Iron Man Alt.
I didn’t want to come with Tony. He forced me to come along as his ‘date’, even though we both knew he’d just leave with someone else.
So now, I’m standing at the bar all by myself. Sometimes I wonder why I let him drag me to these things. He just wanders off as soon as we get here, and I end up having to call my obnoxious brother to take me home.
Right now, he’s a little farther down the bar, looking sexy in his black polo shirt, hitting on some blonde bimbo. He doesn’t even need to try to get them in bed. As soon as they see him, they’re practically lining up for him. He just works his charm for his own benefit. Sometimes I hate him. But in reality, I’m completely in love with the narcissistic bastard. What’s wrong with me?
Just when I about to take a sip from my drink, Tony came up behind me and whispered in my ear, “Do you need a ride home?” I could hear the smirk in his voice.
Even though I was still angry with him, I couldn’t help but smile. I turned my head slightly so that my cheek was close to his perfect lips, “No. I’ll call Harry. It’s not like he has anything better to do. Plus, I told him earlier that I may need a ride later.”
“I do this to you a lot don’t I?” He looked down at my bare shoulder as if trying to avoid eye contact.
I sighed, “It’s okay, Tony.”
“No, it’s not. I shouldn’t keep doing this to you. I feel like a horrible friend.” He was still staring at my shoulder, making me self-conscious. His hands were on my hips, and I could feel his breath down my neck.
I was feeling a little breathless now, thinking about our closeness. I rotated myself so that I was facing him, “Go have fun, Tony. I’ll be fine.”
He let out a heavy sigh and finally looked into my eyes, “Are you sure? I’ll feel bad.”
“Tony, go.” I began to push him away, but he pulled me into a warm embrace. I blushed and giggled and he nuzzled my neck with his nose.
He pulled his face away from my neck and gave me his puppy dog stare, “Love you.”
My heart soared at his words, “Love you too.” I tried to pull away from our hug, but instead, he pulled me closer and kissed me on the cheek. I blushed even more at this action.
“See you tomorrow?” He asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Of course.” He did a fist pump, making me giggle, kissed my cheek one last time, and strode away to the blonde ho awaiting him by the door.
I headed for the door, meeting what’s-her-face halfway. She gave me a fake smile and hooked her arm around mine. Soon, we will be arriving at my place, and my full attention should be on her, but Katie is the only thing on my mind. She has no idea how serious I was about telling her I love her.
She probably thinks I was just being facetious. But it wasn’t a joke at all. I meant it. My stomach filled with butterflies, and my heart fluttered when she said it back. I’ve always loved her as a friend, but lately it’s been so much more than that. It started when I realized that she’s the only person that’s ever really been there for me when I needed comfort.
Whenever I take her to a party, and I see some other guy hitting on her, I get ridiculously jealous and angry. I have no idea where it comes from. Then I try harder to get some other woman into bed, to make her jealous. And I feel horrible for leaving her all the time, but I don’t think she notices, because some schmuck is hitting on her at the bar. I never ask her if she goes home with these guys, but I always wonder.
Before exiting the place, I looked back at her only to see another guy drooling over her in her short, strapless, black dress. I furrowed my eyebrows at the sight of her giggling at his joke. She’s only supposed to giggle at my jokes. Not that guy’s.
He’s way to close to her for my liking. I should go over there and tell him to step off. Just when I was about to turn around, the woman hooked on my arm kissed my cheek.
“You seem distracted.” She whispered into my ear seductively.
I blinked a couple of times and replied, “Nah.” She smiled at my response and we walked outside. She began kissing my neck while we waited for the valet to bring my car up. When it pulled up, I opened the door for her but she was reluctant to release me. I ran around to the other side, got in and sped away, thinking only of Katie.
Almost as soon as Tony left, a really cute guy came over to me and started chatting with me. I don’t mind though. Anything to get my mind off of him.
“So what brings you to this fine event?” he asked taking a sip of his drink.
“I came with Tony Stark. But, he just left.” I stated bluntly. He didn’t look at all surprised at this.
“As his friend or his date?”
“So I guess that’s good news for me?” He asked hopefully. His bright blue eyes matched the slightly unbuttoned dress shirt he was wearing. It looks really good.
I grinned at him, “Maybe.” I took a sip of my drink before asking, “What’s your name?”
“Andrew. What’s yours?”
“That’s a wonderful name.” I giggled at his response. “And what do you do for a living, Katie. Besides accompanying Tony Stark to his parties.
“I’m a family lawyer at Madison and Haig.” I replied, smiling at his Tony Stark comment.
“Hm. Is that fun?”
“It’s a blast.” I laughed. “What do you do?”
“I do PR for Stark Industries.” He thought about it for a moment, “And before you ask, it’s boring as hell. It’s usually just the same stuff every day. ‘Andrew, go check in at SI’ or ‘Andrew, go meet with his PA to catch up their latest meetings’, or even ‘Andrew, do all of our work for us so we can be lazy’. It’s quite annoying, actually.”
It could have been the amount of alcohol that I’ve consumed tonight, or it could have been the loathing he had for his job that brought me into a fit of laughter.
As the night progressed, Andrew and I both kept downing drinks. We migrated to a little lounging area in one corner of the room. He sat down with his drink in hand, and he pulled me down onto his lap, sending renewed giggles throughout me.
His hand rested on my thigh as he watched me laugh. He was grinning ear to ear when I finally looked at him. I bent down and pressed my lips to his briefly.
“Let me take you home.” He whispered. When he saw my angered expression, he continued, “No, no. Not like that. I want to see you again. And you said you came here with Stark, so you probably don’t have a ride.”
My face softened at his words, and I smiled. “Okay.” I kissed him again, longer.
We left the party holding hands, and he drove me to my apartment. When we got inside the luxurious building, we went for the elevator. As soon as we were inside, he raised his eyebrows at me and pulled me in for another kiss. When the elevator stopped at my floor, we exited and he walked me to my door.
I got my keys out and stood there for a moment before making a decision. “You can come in if you want.”
He gave me a peck on the lips, “Believe me. I want to. But I wanna do this right.”
“Okay. Suit yourself.” I smiled at him. “So when will I see you again?”
“How about we get some dinner tomorrow?”
“Sounds excellent.” I gave him one last kiss before entering my apartment. Waiting for tomorrow. And that’s when I realized I hadn’t thought about Tony once since Andrew introduced himself.
She was sitting two seats away from a young boy, about the age of seventeen, who had a cut on his cheek and several scrapes along his arms and hands. He had his face in his hands and it looked like he was crying. He was already sitting there when she, herself arrived at the hospital, and she’d been watching him for quite some time.
Katie got up and sat right next to him. He straightened up and glared at her before she spoke, “Are you okay?”
He looked stunned at the question and wiped the remaining tears from his eyes. “Uhm. Not really, no.”
“Do you wanna talk about it?” She asked curiously. He just stared at her for a minute, taking in her words. When he didn’t answer, she moved back to her original seat, feeling foolish.
He sat still for quite some time, just watching this girl look around awkwardly. Finally, he moved into the seat next to her. She looked at him as if not expecting him to do so.
“Um, I’m Tony.” He held out one of his badly scraped hands. She took it with a timid smile.
“Katie.” He returned the smile as she asked, “So, what happened? If it’s okay to ask.”
Tony fought back tears as he tried to recall the evening’s events. She could hear the sorrow in his voice as he spoke, “I was in a car accident with my parents.”
“Oh.” She answered quietly. “Is everything okay?”
He blinked a couple of times and his tears soaked his bloody cheeks once more, and his voice cracked, “Uh. No.”
They looked at each other and Tony noticed two things immediately. One was that she had a look of genuine concern in her bright green eyes. The second thing was that she is very, very beautiful.
“If you don’t wanna tell me, that’s okay.” She felt awkward because he was just looking at her, as if examining her.
He suddenly felt that he actually wanted to tell her. “They were killed.” He said quietly. Her mouth opened slightly as she let his words settle in.
“I’m so sorry.” She placed her unharmed hand on is wounded one. The lump in his throat was becoming painful. Soon, he was hunched over again, with his hands covering his face once more. He sobbed quietly to himself for a good ten minutes. Katie was extremely close to him, rubbing circles in his back, trying to comfort him. She rested her cheek on his shoulder.
Tony ran a hand through his messy, dark, brown hair and straightened up. “Thank you.” He cleared his throat and changed the subject to her. “So why are you here?”
“Oh, my brother is getting his appendix taken out.” He nodded his head slowly. “I know, it’s not that horrible.”
For the first time since they met, he laughed. It may have been minor, but it was something. “Well it’s not a contest.”
Her eyes widened when she realized who she was talking to. His smile gave it away. She’d seen him everywhere, from newspapers, to magazines, to the television. “You’re Tony Stark.”
“Yeah, that’s me.” He stated, his expression becoming downcast.
“I’m sorry. It’s nothing bad, but I just now recognized you.”
He gave her a small smile, “It’s okay.”
“So why are you still here?” She asked curiously.
“Waiting for someone to pick me up.” He paused, “Probably my dad’s friend.”
“Who’s your dad’s friend?”
“Obadiah Stane. He’s my dad’s second in command.”
“Katie.” Katie’s dad’s head poked out of a nearby room, “He’s awake. You can come in.”
“Be there in a second.” She replied. She got up to leave, but Tony stood up and caught her arm.
“Wait.” She blushed at his eager tone, “Will I see you again?” She just stared at him with a small grin until he let her go. He placed his hand on the back of his neck in embarrassment.
“Sure.” He relaxed at her positive answer.
“Thanks for talking to me.”
“You’re welcome.” She turned around and went into her brother’s hospital room, Tony’s eyes following her every step.
I entered Tony’s workshop and he lifted his head form his work at the sound of the door opening. He narrowed his eyes at me, “Have fun last night?”
“I did, actually.” I sat down in the chair next to him, and he turned in his to look at me.
“Who was that guy you were talking to at the bar?”
It was my turn to narrow my eyes at him. “Why do you care?”
He sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair. “Did you sleep with him?”
“You didn’t answer my question, Tony.” I replied coldly.
“Neither did you, Katie.” He said with a hard stare.
“His name is Andrew and he does PR for your company.” I was glaring at him now.
“Oh, God. Pepper talks about that guy all the time.” He stared at the ceiling. “And for my second question?”
“Answer mine first.”
“I saw you laughing with him before I left.”
I rolled my eyes at him, “No I didn’t sleep with him. But I offered and he refused.”
“And you’re not gonna see him again?” He narrowed his eyes at me again.
“Probably not.” I lied. I didn’t want to upset him further. I got up and headed towards the couch, followed by Tony. “I just don’t understand why you care. I’m sure you had your own fun with the blond chick last night.” That was a little harsh.
He stopped following me, and I turned to see him walking back to his desk. Now I feel bad. I heard him mutter something, just loud enough for me to hear. “Thanks a lot.”
Sighing, I got back up and walk over to him, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Tony, I’m sorry. You’re just being really nosy.”
He looked up angrily, “Well sorry for caring. I won’t let it happen again.” His jaw clenched and his nostrils flared, and he looked into my eyes without breaking my gaze. “Can’t you see that I’m just trying to look out for you? Why do you take everything I do as me being nosy?”
“Tony, sometimes, I just need some space. And I can’t ever get a date with anyone because I’m always showing up to parties and events with you, so guys think that if they come near me, you’ll sue them, or do something stupid. I just wish you’d let me go out with someone without interrogating me about him.” The words just flowed out of my mouth before I could stop them, and I immediately knew I said something horrible.
“Fine. You want your space? I’m going to Vegas tonight, and then tomorrow, I’m going to Afghanistan for a few days. I might even go on vacation. So, you’ll have all the space you want.” He got out of his chair and walked towards the door, but then he stopped and looked at me. It appeared as though he wanted to say something, but he thought better of it and exited the workshop.
His chair was still spinning from him getting up so quickly, and I sat down in it to calm myself. I’m just bitter because he doesn’t see how much I love him, and he’s always going off with some other woman that isn’t me. And now he hates me.
She wants space? She can have all the space she wants. She doesn’t understand that I’m trying to look out for her so her heart doesn’t get broken by some asshole that doesn’t care about her. Again. But, all I end up doing is hurting her, and me. All because I’m being a pussy and I can’t tell her how I feel about her. If I could just say it, then none of this would be a problem.
And now, there’s a reporter sitting on my lap, and nibbling on my ear, while I’m thinking about Katie. Two blonds in a row. This one is slightly more desperate than the one from last night, so I just let her do what she wants. A few minutes later, we arrive at my house and I escort her inside. We barely make it to my room before she starts pulling her clothing off and pinning me on the bed. While she’s attacking me with her lips, Katie lingers in my mind
I tripped as I scrambled to a nearby rock for protection. Rhodey was in the turret shooting into the desert. He looked my way and yelled, “TONY, GET DOWN!”
“RHODEY!” I hollered. He was taking heavy fire, but managing not to get hit. I pulled out my phone and started dialing the base. Then one of my bombs landed a mere five feet away from me. I stared at it in shock. Why do they have my weapons? I struggled to get to my feet and just when I accomplished this, it exploded, sending me flying and making me land a couple yards away from it.
Sand stung at my eyes, but there was an even more excruciating pain in my chest. It felt like a thousand burning hot knives had stabbed me and hadn’t been removed. I pulled my shirt open and found that it was damp with warm blood. My bulletproof vest shattered on the impact form the explosive device.
Tunnel vision overcame me and I blacked out in the middle of the desert, the sound of gunshots fading with each passing second.
It seemed like only a few minutes my eyes had been closed and I was awakened by a sharp pain in my chest. It felt like the knives were being removed, but there were still some residing in my body. I let out a scream and I heard several people shuffling around the room, the distinct shifting of guns sounding in my ears. There was a bald man wearing glasses standing above me telling me to calm down. How am I supposed to be calm? I have no idea where I am and I just watched several soldiers get murdered with my weapons. I felt a pang of sorrow in my heart when I thought of Rhodey. Did they kill him too? Or, did he get away? Thinking about Rhodey led my thoughts to Katie, and our last conversation. She needed space? Well, now she’ll have plenty of space seeing as how I don’t know where the hell I am, no one else probably knows either.
But now I feel guilty knowing I’ll die with her hating me. And she’ll never know how I feel about her. The bald man abruptly ended my thoughts as a white rag descended upon me, successfully sending me into a deep, unwilling sleep.
I was sitting in my office, trying to focus on my work, but I kept daydreaming about Andrew and I. Our date was extraordinary. He took me to a Greek restaurant, then dancing on the rooftop of Stark Industries. He said he’d become quite friendly with a security guard there and he let us up. The night ended with Andrew being a complete gentleman and kissing me goodnight at my apartment door.
I looked up from my work dreamily to see my brother, Harry, entering my office. I noticed his crestfallen expression and furrowed my eyebrows, “What’s wrong?”
He sat down in the chair in front of my desk and sighed heavily, “Something happened.”
I tilted my head curiously, “Okay. What happened?”
He leaned forward in the chair slightly and looked me directly in the eyes, “Something happened to Tony overseas.” I couldn’t speak. My mouth became instantly dry and the air escaped my lungs. “Katie, he’s missing.”
I cupped my hand over my mouth to keep the sound of my sobbing to a minimum. Harry got up and strode over to me, wrapping his arm around my shoulders comfortingly. I leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulders. All I could think about was Tony and I’s last argument.
“Pepper got the news this morning. They said he’s been missing for three days. Today makes four.” He rubbed my shoulder soothingly as he spoke. “They’re gonna find him, Katie. He’ll be okay.”
What if he’s not? What if he’s already gone? He’ll never know how much I love him, and his last thoughts before he die will be that I needed space. I didn’t voice my concerns, but instead I bawled even harder into Harry.
Just then, Pepper walked in looking concerned. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her and Harry exchange looks of remorse. Happy entered behind her and whispered something in her ear. She nodded her head and Happy walked towards Harry and I. He knelt down in front of me and asked, “I’m gonna take you home, okay?”
I nodded into Harry’s neck and he supported me by my elbows, directing me towards the door. Happy and Pepper trailed behind us, and when we arrived at the Rolls Royce, Happy opened the door for Harry and I. Pepper kissed him on the cheek and slid into the front seat.
Harry held me all the way to my apartment, whispering words of comfort. Instead of leading me to my top floor apartment, Harry carried me, assuming that I was too weak and upset to walk. He set me down on my bed and secured a few hairs behind my ears. “They’ll find him, Katie. He’ll be fine.”
I smiled grimly up at him, and a few more tears escaped my eyes.
“Get some rest, okay? I’ll be in the other room if you need me.” He reassured me. He kissed me on the cheek before he left the room, shutting the door softly.
A sudden thought hit me. Andrew and I were supposed to be going to a movie tonight. How am I going to get through that when my best friend has been so abruptly taken from me? Almost as if on cue, my phone started ringing. Andrew’s name glowed on the display screen, and I answered it with a hoarse hello.
Obviously he noticed the sound of my voice, “What’s wrong?”
I sniffled before answering him. “Tony was kidnapped.” Saying out loud was more devastating than hearing it from Harry. I bit my lip, attempting to silence my cries, but I failed miserably.
He was silent until my deafening sobs died down, “Are you gonna be okay?” I could hear the concern in his voice and it made me stop crying for a moment.
I swallowed the lump in my throat, “Yeah, as long as he is.” I wanted to say something else, to let all of my feelings about Tony spill out of my mouth like a broken dam.
Andrew sensed this. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
I let out another sob, and suddenly, I was telling him what I was thinking. “He’s my best friend and what if he’s dead? The day before he left, we had a fight because I told him I needed space, and now he’s going to die thinking I hate him!” I didn’t exactly tell him I’m in love with Tony, but I told him what’s been on my mind all day.
“Katie, he’s gonna be fine, okay?” He sounded honestly distressed at listening to me cry about my best friend. “If you want to cancel our date, I completely understand.”
“Can you come over?” I blurted out before I could accept his offer.
He was silent for a moment, “What time?”
“After you get off work?” I asked.
“I’ll bring dinner.” He hesitated before continuing, “Are you sure you want me to come over?”
Harry left my apartment about an hour and a half later. Another two hours passed, and Andrew was knocking at my door. I swung the door open and was met with his electric blue stare, and his heart incinerating smile. He gave me a peck on the lips and stepped inside.
After closing the door behind him, he turned to me and his gorgeous smile was gone. “Are you okay?”
My eyes fell on the bag of food he brought with him, and I stared at it for a moment before answering him, “No.” And I collapsed into his arms, sobbing hysterically. He caught me, without dropping our meal, and led me to the couch.
Andrew didn’t say anything. He just held me and rubbed my arm gently. He draped a blanket over my legs as I curled up next to him, leaning my head on his tense shoulders. Thirty minutes later, he prepared our food.
We didn’t speak while we ate, and tears steadily flowed down my already tear streaked face. When we were done, he looked at me and brushed my lingering tears away with his thumb. “Thank you.” I whispered.
He leaned in, “You’re welcome.” He breathed. Then, he closed the distance between us and our lips met. I nudged him, indicating for him to lie down. I laid on top of him with my hands on his chest and his on the small of my back.
I was just beginning to doze off when I heard his voice. “I’m sorry about Tony.” He placed his chin on the top of my head.
“It’s not your fault. I’m just upset because I got mad at him last time I saw him.” The memory of our last fight kept dashing through my mind.
“What’d you fight about?” he asked curiously.
“He was being nosy because he saw you at the bar with me, and he kept asking if I’d slept with you. So I told him I needed space.”
“Oh. What’d he say then?”
“He told me he’s leaving town and I can have all the space I want.” I sniffled, and he lifted his head to look at me.
“Is this my fault?”
I pecked him on the lips, “Of course not.”
He smiled meekly at me and kissed me back, longer. We laid on the couch for a while, kissing, and cuddling. Andrew is quickly winning his way to my heart.
“I refuse.” I spat back at the men holding me captive. They want me to build my weapons for them? Absolutely not.
One of Abu’s minions brought the butt of his gun down to the middle of my back, knocking me to my knees. Then, he pulled me up by the scruff of my shirt and pushed forward. Another minion caught me and hit me with his gun, right in the stomach. They both took me by my arms and led me out of the room. They placed what felt like a potato sack over my head, blocking my vision. I counted my steps, and stumbled across the uneven ground. Then, they opened a door, making it shriek and groan. They pulled the bag off my head, grabbed me by my hair, and shoved my face into a vat of water.
I had no time to hold my breath. I struggled against their strong grip on me, trying to find air. My lung were burning with want, and filling with water. Finally, they pulled me out, punched me in the stomach and dipped me back in. The electromagnet in my chest sparked at the increase in unwanted water. I saw Katie’s face, Rhodey being shot at, Pepper fiddling with her blackberry, and Obadiah frowning down at me. Just before I lost all power to live, they lifted me out of the water and placed the sack over my head once more. I coughed and spit out the water and slid over pebbles as they dragged me the mouth of the cave.
From the smell of the air around me, and the sun peeking through the bag, I could tell they’d led me outside to their enormous supply of weapons. They pulled the bag off my head and the sight that reached my eyes sent a jolt of anger coursing through me.
