Author's Note: My first shot at writing crack!fic and stuff that's just supposed to be funny and silly and nothing more or less. I hope it's at least smirk-worthy. :)

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

It started like they always did: Tony woke up with a heavy weight on his chest, looked to the right and sure enough, there was the car battery on the table next to him. The stupid thing was, even though he always knew the deal as soon as the dream began, that never stopped it from going on, so he'd have to live the damn thing through once again.

He raised his head to look at his chest. Well, this was unexpected. There were no bandages, and the device looked different from what it'd really been like. Much more haphazard - and was that duct tape he saw in there?

He reached to poke at the thing. The two strong hands that grabbed his wrists to keep him from touching it were definitely not Yinsen's. The man was probably in his thirties, had steadfast, dog-like brown eyes, and a mullet so outrageous that Tony was sure he'd been underage when he'd last seen anything like it live. He also looked vaguely familiar.

"Ah-ah, no touching," Mr. Mullet said. "You wouldn't want to waste all the hard work I've done, would you?"

"What the hell have you done, exactly?"

"Fixed you," the man answered, and let go of Tony's wrists to place something in one of his palms. Tony lifted it close to his face to look at it. It was his arc reactor, and the distinct lack of glowiness made it clear that it wasn't working. Okay, so, this wasn't the typical Afghanistan-flashback nightmare after all. Cool.

"You were actually able to figure out what it does, just like that?" Tony asked incredulously.

"It was pretty obvious, especially once I took it out and saw the magnet."

Tony had to admit he was mildly impressed. This guy clearly wasn't a completely hopeless case when it came to engineering. "Do I know you?"

"I don't think we've met. I do know you, though, Tony Stark. You're a weapons designer, and I don't like guns."

"Hey, I don't -"

"But since we're stuck in this together, I'm not going to lecture you. The name's MacGyver. Some friends call me Mac," the man introduced himself, and shook Tony's free hand.

"Mac... Sponsored by Apple, eh? And stuck in what, exactly?" Tony asked, and was about to sit up, but MacGyver stopped him, placing a firm hand on his shoulder before he got anywhere.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you, the whole thing might just fall off," he explained. "Just wait a second, I'll do something about it." He picked up a roll of duct tape from the bedside table, and took his time to tape the arc reactor replacement tightly to Tony's chest.

"Okay, I have nothing against a nice bondage session in general, but this is getting a bit too creative for my taste," Tony commented.

Before he had the time to obtain any sort of a situation report from MacGyver, a door opened and a group of people marched in. MacGyver helped Tony stand up, and - just like Yinsen had - raised his hands above his head and told Tony to do the same.

Tony now got a good look at the surroundings. They weren't in a cave, but in a small room, with walls that were made of bamboo reinforced with iron bars. No windows, one door. The people standing in front of the door looked familiar: Raza was perfectly recognizable, even though he was wearing a generic green uniform and a black bandanna around his head. His goons were a ragtag group representing different ethnicities, just like in Afghanistan.

"Tony Stark!" Raza said menacingly. "You will make us a weapon. The most amazing weapon you can think of, which will let us rule not only this jungle, but the whole world! You have one month. After that, if you are done, you will go free. Otherwise, you will die."

All right, that really didn't sound like Raza. Much too lowbrow, no mention of the Jericho - and what jungle? But, as these situations went, Tony figured saying "no" wouldn't get him anywhere. He'd say "yes" sooner or later anyway, just to get his hands on the hardware, so that he could figure out a way out of here. He nodded slowly, and said, "Okay."

The Raza who wasn't really Raza turned his attention to the man standing next to Tony. "MacGyver. Now that Stark is alive and conscious, you have served your purpose," he said, and pointed a pistol at the man.

"Hey, wait!" MacGyver said, with a sideways glance at Tony, his eyebrows raised.

"Yeah," Tony said quickly. "You don't want to do that. He's pretty tech-savvy too, I could use his help."

