Snap out of it

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Ravief
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Lid geworden op: 28 Jun 2015, 14:28

Snap out of it

Berichtdoor Ravief » 27 Jun 2020, 00:55

It took one snap of the fingers to get him back into the bottle. He'd been sober for a lot of years until that moment. In one quick movement his life crumbled, caved in and left him broken.
The Snap had taken almost everything from him. He got to keep Peter and Harley though and that's about the only two spots of sunshine in this dreadful life.

There was only one way of dealing with this. He started to work. With half of earth's population gone in the wind -literally- there was enough to keep him busy. When he was busy, really busy, even his giant genius brain would shut up. Even if it was only because he was too exhausted to stay on his feet. The times those two boys had to pluck him out the workshop and coax him to his bed were about the same to the times he pulled all-nighters.
He was trying to build a better - no, a new - future. So what if it was unhealthy? And so what if he was getting more grey hairs than he liked? So what if minor accidents kept happening and FRIDAY was a tattletale so he had two worried, big brown eyed, boys around him that send him to the medics more often than Tony thought was necessary.
_____

It was the five year anniversary. In those five years he'd done everything in his power to avoid this place. It involved a lot of excuses, most of them poorly, but he had succeeded. Now though... Now he had to.
The 'Wall of the Vanished' they called it. The Walls were in every big city. Names upon names upon names of the dead. Despite all the marble, the greener-than-green grass, the flowers, the quiet and the weird cleanness of the place, it was soulless.
Five years, but now, now he was here. He couldn't do this at home. Home was.. Home was sacred. He needed a place to talk and to mourn and he had done that with lots of bottles in lots of bars and since the media wasn't on his every move anymore he could do the talk here. It would be weird and he would probably start crying again, but his stubbornness prevented him to do it in a place where he was actually comfortable.

"Hey, Pep." Tony looked at the marble and the black letters that spelled 'Virginia Potts'. "I did it." He sighed and smiled wryly at his hands. "Well, I kinda got lost at first. But it's me, so that was a given, you know that better than anyone." Well.. She knew that better than anyone. "I got better though. I'm sober now. Have been for four years and seven months." He stopped talking when someone walked by. "God, why am I here?" he muttered and ran a hand through his hair. "I just.. I don't know. I just wanted to tell you that I'm alright. As alright as I can be without you here. I got the company running again. I like to believe it helps. It certainly helped me. It gave me.. Well, it gave me a course. A goal." Tony stared at his shoes. Anything was better than those cruel letters. "Most days the goal is nothing more than to get through the day. Somehow along the way it began to get easier, though. Between running the company and spending time in the workshop, time just.. well.. You know how it is." He shuffled his feet. "I've got like three people doing your job now. I still don't have a clue how you could balance being CEO of Stark Industries and being with me." Yep. There he goes. His voice cracked a little.
The silence drags on while he struggles to calm himself. Maybe not bringing Harley along was a bad idea. Even though the boy was twenty-one, he still had the annoying habit to talk a hundreds miles an hour. Sometimes triggering panic attacks but also always getting him through them. It was a strange kind of magic that Tony had no interest in dissecting. He just took it and was grateful that it worked.
"But, yeah.. I got the company running again. Got people working again. Working on green energy and shit. You know the drill. Had to say goodbye to the billionaire title though. With everything that has happened, there were just to many things that needed to be done. That needed a fix, and with my money just sitting around going nowhere... The economy has never been worse. The sky is cleaner though. It's a.. a nice.. Well, it's fucking something." He clenched his jaw and anger flashed in his eyes. "My therapist told me to.. to count the good things in life. To move on. So.. Yeah.. You can understand how that's been going, right?" He chuckled and sighed again.
"God, Pep. I just.. I would give almost anything, anything, to hold you again. To hear you again. I keep blabbing about the company, cause you know how I am with feelings. I just.." He steeled himself. "I'm trying here, so bear with me, okay, honey?"
Coming alone really had been the wrong choice. But he had to. He had things to say that weren't meant for the boys' ears.

