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Everything Had Changed

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Steve leaned back in his seat on the Quinjet, glancing at Clint and Scott who’re sitting opposite of him. They seemed nervous, Clint clenching his jaw all the time and Scott just sitting there, fondling the photo of his daughter. Steve looked over at Wanda, who had tilted her head back a little bit, as if sleeping. Sam was right next to her, head leaned against his seat, eyes closed. Eventually, Steve caught Natasha’s look, who was sitting beside him.

“You ok?” She asked.

“Yeah…” He hesitated, “We’re gonna be home.”

“It will be alright.” Natasha put her hand on his shoulder in support, “Like the old days.”

“Yeah.” Steve looked at her, forcing a smile of relief. Two years had passed, though everything would be fine, like old days. But he couldn’t keep his smile until their arrival at the Compound in Upstate, New York.

Tony wasn’t there. Instead, there was a stranger greeting them.

“Hello,” She said, “I’m Fridaline, assistant to Ms.Potts. Please follow me, I’ll take you around our new Compound.”

They seemed uncertain, not knowing why an employee of Stark Industries would be given that job for them.  Though, honestly they did need to look around. The Compound was rebuilt bigger and better with more sections added, which they didn’t know about.

Fridaline seemed to understand their curiosity toward her presence – the young and beautiful ginger assistant – smiled politely, before she explained, “There was a member of the Avengers who should have been here to introduce you to the Compound, but unfortunately they are all busy right now so…” Her smile faded awkwardly, something untold behind it that caught their awareness too: The New Avengers were busy as fuck, nobody had time for them.

“Where is Tony?” Steve frowned, but tried not to be rude by deepening his voice down.

Fridaline’s smile froze for just a second, then it became brighter – maybe Steve was so sensitive about that – and fake. “Mr.Stark isn’t here; he’s on his own business. I am not allowed to talk about his schedule without permission. Sorry.”

Steve still wanted to say something but a glance from Natasha shut him up. Fridaline continued leading them in, stopping at the identifier machine before going through the large brightly lit hallway. She gave each of them a card and explained, “These are your ID cards to access most parts of the facility. They are also integrated to your bank account with 1000 base dollars. If it has the blue line on it, that means you are all on Level Two. If you see the red line anywhere, please remember that you are not allowed to access that area.”

“Just like SHIELD.” Natasha grinned.

“Yes, it’s one of the tiny, poor things that Mr.Stark had learned from it.” The reply made Natasha’s grin freeze. The team shared a look with each other, all realizing nothing but the truth: This assistant was definitely not an angel.

They went through the hall, taking a look at almost all the parts of the Compound: the common room, the kitchen, the dining room (with a cafeteria that, if you want to eat something, you have to pay for, everyone rolled their eyes at that, but Fridaline ignored them), the library, the training room, the pool, the garage,…but Fridaline almost ignored the east area.

“What’s over there?” Wanda blinked, curious.

“Private area. I don’t recommend you attempt to access it, unless you are invited.”

“By whom?” Clint asked.

“By someone who can do that; like Ms.Potts or Mr.Stark himself.”

Steve wanted to snort at that, he could hear Clint murmur something like ‘drama queen…’ and then, again, Fridaline ignored them.

At the end of the tour, she led them back to the west section where they had lived before. “Your rooms are still there, just put your things in and you’re done. If you are hungry, feel free to buy something from the cafeteria. You will all be free tonight, do whatever you want. Tomorrow, there will be an employee from the Sokovia Accords Committee coming to work with all of you. Any questions?”

They glanced at each other before they shook their heads, taking their baggage up to their own rooms. Only Steve stayed, asking Fridaline before she left, “When will Tony come back?”

She threw him a stare, answering, “I’m sorry I don’t know. That depends on his progress.” Then she walked away. Steve went back to his room, completely cheesed off.

An hour later, he heard a knock on the door. Opening it, he saw Natasha and Wanda outside. Natasha asked him, “We’re gonna find something to eat. Want to join us?”

Without any reason to refuse, Steve accompanied them to the kitchen. They ran into Vision there.

“Viz!” Wanda exclaimed happily.

