I am so, so sorry about how late this is. I honestly just couldn't come up with a good epilogue. I mean, I reread Chapter 6 and realized that it was a good ending in itself, but I did want Tony to have his absolution with the Enchantress, so I added this. If you don't like it, I'm sorry. Just pretend that Chapter 6 is the ending then. I didn't add Thor in here, just because quite frankly, I didn't feel as though he fit in after being absent for so long. So just imagine that he's still in Asgard when all this goes down. This chapter is also a little bit shorter than the rest, but I hope it still meets all your expectations.
Anyway, please read and review. I hope you enjoy it! (I don't own any Marvel products.)
Steve snapped awake, breathing harshly through his nose as he swallowed any noises of distress that were fighting to erupt from him. Cold sweat covered his brow as he sat up, tiredly rubbing the nightmare from his weary face.
There was a soft sound of shuffling next to him and he glanced down. Beside him, Tony had managed to shove his head half under his pillow with the blanket entangled by his hips. The genius' face was hidden by the crook of his left arm as he slept on his stomach. His other hand had, sometime during the night, clenched onto the edges of Steve's shirt, and had subconsciously realized that Steve had shifted. Like a moth drawn to light, Tony mumbled incoherently as he curled in more towards Steve, letting the soldier's warmth chase away the cool air around them.
A small smile quirked on Steve's face as he leaned down to press a chaste kiss to his lover's forehead. Unable to resist, he ran his fingers down Tony's arms, relishing the touch of the warm skin.
"I'd call that sexual harassment if I didn't enjoy it so much," Tony said without opening his eyes.
Surprise filled Steve. "How long have you been awake?"
Brown eyes cracked open. "Since you started tossing and turning. Same dream?"
Steve sighed. "Always."
"Come here, Capiscle," grunted Tony, tugging gently on Steve's larger arms.
Steve obliged Tony, as he always did, and let himself be pulled into Tony's warm embrace. For a second, it was a little uncomfortable, with their long limbs trying to find the right position. One more shift and Steve found himself on his side, facing Tony. They were pressed tightly against one another, with Steve's head right next to Tony's chest. The sound of the reactor humming and Tony's steady heartbeat lulled the soldier – it was music to his ears.
As if he could sense Steve's chaotic mind, Tony's arms wrapped tighter around Steve. He kissed Steve several times on top of his head.
"Still here. Not going anywhere," Tony murmured.
It was a routine, and Steve knew it. He did the same for Tony on his bad nights.
Closing his eyes, Steve decided to focus on the drum of Tony's heart beat his fears away.
"Was it the ice?" Tony asked quietly.
Steve shook his head.
There was no movement this time, which meant that Tony had hit the bulls-eye.
"Hey, how many times do we have to go over this? It wasn't you. You would never hurt me. I trust you, Steve. So stop this stupid guilt-fest you have going on here."
The argument was always the same. Steve's answer never changed and it never would. No matter what Tony said, it was Steve's hands that hurt Tony. But Tony never gave him any chance to back away. It was so unlike the billionaire – to stand his ground instead of running to his workshop where he would bury himself into his work. That, alone, had kept the guilt at bay. If Tony was willing to fight for them, Steve couldn't not do the same, no matter what had happened.
Sighing immeasurably, Steve just snuggled in closer to Tony, thinking of how far all of their little family had come since the Enchantress.
It had been a few weeks after the entire helicopter incident that Tony liked to call the "Jealous Bitch Debacle", and the billionaire had mended fairly well. The stab wound on his back had healed enough to leave a large, ropey scar, though he still had to be careful to not aggravate it further. His broken rib twinged every now and then, but it too, had started to fuse back together. Tony still walked with a limp and occasionally was forced to use crutches (though that usually lastly for about five minutes before the contraptions suddenly mysteriously disappeared), but otherwise, he was close to being back at full health.
The guilt revolving Tony never did fully go away. Despite everything that he said, Tony still flinched if someone made a quick movement towards him. He stayed clear of his teammates when they trained or worked out and was tentative to initiate any sort or interaction for a brief, heart-wrenching second. He joked and laughed like usual, but the fear in his unconscious body language had not completely faded away.
