Tony Stark… Not Recommended
Summary: The much requested and anticipated sequel to Just a Consultant – we see the Avenger's reactions and the drastic measures that they are willing to take to save Tony's life. The questions now remaining – can our fool hearted "heroes" succeed? Will he even let them try?
Author's Note: I don't own the Avengers Universe or the Iron Man Movies – pretty sure Marvel's got them locked up tight on that. This isn't any easier than Just a Consultant – it might just be even worse. Sorry Y'all. Broke my collar bone 1/27/15 and my sister is threatening mutilation if I don't finish this because I kinda forgot to tell her until the 30th. Spoilers all the way to Cap 2 – but S.H.I.E.L.D. was recovering with its new Director.
Secondary Note: I had another Bad Week at work. I also seemed to have basically re-written Just a Consultant in order to continue it, so this is not terrible confusing as a stand-alone – I think.
Chapter One: A Better Explanation of Dire Events
After the Battle of Manhattan, and before Anthony Edward Stark's big revelation to himself, he'd assumed that the Avengers would be using the Tower (no matter what it was called) as a base of operations. As such, and being the genius that he is, he'd thought ahead to the inevitable field injuries that the motley crew were likely to bring home (and considering they all had a pretty freaking huge aversion to S.H.I.E.L.D. medical), set up the best medical wing that Stark money could buy within the communal floors. He'd thought to himself that it'd be easier in the long run for the Avengers to get themselves patched up – mostly by Banner if he hadn't gone HULK – in the safety of their own home than S.H.I.E.L.D. medical (from whence there was no escape).
Of course he'd forgotten that he wasn't an Avenger. He was Just a Consultant. Come to find out, the Avengers really didn't want anything to do with him at all. It even took him seven damn long months to realize that Fury had played him – and played him well. Fury'd used a private channel to let him, him know that a Nuke was coming – because he knew what Stark would do. The only thing he could do to save his team (not his team, JUST A CONSULTANT) and his city (WHY BECAUSE YOU HAVE A BUILDING?).
He hadn't been surprised when the nightmares started. Only this time, instead of replaying Afghanistan and the Expo Disaster over and over in his dreams (so many people dead because of him), he replays the Nuke and the Worm Hole. Some nights he doesn't make it back and he just floats forever among the Chitauri debris. Some nights he flies right back down to see that there'd been no change – and they're still losing and that was the wrong call. Some nights the Widow didn't listen and closed the portal too early and he only has up and up and up to take the nuke – he doesn't survive and neither does Manhattan after the Chitauri forces reopen the portal and there's no more superhero resistance. The world soon follows. The worst nights are the nights where he never warns Widow of the incoming Nuke. He just lets it hit as he hauls ass in the opposite direction – just like Rogers said he would. The world doesn't survive Loki. Tony usually wakes up when he puts the barrel of the gun in his mouth. Usually.
He quit drinking – drinking himself into oblivion only worked if he didn't dream; he always dreamed. When Happy was hurt and he challenged an international terrorist live on television – and subsequently lost everything that was his Malibu life, he'd expected to hear from S.H.I.E.L.D. – if nothing else than for them to tell him what an idiot he was being, but there was nothing. No Coulson – oh, wait, idiot and dead – no Avengers, and no S.H.I.E.L.D. checking in to see if their technical consultant might need a hand with the guy responsible for blowing up half the god dammed world. He hoped they felt about two inches high when the dick nabbed the damn president. Without Rhodey he probably wouldn't have been able to save Pepper and as it were – she was injected with Extremis. Tony nearly died himself – Rhodey bailed on him to save the POTUS – but Pepper came to his rescue (how embarrassing is that?).
He tried, dammit. He tried so damn hard to fix her Extremis problem himself – but just knowing that she was in the mess because of him and knowing there was no Coulson coming to save her this time (how pathetic of a man was he – Coulson always saving his girl) he broke down and tracked down one Doctor Robert Bruce Banner. It only takes him a few measly days what it's been taking Tony weeks of none stop panic inducing nightmare riddled blur (after all Dr. Banner had been a biochemist before his little "accident") and Pepper is stabilized and safe.