I lay in my creaky little cot thinking about Katie. I’ve been gone for a month and a half now. Is she still mad at me? Is she glad I’m missing so she can finally have a love life? I hope she doesn’t still hate me.
I realize she’s trying to have some sort of life outside of the one she has with me, but I don’t want her to. She’s supposed to be mine. I realize that sounds a little possessive, but I don’t really care. No one else will ever love her as much as I do; therefore no one else is good enough for her. I know I’m not good enough for her but I love her. I want her to be with me forever. But I can’t really do that when I’m stuck in a cave somewhere in the desert. The suit is coming along well though. I should be out of this hell hole soon.
“You got a family?” I asked Yinsen.
“Yes, and I will see them when I leave here. And you, Stark?”
I stared at the dice for a moment. “Nothin’.”
He nodded, “Mm. So you’re a man who has everything; and nothing.”
After we stayed silent for a few more moments, I spoke up, “My best friend.”
He looked up attentively, “Go on.” He coaxed me.
“She doesn’t exactly know how I feel about her.” He watched me, hanging onto my every word. “And we, eh, had a fight before I left.” I swallowed the lump forming in my throat. “And now I’m pretty sure she hates me.”
“And did she say she hates you?”
“No, but she said she wanted some space. Apparently I was being nosy, and protective, and because of that, she can never get date.”
“And you’re nosy because you love her.” He stated bluntly.
I stared at him in awe, “Yeah. I’m just afraid some asshole is gonna use her.”
“Is that what you’re afraid of?” He said sarcastically. I looked at the accusatory glare he shot me.
I continued with a rough sigh. “I guess I don’t want someone like me hurting her.” Saying it aloud was making progress. I rarely every speak to anyone about how I feel. But this man, the man who’d saved my life, listened without complaint. “But I’d never do that to her.” I finished.
He leaned forward slightly, “Stark, if you don’t want to lose this woman, then you have to stop pushing her away. If she wants space, give her space.” I opened my mouth to object but he held up a warning hand, “Listen to me. You love her, yes?” I nodded. “Stay close enough to let her know you still care about her, but not so much as to overwhelm and anger her. Understand?”
I let his words process before I replied. “So, give her the space she needs, but stay close?”
“Precisely. Now, we must work.” He got up, leaving me by the fire.
Tony was walking towards me, smiling. I grinned back at him. It’s the first time I’ve seen him in two and a half months .I wanted to run to him, but just as I took a step, a man in desert camouflage took the gun he was holding, and hit Tony in the back, making him drop to his knees. The man kept hitting him, over and over. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, more men appeared. Some kicked Tony’s curled form, and others used their guns. Their Stark Industries guns.
That’s when I saw blood running down his face. He looked at me in agony and mouthed, “I’m sorry.”
I stood there, helplessly, and watched as they beat my best friend without mercy. He flinched every time one of them moved. His hands were covering his head, but they weren’t aiming there so it did him no good. Finally, his body relaxed and his eyes drooped closed.
I woke up, my face damp with tears, and I sat up quickly. Someone’s hand fell from my stomach, into my lap. I looked down at Andrew. He was sleeping on his stomach and his head was facing the opposite way, not towards me, and the covers slipping off of his bare back. Last night, we finally had sex, and he told me he loved me. We were in his condo and I looked up at the ceiling and saw a skylight, the moon shining high above.
Andrew shifted in his sleep and pulled me closer to him. Suddenly, he spoke, “Are you okay?”
I laid back down and faced him. His eyes were open now, and he was looking at me with a worried expression.
“Nightmare.” I said.
He pulled me closer and kissed my nose. Tony kisses my nose. “Wanna talk about it?”
I sighed, “I dreamt that they killed Tony,” I took a deep breath, “by beating him to death.” He pulled me even closer and hugged me tight. “He’s been gone for almost three months, and they still haven’t found him.”
“Sweetie he’ll be okay. They’ll find him.” He flicked away my remaining tears and kissed me softly.
“I hope so.” I said faintly and danced off to sleep, him cradling me in his arms.
Daydreaming about Andrew again, I was interrupted by the clicking of heels outside my door. I looked up to see Pepper and Sarah entering my office. Pepper closed the door behind her and smiled at me. They took their seats in front of my desk.
“We have news.” Sarah said. I looked back and forth between the two of them and waited for them to continue. Sarah glanced at Pepper before speaking, “I’m pregnant.”
“Oh my God! Congratulations!” I leapt out of my chair and bounded around my desk, giving Sarah a hug. She laughed at my reaction and squeaked a quick ‘thank you’. I sat back down and looked at Pepper, waiting for her news.
“Um, Rhodey went back to search for Tony last week.” She took a deep breath, “And he found him.”
My heart stopped for a minute. “What?” Tears of joy were forming my eyes and I tried to wipe them away before the fell, but to no avail.
She nodded and grinned happily at me, tears of her own glistening on the brim of her eyes. “He’s coming home tomorrow at ten. Do you wanna come to the airport with Happy and I?”
Words escaped me so I just nodded my head in excitement. Tony is coming home.
Pepper, Happy and I stood on the tarmac waiting for the cargo hatch to open. My breath hitched in my chest as it began to descend, and I saw the vague silhouette of a man in a wheelchair struggling to stand. I saw Rhodey’s distinct, military figure lending a helping hand to the shadow. Light filtered in through the plane, and I could finally see him.
Tony had a strained look on his face that sent the impression that he was in extreme pain. Tears surfaced in my eyes and they spilled over before I could stop them. He had a sling around his shoulder, supporting an apparently injured arm. Rhodey was holding his hand as they walked down the sloping incline of the cargo hatch. When Tony’s face hit the sunlight, I could see various cuts and bruises scattered across his face. That sent another wave of sadness throughout my body.
A stretcher with two paramedics came forward and he rolled his eyes at them and waved them off. His eyes were locked on mine as he strode forward and came to a stop in front of me, merely inches from myself. His eyes were brimmed with tears, red and puffy, as if he’d already shed some not too long ago.
I eased forward and wrapped my arms around his midsection so as not to hurt his arm, and he pulled me into a tight, one armed hug. I rested my head into his chest and sobbed quietly, soaking his brown suit with my tears.
He kissed the top of my head, then rested his cheek on the spot. I could feel his warm tears pooling in my hair. I gripped him closer to me and I felt something hard in the middle of his chest. I thought nothing of it and just savored our moment.
“Hi, Pepper.” I heard him croak out. His voice sounded hoarse and exhausted. Silencing that thought, I gripped him harder than ever. He took this as a queue and tightened his hold as well.
He kissed my forehead and guided me to the Rolls Royce. We situated ourselves in the back seat without breaking our bond. Pepper rode shotgun up front with Happy.
“Where to, boss?” He asked. I smiled at his informality.
Pepper suggested that we go to the hospital, but Tony refused. Instead, we drove through Burger King and got some cheeseburgers. Then, Tony demanded that there be an emergency press conference.
“Ten minutes, okay?” Tony said. He kissed me on the nose and exited the car, being greeted with applause as he made his way inside of Stark Industries.
I saw this as an opportunity to ponder my thoughts. Tony is finally home. Finally, after three months of emotional torture, my best friend is home. Now, I can tell him how much I love and adore him. After having that particular thought, I saw only one flaw. Andrew. I love Tony more than anyone. But, I care for Andrew too. I may not love him, but I’m well on my way to that. I already know that Andrew loves me, but what about Tony? He’s had his fair share of women, and that brings me to another thought. Maybe he just can’t commit. I’m sure he loves me as his best friend, but no more than that.
And what will happen when they meet? How will Andrew react when he finally meets the man I’ve been crying about for three months? Surely, he knows that I see it as much more than a friendship between Tony and me. Or, maybe he’s just clueless, which I’m hoping is the case. Plus, Tony has plenty of women lining up for him as it is.
About ten minutes later, I saw Tony storming out of the building, looking angry and distressed. He went straight for the building where the Arc Reactor was located. Instead of following him, I waited a couple of minutes to see if he would come back out. Then, Obadiah trailed behind him, looking more upset than Tony.
After more waiting, Obadiah walked back outside and got into his personal car. I leapt out of the Rolls Royce and headed to Tony. He was standing in front of the reactor, just examining it. His sling, jacket, and tie were draped over the railing.
“Tony?” I asked cautiously. He turned around and smiled at me, the cuts on his face becoming more prominent with the gesture. His shirt was slightly unbuttoned, and I noticed a speck of blue light. I walked over to him and he pulled me into another hug, making me smile wider than ever. My smile faltered when I noticed that the light in his shirt was bigger than what I could see. I went to unbutton his shirt further, but he clutched my wrists and looked solemnly at me.
“Don’t.” He whispered, barely audible enough for me to hear, even in our close proximity. “Please, don’t.”
Hearing those words made me grow more worried and curious. “Tony, what-“
“Please, Katie. Just,” He looked down at our hands and he rubbed circles with his thumbs, “Don’t. I don’t wanna freak you out.”
I slid my wrists from his hands and worked frantically to unbutton his shirt, and what I saw stole the air from my lungs, and brought me to tears. It was a small, blue glowing circle, and I could still see the scars that lined the silver rim.
“Oh my God, Tony! What did they do to you?” I started backing away, but he grabbed my wrists again, bringing me into another strong embrace.
I sobbed into his shirt, trying to look at the object flawing his perfect body. He soothed me gently, running his hand up and down my back and whispering words of comfort.
“It’s still me, okay? I’m fine. It’s just a miniaturized arc reactor. It’s not hurting me. It’s keeping shards of metal out of my heart. I’m still me, Katie.” He kissed my forehead, and pulled me closer to himself.
I chanced a glance at him and he kissed my cheek, dangerously close to my lips. “I missed you so much. You have no idea.” I breathed into his neck.
He stroked my hair, soothing me. “I’m sorry I was such an asshole.” He whispered.
I smiled into his chest, “It’s okay. Not like it’s anything new.” I giggled. I looked up at him and he was grinning down at me. He bent down and kissed my nose, then straightened up. “What are you doing tonight?” I asked suddenly.
“Whatever you want me to do.” He replied, still smiling like a dork.
I giggled, “Harry and I are having dinner at mom and dad’s. Wanna come?” He looked up as if in thought, “They miss you.” I persuaded.
“Well you can’t blame them. I’m fabulous.” He made a hair flipping motion and I erupted into laughter. Once I could breathe, he continued, “Of course I’ll go.”
He kissed me on the nose again before we headed for the door. When we got to the car, Pepper and Happy were waiting with the engine running. Tony and I plopped into the back seat and smiled at each other.
“Where to, boss?” Happy asked.
Tony had Happy take us to his house to pick up his car. He hadn’t driven it in three months and he thought he’d take it for a spin. We got to my parent’s house in record time, Tony going well past the speed limit.
I felt like now was as good a time to tell him as any,”Tony?”
“Mhm?” he said, not taking his eyes off the road.
“Um, I have to tell you something.” He stayed silent, waiting for me to go on, “And please don’t be mad, okay?”
That’s when he glanced over at me, looking worried, “Okay.”
I cleared my throat. “I started dating Andrew from PR when you left.” I said quickly, in one, stressed filled breath.
I saw the muscles in his jaw clench as he stared vacantly at the PCH. His nostrils flared, as they usually did when he became upset or angry, and he looked at me, eyes full of hurt.
“Are you mad?” I asked gingerly.
“No. I’m just-“he sighed, angrily. “Why didn’t you tell me before I left? Because I remember asking you if you were going to see him again.”
“I don’t know. I didn’t want to upset you.” I replied dejectedly.
He laughed harshly, and then exhaled, defeated. “It’s not your fault. All the women in the building drool over him almost as much as they drool over me.”
His joking tone was back, “But I bet he hasn’t slept with half them.” I teased.
He chuckled, “Neither have I. Not on the first floor, at least.” He joked.
Once there, Tony took my hand in his as we walked up the path to their front door. He kissed me on the head as we waited for my parents to answer the door. Moments later, the ten foot oak door swung open, and there stood my parents. My dad was slightly shorter than Tony, with crinkles that told you he smiled way too much in his youth. His hair was a mix of dark brown and grey, the grey standing out. His eyes were the same shade of green as mine. He had his arm wrapped around my mother; she stood at my height, with her blond hair going silver in various areas, but otherwise remained unflawed. She shared Harry’s chocolate brown eyes, and intriguing gaze.
The moment my mom saw Tony, she shrieked with delight, dove forward and took him into her arms, kissing his face wildly. “Tony! We missed you so much!” Being a good deal taller than my mom, Tony had to slouch so that she could reach his face.
“I missed you too.” He smiled through her overbearing smooches, and eyed me suspiciously.
“Move over Katie, he’s mine for the next four hours.” She eased herself in between Tony and me, so I moved forward and gave my dad a kiss on the cheek.
“Hi dad.” I said as he put his hand on the small of my back.
“Hey sweetie. You think your mom’s gonna leave me for him?” He nodded toward Tony, who had lipstick all over his face.
I giggled “No, but you might have to worry about her having an affair with him.”
“Hey, I don’t sleep with married women.” My mom had now ceased kissing him, and was now hugging him tightly, “So Annette, you should divorce him. Then we can be friends with benefits.” He waggled his eyebrows at her which earned him a playful tap to his chest.
“Oh stop. You know full well I can’t do that. We’ll just have to get married, Tony.” She said mischievously as she guided him into the house, my dad and I following.
Tony chuckled at another joke she was telling while I walked with my dad. “Is she drunk?”
He chortled, “Hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere.”
“Where’s Harry?” I asked him.
“He should be on his way.” Just when the words were out of his mouth, we heard the door open and Harry shout to the whole house.
“Where is he?!” I looked over at Tony and my mom sitting on the couch.
“Excuse me, Annette.” He got up and practically ran to the front door. I followed him slowly and I caught sight of Harmony stepping away from them as they attacked each other in a forceful hug.
“Why haven’t you called me, Tony?” Harry demanded as they pulled away.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t get cell reception in my cave.” Tony joked back.
“I guess I forgive you, but don’t let it happen again.” Warned Harry with an accusatory finger.
Tony looked at me and shook his head. He came up to me and whispered loudly into my ear, “Your brother is insane.”
Harry, now standing in front of Harmony and kissing her, turned and yelled to us, “I heard that!”
Tony grabbed my hand and took me into the living room, “You were supposed to!” I laughed at their playfulness and Tony sat us on the couch, him in between me and my mom. He kissed me on the cheek again, making my heart flutter wildly. He draped his arm around my shoulders and I leaned into him. I blushed when I saw my dad gazing at us curiously.
“Katie, can you come help me with the steaks?” he asked as he turned towards the back door. I got up to follow him but was pulled back down by Tony.
“Where’s my kiss?” he asked as he moved his cheek closer to me. I laughed and gave him a peck. He grinned at me and said, “That’s better. Hurry back.”
I got to the back deck and my dad was leaning against the rail. “Are you and Tony dating?” he asked bluntly.
I became extremely nervous. “Uh, no.” I walked over and leaned next to him. “What makes you think that?”
“Well for starters, you two were holding hands when we opened the door.” He let me think about that for a moment, “And he’s been kissing you. Not on the lips, but still.”
“Dad, he always kisses me. And as for the holding hands part, he just got back from being taken hostage in Afghanistan. I think I’m a little justified in holding my best friend’s hand when I very nearly lost him.”
He held his hands up in defense, “Okay, okay. I was just curious. I mean, you do have a boyfriend, right? You and Andrew are still together?”
I rolled my eyes at him, “Yes, we’re still together.”
“So what’s wrong?” he said, turning to face me.
“What makes you think something’s wrong?” he stared at me, not letting me bypass his scrutiny. I sighed, “I love both of them. A lot.”
As soon as the back door slammed shut, Annette turned to me, “So what’s going on with you and Katie?” she asked excitedly.
I was taken aback by her eagerness to know, “Uh, what do you mean?”
“C’mon, Tony. You’re not stupid. You know what I mean.”
I looked at my hands and let out an empty, distressed sigh. “I want to be with her. But I’m not particularly sure she wants to be with me. She’s always got guys groveling at her feet. Plus, she deserves someone way better than me.”
“Well if it’s any consolation, I think you two would make an adorable couple.”
I laughed at her comment, “Thanks. But I don’t think it will make her want me.” Just then, I heard the front door open, and I thought Harry and Harmony were just going outside, but I thought wrong.
Andrew from PR walked into the living room and smiled at us. “Hi Annette.” She stood up and gave him a quick hug. Then she turned and made introductions.
“Andrew, this is Tony Stark, which I’m sure you know.” I stood up and shook hands with him, griping him harder than needed. “Tony, this is Andrew, Katie’s boyfriend.”
“Nice to meet you, finally. Katie has been telling me about you for the past three months.” He said. This guy is making it really hard to hate him. I nodded and put on a painful smile. “Excuse me.” He flashed us a smile and went out onto the deck where Katie was talking with her father.
I watched as her face lit up when she saw him bounding towards her, with his arms open. She threw her own arms around his neck and kissed him. I watched them through the window and gave Annette a depressed smirk.
Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. All of the air was gone from my lungs, and it wasn’t returning. I gasped for air, and I wasn’t thinking about Katie and her happiness with a man that wasn’t me. I was seeing the dim lights of the cave in which I was held captive. I felt water rush into my lungs and I struggled for air again. My head was being dunked into the water again and again. I clutched my chest, and heard Katie’s muffled voice.
“Tony?” she screamed through her sobs. I felt her hands on the sides of my face, and realized I was lying down. The water was filling my lungs, but in actuality, it wasn’t. I know where I am, I just can’t see it. I’m nowhere near a vat of dirty water, and there’s no way to fight something that isn’t really there.
Her crying died down as I slipped into the depths of unconsciousness, still unable to find the proper amount of oxygen, and tears dampening my cheeks.
“What are you building, Stark.” Asked Raza.
“I’m building the missile.” I spat at him. Blood spattering his face from the last forceful blow he issued.
“You lie.” He snapped his fingers and two men came forward, my weapons in their hands. The first one kneed me in the stomach, making me double over in pain. The other one brought his gun down and hit me in the back. Then, Raza kicked me square in the face, busting my lip open, and sending blood flowing down my chin, staining my overgrown goatee.
“Even if there was something to tell you, beating the shit out of me isn’t going to help you.” I said sarcastically.
That statement earned me another kick to the stomach. I coughed and spluttered, and spat blood at my enemies.
“Tell me what you’re building!” Shouted Raza. He brought his fist down and punched me in the jaw. He was breathing heavily, and he motioned for his goons to pick me up. Blood and sweat were obscuring my vision, but I could tell they were taking me back to the room in which the vat of water was situated.
I battled against their tight, merciless hold as they pulled my hair back to control me, and thrusting me forward into the awaiting water. I held my breath this time, but to no avail. They knew what I was doing, so for good measure, one of them hit me in the stomach with his gun, effectively cutting off all oxygen. They held me under longer than usual. I thrashed and gasped in the water, but they weren’t letting up any time soon.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, they pulled me out and punched me again, and I jerked myself awake.
I can’t even escape my lack of air in my dreams. I was drenched in sweat, breathing heavily. Finally, I caught a cool whiff of air, and I took a deep breath. I looked around and realized I wasn’t at home. I retraced my steps to figure out where I was.
I fell from the sky and landed in a sand dune. I walked in the desert for two days, until Rhodey found me. I came home and saw Katie. She took me to her parent’s house for dinner. Then her dad asked her for help with the steaks, leaving me and her mom alone. That’s when Andrew came in. Now I remember. Seeing her with Andrew must have triggered some sort of panic attack.
“Tony?” my heart stopped. Katie was sitting on the bed next to me. “Are you okay?” she whispered. I glared at her, not willing to answer. She moved her hand to brush away the hair that was stuck to my forehead from the sweat, but I inched away from her.
“Do you love him?” I said coldly.
She retracted her hand and looked down at her lap, hurt. “I don’t know.” She stated simply. Then she looked at me apologetically. “Yes.”
I just nodded my head in response to her confession. “Do you think he loves you?”
“Yeah, he already told me.”
“That’s good, I guess.” I said.
She leaned he head on my shoulder, and I put my arm around her waist. This is how it should be. No Andrew. Just me and her. I kissed the side of her head and she leaned into me.
“Are you okay? You freaked me out down there?” she asked cautiously.
I hesitated before answering. “Um, yeah. I’m fine.”
“You were saying you needed air. We called Pete and he said it sounded like post traumatic stress. That or you were having a panic attack.” She swept a couple of strands of hair out of my face. “You can tell me, Tony.”
I looked at her for a second, then kissed her nose, making her blush. “When I was over there,” I cleared my throat, “they asked me to build the Jericho Missile, but instead, I built something to escape.” She surveyed me as I told my story. “They became suspicious after a while. They didn’t interrogate me per se.”
She watched me inquisitively, “So what did they do?”
My hand was on top of hers and I examined them apprehensively. “They dunked my head into a tank of water. Repeatedly.”
Tears welled in her eyes, so I kissed her cheek, but that didn’t stop them from falling, “So what happened earlier?”
“Flashback I guess.” I shrugged my shoulders, fighting the fear I suddenly felt.
“So when you were saying you needed air, you were referring to your lack of oxygen in the cave when they were dunking your head into water?” she guessed.
