A/N: Written for The Avengers Comment Ficathon over at LJ. Title comes from The Silent Comedy's "Bartholomew," which is also my current obsession.
Spoilers: ALL THE SPOILERS. Not kidding.
And I'm all alone (and the fire grows)
In space, no one can hear you scream.
Not that there's anyone around to hear Tony even if he could scream, but he can't help thinking it anyway as the missile sails toward its new target. JARVIS is silent—range is too far, which galaxy is this, wait, no, not the range, the reactor—and Pepper didn't pick up and Tony is alone, and even though he hates being alone, this is okay.
Because he has calculations and trajectories—velocity is distance over time; distance from earth: unknown; distance to target: estimated 18 kilometers or less; time is unimportant, the reactor's already dead—to keep him occupied, he's the only one here, the portal should be closed by now, he's alone, and Manhattan's safe from nuclear attack. The Avengers will be down a heavy hitter, but they'll be up against a finite number of enemies with the portal closed, and Tony's alone but they're his team and screw Steve, Tony will throw himself on the wire any day of the week—
There's light as the missile collides with the Chitauri's ship, and then the thing vanishes in a mass of fire, and really Tony couldn't have aimed better if JARVIS had tried—
And there's a tug, Tony feels a tug, like he's falling again, and some part of his brain registers that shouldn't make sense, he's got no thrusters to propel him away from the explosion, to reverse his direction, to send him back toward home.
But the ship is exploding and the reactor's dead and Tony's falling and the team is safe—well, safer—so Tony—
And sees blue. Blue sky, blue eyes—Thor and Steve, both blue eyes, does everyone have blue eyes, wasn't paying attention—and also green, because Hulk is there, roaring in satisfaction.
Tony's not sure what just happened, why he hurts, why his reactor burns in his chest, why he's alive—wasn't there an explosion, in space, a portal closing-
There are words, Tony's saying words, he knows this, feels his mouth moving, but his brain is on autopilot, and Thor and Steve look relieved—relieved, why so relieved—and then Steve says simply, "We won."
And Tony remembers now, remembers Germany and Loki and the fight in Bruce's lab and the fight on the ship—Phil, oh god, Pepper's going to be so upset—and falling out the window and the Chitauri and the absolute destruction and the missile—god, they almost nuked Manhattan—and Pepper not answering and JARVIS going quiet and his reactor failing and bright lights and space.
He remembers space most of all.
"Let's just take the day tomorrow," he says, with feeling, because really, space, and also Pepper will kill him for touching a nuke, and Tony has a tower to rebuild and a city to clean up—pay to clean up, mostly, but he can clean, he can do that, he needs to do that—and there are things to be done and food he wants to try—shawarma, Coulson had recommended it once, said it was one of the good things from the Middle East—and also he hurts so much that he doesn't think he'll move for a week.
This crater he's in, it's comfortable enough, he can just stay here for awhile. Really.
But they're not quite done, Steve says, even after Tony suggests the shawarma—when's the last time anyone's eaten, don't need to, but Steve and Thor and Bruce all have high metabolisms—and Tony knows that—in this job, it's never done—but then he thinks of Loki and the mayhem he's caused and the people he's killed-
And Steve holds out his hand to pull him up, and Thor's there to help them both when Steve stumbles, and Hulk shuffles behind them, one great hand pushing gently against Tony's back until he's more or less standing straight.
And then they're all standing straight, Steve and Tony and Thor and Hulk and Natasha and Clint—the Avengers, we are the Avengers—as Loki pulls himself along the floor of Tony's penthouse and—
Yeah. Tony can summon enough energy for this. He still doesn't play well with others and he feels like hell, but he's got a team now and he's not alone, so this he can do.