This is why Tony can’t have nice things. All he’d wanted was some caffeine from the café down the street from SI between meetings, was that too much to ask? Instead, he’d wound up in the middle of a robot attack, without any armor. Maybe he’d have to come up with some kind of backpack armor, that way he wouldn’t have to lug around the briefcase armor all the time, cause that thing was becoming a pain to take everywhere. A backpack had the added advantage of keeping his hands free for whatever, too.
The car next to the one he was currently hiding behind exploded, putting Tony’s mind back on task. He knew he was useless in a fight without his armor, which left him with the sensible option of getting away and finding some cover that wasn’t prone to turning into a fireball of death. Peeking over the trunk, he saw an alley across the street and made a break for it.
Halfway across the road, he noticed one of the robots approaching a restaurant that was half a block down and, more than likely, filled with terrified civilians. Damn it, he was starting to hate the hero complex he’d developed somewhere along the line over the last few years, and he was definitely going to regret his next move. Looking around, he found a piece of debris and threw it as hard as he could at the walking scrap heap.
“Oi! Over here, you piece of shit!” He yelled at it, waving his arms over his head. The robot turned 90 degrees to face him. It raised an arm and fired a missile at him.
“Well fuck.” He said to himself. Before he could get out of the way, a blue streak slammed into him and tackled him to the ground. His head bounced off the tarmac with a loud crack, pain instantly lancing through his entire skull. He must have blacked out for a few seconds, cause when he regained his senses, Steve was crouched over him in his uniform and yelling at him.
“-tay down, Stark, and get to cover!” He was shouting, before lifting his shield and darting off, leaving Tony splayed on his back.
He tried sitting up, but the pain in his head was totally against that idea. It also didn’t appreciate it when it thunked against the street again after he collapsed back down. The pain left him gasping and stunned. After a few moments, he got his breathing under control and had to consciously think about blinking his eyes a few times. The ringing in his ears died down enough for him to hear his phone going off. With a groan, Tony forced his hand to move and pull it out of his pocket and up to his ear.
“Hmmmm?” He answered groggily.
“Stark, quit lying around and get up.” Natasha’s clipped voice ordered.
“Love to, can’t.” He managed to grit out. Speaking was adding to the pain in his head.
He could almost feel the Widow’s attention hone in on him from wherever she was, “You’re hurt.” She stated.
He hummed in affirmation.
“Status.” She demanded.
“ ‘ead ‘urts. T’lkin’ ‘urts. Th’nk’n ‘urts.” The words slipped from his lips half formed. He heard her curse on the other side of the line.
“Sounds like a concussion, and a bad one. Everyone is engaged currently, you’re going to have to get yourself to safety, Stark.” Her voice was less harsh now, verging on coaxing. Tony had a feeling he should be concerned about the sudden attitude change in the terrifying woman, but he just closed his eyes and hummed again without moving.
“Tony!” Natasha yelled through the phone, making him jerk and groan at the throb of pain that went through his head, “We can get you medical assistance, but you have to get off the battlefield first. You need to move your ass before you get yourself killed.”
The call ended and he let the phone clatter to the ground. The Black Widow made a valid argument, the ground kept shaking with explosions and he could hear the Hulk roaring somewhere close. If he didn’t start moving now, the likelihood of him ever moving again wasn’t very promising. Bracing himself and clenching his eyes shut in anticipation, he managed to roll to his side. From there, he pushed up to his hands and knees, letting his head hang down as he tried to keep from falling back over. Forcing his eyes open, he chanced looking around at his surroundings. Moving his head, however, caused his eyes to cross in agony. Putting his stubbornness to good use, he pushed through the pain. He sighed in relief when he realized he was somehow twenty feet closer to the alley he had originally set out to take cover in.
Biting the inside of his cheek till it bled, he steeled himself and shoved up onto his feet. The second he was up, the pain in his head threatened to send him crashing back down. One hand went flying up to cradle his skull while the other stuck out in front of him as he stumbled blindly towards the alley. With both knees badly bruised after collapsing twice, Tony finally made it to the corner. He leaned heavily against it for a moment while he caught his breath after throwing up from overexerting himself. Or maybe that was just the concussion. Regardless, it did nothing good for his head.
Pushing off the wall, he staggered down the center of the alley haphazardly. He’d made it about thirty feet when a metallic clank came from behind him. He did a shuffle turn and saw one of the robots standing several feet away. Tony knew there was something he should be doing in this kind of situation, but his head just hurt too damn much. So he stood there swaying, doing nothing as the mechanized teapot started moving towards him.
Suddenly it froze, it’s head spinning 180 degrees as it shifted sideways and something went whizzing past it. A second something found its mark, causing the robot’s head to start melting. The first something, however, didn’t just magically stop.
