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The altimeter tended to travel around with Tony, moving from his workshop to the office at SI that he tried to avoid to his bedside table, even though JARVIS could tell him Martin's exact co-ordinates at any time of the day or night. There was something strangely comforting about glancing over and seeing that Martin was at 30,000 feet and therefore doing what he loved, or resting at about 400 feet, the elevation of Fitton, and so at home.

It was also a reliable indicator of whether or not Tony should bother trying to call him. It was currently showing 36,000 feet, so Tony shelved his plan of calling him up to ramble through the problem he was currently having with the Quinjet's aerodynamics.

“What time is Martin scheduled to land?” he asked JARVIS.

“MJN Air are scheduled to arrive in Naples at 12.32 pm local time,” said JARVIS. “That will be 6.32 am Eastern Time.”

“Okay, awesome. Wait, what time is it now?”

“It is currently 2.17 am,” said JARVIS. There was something pointed about the way he said 'AM', as if he was trying to imply that Tony should be in bed, but Tony ignored it. He wasn't about to have his bedtime dictated to him by an AI that was on 24/7.

“Four hours,” said Tony. He glanced back down at the current blueprints for the Quinjet and made a face. “You know, when I started this, I didn't think it would take this long to get a workable design. I'm beginning to doubt my genius credentials. How long have I been at it now?”

“You started the day after you returned from meeting Captain Crieff in Mafikeng,” said JARVIS. “Just under a year ago.”

“Right,” said Tony. “My point exactly. When the hell has it ever taken me a year to– Wait. WAIT. What day did I meet Martin?”

“The 28th of June,” said JARVIS. “One year ago in 6 days time.”

“Holy shit,” said Tony, all thoughts of the Quinjet wiped from his mind. “A whole year? That's insane.”

Tony didn't think he'd ever had a relationship longer than three months, let alone a whole year. How the hell hadn't Martin got bored of his Stark bullshit yet? For a moment, his mind was blank with shock and then a thought appeared in neon letters.

“We'll need to celebrate.”

“That does seem to be the tradition,” agreed JARVIS.

“When's he here next? Can we come up with an excuse to get him here on the 28th? Or should I go there?”

“MJN are scheduled to fly Herr Bernard from Berlin to New York for the quarterly review of the European division on the 26th,” said JARVIS. “They are scheduled to fly back on the 28th.”

“Okay, awesome, perfect,” said Tony. “Well, no, not perfect, perfect would be a day later. Oh, wait, hang on, I bet we can reschedule Hans. Tell him something came up, make it sound believable, and just push it back a day. Then Martin will be here all of the 28th, right? Okay, awesome. A whole day. Cancel all my plans as well, yeah? We'll do… I don't know. What do you do? Dinner and flowers and a card and such shit?”

“My initial review of the information on the internet would indicate so, sir,” said JARVIS. “However, I would suggest that the key element is spending time together, doing an activity you both enjoy.”

“Right,” said Tony. “Okay. Something we both enjoy. Easy, I can do that. Sex, we both enjoy sex. Or, uh – wait, what am I thinking? The Cradle of Aviation museum! Why haven't we been there yet? He'll love it. And then we can have sex. Maybe on an airplane? There's definitely no good reason we haven't done that yet. And dinner somewhere. Probably not at the same time. Yeah, okay, we have a plan.” He hesitated. “That sounds okay, right, JARVIS?”

“I'm sure Captain Crieff will find those plans agreeable,” said JARVIS.

“Okay,” said Tony. “Awesome.” He glanced at the altimeter again and made a face at its stubborn refusal to show Martin at ground level. “Let me know as soon as I can call him, yeah?” He glanced back down at the Quinjet plans. “Now I just need to get this finished before we all die of old age.”

JARVIS cleared his non-existent throat. “If I may, sir, I would say that the plans have been essentially complete for nearly eight months and that since then you have merely been amending what seem to be extremely minor details.”

Tony frowned and looked down at the designs again. “There's nothing minor about the–” he started, and then hesitated. “Huh. Okay, so, why haven't I just finished the damned thing?”

“I couldn't possibly say, sir,” said JARVIS, far too smoothly.

“Don't give me that,” said Tony. “You clearly think you know something, come on, come on, give it to me.”

JARVIS was silent for a moment, then said, very delicately, “It merely seems to me that you strongly associate the design of the Quinjet with your relationship with Captain Crieff and, as such, may have been putting off completing it out of either some subconscious fear that finishing one would finish the other, or that if you did not have the designs to discuss, Captain Crieff might lose interest.”

Tony considered that, then decided it involved way too much self-analysis. “Fuck it, whatever. My subconscious doesn't get to fuck with my tech. I'll finish today.”

“Very good, sir.”


Except things were never that simple. At least, not if your name was Tony Stark. It took three days of minimal sleep to finish the Quinjet, and then another two days to catch up on all the stuff Tony had ignored in order to get it done so that Pepper wouldn't kill him. It was only after he was completely up-to-date and in her good books that he told her that he was taking the 28th off, which prompted an irritated eye roll and a complaint about having to deal with Hans without him. That was completely wiped away when he told her why he needed the day.

“A year?” she repeated, sounding just as surprised as he'd been. “You, Tony Stark, managed a relationship for a whole year without fucking it up?”

“I know, right?” he said. “I mean, okay, so I kinda did fuck it up a couple of times, but apparently not badly enough to lose him.”

“I'd ask if he's a masochist if I didn't think it would lead to unwanted details about your sex life,” said Pepper, which was totally unfair because Tony only gave her unwanted details about his sex life when he was drunk. Or bored. Or not really thinking about what he was saying. Or– well, okay, maybe she had a point.

“Fine, you're excused from the meetings,” said Pepper. “It's not as if you ever do much except make bad wurst jokes around Hans anyway.”

“Man, he hates those,” said Tony, with fond remembrance. “Even his moustache gets indignant.”

The next thing was to ask Cap not to call out Iron Man unless he really needed to, so Tony headed up to his art studio.

Steve was staring at an easel when Tony came in.

“Hey, Glorious Leader, I need tomorrow off.”

Steve didn't respond. After a moment, he reached out one hand as if he was going to touch the canvas in front of him, then pulled it back.

“Yo, Cap?” said Tony, wandering around to have a look at what he was doing. “Are you listening? I said– Woah.”

The canvas didn't have one of Steve's usual paintings of New York skylines or the Avengers on it. Instead, there was a swirling mess of black and red, spiralling around in such a way that it almost seemed to be moving.

“That got a bit abstract,” said Tony. “Let me guess, it's how you feel after eating one of Bruce's super-spicy curries?”

“I didn't paint it,” said Steve in a distracted voice. “It was just here.” His hand stretched out for the canvas again and he gently pressed a finger tip to the very centre of the spiral. “It's the war,” he said, dreamily.