But they were all handling it. The guilt on the team's side and Tony's instinctive fear had subsided to a level that was minimally damaging to their friendships and relationships, but everyone on the team found ways around it. Natasha still treaded carefully around Tony. The master spy found herself making more noise upon approach and always placed herself in front of Tony. If she was ever behind him, she made sure that she stayed within his vision of sight. Clint didn't bring his bow within Tony's general vicinity and kept his love of his arrows away from his friend; Steve stopped working out in front of Tony and never spoke aloud about the times when he had silently comforted the genius after a nightmare.
In return, Tony would scold the Widow for treating him like glass, forcing her to snark back to him before giving her modified knives to hide on her person; he made Clint new and highly dangerous arrows and upgraded his bow. As for Steve...well, that kind of stuff stayed in the bedroom. Bruce would just stand by the side and act as mediator (yes, he thought it was ironic too), smiling fondly as the team reached an equilibrium about the whole "Jealous Bitch Debacle".
It even got to the point where Clint and Tony could joke about the incident, hassling Natasha about when they were going to get front row seats to the "bitch fight" they missed out on. Clint had walked around with a black eye quite proudly for a few days while Tony broke into a wide smile whenever Natasha hissed at him as he passed by, knowing full well that he was getting a free pass for a bit. Never let it be said that Tony Stark wasn't one to milk Natasha's momentary kindness for all it was worth.
Steve smiled at the thought of Tony crowing about how he "got away" from the Black Widow and let out a little chuckle.
He couldn't see Tony's face, but he could feel his boyfriend's body relax minutely.
"We good?" Tony asked, tentatively.
Steve just lifted his head up and pressed his lips against Tony's, his blue eyes sparkling with all the love that filled every single crevice of his soul. "We're more than good," he breathed.
Tony smiled and pulled Steve in for a deeper kiss, starting a battle of tongues. Steve won, of course, but by then, neither of them really cared before disappearing deeper under the covers to fully consummate their love.
When Tony woke in the morning, feeling so deliciously sore in all the right ways and places, Steve was still buried into his side, sleeping like a log. Quite like Steve during the night, Tony couldn't resist and leaned down to kiss Steve on the forehead before quietly untangling himself. Silent as a cat, Tony slid off their bed and slipped on some clothes before padding out.
He hummed under his breath as he headed to the kitchen. It was early – like four o'clock in the morning – so he had assumed that everyone else in the Tower would still be asleep. He really shouldn't have been surprised to see Clint perched on top of the kitchen island.
The archer was wearing his S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform and nursing a mug of coffee. He probably had just returned from a mission and was still too wired to collapse in his bed.
Tony merely gave him a nod and poured himself a cup of piping hot coffee. He settled in a chair next to where Clint was sitting.
"How was your mission?" he asked, quickly glancing over his friend to see if there were any visible injuries.
"Successful. And easy as fuck. I think I'm on probation or something."
Tony snorted. "That's what you get for drawing whiskers on Fury's face with my patented permanent marker."
"Hey! You dared me to do it!"
"And yet, who's the one in trouble?"
"I hate you."
"See if I make you new upgrades, Bird Brain."
"You're a god."
"Nope. Human. Don't think I'd like to be a god. Do you see how gaudy Thor dresses like? I think I would throw myself off the roof if I had to wear a cape."
Clint chuckled. "You'd throw yourself off the roof just to see if you could fly with that cape."
"I've got a suit that lets me fly. Don't think I need a cape."
"Imagine Iron Man with a cape. It'd be hilariously awesome."
"Until I get sucked into the propeller of the helicarrier." Tony slurped at his coffee and eyed Clint, a steel glint in his brown irises. "Speaking of which, you think you can give me a lift?"
Sensing the sudden change in atmosphere, Barton set down his cup and gave Tony his full attention. "Where to?"
"The helicarrier. I'd go in the suit, but I want to keep a low profile."