It hit Tony square in the chest, the force of it, in addition to his current lack of coordination, knocked him backwards. When he hit the ground this time, he definitely blacked out. He wasn’t sure what had him sputtering back into consciousness, but it might have been the searing burn in his chest where the Arc reactor was. His eyes refused to focus when he cracked them, protesting even being open. A glance down at his chest told him there was a, a… his brain refused to provide him with the correct term, but there was a long shaft sticking out of the reactor. While failing to provide simple information at this time, Tony’s brain knew well enough that that wasn’t supposed to be there.
With a groan, he tried to grab it, but his arm wasn’t listening to him. Not good. He needed to get the thingy impaled in his chest out, cause that was starting to hurt worse than his head, which was saying something. He tried picking his arm up again and managed to flop it onto his stomach. Hurray for small victories, but god, when had moving his arm ever been that exhausting? Pressing on, he crawled his hand up his chest, feeling a tingly burn as he made his fingers wrap around the thing sticking out of his chest and clenched onto it as hard as he could. After taking a few moments to gather his strength, he yanked it out without any preamble.
The pain the followed had him screaming his lungs out as his body locked up in agony.
His free hand shot up to his chest, pressing hard over the reactor as though to stop it from falling out. The hand might have been burning now, but that was hardly a concern because he was dying. The Arc reactor wasn’t functioning anymore and, oh god, he was going to die. He was going to die an agonizing, insignificant death because he’d been too lazy to bring the damn briefcase armor with him. Well, he couldn’t say he didn’t deserve it after an idiotic move like that.
“Oh god, Tony!” A vaguely familiar voice shouted from the mouth of the alley. The sound of rushing footsteps assaulted him, and he wasn’t even going to bother figuring out if it was one or all his teammates. Someone crashed down beside him, grasping his hand and pulling it away from the reactor. There was a collective gasp from different sources around him.
“Oh god, what did that?” Asked the familiar voice in a horrified tone.
“Shit, look at his other hand, that’s one of Clint’s arrows. He was using the acid ones, since they were the only thing working on the robots.” A female voice answered.
“Where’s the ambulance? Get them here now! And call Ms. Potts, this looks really bad.”
Even though he knew it probably wasn’t the best idea right now, Tony cracked his eyes open to find out who’d found him. A big, blue blur was crouched over him and a black form topped in red was standing nearby. Steve and Natasha then, he decided, after having to think too hard about it.
“C’pn’.” He grated out softly, his throat ragged from screaming before.
“Tony!” The Super Soldier exclaimed, making Tony wince, “Sorry. Oh god, Tony. You’re fine, you’re gonna be fine, alight? Just hang in there, Shellhead.”
Tony tried to respond, but all that came out was a thick gurgle. And even though he couldn’t see Steve’s face clearly, he could picture the worried look of constipation the good captain got whenever someone got hurt. His lips twitched slightly in amusement. Steve kept babbling at him, trying to keep him engaged and conscious. It wasn’t working very well. Tony’s eyes drooped down and closed, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get them to open again. Oh well, it hurt less with them closed anyways.
A sharp sting across his face had his eyes snapping open and his head spinning worse than ever. He retched. There were hands on him, turning him on his side as he heaved up bile. He was gently laid back down, but the motion still made him cry out as streaks of agony shot through his body from his head and chest.
Everything was blurred beyond recognition now; the only thing registering was colors. His surroundings were flashing red now and he had a feeling that wasn’t a good sign. Suddenly there were new hands on him and voices he didn’t recognize floating around him as he lay gasping for breath. A bright light was shined in his eyes, making him yelp.
“Patient is conscious but non responsive. Sever acid burn trauma to the left hand and chest. Pupils are dilated and uneven, probable concussion. Cardiac arrest is imminent within ten minutes. Let’s get him loaded.” An unknown said. Tony felt himself being braced and lifted onto something. He groaned loudly before something was pressed over his face. Panic shot through him and he thrashed weakly.
“Hey, hey. You’re fine Tony, just relax.” Steve’s voice soothed as fingers trailed softly over his forehead. And Tony listened; he stopped moving, focusing on Steve as he addressed someone.
“I’m going with him.”
“Sir, there’s not enough ro-“
“Son, just don’t. He’s my best friend and teammate, I’m going with him to the hospital. Now stop wasting his time!”
Tony would have sniggered at the fact that Steve had just called some guy, who probably looked older than him, ‘son’, but even the thought of laughing made his head hurt. He moaned softly when his body was jostled; hopefully they were at least loading him into the ambulance. Better be loading him into an ambulance, cause he was literally dying, in case no one had noticed yet. The doors slammed shut, making him wince and whimper. A hand stroked his arm lightly and reassuringly.
“It’s gonna be fine, Tony. Just hang on, don’t go anywhere. Please stay.” Steve whispered softly, almost desperately.
Where am I going? Tony thought to himself.
Everything started going dark then and he understood where he was going. He could feel himself balancing on the edge of life, leaning further and further towards the wrong side until he was falling head first over the edge. The last thing he heard was Steve screaming his name, and then he was gone.