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And The World Moves On... It Has To

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“Oh god this is disgusting,” Kate bemoaned as her arrow landed on one of the lizard’s eyes, popping it in the process.

“At least you don’t have to touch them,” Kamala said, her nose scrunched up in disgust as she took a swing at one of the creatures. “Oh, god, they’re slobbery.”

“Ten!” Peter called out with a small laugh, as a robotic looking lizard fell off the building, it’s extremities bound by Peter’s web.

“No one’s counting, Spiderman,” Kamala huffed as she stabbed another lizard. “But, if anything, I’m pretty sure this marks my fourteenth.”

Clint held back a laugh as he took in the scene, having arrived later than the rest of the team. He shook his head as he whipped out one of his explosive arrows and released it at an almost inhuman speed, hitting a group of lizards that were slowly chewing out a small car. He came to stand next to his protege, patting her softly as she hit another creature.

She was pale and looked ready to throw up, while Peter was having way too much fun for his own good.  

Well there were two kinds of people...

“Hey Spidey, look up!” Rhodey barked at Peter from where he was facing his own batch of slimy green lizards. His distraction cost him the upper ground, and one of the lizards jumped, pining Rhodey to the ground. Rhodey fired at the green thing, groaning at the smell of the slobber.

Tony cursed under his breath as he realized that, while Peter’s reflexes were stupidly fast, the speed at which the green lizard was falling would prevent the young man from moving away, considering that he was plastered against the side of the building. Tony propelled the repulsers at maximum speed, extending out a hand while he prayed that he could reach the boy in time.

He was not about to lose one of his own, particularly not one of the younger ones.

Tony swiveled to the right without thinking, grabbing Peter hard by the arm. He flew out of the way just in time, his grip tightening as Peter dangled in the air, thirty feet from the ground. He was pretty sure his grip was going to leave a bruise, but Peter did not complain. They would heal soon enough anyway

The boy stretched out his hand and another one of his webs flung out, latching itself to the top of a tall building. Tony, knowing what the boy had done without even needing to look, let go of Peter’s arm, allowing the younger man to regain his footing before rejoining the fight.

“Thanks, Tony,” Peter said as enthusiastically as always, looking up at the man, the black armor shining due to the sun’s reflection.  

“Codenames, Spiderman,” Natasha sighed good-naturedly as she round-kicked a lizard in the face. “We’re on the field, remember?”

“But Tony never uses codenames,” Peter grumbled as he wrapped another lizard in his web, watching it struggle before it fell back towards the ground, hitting a car.

Damn, Tony was not going to be pleased with that. At all. Peter could practically see that stern, no-bullshit, half-disappointed look the man had perfected after five years of dealing with the avengers or “a pack of fucked up toddlers” - as Fury called them.

“That’s because you all suck at choosing codenames,” Tony said pleasantly, taking a mental note to pull Peter aside later to tell him how it was not okay to destroy public property when on a mission. “Do you honestly think I’m going to call Kamala Miss Marvel?”

“Hey!” The girl said with a huff, looking up to glare at the man in the black and red armor that circled the rest of the avengers, swooping in and out of the fight - keeping them all safe.

Tony smiled softly, though his smile was hidden by the golden faceplate - the only golden splash left on his armor. “Just keeping it real, Kam.”

Rhodey chuckled softly at their banter, barreling over two lizards before skidding to a stop right behind Clint.

Clint raised a brow, his lips twitching with the effort of not making a quip.

“What are you laughing at War Machine ?” Tony said innocently, earning a laugh from both Natasha and Kamala, who was clearly appeased now that Tony had defended her honor.

Rhodey rolled his eyes. “Oh shut up, Tony, it’s not like Iron Man is any better.” He took to the air again, brushing past Clint as he shot left and right, wanting to end this mess so they could go home.

“Excuse me, it’s a hundred times better,” Tony said with an indignant huff, grabbing Clint’s extended hand to carry him to the nearest tall building he could find. He left quickly, not needing to communicate verbally after so many years of fighting together. “It’s the best-”

“I have located Dr. Doom, Iron man.” Vision said calmly, ignoring - and ending - the bickering as usual.

“Great,” Tony praised, looking down to get a headcount of his team. “Rhodey and Kate, help Vision subdue the fucker,” Tony instructed as he fried one of the lizards alive with his beam before it could reach Kamala. “Clint, you have the high ground so shoot any lizards on a ten mile radius from where Doom is. Peter, get them off the buildings, without destroying any cars, please.” Tony gained altitude and speed, before flying straight to where Natasha was fighting. He burned three of the five lizards, letting her electrocute the other two, before grabbing her by her waist to carry her. “Nat, dear, go around the perimeter and make sure there are no injured.”

She nodded just as he dropped her in the middle of an empty street, where the fight had first started. “FRIDAY, have a medical unit on standby in case I find anyone,” Natasha murmured into her earpiece as she took off, feeling a pang of relief when she realized there was barely any structural damage.

Tony flew back up to get a better look at the scene. “FRIDAY, contact the Panther and let him know his royal ass is no longer needed so he can take his time coming back to the compound. We wouldn’t want him smashing against a civilian plane in his hurry. You know what? Contact Hope and Bruce as well, they’re gonna come barreling in thinking we need help otherwise.”

“Yes, sir.” The AI replied, a hint of humor in her voice. “Should I contact the UN as well?”

Tony mulled over her question before finally saying. “Yes, let them know we’ll be wrapping up soon. They can send one of their envoys for the debriefing. If they come before we finish cleaning up, you can show whoever they send to my study.”

“Of course, sir,” FRIDAY murmured pleasantly in his ear.

Tony watched Vision and Rhodey blast Doom at the same time, just as Kate shot a net arrow, bringing down Doom in record time. He nodded to himself, and, once he was sure that they didn’t need him, turned around to help Peter.