The android turned around, replying to her politely, “Good evening, Miss Maximoff.” He also nodded to the two others and then went back to the uncooked spaghetti still in the pot. Wanda’s face turned into some kind of dumb-struck emotion, Vision seemed so distant from her.

“What are you cooking?” She didn’t give up, moving closer to Vision as Steve and Natasha found something to eat but still keeping eyes on them.

“Spaghetti.” Vision replied, his voice curt. He didn’t even bother to ask her if she wanted to join him, like before. Wanda still wanted to say something, but someone suddenly appeared, interrupting her.

“It smells good, Viz!”

Both Vision and Wanda turned around to see the woman coming close to them. Wanda recognized her immediately – it was Fridaline that they had met just hours ago.

“You live here?” She frowned.

“Yeah, I’m living here.” Fridaline responded with a smile and took a plate full of spaghetti that Vision gave her, “Thanks Viz, looks delicious!”

Wanda frowned harder, she didn’t like the way that woman called Vision ‘Viz’, it felt like her territory was being invaded. But that was nothing compared to when she saw Vision place a kiss on the ginger’s hair, “You’re welcome, Friday.”

“Coming upstairs? I found a nice movie. Have you ever seen Wind River?”

Vision shook his head slightly, let her grab his elbow and lead him away. Steve and Natasha stood still, looking at Wanda with concern. She looked like someone slapped her face. Why Vision didn’t care about her anymore?

At the same time, Clint lay on his bed, his phone screen blacked out in his hand. He’d just talked to his wife – Laura – or ex-wife now.

She had filed for divorce when he wasn’t here and had succeeded. He didn’t understand, why would she do that? How she could raise their children without him?

Oh, so you figured it out now?” Her voice still echoed in his head, so cold and hard, making his breath stop, “When you ran away for two years, two years! Did you ever think about that? Did you ever care about us? Did you even think that we need you?”

But now she didn’t need him anymore. It turned out she became an employee of Stark Industries, which got a desirable salary and treatment, enough to raise her kids by herself.

“It’s over, Clint.” She said, “Welcome back, but now everything is over.”

Everything had changed, the thought went through his brain as he was staring at the celling. And the phone dropped on the floor.

On the next morning, a man from the Sokovia Accords Committee appeared to talk to them. Starting with the Accords, he explained them to the group, about their rights and obligations that would arise when they signed.

At last, he said, “Mr.Wilson, the military will send someone to confiscate your suit, but don’t worry, I believe Mr.Stark will create something new for you.”

“What?” Sam hissed at that, “Why I can’t keep it? Red Wing has also been my buddy for a long time. You can’t just take it away.”

“I’m sorry Mr.Wilson, but it belongs to US military. And as you said, you have used it for a long time, maybe it wouldn’t be fit for new missions anymore. So,” the man shrugged, “Why don’t you try a new one? Anyway, they will come tomorrow.”

Sam didn’t say anything but seemed totally pissed off. Who could accept that your own things would be taken away from you? Stark’s stuff was good, but he didn’t like them. Why couldn’t everything be like old days?

Everyone walked out of the room, Natasha patted Sam’s shoulder as silent support when she passed him. Suddenly she saw a familiar figure across the hall, “Bruce?”

He started at that, turned around and saw her.

“Bruce? When did you come back?” Natasha came to him, but the doctor seemed like he wanted to step back.

“A while, Natasha. And…um, welcome home.”

“Great.” She smiled, “So do you have any plans for tonight, Doc?”

“Natasha,” His glance just became complicated as he looked at her, “I’m – I’m very busy those days, so I’m afraid that…I don’t have time for you.”

Her smile faded away, disappointed, “So you’re not…free at any time?”

“Seriously…” Bruce took off his glasses slowly, his fingers rubbing them as a sign of upset (or impatience) that Natasha realized briefly, “Tony has his own business away so his work is now in my hands. I’m really busy, Natasha, I really don’t have time for you; for us.”

And he didn’t want to, either. Natasha could understand the untold meaning behind his words. Everything had changed, he didn’t want to spend his time with her anymore.

“Okay,” She said, confused, “Okay. See you later.” Then she rushed past him, almost running away.