And that was when everything really went wrong. The painting wavered and started to move, colours spinning into the centre and forming a vortex that expanded beyond the boundaries of the canvas.

“Watch out!” said Tony, stepping back and grabbing for Steve to get him out of the way.

Too late. Steve's hand had already been sucked into the painting. Tony yanked his shoulder, trying to pull him back, but the force was too strong. There was a split-second when he could have let go and saved himself, but he clung on instead. His last thought as he was pulled in to the red and black wormhole behind Steve was that he really should have seen this coming as soon as he made plans. Had he learnt nothing from Reed Richards and Sue Storm's constant failed attempts at a wedding?


Every time Martin thought he'd got the hang of not being anxious about every tiny new element of his relationship with Tony, something else would come up and prove him wrong.

“If you keep squeezing the controls like that, you'll end up leaving your fingerprints in them,” said Douglas.

Martin forced his fingers to relax. One knee began to jiggle.

“Is it pent-up excitement, some form of special Crieff-related meltdown, or are you desperate for the loo?” asked Douglas. “Because I am happy to take control if you wish to pop to the toilet.”

Martin stopped his knee. “It's our one year anniversary.”

“Ah,” said Douglas. “I see. You're petrified.”

Martin didn't even bother considering to deny that. “What do you get a billionaire for an anniversary present? That's not hopelessly naff?”

Douglas shrugged. “I suppose brown sauce wouldn't do.”

“Not for an American.”

“No, I suppose not,” said Douglas. “Well, you managed well enough at Christmas, didn't you? And presumably he's had a birthday at some point.”

“They were easy,” said Martin. “Christmas was the first present I had to get him, so I had lots of ideas, and his birthday – well. I just did something he'd mentioned wanting several times.”

“Ah,” said Douglas. “Something sex-related, perhaps?”

Martin concentrated very hard on not blushing, but entirely failed. “Not at all,” he said. Douglas snorted his disbelief.

It had taken Martin nearly a fortnight of practising by himself to decide he would actually be able to have phone sex with Tony without making an awful, awkward, stuttering mess of it, and another three days to force himself to go through with it. Given that Tony had brought it up about once a week since the first time he'd mentioned it, he'd thought it was a pretty solid choice as a present, and he'd been right. What he hadn't expected was that he'd enjoy it as much as he had. There something about knowing he could turn Tony on that much just using his voice that made him feel like he'd just single-handedly circumnavigated the world in a Klemm L.20B.

“At any rate,” he said, then coughed and tried again with less of a squeak in his voice, “Anniversaries are harder. They have to be meaningful.”

“I think there's something fairly meaningful about sex,” said Douglas. “At any rate, isn't it a bit late for this now? We'll be landing in six hours. Please tell me you're not intending to buy him something at the airport. Toblerone is, I fear, only romantic to Arthur.”

“Oh no, I have something in my bag,” said Martin. “It's just, what if he doesn't like it? It's a bit... well. It might be a bit shit.”

“I'm sure he will love it,” said Douglas. “Really, you would think that a year of seeing an international sex symbol, who also happens to be a genius, a billionaire and a superhero, would have increased your confidence at least a little bit.”

“It has,” said Martin, “but it's working against a lifetime of me being me.”

“Ah,” said Douglas. “I see your point.”

The satellite phone started to ring.

“Oh lord, I do hope that's not Herc calling with more sweet nothings for Carolyn,” said Douglas. He picked up. “Hello, MJN Air.”

“This is Pepper Potts. Please put me through to Martin Crieff.”

Martin froze. Pepper only called him when something had happened to Tony. “I'm here,” he croaked with a dry mouth.

“Martin,” she said, and then paused. Martin's heart sped up to double-speed. “There's been an incident.”

“Oh god,” whimpered Martin, his hands going slack on the steering column.

“I have control,” said Douglas, quietly, taking over.

“Don't over-react,” said Pepper. “Tony might be fine.”

Might be?” repeated Martin. “Oh god, that means he might not be. What happened?”

“We're not entirely sure yet,” said Pepper. Martin was beginning to feel as if he might vomit. “He and Steve were sucked into– into some kind of portal or wormhole or– I don't know. The other Avengers are looking into it, and they've got Reed Richards involved as well. They'll do everything they can to get them both back safely.”

“Right,” said Martin, numbly. “Of course.” He took a deep breath. This is what happens when you date a superhero, he reminded himself, just as he had every other time something horribly dangerous or terrifying happened to Tony. It's still better than not being with him at all.

“I know Tony was going to come and meet you at the airport,” said Pepper. “I'll pick you up instead.”

“Oh, you don't have to do that,” said Martin, automatically.

“No,” she agreed, “and yet I'm going to do it anyway.”

She hung up. Martin took several deep breaths during which Douglas was, mercifully, silent and then put his hands back on the steering column. “I have control.”

“Are you sure?” asked Douglas.

“I'm not just going to sit here doing nothing,” said Martin.

“Fair enough,” said Douglas, and he relinquished control. There was a few minutes of silence while Martin tried to concentrate every available part of his brain on flying and none at all on gibbering with panic that Tony was dead, or just vanished so completely that he'd never come back, or being tortured or–

There were far too many possibilities, and Martin was only thinking of the 'normal' ones. God only knew what kind of unbelievable things happened when you got sucked down a wormhole. Alternate universes or alien worlds or – god, what if it just opened on a random part of space and let Tony out in a vacuum? Didn't people's lungs explode in space?

The mental image that came with that thought made his throat close up, and he clenched his hands around the steering column. What was he going to do if Tony wasn't okay?


Their client, Hans Bernard, was the first off GERTI but Martin wasn't far behind him. There was a black limo pulled up on the tarmac of the private runway that MJN used for their Stark Industry flights. As Martin emerged, leaving Douglas to deal with the post-flight checks, Pepper opened a door and stepped out.

“Miss Potts,” said Hans Bernard, sounding surprised. “You didn't have to come and meet me yourself, although I appreciate the gesture.”

She gave him a tight smile. “I'm afraid I'm actually here for Captain Crieff,” she said. “There's a cab coming for you.”

“Oh,” said Hans Bernard, frowning. He turned and gave Martin a puzzled, disparaging look. “I'm sure the CEO of Stark Industries could use their time better than ferrying around a pilot. You're not a PA any more, you know.”

“I am well aware of that,” she said, with a plastic smile. “And tomorrow, during our meeting, we will discuss whether or not the head of Stark Europe should be spending his time and PR budget on parties for his cronies. Today, however, I'm giving a lift to a friend. Come on, Martin.”

Hans Bernard had gone a strange purple colour. Martin ducked around him to get in the limo and Pepper climbed in after him and shut the door.

“Has there been any further news?” he asked as the car pulled away.

Pepper shook her head. “Nothing. Well, nothing anyone who isn't a scientific genius understands. Bruce and Reed Richards have come up with some readings that made them very excited, but I didn't get the full story and they've both retreated into a lab now.”

