He'd been at the mercy of the Ten Rings, the modern day Templars, for exactly two years today.
At first, he'd fought tooth and nail to escape, enduring the torture they heaped upon him with icy glares and angry words. Now, however, he endured hi torture in silence, repeating the creed in his mind during the punishment and in soft, almost inaudible Arabic at night. He also helped the other prisoner, a doctor named Yinsen, in any way he could. He bound his wounds and nursed his fever, and just provided him with companionship that they both found themselves missing. Yinsen was a calm man from Gulmira and sometimes he held Brian in his seemingly frail arms when the torture became too much and the words of the Creed were unable to sooth his weary soul. He'd been the assassin's constant companion for a year now, having been brought in on the anniversary of Brian's first year in captivity, and the blond couldn't be more grateful.
Currently, he was fixing a small dinner for his friend, watching from the far corner of their shared cave as the elder male operate on the newest prisoner. The man on the table was screaming, tears leaking from his wild glazed eyes as pieces of his ribs were removed and his organs were rearranged to make room the electromagnetic device the doctor would be implanting to keep the shrapnel they were unable to remove from reaching his heart and shredding it.
"Brian, do you have any more of sleeping powder from our last patient?" The man asked and the blond shook his head sadly.
"No. But the component I made for your leg should be cooled by now. It should work on your patient." He paused and tilted his head curiously. "Who is he anyways?"
Yinsen frowned at him and took the ointment as he held it out for him, then set about spreading the cool green paste along the edges of the fist-sized hole in the man's chest.
"The CEO of Stark industries. Anthony Stark." He replied hooking the electromagnet to the car battery their captors had provided for the operation. For some reason the men had stressed that they absolutely had to keep the man alive.
Blinking owlishly, the blond stood and moved over to them, leaning over the now unconcious man with a child-like curiosity. Before he could say anything, however the head captor entered.
The head captor, Raza, was a tall man of 6'4 with cold dark eyes and sun-kissed russet skin, wearing black cargo pant, and a skin tight black shirt paired with steel-toed boots and a black cameo scarf.
He gave them a mockingly kind smile, glancing at Stark's prone form.
"How is Mr. Stark, gentlemen?
Yinsen gulped slightly and stepped forward, unnoticed tremor of fear wracking his small frame.
"He should live for another week. The magnet will not be able to keep the shrapnel from his heart for long."
Raza frowned. "There is nothing else you can do?"
The doctor shook his head hesitantly and the Templar scowled. "I see…And you, assassin," He turned to Brian. "Do you have any medical knowledge?"
The blonde returned his gaze stoically. "I have no medical knowledge beyond battlefield first aid."
Raza growled, eye dark with frustration before he turned to his men. "Bring the assassin!" He ordered and they surged forward grabbing the blond roughly. "Doctor, Stay with Mr. Stark." He tossed over his shoulder and Brian's heart clenched as he caught sight of the heartbroken expression his friend wore as he was dragged from the room.
Forcing himself deep into his mind, Brian took a deep breath and began his catechism.
'The wisdom of our creed is revealed through these words.'
They forced him to his knees and bent him over the edge of a large barrel full of dirty water.
'We work in the dark to serve the light.'
His head was shoved under the water almost unexpectedly and he began to thrash, his lungs burning for air. Moments later he was yanked out by his hair.
'We are assassins.'
Gulping for fresh air, he tried to force his mind to a happier time. Times of Team Toretto and Dom. Times of joining the brotherhood and finding his sister again. He tried to ignore the tears mingling with the water on his face and the emotional agony in his soul. His head was shoved back into the barrel once more and he began to choke, gagging as the water entered his nose and vomit left his mouth.
'Nothing is true.'
He was yanked up again and he coughed, relishing the sweet burn of air invading his deprived lungs. Once more his head was forced into the barrel, vomit entering his nose and mouth and burning his eyes. He choked and gagged but continued to fight, wanting t get back to that sweet glorious air. Unfortunately it was not to be. Instead a sharp pain spawned across his back, causing him to scream and forcing more of the disgusting mixture into his lungs. He was yanked out of the water by his hair and he trembled as a horrible cough wracked his slender frame. The whip struck him once more and he bit his lip trying to ignore the black spot creeping into his vision. The whip came down again, striking him in the same place and he gasped hoarsely, jerking in his captor's arms.
"Return him to his cell. He is no fun if he is silent."
The hands gripping his hair dropped him and another pair grabbed him roughly and forced him to his feet, causing him to surrender to blissful unconsciousness. As the darkness took over the last line of the creed drifted through his mind.
'Everything is permitted.'
Tony meets Brian.
Tony groaned softly as he awakened to the sound of soft humming, his eyes flitting around him in confusion as he took in his surroundings. From what he could discern he was in some sort of underground room, a cave or something similar. The room was dank and dark despite its high temperature and there were two cots, including the one he was lying on, and small knick knacks scattered throughout the room. His gaze moved to the man humming in front of the mirror. He was a short man, only an inch shorter than Tony's own height of 5'9 with short greying dark hair and a thin waif like frame. His skin, a dark russet color went well with his kind chocolate eyes and seemed a bit sallow from malnourishment and captivity telling him that the man had been wherever they were for a while.
"You've awakened, . That is a relief. With the severity of your wounds I didn't expect you to wake so soon." The man said turning to him with a small smile.
The billionaire frowned deeply, remembering the all consuming agony he'd felt only a short while ago and the glimpse of hands removing flesh and bone from his chest. He glanced down and gasped in horror, bolting into a sitting position.
"What have you done to me!"
The older man chuckled, giving him a sad smile. "What have I done for you." He corrected. "I have seen many with wounds like yours. In my village they are called the Walking Dead because the shrapnel slowly sheds their insides before puncturing the organ, in your case your heart. Unfortunately, I was unable to retrieve all the shards, that should keep them from reaching your heart. It should last about a week if we're lucky. Here," He tossed Tony a small vial full of tiny metal shards. "Take a look."
The genius stared at him bewildered, then down at the shards in his hands and the electromagnet in his chest.
Shrapnel...from his own damn weapon!
And it was killing him.
Footsteps sounded, drawing him from his thoughts and Yinsen stood with a harried expression, gesturing for him to do the same.
"Do as I do!" The doctor ordered urgently, placing his hands behind his head. Tony followed the movement, fear and confusion warring in his mind yet expertly hidden from the world. Six large men, clad in black entered the room, two carrying a limp blond figure while the other for stood silent holding very familiar guns. His guns.
"Those are my guns!"
Yinsen shot him a warning glance. "Do as I do!" He reminded and Tony fell silent, watching as the blond person was thrown to the ground at his and Yinsen's feet. Another man stepped forward with a grin, cropped dark hair contrasting the thick messy beard lining his jaw. He spoke in a gruttal, foreign language, opening his arms in a grand gesture. Yinsen gave a terse response and turned to him.
"He says 'Welcome, Tony Stark, Most famous mass murderer in America. I'm sure we will do great business together."
Tony frowned. "Business? What business?"
The man spoke again and Yinsen sighed. "He says he wants you to build him a missile like the one you demonstrated." The leader handed Yinsen a picture, gesturing to Tony and Yinsen nodded showing the picture to the genius. "This one."
A sneer crossed Tony's lips and a resigned look enter Yinsen's eyes, as if he knew what the man would say.
The doctor gave a pained look and nodded before turning to the leader and translating Tony's response, watching as the guards grabbed the ailing man. Tony stared ahead stubbornly, holding his car battery to his chest, never seeing just how heartbroken Yinsen looked when he was dragged from the room.
When Tony awakened from his torture, he found himself lying on the same cot from before with a tattered brown cloak wrapped around him. Yinsen sat by the fire reading a book silently, the blond from before sitting beside him cooking something in a battered tin pot, long golden curls pulled back to reveal a sharp aristocratic face and a strong smooth jaw. The man was tall, about 6'2, with the lithe frame of a swimmer or a dancer and lightly tanned skin. If his hair had been a little shorter and had it not been for the shadows in his eyes, Tony would've mistaken him for one of the college kids that frequented the beach near his malibu home. As it stood, there was something familiar about him, he just couldn't put his finger on it.
The man glanced at him and smiled tiredly.
"Nice to meet you when we're both awake, ."
Tony made a face, joining the two men by the fire.
"Tony, please. was my father."
One of Tony's eyebrows rose in recognition of the name. The rogue cop that went native on an undercover case. It had been all over the news when it happened and he was honestly surprised to see that the guy was here of all places.