He looked at her back, knew that she knew what he was going to say. ‘Hey, we’re breaking up.’ Everything between them had broken anyway.

Steve picked the sandbag up, hooked it back in place. Sweat dripped down his cheeks uncomfortably, but that was nothing compared to his feelings inside. Days had passed, but he still couldn’t meet Tony. He had met Vision, Bruce, Rhodey (and he was glad that he could walk again), Peter (Oh God, Spiderman hadn’t even graduated yet, what the hell was Tony thinking?), he had also met new members of the Avengers like Carol and Hope. Hell, he had even met Pepper Potts twice, so why did he never see Tony?

It was like the billionaire tried to avoid him.

Damn it, why didn’t Tony want to see him?!

Steve punched hard, sending the sandbag down to the floor again, but this time completely broken. He gasped at that and Wanda suddenly stormed in.

“Unbelievable!” She shouted out.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“That bitch…” Wanda hissed, standing with her arms akimbo, “That Fridaline, you know what, she is FRIDAY! Stark did the Ultron thing again!”

“What?!” Steve frowned, why would Tony do that? Did he forget about Ultron? “How did you know?”

“I - ” She trailed off then admitted, “I tried to read her mind but she pushed me out. I realized she is…kinda…like Vision.”

Steve took a deep breath, looked at the floor while he was thinking. Wanda kept talking, “Stark made her armor! Turned her out as – what – Rescue! Now she fights beside Vision, like a true hero!” She hissed, “And there’s more! She controls the Iron Legion for Stark – what the hell is that? So Stark really didn’t learn anything from Ultron?” She suddenly cried out, “And now…now they are a couple! Vision doesn’t even want to talk to me for more five seconds!”

“I will talk to Tony.” Was all that Steve said.

But he didn’t have a chance. It seemed that Tony was always with someone else so that Steve couldn’t sneak into his space. He couldn’t find a moment when Tony was alone to reach him. Steve tried to draw Tony’s attention but was ignored instead. He was even stopped by a flying red carpet (?) when he was chasing Tony down the hall.

Steve stared at it, didn’t have any idea what or whose was it, and in just seconds he lost Tony’s tracks. The carpet shook its collar as a sign of warning, and then flew away.  That night, Steve got information that Tony had left the Compound.

If he couldn’t see Tony face to face, then he would make a call.

Chapter Text

“Let…let me get it…” Tony gasped, his voice croaked out from his throat.

“Let it be.” Stephen said quietly, biting on his tummy, Tony curled in on himself instinctively but the sorcerer held him tight, bit another one on his hip, Tony moaned at that.

“Maybe there’s something urgent…L – let me…Wait…” The billionaire’s fingers trembled as he tried to push the man’s head away from his sensitive belly skin, turned on his side and stretched to reach his phone.

“Hello?” His voice sounded hoarse.

“Tony?” From the other side, Steve frowned curiously.

“Oh my…” Tony groaned as if annoyed, “What do you want, Rogers?” Stephen raised his head, staring at the phone in Tony’s hand.

“I want to talk to you.”

Tony rolled his eyes, snorted as he heard the ‘Captain America’ voice from Steve, “Then talk quickly.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Steve snapped at him, “Why would you turn FRIDAY into a human? Let her control the Iron Legion? I thought we all agreed to drop that program. It’s dangerous, Tony. What if she becomes a new Ultron? Why did you – ”

“Listen, Rogers,” Tony interrupted sharply, “Friday is not Ultron. She became human because of a laboratory accident, not on purpose. And she is considered Pepper’s daughter. Mine as well. Treat her good, or go fuck yourself. Do not call her Ultron. She is better than that.”

 

“Your daughter, huh?” Stephen smirked, humming, “I thought she is our daughter. You gave her a body and I made her soul…or reverse?”

“Oh shut up, Stephenie,” Tony sighed and rolled his eyes dramatically, Stephen smiled maliciously and bit his nipple as punishment. (Hey!)

Seemed like Steve wasn’t pleased with his words, Tony could hear Steve gasp, annoyed from the other side.

