him but he knew that would only make it worse, angering him more. He dropped his head and looked to the floor silently.

Tony glanced up towards the door every few minutes. Buck was pacing around the kitchen so he figured he wouldn’t notice right away if he made a run for it. Tony knew the only problem was that he would have to jump over the fence that circled the property. He took a single step towards the door when one of the other men walked back in. This one was shorter than Buck but looked strong and it made Tony nervous.

“When they said the Starks were loaded I never imagined this.” He said. “You should see that woman’s jewelry collection.”

“Did you get enough?” Buck asked, glaring over at Tony. The man shrugged.

“Most likely. We probably got enough to pay off our debt and then retire happily.” He said.

“You shouldn’t take stuff that’s not yours.” Tony said, glancing between them. “It’s dishonest. I think I should leave. I’ll just go for a walk because people don’t come over in the middle of the night unless they’re doing something bad or want to be very rude and I’m not supposed to talk to bad people or rude people.” He yawned as he made another small step towards the door.

Tony backed away quickly as the man rushed towards him, grabbing him by the arms gently and dragging him down the hall. They stopped in front of the metal door that led to Howard’s workshop, locked by a keypad.

“Listen buddy, I don’t hurt kids. Not even rude, rich kids. So just tell us the code to get in here and we’ll be on our way.” The man said, holding Tony out towards the door.

Tony didn’t know the code to get in. His dad didn’t even say ‘good morning’ to him most days let alone the code to get into his workshop. He only saw a few of the things that were in there, a bunch of papers he had trouble reading, chunks of metal welded together with wires sticking out, and a few of his cars.
When Tony was allowed down there he would just sit in one of his dad’s cars, mostly the red one, and watch him work from afar. He still didn’t know how to get in though.

Tony shrugged. With an angry growl he was shoved into Buck’s arms. “What’s your birthday, kid?” The other man asked.

“May 29th.” Tony said, frowning as they punched in the date and it was rejected.

“Year?” He asked.

“I’m six.” Tony said.

He punched in the year and growled quietly as the light shone red. He started punching in random numbers. Tony looked down the hall towards the main entrance. The woman he had seen earlier and the third man were there piling a few bags by the door and waiting.

He rubbed his stinging cheek and looked up the stairs. He wondered that if he yelled loud enough if he could wake up anyone else. Tony opened his mouth and inhaled just as the alarm went off, a long high-pitched wail blocking out whatever scream he tried to make. He looked back at the man in front of the keypad, red light blinking franticly above it.

A strong arm wrapped around Tony’s waist and lifted him into the air, rushing him to the door. He kicked at Buck’s chest, banging his fists against the man’s head. As they rushed out the front door and into the freezing rain he called for help, begged for him mom, dad, Jarvis, Aunt Peggy, anyone to come get him.

The three others grabbed a bag and rushed after them. They ran down the gravel driveway down to the gate and pushed it open slightly.

“Why the fuck did you take the kid, Chisholm?” The woman asked. “Kidnapping wasn’t part of the plan.”

“We need $500,000. Unless you guys managed to scrounge up that much in less than an hour, we could use him. Those weapons designs could have gone for a lot but maybe a ransom demand could go for just as much.” Buck said as he walked up to a car parked on the side of the road a block away from the house.

He opened the door and shoved Tony into the backseat, shoving him against a blond boy reading by flashlight. Tony looked at him and back at Buck as he slid in next to him.

“You should just let me go now. You’re not going to get anything and I can be really annoying.” Tony said. Once they had thrown the bags into the trunk they all piled into the car and drove off.

“I kept watch, no one went up to the house.” The boy said, looking between everyone.

Bucky held down Tony’s arms as a police car sped past. Tony looked back at it. “What? You watched to make sure the good guys don’t show up? That’s not very nice. Why would you brag about that?” He muttered.

“I did what I was told. It seemed to work out just fine for me except now I have to put up with you.” The boy said, frowning. He turned his attention away from Tony and towards one of the men in the front seat. “Jacques, did you get everything you needed?”

“We didn’t get to stay long.” He said bitterly from the driver’s seat. Tony looked up at him, he now knew the names of two of them. Buck and Jacques. The woman and the third man were still a mystery. The nameless man sighed and shook his head.

“Whatever was in Stark’s workshop would be worth a lot more than a few pieces of jewelry and the silver forks they have lying around.” He said. “It’s not my fault the kid didn’t want to tell us how to get in. Besides, you shouldn’t get mad at me. You’re the one who gambled us into this kind of debt.”

Tony watched them bicker for a few minutes as they drove out of the city and into the surrounding forest. He shivered slightly, blaming it on his wet clothes from the cold rain and looked out the window. Tony decided he would try to open the boy’s door and jump out. No one would be able to reach him in time and he could run off and hide in the trees.

He made a quick jump for the door, being kicked back by the boy and was quickly pulled back by Buck. “Hey, you got my book wet.” The boy said, locking the door quickly and glaring at Tony.

Buck’s arms pulled around him tightly, pinning Tony’s arms to his side. Tony kicked at the seats and yelled loudly. A hand clamped down over his mouth and held it closed firmly, not allowing him to open it and bite him.

They pulled up to a cabin and Tony was dragged inside. He was thrown onto the torn up couch as everyone else started bring everything in. The bags were small, mostly empty except for the one that held their clothes. The woman started hanging up the wet raincoats and lining up the boots to dry as Buck started to light a fire in the fireplace.

“Clint, keep an eye on the kid. Make sure he doesn’t run off.” Jacques said as he ripped open a bag and poured out its contents. Tony frowned when he saw the pile of his mother’s jewelry.

“That’s the necklace papa gave my mom for their anniversary. You can’t have that.” Tony said, reaching forward quickly. His hand was smacked away roughly and the boy, Clint, pulled him back to sit on the couch. “You guys are the worst people I’ve ever met. And you smell funny, the rain is probably the closest thing you’ve had to a shower in months.”

Clint covered his mouth quickly and dragged him towards a bedroom. He locked the door behind them quickly. Tony frowned at the dusty, ratty bed and the rotted wood on the walls of the cabin.

“Do you ever shut up?” Clint asked, walking over to the wall. He put his foot on the groove where two logs met and started to climb up. He went up towards the ceiling and sat down on an exposed beam.
Clint paused as the wood creaked under his weight and then sat back against the wall and watched Tony intently. “You’re just going to get yourself into worse trouble.”

“Hey, they broke into my house and kidnapped me!” Tony said angrily. “I just want to go home with my stuff and be left alone.”

“Well, they need it. If they don’t pay up soon they’ll be in big trouble.” Clint said. “They’re not that bad. They’re just stressed. Go easy on them and they’ll let you go home once they have what they need.”

Tony frowned up at the kid by the ceiling. “Not that bad?” He muttered and sat down next to the bed, back to Clint.