Brian chuckled softly at his look.
"Forgot you lived in Malibu. My name was probably all over the news, huh?"
The man nodded and smirked.
"Yep, aired the same day I was on the news so it was kinda hard to miss it."
His smirk faded, mind flashing back to just before he'd passed out. He'd always been aware of what happened to prisoners, to people held hostage by terrorists but he'd never actually had anything like this happen to him. Growing up the heir to Stark Industries or hell just the son of Howard Stark, he'd been kidnapped multiple times and even held for ransom but never tortured or anything like that, especially not with his not-godfather being who it was, so this was a completely new experience for him. A completely new, completely fucked up experience.
"You look like you're giving up." Brian commented softly and Tony frowned at him.
What the hell would he know?
"What else can I do? These people have my weapons, my weapons and they're using them to hurt people. To kill innocent people. Who are these guys anyway?"
Yinsen set his book down while Brian took the time to dish the stew he'd been cooking.
"They call themselves the Ten Rings, and they are your loyal customers, ."
"Loyal...customers? But I don't- no!"
Brian nodded and he shook his head weakly. "I don't want a body count, their body count to be my only legacy!"
Yinsen smirked. "Then this will be a very important week for you."
"We won't be needing this." Tony muttered tossing the entire shell of yet another missile over his shoulder and Brian blinked, leaning over his shoulder to look at the small components in his hand.
The genius jerked then looked at the blond in shock. He hadn't pegged him as the science-y type. He looked more like a surfer or one of those frat boys not someone that could recognize palladium on sight alone. Even Yinsen was staring at the boy in shock from his seat beside Tony.
"How'd you know that?"
The kid smirked at him and shrugged. "I majored in aerodynamics and engineering in college before I dropped out."
The other two captives stared at him. "Why'd you drop out?"
"Money problems, family problems, me problems...just problems in general. I just took a year to get my head on straight then I joined the police academy just after my eighteenth birthday." He shrugged running a slim hand through his tangled hair. "I don't regret it."
"Why the police academy?"
Brian smiled. "I wanted to help people, but I didn't want to sit still. My brother helped me expunge my record so I could join."
Tony nodded, taking apart another missile then looking down at his plans.
His companions followed his gaze.
"That doesn't look like a missile." Yinsen murmured and Tony smirked wanly.
"This might go a bit faster if you included us in the planning process, Stark." The ex-cop retorted and Tony sighed pulling the palladium from the missile and tossing the hull over his shoulder. He held it up for them to see.
"This is palladium, as you said earlier. We need 0.16 grams so get to work helping me take apart these missiles."
Brian frowned deeply as he watched Yinsen implant the new device, this 'arc reactor' into Tony chest as a replacement for the electromagnet and car battery from before. In the week since Tony's arrival he'd found himself showing more emotion than he'd showed since being captured. There was just something about the billionaire that made it easier for him to open up both about his feelings and his past and it was disconcerting. He'd always prided himself on keeping things close to his chest, even with the Torettos, with Dom, he'd kept his innermost thoughts and feelings to himself. He didn't like this, not at all and it was all Stark's fault.
He narrowed his eyes at the billionaire.
This had to stop, he'd make sure of it.
Yinsen bit his lip worriedly as he and Tony played chess, waiting for Brian to return from his latest stint with their captors. The young blond had already been gone for over six hours, which was longer than any of Tony's sessions and his own.
In front of him, Tony let out a worried grunt, one hand idly tapping the newly built arc reactor they'd implanted in his chest earlier that week to replace the electromagnet and the car battery. His hazel eyes were narrowed slightly, as if he were concentrating on the game but the doctor could tell that all his focus was on their young friend, who had been drawing away from them since the implanting of the new arc reactor. He sighed and decided to try to distract the man from his worrying for a bit.
"Do you have anyone at home waiting for you?" He asked and the genius blinked at him, brow furrowed.
"You mean like a girlfriend or something?"
Yinsen nodded and Tony smiled slowly. "Well there's Jarvis."
The genius' smile took on a sad edge. "He's my AI. He runs my home in Malibu."
Yinsen gave a sad smile of his own. "Ah. No wife, or family?"
He shook his head.
"I see. So you are a man that has everything...yet has nothing."
Tony frowned deeply and fell silent for a moment. The he tilted his head.
"What about you? Any family?"
Yinsen nodded, ignoring the pang of sadness in his chest and the images, memories lingering on the edge of his conscious.
"Yes. I will be seeing them when I leave here."
His friend smiled. "And if I told you I had a plan?"
The doctor raised an eyebrow and Tony stood, leading him over to his workstation where the missile blueprints lay scattered. The genius gathered the three sheets and placed them on top of each other before smoothing them to reveal blueprint for a large suit of armor. Yinsen gasped, amazed by the inner working of the man's brain and the extent of his genius.
"This- this is amazing." He breathed and the younger man grinned.
"Thanks. Brian helped me with them last night. He even agreed to make a few blades for the gauntlets."
"Well then, lets get to work."
Tony nodded and they began to work on the project. They worked for hours, their worry for their youngest continuing to grow as time passed. Finally after what seemed like eternity the familiar sound of footsteps sounded outside their cell. Tony separated the sheets so that they looked like the missile plans then they both stood, awaiting their captors entrance. Only a moment later the door to their cell flew open and Brian was thrown into the room, his shirt and hair soaking wet as he lay on the floor trembling. The door closed behind him with a loud bang and the two elder men rushed to his side.
"Dear Allah. Brian are you alright?" Yinsen whispered pulling his shaking friend into his arms. The blond didn't respond, blue eyes dull and lifeless as he stared into space, full pink lips moving soundlessly in a pattern that the doctor had become increasingly familiar with over the course of his captivity. It was a pattern the blond's mouth formed whenever he was close to the precipice of madness and needed to come back from the edge. Tony bit his lips, wringing his fingers in such an uncertain way that Yinsen would've laughed if the situation weren't so dire. Instead, he stood with the limp blond in his arms and moved toward his cot.
"Come. He'll be this way for a while. Just let him know you're there."
"What's he saying?"
The doctor shrugged. "From my understanding it is a catechism of sorts. He says it every morning when he wakes, never in the english and never in a language I nor our captors can understand. He told me once that he uses it to get through his sessions."
Tony nodded, stroking his friends wet blond locks. "Just a little longer, Kid. I promise you, when we get outta here, your life is gonna change for the better." He murmured and Yinsen smiled, a soft sad smile.
"I'm holding you to that, Stark." He replied almost silently. "That boy deserves all the good you can give him."
"Altair has yet to return." Silili stated softly as she entered her husband/leader's office.
The man sighed and pulled his worried wife into his arms. Although he and Altair often argued like cats and dogs, he still loved his brother with all his heart and he would never wish any harm upon him. Still he couldn't deny it any longer, especially not after two years of nothing from the man.
"It's been two years." He rumbled and she sniffled, he grip on him tightening as she realized just what he was saying, still he forced himself to continue. "Perhaps...perhaps he is dead."
She whimpered and a tear slid down her cheek. "We must tell the Brotherhood."
He nodded, a tear of his own escaping. "I know...are you going to tell your brother and his gang."
She shivered thinking of Dom's reaction, or worse Roman's reaction.
"I have to."
He nodded. "I'll announce it tomorrow evening, this way you can return to your family."
She gave a soft noise of agreement and buried her face in his chest, swallowing thickly as his fingers ran through her hair. "Sh, grieve now, my love. Grieve now so that you can remain strong later."
Silili whimpered then with a shuddering breath she sagged in her husband's arms and let go.
It was finally finished.
After a long tedious month of working day and night, snide threats and hours of torture, the suit was finally finished. Brian grinned slightly as Yinsen helped Tony into the suit while he planted bombs on the door that were rigged to go off as soon as the door opened. Once he finished he walked over to the two, both of whom smiled at him.
"Brian, can you start the power up?" He nodded and did as he was bid, listening as Yinsen and Tony went over the plan one more time. A few moments later the bombs on the door went off and he cursed checking the grid.
He let out a low snarl of frustration and Yinsen sighed.
"I'm gonna go buy us some time." He shook his head and reached out to grab the doctor, who dodged and ran out of the room shooting one of the dead captors guns.
"Yinsen! No! Damnit, get back here! Stick to the plan!" Tony yelled but the man was gone. Brian growled frustrated by his own inability to save his friend and glanced back at the computer.
