Three months. That was the only peace he got after the Battle of New York, only three damn months and shit hit the fan again. Nothing global, mind you, just your average asshole with too much money and way too many weapons and personal soldiers at his disposal. So Tony didn’t have one but two of his properties totalled, which was just great really. The StarkTower was already under repair, just like the rest of New York, but his Malibu mansion would take even longer to fix and to be honest, he couldn’t find the energy to get the reconstructions started. He had to move into the family mansion in New York, he knew, but every cell in his body was against the idea. Every room reminded him of his childhood there, and consequently of Howard Stark. And if there was one thing he was most definitely not in mood for was a delightful trip down that particular memory lane.
Pepper was still in the hospital. That fact was like a parasite inside his chest, crawling twisting unpleasantly every few seconds, a lot more painful than the shrapnel ever could be. She was not supposed to get caught up in the crossfire, she was not supposed to get hurt, not when Tony got out of the whole debacle with nothing but a few bruises and a cracked rib. But Tony had his suit of course, Pepper was not so lucky.
So here he was trying to shove down every single one of his issues about the family mansion and get it ready for when Pepper was released. What was he doing instead? He was sitting in his half-destroyed tower with a glass of scotch avoiding the mansion like the plague. They could’ve decided to go somewhere, anywhere, Venice maybe, Rome, Tokyo, it didn’t matter, but Pepper was insistent. They couldn’t just abandon Stark Industries. Tony would’ve been more than happy to do just that, screw the company, but he didn’t have it in him to argue when Pepper, sweet perfect Pepper, looked at him with those determined eyes. The look was firm even on her bruised face and Tony gave in. He still had quite some time before they had to move in to the mansion, so a few nights in the tower would change nothing, but would give him some time to get his head in order, and his anger under control.
Anger, as in SHIELD not bothering to react to Tony’s mansion being blown to bits, as in Agent Whoever-the-hell in a suit having the nerve to show up in the hospital after everything was done and over with. Just to inform him that they would like to debrief him about the events that took place. That unfortunately, Captain Rogers, Agent Barton and Agent Romanoff are away on an important mission, that’s why they were not able to come to his aid. Tony told the agent where Fury can shove his debriefing. Sure, he could handle it alone. He did handle it alone, big fucking brownie point for Tony Stark for “keeping the situation under control”, but this was not about him. This was about Pepper getting hurt because Tony had no back-up, because fucking SHIELD had bigger concerns than the maniac trying to destroy Tony’s life. Sure, he understood perfectly. He didn’t know why he expected anything else. At least Rhodey got there in time, little late, but just in time, he didn’t want to think about what would’ve happened if he got there too late.
Strong wind blew through the room shaking Tony out of his thoughts. The breeze was cold and made him shiver while reminding him that there were still too many windows not replaced. He stood up and stretched his back and shoulders walking back to the bar to refill his glass. He stared at the floor while he drank, the dent the Hulk made with Loki was no longer there, but it would be hard to forget that spot, he would always see it.
‘Sir,’ sounded JARVIS’ voice suddenly. ‘I detect an unusual energy signature in the tower.’
Tony frowned and put his glass down. ‘What sort of energy signature?’ he asked.
‘Unidentified sir, insufficient data, further analysis is required. It is however rapidly increasing in strength.’
‘Just great. Keep your sensors sharp, I’m gonna take a look, where?’
‘It seems to be concentrated in the master bedroom, but it would be inadvisable to approach it without your suit on, Mr. Stark,’ JARVIS reminded him. ‘It may very well be a hostile presence.’
The Mark VII was still beat the hell up and he never bothered to fix the Mark VI, so he only had the Mark V, which was a floor below, where he planned to sleep later.
‘Well, I can get my suit after I took a look,’ he decided.
‘Still inadvisable sir,’ JARVIS told him. He wasn’t sure what made him ignore the warning, maybe the drinks he had, or that parasite inside his chest that reminded him that he got away scot-free because of his suit, while Pepper was going to lie in a hospital bed for weeks. It really didn’t matter which it was.
The wind was a lot stronger in the bedroom, because every window was missing here. The city was almost completely dark outside, too much damage still, too many buildings without electricity, too many ruins. The setting sun didn’t give enough light, so the room was basking in a quite ominous mixture of red glow and shadows. Tony did have electricity in the tower, but not in this room, the repairs were not finished yet. There were cement bags and buckets of paint around him, waiting for the workers to continue their job tomorrow morning. He quickly tried to find anything that may be the unusual energy signature JARVIS was talking about. It didn’t take all that long, because his AI was very correct about the “rapid increase”. His wardrobe door was covered with a large mirror, and the image was distorted in it in a way that had nothing to do with the large crack on it.
