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Operation Extraction

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Far be it from Tony Stark to educate SHIELD Medical on any particular details, but it just so happened that it was totally possible to make a stable boot cast out of common office supplies. He even managed a hinged knee brace with 180 degrees of controlled mobility, and a kick wheel on the bottom of the cast, and let's see Reed Richards manage that in half an hour and a morphine drip! The copier would never be the same, but in the name of freedom, some sacrifices needed to be made.

And besides; it was high time SHIELD went paperless, so Tony could totally consider cannibalizing it for moving parts his contribution to renewability, recycling, and something else that started with R but he might possibly be a little too high to think of just at that very moment. Jarvis would totally have known what he was trying to think of, but without the suit, or his watch, wallet, phone, or the cool-ass tracking pen he'd developed last week and left on his desk when the call-to-ass-kicking came, he was kind of on his own.

Apparently it had somehow become okay for so-called medical professionals to take your stuff when they got hold of you unconscious. And people wondered why Tony didn't do hospitals!

Admittedly, the hazy, lazy, finger-wiggling, dopey-grinning poppy-high did make it just the eentsy bit harder to utterly subvert the internal security monitoring of the floors between the hospital level and the Quinjet's hangar bay, but Tony's liver had overcome worse challenges. He had the cameras looped, the mics muted, and the subroutines off on a quest for the very last digit of pi, and he hadn't even had to break out Fury's personal password yet. He was totally Houdiniing this thing. He was the wind, he was the night, and no goddamned medical quack was going to get into his way!

He took another second or two to do a 360 camera pan in the Quinjet hangar, just to be sure all coasts were clear and no pirates were waiting in the shallows ambush his booty and haul him off in chains -- and whoa, were the nautical metaphors ever not the best idea whilst high on painkillers – and then hiked himself up on the air-thrust-assisted walker/roller/thing he would totally name something way cooler once he was less impaired, and prepared to hit the compressed air.

Yeah, he totally should have known.

"Got him, Cap," Barton's voice was all the warning he got before the vent cover kicked out, and Hawkeye, suited up and kitted for bear, dropped into the office like a grinning purple spider.

Actually, no he didn't, because the spider oiled her way out of the hallway shadows half a second later, and her entry was not a goddamned thing at all like Barton's. "Admin offices behind radio room six," she said into her com as Tony scrambled to keep at least a couple of desks between her and whatever hypospray units she might be carrying in her catsuit. "Looks like we got here just in time."

"No," Tony corrected her, snatching up the pencil-and-rubberband mini-trebuchet and a packet of thumbtacks he wished he'd taken the time to open, "You are not just in time! You are nothing like in time, because I am totally and absolutely not going back to-"

"What's your ETA?" She said without sparing him a glance. Hawkeye, still grinning, just sat himself down in a deskchair, bow across his knees as if he was fooling anybody into thinking he was less than two seconds from getting off a shot. The chair in question being squarely between Tony and the other door was just spiteful, he felt, and would have said so, only just then the Widow's answer came through ... by way of the corridor, not the comm-feed.

"I'm here," Captain America said cowled up, shield in hand, and filling up the doorway like a spangly, blond, and completely immovable object. "Let's do this."

"Noooo!" Tony absolutely did not whine. "Steve come on, you cannot do this to me! We totally had a plan, and there is no way you are going to ditch me just because of a little-" He also didn't squawk like a chicken when a deskchair hit him from behind and scooped him off his feet like a Hawkeye-powered frontloader.

"Never take your eyes off your target, Stark," Barton gloated at him while Natasha plucked his IronWalker out of reach before Tony could swing it at the little bastard's knees.

"Your eyes can bite my rosy red-"

"Aerosolised printer ink, Stark?" Natasha asked. "Really?"

"It'd work in close quarters," he insisted. "I was gonna use paperclips for longer range, but I kinda ran out, and your distraction is totally not going to work, because I won't let you take me back to-."

"Dr. Banner," Steve said into his comm, his eyes not flicking away from Tony as he stepped out of the doorway to let the Wonder Twins wheel Tony and his IronScooter out into the hallway, "we've got him, and we're on our way to you."

"Okay, um, I've got it," Bruce came back over all three of their comms. "I'm on my way to the rendezvous point now, just-"

"Et tu, Bruce?" Tony griped.

"Just keep him calm and seated until you get him here, and I'll-"

"BACKSTABBER!" Tony murmured, then flailed spitefully when Barton and Steve both shushed him, because he was Tony Goddamned Stark, and who the hell were they to police his volume levels... except Natasha could have that right, he guessed, but only because she had his own ink sprayer leveled at his nose, and not one visible qualm against using it.

"Just where the hell did you think you were going with this thing, anyway?" Natasha asked, riding Tony's IronRoller ahead of the pack. "You know there are three staircases between this level and the Quinjet, and you'd need an ID card to use any of the elevators."

"Hey, I had a plan," Tony growled, flashing the Radiologist's ID he'd stashed in his armpit, "And it would have worked too, if not for you meddling kids."

Barton was the only one who even laughed. But before Tony even had the chance to address this criminal shortcoming in his audience/captors, Natasha skidded to a halt, one fist held up beside her head in the universally understood handsign for 'shut the fuck up or I will shoot you if they don't do it first.' Cap was at his side before Barton even got the chair fully stopped, one knee down, face earnest under the mask of blue, and one hand quelling-heavy on his shoulder, just in case Tony might be thinking of yelling 'help, help, I'm being repressed' or anything. Which he might possibly have been.