Turning back to Tony, he gave a sad sigh. "The suit will be full loaded in less that a minute. I need to go retrieve my weapons so that we can meet up with Yinsen."
With a hesitant nod the billionaire sighed and watched him go, ignoring the dread pooling in his stomach. Once he left the room, Brian turned on his eagle vision and stealthily made his way down the hall into the ammunition room. There he found his cloak, his armor and his weapons. He quickly donned all of it then left to assist his friends. When he arrived he found Tony tending to a dying Yinsen, who smiled as their eyes met.
"Yin," He whispered and the man's smile softened.
"Sh, I want this...I want this." He breathed before turning to Tony. "Don't...waste... your life, Stark. Take...care...of...him..." He trailed off, falling limp. Tony let out an enraged snarl, turning to Brian whose expression was eerily blank.
"Get behind me." He ordered and the assassin did so silently pulling up his hood and Tony stepped into the opening of the cave. Their captor stood in front of them and some faltered back at the sight of the monstrous suit of armor. On an unspoken command they began to fire and Brian stood stoically through it all, not even flinching as some of the shrapnel from the shattering bullets cut into his skin.
They shot until they ran out of ammo and the assassin could almost see the predatory glint that lit his friend's eye. He smirked emptily, ice blue hues seemingly glowing under his cowl.
"Our turn." They intoned and he disappeared only to reappear covered in blood slaughtering anyone close enough to fall under his daggers. Tony followed torching everyone and everything around them, turning the caves that had been their hell into a raging inferno. Soon the entire camp was in flames and Tony was flying away with Brian clinging to his back.
They got just above the desert before the suit sputtered and sent them crashing to the ground. The duo laid in the hot sand for a moment as the day's events finally caught up with them. Then it finally sunk in; They were free. Sharing a look, they broke into peals of laughter, neither acknowledging the hysteria edging the sound and the few sobs that were intertwined within it.
Colonel Rhodes couldn't even begin to describe the relief he felt as he pulled his missing best friend into his arms. The billionaire had been missing for over three months leaving everyone in a massive uproar. Tony hugged him back tightly and his heart clenched painfully in his chest when he heard the nearly inaudible sobs leaving the younger man's chapped lips. A monotonous voice broke up their reunion.
"Who are you?"
The airman's gaze moved to the white robed figure hovering protectively behind his friend, the man's face hidden by his cowl. At his waist was a red sash with a strange symbol on it.
"Who are you?" He retorted sharply and Tony snorted in his arms, stumbling as they stood.
"Brian, Rhodey's a good guy. He's the rescue party."
The man, Brian nodded then kneeled beside him. "I must notify my brothers. I will be in Malibu when you arrive. Do stay safe, Tony."
Tony gazed sadly at the man, obviously holding himself back from saying anything. "You'll come back?"
"Always. I promise." The man replied softly grasping the billionaire's forearm in a fraternal gesture before he vanished.
Malik tensed as he felt a presence appear in his office. He had been preparing to go meet Tony Stark and debrief him about his captivity in Afghanistan when his senses alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone. A familiar chuckled sounded from behind him, one he had thought he'd never hear again, and he spun around to find the brother he'd presumed dead only a month prior, reclining in his chair with a smirk on his weary features.
"Altair." He whispered and the younger man nodded.
"I have missed you, brother." The Master assassin's eyes watered and he moved to stand in front of the blond, pulling him into a heartfelt embrace.
"We thought you dead! Silili was devastated when we announced it to the Brotherhood. Where were you?"
A sigh left Altair's lips, his ice blue eyes full of fatigue.
"The templars captured me after I killed their leader. They tried to extract information about the brotherhood and what bases we had knowledge about and were targeting. A year ago, I was joined in my captivity by a doctor from Gulmira then three months ago I was joined by Tony Stark."
Malik nodded. "I see."
He took in the haggardness marring the other man's otherwise beautiful features, the weariness and roughness edging the soft lines and curves of his entire being.
"Go rest, Brian. The brotherhood will be dealt with."
Altair gave a exhausted but grateful smile. "Thank you, Phil."
Malik nodded. "No problem. I will contact you for the next meeting. Call Silili, she missed you."
"Will do. Welcome home, Brother."
"Its good to be back."
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Happy and Pepper frowned as they entered Tony's Malibu home to find a slender blonde man leaning idly against the bar waiting. The man was 5'9 with a lean, lithe frame and supernaturally bright blue eyes, loose curls falling over his shoulders and half-way down his bicep. Wearing a tight long sleeved shirt and baggy sweats, he hardly looked dangerous. If anything the duffle bag at his feet made him seem like a college kid heading over to a friend's house for a sleep over. It was only his eyes that gave away the danger. Cold, almost glacial, and sharp as they narrowed on them.
They stared at him, stunned.
Tony had the best security system in the world, second only to the Pentagon, for this man to have made it inside without them being alerted meant he was very good. It was only the softening of the blonde's eyes as he looked past him that saved him from Happy's gun.
"Brian!" Tony exclaimed happily, pushing past his tense friends to rush over to the man and Happy made an aborted attempt to grab him and pull him back to safety.
"How'd you get in? How'd you even know where I live?"
'Brian' smiled softly, the ice in his gaze thawing as he looked upon the SI CEO.
"Your JARVIS let me in after I convinced him I meant you no harm. And you are not an inconspicuous man, Mr. Stark. I looked for the most technologically advanced house."
Tony grinned and Pepper frowned. " JARVIS wouldn't let you in without Tony's permission." She argued and the blonde nodded.
"You caught me. I snuck in through the ceiling." He replied calmly, as if speaking about the weather. Tony blinked and shook his head while Happy stepped forward and placed a protective hand on his boss' shoulders.
"Who are you?"
'Brian' tensed and looked up at his, something dangerous flashing in his gaze before it was covered by a friendlier expression.
"Brian O'Conner. Tony and I met in Afghanistan and he offered me a home. You must be Ms. Potts and Mr. Hogan. He spoke a lot about you both."
Tony flushed lightly, and turned to the blond with a worried gleam in his dark gaze.
"Pep, Happy, This is Brian. He's gonna be staying here for a while."
Pepper frowned. "Tony you barely know him! For all we know he could be a killer or press or-or something!"
The billionaire scowled darkly. "I know him well enough to know he's staying here." He replied, voice brooking no arguments. "He saved my life, and I can never repay him for that so if I can provide him a place to stay I will. Is that clear, Ms. Potts?"
Her jaw clenched and defiance burned in her eyes even as she gritted out an affirmative. Brian placed a hand on his shoulder to placate him, a darkly amused smile playing on his lips.
"Well, are you going to show me where I can stay, Mr. Stark."
Brian tilted his head curiously and the genius sighed. "My name is Tony, Kid and if you're gonna stay here that's what you're gonna call me."
A tiny smile flitted across the assassin's chapped lips. "Alright…Tony."
Returning the smile, he led the younger man to a guest room close to his own.
"This room is your to do with what you will."
Blue eyes widened in astonishment, their owner shaking his head.
"This is too much, Tony. Way too much. I can't take this."
Tony frowned sternly. "You can and you will. I told ya, Brian, I'm gonna help you start over."
His friend stared at him wide-eyed as if he couldn't believe he was real. Then he nodded.
"Thank you." He whispered hugging him.
"No problem, kid." The billionaire replied, heart aching at the broken tone of his friend's voice. Fuck, what had life done to this kid?
No matter, he would fix it. No matter what it took.
"My brothers and Sisters, today I call you all here to make a wonderful announcement," Malik began, an uncharacteristic smile on his lips.
The gathered assassins frowned at his behavior. How could he smile so soon after the announcement of Altair's death? After all he and his wife were closest to the taciturn Master Assassin. They were the only ones the guarded man allowed past his walls. It seemed dishonorable that he would disregard his death in such a manner. As if reading their thoughts he continued to speak.
"Only months ago, I announced the death of our dear brother Altair Ibn-La-Ahad on the presumption that he had been killed during his mission."
They all bowed their heads in remembrance, only for them to jerk up when he continued.
"However, our brother still lives! Only last night I saw him in the flesh. Exhausted and pained, but alive."
"Where is he?" Silili asked tearfully, her eyes full of relief and Malik smiled softly.
"Altair has been told to rest. The Templars tortured him for information, probably much more than he told me. Our brother needs to take this time to heal and this we shall grant him."
A mischievous smile crossed his lips. "Although, I don't suppose he will be opposed to phone calls."
