Author's Note: I own nothing you recognize. Just playing with an idea floating around in my head for some time now...

--

"Tony? Could I have a word?" It was her again. How on earth did she keep finding him?! He turned his back quickly retreating from the bar counter and looking for an exit. He thought lightly about sicking on of his lawyers on her, getting a restraining order or something, but that might be even more to write about, and Pepper wouldn't exactly be pleased with that.

With a huff he pulled himself through one of the doors to find himself in the back alley way of the building. There were two dumpsters to his left and the only light within the area was the small lamp dangling off the wall just to the right of the door. He took a deep breath and waited for a moment before re-entering the bar for another scotch, then a quiet trip home.

After a moment passed he turned to make his way back into the bar, but unfortunatly someone else had other plans. His fingers had just curled around the door handle as his world turned upside down, literally. A hand latched out onto his ankle and pulled backwards, effectively catching him off guard and sending him face first into the cold hard ground. His nose was crushed on impact and he could hear it before he even felt it. In his daze he felt his body being hoisted up by the ankle, and before long he was hanging upside down the backs of his hands just barely caressing the asphalt below him.

"So this is the Invinicible Iron Man." A deep voice said, Tony turned his head and tried to see through blurred vision. "Not so tough now, huh?" He felt a large fist force itself roughly into his stomach, and falling to the ground, winded. He coughed and tried to get his hands underneath himself to sit up. Before he could make it fully on his own, the large fisted man yanked him up by his crumpled tie and shooved him against the brick wall of the building. Tony coughed and wheezed as he tried to take in the much needed air, but the tightening pressure on his throat was making it nearly impossible.

"Like I had said before. Iron Man may be undefeatable..." The man clocked Tony in the face a few times as he was saying this. The face that was once recognizable to half the world was being turned into one that wouldn't even be recognizable to even his few closest friends. Blood was splattering everywhere by this point, and Tony was barely concious when the man dropped him into a heap on the ground.

"But, Tony Stark is as mortal as any man." Was the last thing he heard before a swift kick to the throat silenced every thought.

--

Pepper entered his mansion promptly at 7am that Monday morning, greeted by JARVIS in the usual manner.

"Where is Mr. Stark?" She asked the house, half expecting the answer to be down in his workshop.

"He has not returned from last night's outing Miss Potts." The AI replied. Pepper sighed, only her boss would go out on a Sunday night.

"Tell me when he returns." Pepper ordered the house then went to her not-so-small home-office that Tony had installed for her years ago and set to work on her usual morning routine.

--

"Hey, Peter, I'm heading home now. Cya Tonight." The bartender called to the owner who had just came in to do the books from the night before.

"Alright, Benny, Have a good day." Peter replied from the office. Benny walked out of the back door, and blinked a few times, covering his eyes from the early morning sun. He took a step forward and moved towards the exit of the alleyway when his right leg hit something that was definitly not a rock. He stopped and looked down and saw a heap...that was moving?

Benny knelt down and almost gagged as he inhaled the unsuspecting smell of blood, sweat, and alcohol. He examined the pile a little more closely, identifying body parts until he came upon what was presumably a head. The hair was there, but it seemed the face was caved in and covered in blood. He fell backwards in shock as he heard the slight hissing of air being circulated in the poor fellow that laid before him.

Instantly he scrambled for the back door, opening just enough to shout into it. "Peter, You gotta call an ambulence, theres a person out here that was beaten to a pulp." Benny yelled. Peter came running out, as Benny was trying to straighten the pile of limbs out to find more blood, cuts, and bruises.

"Holy shit." Peter said, nearly loosing his breakfast on the sight before scrambling backwards for the phone.

"Looks like you had one hell of a night, buddy." Benny sighed, looking around for a wallet or something to identify the man before him. He looked in the pant pockets and coat pockets, but found nothing.

--

"What time is it JARVIS?" Pepper asked, stretching in her chair.

"11:42 AM, Miss Potts." The AI replied. "Mr. Stark isn't back yet?" She asked. "Not yet, Miss Potts." JARVIS replied. Pepper sighed, concern starting to fester in the back of her mind. Usually when Tony spent the whole night out, he returned by now.

She pulled the phone to her ear and speed dialed Tony's cell phone, but it went directly to voice mail.

--

By the time the ambulence arrived at the scene, Benny had several rags trying to clean some of the blood off the prone man, trying to see if he recognized him from the night before. Sadly as he was cleaning the blood off more appeared, and it was getting everywhere all over him. Benny almost thought the guy would die of blood loss before the ambulence even got there. Peter was forced to stay on the phone with the 911 people until the ambulence arrived, 5 minutes later.

It wasn't much longer after Benny was pushed out of the way when the EMTs loaded the man up and sped off to the nearest hospital.

"You look like shit, go home, take the night off." Peter said finally looking at his bartender. Benny nodded softly still thinking about the poor man that was laying in a pool of his own blood not a moment prior.

"Go home, Benny." Peter had said twice before Benny actually listened and stumbled off, leaving the owner to be more then slightly concerned for the younger man's mental state of mind.