“Right,” said Martin. “Okay. Well, I suppose that must be a good thing, right? Someone knows something and even if that something isn't something that anyone else can understand, at least it's a something that might end with something happening.”

Pepper blinked. “Ah, yes,” she said. “Precisely, although not quite how I'd have phrased it.”

Martin deflated against the side of the car. “So, it's all just waiting, then?”

“Unfortunately,” said Pepper. “If it helps, you can't be any worse at it than the other Avengers. Clint's going a bit nuts, like a rat in a maze. There's nothing he can do until the scientists come up with something.”

“And nothing we can do at all,” said Martin, with frustration. Nothing to do but wait and hope and watch other people actually get to help Tony.

Pepper was silent for several minutes and then let out a quiet sigh. “I'd like to tell you that it gets easier over time, but the truth is that every time this happens, it's just as difficult as the first time.”

Martin thought back to that first time, perched on the sofa surrounded by students while watching Tony's body being carried limply from the White House, followed by sitting alone in the silence of his attic. The roiling fear hadn't changed, but at least he was on the inside now. He was on the call list whenever something like this happened and was going to be able to wait for news at the penthouse of Avengers Tower, where he'd hear straight away if anything happened, and get to be there when Tony came back. And it would be when he came back; Martin couldn't cope with the idea of if.


The atmosphere in Avengers Tower was tense. Black Widow and Hawkeye were in the main lounge, dressed in their costumes and ready to leave at moment's notice. Clint was pacing around the room, fidgeting with his bow, while Natasha was sat almost preternaturally still, except for the movement as she sharpened one of her knives. Outside on the balcony, Martin could see Thor standing with his cloak billowing in the wind behind him.

Their eyes sprung straight to Martin as he came in, clutching his travel bag. It felt like being trapped under the stare of a pair of predators.

“Um. Hello,” he said, shifting his bag from one clammy hand to the other.

Natasha gave him a short nod then turned her attention to her knife.

“Hey,” said Clint, flicking his bow so that it clicked out, then folding it back down with a sharp jerk. “I guess you've heard.”

Martin nodded, trying to ignore the way his throat felt like it was closing up.

Clint made a face. “Fucking inter-dimensional shit is the worst. Anything where you can't just get in a plane and go and blow the fuckers apart to get your guys back is bullshit.”

“Do we have any idea where they are?”

Clint shrugged. “Richards gave me some spiel about quantum mechanics but it didn't mean much to me. They're trying to reverse engineer it so we can follow, but it's not just science, it's magic as well. I fucking hate magic.”

“Magic?” repeated Martin. “Oh god. Do we know how this could have happened?”

Clint gave a twitchy shrug. “Looks like someone did it on purpose, we're just not sure who yet. Managed to get a picture into Cap's studio that was the gateway to the wormhole.”

“When we find them, we'll crush them,” said Natasha in a quiet, cold voice that sent a chill down Martin's spine.

“Right,” he stuttered. “Um. Okay. Good.”

The lift dinged and Bruce and Reed Richards came out. The balcony door opened at the same time and Thor swept in.

“What news, brothers?” he asked.

“We've got it!” said Richards. “The wormhole was generated by negative mass cosmic strings, which–”

“We don't need a lecture, just tell us – can we get them back?” interrupted Clint.

“We think so,” said Bruce, taking his glasses off and cleaning them on his lab coat. “Or, at least, we can send ourselves after them and take a device with us that will reopen the wormhole in the opposite direction so we can all get home.”

“Right,” said Clint. “Let's go.” Natasha slid the knife away and stood up.

“All the equipment is in the lab,” said Bruce, gesturing back at the lift.

“I'll leave you guys to it,” said Reed Richards. “Probably best if we keep a full team of superheroes in New York, just in case.”

“'tis a wise precaution,” agreed Thor.

“JARVIS, notify Reed immediately if you detect any other wormholes or unusual readings,” said Bruce.

“Of course, Doctor Banner,” said JARVIS.

“I'll see you off, make sure it works properly, then head home,” said Richards.

The superheroes all filed into the lift, leaving Martin awkwardly standing to one side, watching them go.

“Um, good luck,” he offered weakly, wishing there was some way he could help, but he'd only be a liability on a rescue mission to another dimension.

Bruce gave him a reassuring smile as the doors shut. “We'll bring him back to you, safe and sound.”

Martin felt better for a fraction of a second, before he heard Natasha say, from behind the closing doors, “You shouldn't make promises like that. You know anything could have already happened to them.”

He was left alone in the penthouse feeling as if the bottom had dropped out of his stomach. He dropped his bag, glanced about, and then settled on a sofa to put his head in his hands. He took deep breaths, hoping to stave off an embarrassingly over-emotional fit of crying. He had to believe that Tony would be fine.


It was strange being in the penthouse on his own. Martin could count the number of times he'd been there without Tony on one hand, and even then there'd been other people around. Empty, the penthouse just seemed really large.

He took his bag up to Tony's bedroom and then went back down to the sitting room and wondered what he should be doing. It seemed a bit cold-hearted to put the telly on or pull out a book and he wasn't sure he'd be able to concentrate anyway. He ended up wandering around the penthouse, idly looking at the art on the walls and trying to work out if he wanted to know how much Tony had paid for a random streak of blue paint on a yellow background.

There were a handful of photo frames scattered on top of a spindly-legged table. Most of them were of various Avengers, but there were two of him and Tony together. One of them was from the Duxford Airshow last year, taken as the Red Arrows were soaring over. Martin's head was tipped back as he watched them pass over and Tony was standing behind him, arms wrapped around his waist and an uncharacteristically small smile on his lips. Martin looked a bit gormless, staring open-mouthed at the planes, but the look on Tony's face more than made up for it. He looked quietly content, as if he couldn't imagine anywhere else worth being.

The other had been taken here, possibly by JARVIS as Martin had no memory of a camera ever being around. They were sat on the sofa together, Martin leaning in to the curve of Tony's body with one arm draped around his shoulders. It looked as if they're been watching TV, but neither of them were looking at the screen. Instead, they were staring at each other, Tony's face lit up with a wicked smile while Martin gave him a look of breathless wonder.

Martin felt emotion surge up in his chest and had to choke it back down. Neither he nor Tony were the sentimental type and they didn't really discuss their feelings for each other, beyond the occasional 'I love you' at the end of a phone call. Martin tended to not think about it now that they were settled into their relationship, but every so often the strength of how much he felt washed over him and he felt like he was going to crumble under it.

If something bad had happened to Tony, he really would crumble under it. He couldn't imagine going back to the loneliness of how he'd been before.

Eventually, he gave up waiting for something to happen and went to bed, but he found it almost impossible to get to sleep. Every tiny noise made him jolt wide awake, in case it was Tony and the others coming back from– from wherever they'd gone. How long did it take to rescue two people from a parallel dimension? It had already been several hours, so presumably it hadn't just been a case of popping out the wormhole, picking Tony and Steve up, and then popping back.