Tony tries so hard to laugh and joke and fake it until he makes it – but in the end he just makes Bruce uncomfortable. Bruce knows something is wrong – but not… exactly what. Cue Anthony Edward Stark's second big revelation following what the press has now dubbed the Battle of New York and the Mandarin Marauder: the world needs Iron Man; the Avengers do not. Iron Man Yes… Tony Stark, Not Recommended. Besides, Rhodey still has the Iron Patriot (what the fuck ever, it is, was, and will always be the War Machine buddy) and he can be their air support if Thor is off world. That's what the suit was built for in the first place – back when Tony was dying of Palladium poisoning – he needed the suit and Yinsen's legacy to live on.
Within the week of Pepper getting the all clear from Dr. Banner (because the soft squishy side of the HULK is no longer comfortable with Stark and first names) Tony has the Arc reactor removed – against all medical advice – and a hard plastics prosthesis fitted over the gaping hole left from where sternum, rib, muscle, and various other tissues had to be removed to fit the thing inside. The prognosis is however, not so good – and this he keeps from Pepper. There is nothing to be done for his diminished lung capacity as the damn things have healed that way and his heart is shot to shit from taking too many close up encounters with the shrapnel.
The discreet doctors – best in the world Pep, I promise! – recommend heart, liver, and a double lung transplant. He's 43, he's killed probably hundreds of thousands – if not millions – with his company's weapons and carelessness (Merchant of Death, anyone?) and who knows how many Chitauri he can add to his body count. The two spysassians talk about ledgers and the red that stains them and trying to make amends. Can you make amends for oceans – galaxies – universes of red? He turns down the lists; he fires all of the doctors; tells Pepper he loves her and 'Whatever will be, will be'.
He was already feeling the effects of his body slowly giving up the proverbial ghost and saying, "Fuck you", one last time when he heard HammerTime was back and in London of all places. But then, that's where his lady love Jane – and interns Darcy and WhatsHisFace and bag and what the fuck did Loki even do Selvig – is and his hops in his newest prototype to jet over to say hello. He wants to get Fury's 'old boy band' back together and this seems the perfect reason – but every member of the team is turning him down – politely. What the fuck. When he finally lands in London, he has a deep rattling cough that just aches all the way down to his very marrow – but he still makes his way to where Jane and crew and crashing with Point Break. Through a great bay window he sees the entire Avengers team assembled – along with one Colonel James Rhodes. "Iron Man Yes. Tony Stark… Not Recommended." Oh Yes. How could he have forgotten that? Look like his plan was coming to fruition after all. Didn't mean it didn't hurt like a bitch though..
With his health continuing to decline, Tony again, tries to get the Avengers (and Rhodey) and Company to move into the Tower – whatever they want to call it is fine with him. He wants them to have the best technology that money can have, the best healthcare at their fingertips, and most of all, the best security. When he realizes he might be the reason they keep turning it down, he offers to move himself out – which pisses Pepper off to no end, but they decline again. The Avengers are running missions out of S.H.I.E.L.D. without him (with Rhodey dammit) and Tony just wants to see the people he helped (BECAUSE FUCK YOU HE HELPED) save the world with one more time.
He attempts to call Dr. Banner to let him know about his deteriorating condition, but the call is short, clipped, and Tony's health is never mentioned. Banner doesn't have time for Tony's games; he's busy with the Avengers and he never hears the breath catch in the back of Tony's throat or the broken rattle as it leaves his lungs. He's already hung up the line.
Too late, the Avengers finally make their way to the tower after it is revealed that H.Y.D.R.A. had been hiding within S.H.I.E.L.D. all along and in order to take it down, S.H.I.E.L.D. has fallen. They encounter a grieving Pepper Potts – who violently slaps a still healing Steve Rogers in the face when he asks to speak with "The Consultant". The Avengers warily retreat to their respective floors upon seeing the angry orange flushing of the Extremis just below her skin. J.A.R.V.I.S. directs them – bunking James "Bucky" Barnes and Sam Wilson with Steve Rogers. In the few days it takes the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Phillip J. Coulson, not so dead after all – to show up, the learn the terrible irrevocable truth:
Anthony Edward Stark was dying fast of a broken heart. Diminished lung capacity and his heart will probably go long before his liver they had said when they removed the arc. The under the weather turning into pneumonia turning into congestive heart failure before anyone could catch it… Tony caught it, but didn't want to be an even bigger burden than he felt he already was. Well… he had, tried to make the call, but was turned away. He had days maybe only hours left to live.
To Be Continued In: Chapter Two: Possibilities and Hope