Disclaimer: Iron Man and all other associated characters, plotlines, etc. do not belong to me. They are the intellectual property of Marvel Comics and several others. I'm just playing in their multi-million dollar sandbox for a bit.
This idea haunted me in a daydream back on September 5th. I didn't get started until September 8th, and I haven't been able to write anything else since.
I'm slightly drawing on a real experience here, so the writing of this first part has been a very emotional process for me. It's one of the few times I've cried during writing. That said, please enjoy this. It's from the heart.
The Pepperony 100 Challenge Theme #90: Wreck
1. Shattered Delusions
This isn't happening, I thought, my heart throbbing painfully as my stomach practically dropped through the floorboard of my Audi. This can't be happening. I'd hoped that Tony would never be the cause of this much-too-familiar feeling again. Why did he have to constantly, if not always, prove me wrong?
One of many eerie things about it all, that I'd noticed earlier? It was a clear, sunny day. Perfect, Tony had said, for driving to the airport. Perfect. Didn't perfect mean that nothing bad could possibly happen?
I've always heard that drivers fall into a false sense of security when they get close to home or at least drive roads they know by heart. Everyone has those moments where they sink back into their seats and let their minds drift. That was me, today. I could drive the road to the aviation division of Stark Industries in my sleep. It just came with the territory of being Tony Stark's personal assistant: know where to go and how to get there. Period.
Whatever the case, it was a second or two before I realized that, in his (probably) speeding car far ahead of me on the highway, Tony's car had gone part of the way off the road.
Don't worry, I told myself. "C'mon," I hissed, willing his two left tires back onto the highway. Happens to everyone. "Damn it, Tony, get back on the road."
To my utter alarm, his car only went further to the left.
There was a curved hill coming up, the type for which the state's department of transportation has always put up warning signs on the side of the road. For a fraction of a second, I considered calling him. Would it distract him? Would I—
Tires squealed; the sound jarred my heart into a more painful rhythm against my chest. I breathed a relieved sigh, and then my overt sense of perpetual but affectionate annoyance with Tony kicked in. "Do that again, Tony Stark," I swore under my breath, "and so help me—"
I didn't finish the threat. In my relief, I'd thought Tony had started up the hill just fine.
I'd thought wrong.
Tony's sporty little silver Audi did a ninety degree spin and flipped on its side as if it were caught in some giant child's invisible hand. Metal screeched, sparks flew, and my eyes felt like they were about to pop out of my head. I couldn't be seeing what I was seeing. No. No, I'd had so little sleep these past few days. That had to explain it. Still, I didn't try to blink it away; I could only watch in horror as Tony's battered car rolled into the right-hand lane and off the highway completely into a shallow ravine.
Only then, as Tony's car disappeared and I myself was out of the danger of colliding with him, did it occur to me to slam on the brakes and pull over.
Breathing deeply as a cloud of dust—Tony's car, I supposed, coming to a stop—exploded to my right, I did my best to pull off the road. My hands were shaking, and my car didn't come to a stop fast enough. "He's okay, he's okay, he's okay," I chanted over and over. Why the hell hadn't my car stopped yet?
Tony had to be okay. He was Tony Stark, ten feet tall and invincible as far as many were concerned.
"God," I whispered, rubbing my eyes as I put the car in park. How long had that been? Five seconds? Ten? An eternity, more like, I thought numbly.
And what would I find if I got out and dashed down to him? Tony being…well…Tony, laughing, coughing, and brushing glass and dust from his designer clothing? Sitting in the driver's seat without a scratch on him, so that I wouldn't feel a shred of guilt in screaming at him for scaring the living daylights out of me and choking him 'til he turned blue? Tony, unconscious?
I shook my head quickly. No, I wouldn't—couldn't—find him dead. that just wasn't something I could handle. Should I even go down there?
Is that even a question? retorted my mind.
"Of course not," I snapped back. Without further debate, I yanked the keys from the ignition and threw open the door inside all of two seconds. He was going to be okay, and damn it all, I'd make him okay if he wasn't. That was my job. It sure as hell wasn't something in the job description, but it was damn near carved into my heart.
I hesitated a moment. So I did love him? No matter how much I lied to him, to myself…to everyone around us…I loved him.
I loved him, and damn him, he had to be alive.
Moving more quickly than I'd ever moved in my life, I bailed out of my car and slammed the door shut, sprinting down the hill as fast as my high heeled shoes would allow. I heard nothing, not the sound of other cars on the highway or even my own screams. I might have screamed his name. I probably did scream his name, probably shrieked it loudly enough to wake the dead. But I wouldn't be waking the dead, I told myself. Tony wasn't dead. He just wasn't.
All I saw was the car, which had tumbled a long way. My heart skipped a few beats, and I slowed down. Most of the windows were busted out or shattered into spider webs. The sheet metal was torn, tattered, even gaping in some places, the silver paint job covered in dust and streaked randomly with black.
I covered my mouth, my hand warmed by my sudden, short gasps of breath. How could anyone have survived a crash like that? The car more than likely hadn't, but cards could be replaced. People—Tony—couldn't be.
Swallowing a huge lump in my throat, I stopped as I came up on the car. I could see the back of Tony's head.
He wasn't stirring.
"Tony?" I called out cautiously, taking another step forward. Glass crunched underneath my shoes, a sound that stole all the air from my lungs. He's alive, he's alive, he's got to be alive. Another step.
He didn't answer.
Pressing my eyes shut, I took a very deep breath. This was it. The next step would put me alongside the blown out driver's side window. I stepped forward with my eyes still closed.
Well, there I was. Next to him.
If he was playing dead, I was going to choke him through the goddamn window.
I opened my eyes…and breathing was suddenly something out of an instruction manual written in detailed ancient Latin. At first, I could only process bits and pieces of what I saw. Blood spatters. The whole front windshield looked as if a giant dinosaur had stepped on it. Glass and dust were everywhere. And when my eyes finally wandered over Tony?
I felt as if I'd been shot through the heart.
His suit was shredded in random places, his tie askew across his chest. Trickles of blood ran down his face and matted his hair. Best and worst of all, his eyes were fluttering rapidly beneath his eyelids.
Best, because it meant he was still alive.
Worst, because he wasn't conscious.
Stinging tears welled in my eyes, and a noise somewhere between a scream and a sob escaped my mouth. I tugged at the door handle, and the door creaked open; I threw it out of my way. No hill, no door, not even death itself would keep me from getting to him. They hadn't yet, and as long as I had any say in the matter, they never would.
"Tony," I breathed, kneeling on the seat next to him. I ran my hands through his hair, grabbing one of his bloodied, cut-up hands. "Tony, please, please wake up," I sobbed, my shaking right hand rubbing his cheek. "You've got to wake up. You've got to."
Still no response. His eyes had, thank God, stopped fluttering. I don't think I could've stood seeing them do that much longer.
"Damn you, you're not going to die on me!" I said, a little more loudly. For all I knew, I might have been shouting it in his face. His head drifted in my grasp, and I shook him by his shoulder. He couldn't die. He…he was Tony Stark. Ten feet tall. Invincible. What was a car wreck to Iron Man? I shook him again, sobbing harder. He wasn't going to die. He couldn't, not today. Not now. It may have been selfish, but I needed him alive. Needed him. All that mattered was him. I loved him, and he wouldn't be taken away on my watch.
"Don't you die on me, Tony Stark," I whispered fiercely, squeezing his hand with all the strength in mine. "Don't you dare."
I really don't have anything to say, except that reviews are highly appreciated.