“FRIDAY, send in the clean up team, and get them to deliver a sample of one of these things to the lab so Bruce can study them,” Tony said tiredly as he roamed the streets, looking for Lizards that were still on the loose.

It took them about ten minutes to round up and kill the remaining reptiles, which Tony was still convinced where at least partly made of metal, and another ten to check for civilians that might have been injured.

Tony breathed out a sigh of relief when they finished searching. Only ten injured. There were no dead, no major infrastructure damages, no major injuries… this had been a good day for them. This meant he wouldn’t have to deal with the UN’s rage. He wouldn’t have to bribe Phil - as much - to fill out the paperwork for him, and he wouldn’t have to reprimand anyone for not doing their job properly.

Thank god.

“Everybody inside the quinjet,” Tony barked. “I have a UN representative I need to go get rid of.”

-----------

Natasha landed the quinjet smoothly in the helipad, letting the chatter wash over her as the rest of the team began trading stories of how it had been them personally, and not the rest, that had saved the day. Tony sat silently next to her, his eyes on the track. He had taken his golden helmet off as soon as they had gotten into the plane, but his dark armor was still firmly in place. He turned to look at her, one brow raised in a silent question, his piercing eyes and his salt and pepper hair giving him an air of maturity she wouldn’t have thought possible to associate with Tony five years ago.

She shook her head and gave him a small smile to dismiss his inquiry. “You should head inside, they’re probably already waiting for you. I’ll make sure no one dies on their way out.”

Tony chuckled softly but nodded, standing up in one fluid motion. “You should all go take a shower. You smell, oh, and peter,” Tony murmured, turning to look at the boy as the doors to the quinjet opened “you and I need to have a talk later.”

Peter nodded softly, groaning internally. Dammit, he knew he shouldn’t have let that lizard fall on top of the car.  

With one last look Tony left, heading straight for the platform, where FRIDAY took care of disassembling the armor. He walked inside the house and headed directly to his study, his eyes falling on a young man whom he assumed was the UN representative.

Tony closed the door behind him, walking into the well furnished room with only a hint of his old pizzazz. “Good Morning,” Tony said dryly as he came to stand next to the young man, offering him his hand.

“Oh, good morning,” the young man said, shaking Tony’s hand a tad too enthusiastically. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, General Stark.”

Tony hummed, stifling the snarky remarks that immediately came to mind only to settle for “the pleasure is mine, Mr… ?”

“Baden,” he said, in the same irritatingly enthusiastic tone. “Joshua Baden.”

“Well, Mr. Baden, I am assuming they sent you to do the busy work,” Tony said with a wry smile that did not reach his eyes. “I am afraid I don’t have the time for a full debrief, but I doubt you need one since you legally have to read our paperwork anyway. In short, Dr. Doom was seen and caught today. It’s the first we see of him since he escaped prison two weeks ago.”

The young man nodded, opening his mouth to ask a question, but Tony barreled on. “There were ten civilians injured by the… reptiles Dr. Doom used. There was some damaged caused to the infrastructure of a few buildings, and I believe about seven cars were destroyed. One of them was accidentally damaged by one of our own, thus, I will be more than happy to pay the expenses of getting a new car in full.”

The young man blinked, processing the information before saying “Uh, well you’ll have to file the paperwork for-”

“It was a casualty, not a premeditated, unauthorized use of private property,” Tony said giving the young man an unimpressed look. “We have already settled with the council that in such a case, there needs to be no extra paperwork, so long as we privately deal with the individuals whose properties were damaged and don’t pin it on the UN budget.”

The young man gaped at Tony, clearly trying to do his best to keep up. Tony smiled. He had been doing this for five years; there were very few agents that could actually keep up with his pace. That was exactly why they had settled with the council to let Tony deal with the aftermath of missions, so long as there were no heavily injured - or worse, dead - civilians.

“Don’t worry agent, you will have your report on your desk later today. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I do have other things to do.” Tony stood up, offering his hand to the man as he pointed with his other to the door.

The younger man shook Tony’s hand in half a daze, still trying to figure out whether or not he had done his job properly. Tony watched him go, closing his eyes as soon as the man was out the door.

He sighed and rubbed his eyes, looking wary. Sometimes, being the one in charge of the avengers really sucked. “FRIDAY, get me Phil Coulson on the line.”

“Yes, sir,” FRIDAY murmured, her voice slightly muted.

“If you’re calling for me to do your paperwork, Stark-” Phil began as soon as he picked up his phone.

“There is less paperwork than usual today, Phil,” Tony cut in quickly. “C’mon Phil, do it for me and I promise you I’ll get you a week off work to go wherever the hell you want.”

Phil smiled, knowing that, no matter what he said, he’d end up helping Tony. “You know, dinner would have been enough of a bribe.”

Tony smiled, feeling slightly more willing to face the rest of his day. “Well, then, I expect you to be here around eight. It’s movie night today.”

“Oh hell no, Tony,” Phil said with a knowing chuckle. “I’m not falling for that one. You can wrangle your team tonight on your own. I actually want to relax for once after work.”

Tony rolled his eyes but did not comment. “So you’ll do the damn paperwork?”

Phil sighed. “Fine, but the next set is on you, Stark.”

“Of course,” Tony said with a false note of cheeriness. He would have to find a new victim to do his paperwork. He was pretty sure he had personally done more paperwork in the past five years than ever before. It was ridiculous.

But then again, he had signed up for that.

“Sir, King T’Challa has arrived,” FRIDAY announced softly.

Tony straightened up and nodded, trying to shake away the same weariness that had settled in his bones five years ago and had never left him. “Just in time to be of absolutely no help at all,” Tony grumbled as he left his study, feeling pleased all the same to know that the Panther was back in the compound.