I nodded my head and smiled somberly down at her. A lump formed in my throat when I remembered Yinsen lying on the bags of grain, bloody and helpless. I didn’t realize I was crying until Katie reached up and flicked away my tears with a simple stork of her finger. I took her hand in mine and kissed it delicately.
“What else, Tony?” She asked cautiously.
“There was a man in the cave, a doctor.” I leaned forward and rested my face in my hands. “He saved my life, but I couldn’t save his.” And I broke down. My shoulders shook with every sob and the once soft trickle of tears that escaped my eyes became an endless waterfall. Katie rubbed circles into my back, with her head still resting on my shoulder.
I pulled my tie off and threw it across the room and unbuttoned the top few buttons on my shirt to allow extra air the arc reactor in my chest. Still crying and breathing hard, I wrapped my arms around Katie, pulling her tightly to my chest. She snaked her arms around my neck and pulled my head down to rest on her shoulder. She kissed me on the cheek, igniting a strong urge to kiss her.
“I love you, Tony.” She whispered into my ear, making me lift my head to look at her.
“Love you too.” I replied, smiling grievously down at her; knowing I’ll never have her because her heart belongs to someone else.
Seeing Tony like this was emotionally stressful. I couldn’t help but wonder if his break down was partly because of me. I lied to him. He should be angry with me, but he forgave me right away. Is this part of a change that has come over him? He used to get angry over the slightest things. This is a big deal too. I lied, and he let it go, just like that.
We were preparing to leave my parents house when Andrew pulled me into my dad’s office, and shut the door. He leaned against it and watched me as I leaned against the desk. “Yes?”
“I think you should stay with Tony tonight.” He said rather quickly.
I gaped at him, waiting for him to explain. When he didn’t, I asked, “Um, why?”
He grunted unhappily, “Because he needs you. He just got back from being a prisoner in Afghanistan. You think he wants to be alone?”
I thought about this carefully, wondering if Andrew has seen something I haven’t. “Are you sure?” As much as I want to go with Andrew, the prospect of leaving Tony all by himself seemed like an utterly horrifying situation. He could do something. A permanent something.
He nodded his head in reassurance, “Go.” I walked up to him and kissed him on the lips as he wound his arms around my waist. When we broke away he sighed, “Plus I know you want to be there as much as he wants you there.”
“Thank you.” I responded softly as I kissed him again.
We exited my dad’s office and saw that everyone went out front. Andrew pulled me along, smiling, as he walked me out the front door, and over to Tony’s car. He was leaning against the side of it, talking to Harry and my parents.
“I’m fine, really.” He soothed them. They’d all spent the past two hours wonder what could have triggered such an emotional attack upon someone who appeared to be happy and blithesome with his life, despite his time spent in captivity.
“Okay, well if you need anything, just call us.” My mom reciprocated, giving him a hug.
Andrew gave me a peck on the lips while my eyes were locked on Tony, and I saw him look away morosely. My heart ached at seeing him being put in further pain. I wanted to make it stop, to make it cease forever. But I don’t have that power. And I never will, because I’m with Andrew, and Tony is with the rest of the female population in Malibu.
“I’m taking off, everyone. Nice seeing you all again.” Andrew called out, breaking the momentary silence. I gave him on last kiss and he settled himself in his car and drove off.
Tony looked confused. “Aren’t you going with him?”
I smiled at him, walking over to lean next to him against his Audi. “Nope. He said I should go with you.”
He broke into a dopey grin, evaporating all evidence of sadness. “We’re gonna hit the raves.”
Everyone laughed at his obvious joke, because Tony Stark doesn’t ‘hit’ raves. He throws them. He looked appalled at the group of people around him, laughing.
“C’mon, Katie. You know I’m being serious. We can shoot some heroine, and maybe worship Satan while we’re at it. It’ll be a blast.” He defended himself, making us laugh even harder. Then he turned to me, looking excited,”C’mon! Let’s blow this popsicle stand!” He opened the door to his car, letting me fall in gracefully, as he ran around to the other side, waving to my family as he went.
I giggled, saying, “Where are you taking me?”
He chuckled quietly, “My house. You think I want to go hang around a bunch of people that think they’re Wiccans of some sort? No. I wanna relax.”
“But Tony,” I flipped on his radio, knowing for sure that a certain song was playing, because he plays it whenever he takes home his special lady friends. I sang along, “Girls, just wanna have fun!”
He roared with laughter, switching the radio off as we sped back down the PCH, “We can have fun.” He waggled his eyebrows at me, implying something dirty.
I hit him playfully, “I’m in a relationship, Mr. Stark.”
His face fell. “Don’t remind me.” He mumbled grumpily.
“What’s wrong?” I inquired suspiciously.
That did it. He glanced at me angrily, his voice rising slightly, “What do you know about Andrew?”
“Well he was born here, raised here, his family lives here. He comes from a wealthy family, so he’s pretty well off. Why do you even care about this, Tony?” I asked, frustrated with the sudden change in mood.
He flexed his jaw and flared his nostrils again, a distinct way of showing his anger. “Why do you keep asking me that? I can’t be curious about the guy you’re dating?”
“Well you’ve never been this curious.” I retorted. “So what’s changed?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe the fact that I was held hostage in Afghanistan for three months and I want to make sure the guy my best friend is dating isn’t a terrorist.” He said sarcastically, yet serious.
I looked guiltily down at my hands that were now clasped together nervously. “I’m sorry.”
He sighed. “Why do you do that? Now I feel bad.”
I giggled at him, the sound breaking a smile across his handsome face. “Oh, sorry.”
He reached over and poked me in the stomach, making me jerk away and him chuckle in amusement. “That’s what you get.”
I kissed him on the cheek as he pulled into his garage, coming to a screeching halt next to his Cobra. I jumped out of the car and ran to the glass door that led to the upper levels, and wrenched it open.
“Hey!” He yelled as I heard him pursue me up the stairs.
We were both laughing like complete idiots, running around his house. I hid behind his sofa and watched his reflection in the window. He smiled at me. Damn. He ran over, just as I tried to escape. I stood up and met him half way.
He raised an eyebrow at me, wondering what I was doing. Just then, I dashed to the stairs, but he was too fast. He grabbed me around my stomach with one arm and my feet left the floor.
“Where do you think you’re going?” He spoke into my ear.
“To bed.” I laughed as he carried me upstairs with little effort. I could feel his arc reactor pressing into my back.
He took me into his room, and I became quite curious. I turned my head to look at him, and he looked entertained at my expression, “What?”
“You have a guest room, Tony.” I said, challenging him, “And all of my things are in there.”
He sat me down and situated himself on the bed, patting the spot next to him. I sat down, facing him. “I don’t wanna be alone.”
I looked into his gorgeous, warm, brown eyes, and my heart lurched painfully when I saw them glazed over with unshed tears. I kissed him on the cheek, and pulled back nodding. “Okay, but you have to stay on your side.” I joked, even though I was completely serious.
“Dammit. I was hoping to cop a feel in the middle of the night.” He said, looking abashed, yet unashamed. I shoved him playfully and got up to get my pj’s out of the guest room. Instead, I got ready in there, so I was sure that Tony didn’t peak. I reentered his room to find him lying on his back, wearing nothing but grey pajama pants.
I rolled my eyes at him, “You could wear a shirt.” I, after all, was wearing very skimpy pajama’s as well. I had on a spaghetti strap tank top, and short shorts, and I could see Tony watching me as I approached the bed.
“Nah, I like being half naked.” He countered back. I hit him gently as I climbed into his oversized bed, but when I withdrew my hand, he pulled me down on top of him, and looked at me hungrily, speaking with a low growl, “That’s not very nice.”
He kissed my cheek once more, before letting me roll off of him, wondering what the hell had just happened.
I woke up the next morning, lying on my back, with something heavy in my left hand that was on the pillow, close to my face. I stifled a yawn and turned my head slightly to see what it was. Tony was laying on his stomach, facing me, with his left hand in my right.
As I tried to move, his eyes fluttered open sleepily. I gave him a meager smile, and he returned it with an equally similar gesture. His eyes darted to our hands and they widened with realization as he sat up quickly and withdrew his hand. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” I said, as I slowly lifted myself to the same position in which he sat. He was clasping his hands together nervously. “Did you have any nightmares?”
He jumped at the question, longing to end the previous awkward silence, “Surprisingly, no. I guess it helps to have someone with me.”
I grinned at him for a moment, “Tony, I have to go to work.”
He turned towards me, and gave me his puppy stare, “Aw, c’mon. Can’t you play hooky today?”
I chuckled softly, shaking my head, “I can’t. I have to go to court.”
He moved closer to me and nudged me, “Reschedule.” He said simply.
He pecked me on the cheek, and pulled me into a hug, “Tony, I can’t.” I said, while trying to push him away.
He sighed in defeat, “Fine, at least let me drive you to work?”
I thought about it for a few seconds before replying, “Fine.” He threw his fist up in victory before he practically ran to the bathroom to take a shower.
I went to the guest room to go get ready. In forty five minutes, we were ready to leave, him in jeans, a soft blue t-shirt, and a block leather jacket, and me in a light lavender blouse with a grey jacket and short pencil skirt. As I followed Tony down the stairs to his garage, I couldn’t help but me enamored by his cologne. It’s my favorite thing about him, and it wafted behind him, weakening my knees with its enchanting odor.
He held the door to his workshop for me, and led me to his Audi. The tires screeched as he slammed his foot on the gas pedal, the vehicle’s speed increasing at an extraordinary rate. We arrived at my building in no time at all.
I opened the door to exit the car, when Tony grabbed my hand and looked at me skeptically, “Where’s my goodbye kiss?”
I rolled my eyes at him, “You don’t get one.”
He laughed and pulled harder on my hand, forcing me to inch closer to him, “Try again.”
It was my turn to laugh now. I giggled as I gave him a kiss on the cheek, and exited the car, watching the smug smile on his face turn into a broad grin.
We’ve exchanged kisses on the cheek before, maybe once a week. But now, I can’t even keep track of the amount we’ve shared in the past two days. It’s leading me to believe that there’s something else going on with him. Something that changed while he was over in that cave.
I entered my building, greeting various people on my way to my office, ready to begin my long day. Soon, I became so immersed in my work, I hadn’t noticed the time. My workday was quickly coming to a close.
I just finished putting my things away when someone cleared their throat. Looking up expecting to see Tony, I was surprised to see Andrew instead. We smiled at each other as he strode over to me and planted a kiss on my lips.
“How was your day?” He said, kissing me once more.
I didn’t answer right away, as he was kissing me, making speech impossible. When he finally pulled away, I said, “It was productive. Yours?”
He gave me a sly smile, “Also productive.” And he made me sit down in my chair while he crouched on the floor. “Listen, I need to talk to you about something.”
I became nervous and asked, “About what?”
He took my hands into his, and spoke quietly, “I know it’s only been three months, but it feels longer than that.” I looked down at him in shock, staring into his dazzlingly blue eyes. “And you know I love you. I love you so much. And I want to marry you.”
I gasped as gleeful tears welled in my eyes. He pulled out a red velvet box and lifted the lid so I could see the gorgeous ring settled inside.
“I know we’re moving a little fast, but I love you. And I’m pretty sure you love me.” He said, a light smile playing across his flawless lips. “So, will you marry me?”
I sat there, frozen as he awaited my answer. I couldn’t speak; therefore I just nodded my head excitedly. A wide grin expanded across his face as he extracted the ring from its case and placed it delicately on my finger. I leaned down to kiss him, but not before seeing Tony’s angry stride, retreating from my office door.
I sped home, driving faster than I normally do. How can she already be engaged? I just got back yesterday. I didn’t even get a chance to tell her how I feel, and now she’s getting married to Andrew. It’s only been three months, like he said. She doesn’t think that’s a little fast?
Before I knew it, I was coming to halt in my garage. Immediately, I went over to liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle of scotch. I grabbed a cup and filled it half way, instantly downing the contents and filling another glass.
I was half way through the bottle when heard Pepper’s heels clicking down the stairs. When she entered the workshop I quickly gulped down another full cup.
“Tony, why are you drinking?” She said in a scolding tone.
I didn’t want to answer her question, so I began pouring another glass when she snatched the bottle away from me. “Give it back, Pepper.”
“Not until you tell me what’s wrong.” She challenged.
I sighed in defeat. “I was walking into Katie’s office and Andrew was there.”
I glared at her, and then leaned forward, resting my face in my hands. “So, he was proposing to her.” I paused; thinking somehow saying the words would make them reality, though I knew they already were. “She said yes.”
She sat down next to me and put a comforting hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Tony.” Then, she did the unexpected and handed me the bottle, its contents half empty. “Don’t drink too much.” She said warningly as she exited the shop.
I didn’t even bother with the cup anymore, but chugged the rest of the bottle. I went over to get another bottle when JRAVIS’s metallic voice sounded throughout the workshop, “Sir, Miss Lockhart is calling.”
Hearing ‘Miss Lockhart’ sent a jolt of depression through me as I answered, “Tell her I’m busy.”
There was a long pause and I thought he’d gotten rid of her when his voice rang in my ears again. “Sir, she would like to see you.”
“Tell her I’m busy and unavailable.” I said, frustrated that JARVIS couldn’t get rid of her properly.
I began working on the project I’d started in the cave. I altered several things, modifying it immensely. Instead of flame throwers, I thought I’d replace it with guns and rockets and other contraptions.
I hadn’t realized the sun rising until it caught my eye just right, temporarily blinding me. The amount of alcohol I’d consumed must have made time drift away from me.
Another hour or so later, Pepper came into the workshop, brandish a cup of coffee and two Tylenol. “You’re up early.”
I shook my head slightly, trying to remain focused on attaching parts to the flight stabilizer. “Never went to bed.”
She sighed angrily, “Tony, you need rest.”
I stopped what I was doing for a moment and looked at her skeptically, “I’ll sleep tonight, but right now, I’m busy.” I said as I pointed to the boot sitting in front of me, diverting my attention back to it.
“Well, Katie’s been calling me about you.” She said cautiously.
I stopped moving for a minute and looked back at her, “What’d she say?”
It was her turn to look at me skeptically, “She wants to know what you’re doing.”
“I told her I’m busy.” I stated, turning back to my work.
“Yes, but she wants to know, with what?” she reiterated.
“How I escaped.” I pointed, again, to the boot situated in front of me. “But you can’t tell her. Just tell her I’m working on some things for Stark Industries.”
“And is this for Stark Industries?”
I looked at her hesitantly, “Well, no. But just tell her that if she calls again.”
“Fine. But you better tell her about this sooner or later.” She pointed a warning finger at me, “Or I will.”
“I will.” I mumbled to myself, watching her leave the workshop again.
Two weeks of ignoring Katie’s calls and her desperate wants to visit me at home, and the growing amount of empty scotch bottles on the counter were beginning to become unbearable. Another conflict was burning deep inside me, mixing with the scotch, aching to get out. Should I just tell her I love her? Or keep it to myself while I watch her marry some schmuck? I don’t want to be miserable for the rest of my life, but I can’t ruin her happiness just because I don’t like her fiancé.
But that’s just it. It’s not just because I don’t like him. It’s because I love her and I’m not in his place. She’s been my best friend for seventeen years. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been in love with her, but it’s definitely been longer than Andrew has.
“Ow! Ow ow ow ow!” I yelped as the bots removed the suit from my body.
I heard the shop door open and Pepper’s heels clicking on the surface of the floor, stopping instantly. She stood there in shock, both of us silent before I said, “Let’s face it, this is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing.”
“Are those bullet holes?” she breathed.
I looked down at the damaged suit, then back to her. “Uh, yeah.”
Without another word, she stormed upstairs, leaving me hanging from the bots as they disassembled the suit.
“The truth is,” Tony paused, gazing down at the cards in his hands, “I am Iron Man.” I was sitting in my office, watching the press conference explode with questions, and the flashing of their cameras becoming blinding. A slight smirk played across Tony’s face.
I dropped everything I was doing and headed to his house. He hasn’t spoken to me in two and a half weeks. He claims he’s ‘busy’. And now I know he was busy. Very busy. Due to my Tony-like speeding on the PCH, I arrived at his house within minutes. He was still at the press conference, so I headed down to his workshop to wait for him.
About half an hour later, he came downstairs, still in his suit and tie, and began working on something over in the corner. He didn’t see me sitting on the couch, waiting for him.
I walked over to him and stood behind him at a close distance. He turned around, startled by the sound of my footsteps.
“What the hell, Katie?” he said rather loudly.
I attacked him, “Why – haven’t – you – called – me – back?!” with each word, I delivered a hit to his chest. Finally, he clutched my wrists in his large hands to stop me from conveying another punch.
“Stop!” He shook my wrists, “Stop it.”
I was breathing heavily, looking into his cold brown eyes, “Why have you been avoiding me, Tony?”
He released me, “I told you. I was busy.” He turned away from me and went over to the couch.
“No,” I followed him, “JARVIS told me. Pepper told me. Everyone but you told me you were busy.”
I sat down right next to him, our legs touching. “So what? It’s the same thing.” He said, avoiding my searching gaze.
“No it’s not.” I grabbed his face, making him look at me. “So why aren’t you talking to me?”
He exhaled gloomily, “I saw him propose to you.”
“No. I’m sorry. You guys looked happy, and I didn’t want to ruin it.” He smiled at me meekly.
“That still doesn’t explain why you haven’t been talking to me.” I countered.
I waited for his explanation, “You obviously don’t need me, so I just,” he looked at me, his beautiful eyes swimming with tears, “left.”
He was holding onto my hands, running his thumb on the backs. I leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, “Shouldn’t me calling here every day be a slight hint that I need you?”
He laughed for a minute, and finally caught his breath, “I’m sorry.” He poked me in the stomach with his finger, making me jump.
“Don’t do that!” I said through my laughter and I jumped off the couch.
“You love it.” He retaliated, chasing after me.
We were both thrown into frenzied laughter as he caught me around my stomach and we both toppled to the floor. He kneeled above me a tickled me to where I couldn’t breathe. Then, he laid down next to me, catching his own breath, and looked at me. His eyes crinkled with his dopey smile, the dopey smile that I’ve come to adore for the past seventeen years.
6 months later
Iron Man landed in the middle of the stage at the Stark Expo. I was back stage watching everything from behind. Happy stood next to me, rolling his eyes at Tony, though he couldn’t see.
“So how is everything with you and Pepper?” I asked, practically yelling above the noise of the crowd.
“Never better.” He said simply, smiling at the question. “How about you and Andrew?”
I grinned at him and winked while saying, “Never better.”
Happy is like a big brother to me, even though I have Harry. He’s not only Tony’s body guard, but mine as well. Of course he guards me out of sheer brotherly impulse. As Happy and I continued talking, Tony began his speech.
“I’m not saying, that the world is enjoying its longest period of uninterrupted peace in years because of me.” He said, making the crowd go wild, again.
“I’m not saying, that from the ashes of captivity, never has a greater phoenix metaphor been personified in human history.” He paused, waiting for everyone to quiet down. “I’m not saying, that Uncle Sam, can kick back on a lawn chair, sipping on an iced tea, because I haven’t come across anyone who’s man enough, to go toe to toe with me on my best day!” He spoke slightly louder, the audience erupting into applause once more.
Happy and I looked at each other in exasperation as he continued riling up the crowd. Finally, he stepped off, and walked towards us. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and asked, “How was that?”
“I think they love you.” I said, trying to suppress a laugh.
He just smiled down at me knowingly. Then his face fell, slightly and he went around the back of the giant screen. I didn’t follow him, because I knew if he wanted me to, he would have grabbed my hand and led the way. He returned a few minutes later, and I noticed there was a small drop of blood on his finger.
“Tony, you’re finger is bleeding.” I said, concerned.
He jumped at my voice and looked down at the finger in question. “Oh.” He lifted it to his mouth and licked the blood off. I couldn’t help being turned on by this simple action. I ran my tongue along my lips, and tried to look away, unsuccessfully.
Tony noticed my obvious ogling at him, and a light smirk played across his lips. “Come on.”
He took my hand and we followed Happy through the crowd. Several women were brushing up against Tony, trying to get his attention, but he paid them no mind. Finally, the crowd thinned, and we came out to Tony’s new Audi R8 Spyder. The Rolls Royce was parked directly behind it.
There was a woman leaning against it, and I rolled my eyes when Tony’s sex stare was targeted toward her. However, she wasn’t there for pleasure, which was made clear when she handed Happy a subpoena, but spoke directly to Tony.
Tony was being summoned to sit before the senate tomorrow morning, in Washington D.C. He looked at me ruefully. “Happy, follow us in the Royce.”
“Yes, sir.” He said with a grin at me.
Tony and I got into his car, and as soon as I shut the door, he stomped on the pedal. “So what was that about?”
He sighed, “They’ve been badgering me about my suit. They think I’m a liability to the United States.”
Tony looked stressed. He’s been looking that way for months. He also looks unhealthy, which is scaring me even more. He’s Tony Stark. He’s supposed to be at 100% at all times. He’s not allowed to be like this.
As we sped down the highway to the hotel, he kept one hand on the steering wheel, and he brought the other up to rub his eyes, occasionally. When we arrived at the hotel, Happy was nowhere to be seen.
