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Tony disappeared on a Saturday, halfway between Malibu and New York. His plane never stopped, and there was no sign of anyone else having been present on the plane. No one realizes he is gone until the plane touches down, as Tony had requested the attendants leave him be. Probably, the Avengers realize grimly, to keep them safely out of harm’s way.

Tony Stark is missing, and no one knows how, when, or why.


Coulson slams a fist on his desk the moment Clint leaves the room. Nothing to report. No signs. Nothing. Tony is missing, and Coulson is losing his mind.

Carefully reeling himself back in, Coulson regains his composure quickly. It isn’t the time for rash decisions or foolish mistakes. His husband is missing; Phil needs to stay calm. Focused. Call in some favors. Cash in some blackmail.

He’s going to find Tony, and bring him home.

Tony’s alive.

He is.

He is.


Phil smiles as he hangs up the phone. Finally, a lead. He tugs on his suit, putting it perfectly into place, checks to make sure his cufflinks are secure, perfectly in position.

No one even blinks when he flashes his badge and takes a jet. Phil is aware that he should probably let the Avengers know that he’s found their resident billionaire; the team has been frantic for the last few days. This was an inside job, though - not one of the Avengers, but Phil doesn’t want to risk anyone overhearing. He won’t tip his hand. Not when it’s Tony.

He thinks, remembers, while he’s in the air. Remembers their first date, when Tony was still nervous and quiet and maybe a little intimidated. Remembers their fifth, when Tony really opened up for the first time, laughed at some stupid joke Phil made about their server. Remembers countless other tiny moments. Remembers proposing on the beach, both tired from a day of surfing and sailing and living.

Phil’s hands clench where they are guiding the jet, and he lets his anger start to sink in. Still perfectly controlled, perfectly channelled.

Tony is his, and he is Tony’s, and no one - absolutely no one - gets away with hurting either of them, not so long as the other still lives.


The first man goes down hard, with a concussion and broken legs. The second goes down easy, with a needle in his neck. The third and fourth get locked in a conveniently located cell; he won’t need anymore for interrogation, so the fifth through the seventeenth die with a single bullet to the heart or skull, depending on how they were standing.

The eighteenth through twentieth he finds laughing over tapes of Tony. Tony, hooked to something electrical drawing power from his chest in what is apparently a very, very painful procedure. Tony, spitting in the face of a man with a knife. Tony, Tony, Tony -

Phil takes it a little slower, takes a bit more pleasure than he should, with eighteen, nineteen, and twenty.

Twenty-one’s blood coats the machine Tony was hooked up to, and the machine itself is no longer working, by the time Phil is through. He knows that by now, Clint and Natasha will have seen the signs; they’ll have the inside man dealt with long before Phil brings Tony home.

Tony’s hands are weak where they clench his suit jacket, but Phil refuses to pull away and break the illusion of strength Tony is trying to maintain. Not here. Noting a thin cut on his own arm and the dozens on Tony’s bare skin, Phil scoops Tony up in a bridal carry, and those familiar arms go around Phil’s neck, trembling, as Tony’s blood drips and soaks into Phil’s jacket.

Nothing fatal, just painful, and they need to stop the blood as soon as possible.

“I’ve got you,” Phil murmurs, burying his face into brown hair for a moment. “I’ve got you, you’re safe.”

“Mm,” Tony breathes, hoarse and crackling like dry grass in a fire, “My hero.”

Phil smiles a little, at that. “Sassy,” he teases, carrying Tony onto the Quinjet. “Let me wrap those and we’ll go. Your little boyband doesn’t know what to do without you.”

Tony’s eyes flutter shut as Phil cleans and binds his wounds. He sleeps through Phil strapping him in carefully, so he won’t shift on the flight home.

Phil takes Tony home.

He always will.


Phil quietly notes Tony lacing his tired fingers through Phil’s. Phil holds Tony’s hand firmly, because he is there. He does not hold hard enough to bruise, because if he ever hurts Tony, Phil will destroy himself before Pepper Potts ever has the chance. Tony’s fingers tug at his slightly, and Phil turns, puts himself between Tony and the rest of the room. Tony rests his head against Phil’s shoulder and wraps his other arm around him in an awkward question. Phil readily gives Tony a solid hug. He doesn’t pull away for a very long time; Tony is in his arms, safe.

“I’m okay,” Tony whispers. “I’m right here, we’re safe.”

Phil relaxes a little bit. He’s been tense, lately.

“I’m tired, though,” Tony says.

Phil immediately tugs him along to their bed. They change into sweats quickly, instantly linking hands again. Neither can handle much distance right now.

Phil presses very, very carefully up to Tony’s back, resting an arm over the billionaire’s waist. Slowly, Tony’s trembling eases and his breathing evens out. Phil feels himself relax in response, curling even closer. Tony is warm and safe and home, and Phil finally, finally sleeps.

If he cries a little when he wakes up, hugging Tony tighter than he should and letting Tony carry the weight of his worry for a while before he collects himself and starts dealing with the aftermath, well.

Tony will never tell.