“Okay,” he snorted, “We will talk about that later. Why you don’t want to see me, Tony? You’re avoiding me. What’s wrong? You don’t need to do that, we have to face to each other. We have so many things to clear up; you can’t run away like that. It’s definitely not okay, I want you to – ”

“Sorry.” Someone interrupted him, made Steve trail off.

“Who is there?” He frowned, but what replied to him was the sound of restrained breathing, in and out hurried.

Stephen looked at Tony’s flushed face, excited. The billionaire was holding his phone in one hand, and the other hand covered his mouth, keeping his sweaty moan in his throat as Stephen’s fingers slid on his skin lower and lower.

Tony startled when his left thigh was crossed by the fingernails of the sorcerer, another moan stuck in his throat.

Steve realized something was wrong, “Who are you? Tony, are you there? Who is there with you?”

Stephen moved Tony’s hand off of his lips, the brunette glanced at him sharply, but with those brimming eyes, there was no effect to the sorcerer but making him more excited.

“He is busy now,” Stephen said out loud, “He will call you back.”

“Who are you anyway?”

“Doctor Stephen Strange, or Tony’s boyfriend.” Then he hung up.

Steve stared at the phone. At the moment before the connection was cut, he heard a groaning sound as if someone (Tony) had reached climax.

Tony…had someone with him? But he’d never – never had someone for long, for real. He even broke up with Pepper. He couldn’t (actually he could) get someone as his lover. It wasn’t like him. It wasn’t like before.

But then Steve realized everything had changed. Tony didn’t listen to him anymore; he did what he wanted, refused what he didn’t. He was tired of their rambling about Ultron or the Accords (your fault, your fault, your fault), with what they thought about him, with how they treated him. He was tired, he gave up, and he moved on.

Tony restarted the Iron Legion, gave the program to his A.I. If they were afraid that she would become the next Ultron, well, he turned her into Rescue to prove them wrong.

Tony wasn’t the same anymore. He wouldn’t be restrained by his teammates, torment himself with faults which they sure were his. No, not anymore; he had his own life, his own personal values. He had great intelligence, great abilities. He had his own family; he wasn’t dependent on them anymore.

And he wasn’t there waiting for Steve. He didn’t need him. Steve didn’t have a place in his heart anymore. Tony had someone else.

Steve just realized that, though he and his team had come back here, it was nothing like old days. Everything had changed.

Chapter Text

T'Challa woke up sleepily, hearing a dimmed melody under his pillow. He took a few more seconds to open his eyes, searching for the phone which roused him from sleep after midnight before looking at it.

It wasn’t his phone that was still ringing; as a call was coming from an unknown number at 3 AM. Bast bless him.

He glanced over at Tony who lay beside him, snuggling up to his arm like a lazy cat finding warmth, and hesitated to wake his ikatana up for the call. The king had no idea if it was necessary or not, because it was just an anonymous call. If there was something urgent in New York and Tony needed to be there as an official member of the Avengers, he would be called by someone who had a defined name in his contacts list.

More than that, T'Challa didn’t want to be rude and he wouldn’t invade Tony’s privacy without his permission.

T'Challa touched the brunette’s shoulder and whispered, “Tony.” And the other just snuggled deeper to his chest in response, definitely still immersed in dreams.

T'Challa’s heart melted too badly to do such a thing. It had been a long time since Tony had gotten a decent night’s sleep when he usually had nightmares, waking up shaking in sweat and tears. Tony even refused his proposal once just because the billionaire didn’t want his problems to bother T'Challa. The king couldn’t help himself, hugging Tony tightly, kissing and telling him that he didn’t mind that. T'Challa loved Tony; he just wanted his consort be happy, living a safe and sound life, no matter what.

T'Challa sat up and looked at his beloved’s gorgeous and beautiful face; with those amber brimming eyes now closed he seemed more peaceful when sleeping. Just this time, T'Challa thought, he would answer the phone, which should be Tony’s just for once, let his beloved stay in his own dreams.

He tapped the screen, and then the call went through, “Hello?”

“Tony?” came the voice from the other side. Steve frowned when he heard the voice not belonging to the billionaire.