Tony took a cautious step closer to the mirror, watching how his reflection shifted and shivered ever so often. He was seriously considering that JARVIS was right about the suit when the mirror darkened, as if it was taken over by a dark storm. He barely moved back a few steps and had no time to react further when the darkness dissolved and an all too familiar dark figure literally fell through the mirror’s surface, flew a few feet through the air, and landed on Tony’s floor with a very unpleasant sounding thud.
Wide, angry eyes locked with Tony’s a second later and it reminded him of the stray dog that once tried to bite a piece out of him in the back alley of a bar, a beaten and vicious animal. He didn’t know what he would’ve said, because he didn’t get the chance to utter a word, the mirror flashed bright in front of him and Tony ducked the second he saw Loki do the same. He wasn’t sure what was hit, maybe his nightstand or his bed, he only heard the sound of cracking wood and Loki’s snarl. He pressed his back to the wall he managed to crouch down next to and his eyes widened when he finally could take a look at what was happening. Two large figures were inside his room, taller than Loki even and a lot bulkier. For a moment they reminded him of Chitauri, but the skin colour was off and so were the form of their skull and face, the armour and weapons were very similar though. One of the creatures aimed and shot with his weapon and there was a flash of gold in answer from Loki that seemed to absorb the attack. It did not stop the attackers though and both started shooting at him, which was the cue for Tony to try and dash out of the room and get his suit.
It was a good plan only the moment Loki stopped destroying the attacks and started deflecting them instead it became a lot harder to carry it out. Tony did his best to avoid the energy blasts raining around him, but that also meant that he couldn’t just dash to the door unless he wanted to be fried. Large chunks of the wall was falling down on the floor and one of the cement bags was most likely hit, because white dust swirled in the air like a dry fog. Loki seemed to switch from defence to offense because instead of his golden shield now he was also firing back at the creatures. Without any weapon whatsoever, he didn’t need any kind of glowstick to do this sort of thing then. That was good to know, if Tony survived this encounter he will definitely tell JARVIS to make note of it. One of Loki’s blasts managed to push one of the creatures off his feet, and he landed right in front of Tony. Orange eyes locked on his face a moment later. Tony started running towards the door, but the creature charged as well. He almost got there when a vicelike grip closed around his leg and made him fall, only his reflexes saved his face from slamming into the floor. The energy blasts were no longer tearing his room apart, but he didn’t have time to think about why. He kicked the creature in the head twice, but the grip didn’t loosen on his ankle. The alien started to stand up and pulled Tony closer in the process. He started trashing, moving, twisting his leg to get away somehow, but he was obviously too physically weak to do any damage. Fucking aliens.
The creature reached up and closed his other hand around his neck no matter how hard he tried to get away. The hand squeezed hard enough to bruise, but not enough to kill him. Tony gripped his forearm in return, tried to kick him again, but the creature ignored him for the most part and stood up. Fighting became a lot harder when he was dangling in the air, only held by his neck. Well that was it, he was fucking dead. Well, unless Loki somehow killed these things. The crazy god may have thrown him out of a window, but somehow Tony would’ve taken his chances with him instead of whoever the hell these aliens were. He glanced around the room to see what was happening, the blasts turned into close-range combat so it seemed, and Loki was down. He was fighting alright, a lot more successfully than Tony did. The creature fighting him had a large wound on his head and seemed to be missing an eye at this point, he was also bleeding in several other places and his armour was smoking like it was on fire not that long ago. But eventually Loki’s disadvantage of being on the ground ended the fight and Tony couldn’t help but flinch when the large creature started pummelling his face, again and again and again until Loki stopped struggling.
The creature holding Tony spoke in a deep growly tone in a language he couldn’t understand. The one kneeling over Loki grunted something in answer then continued to put the god in chains, tying both his hands and ankles. Loki’s face was one big swollen bruise and all that blood around him seeping into the carpet was also not a really nice sight.
‘You got your god,’ Tony managed to squeeze out. ‘Can you just take him and go maybe?’ he asked although it was very hard to speak. He barely had air, and his vision already started swimming. The creature turned his orange eyes on him again, but didn’t say anything. Tony saw a big fist flying towards his face, then after a flash of white-hot pain darkness followed.