Raza eyed them with what was probably supposed to be a shrewd look, though it actually just looked like a nearsighted squint. "Very well. But any funny business, and your life is forfeit," he said, waving the handgun at Mac. "Now, you will get to work."

The thugs moved in to surround Tony and MacGyver, and ushered them towards the door. Tony grabbed the car battery - why did he have to be stuck with the damn thing in this dream, too? - and followed without a fight.

They stepped through the door into bright sunlight. The air was hot and humid. They were in an opening in the middle of a cluster of huts of varying sizes and shapes, like the one they'd been in, though most of them lacked the iron bars. At the edges of the area, there was a wall of green - tall trees, palms, lianas, and whatnot. A jungle.

"Where are we? Vietnam?" Tony asked Mac in a low whisper.

"Almost. Burma."

"And these guys would be..."

"Drug smugglers."

"And they want to rule the world?" Tony frowned.

"Delusions of grandeur. Typical for the bad guys, you know," Mac said with a shrug, as if this were a completely natural thing. "Good guys, too, sometimes," he winked at Tony.

Tony rolled his eyes. "I have no delusions. I'm as grand as you can get."

They had reached another hut. It was bigger than the first one and had a few windows, but they came with iron bars, too. There was no furniture except for two tables full of tools and a shelf that covered one wall, running from the floor to the ceiling. The shelf was stacked with sacks, bottles and other containers, the floor littered with a wide assortment of spare parts that seemed to come mostly from weapons and vehicles.

"If there is something else you need, you can ask, and we will consider. If we deem it necessary, we may provide it. And remember, we have our eyes on you," Raza said, gesturing at a security camera in a corner of the ceiling. The bad guys left, though Tony could see through one of the windows that four of them stayed to guard the hut.

"So," Tony began as soon as they were alone. "We're in Burma, working for a maniacal drug lord who's Raza's dumb twin brother. Fine. The real question is, why am I here? Aside from the obvious fact that this is a dream, that is."

"Beats me," MacGyver answered. "They caught me when I was doing a recon/recovery mission for the government. All I know about you is that you were flying around above the area and they shot you down. A direct hit to the chest, too. Good thing you had that device in it."

Tony scratched at the duct tape now covering most of it. "So, that explains this," he muttered. He'd been flying, so he'd been in the suit. He was still wearing the lower half of his undersuit. The upper part had clearly been cut off, probably by Mac. "Wait a second! How'd you get me out of the suit?"

MacGyver produced something small and red from a pocket, and showed it to Tony as an answer. It was a Swiss army knife.

"...right. Great job. So, where's my suit now? Is it intact?"

"As far as I could tell, it is, except for the chestplate, which is pretty much just one big hole right now. I think they're keeping it over there," he pointed at a large hut with two guards in front of it.

"Okay. I take it that we're relatively free to talk here?"

"The guards don't speak English and the camera hasn't got a microphone."

"I thought so. All right. Here's what we're going to do: one, I fix my arc reactor," Tony said, and placed it on the table - he'd kept it in his hand all along. "Two, we fetch my suit. Three, we get the hell out of here." Of course, there was also the matter of the damaged chestplate, but it shouldn't be a problem. He'd be able to deal with it once they got there.

"Nice plan. Just lacks a few details - but that's how I work, too. Big lines first, details as they come, and lots of improvising along the way."

"Actually, I prefer my plans detailed. Right now, though, my first priority is to get rid of this," he tapped at the car battery with a finger.

There was a decent set of precision tools on the table, so wasting no more time on speaking, Tony started taking apart the broken arc reactor.

"Anything I can do for you?" MacGyver asked.

"Look, Mac. I just told them that you could help me to keep them from shooting you. Being able to put together an electromagnet out of spare parts isn't enough to convince me that you're my equal, let alone my best friend. I'm definitely not going to let you in on all my secrets. As my secrets go, arc reactor technology is the biggest one I've got. But sure, I can think of something for you to do. For starters, find me some copper wire."