“Mr.Rogers.” T'Challa sighed as he replied. He knew Tony didn’t want to be close to someone that had lied to him and even almost killed him two years ago. That’s why the billionaire was here, in Wakanda, with him to avoid Steve from approaching.

“Your Highness?” Steve’s voice raised up a bit when he recognized who unexpectedly answered the call. “Why are you using Tony’s phone? Where is he?”

“He is sleeping,” T'Challa said, “You have something to discuss with him?” He hoped the answer would be no.

“I do,” Steve started, ignoring his mind still swirling about ‘Tony is sleeping and T'Challa is close enough to answer his phone’, “I have something to tell him. Can you wake him up please?”

Wake him up?” T'Challa’s voice firmed up, he almost hissed into the phone, “Mr.Rogers, do you have any idea about what time is it?”

“It’s…8 PM.” Steve glanced over the clock on the wall quickly before he continued “He’s never gone to bed early like this. It is just a nap, isn’t it? He won’t be bothered. Let me talk to him.”

“Rogers.” T'Challa took a deep breath to swallow his anger down, but Bast knows how hard it is when someone is annoying your lover just because of some selfish reasons. “I could have woken him up in the first place but I didn’t, and I won’t now either. Please respect the most basic behavior like not disturbing the sleep of others. If you have something to tell him, you can leave a message, I’ll talk to him later. Or if you don’t want to, call him back tomorrow please?”

“But – ”

“I forgot to tell you that Tony and I are not in New York. And it’s 3 AM here now, don’t be so cock brained, you are bugging us.” The King tried to keep his behavior calm but the longer this conversation kept going, the less patience he had.

“I just want to talk about Fridaline…Wait - what, 3 AM? Is that - you two left America? To where?” Steve asked back harshly and suddenly he felt like his stomach was punched as he realized this, “You’re sleeping with Tony?”

T’Challa rolled his eyes, replied, “Thanks for understanding that. Now, do y –"

“No!” Steve snapped through the phone, interrupting the last polite words T’Challa could say, “I’m trying to contact him, to talk to him and he just…goes out for a date? He has not yet explained about FRIDAY! How could he turn her into a human after making a disaster of Ultron? He even let her and Vision get together. Wanda is so upset! And now he’s avoiding me, going out of the country, dating you. What the hell is that? If he is running away, you cannot hide him, you have to let him face me with his mess! He’s using you to cover his fault! Your Highness, with all respect, I need you to –"

Stop.” T’Challa demanded coldly, “Don’t even think to say whatever you are gonna say. Friday was just a laboratory accident. Did you know Ms.Potts had been attacked? Tony just wanted to create a LMD that could replace her if she got threatened, to protect her. Unfortunately what happened wasn’t what we were expecting and luckily, she is not Ultron but better than that. It wasn’t Tony fault so stop blaming him, okay? Sorry about what Ms.Maximoff is suffering but Vision getting along with Friday is his choice, nobody forced him to do that. Tell her to stop being childish and at least apologize to him about throwing him down under the ground two years ago.”

“How could you say that?” Steve couldn’t process what he just heard. When he was in Wakanda, the king was always polite and generous with them.

“I said what I want, Rogers. What do you expect from me after criticizing Tony huh?”

“Why are you so overprotective of Tony like that?” Steve suddenly realized something which he should have sooner when Okoye had stopped him from chasing Tony. He just felt hard to breathe as he said, “If it just because he’s sle - ”

“Because I’m his husband!” T’Challa hissed through the phone as the Panther in his soul growled its dominion on that name - husband – remind him of that day he vowed to love, respect and protect Tony for the rest of his life.

 

“Hmm – wha – Simba?” Tony mumbled suddenly. T'Challa tilted his head to see his beloved was blinking his eyes sleepily.

 

“Hey Kitten,” T'Challa said softly, gently running his fingers through Tony’s messy hair, “It’s nothing, let’s go back to sleep.”

“Ya sure?” Tony leaned into the touch instinctively when his husband’s fingers now covered his cheek as he closed his eyes.