"Security sweep," he whispered. "Make like you're passed out."

Now in fairness, you really had to grade Tony's mental processes against the morphine, the battle against whatever that salad-monster in Central Park had been, and the two-day pre-vacation workbench-clearing binge he'd had going when the call came through. It wasn't really his fault that it was only then that Tony began to suspect that there was a penny dropping somewhere, and it probably had his name on it. Because if they were concerned about Security, then maybe...

Tony slumped back in the chair, lolling his head over to pin Cap's hand between his shoulder and cheek, which wasn't spitefully opportunistic at all, thank you. "I'm trusting you," he murmured, figuring he could blame the drugs if it ever came up again. The fingers squeezed briefly.

Whatever Steve might have said though, the arriving 'ding!' of the elevator cut it off. Tony could feel a hundred tiny muscles in that hand tensing up, ready for mayhem in a way that was, strictly off-the-record, sexy as hell. Through his eyelashes, Tony watched Natasha free up two of her Widow's Bite stingers and crouch, but just on the cusp of mayhem, the whole gorgeous fracas fell apart on a polite cough.

"I'm sorry," Bruce said, words precise, tone polite, and implication dreadful, "Could you please not aim those at me? I kind of have a thing about firearms..."

SHIELD security details were, apparently, not all morons after all. The elevator lobby was cleared so fast Tony could swear he heard the crack of displaced air, and it couldn't have been thirty seconds before Bruce was calling all-clear, and Cap took over pushing Tony's chair to meet him, grinning wearily and carrying Tony's Suitcase in one hand, and his suitcase in the other.

"Is that bubble wrap?" was all he had to say.

"Excuse me, mister I-perform-surgery-with-cactus-spines-and-snail-ooze," Tony griped back, "we can't all be geniuses!" In his defense, it had sounded a lot cooler in his head. "Look, you're not taking me back to medical."

"Obviously," Bruce agreed, stepping back into the freight elevator as Steve pushed Tony's chair in, and Natasha and Clint exchanged a look, then turned and bolted for the stairs.

"You know it's just a sprain, right?" he tried, aware that being kidnapped by the Avengers wasn't necessarily better than being sent back to death-by-boredom-and-bedpan-hell. "Doc Orson only locked me down because he's pissed I went to China to have the arc reactor removed and didn't let him have a crack at-"

"Tony, we're assembling," Steve cut in, all business.

Tony laid his head back, gaping in a totally cool, and not remotely fish-like way, and said, "Bullshit!" Because there was no Goddamned way Mother-Hen Rogers would do anything but bench him from combat if a doctor so much as hinted that Tony had so much as a hangnail, and they all knew it. "Really?"

Steve nodded once, all jaw and resolve, but his eyes were twinkling. "Really. SHIELD intel indicates AIM activity in Orange County. We're doing recon to verify." And there, just a bit, Steve's rulebreaker smile began to peek out from under the Captain's mask. "Undercover, on account of civilian risk."

"Bull. Shit!" Tony reiterated, grinning as hard as he could. "No way!"

"It's actually true," Bruce said, trying his best not to laugh. "We've arranged an electric scooter for the weekend."

"A scooter?" Tony yelped.

"And if it turns out we need you in the suit," Steve put in, "Pepper and I arranged a set of codes that will let Jarvis ride nanny on you for combat."

"A scooter?!"

"And if you hack your way around that," Bruce added, smiling, "I've got this feeling that the Hulk is feeling somewhat protective about you and your tendons right now. I can't vouch for your dignity if he gets the idea you're putting yourself at risk."


"Yes, Tony," Steve said as the elevator opened on the Quinjet hangar. "A scooter. Which you will accept with grace if you don't want us to ask War Machine to step up in your place."

"Rhodey wouldn't!" Tony insisted, even as he realized that he was lying his face right off.

"He's already offered," Steve replied, motioning Bruce out of the elevator first. "And Pepper says we're allowed to drop you off at SI Malibu if we need to, as well. Apparently there's something about a Shareholder's meeting..."

Tony held up his hands, entirely too stoned to argue semantics just yet. "All right! Fine, uncle, I give!" he yelled over the noise of the Quinjet's engine warm-up routine. "But I make no promises to return the-" he wrinkled his nose, "-scooter in the same condition I got it."

"No guns," Bruce said as Steve trundled Tony up the Quinjet's ramp to where the rest of the team and their luggage awaited.

Tony might have argued, if he hadn't sounded so very much like Edna Mole just then. He couldn't quite shake the giggles until they'd strapped him, deskchair and all, to the cargo netting and were firing up to actually take off.

At which point, the radio crackled, and the jet's interior filled up with Fury's snarling voice. "Goddamnit, Rogers, have you found Stark or not?"

"We have, sir," Steve called back, grinning openly now.

"Oh, you have? And may I ask just where the hell you think you're taking him instead of getting all your asses back down to the briefing room?"

Steve flicked Tony a look of pure invitation, and really, even without the morphine he could never have resisted it. "I'M GOIN TO DISNEYLAND, MOTHERFUCKERRRRR!!!" he bellowed.

Okay, the whole throwing up the horns and headbanging till he nearly fell out of the chair when Clint hit the throttle, you could totally blame on the morphine. But hey -- at least Thor thought it was cool!