Tony went on working, and had Mac running errands, which mostly meant looking for stuff he needed. Luckily, it was all pretty basic, and they had it all here. Mac spent the rest of the time fiddling with something on his own. Tony didn't bother to ask him what he was up to.

By the time Tony was done, it was starting to get dark outside. He put the reactor back together - and nothing happened. No glow. "Damn." He took it apart again and stared closely at the parts. He couldn't see anything wrong.

"I think I can see the problem," Mac said from over his shoulder. Before Tony had time to stop him, he took the gum he'd been chewing and pasted it to a spot on the device. "Try it again."

Tony glared at Mac, unable to decide whether he was annoyed or amused. He humored the man nevertheless, and to his complete amazement, the repaired reactor lit up with its usual glow.

"What the..."

Mac shrugged. "I had a hunch there was a problem in that part."

"That's just a temporary solution," Tony said, trying to cover how impressed, not to mention peeved, he was. He should've noticed that himself! How come he had missed something so obvious? He must be getting tired, not to mention that the soup they'd been given for the day's meal had left him hungrier than he'd been to begin with. Damn it, this was a situation totally unknown to him: being outsmarted by a stranger, hands down. Definitely not a situation he particularly enjoyed.

Ah well. At least the arc reactor was working now. Of course, he still needed to put it back to its proper place, which meant removing the duct tape covering his chest.

"Ouch," Tony complained, as Mac started tearing it off. "You didn't consider using, say, bandages? Too ordinary for your style?"

"Well, what can I say. I'm a tech, not a doc."


"There, all done. You're welcome."

As Mac pulled off the last strip of tape, half of the makeshift reactor replacement came with it, falling to the floor. Tony groped at the socket, grabbed all the remaining stuff he could feel, and dropped it, too. "Was that all of it?" he asked Mac.

Mac crouched in front of him, peering at his chest. "Uh, I'm afraid not. There's still something..."

"We need to get it all out, otherwise there could be nasty consequences. And better do it fast, since I won't survive long without the magnet."

"I'll get it. Just stay still." Mac plunged a hand into the hole, digging around for whatever it was that was still stuck in there. Tony did his best to stay completely unmoving, though he was far from comfortable with the situation.

After a minute that felt like an hour, Mac stood up and shook his head. "I can't get a hold of it, it's too small. But with proper tools..." He fished the Swiss army knife from his pocket, and folded out the tweezers.

"I think I'd better sit down," Tony mumbled, and slid to the floor, his back resting against a table leg. Not surprisingly, he wasn't feeling too good. "Hurry up, will you?"

"Don't you worry, this won't take long." Mac knelt in front of him and started poking at the socket with his Swiss army pincers.

Tony was getting short of breath. Was he having a heart attack? It shouldn't happen quite this fast. More likely a panic attack. He closed his eyes and tried to think happy thoughts. Cars - no, that made him think about Happy. Wrong kind of happy thought. Think about booze. Girls. Sex. Pepper. Sex with Pepper. Yeah, as if that was ever going to happen. Drinking with Pepper, then. Drinks with Pepper. Bloody Mary. Oh, ha ha. Damn, that was just plain awful. He was definitely panicking here.

"There!" Mac declared victoriously.

Tony opened his eyes, grabbed the arc reactor and pushed it into its slot. Whew. He had to spend a few seconds just gasping like a fish out of water, before he could take a look at what Mac was holding in the tweezers. A piece of chewing gum wrapper foil, by the looks of it. For crying out loud. "That - you - almost got me killed!"

"This and me also saved your life, so it's not like I'm going to apologize. Now, I know you're not going to like this, but we should re-tape your chest."

"Huh, what? So, this really is some freak fetish of yours?"