“Sure.” T'Challa cut the call off quickly, put the phone back where it belonged and lay down beside Tony, drawing his beloved into his embrace. He didn’t care if Steve threw the phone into the wall or not (actually yes Steve did that). He didn’t care how Steve would react when they headed back to New York. It didn’t matter, after all he had said what he needed to. The king could protect Tony and he would do his best. Tony would never be hurt by anyone again.

He kissed Tony’s forehead and then they both fell back asleep. The last thought that flickered in his mind was ‘everything had changed’.

 

Chapter Text

“Okay, let me be clear.” Peter took a breath, then slowly talked again. “The witch attacked Tony, just because her dear Captain couldn’t approach him? That’s it?”

“Yes.” Strange sighed. He seemed exhausted.

“That is ridiculous!” Peter threw his hands up in distress and yelled at the hologram which was showing the sorcerer’s face. “She is five or what?  She cannot – “

“We know.” Another sigh from the sorcerer.

“You supposed to protect him!” Peter ran his fingers through his hair before tugging it. “You promised me!”

Strange took a deep breath, trying to ignore the urge to snap back. He had tried, okay? But he’d never expected that Maximoff would dare to attack Tony right under surveillance of JOCASTA.

“You – ”

“Peter.” Gamora interrupted him sharply before he could complete his words that might insult Strange.

Peter pressed his lips, trying to remind himself that’s not Strange’s fault, but the witch, and calming his rage down. It was a hard thing to do, really, when he knew that Tony’d been hurt by his so-called teammate, again.

All three of them were silent for moments.

“So what now? Have you guys handled this mess yet?” Gamora asked.

“We almost did that.” Strange replied as rubbing his temple. “She has been locked up already and waiting for a decision from the council. They’re considering kick her out of Avengers Initiative due to her behavior affects other teammates dangerously.” He paused. “The Spider kid was hurt, too.”

Gamora growled at that. Peter muttered under his breath. “It should not happen.”

“She will face the consequences of her action soon. Being kicked off of the team just the beginning, the trial will be waiting for her and…” Strange suddenly snorted at that, “…you know how it is when Ms.Potts gets pissed the hell off.”

Gamora raised an eyebrow. She was kind of impressed by the formidable woman who ran a multi – billion company and could do both: smile sweetly at you and send you to hell.

At least Peter seemed pleased about that. He trusted Pepper can do everything to show her protectiveness of Tony. After all she was the one who had scared the shit out of him by giving him a shovel talk right after he had asked Tony out for a date.

The Hot One would burn the witch.

And yeah, Peter was all pleased with that.

“I suggest you keep Tony there with you until this mess is totally solved.” Strange continued. “And I mean it, solving this mess won’t be easy. Rogers’s still…not cooperating much.”

He huffed at the thought of how stubborn and paranoid Rogers could be right now. The man still blamed Tony for almost everything. For what they were suffering at the Compound.  For refusing his damn calls. For pushing Wanda into this mess. How quaint.

“If he tries to contact Tony again – ” Peter growled immediately, but Strange shook his head. “He won’t. Ms.Potts will happily slap in his face with ‘see you in court’ things.”

“How is the kid? Is he alright?” Gamora crossed her arms, leaned back to her seat. Peter wanted to know about him as well, though his team didn’t meet the kid much, they all had soft spot on that brilliant young man.

“He’s been affected less than Tony but still struggling to gain his control back. He seems easy to be angry, irritated with everything or everyone and feels guilty right then. The lack of mental control caused much stress that he couldn’t handle, distracted him in a mission and…you know how it ended.”

Peter let out a groan through his palms now covered his face. He didn’t want anything of this to happen. Didn’t want his friends, his beloved to be hurt and suffering like this. And Gamora looked murderous.

“He’s fine.” Strange sighed. “Just needs more rest. I’ve tried my best to help him. Hope you can do the same to Tony.”

After the conversation with Strange, both Gamora and Peter came back to their own quarters on the Milano. What he had listened to made his gut twist badly but the scene in his room made it even worse.

There was Tony lying on his bed, curling to minimized himself as small as possible. His features seemed almost ruined by so many deep stress-carved lines and he frowned even though he was sleeping.