“I’m gonna drive to Washington with Hap.” He said morosely. He stepped closer to me, gripping my hands. “You’re flying back to Malibu tomorrow.”
Before I could say anything, Happy pulled up in the Royce, and turned it off, getting into the Audi instead. I looked at Tony with a sad smile. Usually when he goes away for business or something, it isn’t this hard to let him leave, but him being under so much stress, and everyone out to get him because he’s Iron Man, really has me worried.
He smiled down at me, “Bye Katie.” He kissed me on the nose, then my cheek. “Love you.”
My heart leapt at his words. I beamed at him, and his grin was equally large. “Love you too, Tony.”
“Have I ever told you that I love your smile?” He asked suddenly.
I was taken aback by his words. In all honesty, no he hasn’t, in the seventeen years we’ve known each other; he never once mentioned my smile. “No.” I said.
“Well you do.” He replied, still smiling. “See you tomorrow.” I gave him one last hug before letting him get into the car. I stood there as he sped off to Washington. Then I realized we’re in New York. I laughed to myself and wondered why he’d be driving there, when he has his own private plane.
The next day, Tony’s plane took me back to Malibu. I hadn’t seen Andrew for about two weeks, because I was on business, and Tony wanted me to go to the Stark Expo. So, needless to say, I was excited to see him.
I walked across the Tarmac to Harry, leaning against his car. He came up to me and gave me a hug, “Did you have fun?” he asked in a teasing tone.
I laughed and answered, “Not at all.”
We got into his car and he sped over to Andrew’s apartment, where my car was. When we arrived, I hugged Harry and thanked him for the ride. I walked through the lobby and into the elevator.
I used the key Andrew gave me to unlock his door, but I shouldn’t have. As soon as the door swung open, I saw another woman’s underwear lying in the hallway that led to his room. Before I knew it, angry tears were drenching my face. I yanked his key off my key ring and threw it at his bedroom door, along with the engagement ring.
As I was turning to leave, he opened his door and his eyes grew wide with panic. He was wearing nothing but his boxers. “Katie? Why are you back early.”
I scowled at him and slapped him across the face. Without a word to him, I pushed past him the get my things from his closet. I saw a woman in his bed, clearly naked, but covering herself with the sheets. The sheets Andrew and I had been sleeping in for the past six months. I gathered all of my things and pushed him out of the way.
He wasn’t even trying to explain himself. He wasn’t apologizing. He wasn’t chasing after me. Nothing. He’s the first man that I’ve ever gone this far with. Getting engaged and practically moving in with him. And this is what he does?
Finally, I was out of his building, and getting into my car. I don’t know where to go, and I don’t want to be alone. I raced down the PCH to Tony’s house, hoping he was home. He should be. It’s almost four in the afternoon.
I came to a halt in front of his house, and exited the car, still crying. Opening his front door, JARVIS greeted me in his soft, metallic voice, “He’s in the workshop, Miss Lockhart.”
He knew exactly what I was here for and I nodded a thank you to him, hoping he could see. I bolted down the stairs, desperate for some comfort. I saw him sitting at his desk, drinking some sort of green liquid. I typed in my code, but missed one of the numbers, so it wouldn’t let me in. Just as Tony turned to see me struggling at the door, I collapsed to the floor, drew my knees up to my chest and sobbed harder than ever.
I heard the door open, and Tony’s heavy footsteps stop next to me. He picked me up bridal style and took me into the workshop. He sat us down on the couch with me in his lap.
“What happened?” He asked, concern obvious in his tone.
“I – walked in on – Andrew – with another – woman.” I said through my sobs. I’ve never cried like this. Not in front of Tony at least. He was stroking my hair and rocking me back and forth.
“He’s an asshole, Katie.” He whispered. I could tell that Tony was trying to hold back his anger.
After about thirty minutes of crying, I managed to speak. “You were right. I should have listened to you.” I said with a rasp in my voice.
Tony shook his head. “No. I don’t want to be right. It kills me to see you like this, Katie.”
We looked at each other for a moment, and suddenly, he kissed me. Not on the cheek, or the nose, or my forehead. On my lips. I melted into him and ran my fingers through his thick, brown hair. We pulled away and stared at each other.
“I love you.” He said quietly. Hearing him say it for real this time, sent my lips crashing into his once more. He laid me down on my back and got on top of me. My hands went under his shirt to create skin to skin contact. I felt something around his arc reactor, and lifted his shirt to see, but he grabbed my hands before I could lift it any higher.
“Don’t do that.” He said hoarsely.
He thought for a second, “I’m ticklish.” I giggled at him and slid my hands from his grip and lifted his shirt. There always seems to be a new surprise with him. There was a strange looking pattern of veins sprouting from his arc reactor, and spreading across his chest.
A lump formed in my throat. “What is that?”
He exhaled nervously and sat up, putting his hands in his face. “The arc reactor is killing me.”
My stomach lurched uncomfortably at his words. “What? What do you mean it’s killing you? I thought it was supposed to be saving your life.”
“It is. But the palladium is poisoning me.” He looked at me, pain in his beautiful chocolate eyes.
I leaned towards him and kissed him. We both stood up and he gathered me in his arms, never breaking the kiss, and carried me upstairs to his bedroom. Once there, he set me down, just inside the door. We walked over to the bed, leaving a trail of clothes along the way.
Once his shirt was off, and we were both naked, I could see the extent of the damage the arc reactor had caused. Tears welled in my eyes, and when they fell, Tony was there to wipe them away. Our lips met again and we toppled to the bed, him on top.
He kissed my neck, and down my body, circling my naval before coming back up to my lips. Our tongues danced in each other’s mouths and he slowly entered me.
We gasped in unison while he hooked my leg around his hip and began to move. He filled me better than anyone ever has. This moment has been anticipated by both of us for so long, that we lost ourselves in our own passion. His mouth was attached to mine and he sped up, hitting my sweet spot every time.
“Katie.” He moaned, and my name on his lips sent me over the edge. I clawed at his back, and his speed increased even further. Soon, he was moaning my name over and over as he released himself into me.
We rode out our incredible orgasms and he collected me into his arms, draping the sheets over us. I snuggled closer into him and said quietly into his chest, “You better not die.”
He lifted my chin so I could look at him properly. “Now that you know I love you? Of course I can’t die.” He kissed me delicately and released my chin, instead resting his hand on my waist.
“I love you.” I said through our kiss. I could feel his smile, opting me to kiss him even more.
Once we settled down, I rested my head on his shoulder and he ran his finger up and down my spine. Any previous thoughts of Andrew’s betrayal left my mind, replaced with the lingering idea of life without my best friend.
My fingers traced her spine daintily and Katie’s breathing evened out, indicating she had fallen asleep. Her hand rested on top of the arc reactor, casting its light in different directions. I could watch her sleep all night, the peaceful rise and fall of her abdomen soothing me, ridding my body of stress, but I had more important things on my mind.
I love her. She is without a doubt, the person that I’d want to spend my life with. We’ve been friends for seventeen years, almost eighteen, and I still look forward to seeing her every day. But now, I get to wake up with her resting in my arms, unafraid of not seeing her. She’s mine. And I don’t intend to let her out of my grip so easily.
She’s been in so many other relationships with so many other assholes, and that brought another unyielding thought to my mind. Andrew cheated on her. They were even engaged, and he sent her to me, crying and broken. Anger swelled inside of me, threatening to erupt. The way I see it, he made a promise to her, and he broke that promise with lust for another woman. He will never deserve her. He never did. But then again, neither do I.
I’ve done so many wrong things throughout my life; I deserve nothing more than to be alone for the remainder of it. But no. Here I am, laying in bed with my best friend, the girl of my dreams, the woman who knows me better than anyone, and I’m contemplating leaving this bed to save her the heartache and pain that I will surely bring her.
I am not entitled to happiness like the rest of the world. That much was clear when my parents left me for good. When I fell in love with Katie, but couldn’t have her. When she found some else who made her happy, leaving me to wallow in my own sorrow. Even now, when I have her. Now that she’s all mine, I can’t seem to find happiness, knowing that someday, be it five days from now, or five years, I’ll hurt her beyond repair. And I don’t want that.
But wouldn’t leaving her right now damage her? Her fiancé cheats on her, and then I leave her? How much more emotional distress can she take? If I leave now, it will destroy her. If we keep our relationship going, and I don’t find a solution to my disorder, it will be worse for her, knowing she’ll never be able to have me again.
But, I want to enjoy the short time I have left with her. It feels selfish of me, I admit, but I love her. And if by some miracle, I make it through this alive, I’ll keep loving her until I do finally leave this world for good.
So I stay, and watch her sleep peacefully, trying to find the same comfort myself. So when it doesn’t come after hours of waiting, I give her a kiss on the forehead, put on a pair of dirty jeans, nothing else, and head downstairs to the workshop. She’ll know I haven’t abandoned her, simply due to the fact that I haven’t picked up my clothes and sent hers to the dry cleaners.
As I entered the shop, I gazed down at my chest, examining the checkered pattern of veins originating from the arc reactor. How much time do I have? How many more hours with Katie do I have left? And what will happen to her once I’m gone?
As if that thought triggered something in my body, my chest throbbed uncomfortably, instantly making me dizzy. The room was spinning and tunnel vision threatened to overcome me. I have to make it to my desk and to the cigar box situated upon it. I ran into the hot rod and used it for support. Without realizing it, I slumped to my knees and began to crawl.
“Sir, your heart rate is increasing rapidly.” JARVIS’s voice rang in my ears, but was strangely muffled.
I finally got to my desk and tried to stand, but was unsuccessful. I clawed at the edge of it with a lingering hope that some super natural force would attract the box to me. Breathing was becoming more and more difficult. Suddenly, I was seeing the cave again.
“What are you building?” he yelled into my ear, packing another powerful punch to my face. They had me tied to a chair this time and I watched as my own blood dripped into my lap.
I coughed roughly and in spat the warm red liquid at him, angering him further. He snapped his fingers and two armed guards came forward. They untied me and pushed me to my knees.
I’m in my basement. This isn’t real.
Raza bent low to whisper in my ear, “That wasn’t very smart.” The sinister tone he was using sent shivers down my spine.
I’m safe. I’m at home. This isn’t real.
And they began beating me. One of them was kicking me in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me repeatedly. The other was hitting me with his gun. Or my gun, rather. They kept going without mercy, waiting for me to tell them. But I wasn’t giving up so easily.
This isn’t real. It’s not happening.
I was now lying flat on my stomach, waiting for the pain to end, for someone, anyone, to rescue me. But I knew that would never happen. Yinsen’s words echoed in my mind.
“They’ll never find you in these mountains, Stark.”
But I don’t care. I have to escape. I have to get to Katie. More unforgiving blows to my already mangled and bleeding body; continuous shouting in my ears, asking what I was really doing. And my thoughts stayed on Katie, willing myself to stay alive, just for her. Only for her. No one else. Because I’ve always loved her, and I always will.
Remembering my thoughts during one of my daily beatings brought me back to the present. I have to stay alive for as long as possible. But that isn’t possible right now when I can’t reach my box of palladium. I laid on my back, the cold black tile of the workshop cooling off my overheated body.
I shut my eyes, hoping someone would come down here and find me. That’s when I heard the door of the workshop open. I had no strength to lift my head and see who it was, but I didn’t have to, because she yelled my name and came running to me.
“Are you okay?” she said nervously, on the brink of tears.
My throat was too dry to speak so I shook my head. Thank God JARVIS took over.
“Miss Lockhart, this is his third attack in the last two weeks. The palladium in his chest has been depleted, and if it isn’t replaced quickly, he’ll die within minutes.” His monotonous voice oddly soothed me, knowing he’d help Katie do what is necessary.
I felt drop of water hit my chest and looked up. She was crying above me, unsure of what actions to take. “JARVIS, what do I need to do?”
I heard him describe to her what needed to be done, but before I could finish listening, my eyes rolled into the back of my head, leaving me unconscious.
My eyes flew open and I sat up quickly. I was immediately aware of the aching in my chest, and Katie sitting at my feet. She’d moved me to the couch and put a pillow under my head, and a washcloth on my forehead.
There were dry tears on her face and my heart throbbed in pain knowing they were for me. She was wearing a lavender spaghetti strap shirt and white shorts that were only slightly longer than underwear. Her head was resting on the arm of the couch; she was asleep.
I looked out of the window and saw that it was still dark outside, so I checked my watch and it read four in the morning. When I shifted my weight to get up, she stirred in her sleep. Her eyes slowly fluttered open. She looked at me and a glassy sheen of tears immediately formed over her beautiful emerald eyes.
I sat down next to her and gave her a kiss. “Thank you.” Katie’s arms snaked around my neck and I buried my face in her hair. “I love you.” I whispered into her ear.
She smiled minutely at me before pressing her lips against mine.
“Come on.” I said when we broke the kiss. I picked her up, my left arm supporting behind her knees, and the other in the middle of her back. She rested her head on my shoulder.
I carried her to my room and laid her down on the bed, quickly following suit. She turned her back to me, so I came up behind her and wound my arms around her, completing the gesture by resting my head at the nape of her neck.
“Tony?” Katie said faintly.
“Are you okay?” She asked a second time.
I let out a rough sigh. “I hope so.”
She turned in my arms and placed her hands on either side of the arc reactor. I pulled her closer and kissed her nose, making her giggled quietly.
“Like I said, I can’t die now that you’re mine.” I conveyed sincerely.
She looked at me and the light of the reactor glinted in her eyes. Her fingers traced the outline of it affectionately.
“Your eyes are beautiful.” I said out of the blue.
She grinned at me like I had just asked her to marry me. “Thank you, Iron Man.”
I chuckled at her as she rested the side of her face on the arc reactor. Her warm skin on mine lulled me into a restful sleep.
The clicking of heels woke me the next morning. “Tony, Happy is ready for you.” Said Pepper, walking into my bedroom, but quickly coming to a halt when she saw that I was with a woman.
Katie shifted in my arms and her eyes shot open when she heard someone else in the room. I gave her a quick kiss to calm her down, surprising Pepper further.
“What’s going on?” she asked suspiciously.
Katie and I sat up and just smiled at her. My arm was still wrapped around her and she leaned into me. “We’re taken.” I said, looking down at her.
“Oh. And when did this happen?”
“Yesterday.” We answered.
She beamed at us, “Finally.” And she exited the room.
We looked at each other and began laughing. Just when it died down, I poked her in the stomach. She squealed and rolled away from me. Before she fell off the bed, I caught her around the stomach and pulled her to my chest.
I kissed her neck, tickling her with my goatee. She giggled wildly until she couldn’t breathe. “Stop!” she screeched, but I didn’t.
“No!” I laughed. I tickled her mercilessly until she pinched me. “Ow!” I scooted away from her and turned away.
“Oh, don’t pout. You deserved it.” She said. She came up behind me and brushed her hands across my bare chest. I rolled over so that I was on top of her and we were both facing the ceiling.
“I’m sorry. Am I hurting you?” I asked sarcastically. I turned over and kissed her. My tongue slipped into her mouth and she graciously accepted it. I went to take off her shirt, but she stopped me.
“Later.” She said, breathless. “Happy needs you.” I pouted, and gave her one more kiss before getting dressed to join Happy.
I watched as Tony dressed himself to go workout with Happy. He winked at me before leaving the room. I laid there on his bed for a good hour before dressing in tight fitting sweats, the same spaghetti strap shirt I was wearing, and putting my hair up in a ponytail.
Once I entered Tony’s gym, I saw him standing next to a woman with burgundy hair, wearing a tight, grey and white business suit.
“Will that be all Mr. Stark?” She copied Pepper’s famous line.
“Yes, that will be all Miss Rushman. Thank you very much.” Pepper answered for him.
When she exited the room, Tony saw me and his face lit up. He walked over to me and gave me a kiss. When he pulled back, he looked down at me a waggled his eyebrows, “You look really hot.”
“Thank you.” I said, wrapping my arms around his neck. He spiraled his arms around my waist, forcing me to move closer. He brought his lips to mine. We stood there for a minute with our lips locked until Pepper cleared her throat.
We broke away from each other and looked up at her scrutinizing gaze. She just smiled at us, took Happy’s hand, and left. Tony winked at me and led me over to the boxing ring. He jumped up himself, and then assisted me.
Once he pulled me in, we stumbled and our lips met again. He backed me up to a corner of the ring and began tugging at the hem of my shirt. He slipped his hand underneath is and caressed the small of my back. With the same hand, he migrated down beneath my panties and gave my ass a sharp squeeze.
I yelped in surprise, but he kept his lips firmly against mine. I could tell he was smiling, so I pushed against him to make him break away.
“What?” He asked with a smirk, his hand still fondling my ass.
“I was gonna go for a run.” I said breathlessly.
“I can think of other ways to burn calories.” He whispered in my ear and began kissing my neck. His goatee tickled me, causing me to squirm in his grasp and giggle lightly.
“Tony, I need to go running.” I said. He sighed and rested his forehead on my shoulder. “Plus, we’re in your gym. Pepper or Happy could come in here at any moment and see us.”
He lifted his head up and said with a smile, “So? I enjoy an audience.”
I laughed at him and pushed him away from me. His hand slipped out of my pants and he looked hurt. He gave me his puppy dog stare, but I shook my head and exited the ring.
“Hey! Get back here! I’m not done with you yet!” He yelled after me. I looked back to see him getting out of the ring himself, so I began to run away from him.
I ran into the living room and hid behind the bar. I heard his heavy footfalls enter, and suppressed a laugh when I saw him go into another hallway that led to a few guest bedrooms. I sat there for another minute to make sure he didn’t come back right away. Then I got up and headed for the stairs, but stopped when he was leaning against the wall, blocking my path.
“I’m not stupid.” He said. As I was turning to run the other way, and just when I go to the bar, he grabbed me around the stomach and we both fell to the floor. “I caught you. Don’t I get some kind of reward?”
I was lying on top of him. The hood from his workout clothes had long since fallen off, revealing his sweaty hair that was matted to his head. Oddly, it turned me on.
I leaned down to kiss him and he reached up to pull me fully on top of him. We were hiding behind the bar, so if someone came in, they wouldn’t see us. This in mind, I rolled us over so he was on top and in between my legs.
“That’s more like it.” He uttered. His words were muffled by our feverishly moving lips. When he slipped his hand in my pants this time, I didn’t object, but urged him by raising my hips slightly to get closer to him. I pulled off his shirt, momentarily breaking our heated and much enjoyed kiss.
I ran my hands up his sculpted body, lingering for a moment over his abs. He shivered for a split second when I traced over the strange pattern on his chest. He grabbed my hand and kissed it. “Your hands are cold.”
He bent his head low to kiss me some more, slipping his tongue into my mouth and meeting mine so they could clash and struggle with each other. I knotted my fingers through his hair and he moved the hand that was gently grazing my backside, around to the front. He stroked my core, making me moan, “Tony.”
“You’ve got on way too much clothing.” He whispered seductively in my ear. I sat up slightly so he could lift my shirt over my head. After doing so, he unclasped my bra and threw it across the room. He smiled down at me and moved downward. I kicked off my shoes to make it easier for him to take off my pants. He hooked his fingers at my waistband and yanked my sweats and panties off. “There. Don’t you feel better now?” he demanded breathlessly.
“Mhm.” I mumbled, returning his previous smile.
Tony scooted down my body and draped my legs over his shoulders. Before I could protest, he kissed my heat, making me cry out. He lapped and sucked at my core, his goatee adding to the pleasurable distress. Then, he slipped two fingers into me without warning. I writhed and squirmed into his touch, desperate for more. He pumped his fingers in and out at an agonizingly slow pace.
“Tony,” I whimpered, “please.”
He removed his tongue from me and came up for a kiss. I could taste myself on him and he sped up his fingers, keeping his lips on mine. Before I could climax, he extracted his fingers and supported himself on his forearms. He kissed me while I pulled down his pants quickly; irritated that he hadn’t granted me a release.
He kicked off his pants and abruptly entered me. He started out slow, just like he did with his fingers. The movements he was using brought me into a whole new world of torture. Though he was moving slow and steady, he struck my sweet spot each time. I dug my nails into his back, showing him what he was doing to me and he involuntarily jerked harder into me causing him to cry out. “Oh, God! Katie!”
After that, he thrust into me callously, causing me to spasm as a result of the toe curling orgasm he’d just induced. He kissed me occasionally, but for the most part, he kept his lips on my neck, and whispered sweet nothings into my ear. He advanced with his member leading on. Thrust after thrust and his body tensed simultaneously with mine as I encountered another climax.
“Shit.” He breathed.
“Tony.” I moaned. He performed a few more prods before he rolled off of me and onto his back, out of breath. “Oh my God.” I panted.
“We should do this at least three times a day.” he offered.
I laughed at his suggestion, knowing full well he’d kill me if I let him do that. “I don’t think I’ll survive that.”
He poked me in the side and rolled on top of me again. “C’mon.” He whined. “We’ll take it slow.”
He kissed down my neck and my collar bone as his tongue trailed behind, sending shivers through my body. I clutched his shoulders and urged him to keep going.
“See. You want me.” He bragged. He moved his lips against mine in a fiery kiss. Before we could go any further, we heard Pepper’s heels clanking across the tile.
“Tony?” Tony and I tried to remain as quiet as possible, but we sniggered to ourselves. Us being in this situation seems oddly humorous.