"You wish. I've got a plan, and we need to smuggle that car battery to the other hut for it. Besides, covering the arc reactor will make the bad guys less suspicious."

"It'd better be a brilliant master plan, otherwise, no way!"

"It's actually a very simple plan, like the best ones always are. We take the battery, a pair of jumper cables and a few pieces of metal, and weld our way out of here."

Tony snorted and shook his head at Mac. "You want to make an arc welder out of a car battery, when we've got an arc reactor that we could use to power anything you can think of? Give me a day here," he motioned at the workshop around them, "and I'll make you a high-tech laser cutter like nothing you've ever seen."

"I don't doubt that for one second, but a day's a day. I'd rather escape fast and traditional than slow and high-tech."

"All right, say we follow your plan, weld the bars, burn down the hut as the bamboo catches fire - then what?"

"Then, in case that isn't enough of a distraction, this'll blow up," Mac gestured at the part of the hut where he'd been working. "We'll have to time it right. The rising sun shines in from there," he pointed at a window, "hits the mirrors," he waved at a series of polished pieces of metal he'd rigged at particular angles, "and sets off the bomb I made of chemicals I found in the shelf," he motioned at a deceptively random-looking pile of supplies he'd placed on the floor.

"A genuine home-baked bomb? You think it's actually going to work?"

"It's not rocket science, just basic chemistry. Of course it'll work."

"I could put together a timer, or a remote control, or -"

"- and that'd take hours, while this is already all done. Now, will you let me, or do I have to use this to tie you up first?" Mac asked, waving the roll of tape at Tony.

"Fine, fine, whatever," Tony grumbled.

"You know, Tony," Mac began, as he worked with the tape, hiding the ends of the cables among it so that it looked like they were connected to Tony's chest.

"Did I say it's OK for you to call me Tony?"

"Tony, the thing is, you don't need to prove yourself to me. I know you've got twice my IQ and that you can design stuff I couldn't even dream of, upside down, with your hands tied, your eyes closed and dead drunk. I'm just your ordinary do-it-yourself guy. Still, there's one thing in which I'm smarter than you," Mac paused, and moved one hand from the taping project to Tony's shoulder, squeezing it and looking him in the eye. "You can't stand it when someone else is calling the shots. I guess it used to be just a macho thing, but now, it's something even worse. It's because you feel you're responsible for everyone and everything, and you're afraid to share that responsibility. That's why you won't let anyone else take the lead, even for a short while: they might do it wrong, or even worse, they might get hurt."

Tony clenched his fists and bit his teeth together, fighting to hold back his anger. Such incredibly condescending bullshit! Of course, one reason why it made him so furious was that there just might have been some truth in it. He had no idea where it was coming from - how could Mac know him this well?

"You've got to learn to share the responsibility. Even though you might think so, accepting help isn't a sign of weakness. You can't carry the whole world on your shoulders, all alone. If you keep trying, you'll just end up hurting yourself, and others, too -"

"Okay, that's enough! You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, you patronizing -"

The only thing that saved MacGyver from a complete verbal mugging, and most likely also from an actual punch to the nose, was that Raza-lite chose this moment to make his entrance.

"Your work is done for today. I know you have made escape plans. That's what the likes of you always do. You will not succeed!" the drug lord declared, and gave his goons orders in some language Tony didn't recognize.

The thugs stepped closer and started performing body searches on their two captives. Tony had to admit, to his annoyance, that Mac's plan had its points. As it was, all the baddies could find was Mac's Swiss army knife, which they apparently didn't consider dangerous enough to confiscate. How wrong they were. They escorted Mac and Tony back to the hut where Tony had first woken up, and left them there for the night.

The first thing Tony did as soon as the guards had gone away was to tear off the duct tape and set the car battery and the cables on the floor. "I swear, I'll rather die than carry that thing around ever again. I'm through with it. So, we've got all we need for your brilliant escape plan," he said, as he retreated to his cot. "I'll make one thing clear, though: as soon as I'm in the suit, I'll be the one calling the shots, no matter what."