Mantis quietly sat next to Tony, holding his hand and the barely faded tracks of tears on her face made Peter’s heart ached. She knew how hurt Tony was. She felt it, suffered it and yet couldn’t help it even though she could subdue a Celestial.

“Are you alright?” Peter murmured as he knelt beside her on bed. Mantis glanced up just a bit and he barely hear her quietly voice say “I’m fine.”

“But he is not.” She sobbed, turned back to Tony. “He is b – broken. He is in pain. He – ”

“It’s okay. It’s okay.” Peter whispered, focusing on comforting her rather than letting the anger inside him grow skyrocketing. “I’m sorry for this, Mantis.”

She shook her head and replied. “He is my friend too. I want to help.” Helping him to sleep was exactly what she was doing. Because Tony couldn’t sleep for days. Had not slept for days. His body exhausted to dead but whenever he closed his eyes, those nightmares would haunt him, drown him, made him choke on his own breath.

So Tony’d stayed awake, for days. Because of that. Because of her and the hostility aimed right at him. That witch had admitted that she wanted him to suffer. She’d messed with his head, his health, just because Tony hadn’t wanted to reply any attempt of approaching from Steve. Or might say, he hadn’t wanted to take any responsibility for her own problems. Which was his right.

“This is too much.” Mantis muttered but kept holding Tony’s hand.

“Get some rest, okay?” Peter told her. “You did your best, Mantis. I’ll be watching him for you.”

She hesitated for moments, then nodded and let her hand go. But Tony unconsciously squeezed his fingers as if he didn’t want to let go of something that could save him. Peter couldn’t stand this.

“I’m here, Tony.” He took his hand, their fingers were quickly clenched tight. “I’m here now.” Mantis slowly walked out of the room, let him be with his beloved.

Peter might not have abilities like Mantis, but his presence somehow comforted Tony. He let out a sigh, moved closer to Tony and laid down with him. His other hand reached out to gently rub Tony’s forehead, trying to erase those stress lines when he frowned.

He missed his healthy, happy Tony. The one who had raced with him in space by using their own suit. The one who had laughed when Peter had confused how to use a new Stark’s music player then generously taught him. The one who had welcomed Peter to his home, treated him and his team equally though they came from space. The one who empathized with him over not only their daddy issues but also the love for their dear mothers.

Peter would never forget the brightness in Tony’s amber eyes when he’d seen the Milano for the first time. Pretty, genuinely, brainy, even lovely. Those eyes that made his mind trapped in, his heartbeat skyrocketing and freeze himself like a deer in headlight. But now those beautiful eyes were full of fear, exhaust, confuse and guilt.

Unacceptable. Wanda Maximoff would have pay.

His thought suddenly snapped back to reality when he felt the touch on his hand. Peter found Tony was now awake, slowly blinking at him.

“Hey sleeping beauty.” Peter smiled. Tony let out a ‘hmm’ as reply and leaned on his touch for more.

“How do you feel?” Peter waited for seconds and asked.

“Better.” Tony‘s voice sounded hoarse as if broken glasses hurt his throat.

“And you will come back to your best soon.” Peter murmured jokingly. “With me. You stuck with me now. Prepare for your best time baby.”

Tony grinned but looked too much tired. That made Peter just wanted to hide him away, keep him here with him, never let him face those assholes again. But he knew Earth still where Tony belonged. The genius would never leave his family behind to go away with him.

It didn’t matter. Their hearts belonged to each other no matter where they were.

“I love you.” Peter suddenly said. Tony blinked, then his grin got wide. “That sounds good.”

“Want some more?” Peter took their hands up, gently kissed Tony’s knuckle. “I can repeat it endlessly. I love you. I love you. I love you.”

“I love you too.” Tony purred to his ears. “Just…don’t wake me up at 3AM to watching stars then we are all good.”

Peter groaned. He made that mistake, yes, but just for once! He thought Tony would be impressed by the scene, but hey, sleep was the treasure to someone has insomnia. Never do that again, Peter had learned his lesson.

Besides, he found something was more gorgeous and amazing than the brightest galaxy right here. Those eyes of his beloved always be the death of him. Peter closed his eyes, pressed their foreheads together. Everything had changed from the day Peter met Tony.