As one the assassins smirked then began to laugh in joy as it sank in.
Their brother was safe.
He was home.
Brian smiled softly as he finished unpacking his things and putting everything away, still unable to believe how nice Tony was being to him. His new bedroom was a large airy structure with huge bay windows that faced the ocean, and a creamy white color scheme. It was beautiful and he couldn't be more grateful if he tried.
Taking a seat on his new bed, he reflected over the events of the past four days, one thought surfacing in his mind over and over.
He was free.
No more torture and agony. No more listening to Yinsen and Tony's pained screams and feeling his heart break for them as the Templars forced him to watch their sessions.
He was finally-finally-free.
It was something that he had long accepted as a pipe dream of his traitorous mind and everlasting hope.
A broken laugh escaped his lips against his will and he pulled his knees up to his chest trying to force back the sobs that wanted to follow it and failing. For nearly an hour he sobbed in relief of his escape and grief that Yinsen wouldn't see it, never noticing when he slipped into exhausted oblivion.
Tony grinned triumphantly as her stared at his computer screen, taking in the fruits of his labor. It was finally done, and he could finally make good on his promise to give Brian a new life.
Brian O'Conner no longer existed. Now there was only Brian Stark, heir to Stark industries and his adopted younger brother.
Now all he had to do was show the blond and explain it to him.
"How's he settling in, J?"
The AI hesitated. "He cried himself to sleep, sir. But he seems to like it here."
Tony sighed. Figures the kid would grieve when he was alone. From what he'd seem while working over the kid's records seemed like he'd only ever had himself to grieve with.
His chocolate eyes hardened.
He may not be a great father figure, but damn if he wouldn't be an amazing big brother.
Mia couldn't help but smile brightly as she reached the Toretto gang's latest home. Brian was alive! Her brother in all but blood was alive and well and she had been able to actually speak to him. It had warmed his heart to hear his voice, as tired, no exhausted as he had sounded. He had promised that he was safe and that he had gone to ground for a while to recuperate and had made her promise to keep her head on straight. Relief flooded her very being and her hand drifted up to touch the pendent he'd given her years previous. It was the symbol of the brotherhood with the creed scrawled across the back elegantly in the tongue of the first Altair. She hadn't taken it off since he'd given it to her, even when she'd been angry with him after LA, and her hand always brushed it when she thought of her elder brother.
"Safety and peace, Brother." She whispered, before entering the cozy 8-bedroom home.
She found the gang piled in the living room in varying states of relaxation, Rome sitting a little way away with a worried expression. The dark skinned man had mellowed out since Brian's disappearance, only sticking with them because he felt the blond would return to them before he went back to their shared home in Miami.
"Hey, Mia. How's it hangin'?"
She smiled. "It's been a very good day." She replied and he raised his eyebrow at her.
"Oh, that where you went? Found some hottie and got you some lovin'?"
Dom snorted. "No if she like 'em living."
The woman rolled her eyes, "No. My boss gave me some great news." She paused. "And I talked to Brian."
At this everyone perked up.
"You talked to the Busta?" Dom question and Letty scowled beside him. Everyone in DT knew their leaders feeling for the blond, something they found themselves confounded about since as soon as they'd saved Letty, he'd gone back to her.
"Yes. He's gone to ground for some assignment or another," She lied. "He just called to let me know he was alive and recuperating from an assignment that required radio silence."
"He's joined the feds again?"
She shook her head. "Something like that."
Dom stared at her, still reeling from her revelation, while Rome frowned worriedly.
"Is he safe?"
"Then that's all I care about."
The others nodded in agreement and if they noticed a slow tension trying to worm it way between Letty and Dom…well no one mentioned it.
Living with Tony, Brian realized, wasn't too different from living with the Torettos if one took away from the grandeur of the man's Malibu home. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming and Tony did his best to make him feel like it was their home. They ate together, and found that they both had the same skewed eating schedules and sleep schedules and Brian found himself working on things he'd only dreamed he'd be a part of, including helping Tony install the new and improved arc reactor. He never wanted to repeat that particular experience again.
Currently, they were down in the lab working on the Mark II, well Tony was working on the Mark II. Brian was working on one of his new brother's many cars, a sleek silver Audi that he'd fallen love with the second he'd seen it. Tension plagued the older of the two, anger clouding his features as he worked on the suit.
"The board filed an injunction, citing that I was suffering from PTSD and therefore unfit to make decisions regarding the company.
The assassin hummed. "Your Obadiah is part of the Board isn't he? Other than you he is the only one that has the power to make that call, the board can only vote on it." He said remembering what Tony had taught him about the inner working of SI and his brother nodded scowling.
"Meaning that Obie filed the injunction."
"And that he's more than likely involved in your kidnapping as well." Blue eyes met angry chocolate ones.
"What are you going to do?" He Asked and Tony thought about it for a moment, then smirked darkly.
"We'll need proof."
Brian smiled darkly. "Finish the Mark II and free Yinsen's home. Leave the proof to me."
"Be safe." Tony said as the Kid stood.
Something dark flashed in the other man's eyes but his smile was warm and teasing.
"Am I ever?"
Tony frowned deeply as he returned to the lab to find it empty of his little brother's presence. After crashing his own gala and freeing Yinsen's home from the Ten Rings, all he wanted to do was get out of the suit and relax with his brother. They'd grown close since Brian had moved in, even closer than they had been in that place, and he loved the kid. He was his brother and was slowly o becoming his closest friend. Brian was the only one left alive with the knowledge of what truly went down in that cave.
"J, has Brian checked in yet?" He asked, as he began to run the disassembly program for the armor.
Tony bit his lip worriedly, wincing as the bot taking his armor off jerk on the gauntlet on his right.
"Ow, Damnit J! I made this to come off perfect."
"My apologies, Sir. I'll be gentle." The A.I responded sarcastically.
"Please do, you know it's my first time."
"Somehow, I doubt that." Tony's eyes lit up as they landed on his favorite (and only) sibling, taking in the mischievous gleam in the other man's eyes and the black USB in his hand. Even the Bots froze at the blonde's sudden appearance, more so the horrified gaze of Pepper beside him.
"Oh my god!" The woman cried.
"This isn't the worst thing you've caught me doing." He told her, before smirking at Brian. "It really isn't." The blonde snickered.
"Are those bullet holes?" Pepper screeched.
Brian rolled his eyes, but Tony could see his concern plain as day. "It was a…holy experience?"
"That was terrible." The blond deadpanned, helping the bot removed the rest of the armor.
"You found it?" Tony asked and Brian hummed softly, shooting a significant look in Pepper's direction.
"Did you need something, Pep?"
"I," She paused. "I need you to sign off on the papers appointing a Brian Stark as your heir to SI."
Brian choked, his blue eyes widening before he whirled around to face his brother.
The billionaire blushed at the question, signing the papers in a flourish. With a nod, Pepper left the room leaving the two alone.
"Is this why you've been teaching me all of these things?"
Tony shrugged, turning his attention to the USB in Brian's hand.
"It that the evidence?"
Brian, still reeling, nodded absently, forcing his focus back to the present. An unholy grin appeared on Tony's face.
"My brother has order a hit on him via both the SHIELD and the Brotherhood. Either way he will die and it will be entirely legal."
Tony nodded, heart racing, only for him to jerk when another voice rejoined their conversation.
"You're planning to kill someone?!"
He spun around to find Pepper standing there with a horrified expression and he swallowed thickly.
"No! This is all his fault! He's talking about killing someone and you're perfectly calm about it! He's a monster and he's turning you into one."
Brian flinched at the accusation and Tony narrowed his eyes at his PA coldly.
"Is that all, Ms. Potts?"
"Is. That. All?"
She straitened her spine and nodded. "You will regret this. One day, you'll see the truth." She promised before leaving and Tony sighed, turning to Brian.
"Are you okay?"
The billionaire stared at him silently then smiled sadly.
"Go rest. I'll take care of Obie."
"Aren't I always?"
"When I said 'be careful', I didn't mean fight him in the middle of the city in the suit! Nor did I mean blow up the damn arc reactor and nearly kill yourself." Brian deadpanned softly as he watched Pepper dab make-up on his brother's face to cover the injuries caused by his fight with Obadiah. Beside him Malik, or Agent Coulson, as he was known now, snickered at his tone, well acquainted with the asssassin's patented "You're-a-dumbass" tone. Pepper, however was not, and sent the beauty a glare.