Unless, thought Martin, thinking back to various sci-fi shows that he'd watched as a teenager, time worked at a different rate in the other universe. In which case, they could be any amount of time. Maybe even years. What if Tony came back after several decades, when Martin was an old man? How would they make that work? Would they even want to?

Perhaps he was over-thinking this. He took a deep breath and resolutely shut his eyes. It was all going to be fine. Tony would be back very soon, probably before the morning, and they'd still have all tomorrow together for their anniversary.

Before the morning. His eyes flew open again. Maybe he should be waiting downstairs for them to get back. Not in the lab, obviously – he didn't actually know where Bruce's lab was, and he probably shouldn't go in there anyway, in case he touched a delicate experiment and messed it up. The lounge area? Except there really wasn't much difference between being there and being in bed, especially as he didn't know how long he'd be waiting. He'd look like an idiot if he fell asleep on the sofa.

He sat up, but didn't get out of bed.

They might already be back. Would he know if they'd got back already? If Tony or Steve had been injured, they might have gone straight to a hospital and just forgotten about him.

He grabbed his phone off the bedside table to check it, even though he knew he hadn't received a text. Nothing.

There was the electronic equivalent of a cleared throat. “Please be assured, Captain Crieff, that I will notify you as soon as there is any news about Mr. Stark,” said JARVIS.

Martin did his very best not to startle. He really should be used to JARVIS by now, especially given how often Tony casually brought him into conversation.

“Oh,” he said. “Okay. Good. Um, thanks.”

“It's no trouble,” said JARVIS.

Martin lay back down again. “You'll wake me up if something happens?”

“The very instant,” promised JARVIS.

Martin shut his eyes again. It took him a long time to get to sleep, but he did finally manage it.


When he woke up, it was the next morning.

He sat straight up. “JARVIS, has there been any news?”

“I'm afraid not, Captain.”

Martin felt his shoulders sag. “Right. Okay.”

What now? He'd been meant to be spending the day with Tony, celebrating the fact that they'd made it a year despite the fact that one of them was a gorgeous, billionaire superhero and the other was a short, red-faced nobody.

The wildly paranoid part of his brain wondered if this wasn't a ploy by Tony to avoid having to see Martin because he'd suddenly come to his senses. No, that was stupid. Tony was well-known for being extremely forthright. If he was done with Martin, he'd have told him to his face.

Unless he was afraid that Martin would take it badly, in which case he might just hide from the whole emotional mess.

No, no, this was far too convoluted. When Tony went to ground to avoid dealing with emotions, he did it by holing up in his workshop and pretending the world didn't exist, not by faking a trip through a wormhole.

Martin took a deep breath, told himself not to let his imagination get out of hand, and went to have a shower.


It was a very long day, during which nothing happened. Martin spent it pacing around the penthouse, asking JARVIS for updates every ten minutes despite his constant assurances that he'd let him know the moment there was news.

By mid-afternoon, Martin felt like he was going to crawl out of his skin with frustration. He began to contemplate the benefits of drinking Tony's bar dry, but it probably wouldn't be the best boyfriend behaviour to be wasted when Tony came back – not to mention the fact that Martin seriously doubted his liver's ability to cope with the amount of alcohol that Tony thought a fully stocked bar needed.

Instead, he made himself a cup of coffee and then settled down with his book, which he managed to concentrate on for nearly ten minutes before his attention wavered and he ended up just staring at the ceiling, picturing all the terrible things that could be happening to Tony.

He was imagining an alternate universe that was entirely underwater and where Tony and all the other Avengers had drowned within minutes of going through the wormhole when JARVIS interrupted him.

“Captain Crieff, the wormhole has just reopened in Doctor Banner's lab.”

Martin dropped his book and shot to his feet. “Is Tony back?”

“Doctor Banner and Miss Romanov have come through," said JARVIS. “Ah, and Mr. Barton with Captain Rogers.”

If they'd found Steve, they must have found Tony as well. Martin started for the lift, then stopped. Should he go down? Should he wait? Would he be in the way?

“Mr. Stark has just come through with Mr. Odinson,” said JARVIS.

“Oh, thank god,” said Martin. His knees felt weak. “How does he look?”

“He has some injuries, but is awake and appears to be in good humour,” said JARVIS. “They are on their way up here.”

“Right,” said Martin. “Okay. Good.”

It was an agonisingly long time before the lift doors opened to reveal a group of tired, dirty superheroes. Tony was at the back of the group, with Thor supporting him far more than Martin liked to see.

“Spitfire!” he said with a little wave. “Good to see you. Happy Anniversary – sorry I managed to completely fuck it up.”

“Oh god, it's so good to see you,” said Martin.

The moment Tony was out of the lift, Martin rushed over to him. His first instinct was to wrap him up in a hug, but he could tell from the careful way Tony was moving that that might not be welcome, so instead he just took one of his hands and squeezed it. Thor gave him a nod, then tactfully moved away with the others, who seemed pretty set on getting to the kitchen.

“I was so worried.”

Tony waved that away. “Can't imagine why. Takes more than an inter-dimensional wormhole through to the world of perpetual warfare to put a dent in Tony Stark.”

“Perpetual warfare?” repeated Martin. “Oh, god.” He ran his eyes over Tony's body, noting the cuts and bruises, the rips in his clothes and the occasional burn mark. “You look terrible.”

Tony snorted. “Such flattery. Chill, it's all just cosmetic. I, ah, I could do with a sit down, though.”

“Right,” said Martin. “Of course.” He reached out for Tony, then hesitated when he didn't know where was safe to grab. Tony settled the problem for him by just draping an arm around his shoulders.

“Seriously, no need to look so freaked. I'm totally fine.”

“Sadly, I think he knows you too well to take your word at face value on that one,” said Bruce, coming back in from the kitchen. He was carrying a tray that he set on Tony's lap as soon as Martin had helped him down onto the sofa. “Sit still and eat that. I'm going to get my med kit.”

Martin sat down next to Tony, unwilling to be further away than a few inches from him right now.

“I'm fine, no need for fussing,” said Tony.

“Tell that to someone who didn’t watch you get thrown from a Jeep less than four hours ago,” said Bruce as he left the room again.

“Thrown from a Jeep?” repeated Martin.

Tony waved a hand. “Sounds worse than it was.” He looked down at the tray. “Man, I'm starving, though. Thank god for Bruce's sandwich skills.” He dug in. “You wouldn't believe how shitty the food is in a world that’s had 70 years of the Second World War.”

“Sir, Miss Potts is on the line,” said JARVIS.

“Put her through,” said Tony, straightening up a bit as if trying to look less battered. Pepper appeared on the wall in front of them. “Hey, Pepper.”