"I guess I'm trying to say goodbye, Pep. I don't know how, because it's impossible, but I have to. I have to try, honey. I can't keep... Well.. I have to tell you why of course. There are two reasons. The first is named Harley and the other is named Peter. I still don't understand how they think I should be their father figure, but bam! there you go. Apparently they are my kids now. I kinda.. You know.. adopted them Tony-style. Also their legal guardians got Vanished, just like you, so they just showed up at the front door and never left. Harley comes with a sister. She's still angry about her Dora the Explorer watch." He huffed out a laugh. "Aspen is nineteen now but who cares? I bought her every limited edition kids watch I could get my hands on, of course. Gifts have always been easy for me. The watches are no big deal. It's nothing compared to.." He fell silent once again.
"I don't want to talk about the Rogues. I really don't. It was hard to talk about them when they were Avengers, but now.. Now they're just.. They're just not worth mentioning. But what I meant was this: cleaning up their messes -and mine, okay okay- that were missions that left a dent in my wealth. And this.. This project of saving New York and getting it back to.. to some sense of normal.. Pep, it is huge. Most days it's impossible and fuck I feel so alone and lost without you by my side. You would know what to do, what not to do, which projects I should support and which I should ditch and.." He rubbed his eyes and knew he looked tired beyond tired.
"I wanted to retire. I wanted our dream of the lake house and be there together and.. Then this utter shitshow came along and I didn't even get to marry you, grow old with you and held our.." Yep, those where definitely tears he felt. "I can never have that now." His voice was rough and Tony gave up all pretense. There was no way in hell he could do this without breaking down.
"You will always be the one, Pep. I love you 3000 and will always love you. But I have to.. I have to say goodbye to those dreams and to you and just be the best person I can for the kids. I'm all they have right now. I just wish they had you too."
He stood from the bench and wiped his tears away. His fingers traced the unrelenting black letters that he would never picked for her headstone if she had just died a normal death and he had to arrange all that. "That will be all, miss Potts," he whispered.
I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die

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Ravief
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Lid geworden op: 28 Jun 2015, 14:28

Re: Snap out of it

Berichtdoor Ravief » 29 Jun 2020, 23:57

A lot had to change after Siberia. When Tony had finally woken up from his medically induced coma, he went to work not two days later. The fight had been a wake-up call. Also the last straw Tony had left. Over the years he had tried to side with Rogers. He had composed a long but do-able list of things the Capsicle should read or check out from all the years he had missed, he had tried to guide him in this new century that was probably overwhelming for the blond. He had tried to listen to him, had tried to see things from his point of view... Well, he was done trying. If Tony had learned one thing, it was that the opinion of one captain Steven Grant Rogers about him, had only two possibilities: or he was an arrogant, egotistic, spoiled rich kid, or he was at fault for everything wrong in the world and responsible for every hiccup in the road the Avengers met. The only time there was another reaction was when the asshat needed something. Weapons, a place to stay, use of the quinjet, money to pave the way to a HYDRA-free world...
Tony had hated him since he was a kid and meeting the real deal did nothing to scratch his opinion. So, after almost dying - again - he didn't rest until things changed. Much like after Afghanistan. Again betrayed by someone he trusted. One he'd called friend. It wasn't the same hurt as with Obie. Obie had been in his life for years. Had stepped in as a father figure. Had helped him build Stark Industries. They had eaten together, laughed together, stayed up nights together to make SI better.
The difference with Obie pounding on him and Steve smashing his shield in his ribs, was that Obie had the guts to come clean and tell him that he wanted him dead. Steve... Steve had known about his parents deaths and not told him for at least two years. Two whole fucking years!
Tony knew he was a handful. He was a genius and a showoff and talked to fill any silence so he wouldn't be awkward and the world couldn't keep up with him. Most of the times he couldn't keep up with the people and their emotions -pesky little things- but he tried. With Rhodey's help he became somewhat more approachable and functional. Human, others would call it. Anyway, Tony understood. He understood that there were people that didn't understand him, couldn't stand his face and would rather never see him again. So yeah, hearing your godfather ordering the Ten Rings to kill you, was quite a blow. Having to really fight Obie had been something he probably should have had therapy for.
But Rogers.. Rogers had spoken highly of Howard -which no one ever did when he wasn't around. Rogers had not been friendly with him, but they grew in a strained sort of friendship. Getting almost killed by the guy his dad was always raving about, with the shield his dad had made for said guy.. That was an experience he wouldn't wish on anybody.

So yeah, when he woke he was bitter and determined. He would not make this mistake ever again. He had taken back The Compound and put it to use for a new Medical Department. He had resigned from the Accords. Iron Man was no longer an Avenger. If he had ever been one.
With Pepper's help he'd found a therapist that actually helped him and didn't leak everything to the press. He had gotten better. Although he wasn't quite the same man. He had surgery after the whole Mandarin-debacle, but Siberia had taken its toll. Sometimes it was a good thing his curiosity was stronger than his voice of reason -yes he had a voice of reason: Pepper and JARVIS, take a pick.
So when he was brought back to his home and Doctor Helen Cho couldn't fix him with the cradle, there was only one way left if he wanted to stay alive. They implanted tiny specks of Extremis in his body. Over time it grew back his lungs and restored his heart. His sternum and a couple of ribs were beyond repair. So he got a new reinforced one and artificial ribs. After that, Extremis took care of it and adapted it to his body.

It had been barely a year later that the Exvengers, or Rogues as the press called them, were pardoned and got to get home. They signed some sort of version of the Accords, did some press to state how pleased they were to be back and even had the nerve to show up at the Compound. Tony had seen them. He had warned FRIDAY and security that it would probably happen. He didn't want to meet them, speak to them or let them in. If they would try, he would arrest them and get that restraining order filed that had been waiting for him since.. well, since Ultron.
Later they would try to catch a moment of his time at fundraisers, or at any public possibility. When he grew tired of it, he let Natasha close to get the message across. He wasn't interested in them. He didn't want to meet them. He wanted his privacy back and if they would keep trying, he would file stalker complains. The group backed off after that.