We heard her go into the gym and we took that chance to get out while we could. We gathered our clothes and I ran upstairs with him following close behind.
He pinched me on the ass which caused me to squeal. “Shh!” he teased.
I giggled softly, and once we were in his room, he grabbed me around the stomach and kissed the back of my neck. I turned my head so our lips could meet, and when then did, his tongue did all the work.
I rested my arms across his and we ambled forward to get to the bed. Before we could collapse on the bed, he turned me around to get better access to my lips. I curled my fingers through his hair and we tumbled on the bed.
He kissed my collar bone and guided his tongue along my neck. I pulled at his hair for him to kiss me on the lips again, and he entered me swiftly.
Our lips stayed together this time, silencing any and all moans of ecstasy. He bounded on, and we both reached our climax within minutes.
Panting with his face buried in my neck, he said, “I need to take a shower.” Then he looked up at me with a devilish smirk, “You’re welcome to join.”
I laughed and replied, “I need a break, but you go ahead.”
He gave me a peck on the lips and went to the bathroom to wash this morning’s fun away from his body. I draped the sheets over me and waited for him to finish in the shower so I could take one too.
I dozed off for a while. About an hour later, I woke up with Tony behind me with his face resting at the nape of my neck and his arms wrapped tightly around me.
From the sound of his steady, deep breathing, he was asleep. He was clad in his boxers, looking and smelling clean. Carefully, I peeled his arms away from my body and rolled out of bed before kissing his lightly on the lips. He felt the absence of my body and groped around in the sheets, but stayed sleeping.
I smiled to myself and headed to the bathroom for a shower. I looked at the clock above the mirror and it read 8am. I jumped in the shower and cleaned myself thoroughly and quickly, eager to join Tony.
Once out of the shower, I towel dried my hair so it was slightly damp, and then I ran a comb through it. I brushed my teeth and dressed in white short shorts and a periwinkle blue cami.
I heard Tony speaking and thought he was on the phone. I entered the bedroom to see him thrashing in the sheets and muttering in his sleep. “Yinsen.”
I walked over to him cautiously and sat down on the edge of the bed. He was shaking his head and he gasped. “No no no no no no.” His forehead became beaded with sweat as he repeated, “Yinsen.”
Suddenly, he sat up with his eyes wide in shock. “Tony.” I whispered. He looked at me and started crying. I wrapped my arms around his neck and he did the same around my waist. “It’s okay.”
“I couldn’t-“ he choked out, “I couldn’t save him.” He wept into the crook of my neck, and his breathing became erratic. I stroked his hair gently, soothing him and making his cries die down. He looked up at me with a bleary eyed gaze and spoke, “Did I tell you that last night was the first time I haven’t had a nightmare in 6 months?”
I was speechless. He hadn’t told me this. I kissed him forcefully, making us lie down on the silky sheets of his bed. I broke away and met his eyes, “I won’t leave you alone.”
We were both lying on our sides, facing each other. He pecked me on the lips and continued, “I love you, Katie.”
He pulled me closer to him and I cuddled into his body, burying my face into his neck. I outlined the pattern of veins around his arc reactor. The veins that told me he was dying. The veins that told me that at any moment, I could lose my best friend. The only person who’s been there for me since the beginning. The only person that I know won’t ever break my heart and throw it away.
He took my hand in his and kissed each fingertip, then returned it to his chest. “I’m going to Monaco tonight.”
I looked at him, surprised, and also feeling a little bit down. “For how long?”
“Well I’m leaving tonight, and spending the day there tomorrow, then the day after that, we’re flying back.” He explained, apologizing with his eyes.
I removed my hand from his and wrapped my arms around his midsection. “No. You’re staying here with me.”
He chuckled, “I have to. If I don’t, Pepper will bite my head off. Even though she’s CEO now.”
I kissed his arc reactor and sighed. “Well hurry back.”
He brushed the hair out of my face, then replaced his arms, draping them over me protectively. “I’m moving there. Never coming back.” He said jokingly.
“Shut up.” I giggled. I snuggled as close to him as humanly possible. His arms were acting as my pillow, and they were quite warm and comfortable. “I love you, Iron Man.”
He chuckled again. “I know.”
His body radiated heat. I was warm and toasty in his hold. I began drifting off to sleep, and it seemed like I was only asleep for a few minutes, when I felt him stroking my face gently, whispering, “Katie, wake up. It’s two in the afternoon. We can spend the rest of the day together if you get up.”
I laughed at him as we both rolled out of bed, ready to start our day. In the middle of it.
As Tony and I drove to the airport so he could go to Monaco, his right hand was on my thigh, stroking it lightly, while his other hand was on the steering wheel.
When he got a little too far north, I smiled and placed my hand on his to stop him from going any further. “No, Tony.”
He looked at me and gave me his puppy dog pout. “Aw c’mon. I won’t see you for at least two days.”
“Well then, when you get back, it will be so much more rewarding.” I said with a teasing grin.
“You’re mean.” He pouted, turning back to face the road. Instead of disobeying me like I thought he would, he just grasped my hand and interlocked our fingers. I leaned over and kissed his cheek. He swerved slightly, “Jesus. Don’t do that. You’re distracting me. Then while we’re making out, I’ll drive off the road and over the cliff. Do you want that?”
I giggled at him and sat back in my seat. “No.”
He smiled at me, with his hand still resting in mine, and turned back to focus on the road. When we arrived at the airport, he brought the Audi to a screeching halt. He gave me a peck on the lips before getting out to get his luggage from the front trunk of his car. He walked over to happy and handed it to him, giving me an excellent view of his ass. From the way Tony’s brown locks of hair flipped and thrashed in the wind, there was a fierce wind blowing in.
I got out of the car and walked over to the driver’s side, leaning on the door. He strutted over to me and placed his hands on the roof of the car and pressing his body against mine, making movement futile.
He bent his head to brush his lips against mine. I encircled my arms around his waist and the wind picked up, causing us to lose our balance and our lips to separate.
“Damn wind.” He growled. He gave me an endearing smile and kissed my nose. I could see how stressed he looked as the soft moonlight glinted off of his beautifully tanned skin. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days, like he’d just run a hundred miles without a drop of water. But most of all, he looked unhealthy. Like he was dying.
I shut my eyes and buried my face into his chest before he could see the tears filling my eyes. But, he knows me too well. He dropped his arms around me and pulled me tighter to him. “Shh. What’s wrong?”
I drew in a shaky breath and replied, “You can’t leave me.”
I felt his chest rumble with a short laugh, “I’ll be back in two days. It’ll be fine.”
“Not that.” I tapped his arc reactor, “This stupid thing.”
He pulled back slightly so he could look into my eyes. “I’m gonna be okay, Katie.” He paused, rubbing the small of my back, “As long as I don’t put on the suit. Wearing it accelerates my condition. Like putting it on pumps more poison into my blood.”
I looked at him in horror. “Then promise me you won’t put on the suit.” I whispered. “No matter what.” I added.
“I promise.” He said quietly and kissed my forehead.
I sniffled and rested my head on his shoulder, but he wouldn’t let me. Instead, he hooked his finger under my chin and tilted my face so he could look at me properly. He leaned his head down and enveloped me in a fiery kiss.
I moved my arms so they were wrapped securely around his neck. “You’re staying here.”
He chuckled at me and pulled me against him by my waist. He leaned back, lifting my feet from the ground. “Or you could come with me.”
I kissed him, “I’ve already missed so much work. I need to get back.” I said to his disappointment. He set me back down and began kissing my neck. I relinquished my arms from around his neck, instead resting my hands at his hips. As more wind ruffled our hair, goose bumps surfaced across my skin, but they had nothing to do with the cold breeze. Tony noticed this and removed his jacket, placing it on my shoulders, then returning his hands to the roof of the car.
“Hang that up when you get back to my place, will ya?” He winked at me and pressed me into the car and began kissing my neck again.
“Nope. When you get back, you’ll find it on the floor of your workshop.” I joked. He lifted his head and smirked at me.
“You wouldn’t.” He pecked me on the lips. “I know how much you like this particular jacket.” He gave me another short kiss.
“Is that so?” I challenged.
“Mhm.” He murmured, running his lips along my collar bone, tickling me with his soft goatee. “It turns you on.”
I blushed, knowing he was spot on with his assumption. “How would you know?”
He looked up for a second, “I’ve noticed your staring when I’ve worn it in the past.” He busied himself with my neck again. “Not very subtle.”
I gave a tiny squeak when he pulled the jacket away so he could get to more of my skin. He slid his jacket off my shoulders and placed it on top of the car. Winking at me, he gave me another brief kiss, and continued his assault on my neck and chest.
He slipped the strap of my tank top off my chilled shoulder and kissed it delicately before replacing the strap and straightening up.
I stood stock still, flushed and aroused. Apparently it was evident upon my face, because he laughed quietly to himself. “Should we continue?”
I shook my head, unable to form words. He just laughed and kissed me again, longer, sweeter. I coiled my arms even further around his waist, drawing him in closer to me. He took this as a cue and dropped his hands to my elbows, and slowly made his way to my hips.
“Mr. Stark, we need to be leaving now.” Came Happy’s calm voice.
I looked up at Tony with sadness clear in my eyes, and said, “I’ll see you in two days?” I moved my arms back up to his neck and pulled him down gently.
His arms tightened around my waist and forced me into a spine snapping hug that only Tony could administer. He buried his face into my shoulder mumbled, “I love you.”
I pulled back and kissed him for a moment. “I love you too.” I whispered.
He smiled and gave me one last kiss before turning and pouncing up the steps onto his aerodynamic Stark Industries plane. I sat in his car, clutching his leather jacket and watched the plane take off.
My phone was ringing. Why is my phone ringing at six in the morning? My alarm doesn’t go off until seven. I grabbed my cell phone off my nightstand and looked at the caller I.D. Pepper.
“Hello?” I said groggily.
When she answered, she sounded stressed, angry. “Turn on the news.”
I snatched the remote from the same area as my phone and clicked on the TV, turning it to the news. I dropped the phone on the bed and gasped. The headline on the news read: Tony Stark attacked on a racetrack in Monaco. There was footage of a man walking on the track. He drew his arm back, and lashed it forward, slicing a racecar at the front.
The man walked up behind the car and stood there for a second, waiting. Then, Tony came up behind him and hit him with a piece of metal. The man turned and tried to whip him with his long, glowing weapons. Tony backed up quickly and tripped, making him an easier target. He got up to run, but not fast enough. The man whipped his leg, causing Tony to be launched forward into another ruined car. The man approached him and while he was bringing his arm back to deliver another blow, Tony leapt over the car, and it exploded.
Then, the footage cut to him putting on the Iron Man suit, and I’d had enough. I clicked the TV off and threw the remote across the room.
He promised he wouldn’t do that. No matter what. Angry tears filled my eyes and threatened overflow. I picked up the phone, “He said he wouldn’t put on the suit.”
“What?” She asked, confused.
“Nevermind. Why are you so mad at him?” I changed the subject.
“Because he went on the track in the first place.” She sighed in frustration. “And then, I had to bring him that stupid portable suit.”
“I’m sorry, Pep.” I sympathized. “When are you guys coming home?”
“Tomorrow. We have to stay a little longer so Tony can question the guy.”
I exhaled heavily and threw myself back onto my pillows. “Okay. Well, tell Tony to hurry.”
She laughed, “Ok I will. Bye.”
I hit the end button and dropped the phone on the nightstand. I only wanted him to hurry so I could see him, and yell at him. Who knows how long he has left? He said wearing the suit accelerates his condition. He could have easily jumped the fence of the track and ran away, but no. He donned the suit and captured the lunatic. I can’t be too mad at him. He did save lives. But he shortened his for the sake of others.
I sound selfish. But no one can blame me. I finally have him. After loving him for almost seventeen years, he’s finally mine. And he’s dying. After years of watching him flirt with strange, random women, and taking them home, Tony finally knows how much I care about him. But, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. And our short time together is coming to an end.
I looked on my nightstand and saw a picture of Tony and I at a Dodgers game. We had our hats on backwards and we were smiling at the camera as some unknown fan took our picture. I smiled as the memory popped into my head.
Tony gave me this frame with the picture in it for my thirtieth birthday. I haven’t removed the picture or messed with it at all. As I was examining the photo further, I saw something behind it. I quickly took the back off the frame and three pictures fell out.
The first one I picked up was the one that could be seen in the frame. The second one was of Tony smiling flirtatiously as I kissed him on the cheek. The third one took my breath away. Obviously it was taken without either of us knowing. I was doing a fist pump and cheering while Tony was looking down at me with a slight gleam to his dark brown eyes.
I looked at the date on the picture. This was taken almost five years ago. I put the other two pictures back in the frame and put the last one under my pillow. It makes me feel like a teenager, but oh well. If Tony doesn’t find a solution to his problem, I’m going to need every piece of memorabilia of him that I can get. I lay back down, hugging my other pillow, and went back to sleep until my alarm went off.
The next day, I sat in Tony’s living room, waiting for him to return from Monaco. I laid down on the couch just as I heard JARVIS’s metallic voice sound in my ears, “Welcome home, Mr. Stark.”
I heard the door slam shut and I sat bolt upright. Tony was strutting inside, Pepper and Happy a few paces behind him, and he had a cut on the left side of his face. He looked at me without smiling, lowered his head, and went downstairs.
I smiled at Pepper and followed him. He was walking over to his desk when I entered. “Tony, why-“
He turned toward me with his hand raised. “I already know what you’re going to say, Katie. I’m sorry. I had to put on the suit.” He leaned against his desk, crossing his arms.
I walked right up to him, “No you didn’t. You wouldn’t have had to put the suit on if you had just stayed off the track.”
He stood up and got really close, “Katie, I’m dying. This is just one of those things that I wanted to do. How was I supposed to know that some lunatic was gonna waltz onto the track with my technology, and attack me?”
I stood in front of him, speechless.
“That’s right. I didn’t.” He leaned back against the desk, trying to calm down.
“But you promised, Tony.” I said, rather loudly, “You said, no matter what, you wouldn’t put on the suit.”
He stood up again, angrily, “So I should have just let him kill innocent people? Kill me? Actually that sounds better. I should have let him kill me. It would have been faster. But now I have to wait until my blood is 100% poison.”
“You said it accelerated your condition!” I yelled “To me, it means you’re going to die sooner!”
“God, you know what? I can’t win can I? I save lives, the government wants my suit. I save more lives, and I get criticized on international television. I save even more lives, and I get yelled at by you and Pepper! When will it stop? No one appreciates what I do for them! And at my own personal risk! Hundreds of people would be dead if not for me! And when I’m gone, who’s gonna save them then? But it doesn’t really matter, because I’ll be dead in less than 48 hours anyways.” He sat down heavily in his chair, breathing heavily and looking at me.
“I’m sorry you feel underappreciated.” I wiped away my angry tears and his face fell, all anger evaporating from his body.
I turned to leave but he caught my arm, “Wait. I’m sorry.” I wrenched my arm from his grip and stormed out of the shop and up the stairs, unsure if I’d ever see him again.
I stood still as I watched Katie’s feet disappear up the stairs. What have I just done? I yelled at her. Nothing was her fault. I was just angry because no one cared what I did for them, as long as they were okay. And here I am. Dying because I had to make the world a better place. I need to apologize to her.
But I just did. She wouldn’t hear any of it. She doesn’t want to see me. She doesn’t want to talk to me. Hell, I wouldn’t either. I wasn’t fair to her. She deserves someone better. She deserves the absolute best. And I can’t give that to her.
I sat down in my hot rod and began research on my latest criminal encounter. This guy is practically a ghost. Not much information on him.
When research on Ivan Vanko failed to prove productive, my thoughts returned to Kaite. I should go to her apartment right now, and apologize properly. We should be spending as much time together as possible. We shouldn’t be fighting. It’s not right. I love her too much to be wasting this time I have left.
Thinking about leaving Katie brought tears to my eyes, and my arc reactor started to sear in my chest. I didn’t get up when I heard someone entering the shop, hoping it was Katie. To my severe disappointment, it was Rhodey.
Blood toxicity at 89%. I’ll be lucky if I make it till tomorrow evening, let alone through the night. So, I downed drink after drink, willing myself to die of alcohol poisoning instead of this. It would be less painful. Instead of dying slowly, poison drifting through my veins, making it painful to even breathe, I could drink myself to death. Or better yet, a gun. I could easily load up a gun, put it in my mouth, and pull the trigger. That would be the easiest, painless way possible. But, at least I can have fun while killing myself. The fun had just started when Rhodey walked in, donning an Iron Man suit.
I can’t believe he’s in my suit. I let loose for one night, and I’m the bad guy. I just wanted to forget my fight with Katie, and this happens. He thinks he can handle it. He thinks he’s strong enough to use that suit. But, he’s not. Now we’re in my gym, punching each other. I’m sure it looks like Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots, and it would be quite humorous to witness. But unfortunately, I’m on the receiving end of this battle.
He picked up my kitchen table and swung it towards me, resulting in me landing in the fireplace. He doesn’t know when to quit. I pulled myself from the fire, putting another hole in the wall. What’s one more, right? I kneeled where I was and raised my hand at him, threatening him with my repulsor.
“Put your hand down.” He warned.
“You think you got what it takes to wear that suit?” I challenged. I’m only acting like this in retaliation to Katie walking out on me. But, the thought of Rhodey in my suit angered me further.
“You don’t have to do this, Tony.”
“You wanna be a war machine? Take your shot!” I raised my voice.
“Put it down.” He said in a hateful tone.
“You gonna take your shot?” I snarled. He was quickly becoming furious as our repulsors charged.
“PUT IT DOWN!” He yelled.
“DROP IT, TONY!”
“TAKE IT!” I hollered back at him. Instantly, we both shot our repulsors at each other and they connected for a split second, expanded, and exploded. My house is destroyed and all I’m thinking about is getting another drink.
“Congratulations. You have successfully created a new element. I will begin running diagnostics.” JARVIS spoke, lifting up my heart, somewhat.
I still haven’t talked to Katie. And it’s been well over three days since we’ve spoken. She probably thinks I’m dead right now. Emotional pain swelled in my chest as I thought about her. If I was dead, someone would have called her. Someone would have let her know.
He hasn’t called me. He hasn’t come to see me. He hasn’t tried to contact me in any way. It’s been four days. Last night, I watched the news and saw that Tony Stark showed up at the Expo, in his suit. I was surprised, but relieved to hear that he was still alive. But now, with him wearing the suit, he should be gone. Wearing that suit should have taken him from me by now.
While I was at work, I couldn’t concentrate on anything. There was a heavy weight on my shoulders, threatening to become heavier until I let loose.
Is he even still alive? And if he is, and he has indeed found a cure, why hasn’t he called, or come to see me? Why hasn’t he apologized? He must not care how I feel about him. He doesn’t care that he broke his promise to me. He doesn’t care that he was yelling at me, basically telling me that he doesn’t want to be alive anymore. He had a point though.
He does save countless lives without asking for anything in return. All he wants is to be recognized, and thanked. But instead, the government is pursuing him for his suit, and Pepper and I just have an eternal need to scream at him for putting us through so much stress and anxiety. And he also gets attacked verbally and physically.
Maybe I’m just being selfish. But I truly love him, and I don’t know if I can handle him dying, or finding out that he’s already dead. Even if we hadn’t expressed our feelings to each other by now, I still wouldn’t be able to handle it. He’s been my best friend for over seventeen years. He can’t leave now. Now that we’re together. Now that he knows how I feel about him and I know how he feels about me. I simply won’t be able to move on.
I can’t handle this endless flow of thoughts anymore. I packed my things and headed out early, determined to go home and cry for the rest of the evening. Once I got to my apartment, I stepped inside and dropped everything I had on the table near the front door.
I trudged into the hallway that led to my bedroom, my footsteps echoing across the wood. I stepped onto the carpet of my room and took off my heels, placing them next to the door. Then I stopped. Someone was sitting on my bed, their back to me.
He looked up. It was Tony. He was wearing his leather jacket, jeans, and a black shirt. He got up and walked over to me, towering above me. He wasn’t smiling, he wasn’t frowning. There were no emotions on his handsome, exhausted face.
This changed when he whispered, “I’m so sorry.” He was barely standing an inch away from me, and he looked like he was trying to say something, but he didn’t quite know how to say it.
I looked down at my feet, finding myself unable to look into his sorrowful eyes any longer. My eyes darted around the room until they fell upon the picture I’d hidden under the pillow. It was propped up against the frame.
“Katie,” he whispered. I reluctantly made eye contact. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. It wasn’t your fault. I was just stressed.” I looked away again, tears stinging my eyes. He gently placed his hands on my shoulders, “Please, look at me.”
I blinked away the tears as they slid down my cheeks. I shook my head at him. I can’t look at him, knowing he’s dying. Knowing that I’ll never be able to look him in the eyes again. His left hand dropped, while his right hand came up to my face. He hooked a finger under my chin, forcing me to look into his eyes.
He dipped his head, and our lips met. I couldn’t hold myself back any longer. I threw my arms around his neck and molded into him. His hand left my chin, and his own arms coiled around my waist. I ran my hands through his dark brown locks, deepening the kiss. He slipped his hand beneath my blouse, sending an immediate chill throughout my body. We rotated as I pulled him towards the bed, toppling onto it, him on hovering above me.