"Don't sound so caring. Its not like he almost died or anything." She sneered sarcastically and Brian smiled sweetly.
"Yet he's alive now." He replied before turning to the billionaire.
"Since I know you're about to do something monumentally stupid and nothing I can say will deter you, I'm gonna tell you now. When we get home I'm making Happy up your training and I'll be including some of my own."
Tony groaned but nodded before flashing them his mega-watt press smile and walking out to face the press. For a moment he followed the notecards and Brian feared his warning was in vain, but the Tony paused and sighed.
"Okay all of that was utter bullshit. Truth is…I am Ironman."
Sometimes he hated being right.
A/N: All Italian is courtesy of Google Translate.
Translated: We work in the dark to serve the light. We are assassins. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
He couldn't breathe.
Water invaded his nose and mouth, denying his lungs the air the craved and making his head spin. Around his head, his hair whipped about, startling him every time it brushed against his face and he jerked.
He screamed, chocking on an inhale of water as a burning sensation spread across his back.
Why? What had he done to deserve this?
No, that train of thought wasn't safe. The creed…the creed was safe. These people, they were enemies, monsters who preyed on the innocent.
'Lavoriamo nel buio per servire la luce. Noi siamo assassini."
The whip came down again, harsher than before and he bit back a whimper, gasping as his head was forced back into the bucket. Moments later he was yanked up by his hair.
"Admit to your crimes, assassin!" Snarled his captor. He refused to respond, focusing on inhaling the precious few gulps of air he could get into his deprived lungs. The whip came down in response to his silence and he cried out as it struck hi already mutilated back.
"Speak!" The man demanded.
"N-Niente é vero, tutto é permesso." He rasped softly and the man let out a furious bellow and smirked darkly, an unholy gleam lighting his eye.
"You know…you're very beautiful for an assassin." His heart stopped. "Perhaps I can find a more persuasive method to make you speak."
Panic overwhelmed his mind at the leer following the words, leaving little doubt to the man' intentions. He wouldn't allow himself to be used, degraded!
Hands reached for him and he began to struggle, blue eyes wild and manic as their owner fought to escape.
No! No! No!
He was forced to his knees and the panic darkened into a burning rage as the sound of a zipper cut through the air.
They would burn.
Darkness encroached on his vision and a broken giggle escaped his lips even as one of his captors grabbed his hair.
They would all burn .
Secure in that thought, he surrendered to unconsciousness knowing that, when he woke he would be with Yinsen and Tony again.
'Why am I dreaming about that day?' Brian thought frowning as he awakened to find himself in his room at Tony's house. Two years had passed since the elder Stark had come out as Iron Man and while the man didn't seem too different it wasn't hard to see he was hiding something from him. He'd stopped allowing Brian access to his lab, going as far as to build the blond his own and change the override codes. He started discreetly teaching him how to run SI and had gotten him a job working in the R&D department as co-head. Whatever Tony was hiding, it was big and it was causing him to distance himself from him.
He hated it.
Shaking his head to clear it, he set about getting ready for work knowing that speculating about it wouldn't really do him any good. Instead, he slid out of bed and pulled on a pair of faded black jeans, a red SI shirt with R&D written on the back and a pair of tan work boots. Running a brush through his hair he pulled it back into a messy bun and pulled on his work badge.
"Whatcha think, Jar?"
"Impeccable, Mr. Stark." The AI sassed and Brian grinned. "Sir and Mrs. Potts left for Monaco an hour ago and Sir asked me to inform you that you're in charge until his return."
Brian nodded, having suspected as much, and grabbed his keys. "Thank for the heads up, J." He called, leaving the room.
Moments later a sleek silver Kawasaki streaked from the garage and raced in the direction of SI headquarters, leaving a worried AI behind him.
Blood Toxicity Level: 52%
Tony sighed quietly as he took in the reading on his watch.
He'd known for a while that he was dying of palladium poisoning but he hadn't expected using the suit to exacerbate its affects. He'd known that it was a possibility but still he hadn't expected it. He didn't want it to.
He didn't want to have to tell his little brother that soon he would lose another person close to him, not so soon after Yinsen's death. Neither of them were even close to being over the clusterfuck that was Afghanistan, and Brian was already close to breaking. He didn't want to ruin the other man's already slow recovery. The little flashes of mania in the blonde's gaze weren't ask frequent, but he knew that the younger male was completely over their imprisonment. After all, his own confinement had seemed like paradise in comparison and he wasn't even close to being over it. He still flinched every time he was near any body of water larger than a glass and every time the water hit his face while he was in the shower he found himself on the edge of a panic attack.
"Tony," Natalie called from her place beside Pepper, both women watching him with matching concerned frowns.
Inwardly he narrowed his eyes at the woman, giving her a non-committal grunt in response. There was something seriously off about the her, and it made all his senses stand on end even if he couldn't tell what it was. Unfortunately, there was very little he could do about it without drawing attention to the matter, as she was Pepper's PA not his. He had appointed her as the CEO of SI until he finished training Brian for the position and he still wasn't sure if he regretted the decision or not.
Pepper was great at her job, suspicious PA aside but her and Brian seemed to clash on everything and he wasn't sure why.
"Tony, are you alright?" She asked and he blinked then smiled slightly.
"Yeah. Just thinking…I forgot to finish filing Ms. Rushman's paper work." He looked up. "Hey J, can you ask Brian to finish filing Ms. Rushman's papers. It slipped my mind earlier."
"Already done, Sir. Master Stark completed it the day you left town, along with all the paper work left in your office. He also completed the documents you left him concerning the R&D department and set up your conferences for the next week."
He blinked, stunned. "Wow…where is he now?"
"Master Stark is currently in a meeting with the R&D department concerning the integration of Arc Reactor technology in your current medical projects."
Tony grinned. That was a lot to get done in a week. He'd known from the moment he started teaching him that Brian was a natural but this was incredible.
"Thank him for me, J. He is awesome."
Beside him, Happy grinned. "Kid's gonna be a corporate powerhouse."
Pepper snorted. Why were they acting so amazed? She'd been doing the same things he had, yet they never praised her like that.
"What time is the meeting over?" She asked unable to keep her jealousy completely out of her voice.
Tony fought not to narrow his eyes at her. Seriously, what the hell was going on between them.
"It just let out Ms. Potts."
Tony's grin widened and he sat up straighter eager to hear from his younger brother.
"Great! Get him on the line then, J."
Natalie frowned. There was no mention of a Brian in her records. "Who's Brian?" She asked but her question went unanswered as a soft, deep voice sounded in Jarvis' place.
"Hey, Tony. How's Monaco?"
"Too violent. Jarvis says you're working miracles over there."
The voice, Brian, snorted. "I doubt that's what he said, Tone."
"He totally said that. Right, J?"
"Of course, Sir."
Brian chuckled, then yawned and Tony's voice morphed into a worried scowl.
"You alright kid?"
The mysterious speaker was silent for a moment, before he answered fatigue clear in his every word.
"I'm fine. Just tired."
Tony's scowl deepened but it didn't show in his voice when he spoke.
"Alright. Get some rest. We should be there by tomorrow night."
"Kay, call me when you land, yeah?"
"Of course. See ya later, Kid."
The line went dead and the brunette sighed. "Jarvis make sure he gets some sleep. You know how he is."
"Pot meet Kettle, Sir."
"Yeah, yeah." He responded dismissively while Happy snickered.
Pepper scowled. "Why do you baby him, Tony? He's a grown man."
Her boss rolled his eyes. "He's my baby brother. I can baby him if I want to." He replied, barely refraining from adding a 'so there' at the end. Barely.
"Brother, Mr. Stark?" Natalie asked, certain that the SI head was an only child. None of SHIELD's records mentioned another Stark outside of Howard, Tony, and Maria.
Still, Stark nodded. "Uh-huh, you'll meet him tomorrow."
Returning his nod with one of her own, she leaned back in her seat and dropped the subject.
Brian Stark was not the Mission. Therefore, he was none of her concern.
Its been a while. Thank everyone who stuck with this story, even though its been very much neglected for a while.
I promise I'll try to set a more regular updating schedule but if not, I'll at least try not to leave this so inactive for as long as I did.
Mia was behaving strangely and Dom didn't like it.
His baby sister was keeping secrets, disappearing every now and then only to return with no explanation, and sometimes he's catch her staring off into space playing with that strange pendant the Busta had given her years ago. Currently, they were all settling down for their weekly Sunday barbeque, including said sister, who umped startled as her phone rang.