She took one look at him and pressed her hand to her mouth. “Jesus, Tony. What did you do this time?”

“Me?” said Tony. “All I did was go into Cap's studio. He's the one who somehow got hold of a painting that turns into a wormhole leading to Saving Private Ryan.”

“Are you hurt?” she asked.

“Nothing some food and a nap won't fix,” said Tony. “And I'm already working on the first part.” He waved the sandwich at her.

Pepper transferred her gaze to Martin. “You'll make sure he gets plenty of rest?”

“Yes, of course.” Except Tony looked like he needed at least a couple of days off, and Martin was only going to be around for the next twelve hours. How was he meant to stop Tony spending forty-eight hours in his workshop from Fitton?

Pepper gave him a look that said she knew what he was thinking, but nodded.

“Hey, I can look after myself, you know,” protested Tony.

“No, you can't,” said Pepper. “I have to go – Tony, I'll come and see you tomorrow, after Martin's gone, okay? I expect to find you resting.”

She rang off without waiting for a response. Tony made a quietly irritated noise. “Every one treats me like a kid,” he complained.

“Eat your sandwich,” said Martin. “Or do you want me to cut it into the shape of an aeroplane for you?”

Tony snorted. “Bet you always had that when you were a kid.”

Actually, Martin had only had that on special occasions. His mum didn't believe in the waste associated with cutting bits off a sandwich.

Bruce reappeared with his med kit just as Tony finished his sandwich. “Right, take your shirt off.”

“You'll need to buy me dinner first,” said Tony. “And no, that sandwich doesn't count, come on, you think I'm that cheap?” His eyes suddenly widened. “Oh shit, JARVIS, what time is it?”

“It's 6:37, sir.”

“Still time,” said Tony, starting to stand up. “Come on, Martin, we can make our reservations. Let me just get changed.”

Martin caught his shoulder and pushed him back down onto the sofa, which was frighteningly easy. Tony must be feeling even worse than he looked. “We're not going anywhere,” he said, firmly. “You're going to let Bruce check you over, and then you're going to bed.”

“Hey, I'm totally fine,” said Tony. “Seriously, it'll be fine, and then our anniversary won't be a complete bust.”

He tried to get up again but this time it was Bruce's glare that stopped him.

“Don't even think about it. You're not the only one who's tired, you know.”

Tony made a face, but stopped trying to get up. “I'm sorry,” he said to Martin. “I guess we'll just have to celebrate tomorrow. Anniversary breakfast or something.”

MJN was flying out at 6am the next morning. Martin would have to be at the airport at least an hour before that and hadn't been intending to eat until after they'd taken off.

“Something like that,” he said. From the look on Tony's face, he knew exactly how unlikely that was to happen. “It's far more important that you rest up and recover.” He took Tony's hand and squeezed it, then took the plate back to the kitchen, leaving Bruce to bully Tony into some basic first aid.

The other Avengers were all slumped around the kitchen table, shovelling whatever food they'd been able to grab into their mouths. Steve looked about three minutes away from falling asleep into his plate and was covered in mud, but he didn't look hurt.

“How's Tony?” asked Clint.

Martin put the plate in the dishwasher and shrugged. “He wants to take me out to dinner.”

Clint snorted. “Twenty says he doesn't get any further than the parking lot.”

“JARVIS operates the lifts,” Natasha reminded him. “He won't even make it that far.”

Steve had raised his head slightly and looked at Martin. He managed to find the energy for a small smile. “You're missing the biggest obstacle,” he said. “My money's on Martin refusing to even let him get as far as the lift. No one lets their fella out when he looks like Tony does right now.”

“Spot on,” said Martin.

Steve turned his smile on Clint and Natasha. “Pay up,” he said with a lazy flap of his hand. “Twenty bucks, come on.”

“Don't we get any credit for just hopping through an inter-dimensional wormhole to rescue you from Nazis?” asked Clint.

“Nope,” said Steve.

Martin left them to bicker about it and went back to the sitting room, where Bruce was finishing off patching Tony up.

Tony gave him a bright smile. “See? I'm all good as new. Totally fine to–”

“Go to bed,” said Martin firmly.

Tony deflated. “Yeah, okay. Just, I want to make it very clear that it was the Nazis that ruined our anniversary, not me.”

“Technically, it was whomever sent Cap that painting,” said Bruce, packing away his medical supplies.

Tony frowned. “'Whomever'? Don't we know who it was yet? Come on, just cos the two most awesome Avengers were AWOL doesn't mean you guys get to slack off.”

Bruce fixed him with a glare. “Reed Richards and I made three massive scientific breakthroughs in less than twenty-four hours in order to retrieve you.”

“Really?" said Tony, perking. "Ooh, can I–?”

“No,” said Bruce and Martin at the same time.

Bruce pointed a finger at Tony. “You need to get serious amounts of rest, Tony. No science until you're fully rested.”

Tony made a disgusted face. “Ah, come on, you can't expect me to twiddle my thumbs, especially not after you've let Reed Richards lose in one of my labs. The man's a menace, god only knows what he's done in there.”

“You won’t be twiddling your thumbs, you'll be sleeping,” said Martin, holding his hands out. “And if you're really lucky, I'll even let you have a shower first.”

Tony took his hands and pulled himself upright, raising an eyebrow. “You could always share the shower with me. You know, if you were worried about me, I don't know, falling over or anything.”

Martin put an arm around him, trying to make it seem more like affection than desperately needed support. “I think I can be persuaded to scrub your back,” he said. “You know how much I love your shower.”

“It is an awesome shower,” agreed Tony. “Totally worth having to scrub my back for.”

Martin couldn't resist pressing a kiss to the side of his head. “I rather enjoy the task for its own sake.”

Tony ducked his head, but not before Martin saw the pleased smile cross his face.


When Tony woke up, every muscle ached and he could feel every single bruise. He groaned and squinted open his eyes to find the other half of the bed empty.

He rolled over. “Spitfire? If you're ironing again...”

“I'm afraid that Captain Crieff has already left the Tower,” said JARVIS.

“Oh,” said Tony, disappointment making him slump back against the pillows. “What time is it?”

“It is 8.37 am,” said JARVIS. “You have slept for 16 hours.”

Well, that had to be some kind of record. Tony would be impressed with himself if he hadn't wasted all the time he had left with Martin on sleep. Was there anything more pointless?

“Captain Crieff has left you a note,” added JARVIS.

Tony immediately sat up, then winced as it pulled on injuries he was trying to pretend didn't exist. “Ooh, gimme, gimme, gimme.”

It was an actual paper-and-pen note, which Tony thought was adorably quaint. It was on the bedside table, propped against a present. “Oh crap,” realised Tony. “I didn't give him his anniversary present.”

He had a sinking feeling that the whole of yesterday had proved him to be the kind of boyfriend that the media assumed he was. He'd missed their entire anniversary and then slept through his boyfriend leaving in the morning, and not even given him so much as a card for their first anniversary.