I smoothed his jacket over his shoulders, causing it to slide off his back and onto the floor. As he was supporting himself with his hands on either side of my head, I slipped my own hands into his shirt, desperate for skin to skin contact. Once my hands reached his chest, he straightened up while grabbing my wrists. He released me and pulled his shirt over his head and let it drop to the floor.
I looked at the arc reactor, and there was something different about it; there was a triangle in the center. But more importantly, there were no erratic patterns of veins that threatened death surrounding the offending reactor. I looked up at him and he grinned at me, coming back down to meet my lips, this time with more fervor.
Our bodies took over, our lips moving against each other. He unbuttoned my blouse and threw it at the wall, then stripping me of my undershirt. He latched onto my neck while unclasping my bra and discarding it as well. While he was busy with my neck, I undid his belt, unbuttoned his jeans, and pushed his pants down with my feet.
He came back up to my lips briefly and then hooked his fingers at the waistline of my pants, and slid them down and off. Now, we were both in our underwear. He came back down to kiss me once more, pressing our bodies together. The arc reactor glowed bizarrely between us.
My right hand was tangled in his hair while my left was digging into is back. He moved to my neck and tickled me with his goatee. He brushed his lips along my collar bone, eliciting a soft moan from me. I dug my nails into him slightly harder, causing him to flinch.
“Mmmm.” He growled while attacking my mouth with his. He forced my lips open with his tongue, and slid it inside to clash with mine. I bit at his bottom lip causing him to growl again.
He slipped one hand into my panties and tugged them off, throwing them to the floor with the rest of our clothing. He rid himself of his boxers and hooked my leg to his hip, running his hand up and down my thigh.
While we were kissing ferociously, he entered me. We both gasped and I gripped him tighter. Without further delay, he began to move. We were still attached at the mouth as he sped up. Leaving my lips, he rested his forehead on my shoulder.
Though my nails were already carving into his back, I urged him on by clawing at him even more. “Katie.” He growled as he grabbed the hand cutting into his back and pinned it above my head, interlocking our fingers.
His strangled breaths against my shoulder were turning me on. I bucked involuntarily into his hips causing him to cry out. After that, his movements sped up, almost to a painful pace. With each of his thrusts, a quiet moan leaves my lips. Still, he moves faster, trying to find release.
He lifts his head and kisses me deeply, the familiar fire lighting in the pit of my stomach. With one particularly hard thrust, I open my mouth to scream, but he silences it with his lustful kisses. “Tony.” I moan as his pace increases.
He squeezes my hand tighter in his as we both climax, “Oh God.” His face is buried in my neck, as he thrusts unevenly. “Katie.” He groaned into me.
“Tony.” I breathed as he slowed, then came to a stop. I pecked him on the lips and then let my body go limp.
He kissed the hand he was still holding and then let it drop. “You’ve gotta stop scratching me. It hurts.”
I giggled, “Never. It’s too much fun.” He moved us so that my head was on the pillow, and he was still on top of me.
He narrowed his eyes at me and countered with a smirk, “Then I’ll just have to tie you up next time.”
“That sounds fun.” I whispered, him bringing his lips down to meet mine. I lifted my hand to scratch his back again, but he quickly pinned both of my hands on either side of me.
“Don’t you dare.” He chuckled. He kissed my lips for a moment, then rolled off of me, pulling me to his chest to cuddle. He sighed contentedly before murmuring into my ear, “I missed you.”
I placed my hand over the reactor and brought myself closer to him, “I missed you too.” I said. He kissed my temple, causing me to smile.
“I’m still sorry about yelling at you, y’know.” I just barely caught what he said, but I knew. He wasn’t the kind of person that hurts someone’s feelings, and doesn’t apologize.
I looked up at him and noticed the slight trace of tears in his eyes. I sat up, using the sheets to cover myself. “It’s okay. I forgive you. Just don’t cry.”
Tony Stark does not cry. I’ve seen him cry over plenty of things, and he has the right to do so, but not over a stupid fight. He can cry over his parents’ deaths. He can cry over his kidnapping. He can even cry because he has come within an inch of death. But, he cannot cry over a stupid fight. It’s un-Stark-like of him.
He sat up with me, “I’m not crying. I was tearing up. There’s a difference.” He said, sounding slightly angry. “And it’s not okay. Nothing was your fault, and I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that. I’m sorry.”
I cupped his cheek with my hand. “Tony, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I shouldn’t have yelled at you either. You were protecting people.”
He flashed me a small smile before kissing me warmly. “Okay.” We laid back down, curling up together, “So tell me about the past four days.”
I laughed, “Well I’ve been thinking about you a lot. And I’ve been working. So that’s pretty much it.” He laughed with me, “How about you?”
He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Well, I blew up my house, killed Vanko, and found a cure, so I’m not dying anymore.” He said in one breath.
“Wait what?” I asked. “You blew up your house?” I looked up at him and laughed.
“It’s not funny. They just started repairing it. Should be done in a few days. Mind if I crash here?” He asked sheepishly.
“As long as you sleep on the couch.” I said.
He looked down at me and frowned. “That’s not fair. You know I’m afraid of the dark unless there’s someone else with me.” He pouted.
I patted his reactor, “That’s why this thing is so handy.”
“Oh yeah?” he remarked. He poked me in my side, causing me to jerk away from him, giggling.
“You are not going to do that!” I pointed my finger at him.
“Is that so?” he said with a devilish grin. He lunged forward and began tickling me. I slid off the bed with the sheets, trying to get away from him. Running out of the room, I glanced back at him to see him putting on his boxers.
I squealed once he straightened up and ran at me. He stepped on the sheet, causing it to unravel, leaving me naked. I covered myself with my arms and glared at him.
He winked at me. “I like this outfit on you.” I stuck my tongue out at him as he walked up to me. He went to kiss me, but I turned my head away from him. “That’s mean.”
I looked at him and almost jumped him right there. He was giving me his puppy dog look. The one I could almost never resist. “You pulled away my sheet.”
He wrapped his strong arms around me and kissed me. “I’m sorry. I’ll cover you up with my hands.” He winked again, causing me to giggle.
“But I want the sheet.” I whined. He squinted at me before picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder.
“How about, I just carry you to the bed? That way, you don’t worry.” He said loudly, trying to make me hear him over my laughter. He walked into the room and threw me on the bed, crawling onto me and giving me a delicate kiss.
When we broke away, I whispered into his ear, “I think it’s time for bed.”
He looked at the clock on the nightstand, “Its five o’clock in the evening.”
I looked at the clock to confirm it. I nodded. “Well, dinner time then.” He gave me one last kiss before getting off the bed and pulling me with him.
Three days later as Tony and I were lying in bed, making out, I had a sudden thought. Much to his displeasure, I pulled away and smiled at him. “We should go have dinner with my parents.”
He furrowed his eyebrows, “Why? They already know me?” He questioned then added cockily, “And they love me. Quite possibly more than they love you.”
I laughed and pushed him away from me, only to be pulled back to his chest so he could tickle my neck with his goatee. I squirmed and giggle in his arms, unable to get away. He withdrew his face from my neck, smiling at me.
I pecked him on the lips, “Well, they need to know we’re together now.”
His smile grew, “They’ll be thrilled.” He began kissing me again, swallowing my laugh. Before we could go any further, Tony’s phone started ringing. I laughed at his ringtone as he went to answer it. The Safety Dance echoed from his phone. He shot me a playful glare and answered it.
“Stark here.” He answered jokingly. Once the person on the other line spoke, Tony’s face turned callous and rough. As the other person continued to speak, his expression hardened further. “Fine.” He said in a gruff voice as he hung up the phone. He set it down on the nightstand and looked down at me. “I have to go.”
I wrapped my arms around him and buried my face into his neck, “Why?” I whined.
He chuckled, “Fury needs me.”
I looked at him, “Who’s that?” I asked curiously.
He sighed angrily, “My stupid one-eyed boss.” When I looked at him questioningly, he explained further, “I’m part of a new team called The Avengers. And I have to go save the world or something irrelevant like that.”
“Well, I think you should stay here with me.” I smiled at him, “And we can do dirty things.”
He glared at me, appalled, “I think I should too, but the world needs me. I mean, where would they be without Iron Man?” He did a dramatic hair flip, causing us both to erupt into laughter.
Once we caught our breath, I gave him a long kiss, “Go away.”
“Pft. Fine then.” He gave me another kiss before leaping out of bed and dressing himself in his jeans and t-shirt.
I watched him carefully, still lying in bed and under the sheets.“When will you be back?” I asked.
Once he had his shoes on, he came over to me and climbed on top of me, giving me a tender kiss. “I don’t know.” I furrowed my eyebrows, “I’m sorry.” He said quietly.
“Well hurry back.” I said, pulling him down for another kiss. He pulled away after a moment, smiled, then kissed me again.
“I have to go.” He whispered against my lips. My hands were grabbing at the collar of his shirt, and he gently gripped my wrists. “Sweetie, I have to go save the world.”
I giggled, “No you don’t.” I pulled him down to my lips again before releasing him.
“I love you.” He said, smiling and backing out of the room.
My heart fluttered and I blushed. “I love you too.” He ran over to me and kissed me again, “Be careful.” I said quietly.
“Always.” His eyes crinkled when he smiled, making him look more adorable than usual. With one last peck on the lips, he exited my room. I heard the door of my apartment shut, leaving me feeling alone, and desperate for his return.
The rest of the day followed at an archaic pace. Waiting for him to come back to me was a whole new world of torture. How dangerous was this mission? Is he okay? Is he humble enough to call in for back up, should he require it? How long will he be gone?
I paced around my apartment, waiting. After an hour and a half of exploring my apartment, I finally settled down to get some work done. I filed some paperwork, wrote my closing arguments for my next case, and made dinner around seven o’clock.
I prepared his favorite: Spaghetti and meatballs. Just in case he came for dinner. But, he didn’t. Nor did he return before I went to bed, or when I woke up. He didn’t come back before I went to work, or when I came home. I was really beginning to worry. Is this what it’s going to be like? Spending days just wondering where he is and if he’s alive?
I was too exhausted to do anything other than cry, and sleep. I went to bed around one in the morning, glancing at my phone every ten seconds. If something has happened by now, wouldn’t someone have notified me? If he doesn’t return by tomorrow night, I’m going to call Pepper.
As thoughts of him being kidnapped again invaded my mind, I drifted unwillingly into sleep’s lulling arms.
Guns. All I can hear are guns. I can’t see anything. No. There’s a small blue light. It’s flickering. It’s becoming very dim. I moved closer to it to see what it was. “Tony?” I whispered, seeing his face. His eyes are closed. His breathing is becoming less and less frequent.
“Tony!” I said louder. I shook him, trying to awaken him. Nothing. Suddenly the scene changed. Now, I’m in the desert, watching Iron Man get thrown around like a rag doll. “Tony!” I screamed, watching the attacker rip off his helmet and throw it aside.
His eyes grew in shock, “Katie! Run! Get out of here!” I tried to do as he said, but I couldn’t move.
His opponent picked him up, peeled away his chest plate, and launched it towards me. I dodged it easily, but fell when I saw him throwing Tony, with no protection against the fall. The enemy then turned and started lumbering towards me. I hadn’t looked at it properly until now. It looked like a bigger, rustier version of Iron Man. Except it was silver, and looked like it was constructed in a cave.
“Katie!” I heard Tony yell. He was struggling to stand, blood dripping from a large, jagged cut from his temple to his jaw. “Get away from her!” He roared, sending a repulsor blast toward the larger version of himself. “Obadiah!”
I watched helplessly as Obadiah shot Tony in the chest with a regular bullet. I screamed and tried to run towards him, and this time, I was able to. Obadiah took off, creating a similar effect of a rocket blasting into space.
Just as I got close to him, he collapsed. I caught him and cradled his head in my lap. I brushed the rubble out of his hair and ran my thumb in his goatee, ridding it of dirt. He gently grabbed my hand and kissed my fingers.
He tried to speak, but instead of words, a slow stream of blood dripped out of his mouth. My tears fell into his hair as I looked down at him. The arc reactor was barely lit. Barely keeping him alive. “Tony, stay awake.”
His eyes were blurry and unfocussed. Blood was pouring from his shoulder and head wounds. With one last squeeze around my fingers, his hand went limp, and the reactor went dark.
I sat up, breathing heavily and crying. I grabbed the picture propped against the frame and hugged it to my chest, bringing the covers around me. I looked at the clock and it read 4:23. I have to wake up for work in an hour and a half.
I turned over and laid on my stomach, still holding the picture close to me as I cried. After about fifteen minutes of crying, my head began to ache and my eyes began to droop. Suddenly, my alarm was going off, and it was time to get ready for work.
I got ready hurriedly, not wanting to be in this apartment without him any longer. I sped to work, getting up to speeds that would astound even Tony.
Once I got to work, I didn’t smile or say hello to anyone. I just bolted to my office. Luckily, it was casual Friday, so I dressed comfortably in jeans and a lavender blouse. I sat down to begin my work, still feeling like I needed to cry.
About an hour later, my secretary, Jenny, peeked in. “Ma’am, there’s someone here to see you.”
I smiled dimly at her, “Let them in.” I looked back down at my work as she retreated. When I heard the door open, then close again, I set down my pen, rubbed the exhaustion from my eyes, and looked at who was standing in front of the door.
I leapt out of my chair, sending it to the ground, and ran over to Tony, jumping into his arms and kissing him desperately.
He caught me and lifted me off the ground, his arms around my waist. “I’m so sorry.” He said in between kisses.
I pulled back to look at him, my feet dangling from the ground. He had various scratches all over his face, but nothing major. “Are you okay?”
He smiled and kissed me, “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a few scrapes, but no loss of limbs.” He chuckled. I smiled and kissed him again. I squirmed out of his arms and pulled on his shirt to lead him to my desk.
He placed his hands on my ass, bringing my hips closer to him. His tongue forced its way into my mouth to glide over mine. Once my back hit the desk, he sat me down on it, which made our hips level. I clawed at his shirt and pulled it over his head and then tossed it behind me.
One of his hands was on my hip, while the other slipped into my jeans and massaged me lightly. I moaned against his lips and ran my index finger up and down his muscular abdomen and chest.
He growled and grabbed my hand and slammed it onto the desk, trapping underneath his. “Stop teasing.” I smiled and brought my other hand to unbuckle his pants, but he stopped me. “Not yet.” He said as he brushed his lips along my neck and collar bone, and causing a shiver to ripple through my body when his goatee tickled me gingerly.
He used both hands to open my blouse and smooth it off my shoulders. “Tony.” I breathed when he pulled off my undershirt and bra and kissed each of my breasts. He took one into his left hand and came back up to my lips.
He unbuttoned my jeans and got rid of them, bringing my panties along with them. Once I was completely naked, he used his right hand to run along my thigh and hook my leg around his hip. My arms were wrapped around his neck while he slid his pants down to his ankles.
He prodded my opening while his mouth worked fervidly to give me a hickey on my neck. I dug my nails into his shoulder, getting irritated with his teasing. He lurched forward involuntarily, entering me completely and causing him to cry out, “Shit, Katie!”
I laughed as he took both of my hands and pinned them to the desk with his own, and then he started thrusting into me. I entwined our fingers and our mouths came in contact again. With each forward movement, Tony gripped me a little tighter each time.
He sped up, hitting my sweet spot repeatedly. Our hips collided continuously and sweat trickled down his forehead. He wrapped his arms around my waist, and mine around his neck. “Tony!” I cried out as he pistoned into me harder than before.
His head was resting on my shoulder, and we both found release. “Oh, God.” He gasped. With several final, particularly hard thrusts, he stopped and pecked me on the lips. “Love you.”
“Love you too.” I smiled and hugged him close to me. With a final, brief kiss, he released me and we applied our clothing and sat on the couch to cuddle.
He laid down with me on his chest and my hand over the reactor, while his arms are wrapped around me protectively. “What took you so long?” I asked curiously.
He kissed me on the forehead, “Complications arose.”
I rested my chin on my hands, “Like what?”
He cleared his throat, “Well, first off, Fury only called me in.” He glanced at me, then back at the ceiling, “Second, I was completely outmatched and I had to wait for Clint to get there. Took him nearly 23 hours.”
“Clint?” I urged intrusively.
He exhaled heavily. “Barton. Hawkeye. He’s an archer. I make special arrows for him. The exploding kind.” He answered with a hint of narcissism in his tone.
“Um, well, there were a lot of terrorists. And they had some of my weapons. Also, we had to wait for Natasha. Luckily, she was in the area. And-”
He stopped speaking once I began kissing his neck. “I’m just glad you’re back.” He slipped his hand beneath my shirt and rubbed circles into the small of my back, “I made you some spaghetti and meatballs.”
He perked up, “Leftover?” I nodded and he did a fist pump, “I love leftover spaghetti.”
“I know.” I said, still kissing his neck.
He shifted under me, “You’ve gotta stop that, or I’ll have to take you right here.”
I giggled and buried my face into his shoulder. “That doesn’t sound so bad.”
He chuckled, “Then I’ll have to tie you up so you don’t give me scars. How does that sound?”
“Even better.” I countered. He smirked at me.
“Well aren’t you the little deviant?” he remarked. He poked me in the side, resulting in me standing up quickly to get away from him. I ran over to my desk with him following close behind. “Come here, baby. I just want a kiss.”
I laughed, “I’m sure that’s all you want.”
I was standing behind my desk, facing him, while he was on the other side. “It is! Why are you always running away from me? Do you not like me anymore?” He pouted.
I stifled a laugh and shook my head. He gaped at me in surprise and stalked over to the couch. He sat down and crossed his arms over his chest, frowning at the floor.
I walked over to him and straddled his waist, cupping his face and planting a kiss on his lips. He smiled and place his hands on my hips and tugging me forward, getting closer.
“That’s better.” He said pompously.
I pulled away, “Don’t push it, Mr. Stark.” I kissed him again.
“Ooh. I like it when you call me that. Keep it up, Miss Lockhart.” He waggled his eyebrows at me.
I smiled against his lips and moaned when he caressed my ass. Our moment was short lived when the door opened. We both jumped off the couch and stood there awkwardly.
“Harry! What the hell?!” I yelled at him.
He had a wide grin on his face, “Harmony and I are getting married.”
My anger vanished and I ran over to him to give him a hug, “Congratulations! When did this happen?” I asked excitedly.
“Last night.” He smiled and looked over at Tony. He frowned, “What happened to you?”
Tony strutted over and wrapped an arm around my waist and kissed my temple, “I just got back from a mission.”
Harry nodded in understanding, “Oh yeah, I forgot you’re Iron Man sometimes.”
Tony pulled me to his chest and gave me another kiss, “I’m Iron Man all the time.”
Harry gave a sarcastic laugh, “Okay, Iron Man.” He turned to leave, but he stopped, “Hang on. What the hell is going on here?”
“What do you mean?” We asked in unison.
He raised his eyebrows, “Are you two..?”
Tony kissed me again, longer this time, answering Harry’s question. “Yup.”
A huge grin spread across his face and he turned around to leave, “Finally.” He said, before shutting the door behind him.
Tony furrowed his eyebrows, “Why does everyone keep saying that? Was it that obvious that we were in love with each other before?”
I laughed and kissed him, seeing how adorable he looked when he was confused. “Must have been. I didn’t exactly not tell anyone I loved you.”
He looked at me, “Wait, what?”
“Yeah. I pretty much told everyone I loved you, except you.” I stated. He kept staring at me in shock before his face softened and he tightened his arms around me.
“If you told me sooner, our lives would have been easier.” He chuckled and gave me another sweet, delicate kiss.
“Tony, stop.” I said and placed my hands over his. “Why are you so nervous?”
Happy was driving us to my parents’ house to have dinner with them, Harry, and Harmony. Tonight is the night we were going to tell my parents about us. He exhaled heavily and entwined our fingers.
“What if they don’t approve?” When I didn’t answer, he explained. “They approve of me being your friend, but what about being your boyfriend?”
I shrugged. “What about it?”
He leaned his head against the headrest and closed his eyes. “They’re more than aware of my… reputation.”
I laughed and kissed his chin. “Just don’t worry. They already love you. And if they don’t approve, then screw them.” I moved closer to him and cuddled into his side while he wrapped and arm around me, resting his hand on my hip.
He chuckled, “I love you.”
I sighed in relief, “Good, because if you didn’t, this would never work.” I laughed with him. As we came to a stop in front of my parents’ house, he gave me a brief kiss and helped me out of the car.
Tony and I matched. He was wearing jeans and a black button down shirt, while I wore jeans and a black v-neck t-shirt. He laced his fingers through mine as we walked to the door. Tony went to knock on the door, but before he even lifted his hand, my mother flew out of the house and gave him a suffocating hug.
She kissed him on the cheek, “Come inside, Tony.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him away from me.
“Mom! I’m here too.” I followed, laughing at her attachment to him.
She waved her hand dismissively, “That’s nice, honey. You can come inside too, if you want.”
Tony looked at me and grabbed my hand, pulling me along with him and mom. I laughed when he mouthed, “Help me.”