"Altair, are you alright? I saw the news. How's Tony?" She fired off, her eyes full of concern. He frowned.
Who the hell was Altair?
"I'm glad he's okay. How are you? Are you sleeping? Have you been seeing your therapist?"
She paused again and scowled. "Altair, I don't care if you think she's an idiot! She's trying to help you!"
Whatever Altair responded with infuriated her more because her scowl darkened.
"Do not lie to me! I am not Malik, or Tony, or you. Your bullshit may work on y'all but I know you better than anyone, including yourself! You're not fine and you know Altair-Ibn-La-Ahad, so don't fucking lie to me!" She snarled.
Everyone stared at her stunned.
"Mia, who is that?" Dom asked, not liking that this unknown was upsetting his baby sister.
To his surprise she turned her glare onto him, even as she continued to speak to 'Altair'.
"I have to go. Please rest. Take care, and call me soon, okay?"
She paused and smiled wanly.
"I know, I love you too. Bye."
This said she hung up and sighed heavily.
"Who was that?" Letty asked, seeing as she'd ignored Dom's question.
The younger Toretto shrugged. "Old friend."
Dom's scowl deepened. "I've never met them."
She smirked. "You have."
She rolled her eyes. "Think what you want, Dom."
Dom's eyes narrowed.
No, he did not like these changes at all.
And he would get to the bottom of this.
Brian grinned vividly as Tony entered the house followed by Happy, Pepper, and Pepper's new assistant, Natalie Rushman.
True to his word, his elder brother had called him a half-hour earlier to inform him of their impending arrival and it had left him in high spirits, even with the things he'd discovered about Ms. Rushman. He'd spent the entire week they were gone working himself to exhaustion, reluctant to come home and be faced with the emptiness in the house, the silence reminiscent of his isolation in the cave, before Yinsen's arrival.
Tony mirrored his grin, banishing the thoughts as he pulled him into a brief but warm hug.
"Brian, this is the lovely Ms. Natalie Rushman. She's Pepper's new PA. Ms. Rushman, this is my awesome baby brother, Brian Stark."
The blonde gave her a polite smile, his eyes icing over as he frowned at his brother.
"Pepper's PA? Tony, what did you do?" Tony gave a hesitant chuckle.
"We'll talk later."
"You better. As it stands, I was about to go to work, so I'll see you later."
Tony pouted. "Can't you take the day off? I mean, we own the company!"
Brian chuckled. "I would, but I have meetings with the R&D of several medical corporations and a meeting with Malik that I can't put off. I'm sorry, Tone." He replied apologetically and Pepper snorted, but said nothing as Tony sent her a frigid look.
Brian rolled his eyes at her, giving Happy and Natalie a respectful nod. Hugging Tony once more he turned and left the room a strange smirk forming on his face.
"The itsy-bitsy spider went into the wrong house. Out came the cat who chased the spider out. The cat drew his claws and started a new game so the itsy-bitsy spider was never seen again."
He sang softly, his low tenor drifting down the halls he'd disappeared down.
Natalie fought not to stare after him, her eyes narrowing only slightly. "How did he know?
Tony frowned at her then in the direction Brian had gone, before smirking,
So, Brian knew she wasn't who she appeared to be either.
Good, he could help him get her to leave.
He couldn't breathe.
This couldn't be happening to him and he couldn't-
He couldn't breathe.
He didn't want to be alone again.
Please be lying.
"Yo- You're dying?!" The former cop whimpered around the lump in his throat, staring up at Tony with wide tearful eyes full of disbelief.
Said genius swallowed thickly, but nodded, hating the devastation that overcame the blonde's pretty features. Brian shook his head in denial, trembling as he fought against the cold feeling welling up inside him.
Tony was his savior, his salvation after the Torettos, and the Ten Rings, and Yinsen. He was his rock, the only thing keeping him from drifting below the ice in his heart, into the cold numbness he'd worn like a shroud after Dom had betrayed him.
Without him, he would drown.
He didn't want to drown.
"No," he whispered. "No. Not you too, Please Tony."
His brother pulled him into a hug. "I'm sorry, Bri. I'm so sorry."
The confirmation broke the dam holding back the blonde's tears and he began to sob, holding Tony like he was the only thing keeping him afloat.
"Don't leave." He sobbed softly. "Please."
"Sh, I won't. I promise." He lied, the pain in the reactor worsening as if to make him more aware of his own lie.
"Sir, I'm gonna have to ask you to exit the donut."
Tony groaned inwardly at the sound of a voice he hadn't heard in years. He hadn't seen his godfather since he'd graduated MIT, barring the brief visit after his Iron Man reveal. This said, he couldn't help but wonder why the hell the man was there now. All the said, he obeyed, glad that Brian was on a mission for that Brotherhood of his, because he knew the blonde had less than fuzzy feelings for all the "adults" in Tony's life.
Moments later found them inside the donut shop, Tony observed the man he once thought of as an uncle.
"Last time I saw you, you had both eyes."
Nick rolled his one visible eye. "Last time I saw you, you weren't dying." He replied, both men looking up as Natalie entered wearing a skin-tight black cat suit.
"You're fired." He stated and she ignored him.
"Sir, the perimeter has been secured."
Tony smirked at her, knowing exactly how to throw her off. "Natasha Romanoff. Alias: Black Widow. Affiliation: SHIELD. Former Affiliation: Red Room. Age: 32."
He recited and both spies froze.
"How did you know?"
"Brian knew and told me the day you met him. I-" She slammed a needle into his jugular, cutting him off and he gasped painfully, betrayal flooding him as he met his godfather's gaze.
"What did you just do to me?!"
Nick shook his head, sadness flashing in his eye before being quickly hidden. "No, what did we just do for you. That was Lithium Dioxide. It will halt the spread of the poison so that you can find a cure."
A snort left the genius. "You don't think I've looked?! I've tried everything! There is no element that can replace the palladium effectively!" He snapped at them, and there was pain and desperation in his gaze.
Nick smiled. "There is no element yet."
It had taken him two weeks to find it, but he'd finally managed to create an element to replace the palladium in the arc reactor. In that time, he also found himself worried about Brian, who hadn't contacted him once since leaving the day before Nick had injected him with the lithium dioxide.
Unfortunately, he hadn't been able to contact the blonde, having left the same day he discovered the element to fight Vanko and hammer. However, as he was getting ready for his award ceremony, he found himself worried
His brother was missing again.
As if summoned by his thoughts, lean but strong arms landed on his shoulders.
"Don't think so hard." Came a soft voice and he spun around to find the blonde standing behind him dressed in a fitting black suit, fatigue lining his features.
"Brian! Why haven't you called? I thought you were I trouble!"
His brother smiled. "I was undercover for U.S Customs. My phone was destroyed in a fire fight. I sorry, Tone." Tony nodded, hugging the smaller man.
"I'm gonna live, B." He whispered and the arms around him tightened. "I'm glad."
Tony grinned. "Yep. Guess what else."
The younger tilted his head. "What?"
"We're moving to New York."
It was everywhere, clouding his senses in a thick, impenetrable fog.
“Brian?! Yinsen?!” He cried frantically, heart racing at twice its normal speed when neither of the two men responded. He could feel the shrapnel in it shifting with its motions, a harsh stabbing sensation that made him gasp for breath.
“B-Brian!” He screamed breathlessly, eyes watering as each breath became more difficult to draw.
Then, suddenly as it came, it was gone and a haunting chuckle rang in his ears. His sight returned to him, the blood gone, but he found himself wishing it would return. Anything to be spared the terrible sight before him.
Laying near his feet, was Yinsen’s cooling corpse, the kind doctor’s slight frame riddled with bullet holes. His dark eyes were wide behind his broken glasses, terror forever etched into his once gentle features.
Worse, Brian was only a few meters away, his head held underwater by two large, brutish men as he struggled to get away from them.
“No,” He whimpered. “Please, no.”
Black bruises and the bright vermillion of blood warred for dominance on the blonde assassin’s skin, and it made his stomach churn violently. He struggled to race forward, to get them away from his brother, but for some reason, his body refused to obey his commands. Instead, he was forced to watched as the other was yanked out of the tub of water, allowed a few precious gulps of air, and shoved back under.
With every passing second, the struggles weakened and he was distantly aware of screaming, but nothing compared to the cold that engulfed him when the blond finally went still.
“See what happens when you defy me, Tony?” Crooned a voice and he trembled as Obadiah stepped from the shadows. “They would have lived otherwise. Their deaths are your fault.”