"What are you planning to do? She's pretty much still half-dead. You won't get much from her that we already haven't."
"It's not like I'm looking for revenge. You guys already took care of that for me."
"You heard about that?" Clint actually looked sheepish.
"I have video clips."
"I'm guessing Steve doesn't know?"
"I'm not great at relationship advice, but I'm pretty sure lying to your partner isn't a great way to go."
"You think Steve will feel at ease if he knew that I had seen what he did?"
"You shouldn't have watched it then."
"I didn't think you guys would get that violent."
There was a moment of silence as Clint processed what Tony said. Why was it that the genius, billionaire, friend, had such low sense of self-worth?
Finally, "She hurt you. You would do the same if it was one of us."
Tony just hummed.
"So, why do you want to see that bitch?"
Tony paused. "Closure, I guess."
"Right then. You want to go now?"
"This is why you're my favorite," grinned Tony. "You don't ask a lot of questions."
"I'm your favorite? Oh, be still my beating heart," Clint said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Well, after Steve and Bruce, of course. Science bros before pranking bros. But if you're better in bed than Steve is, which I highly doubt – Super Soldier and all, and I do mean Super, with a capital 'S' – you can jump up the list."
Clint laughed. "I'll meet you at the quinjet in five. Get changed, bro. You don't look particularly threatening in Steve's shirt."
Tony frowned, glancing down as Clint left him behind. He hadn't realized that he picked up Steve's shirt to wear. It was ridiculously too large on him and he looked like a child that was swimming in his dad's clothes. While it was comfortable and to Steve, he was probably adorable as hell (when isn't he?), Clint was right. He had some unfinished business with the Enchantress, but not as Iron Man.
Tony stood, cracking his neck.
It had been a while, but it was time for the Merchant of Death to resurface.
He grinned. This was going to be fun.
Tony had to admit: for a secret spy agency, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s security really sucked. A child could hack into the surveillance cameras and set on a loop. And with Clint's guidance of how to maneuver unseen within the helicarrier, it was laughable how easy it was to make it to the supposedly most secure prison on board.
Leaving Hawkeye outside as a guard, Tony slipped into the room to see the Enchantress tied, eagle-spread, on a metal bed with heavy-set manacles. She was upright and conscious when Tony entered.
Her green eyes shone with distaste as soon as he stepped into her view. "Ah, so the Man of Iron lives."
"Yeah, next time you want to kill me, try doing it with your own hands instead of hiding behind your fucking magic," Tony said, letting the snark overwhelm his tone.
"You misunderstand, Man of Iron. This was never about you."
Tony cocked his head, a cold smirk appearing on his face. "Did the Hulk hit you too hard in the head? Even as fucked up as you are, you can't deny that you tried to kill me, Enchantress."
"I did nothing of the sort. Your teammates did. I can see it in your eyes that the damage they inflicted is far worse than any of your physical injuries. And yet, their pain goes much deeper than yours. They have suffered in the worst possible way, which means I have succeeded. The Avengers have lost."
In a movement faster than the Enchantress could see, Tony had forced himself into her space, inches away from her face.
"You're the one who still doesn't understand anything, Enchantress," Tony said lowly, his tone cold and lethal. "You seem to have targeted me because I'm only human - the weakest or perhaps the least tainted of us all. You only see me as Tony Stark, Iron Man, who fights on the side of good. But there's another side to me that you have overlooked. Before the Avengers, before Iron Man, I was known as the Merchant of Death. It was my job to find new ways to kill and destroy lives. I may be Iron Man now, but I will always be the Merchant of Death."
The Enchantress laughed. "Is that supposed to scare me, mortal?"
"No. It should terrify you." Tony's entire demeanor changed, becoming poised and tense, as if he were a cobra, ready to strike. A certain iciness entered his usually warm, brown hues, freezing the Enchantress for a brief second.
In that moment, Tony raised his hand as fast as lightning and stabbed a syringe into her jugular vein, emptying its contents straight into her bloodstream.