He picked up the note.


I thought about waking you, but you looked so tired last night that I didn’t want to. I hope that was the right thing to do, and that you're feeling better today.


Tony dumped the note in his lap and reached for the present. He unwrapped it and opened the box to find, wrapped in several layers of cotton wool, an Airfix Spitfire, painted in Iron Man's red and gold colours.

There was a card with it.

Dear Tony,

Thank you so much for a wonderful year. Sorry this is a bit pathetic, but nothing I could think of matched up to everything you've given me this year.

Happy Anniversary.


“JARVIS, call Martin,” said Tony. He couldn't let him get away with thinking something he'd made for Tony with his own two hands was a 'bit pathetic'. It was awesome. He held the plane up to his eyes, noting just how carefully it had been glued together. Every line was perfect.

“I'm afraid that GERTI is in flight and so Captain Crieff's phone is turned off,” said JARVIS.

Tony glanced at the altimeter next to his bed. 28,000 feet. He made a face. “Okay, fine, send a text. Nothing pathetic about it, it's awesome. Call me when you land. When's that going to be, JARVIS?”

“Gerti is scheduled to land in Berlin at 13.32 hours, Eastern time.”

Ugh, that was hours away. Tony made a face. “Great, okay. All I've got to do before then is work out how to give an anniversary present over the phone, yeah?”

There didn't seem much point in staying in bed without Martin there to keep him warm, so Tony got up and wandered downstairs.

Steve and Clint were in the kitchen, Steve hoovering up a plate of food while Clint cradled a cup of coffee. At the sight of it, Tony perked up and made a beeline straight for the coffee machine.

“Nectar of the gods,” he said, pouring himself a cup. “Fuck yeah, this is what we were missing in that other world.”

“There were several things we were missing there,” said Steve. “Hot showers stand out.”

“Oh man, yeah,” agreed Tony, sinking down into a seat with the precious coffee pulled in close to his chest. “Hot showers. In fact, hot showers of coffee would be the fucking dream, right?”

“Not a good one,” said Clint.

Tony considered it for a moment. “Yeah, okay, maybe not. The thought's there, though. Maybe it just needs adapting. Hot tub filled with coffee, maybe?”

“No,” said Steve, firmly.

“What's wrong with just sitting in a normal hot tub with a cup of coffee?” asked Clint.

Tony made a face. “It lacks that spark of genius. Anyone could do that.”

Clint raised an eyebrow. “I think you're massively over-estimating the average person's access to a hot tub.”

Tony waved that away as he drained his cup. “Details, details.” He got up for a refill.

“I missed Martin leaving this morning,” said Steve, carefully.

“So did I,” said Tony, trying to sound casual about it.

Steve made a face and then gave a short nod. “How was he with… you know?”

“With his boyfriend taking a casual trip to another dimension and missing their anniversary?” asked Tony. He gave shrug and turned away. “Not sure.”

“I don't think he was that bothered about the missing-the-anniversary thing compared to the boyfriend-being-in-unknown-danger thing,” said Clint.

Tony didn't really want to think about either. “I guess I distracted him enough with the his-boyfriend-is-awesome thing to wipe out those things,” he said, heading out. Time to work out how to give Martin a present while they were on a different continents. Maybe if he took a photo and texted it to him? Nah, it lacked the over-the-top Stark touch. There had to be another way.


Martin had never been less happy to be on a plane. The further he flew away from Tony, the more it felt like a terrible mistake. Leaving him asleep in bed, still looking exhausted even after nine hours sleep, had been painfully difficult. He'd wanted nothing more than to stay right there with him, where he could wait for him to wake up on his own, give him his gift and make sure he got a decent breakfast. He knew he could trust the Avengers and JARVIS to look after Tony, but he wanted to be the person to make sure he didn't immediately go on a 48-hour engineering binge. He wanted to take the day to prove to himself beyond any doubt that Tony was absolutely, completely fine.

Instead, he flew a snoring businessman 4,000 miles in the opposite direction of where he wanted to be. They spent barely any time in Berlin, but it was long enough for Martin to turn his phone on and read Tony's text.

Landed in Berlin. Can't call yet, got to fly back to Fitton, he replied. You better be taking it easy.

Tony's reply arrived seconds later, just before Carolyn chivvied Martin back onto GERTI for the return flight.

I'm reclined on a sofa, promise. Hard to be otherwise – Bruce makes warning noises at me any time I move. Call me from Fitton, I'm going nuts with boredom.

It was another two hours back to Fitton, two hours that seemed to go on even longer than flying the length of Russia had. By the time they arrived, Martin was twitching with frustration.

“Welcome back, MJN,” said Carl over the radio. “Another exciting trip in the service of Earth's mightiest superheroes, I hope?”

“ATC, please confine your comments to standard phraseology,” said Martin, and then regretted it. There was no sense in taking his frustration out on Carl, even if his professionalism was occasionally questionable.

“If you insist, Golf-Tango-India,” said Carl. “I must say, you're usually in a far better humour after a trip to New York. Almost euphoric, even. Cleared number one for the approach.”

Martin scowled at nothing. “Roger that,” he snapped out.

Douglas cleared his throat. “You know, I don't believe Carl was the one to suck Tony down a wormhole. I could be wrong, of course, but that would imply a level of intelligence that I really don't credit him with.”

Martin just gritted his teeth and said nothing. The sooner this plane was on the ground and he was free to call Tony, the better.

“Not to mention a level of malevolence that would seem out of character,” continued Douglas. “Although, I suppose that would be an excellent cover for a supervillain. By day, he's a cheerful but slightly dim air traffic controller. By night, he's The Controller Of Terror! Scourge of the Western Hemisphere!”

It was with great relief that Martin finally set the plane down and taxied to a stop. He ripped his seatbelt open and leapt to his feet.

Douglas cleared his throat. “Doing the post-landing checks alone again, am I?” he asked.

Martin hesitated, then reluctantly sat back down. He couldn't neglect his duties like that. It wouldn't be right.


By the time he finally got to call Tony it was past 9 in the evening. Or, at least, it was in Fitton. His watch was still set to New York time, where it had only just gone 4 in the afternoon.

He called Tony from his van before he'd even left the airport car park, putting the phone on loudspeaker rather than wasting time fiddling about with the hands-free kit.

Tony answered within three rings. “Spitfire, Martin, precious light of my life, don't be mad.”

Oh god, what had he done? “Please tell me you're resting.”

“What?” said Tony. “Oh, yes, totally. The guys have me all tucked up on a sofa with a blanket like an old man. It's like they got me confused with Captain 'Geriatric' America or something. I've even let Bruce poke my wounds again and had lunch and all that dull shit.”

“Good,” said Martin, feeling the tight knot in his chest begin to relax. “That's very good. Hang on, what am I getting angry about, then?”