She pulled us into the living room and threw us on the couch, “Stay here. I’ll go get your dad.” She addressed me, then Tony. “And you.” She pointed at him. “Meet me in my bedroom.”
He laughed, “Sorry, Annette. I’m taken.” He glanced at me and kissed my cheek.
I blushed when she looked at me, surprised. “And when did this happen?”
“Um,” I bit my lip, “Like, a week, almost two weeks ago.” I looked up at Tony sheepishly and he just pecked me on the lips and wrapped his arm around shoulders. I snuggled into his side, still looking at my mom.
“Hm. Let me go retrieve your father.” She said skeptically. As she turned away, I buried my face into his shoulder.
“Oh, God. They’re not gonna like this.” I wrapped my arms around his waist and scooted closer to him.
He kissed my temple, “Now whose worrying?” I poked him in his side, causing him to flinch. “What was that for?”
“You do it to me all the time, so I thought I’d return the favor.” I replied, grinning at him.
“Oh yeah?” He asked, and began to tickle me. I moved away from him, but his hands followed. I gasped and struggled for air, laughing insanely.
“Tony! Stop!” I squealed. Finally, he pulled me back into his side and placed a tender kiss on my lips.
“That’ll teach you not to poke me.” He said through a smile. Just when the words were out of his mouth, my parents came into the living room, grinning at us.
“So. You two are together now?” My dad asked. I nodded and he looked at my mom, “Finally.”
With my parents’ approval, the evening got progressively more enjoyable. Harry and Harmony arrived and broke their news to them as well. My mom spent an hour and a half talking with them about wedding preparations.
My dad went to his office to get some work done, leaving Tony and I on the couch. Alone. He looked at me and wiggled his eyebrows, “Wanna make out?” He scooted closer to me and put his hand on my thigh.
I laughed and pushed his hand away, “You know what happens when we make out. I can’t do that on my parents’ couch. It’s just wrong.”
He gave me his kicked puppy look and then grinned devilishly, “We could go outside in the bushes for a quickie.”
I hit him playfully and leaned into his shoulder. “If you behave, I’ll reward you later.” He laughed and rubbed my arm. I leaned away from him, instead putting my legs in his lap and laying down on the couch. He smiled and placed his hand on my knee.
“I love your legs.” He said seductively.
I giggled and stared at him. After a few minutes, I realized just how attracted I was to him. Particularly when the top few buttons on his shirt were undone and his arc reactor was peeking through. “It turns me on when I can see your reactor.” He perked up, “And that shirt is really sexy on you.”
He smiled and his eyes darkened. He moved his fingers to his buttons and began undoing them until I could fully see his arc reactor. “Is this better?”
He pulled off my shoes and set them on the floor. “What are you doing, Tony?” I asked quietly as he crawled over me and kissed my neck.
“I’m seducing you.” He said arousal deep in his voice. His tongue darted out to taste the skin of my neck, sending shivers throughout my body. “You taste wonderful.”
“Tony.” I whispered. “Not on my parents’ couch. Wait till we get home.” My neck was becoming flushed with every brush of his lips.
“Nuh uh.” He said simply. “I need you.” He kissed along my jaw, “Right.” His goatee scraped along my skin. “Now.” Finally, our lips met and I couldn’t control myself any longer.
I pulled him down on top of me by the collar of his shirt until he was pressed against me. I slipped my hands into his half unbuttoned shirt and felt the heat of his chest engulf me. I could feel his smug smile through his kiss.
“We’re gonna get caught.” I said breathlessly as he trailed his lips along my collar bone again. “Someone’s gonna walk in here and see us.”
“Don’t worry.” His short words muffled by my skin. No sooner were the words out of his mouth when someone cleared their throat.
I pushed him off of me and he fell to the floor. I covered my face with my hands and looked down to see Tony laughing up at me. I took the throw pillow and hit him with it.
“You two looked like you were having quite a bit of fun.” Harry said, looking from one to the other of us. I threw the pillow at him and he dodged it easily, retreating the room once again.
“Where were we?” Tony climbed back on top of me and kissed my neck again. I laughed at him and pushed him off of me.
“We were cuddling on the couch, and then you stopped thinking with something with your brain.” I retorted. He laughed at me and started buttoning up his shirt to where I could still see the reactor, and put his arm around my shoulders. I cuddled into his shoulder and kissed his neck. “That’s better.”
He chuckled and kissed the crown of my head while we sat on the couch waiting for everyone to come back so we could eat dinner. Finally, they returned and we all situated ourselves at the dinner table; my parents were at the ends, Tony and I sat next to each other on one side while Harry and Harmony sat opposite us.
Tony’s left hand rested on my thigh throughout dinner, stoking it seductively. I didn’t have the heart to slap it away. Flirting sexually at the dinner table with my parents and brother present doesn’t need to be brought to their attention, so I let it slide. I just smiled at him as I chewed the perfectly seared steak that my dad has perfected over the years.
I glanced at my parents and my dad was smiling to himself, so I asked, “Why are you smiling?”
“Just happy to see you two together. Seventeen years of dodging your feelings towards each other, and you just now figured out what was obvious to everyone else.” He laughed to himself.
Tony and I grinned at each other and he carried on running his fingers along my thigh. Once I finished my steak, I put my hand on top of his and interlaced our fingers. I watched him from the corner of my eyes and saw a smile play across his lips.
“So, Tony, anything new with Iron Man?” My mother asked.
He nodded, “I actually just got back from a mission yesterday. I was gone for,” he looked at me questioningly, “What? Two days.”
I instantly became uncomfortable at the thought of my three and half grueling days without him and shook my head, “Almost four days.”
He frowned at me but continued his conversation with my mom, “Yeah, it was harsh over there, but we eventually got things under control.” He squeezed my hand a little tighter.
Seeing the discomfort on my face, Harry changed the subject, “Enough about him. Let’s talk about Harmony and I.” He smiled brightly at us all. Harmony leaned into his side.
“Harry, honey, Tony is here, we don’t care about you.” My mom said with a joking smile on her face. Harry scoffed and crossed his arms over his chest as we all laughed, “I’m kidding.” She added.
“No you’re not.” He pouted. “It’s fine, mom. I know you love him more than you love me.”
She looked between him and Tony, smiling, “I’m glad you understand.” We all laughed at Harry, but he soon joined in. Dinner flowed easily after that, filled with laughter and jokes.
Around nine o’clock, my parents walked us to the door. Happy was waiting outside in the Rolls Royce with the engine running.
I hugged my dad and went to hug my mom and saw that she was still hugging Tony. I laughed, “Mom, back off my boyfriend, okay?”
She pulled away from him and said, “Oh, honey, can’t you tell he likes me better.” Tony put his hands up defensively and took a step away from her. I gave my mom a hug, and then Tony took my hand and led me to the car.
I got in the car, Tony following suit and scooting in right next to me. He smiled at me and wrapped an arm around my shoulder, pulling me close.
I placed my hand on his stomach and rubbed it comfortingly, “See, there was nothing to worry about.”
“I know.” He sighed and kissed my temple. Happy was now driving along the PCH and turned to take a shortcut to the mansion. This was becoming routine for him. The PCH was often flooded with sight seers and slow drivers, so he took this handy shortcut that was a longer distance, but faster because of its seclusion from the highway.
When we got home, Tony held my hand and led me upstairs. Once in his room, he guided me to the bed with a wide grin on his face. “I think I was very well behaved. Don’t you?”
I nodded, pulling my hand from his and unbuttoning his shirt. Once it was fully undone, I raked my hands down his abdomen, eliciting a moan from him. He grabbed my hands and pulled me toward him, pressing his lips against mine. His tongue glided over my bottom lip and slid into my mouth with ease, tracing patters inside.
He broke the kiss to lift my shirt over my head and shrug his to the ground. He smiled down at me and brought his hands to my jeans, unhooking the button and sliding them off of my legs, leaving me standing in front of him wearing nothing but underwear.
As he began kissing me again, I undid his pants and let them fall. He stepped out of them and backed up to the bed. He commenced kissing my neck tenderly, causing me to shiver when his goatee grazed the flushed my skin.
He lowered me to the bed and climbed on top of me, his lips never leaving my body. His lips left my neck and trailed along my collar bone down to the middle of my chest. He reached beneath me and unclasped my bra, throwing it over his shoulder. He continued kissing down my body and made it down to my stomach. His tongue circled around my naval, drawing out a deep breath on my part.
He smiled through his wet, seductive kisses, “Enjoying yourself?” He growled. “I know I am.” Multitasking, he hooked his fingers at the hem of my panties and slipped them off easily.
My hands threaded into his thick, soft hair and pulled him back up to meet my lips. I drifted my hands down his muscular back and pulled off his boxers. I brought my hands back to his hair as he rested on his forearms and pressed himself closer to me.
Without further delay, he entered me slowly and moaned in ecstasy. Still resting on his forearms, he clutched my shoulders and began to move. He filled me completely, creating a pleasurable friction inside of me.
As I moved my hands up his back, he growled, “Don’t scratch me.”
My laugh was silenced when he thrust into me, harder than before. His rhythm was desperate and needy. He kissed me forcibly and I bit down on his bottom lip. A moan escaped him and he quickened his pace. Using his hold on my shoulders as leverage, he pumped in and out of me without faltering.
“Tony!” I cried as I climaxed. His lips went to my neck, slowly giving me a hickey.
“Oh, God.” He groaned and he released into me. I kissed his arc reactor and willed myself to regulate my breathing. He rested his forehead against my shoulder and came to a stop, breathing heavily.
He kissed my shoulder and lifted his head to smile at me. I kissed him and dropped my head to the mattress. “You’re killing me.”
He chuckled, “I can’t help it, baby. You’re irresistible.” He rolled onto his back and pulled me into his side, kissing my temple in the process, “God, I love you.”
“You can call me Katie.” I said wearily. Another laugh rumbled through his chest. I placed my hand on his arc reactor and traced the edge of it carefully. I was lying on my side with his arms around my waist as he rubbed circles into my hip with his thumb. “Mm. That feels good.” I hummed.
He kissed my cheek and before I knew it, I was fell slowly into an aimless sleep, hearing Tony’s words before fully fading, “I love you.”
I cracked open my eyes and was immediately aware that Tony wasn’t next to me. I sat up, covering myself with the silken sheets and running a hand through my messy sex hair. I did an intake of the room and saw that the bathroom door was closed. I rolled out of bed and padded my way towards it, stopping short when the door opened, revealing and wet Tony with a towel hanging at his hips.
The arc reactor was dripping with water which indicated that he’d literally just gotten out of the shower. He smiled at me and stepped forward, pressing his lips against mine. “Morning, beautiful.”
“I like your outfit.” I said with a giggle.
He bit his lips and ran his eyes along the length of my body, “I like yours better.” He kissed me again and wrapped his arms around my waist.
“Why are you up so early?” I mumbled against his lips.
He pulled away, “Pepper called about an hour ago and said there’s a meeting that I must attend.”
I circled my arms around his neck and placed my cheek on his reactor, “No.”
He chuckled, “You have detachment issues, don’t you?” He asked sarcastically.
I leaned up to kiss him, “No.” I went over to the pile of clothes we created last night and grabbed his shirt and my underwear. Dropping the sheet and listening to him whistle, I put them on. “You want breakfast?” I offered.
He flashed a sly grin and nodded. “I’m just gonna get dressed first.” I smiled at him and retreated to the kitchen.
Ten minutes later, I was emptying the pancakes onto two plates and turning off the stove. I heard Tony enter the room and come stand behind me. He encircled his strong arms around my waist and slipped his hand beneath my shirt to rub my stomach.
“Hey, baby.” He kissed my cheek and massaged my stomach with his thumb. “Looks delicious.”
I rested my head on his shoulder and grinned, “Thank you. It probably tastes like charcoal though.” I said, feeling the vibrations of his laughter against my back.
He kissed my neck and I instantly bent it to give him better access. He started unbuttoning the shirt with one hand and slipped his other into my panties. Once the shirt was fully unbuttoned and on the floor, he took one of my breasts into his hand and massaged it gently while I rubbed at his thigh, inducing a moan from us both.
He turned me in his arms, pulled down his pants, picked me up, and wrapped my legs around his waist. My back was digging into the counter as he nipped and sucked at my neck and collar bone. I slid his boxers down, exposing his hardened member. He pushed aside my panties and entered me roughly.
I spiraled my arms around his broad shoulders, and he commenced his rapid thrusting. My fingers went into his thick, brown hair and tugged at it veraciously. “Tony!” I shouted as he administered a particularly hard thrust that sent waves of pleasure through my body.
My inner walls clenched around him and caused us both to cry out. Once the waves our mind blowing orgasms died down, he set me back on my feet and kissed me forcefully. “Sorry.” He said.
“About what?” I asked, pulling on the shirt.
He pulled up his pants and composed himself. “I was a bit rough and demanding.”
I laughed, “Don’t be. I like it that way.” I winked and turned to grab the plates, but was stopped when he pulled me back to his chest.
“Then I’ll have to be rough more often.” He growled into my ear before placing a kiss on my cheek. He pulled back and smirked at my dazed expression.
He reached around me and grabbed the plates, taking them over to the table and placing them next to each other. He sat down in the chair and patted his thighs while smiling at me. “Come hither.”
I skipped over to him and sat on his lap. We ate in silence, for the most part, except for occasional smiles and giggles at each other.
As he was finishing up, he asked, “Wanna come with me today? You can wait in my office until the meeting is over.”
I nodded at him, “Yeah, but I need to take a shower.” I slid off his lap and padded away from him, but not before he pinched my ass. I yelped in surprise increased my speed towards the bedroom.
Within thirty minutes, I was prancing back into the kitchen wearing a light green blouse and jeans. Tony was still sitting in the chair fiddling with his phone as I came up behind him and wrapped my arms around his chest, kissing his cheek.
“I’m ready.” I whispered. He turned his head to give me a quick kiss.
“Finally. I’ve been waiting for ages.” He smiled. He got up and took my hand, leading me out the front door where Happy awaited in the Rolls Royce. I slid in first and Tony quickly followed. Once we were situated and making the journey down Tony’s ridiculously long driveway, he nuzzled his face into my neck.
I squirmed away from him, but to no avail. He pulled me back to his side and continued to tickle me with his goatee. He kissed my neck to conclude his torture and pulled back, smiling.
I wrapped my arms around his waist and snuggled into his side. He draped his around my shoulders and kissed my head, “Love you.”
I leaned up and kissed him briefly, “Love you too.” He grinned at me and kissed me again. His lips moved smoothly against mine as he traced them with his tongue. He slipped his hand beneath my shirt and rubbed circles into the small of my back. We pulled away reluctantly when the car came to a stop.
He pulled me out of the car and into the building, leading me up to his office. “What time is your meeting?” I asked as we entered.
He guided me to the couch and sat down, pulling me into his lap and checking his watch. “In about thirty minutes. And it’s about an hour long.” He grinned at me and gave me a tender kiss. I pulled back, noticing that he was wearing the same suit he did when he returned from Afghanistan. He frowned at me questioningly.
I smoothed my hands over his suit and avoided his gaze. “This is the suit you wore when you came home.” I ran my hands delicately over his tie and let it flow through my fingers.
He moved his head to make eye contact with me and whispered. “Is that good?”
I looked into his deep brown eyes and nodded. He smiled and placed a soft kiss against my lips as he laid down on the couch and pulling me with him. I kissed his jaw and buried my face into his neck. Before I knew it, I was falling asleep with his warm lips against the crown of my head.
A little while later, I woke up on the couch with a blanket covering me, and the heat from Tony’s body missing. I sat up slowly and stretched, checking my watch. Tony’s meeting still had a little over ten minutes left. I walked over to his bookshelf and examined all of the awards and trophies decorating it. There was a lack of books, but he did have one; a photo album.
Just as I was reaching for it, the door opened, and someone I didn’t care to see stepped in: Andrew. I glared at him as he approached me, smiling. “Hi.”
I scowled at him in return, which apparently amused him. “That’s not very welcoming of you.” He stepped right up to me, not two inches from me, and a sly grin crossed his features. He leaned in to give me a kiss, but was soon stopped by my hand stinging his face with a sharp slap.
He clutched his cheek and took a step back. Anger blazed in his eyes, but vanished instantly as he stepped forward again and grabbed my wrists and pinned them above my head. He crashed his lips down onto mine, and ran his hand up my leg. He kept moving it north until it was under my shirt.
I squirmed and struggled to get him off of me as fear took hold of my body, but he’s very fit. He began to unbutton my blouse but was abruptly yanked away from me. I looked up to see Tony swinging his fist into Andrew’s eye.
Once Andrew fell to the floor, Tony grabbed him but his lapels and shoved him against the bookcase. “If I ever see your face again, I’ll fucking kill you.” He snarled. He slammed Andrew against the shelf again before letting him go and pointing to the door. “No get the fuck out of here.”
He smiled at Tony and walked slowly towards the door, but Tony just stood there breathing heavily until he closed it behind him. I stood stock still against the bookshelf, still in shock over what had just happened. I’d never seen that side of Tony before. I’ve seen his protective side, the side that questions every detail about a man I’m dating, but not this. This side was downright frightening.
He turned towards me, still looking angry, and approached me slowly. I flinched when he got close enough, and he furrowed his eyebrows, “I’m not gonna do anything to you.” He brushed the hair out of my face and kissed my forehead. “Did he hurt you?”
Tears emerged with my next sentence and I shook my head, “I thought- I thought he was going to-“ Tony pulled me into a hug, wrapping his strong arms around me possessively. Protectively.
“I know. I know.” He rubbed my back as I sobbed into his chest. He picked me up and took me to the couch, situating me on his lap. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner. I’m so sorry.”
I shook my head and looked at him, “It’s not your fault.” He smiled grimly at me for a moment and kissed me. I buried my face in his neck and exhaled sadly.
“Let’s go home.” He whispered. I slid off his lap and he took my hand, leading me to the door. Before he opened it, he gave me a quick kiss and smiled at me. We walked through the building and out of the door to see Happy leaning against the Rolls with a cigar in his mouth. We all got in and sped away.
My hand rested on the seat and Tony’s arm came around my waist, ending with his fingers laced through mine. He kissed my cheek tenderly, but I turned my head to touch his lips to mine. “Love you.” He said against my lips.
“Love you too.” I smiled and kissed him longer. I felt Happy turning the car onto the familiar stretch of secluded road, and I smiled against Tony’s lips, but our happiness vanished when the car overturned.
Tony fell into the right side of the car and I into Tony. The car skidded along the road until it rolled onto its roof, sending sparks flying and glass spraying in our faces. I looked at him to see a long, jagged cut starting at his temple and ending at his jaw.
I could feel hot, sticky blood seeping from my neck. I touched my hand to it and immediately felt a white hot pain surge through my neck.
“Katie?” He gasped. “Are you okay?” I just nodded and hoped he could see. “Good.” I was lying on top of him as he started to push me forward into the car. Once I was off of him, he dragged himself trough the shattered window. He groaned in pain as shards of glass cut through his shirt and dug into his skin.
Once he was out of the wreckage, he tried to stand, but failed. I heard a car pull up next to us and saw four sets of feet emerge from an SUV. Tony’s eyes widened in fear and he reached for me, “Katie, c’mon! Hurry!” He yelled urgently.
I grabbed his hand and found it sweaty and bloody. Muscular hands clutched my ankles and pulled me from his grasp, “Tony!” I screamed.
“Katie!” He stood up, clearly in pain, and limped around the car as I was hoisted into the air and flung into the back seat of the SUV with blacked out headlights. “Let her go!” They shut the door and all I could see was one of the men lifting up their gun and striking Tony over the head, making him slump to the ground.
I felt a piece of cloth cover my mouth and I immediately began to feel drowsy. Before I faded into unconsciousness, I saw someone I recognized. Someone I’d spent more than nine months with. Someone who broke my heart into thousands of tiny pieces.
“Hey, Katie. How’ve you been?” he said, his blue eyes glowing with anger and hatred. As my eyes drooped closed, Andrew winked at me, “We’ll talk later.”
I woke up with a start as someone prodded me with a hard object. “Wake up.” Said a gruff voice. He was poking me with a gun. And he wasn’t being gentle about it. I sat up and rubbed my ribs.
I glared at the man. He wasn’t particularly tall and he had blonde hair and grey eyes. I noticed another man in the corner. Andrew. The blonde guy left, leaving me alone with him.
I did a quick intake of the room and noted that there was one, flickering florescent light hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room, the paint from the walls was peeling, and the only indication of an exit was the door situated on the wall that was opposite from me.
“Hello, Katie.” He had on an evil grin, something I’d never seen on him. “You’re probably wondering where you are.”
“No, I like the mystery. It’s more interesting.” I spat back.
He narrowed his eyes at me, “Not very friendly today, are we?” I glared at him in return. He scoffed at my silent reply. “Well, just so you know, I’m only the puppet. The boss is busy.”
“I don’t give a shit that you’re not in charge.” His eyes glowed with anger and he stepped forward out of the shadows, revealing a bruised eye. I leaned further into the wall I was against and braced myself for physical harm.
He laughed when he saw this, “We’re not going to hurt you.” He stalked toward the door and put his hand on the knob, “Yet.” With that last threat, he exited the room.