He had the best time of his life with Pepper. They grew closer together. They even did couples therapy. They talked. They listened. They took a holiday for the first time in years. They moved to the penthouse in Stark Tower.
The company thrived. Them working fluently together made the world a better place. At least, he believed so. It was cruel that it had cost Rhodey his ability to walk, but he was doing something good with SI. The leg braces were a gift to many. To see his Platypus walking again was worth it to be called 'Tony Stank' numerous times.
He spent more time with the Spider-kid and the two of them developed a real bond. There was no way Peter had time to actually be an intern at SI, but the long hours together in his lab, were legit enough to keep the questions at bay. Somewhere along the way Harley came by and he introduced them to each other. It came as no surprise that the boys, although so different, became thick as thieves within the hour.

Then... the phone call. "Tony, we need your help." He had choked on his coffee and never been more scared in his life. Rogers, calling for his help? Shit must've really hit the fan, then. He hadn't seen anything special on the news though.
"Thor's back and half of what he's saying sounds like science and Banner is freaking out. All I understood is that there's this evil alien coming here to wipe out half of earth's population."
Right.
So he donned the suit, flew over, listened, asked questions and sighed. "So, why am I here?"
"What do you mean?" Rogers frowned and gave him his best 'captain America is disappointed in you' look.
That was something he hadn't missed. "I mean: why am I here?" Tony shrugged. "All of you never wanted me on the team and never saw me as an Avenger. I was good for two things: money and someone to blame when it didn't went your way. So why am I here? Is it to apologize? Because.. quite frankly.. I saw this shit coming years ago. Remember New York?"
"Oh, here we go," muttered Barton.
"I was in space. I saw the armies. I called it, I believe I dropped some not so subtle hints that there was something larger at play than Loki. But no, 'we had the bad guy and the battle was won'." Tony looked at Rogers with that quote. "What do you want from me?"
"We want you to fight by our side."
Surprised, he turned to face Romanoff. "Uh, yeah, no. I don't think so. I will fight if that asshole comes here with his army, I will contact some friends and warn them, but I don't trust any of you to have my back. No offence, Bruce. So, no thank you. Good luck with training and forming a plan."
He left them there in stunned silence.

When Thanos came, almost a year later, they fought. Tony was plugged in on their comms and it was clear that they overestimated themselves and hadn't put in the hours of works that would be necessary to win this. He, however, had trained and trained and trained since that phone call. Strange, Vision, Rhodey, T'Challa and himself kept Thanos busy for a long time. It was over though before any plans the Avengers had worked on, could play out.

One snap.

The earth was littered with bodies. "FRIDAY? What happened?"
In the short silence that followed, Tony checked Vision and T'Challa for sign of life. He couldn't find any.
"It appears that half of all lifeforms, have been... Vanished, Boss."
"What do you mean, Vanished?"
"They are no longer here." After a short break: "I will show you."
Tony viewed a couple of videos of people that.. turned into dust?
"Contact Pepper."
[...]
"FRIDAY?"
"It appears.. that I can't.. sir."

Happy found him four hours later on the ground of Pepper's office. He brought him to the penthouse. There he waited. It was not Rhodey though that came to him. It was Strange. He explained what happened and that they could use some help.
So he worked together with the Avengers on the Lists. One List for the fallen in battle. One List for the Vanished.
Thor, Hope, Clint, Wanda were on the list of the Vanished. With shaky hands Tony added 'Virginia Potts', 'James Rhodes' and 'May Parker'. To list of the dead he added 'Vision' and 'T'Challa'.
After that he called Bruce and Shuri. The Princess had of course other things to worry about, but they needed her wits. Together they wrote a program that would add names to both Lists.
Tony returned to Stark Tower to drown himself in whiskey like he'd never done before.

- - - - - - - - - -

"Mr. Stark? Sir? Can I.. I mean, I just need to talk to you. Please? I kind of had hoped that you could help me? I was just doing my regular round and all things went to hell. Mr. Stark? Are you listening? People just disappeared! They.. dissolved into dust and then nothing.. How is that possible?" The rambling went on and on. Then he said in a next voicemail: "I can't find May, Mr. Stark. I can't.. I can't find her."
The panic and sadness in the voice was what tipped him over. Tony was sober like a bucket of ice water had just hit him. He hit the call-button before he could think things through, and turned around when he heard the 'ding' of the elevator.
Peter looked from his mobile that started ringing to Tony. "Mr. Stark?"
In some long strides, Tony was by his sides and wrapped him in a bone crushing hug. "Oh my god, Pete.. I'm sorry I didn't come for you sooner."
Peter was uncharacteristically silent.

- - - - - - - - - -

Harley just arrived with his sister Aspen in tow. They each had brought a suitcase. "You gonna adopt us now?"
And that's how Tony ended up as a dad of three.
I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die

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