“Nothing,” said Tony, immediately. “Or, well, hopefully nothing. Where are you?”

“In my van,” said Martin. “I'm driving home.”

“Okay. Okay, good,” said Tony. “Excellent, yeah, that works. JARVIS, put a map up, will you? Mark Martin's location.”

Martin rolled his eyes to himself. “I'm sure I'm meant to find that creepy.”

“If you found it creepy you'd have taken the chip out of your ring and made it a lot less easy for me,” said Tony. “Ah, okay, you're on Park Road. Maybe ten minutes away, yeah?”

Martin heard the voice of JARVIS in the background. “I have estimated the timing of the traffic lights on both Keeling Lane and Albion Road and I believe they will hold Captain Crieff up by an additional three minutes.”

“Okay, okay, great, so, thirteen minutes, that's more than enough time to–”

“To what?” interrupted Martin. “Tony, what are you up to?”

“Well, you left without your anniversary present,” said Tony. “I'm fixing that.”

Martin frowned. “Did you have something couriered over? No, even you couldn't have got it here in time.”

“You underestimate me,” said Tony, just as the traffic lights on Keeling Lane went red in front of Martin and he was forced to brake. “But, no, I haven't done anything as mundane as couriering.”

The lights changed and Martin pulled away, trying to keep himself from putting his foot too far down on the pedal. Just because he wanted to find out what was going on didn't mean that he should break the speed limit.

JARVIS was spot on about the lights on Albion Road as well. Martin wasn't sure if he or Tony were more impatient about waiting for them to go green.

“Okay, okay, there we go,” said Tony as Martin turned into his road. “Nearly there.”

Nervous anticipation was beginning to twitch across Martin's skin. “Please tell me you haven't done anything extravagant.”

There was a worrying pause. “No,” said Tony, “No, not extravagant. I mean, not by my usual standards. It's totally within normal standards for spoiling your boyfriend on your anniversary. At least, I think it is. Okay, okay, I'll be honest, I haven't got a clue what would be normal, but I'm pretty sure this is– well, not normal, no, but it's not extravagant. Probably.”

That was the opposite of reassuring. Martin parked his van outside his flat building. “Did you double-check it with someone else? Someone not JARVIS?”

“Ah...” said Tony, and then, excitedly, “Yes, yes I did. And he seemed to think it was totally fine, so you're all good. Get out of the van already and go up to your flat.”

Martin opened his van door and got out, looking up at the sky. He took the phone off loudspeaker and put it up to his ear. “Should I ask if you've got a satellite on me right now?”

“Nah, too much hassle,” said Tony. “Nearest one would take twenty minutes to retask, and doing so would mean no one in Leicester got a mobile signal, which is the kinda thing my PR guys have asked me not to do.”

“How would they even know that you were the reason they couldn't get signal?” asked Martin, as he started up the stairs to his flat.

There was a thoughtful pause. “Yeah, okay, good point. I could make it look like Justin Hammer did it, his system is so easy to hack I could easily reroute the code through it. Oh man, lost opportunity.”

Martin had reached his front door and started to unlock it. “Captain America wouldn't approve.”

There was a pause, then Tony let out a sigh. “Why did I end up working with a paragon of virtue? How did that happen?”

Martin wasn't listening any more. He'd opened his flat door and walked into his sitting room, and stopped dead.

“Tony,” he said in a wavering voice. “What did you do?”

Before he went away, his sitting room had featured a sofa facing a small flat-screen television, with the Starkjet poster Caitlin had given him at Christmas hanging above it. Now, the sofa remained in place but the poster and telly had been moved to one side, leaving a white, blank wall in front of the sofa. The other main change was a small black box that had been fitted to the ceiling.

“Oh!” said Tony. “You're there! Hang on, hang on, let me...”

There was a flicker from the black box and a white square of light appeared on the blank wall. A moment later, it was replaced with an image of Tony.

“You can see me, right?” he said, grinning through the camera at Martin.

Martin just stared at him. “You got your minions to break into my flat?” he said, numbly.

He'd been living here for seven months now, but part of him was still surprised when he got home from a flight and didn't have to go back to his attic. Having his own space, his own bathroom and kitchen and, crucially, his own front door that he was able to lock the world on the other side of, was still novel enough to be a pleasure. The idea of strangers breaking in and rearranging his things felt like a violation.

“No,” said Tony, holding his hands up. “No, hey, no, I didn't. I don't even have any minions in Fitton. I got Martin to do it. The other Martin. I knew he had your spare key, so I asked if he'd mind helping me out. I told you I'd run this by someone else, remember?”

Martin took a deep breath. The other Martin did have his spare key, because Martin wasn't about to be locked out of his own home, not now he had one. He wasn't sure that meant he was okay with Martin just letting himself in to rearrange everything.

“What is all this?” he asked.

“It's a projector,” said Tony. “JARVIS talked Martin through getting it all hooked up to the Starknet system, so I can link directly to it and we won't have to bother with phones any more, not while we're both home. That wasn't actually why I put it in, it's just a nice bonus.”

Martin had to admit that the idea of having Tony projected on his wall rather than just a voice over the phone was worth the violation of having his home tampered with. Well, almost.

“I mean, there’s no camera, so I can't see you,” continued Tony. “I kinda thought putting a camera in your sitting room without your permission was too far up the creepy scale. It would be totally easy to put one in, though, and then we could video chat properly. Maybe try the next logical step after you mastered phone sex so completely, yeah?”

“Why did you do it, then?” asked Martin, ignoring the rest of that for now. He wasn't sure he could think about cybersex without either wanting to go out and buy a camera right now or having a mental breakdown.

Tony shrugged, glancing off camera to one side. “You left without your anniversary present,” he said. “I figured this way I could show it to you. Properly.”

“You mean, this isn't it?” asked Martin, gesturing up at the projector.

“Nope,” said Tony. “That's just so I can show you. And not just as a photo or whatever, that'd be lame, I wanted to make sure you could see it properly.”

“So you broke into my flat and rearranged everything,” said Martin. “Without asking first.”

Tony hesitated. “Okay, I'm getting that it wasn't such a great idea.”

The excitement he'd had on his face when he'd first appeared on the screen was fading. Martin took a moment to actually look at him. He looked slightly better than he had last night, but not by much. Behind him, Martin could see a sofa with a tangled blanket on it, proving Tony had been telling the truth when he'd said he was resting, just like Martin had told him to. On the arm of the sofa, Martin could see the Airfix plane he'd left on the bedside table for him.

Martin took a deep breath. “I'm not ecstatic about you getting someone to come in here without my knowledge, even if it was just other Martin,” he admitted. “But I know you only did it because you wanted to surprise me and, well. You managed that, at least.”