"Of course you will," Mac replied from his cot. "I'm not the one who's got issues with not being the leader. Now, I think we'd better try to get some rest. We'll put the plan into action at first light. So, good night."

Tony lay down and stared at the blue spot of light the arc reactor cast on the ceiling. He wondered how long it'd function normally when it was fixed with chewing gum. Hopefully long enough for him to get back home and mend it properly.

There was absolutely no way he was going to be able to sleep. He got up and paced around the hut.

"Would you mind? I'm trying to sleep," Mac complained.

"Yes, I would mind. I'll walk around if I feel like it. I'm not tired."

"You'll be more alert in the morning if you at least try to rest."

"What if we both oversleep and miss the magic moment?"

"I doubt that'll happen. Even if we're not awake before the break of dawn, the explosion will certainly wake us up."

"If there is an explosion."

"I promise, there will be."

"I'll believe that when I hear it. Anyway, why're you such an expert in explosives if you hate guns?"

"I'm not that big on explosives, either. I'd rather do everything non-violently, but sometimes, it's just not possible. Besides, this isn't a bomb that's meant to kill or injure people, this is just for distraction - a lot of noise, smoke, fire and so on."

"Are you implying something there? I don't do bombs that kill people, either. Not anymore. Yes, I used to be a weapons designer, but I'm not too proud of it. No need to rub it in my face."

"So, you're trying to tell me that the Iron Man suit isn't a weapon?"

"It's different."

"Hah. In the wrong hands, it'd be far more deadly than a bomb."

"That's why I need to get it back and get out of here."

"Yeah, and that's why we need to sleep."

"I'm still not tired, except that I'm tired of you telling me what to do. And the Iron Man suit isn't a weapon, all right? Originally, I made it to escape a situation exactly like this, so it was essential for my survival. Self-defense. What I was going for when I built the next version was flight. Who wouldn't want to be able to fly? It was pure accident that the flight stabilizer repulsors happened to function as blasters, too. Besides -"

"Fine, it's not a weapon. All right. I'm really not interested right now."

"You'd be better off not making accusations if you don't want the conversation that follows. I'm not letting this go just like that. The suit's the single coolest thing I've ever designed, and the most important thing in my life right now - all right, well, one of the most important things in my life, anyway, in addition to parties, booze, gambling, sex, cars, and a few very important people -"


"Okay, maybe that wasn't entirely true, either, since there hasn't been a whole lot of parties, sex or gambling lately, and I haven't even bought a new car yet to replace that poor Shelby Cobra - of course, I'll never be able to truly replace it. That car really had a personality -"

"Will you just shut up!" Mac groaned.

"No, I'll keep going, especially since it annoys you. So, about that new car, going for another one of the exact same model just wouldn't feel right. I was thinking about something else from around the same period, like -"

"All right, I'll give you one last warning. Shut up and lie down, or else," Mac said, like talking to an misbehaving child.

Tony had to admit he really was being childish, but Mac could only blame himself, he totally had it coming. "Or else what? I'm still walking and talking."

Tony heard Mac get up from his bed and move around. It was too dark to see what he was up to.

The next thing Tony knew, something hard collided with his head, and then he knew nothing more.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

When Tony came to again, he was lying on his cot, tied tightly to it with duct tape. His mouth was taped shut, too. Mac was snoring happily at the far side of the room. Goddamn it, that man had some nerve! He was so dead as soon as Tony managed to get free. Unfortunately, that was easier thought than done.

He tried to call out, but all he could say was "Mmmph". Apparently Mac was now sleeping so soundly that that wasn't even enough to make him stir.

Tony tried to move his hands, to twist his body, anything to be able to get out of his predicament. However, Mac had done a very thorough and skilled job with the tape, and so, as Tony writhed around, the cot he was taped to swayed, then tilted sideways, and he fell, and landed on the ground on his side, still taped to the piece of furniture. Shit.