--

"What the hell is that thing?!" One of the EMTs said as they had pulled off the shirt to see a light blue glowing circle in the middle of a massive set of bruises forming everywhere else. The other EMT shrugged and cut off the pant legs and placed a white sheet over the relatively undamaged legs, the main focus was on the chest and the head.

They hooked the man up to a heart monitor. They then attempted to intubate him, but found his throat was more or less sealed off, and very little air was getting through. They needed to put in a chest tube, but knew only a doctor could do that, so for the 8 minute ride over to the hospital all they could do was give the man the oxygen bag and pray he was able to hold on long enough for the doctors to get him into the trauma room.

--

When Benny got home, the first thing he did was take a long hot shower. His mind couldn't leave the poor man he had found this morning though. Did he survive? Was he going to get well again? Who was he? Was this a simple act of random violence or did the guy have people after him? Benny wanted to know, needed to know.

So when he got out of the shower and cleaned up some. He got into his car and went to the hospital that he had over heard the EMTs saying that they were going to bring the man too. On the way to the hospital he did grab a latte from Starbucks, knowing full well he would need it. This was when he usually slept after all.

--

Pepper had tried Tony again at noon only to receive his voicemail again. Her concern was growing at a steady rate since the first call.

"JARVIS, do you know where Mr. Stark went last night?" Pepper asked.

"He said something about needing a drink, and knowing exactly where he would get said drink." The AI replied.

Pepper then tried Tony's best friend, Lt. Colonel James Rhodes.

"Rhodes." He answered his phone.

"It's Pepper, have you heard from Tony recently?" She asked him.

"Not since last night when he called me up and tried to get me to go bar hopping with him." The colonel replied.

"When was that?" Pepper asked.

"Probably round Midnight. He woke me up." Rhodes added with a little irritation. "Why?" He asked after a pause.

"He hasn't been home since last night, and I am concerned." Pepper confessed.

"Have you tried his cell?" Rhodes asked.

"Yes, twice already, It goes straight to voice mail." Pepper answered.

"Alright, I'll try and find him, okay?" He replied.

"Thank you." Pepper hung up after that, feeling slightly more secure. If anyone could find Tony it was his best friend.

--

Benny appeared in the emergency room of Cedar-Sinai no less then three hours after he had found the man in the alleyway. He went straight to the nurses station and rang the little bell on the counter. An elderly nurse appeared. "May I help you sir?"

"Um, Yes, A man was brought in about three hours ago from a bar location, he was beaten to a pulp, I was wondering how he was doing?" Benny asked.

"Name?" The nurse asked.

"Oh, I'm Benjiman Jackson." Benny replied.

"No, not your name, the name of the man you were talking about." The nurse corrected kindly.

"Oh...Um... I don't know. I couldn't find an ID on him or anything. See I was the bartender, and I was on my way out when I found him in the alleyway." Benny said.

"We don't give out information to non-family members."

"Come on, You guys probably don't know who he are yet anyways." Benny hissed.

The nurse gave a frustrated sigh. "Fine, but if anyone asks your his brother." She then pulled out a chart from the pile and looked down at it, and briskly walked towards one hall to the left of them, Benny followed quickly stepping in sync with the nurse.

"I shouldn't be doing this.." She was muttering under her breath, just loud enough that Benny to hear part of it. He was grateful though as they turned off into one of the smaller rooms. The man was now covered in bandages. His face was for the most part covered except for one eye, which looked black and blue and bruised to the point where it wouldn't be useful anyways. There was a tube down his throat and into a ventilater. His neck was bandaged and placed in a contraption to keep it from moving. His chest and shoulders were also wrapped, with another tube entering the right side of his chest, hooked up to another machine. There were countless wires attached to him connecting him to other machines. An IV was attached to the top of his left hand.

But what was most shocking of all was the contraption that looked to be in his chest. It looked built out of metal and had a blue glow in the center of it, shaped in a circle. Benny approached the bed to look at it closer.

"What is that thing?" He asked, glancing to the nurse and pointing at the object.

"No one knows, But when the ER doctors tried to remove it he went into cardiac arrest, so they put it back and left it alone. They think its some kind of pacemaker, but have no real clue on what it is." The nurse explained.

"Do you mind if I stay here until he wakes up? I am curious to see what happened to him and who he is." Benny asked, putting on his best puppy eye look. The nurse sighed. "You and everyone else..." She grumbled and left the room.

--

"Pepper, I think its time we call the police and put in a missing person's report." Rhodey was now over at Stark mansion.

"No!" She growled. She was in denial now, it was getting late in the evening and not a word from Tony. Rhodey had searched everywhere he could think of by car. Pepper kept trying his cell and kept getting the voicemail. Rhodey was starting to think she was going into some sort of shock state. She just barely kept from breaking down when Tony went missing in Afghanistan, and He was certain if something similar to that ever happened again she wouldn't be able to recover from it. He didn't think he would either. But she needed to face the facts. Tony was never gone this long without the suit.

"Pepper..." He sighed, pulled her phone from her death like grip on it. She had been clinging onto that think for several hours now, expecting a call from Tony. She jumped up in excitement everytime that phone called, only to be brutely disappointed when it was just Rhodey or some unimportant person.

--

TBC