He shook his head, eyes burning. “No, NO! I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He rasped brokenly, collapsing to his knees.
It was all his fault.
“ I’m sorry. ‘M sorry.”
Brian sighed softly as he entered Tony’s room to find his older brother in the midst of a nightmare, tears streaming unchecked down the elder man’s cheeks.
He’d been coming down to inform the genius of Mrs. Potts’ call, but as he took in the state of the other he felt something in his chest rebel against it.
Neither of them had coped with Afghanistan very well, both of them trying so hard to keep their nightmares from each other, but in the three years he’d been living with the genius, he’d noticed that none but him had noticed. All of the elder Stark’s friends seemed to expect him to have suddenly gotten over Afghanistan, seemingly forgetting that he had been tortured and betrayed in that time.
It was frustrating.
“Wake up, Tony,” He coaxed, gently rubbing the crying man’s back. “I’m here. I’m safe.” Slowly but surely, chocolate brown eyes fluttered open to meet his ocean blue ones, sobs tapering off into quiet whimpers.
“Bri?” The man whispered gruffly and the blond smiled, lying down beside him so Tony could wrap him in a firm hug and reassure himself of his presence.
“I’m here, Tony.” He repeated. “I’m here. We’re okay.”
He continued on until the CEO calmed completely, chuckling when an embarrassed blush spread across Tony’s cheeks.
“What time is it?”
“‘Round eight in the evening. J said you went to sleep a little after 3pm.”
Tony nodded. “So why’re you in here?”
“Potts called. Told me to tell you that the tower is finished. You just need to activate the reactor.”
The elder Stark nodded and sat up, blinking as he took in the other man’s outfit. A pair of loose cargo pants clung to his tapered svelte waist, a skin tight crimson t-shirt showing off his well defined arms and leaving little to the imagination. His long blond hair was pulled back into a braided tail that fell mid-back, a few strands escaping to frame his face. Most importantly, however, were the two daggers that were strapped to his waist, in easy reach. How the hell?
“How’d you get those past the metal detectors and hotel security.”
Brian smirked. “Trade secret.”
She wasn’t him.
A quiet sigh left Dom as he took in the sleeping woman laying beside him. Soft curves and bronze skin lay in the place of lithe compact muscle and soft peach, dark curls lying where there should be blonde. Her voice, while deep for a woman’s, wasn’t the smooth low tenor that lit his veins on fire, her dark eyes no where near the deep smoldering blue that left him wanting.
He loved Letty...but she wasn’t Brian and it hurt.
She wasn’t the cocksure buster that made his heart race, hell was barely the fierce woman he remembered from their teen years, and it left his heart aching, just as it had when Brian had vanished.
The former cop had just up and left one day, sparing a word for no one, and hadn’t been seen or heard since.
He’d tried to get Mia to help look for the blonde, had asked if she knew something and to his surprise, she’d given him such a look of profound disgust that he hadn’t dared to bring it up again.
Another sigh left his throat, and he tightened his arms around the sleeping woman in his arms, guilt stirring in his gut when he closed his eyes and found himself wishing that the person in his arms was the gorgeous blonde racer with cold eyes and a cocky grin,
“How do you even end up in these situations?!” Brian asked incredulously as he watched Malik and Potts leave the penthouse of the tower. Behind him, Tony chuckled, studying the several different holographic screens surrounding him keenly.
Green giants, assassins, a frozen superhero, gods, magic cubes , it was as if the universe was punishing him for all the trouble he’d gotten into with DT, and all the stress he’d put on Mia. Hell, he certainly had a new appreciation for the younger assassin if this was how she felt whenever she heard about his latest stunt.
“I have no clue.” The billionaire grinned and turned to him. “Ready to go help defend the planet with Fury’s boyband?”
Adrenaline raced in the blonde’s veins, as familiar as breathing and he matched the grin with one of his own.
“Of course. What else did you expect?” He turned to go change. “Malik informed the others so there is backup, should we need it. Every assassin in the city is on standby.”
Tony nodded. “Let’s go kick some alien ass.”
A/N: A bit short, but the next one is a bit longer. It’ll cover the entire Avengers movie and Loki finally enters the picture!!
Avengers, as promised.
A/N: Long time no write, Lol. Here is a long chapter to satisfy your urge to kill me.
Mia stared at her phone incredulously, ignoring the curious looks she was getting from the gang.
Her brother, in all his infamous luck, had managed to call on a day that the entire gang was able to have breakfast together, and after hearing what he had to say, she couldn't bring herself to control her reaction.
Somehow, the blonde always ended up in, or, more accurately, in the middle of trouble, and since being adopted as Tony's brother, this had only worsened. Had she not heard the positive affect the man was having on him, she would have protested, but knowing the blonde as she did, she knew that even without Tony's help he would manage to find trouble.
This, however, did not invalidate the incredulation racing through her as she processed why he was calling.
Aliens claiming to be gods, magic cubes, and alien invasions.
How the fuck was this even her life?
"How the hell do you always end up in these situations?"
He laughed, a deep melodic sound that soothed her frazzled nerves better than anything else would at this moment. It was a rare sound, and even rarer was it genuine.
"You know what? I asked Tony the same thing. He doesn't know either. Malik told me to ask you to keep the gang away from New York, mostly you. He doesn't want you to get hurt. You guys are back in LA, right?"
She nodded ignoring the way Dom was glaring at her phone as if it held the secrets of the universe.
Pardons had shown up in their house in Rio a few weeks after Tony had been attacked in Monaco and she didn't even have to question how it had happened.
The others seemed to know as well, although they didn't seem to want to believe it.
"Thanks for that by the way." Another laugh, softer than the first left him.
"No problem. Hey Mia, I...Tony offered to let me use a suit for the invasion but I can't work them like he can. You know where my storage is on base right?"
Her heart sank and she swallowed thickly.
"No. No, Altair. We aren't doing this. You're going to live and you're going to come home."
He was silent for a moment, and she could see the gang leaning forward as if that would help them hear the conversation.
"I love you, Mi, more than I love my skyline. I'll come back, I promise." He snorted. "Well, maybe not in one piece. But you won't lose me."
Closing her eyes as pain lanced through her heart, she nodded.
"Stay safe. Call me when its over."
"Will do. Love you."
"Love you too, bye."
The line clicked and she sighed, looking up at her family.
Dom, seeing her weary expression placed a hand on her shoulder, his anger at her sadness visible in his eyes.
"Do I need to kill him?" He asked seriously and she had to wonder if he would say that if he knew just who Altair was.
The thought startled a laugh out of her.
"No. He didn't do anything. He's just a reckless idiot." Rome snickered, remembering a certain blonde.
"You certainly seem to attract those."
The woman chuckled, knowing exactly who he was thinking of. Another face joined his, stern unless in the company of those he saw as family, deceptively unassuming.
Reckless idiots seemed drawn to her and her to them, but she wouldn't trade them for the world. Which is why she needed to get to New York.
"How fast can we get to New York?"
"Why?" Letty asked. "Want to meet up with this 'Altair'?"
Mia's lip curled into a vicious snarl but she didn't reply as Rome answered her.
"Two days, if we leave tonight and go non-stop. Three, if we stop."
She nodded. "We need to go. Now."
Dom scowled. "Why? Why are we going to New York for you to meet up with this guy?"
"He's about to do something stupid, again. He needs me."
"You want us to drive thousands of miles for a stranger." He deadpanned and she prayed Brian would forgive her before the next words even left her lips.
"Brian's in New York!"
The older Toretto's eyes darkened. "You've known where he was this whole time?"
She glared back. "I even know why he left."
"I've already lost him once, Dom. I refuse to lose him again. Especially not for you."
She stood. "I'm going, whether you want me to or not. Follow me or don't. I don't care."
He froze. Then nodded, but there was anger simmering just below the shock and she knew it.
She could only hope he would spare Altair the brunt of it. "Alright. We'll go. But this bastard better be worth it."
"He better be." The man turned to the gang. "Pack up and rest. We'll head out in a couple of hours."
Loki was not what Brian expected him to be.
He had expected an arrogant, regal man with a narcissus complex and delusions of grandeur.
However, as he studied the god sitting in front of him, he noted that while arrogant in his bearing, there was a broken look that he'd seen all too often in Tony's eyes (and his own) since Afghanistan.
The look of a man tortured beyond anything he'd ever imagined and forced to continue forward (even when everything in him yearned for the eternal rest).