By now, he was so angry that he was half-amazed the tape hadn't melted off him just by the heat of his rage. As he lay there, mmphing some more in the vain hope of waking up Mac, he realized that the room wasn't all dark anymore. It was growing lighter.

The day was dawning, which meant that they should get to work - and Mac was fast asleep, and Tony tightly fastened to the cot.

Since it was pretty much the only thing he could do, Tony started squirming around, doing his damnedest to drag himself and the cot across the room towards where Mac was sleeping. The floor was of slightly damp dirt, which felt nasty against his side, and he was digging a wide path in it as he went. It was agonizingly slow and extremely embarrassing, but at least he was moving.

Finally, he reached the foot of Mac's cot, and heaved himself against it with as much force as he could gather. It shook, Mac shifted in his sleep, but didn't wake up. Tony tried again, and this time, he hit it with enough force that it tipped, and Mac crashed to the floor, too.

"Hey!" Mac yelled. "Why can't you just let me sleep? What does it take to keep you still and quiet?"

"Mmmmph!" Tony said, with as much urgency as he could put into such a non-word, hoping that Mac wouldn't be too daft to realize what the situation was.

"Hmph - ouch! Aah, damn it, there went my mustache," Tony groaned, when Mac finally tore off the tape that had covered his mouth. "I'm never letting you anywhere near me with that damn duct tape ever again! Now, hurry up, set me free before we're too late!"

Mac didn't waste any time doing it. The situation was pressing enough that it did away with the issues they now had between them - mainly, the fact that Tony needed to beat the crap out of that bastard. He'd do it as soon as they were out of here, he promised himself that.

"The hut with the suit is that way," Tony pointed at the correct wall.

"Yeah, I know," Mac said, and carried the car battery over to it. He took the cables, produced a few small pieces of metal out of his pocket, and connected everything. As he brought the two ends of the cables together, a bright arc of electricity leaped between them. "You better cover your eyes," he noted.

"I know! I've done enough welding to know that you're a complete ass to go at it with no protection at all. Of course, it's not like we've got any choice. Rather you than me."

Mac wasn't even through the first iron bar yet, when the door to the hut opened, revealing two guards. Tony leaped towards them, hoping to cover Mac from view, though it was most likely too late. The guards must've heard the noise, or seen the bright light through the sparse bamboo-and-iron walls. Now, they were shouting furiously in some unintelligible language and waving rifles - old Stark Industries SI-44's, of course - at Tony.

"You don't want to shoot me," Tony told them, his hands spread and raised. "Go get your leader, we need to talk -"

He was cut short by a very loud bang. Naturally, his first thought was "Shit! They shot me!" but he quickly realized he wasn't hurt, and the guards had turned around and sprinted away. Mac's bomb!

"I'll be damned, there really was an explosion!"

"I told you so. And I'm almost done here," Mac replied.

The door in front of Tony was wide open, with no one guarding it. "Hey, lamebrain. I've got a better idea."

Mac stopped what he was doing and turned to look. "Oh," he said, clearly taken aback that his nifty operation had been all for nothing. He recovered quickly, though, disconnected the cables from the car battery, grabbed them all, and got up. "Well, let's go, then!"

Tony peeked out of the door. As far as he could see, all the guards were gathered at the far side of the area, where the workshop-hut was burning, smoke rising to the sky in a high gray column. He could hear retard-Raza yelling furiously.

Tony nodded at Mac, and slipped out of the hut, doing his best to keep out of direct line of sight from where their captors were. They made it to the storage-hut without any trouble at all.

Mac set the car battery on the ground, ready to do some more welding. Tony shook his head at him. "Oh, come on," he said, grabbed the battery and rammed it against the door with full force. The door gave in far more easily than he'd expected, so he rushed into the hut, dropped the battery and almost lost his balance, taking running steps to kill the momentum.