I sat against the wall, unmoving, for several hours. No one came in to watch me. No one came in to threaten me, and for that, I was grateful. I was beginning to get drowsy and wondered what time it was or even what day. Without another thought, I laid down on the dirty floor and fell unwillingly to sleep.
Not this again. I woke up to more poking in my side. This time it was considerably harder. “Wake up! You’ve been sleeping for almost two days!” I sat up quickly at his words and stood up. Two days?!
“Why didn’t one of you assholes wake me up?!” I asked angrily. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I immediately regretted them. The man slapped me across the face with enough force to knock me to the ground again.
I clutched my face and looked around to see Andrew standing malevolently in the corner.
He flashed his teeth at me in a menacing smile, sending a ripple of fear to course through my body. “I didn’t peg you for an excessive sleeper.”
“Well, when you’re in a car accident and then you have chloroform immediately stuffed in your face, it kind of exhausts you.” I said bitterly.
He chuckled ominously, “I do apologize for the car. But it was all necessary. We took you to lure Tony to us. I’m sure he’ll find us by tomorrow.”
I tried to hide the terror in my voice as I questioned him. “And who is we?”
He laughed again. “I’m afraid I can’t disclose that information to you.” He took a few steps toward me, “But what I can tell you is why you’re here.”
I waited for him to continue, but he just took a couple more steps in my direction and leaned against the wall. “Okay?” I urged him.
“We’re trying to get Tony to come to us. And what better way to get him here than to take you away from him?” His foul smile grew even wider.
I frowned. “You had us both. Why not take him then?”
He laughed. “We need him to come in the suit. This is just a test run, of course.”
“A test run for what?” I asked casually.
“Ah. I’m afraid I can’t tell you that either. Just know, there’s a master plan, and this is the rehearsal.”
“And what if he doesn’t come in the suit? Your little ‘rehearsal’ will be ruined.”
“Well then, we’ll just have to see what happens.” With those final words, he snapped his fingers and another man holding what looked like a rag, entered the room. “Sorry. I didn’t want to have to do this to you again.”
The man stepped forward and covered my mouth in the cloth. Chloroform. I watched through heavy lidded eyes as the two men exited the tiny enclosure, leaving me unconscious.
Over the past seventeen years, I’ve slowly constructed a wall to keep myself from getting emotionally hurt or damaged. Once I knew I was in love with Katie, this wall weakened itself and started to waste away. This protective wall was different from another one I’d developed. Loss.
The two coincided. Losing someone to death, and losing someone to another person. The latter happened more frequently. Katie was the one against whom I’d built the wall. Seeing her with someone other than me tore me to shreds, so I established a way of keeping myself from getting hurt. A side effect of the barrier was carelessly sleeping with a different woman every other day.
When my parents died, I promised myself I wouldn’t get close to anyone, fearful of them having the same fate as my parents. Again, the two walls coincided. I didn’t get close to anyone so they wouldn’t hurt me, and also so I wouldn’t have to watch them die right before my eyes.
These walls were slowly crumbling into a vast nothingness.
The only thing I was aware of was the deep pain in the right side of my body, and the faint sound of snores coming from my left. I cracked my eyes open slightly and the distinct florescent lights of a hospital room flooded through my eyelashes. I opened them a little wider and blinked at the sudden brightness of the room and turned my head to see who was sitting next to me.
“Harry?” I croaked. He flew out of his chair and looked around, alarmed. He looked down at me and sat back down, rubbing the exhaustion from his face. “What happened?”
He looked at me morosely as tears filled his eyes, “Katie was taken.”
My throat became dry and my heart rate increased. The machines started beeping rapidly, so I ripped the wires off of my body and jumped out of bed. My body screamed in pain, but I simply ignored it. I walked over to the window to find my clothes neatly folded. Pulling on my pants and my shredded shirt, I saw bandages around my abdomen and various bruises along my leg. I pulled on my shoes and went over to the door, but Harry stood in front of it.
“Tony, you just woke up. You need to recuperate.” He said, placing a hand on my shoulder and trying to push me back to my bed.
I shrugged off his hand and walked past him, throwing open the door and heading for the elevators. I pressed the ‘down’ button and they immediately opened, showing a tall black man wearing all black clothing and an eye patch over his right eye.
“Where do you think you’re going, Mr. Stark?” asked Fury. I just glared at him and stepped into the elevator, pressing the ‘lobby’ button.
He started laughing, so I turned to look at him, “What?” I snapped. The elevator door closed and we started going down.
“You think you’re gonna go put on your little suit and find her right away?” He scoffed. “You’ve been unconscious for three days, Tony. We’ve got it under control.” He became serious. “We questioned Hogan, we’ve tracked down the SUV, and now we’re trying to locate your lady friend.” He turned towards me and looked at me warningly, “We’re doing everything we can. And if you put on that suit without my consent, I will make life very, very unpleasant for you.”
The elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. He exited swiftly without another glance.
As I stepped out, Harry ran into me. He took a few steps back and stared at me. I frowned at him. “What are you staring at?”
He shook his head and followed Fury out of the hospital. I trailed behind Harry angrily. We exited the hospital and came to his car. Without question, I got in the passenger seat and waited for him to get in.
He sat down heavily in the car and sighed. “You should do what he says.”
I frowned at him. “That’s your sister. Are you telling me I should stand idly by as they try and find her?” I asked angrily.
He turned on me. “No. I’m saying, do all you can, but don’t get in the suit. It’s not exactly subtle when you wanna make a sneak attack.” He ground out, clenching his jaw tightly.
“Harry, I’m not just gonna sit by and wait for them! They don’t have all of the resources I have.”
He furrowed his eyebrows. “Why not?”
“Because they work inside the law. I don’t play that way. The law can kiss my ass until I find my girlfriend.” I placed my elbow on the arm rest and put my face in my hand, inhaling sharply because I touched the deep cut on the side of my face.
He was silent for a few minutes before he started the car and drove to my house. Once he parked in my driveway, he turned to me again. “When you find her, tell me so I can let my parents know. They’ve been worried sick.”
I nodded and got out of his car. As soon as I was at my front door, Harry went down the driveway and fled away from the mansion. I entered my house and saw Pepper sitting on the couch over Happy. He wasn’t in his usually black suit and tie, but instead, in a grey t-shirt and sweats.
He sat up quickly when he saw me and winced in pain. “Sir, I’m so sorry. I had no-“
I put a hand up to stop his next sentence and walked over to him. “It’s not your fault, Hap. It’s okay.” I comforted him with a small smile, though I didn’t feel like smiling. “Don’t worry about it.”
Pepper stood up next him, “Tony, you’re supposed to be in the hospital.” I glared at her and turned on my heel, heading for the workshop. “Tony.” She sighed.
I stopped, but didn’t look at her. “I need to find her.” I said quietly. She came to stand in front of me. “What if they’re hurting her? I can’t let that happen.” My emotional barrier was slowly crumbling at the thought of Katie being tortured and bent to their will.
“S.H.I.E.L.D. is working on it. You need to rest.” She conceded. I clenched my jaw and stepped around her without another word, descending the steps to the workshop.
Once I entered the workshop, I stopped dead in my tracks. Nick Fury and Natalie were standing in front of my desk. I glared at them, “What are you doing here? I thought I got rid of you at the hospital.”
Fury barked with unamused laughter, then became serious, “I knew you’d come here and try to get into your suit, so we locked it down.”
I walked over to my computer and typed in a few codes to get the armor booted up. The screen flashed red and I turned on Fury, “Why the fuck did you do that?!”
Fury’s face remained unchanged. “You’re emotionally attached to this, Tony. Let us handle it.”
When those words escaped his lips, my walls shattered before me. I fell to my knees and buried my face in my hands and sobbed like never before.
I didn’t expect pity from Fury. I didn’t expect pity from anyone. The only thing I wanted right now was to hold Katie and make her feel safe. I can’t do that without my suit. And even if I had my suit, I don’t even know where she is.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and two different hands pulling me from the ground and leading me over to the couch. I sat down heavily and put my elbows on my knees, resting my face in my hands while I cried quietly.
“I’m sorry, Tony.” Spoke Pepper. She rubbed my shoulder comfortingly until my cries quieted to light sniffles.
I stood up and went over to the liquor cabinet. I noticed Happy sitting on the other side of Pepper watching me carefully. “You guys can take the rest of the day off. I need to be alone.” I rasped.
They exchanged a careful glance and stood up, exiting the shop. I threw open the cabinet and cracked open a new bottle. I touched it to my lips and gulped down half of it in one breath. Maybe if I drank enough, it will numb the pain I feel for not being able to protect her. Alcohol has given me solace in the past, so why not now? I took it over to my desk and started typing in various codes to try and track Katie.
Had they taken her phone too? Even if it was off, I could still trace it. As long as it was in the same vicinity as she was, I could easily find her. I doubt S.H.I.E.L.D. knows how to do that. I took another sip of scotch and went back to typing in codes.
I sat back in my chair and gulped down the rest of the scotch. When the results didn’t show, I went over to the cabinet and grabbed another unopened bottle of Jack Daniels and twisted the cap off. On my way back over to the desk, I could already feel the effects of the last bottle kicking in.
I wobbled over to the table with my scotch and set it down harder than intended. The search results still weren’t showing, so I gulped down another half of the bottle. It didn’t look like the results would be here any time soon, so I swayed over to the couch and laid down, putting my arm over my eyes.
I heard the door open, but I was too dizzy to look and see who it was. I felt them sit down on the couch. “Tony.” He sighed. Rhodey snatched the bottle of liquor out of my hand and I sat up in protest, but I immediately regretted this due to the room spinning in hundreds of different directions.
I glared at him as he set it down on the counter, all the way across the room. “What the hell are you doing?” He asked angrily.
I didn’t answer him; I just stared at the floor guiltily. “Do you think Katie would want you drinking yourself into a grave?” I lifted my head, ready to argue, but he put his hand up to stop me from speaking. “You’re no good to her dead, Tony.”
I sighed and leaned into the back of the couch. “What if I find her and it’s too late?”
He walked over and sat next to me, putting a comforting hand on my shoulder, “It will be too late if you don’t focus. Drinking isn’t going to solve anything. Don’t drink anymore, okay?”
I nodded and he patted me on the back, leaving the workshop just as quickly as he’d arrived. Rhodey and Katie are the only ones that can get me to calm down when I’m at my worst, and seeing as Katie isn’t here right now, Rhodey was the best choice.
The third choice was liquor, but that being the issue, it’s ill-advised. The effects of it were taking place much faster. I hadn’t eaten in days, and I’d downed a bottle and a half. I’m surprised I haven’t passed out already or started vomiting yet.
At this thought, I groaned as the nausea kicked in and willed myself to stay awake while my eye lids drooped heavily. I slumped back against the couch, and covered my face with my hands.
I woke up to a loud, blaring noise. It was really irritating. I had a pounding headache from all the alcohol I’d consumed last night, and I wasn’t in the mood for boisterous sounds. I pushed myself off of the couch and headed over to my desk to inspect.
My heart lurched when I saw that the search results had located Katie. I sat down in the chair to see where she was. “Jarvis, where is that?!”
“An abandoned Stark Industries Warehouse, sir. The second level.” He spoke from the ceiling. I leaped out of my chair and grabbed my jacket.
“If I’m not back in an hour and a half, tell Fury where I am and to send back up.” I shouted at him, louder than necessary.
“Sir, it is unwise to take action without the use of the suit.” He advised.
“Shut up.” I growled and got into my Audi. I turned the key in the ignition and it roared to life. Speeding out of the garage, I went over my plan in my head. Whilst breaking worldwide speed records, I arrived at the warehouse in ten minutes flat.
I parked about a hundred yards away from the actual building and made my way over to it slowly. Once I stepped inside, my footsteps echoed across through the room. There were a few empty crates settled to the right of the giant door, chains hanging from the ceiling for lifting said crates, and a black SUV situated in the center of the warehouse.
I walked over to it and inspected it for any traces of Katie. When I found nothing but a few drops of blood, I made my way to the staircase that led to the second level. I leaped up the stairs soundlessly and agilely, moving swiftly and expertly.
Once I reached the top of the staircase, I noticed four men situated around a small card table. They hadn’t noticed me yet, so I crept behind another empty crate. Then, I heard a door open behind me and saw another man stepping out. Andrew.
When he turned and saw me, a calamitous smile snuck onto his face. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small remote with a glowing blue button in the center of it. A button resembling the arc reactor.
He pressed the button and I crumpled to the ground, wailing in agony. A feeling I’d never experienced in my life engulfed my body entirely, originating from the life force in my chest. Electric currents flowed through me, wave upon wave, making my muscles burn and ache for some sort of rescue from this hellish torture. Suddenly, it stopped and I lay face down, breathing heavily and feeling the slow trickle of blood flow from my newly opened wound.
“Hello, Tony. Glad you could make it.” Andrew said abhorrently. He came over to me and crouched down next to me. “Like it? Quite frankly, I’m surprised it even worked.” I saw the other four men crowd around me and he looked up at them, “Take him in the room with her.”
Two of the four men stalked over to me and picked me up by the collar of my black t shirt and hauled me to my feet. My muscles were sore, making movement impossible, so they dragged me into the room from which Andrew had come. They tossed me in there like a piece of garbage and I landed face down on the dirty tile. When they shut the door, I looked up to see Katie crawling towards me. There were several cuts and bruises scattered across her face, but no extensive damage.
“Tony!” She said none too quietly. “What did they do to you? I heard you scream.” Tears were streaming down her face and I turned onto my back to breathe better. She crossed her legs and placed my head in her lap. “You’re bleeding.”
I smiled weakly at her. “I’m fine.” She brushed her fingers through my hair as she cried steadily. “Did they hurt you? Are you okay?”
She shook her head. “I’m fine. I’m just glad you’re here.” She leaned down and kissed me.
Just as she straightened up, the door swung open and Andrew entered, followed by the four men. One of them was holding handcuffs. He walked over to me and pulled me up by my hair, causing me to hiss in pain. He slapped the cuffs over my wrists and pushed me back into the floor.
They pushed Katie over to the wall and held her there. Anger flared inside of me as I watched them cuff her wrists together as well, but that soon ended when I felt another pulse of electricity sweep through my body. I screamed in misery and felt my muscles tense again, searing, begging for it all to stop. This time when it stopped, I started coughing veraciously, a new pulse of pain coming with each horrendous wretch of my body. I heard Katie crying quietly in the corner as Andrew began to speak.
“It’s a beautiful device isn’t it?” He held it up to examine it once I’d stopped my fit of coughing. “It can control that little arc reactor in your chest. It sends an electromagnetic pulse through the reactor, which makes it short circuit the suit, and ultimately put you in a great deal of pain.” His smile was cold and evil. Like it was pulled from the deepest fathoms of hell.
I was panting uncontrollably as my vision began to blur. He walked toward me and looked at me atrociously. “We can’t have you falling asleep, Tony.” He pressed the button again, and if the first two sessions with this device were painful, this one was worse by a thousand fold.
He stared at me maliciously as I convulsed and shrieked against the electric current that ran through my body. It pierced me like knives, over and over again, stabbing at every single one of my muscles until they were left burning and afflicted. I couldn’t find relief. None at all. This time, the electricity felt like it had somehow been combined with fire, making me suffer more than ever. When it finally stopped, the next problem arose: I couldn’t breathe.
I gasped for air and struggled to stay awake. I would not fall unconscious while Katie was still here at the mercy of these maniacal men. “Tony, my colleague and I are working on something far worse than this. This was just our way of testing it against you. To see if it worked. I think I can let him know that his creation is very effective.”
With those last ominous words, he pressed the button again, this time holding it down. And the pain escalated from there. I thrashed and quaked against the electric tide as his men left the room. I was still finding it difficult to breathe, and not only did my muscles ache, but my lungs burned in need of oxygen. Katie rushed over and tried to comfort me in any way possible. When it stopped, I had another bought of violent coughing. Once the pain and agony finally ended, finally, I glanced up at her to make sure she was okay.
She was crying ceaselessly, “It’s okay, Katie.” I reassured her. “I need to get out of these.” She nodded in understanding and pulled the key to the handcuffs from her pocket. “How did you get that?”
She tried to control her sobbing enough to answer, “I t- took it from his p-pocket.” She shook her head and removed the binds from her wrist before reaching over and trying to do mine. Her hands trembled frantically as she tried to fit the key in the lock. Finally, she succeeded and sighed in slight relief.
I laid on my stomach with my forehead resting on the cool floor as sweat soaked my forehead, even though I was shivering fiercely. A few tears leaked from my eyes, cause by the intense amount of pain I’d been put through.
I jerked up when I heard the door crash open, and in walked Clint, pointing an arrow around the room, inspecting it. He looked down at me and called behind him, “Fury, I found them!”
The tall, dark figure of Nick Fury loomed into the room. Clint came over and crouched next to me, “You okay, Stark?”
I groaned in pain when he slapped my back, “I’ve been better. A lot better.” I heard more footsteps and turned to see Steve running into the room, looking alarmed.
“Tony!” He slung his shield over his back and came over to me. “What happened?”
The pain that was throbbing at my body caused me to lose all coherence. I couldn’t speak or see. All I could hear was Steve. “We’ll get you out of here. Don’t worry.”
I cracked my eyes open slightly to see Clint helping Katie from the room as she looked back at me, still sobbing uncontrollably. “Tony.” She was ushered from the room by him, leaving me with Fury and Steve. The latter, more reassuring than the former.
“Katie.” I whispered, wanting her to come back. Steve put his hand on my shoulder to keep me laying down.
“Don’t move, we’ll get you an ambulance.” He looked up at Fury for help.
He spoke into his earpiece, “Agent Romanov, we need an ambulance immediately. Stark is in need of medical attention.”
As his words echoed in my ears, my head dropped to the floor as my body became too weak to hold it up any longer. My sight dimmed, and before I knew it, unconsciousness consumed me.
More beeping. Just one, steady tone ringing in my ears. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. I cracked my eyes open slightly and again, I found myself in a hospital room. Why do I keep ending up here with no knowledge of where I was before?
I shifted in the bed slightly and instantly groaned in pain. It felt like needles were puncturing every square inch of my muscles. Maybe movement isn’t the best choice at the present time. I turned my head to look around the room and saw Katie sleeping in the chair next to my bed, her hand resting atop mine.
I examined her face. It was contorted in pain, several cuts littered across it and a deep frown etched on her forehead. There were tear streaks that ran down her cheeks, and her eyes were red and puffy. My heart ached at the sight of her. All I wanted to do was hold her. To make sure she was okay. To feel her against me. To be positive that she’s actually here.
She stirred in her sleep as I moved my hand to hold onto hers. I jumped slightly and yelped in pain when a voice chimed through the room. “Mr. Stark.”
I looked in the direction of the voice and saw Fury creeping out of the dark corner. “Jesus, Fury. Why are you always in the shadows? It’s getting a bit cliché.”
His chuckle was deep and apathetic. “You’re something else, Tony. When S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t find you girl, you find her easily-“
“Wasn’t hard.” I said impassively.
He continued as if I hadn’t said anything, “When we take your suit, you go and get her anyway.” He took a few steps forward, “And when you finally find her, you’re put through an unbearable amount of pain, yet you still make sure she’s out of the room and safe before you finally decide to let the pain take over.”
He stood next to my bed and looked down at me with his one eye. I clenched my jaw tightly and glared at him, “What do you want? Are you here for something? A mission? Berate me for disobeying orders? Why are you here?”
He stared at me to get me to stop speaking, “I’m here because I want to commend you for a job well done.”
I blinked in surprise. “Run that by me again.” I said in disbelief.
He sighed and sat in the chair situated next to my bed. “You proved to be effective even without that armor of yours. You found your girl in less than twenty four hours. Stark, that kind of technology hasn’t yet been seen.”
I furrowed my eyebrows at him in confusion, “You’re still not making yourself clear.”
He leaned against the chair, “S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to buy the software that allowed you to do that.”
“How do I know you guys aren’t going to use it for something else? Like looking for more heroes to recruit to your super secret boy band.” I questioned.
He chuckled again. “I assure you, we’re done with that. We’ve got everyone we need. We could use your tech to help locate stolen weapons, missing civilians, criminals in hiding. Pretty much anything. And I was also wondering why you hadn’t shared this tech with the government yet.”
I looked up at the florescent lights in the ceiling, “Because I didn’t want them to use it for something other than what you just named. They could use it to find more resources to make more weapons, and I don’t want that. It’s purely for locating things that will help the world, not harm it.”
Fury stood up from the chair and eyed me seriously. “Just think about it, Stark.” He made his way toward the door, “And hurry up and get better. You’re of no use to me in a hospital.”
The door closed quietly and I thought about his proposal. He wants to use my software. He’d listed reasons for which I would use them. No liabilities to the world. No liabilities to me. My conscience will be clear. I can stop worrying about tracking down my weapons and destroying them. I can leave that to S.H.I.E.L.D.
These thoughts circulated through my exhausted mind as I watched Katie sleep peacefully.
She looked so rested, but so worried. Calm, but tormented. I wondered if she was having a nightmare. Maybe about her four days in captivity or about watching me writhe in agony and listening to my terrified and pain filled cries.
Either way, we’re both lucky to be alive.