Tony opened his eyes groaning at the pain at the base of his skull. His mind was foggy, but he could tell it was dark, only his arc reactor was providing light.
"Armour. Systems scan."
"Armour. Environment scan."
A thought came to the forefront of the jumble of his mind.
Still not quite awake he forced himself to flex his right-hand and raised it to feel what was above him.
"Please don't be a coffin. Please don't be a coffin." He begged the god he had never really believed in.
Seconds later his palm what felt like polished wood. His heart sank to his stomach.
He managed to move his head to look down at his hands. The fingernails were caked in dirt and blood and there was a deep cut on his forearm.
Well, at least I put up a fight. He thought to himself. Other thoughts came through the fog: How long had he been down her? was he actually buried? A slow knock on the wood, producing a dull thud, confirmed this.
He was fully conscience now but his memory was gone. The last thing he remembered was at home with Steve and Peter-
I'm not ready to think about them just yet
He forced his brain to estimate how much air he may have. It was small. He wouldn't be able to scream for that long. But he had to try.
"HELP!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. He banged both fists on the lid as hard as he could. The sound was deafening to him after the silence and because the acoustics in the coffin were surprisingly good. After a while though, he realised that even if someone could hear him, there was obviously nobody around anyway.
He dropped his hands onto his lap. His left hand felt something in his pocket. His breath caught.
It took a lot of fumbling but he managed to get it up to his face.
Stupid boy! Why didn't you look for that first?
There was little battery and an even smaller amount of signal, but he had to try. He dialled the first number to come into his head. He pressed the phone awkwardly to his ear. It started to ring.
"Tony?" a crackly voice answered, but the sound of it was enough to make him sigh in relief.
"Steve, can you hear me?" he shouted, scared he wouldn't be heard. The static was deafening as he listened out for his husband's voice. He though he heard some sort of confirmation on Steve's end.
"Where are you?" he asked, worry clear through the bad line "Are you alright?"
"I'm okay, just chilling' in my new underground lair." He said nonchalantly. This is what Steve did to him. No matter what he would be so at ease that he could joke himself to death.
Funny one you are.
"No, I'm not…" he didn't want his partner to worry "Look, honey, I need you to get Nat or someone in S.H.I.E.L.D. to trace this number. I'm buried." Pain was building in his chest, he might not get out. This could be the last time they spoke.
"Oh, Tony, what have you done now" Steve's voice was trying to be jokey, but a crack that wasn't from the bad reception gave him away. "I'll just go get Nat. You need to stay on the line though. Keep talking as well." Tony could imagine his Capsicle running around trying to make everything okay. It made him smile. He remembered the times when he would help Peter make Steve angry. Little pranks.
Think of them. Then at least your last thoughts will be happy ones.
"Keep talking Tony. Don't pass out or anything." Steve interrupted his thoughts, but he had an idea.
"Put Peter on." Tony said. The air was starting to get hard to breath.
"Tony, I'm not sure that's a good I-"
"Please" there was a pause, and for a moment, Tony thought his phone had gone dead.
"Okay" moments later his husbands soothing voice was replaced by his son's shrill one.
"Hello, Daddy!" he screamed down the line. Tony smiled a little.
"Hey buddy! What you been up to today?" Peter went into one of his ramblings about how Thor had done something funny and Clint and Natasha had taught him something they shouldn't have. Tony made an effort to keep a steady stream of 'yup's and 'cool's going. He could feel himself slipping away though.
"- and this new kid, Wade, cut off his arm and it grew back!"
"Yeah, that sounds good. Hey what's your Pops doing, little 'un?" He didn't want to let his son hear him die. It would be hard for Steve too, with the whole Peggy thing, but he was strong. He would be better.
"He's just leaving with Aunt Tasha and Unca Thor." Peter sounded upset about having his story interrupted.
They're coming. You're going to be okay.
"Well then, I need you to do me something. You remember that book I read to yo at night?"
"Can you read me it, Peter" His mother had read it to him and he had read it to Peter. It would make both of them happy.
He never heard Peter return or start reading, but at some point he slipped out of reality and dreams and memories dominated his mind.
Happy time with his parents.
All the times he had saved the world.
The first day they saw Peter.
All the happy memories as a parent.
One in particular stood out. Peter had been ill and Tony had booked the day off and they stayed in with Steve and built pillow forts, which were promptly destroyed by Thor, who joined in the fun. He remembered making lunch, scrambled eggs, with Clint and Tasha. They had concluded the evening with blowing up things in the lab with Bruce. Then Tony realised why this was such a good memory. It had been the only day since they had adopted Peter that there had been no fighting, no world in danger, nothing. It was just a family hanging out and being normal. It was the best memory Tony had.
He wasn't sure how long he had been asleep, but he finally opened his eyes. The white light was bright in comparison to the dim lighting of the coffin. He blinked steadily, letting the room focus. He was in hospital and at the end of his bed sat Peter. He was looking up at him with large brown eyes. Tony scooped up the toddler in his arms and kissed his forehead. Peter squirmed away from him, but he clung tighter.
Steve walked in at some point and joined in the hug, breathing in Tony's scent.
How good does it feel to be home?