Her eyes went wide as she felt the foreign substance run straight to her heart, burning painfully as it raced through her body.
"Wha...?" she gasped, unable to even finish the word before the agony cut her off.
"Don't look so surprised, Enchantress. It's poison."
"Asgard...will never...stand for this!" she panted, her green eyes flashing with anger.
"Oh, don't worry. You won't die. No, dying would be too easy for what you've done. This poison is something I had prepared specially for you. The lovely thing about having master spies as your friends is that you can obtain vials and vials of blood from a certain captured goddess. And I'm a genius. It wasn't difficult for me to create a substance that would hurt you in the worst possible way. You see, you made a huge mistake of hurting those I care about, and for that, you will pay the ultimate price."
Stark tapped the side of her throat, just below the needle. "You feel it coursing through you, don't you? You know what it does? It takes away your magic, destroying every last bit of the gene within you that makes you a goddess. In a few minutes, you'll be the same as those that you've looked down upon - a mortal."
He grinned wickedly as he forcibly yanked out the syringe and let it drop to the ground. "Soon, Thor will be here to take you back to Asgard where you will forever be a pariah among your people, a mortal among immortals with no magic or ounce of what had made you who you were. That is your punishment for fucking with my family."
He took a step back. "Oh, and tell all your friends who are stupid enough to come mess with the Avengers that we are not weak. We are strong and we cannot be broken." He smiled, "Enjoy the rest of your miserable life, Enchantress. Burn in hell."
As he turned to leave, the Enchantress started screaming. "You'll pay for this! You will pay for this, Anthony Stark!"
Tony ignored her and calmly shut the door behind him, but it did little to drown out her cries, not that he cared.
He glanced up and saw Steve, Clint, Natasha, and Bruce all standing before him. There was no surprise or shock in their expressions - just acceptance and unwavering love (though it was harder to tell with Natasha).
Tony smiled warmly at them, letting the Merchant of Death become buried deep within him once again. "We good?"
There was no hesitation. "Yeah, we're good," responded Steve while the rest of them just nodded in agreement.
"Awesome. 'Cause I'm famished. Anyone up for some food?"
Steve could only smile as he reached out to hold Tony's hand. "We'll pick up some cheeseburgers on the way home. Sound good?"
Tony couldn't help himself and leaned forward for a quick kiss. "I knew there was a reason why I kept you around."
"It's not because you love me?" Steve easily returned, his blue eyes sparkling with amusement.
"Naw, I think it was mostly for your perfectly sculpted ass."
"And what are we? Road kill?" quipped Clint.
"Careful of your next words, Stark," Natasha said, her tone light. "Or I'll turn you into road kill."
"But then you'll be bored without all my snark, Natashlie. Besides, I'll still be prettier than all of you, right, Steve?" Tony batted his brown eyes at his boyfriend, knowing full well that Steve couldn't resist.
Steve rolled his eyes, smiling, "You're the fairest in all the land, Tony."
Clint chortled. "He's got that right, Princess."
"You're just jealous, Bird Brain."
The bickering continued, as if nothing had ever changed. Bruce just chuckled and shook his head as they all walked away from the nightmare that was the Enchantress.
Once they reached the Quinjet, Clint turned to look at Tony, a glint of seriousness in his eyes. "You done, Princess?"
Tony knew Clint wasn't asking about their banter. He took a deep breath and leaned a little bit closer to Steve and the rest, letting their warmth wash away all that the Enchantress had done.
When he looked back up at his family, he only had a smile waiting for them. "Yeah, let's go home."
I'm really bad at endings. I'm sorry if I dropped the ball or anything. Let me know if this epilogue doesn't fit or Chapter 6 has a better ending. I can always just delete this and leave the story marked as "complete".
Anyway, I do hope that maybe, you enjoyed it. Overall, I had a lot of fun with this story and I want to thank everyone who has followed, favorited, and reviewed through this entire journey. Thanks for being so awesome and supportive!
Thanks! It's been fun! Hopefully, I'll see you all for my future stories!
~ Kanae Yuna