“Yeah, that's not always a good thing,” said Tony. He made a face. “Okay, alright, I'm doing really badly at this anniversary thing, but in my defence it is my first try. Like, ever. I'm a quick learner though – all my report cards said – so I'm pretty sure I'll get the hang of it.”

Martin knew that this was the longest relationship Tony had ever had by far, but sometimes it still managed to blindside him just how new this all was to him.

“It's my first one as well,” he admitted, awkwardly, although Tony must have known that. They hadn't really gone into detail about Martin's relationship history, but he'd dropped enough hints for an intelligent man like Tony.

“Yeah, but you're a natural,” said Tony. “Look how you didn't disappear through a wormhole for the whole of it, or forget to give me your present when we were actually in the same country, or, you know, violate my home space or whatever.”

“The wormhole was hardly your fault,” said Martin. “And it's not like you were in any condition to remember a present last night.” He took a deep breath and pushed aside the issue of his flat for now. “I'm quite looking forward to seeing it now.”

Tony blinked and then grinned. “You're going to love it,” he said, and disappeared off to the side of the screen, although he continued to talk. “Seriously, I may have got the rest wrong, but there's no way you could do anything else. It's fucking awesome.” He reappeared with a large roll of paper tucked under his arm. “Okay, so, you know that the first anniversary is paper, right?”

Martin hadn't known, but he made an agreeing noise anyway.

“Okay, so, I found that out and I was bit, eugh, cos paper sucks, right? So last century. But then I thought of this, and, well, the timing is right, and you've been there with me for the whole process – invaluable, really, seriously, all those chats we had were great, and so… well. Look.”

He unrolled the paper and held it up. “Zoom in, JARVIS.”

The camera zoomed in on the paper, sharpening the focus until Martin could see it as clearly as if it were pinned to the wall in front of him.

It was the finished blueprints for the Quinjet. “Oh!” he said, stepping forward to examine it. “Oh, you finished it! Wow, it looks great. Look at the landing gear! That's ingenious.”

“Right?” said Tony. “And I even fixed the tiny possibility of blowing up thing, so it's totally safe. Well, as safe as any tube of metal strapped to a high-powered jet engine and catapulted thousands of feet up in the air.”

Martin could barely take it all in. He stepped up close to the wall, then had to duck to one side when his head blocked the projector. “I can't believe it's finished.”

“Not just finished, but sent to manufacturing to be built,” said Tony. “It's all patented and everything. And, look, this is the main thing that's the present. JARVIS, bottom left.”

The camera zoomed in on the very bottom left corner, where the information box read:

Stark Industries
Martin Quinjet MK 1

“Oh.” The bottom fell out of Martin's stomach. His name was on the blueprints of one of the most advanced pieces of aviation engineering in the world. “Oh, wow.”

“Yeah, I thought you'd like that,” said Tony.

“It's the best thing I've ever seen,” said Martin. “A plane named after me!” His knees went weak and he had to back up a couple of steps to sink down onto the sofa. “Tony, this is– Thank you. Thank you so much.”

“It's nothing,” said Tony. The blueprints were lowered and the camera zoomed back so that Tony's face was on screen again. “Seriously, Martin, you've been so much help with this. I can't get over how much you've let me blather about it to you.”

“It was fascinating,” said Martin. “I can't believe you've let me be a part of it. The winglets alone...!”

Tony laughed. “Shoulda just got you a winglet.”

Martin shook his head, trying to get it through his mind that the Quinjet had his name on it. “This is– Tony. This is–” He trailed off, unable to find the words for what it was.

“Yeah, I'm getting that,” said Tony. “Did I break you?”

Martin just wordlessly shook his head. A plane called after him! And a Stark Industries plane at that! If his 15-year-old self had known about this, he'd have had a mental breakdown. Martin wasn't entirely sure he wasn't having one now.

“Awesome,” said Tony.


That could have gone better, thought Tony once Martin had ended the phone call so he could go to bed. Well, not the bit with the Quinjet plans, that bit couldn't have gone any better. Well, unless it had happened when they'd been in the same room, in which case Tony would probably have got some really steamy sex out of it, once Martin stopped just staring with dazed wonder.

No, that reaction had been perfect. Tony didn't think he'd ever given a gift that had been more appreciated. The bit that had been a catastrophic mistake had been before that, when he'd forgotten that not everyone was okay with the idea of people wandering into their home when they weren't around and moving stuff around. Martin had looked absolutely gutted when he'd realised what he’d done.

Tony should have been able to foresee that. He knew exactly how much Martin loved having his own space and how much pleasure he took in being able to shut out the rest of the world.

“Hey, listen to that,” he'd said, the first time Tony had stayed over night there, when they were curled up together in bed after a bout of truly epic sex.

Tony had obligingly paused to listen to the silence in the flat. “Can't hear nothing.”

“Exactly,” said Martin, with pleasure. “It's just us! No students! It's lovely.”

He'd been so pleased that Tony had been forced to kiss him, and then one thing had led to another and, well. It had been a new bed. It only made sense to break it in as thoroughly as possible.

Tony hadn't remembered that this morning or he might have thought twice before he sent someone in to mess about with Martin's private space.

“Okay, so, fifty percent success, fifty percent abysmal failure of common sense. That's not so bad for a first anniversary, right?” he said out loud.

“I couldn't say, sir,” said JARVIS. “It's not an area I have any experience with.”

“Yeah, me neither,” said Tony. And unless he bucked his ideas up a bit, not an area he was likely to have repeat experiences with. How many times could he keep making stupid mistakes like that before Martin decided the novelty of having a plane named after him wasn't worth it?

“JARVIS, how long before I'm allowed back in my workshop?”

“I'm afraid that Miss Potts has instructed me to keep it locked until tomorrow morning,” said JARVIS.

Tony could easily over-ride that, but that was only going to piss Pepper off, not to mention Bruce if he found out Tony wasn't resting as much as he'd promised.

“Anyone else around, JARVIS?” asked Tony.

“Captain Rogers and Agent Romanov have taken the painting that created the wormhole to Doctor Strange in case he can provide any information about its origins. Agent Barton has returned to his apartment for the night and Mr Odinson is spending the night with Miss Foster. Doctor Banner is in his lab.”

“Doing something fun?” asked Tony, perking up.

“I do not believe you would think so, no, sir. Besides which, he has made it very clear that he considers his lab just as off-limits to you as your workshop until you are fully recovered.”

Tony deflated. “Great,” he said. “So, what am I meant to do?”

The evening stretched out in front of him, barren and empty.

“Have I ever mentioned how much I hate time zones?” he said, glancing at the clock. Martin would be getting ready to sleep, tucking himself up in the bed Tony had bought for him and yet hadn't been able to share with him nearly often enough.

Unless he was putting all the furniture back where it had been before Tony got someone to mess it all about.

The thought of Martin working to eradicate any sign that Tony had ever interfered felt depressingly realistic.

Fuck it, if there was nothing else to do, he might as well just have a drink. Or three.