It made him wonder just who was pulling Loki's strings and how they'd gotten him to dance.
Even worse was the feeling that they would soon find out and it wouldn't pleasant.
Behind a haze of blue, Loki stared at the mysterious figure standing beside the Man of Iron, trying to see the eyes boring into him from behind that white leather cowl.
Even hidden the gaze was piercing, their owner's bearing that of a silent guardian, despite appearing only a few moments previous. The figure was obviously male, standing close to the Captain's 6'3 while dwarfing Stark's 5'9, and the visible lower half of his face was clean shaven and smooth.
He had a feeling the man would ba a thing of beauty.
Too bad, Thanos would be conquering this planet soon.
The Captain frowned at the sentinel. "How did you get up here?" He asked rudely while Stark smiled at said man.
"You followed me didn't you."
The cowl moved in the motion of a nod, before it's owner returned to his evaluation of Loki, who stared back.
For a moment, all was quiet barring Stark's pestering of the captain, then a peal of thunder sounded sending chills down Loki's spine.
"Scared of a little thunder?" The Captain sneered and Loki wished he would be silent. Nevertheless, he responded in kind, eyes flashing a startling emerald ina moment as he shoved his own mind to the surface.
"I'm not overly fond of what follows."
A quiet half-manic titter left the, til now, silent figure under the cowl, following Loki back into the hazy of blue of the Mad Titan's grip. It drew everyone's attention away from the back hatch of the plane briefly, as Thor ripped it open and enter.
Paying the mortals no mind he ripped Loki's restraints and grabbed him, jumping back out of the plane.
Tony scowled and stormed in the direction the gods had gone, sending a single glance toward his silent brother. "And now there's that guy."
"Wait, Stark we need a plan!"
"I have a plan: Attack."
This said, he jumped after Thor never noticing the calculating gleam in hidden blue eyes or the was his brother seeming vanished into the shadows.
Nick Fury frowned deeply as he took in the silent man standing behind his (not)godson.
The man wore a form fitting white leather coat with a large cowl and a red inside and black cargo pants tucked into brown steel-toed boots. Sewn on the shoulders of his jacket was the strange symbol he'd seen on a few of Coulson's things as well as a few other SHIELD agents. Around his wrists were thick silver gauntlets bearing the same symbol and strapped throughout his person were multiple weapons, including the long ancient sword strapped to his waist.
Two thick locks of curly blonde hair fell against a pale throat , framing a smooth aristocratic jawline and full cupid's bow lips. All in all, the man was pretty but mysterious in a way even some of his best spies would hard pressed to match.
He'd appeared from the shadows with nary a warning as soon as Tony had entered the room, but had yet to speak to anyone yet. Reports from both Romanoff and Rodgers had stated that he'd been on their jet when they'd gotten Loki and had yet to speak to them either, only acknowledging Tony.
To his surprise, Coulson approached the man with a feral grin.
"Too much of a coward to show your face, brother?" He taunted, so out of character from his usual stoicism.
The man snorted, one slim hand going up to pull back his hood. When he responded his voice was deep but smooth. "No. Just too beautiful to share my looks with the peasantry. Jealousy is so ugly."
Stark snickered, while Coulson rolled his eyes. "Ah yes. You save your beauty for the courtesans, no?"
The blonde chuckled and Nick took the time to observe him fully.
Admittedly, he was extraordinarily beautiful with his long honey blonde hair and eerie cyan eyes, his face a perfect balance of femininity and masculinity. His voice was dark, but seductive and had a dangerous air around him that reminded him eerily of Romanoff.
Moreso, he was familiar.
He'd actually scouted the man for the SHIELD before he'd gone native, impressed by the man's ability to shed faces and his untouched record of solved UC cases. After he'd gone rogue, he had still wanted to scout him for Shield but had been unable to find him.
Now he knew why.
It also explained that whole Brian Stark business.
"Nick Fury, Director of the SHIELD."
A slow smile crossed the man's lips and danger danced in his eyes.
"Brian Stark, pleasure. I'll be helping Tony and Banner find the cube."
Tony beamed, then turned to Banner. "Shall we play doctor?"
Banner smiled shily. "After you, Mr. Stark."
Phil groaned quietly as his brother's panicked voice reached his ears, the normally calm blonde's composure completely gone. He wanted to reassure him, the same as he had that night so long ago, when the boy, only nine, had come before him with jaded eyes and bruises marring nearly every part of him.
His brother only lost himself when it was one of those close to his ever guarded heart on the line. It was the only thing that could melt the ice he'd borne both as Altair and as Brian, and the one thing the man had absolutely no control over.
He hated that he was the reason for it now.
Cold seeped into his veins, numbness spreading from his fingertips and he just knew that no matter what happened, he wasn't going to make it.
"Malik," Brian breathed, keen blue eyes taking in the severity of his wounds, before their owner began to frantically try and staunch the bleeding.
He placed a weak hand over the other man's. "Even you know that is futile, brother." He took a shuddering breath, fighting back a wince."I am dying, Altair."
The blonde closed his eyes pained, and a single tear escaped them despite his wishes. "I know."
"Take care of Mia?"
His friend sniffled, giving him one of his signature breathtaking smiles, even as the grief fought the love in his gaze.
Phil smiled. "Good." He was distantly aware of Fury yelling at him through his coms, but the black was encroaching on him, the peace beckoning him into its embrace. "That's good…I love...her..."
A quiet sob left Brian, as one of his oldest friend's went still in his arms, genty settling the man in a more comfortable position, he steeled his nerves and stood.
"I will tell her, I promise. Loki will pay for this." He vowed, turning on his heel and vanishing into the shadows.
Moments later, Fury appeared beside Coulson's still warm body and injected him with a strange blue substance.
"Sorry Coulson. I can't lose my good eye yet."
Brian was losing his mind.
Mal- Phil's death was still fresh in his mind and the hatred and bloodlust still raced through his veins despite the fact that they had been on battle with the Chitauri for close to three hours now.
The blue blood of the aliens stained his jacket and pants, mixing with the dried blood from the men that had attacked the helicarrier, his muscles sore and body exhausted, yet the end was nowhere in sight.
Or at least it hadn't been, until Fury's voice came over the coms, grim and full of, well, fury.
"I've got a nuke coming in unauthorized."
His heart sped up.
"I see it!" Tony replied. "Widow, can you close the portal?"
"Good, be on standby. I have nuke coming in," he could almost see his brother's eyes narrow. "And I know just where to put it."
Brian's heart stopped.
"Tony!" He yelled, voice shaking. "What the hell are you doing?!"
Not so soon after losing Malik! Losing Tony, losing his saviour, would destroy him.
"Stark," Cap called solemnly. "You know that's a one way trip…"
Tony gave a broken chuckle. " I know, but there's no other way." His voice softened. "Ready to be my new CEO, Bri?"
A broken sob sounded over the coms, tugging at the hearts of everyone listening.
"Sorry, kiddo. Love you. 'Kay?"
"I l-love you too, Tones. Please do-"
"Jarvis cut the link."
A choked scream left Brian's lips as the nuke disappeared into the portal taking Tony's red and gold clad frame with it.
It felt as if his heart had been ripped out of his chest, his ever so fragile sanity wavering.
"Close it…" Rogers ordered softly and the giant portal began to close before he spotted a tiny glint of gold and red falling from it.
"He's not slowing down!"
Paying no mind to the now lifeless Chitauri around them, he raced in the direction it was falling, sighing in relief as Hulk caught him before he could hit the ground. With little care to the pain it would cause fell beside his older brother, only to still when he noticed that the reactor's light was gone.
"No…" He whispered, the brief glimmer of hope leaving him, only for despair to take its place.
He reached out and began shaking the man, trying to get him to wake, struggling as thick arms wound around him and pulled him away.
The others watched him struggle with sad eyes, and Hulk releasing a loud mournful roar.
Tony jolted awake with a gasp, panting and shaking as his eyes darted from face to face.
"Ah! What the hell? Please tell me nobody kissed me."
A semi-hysterical laugh left Brian, and he launched himself at the older Stark, who seemed bewildered until he heard the desperate words between the assassin's sobs.
'You were gone. You were gone. You were gone.'
The billionaire embraced his brother as well as his armor would let him, and sat up, shushing him gently, while their comrades watched on with small smiles and tears of relief.
"Did we win?" He mouthed at Cap, who smiled wearily.
"Yeah, we won."