"Well, what do you know," Mac said, examining the door as he closed it behind them. "It wasn't locked."

The room they found themselves in was a lot like their earlier workshop: the floor was littered with random stuff, the walls lined with shelves stacked with what was probably chemicals needed to make drugs, and some of the finished products, too.

On the floor, in a corner, looking somewhat worse for the wear, rested his beloved suit. Tony ran to it and started going through the parts anxiously. To his relief, they were all intact, just like Mac had said, except for the chestplate. Even that wasn't as bad as Tony had expected, the hole in it just slightly bigger than his arc reactor, with edges that were somewhat burned and bent.

"Okay, I'm going to need your help with this," he told Mac, as he grabbed the boots and started getting into the suit.

"Well, well. I never expected to hear that one from you," Mac said smugly, and moved over to help.

Tony had never gotten dressed in the suit this fast without his robots. He couldn't explain how Mac was doing it, but he was a real wizard with that Swiss army knife, attaching parts almost as fast as if he was using a power drill.

Soon enough, Tony had everything on except for the helmet and the gloves. Of course, with the chestplate smashed, the rest of the suit didn't connect to the arc reactor. Not that it was a real problem. Tony had anticipated something like this happening. He had spare parts in his suit. He opened the hidden compartment in one forearm, fished out a coil of wire, and quickly made the essential connections.

He did have one real problem, though. The front of the suit was now horribly open and vulnerable, with nothing at all covering the arc reactor, and the all-important connecting wires completely exposed. If he could patch it up with something... He scanned the floor, and his eyes fell on a suitable-looking piece of metal. He picked it up. Perfect. Next, he needed something to attach it with - and he knew just what that would be. Damn, he was so going to hate himself for this.

"Mac, give me the duct tape."

"I thought you were never ever going to let me anywhere near you with it."

"Rough times. We all have to make sacrifices. Plus, I'm going to do this myself, so no, I'm not letting you near me with it. Come on, give it to me," he held out his hand. Mac dropped the roll of tape on his palm.

It took Tony about ten seconds to realize that there was no way he could do this himself, the suit was way too clumsy. Ah, shit. "Well, all right. Maybe I could use a hand here. And don't say anything. Not a word. Shut up."

Mac didn't say a thing, but flashed a wide grin at Tony as he took the tape back from him.

It didn't take long for Mac to tape the sheet of metal over the hole in the suit. Then, Tony put on his gloves and his helmet. Finally! Finally, he was in complete control of the situation. This was the way things were supposed to be.

"Sir!" Jarvis greeted him as the HUD showed up, but the voice didn't sound quite right. There was something funny going on here. "Sir, are you asleep? Sir?"

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Tony opened his eyes. Really opened them, to find himself in his living room, on the sofa. He stared at the huge screen in front of him with bleary, sleepy eyes. It was showing the end credits of MacGyver, the TV show.

"Sir, that was the last episode of the first season. Shall we proceed to the second one?"

"Jesus, Jarvis! No way," Tony said, leaning his head back. "I've seen more than enough of that ugly mullet-headed moron by now."

Yeah, he had known all along it was a dream, hadn't he? But he'd forgotten it somewhere along the line, and he had played along, even though most of the time it'd annoyed the hell out of him. His subconscious really hated him. Not that it was any news.

He picked up his cellphone from the nearby table and dialed Pepper, without bothering to check what time it was. Judging from her reply, it was either very late or very early.

"Tony? Are you all right? Nightmares again?"

"You have no idea," Tony said. "But that's not why I called you. There's something very important for you to do, the first thing in the morning, as soon as you get here. Are you taking notes? You better not forget this one."

"I won't. What is it, Mr. Stark?"

"I need you to make sure I've got an ample supply of duct tape and chewing gum. Also, get me a real Swiss army knife. You know, one of those red ones, with a cross on it."