And this is the result of extra $.50 espresso. You're welcome. O:
"Captain Rogers." The monotonous Brittish voice droned. It sliced through the silence of the tower and Steve jolted, nearly upsetting his chair and clutching his charcoal pencil so tightly the wood splintered beneath his grip, leaving a black smudge on his palm. When the shock abated, Steve released his hold on the poor instrument and sighed as it's remains crumbled onto his desk. He glanced up on instinct despite what Tony had told him about JARVIS not actually being installed in the ceiling- that he was everywhere- Steve couldn't bring himself to just address thin air. It was too…strange.
"Yes, JARVIS?" Steve replied politely. If his voice was slightly strained, the computer didn't remark on it. Steve wasn't certain he'd ever grow accustomed to speaking with a disembodied voice- or operating the toaster. Tony still wouldn't let him live that down. Having that many buttons and settings on a box that you dump bread into was downright unnecessary in Steve's opinion anyway. However, even though he may not have understood JARVIS, that didn't mean he had to be rude towards it.
"Mr. Stark's vital signs indicate that he is experiencing some form of intense emotional distress."
Immediately Steve was on his feet and, still addressing the ceiling, he made for the door, abandoning his sketchbook and demolished pencil.
"Where is he? Is Tony okay?" Steve demanded. Had something happened to him? What was going on? Had something happened to Pepper? Concern bubbled nervously within his chest as he twisted the door knob hard enough to dislodge it from its station. His eyebrows drew together in brief surprise before tossing the destroyed knob aside and carefully nudging the door open. Sometimes his strength still managed to astonish him even now.
"Mr. Stark is located in the 13th floor laboratory, Captain Rogers." The AI replied automatically. Steve cut a right for the nearest elevator. "He does not appear to be in any immediate danger, however he is growing increasingly agitated."
Steve picked up the pace, practically jogging down the hallway and punched the down button when he reached the gleaming metallic indentation in the wall. It lit up instantly and Steve was through the silver doors before they could slide open completely. Anxiously, Steve rammed his thumb into the button labeled #13 and heard the subtle crack as the plastic gave way beneath his fingertips. He took a deep breath in an effort to calm himself.
What could possibly be wrong with Tony for JARVIS to organize a one-man rescue party? Steve was the last person Tony would go to for help, which also gave the man cause for concern because clearly, he wasn't summoned by the arrogant billionaire himself which meant that he had no say in the matter. Seeing as Stark always had something to say-
That wasn't good.
The super soldier's heart leaped into his throat as the possible scenarios raced through his mind- Tony trapped under fallen equipment, Tony injured by some sort of experiment gone awry. He recalled the way Howard had blown across the room and into the opposite wall by just a small explosion. Why would he set up a lab of all things on the 13th floor?! Steve wondered absently what fool would invite that kind of trouble. His thoughts came to an abrupt halt and Steve could have laughed at the absurdity of it if he weren't so unnerved. Of course. This was Tony Stark he was thinking of. Or, god forbid, if something happened to the reactor… Steve clamped down on the rising panic as it threatened to choke him and grit his teeth. Why the hell was the elevator moving so slowly?
Then the doors were open and Steve was rushing out and tapping in the key code that Pepper had given him for emergency situations. He was less than gentle about it, but luckily the seemingly delicate machinery was resilient and didn't crack or shatter beneath the force as he was admitted into the lab.
He entered the surprisingly uncluttered space and called out, "Tony?"
There was no answer, just his own voice as it ricocheted off the walls of the large, seemingly empty room. His eyes swept across the wide area carefully. A bench or a cart here, an overturned beaker there, bits and pieces of the Iron Man suit lying around for repairs and holograms hovering in mid air. He ducked below these, picking his way through the lab so as not to upset anything- or anyone if JARVIS was correct about the distraught billionaire- and tried to make as little noise as possible.
"Tony. Are you in here?" Of course he was in here, JARVIS knows his whereabouts at all times. He would have informed Steve if he'd left.
Suddenly, a loud, unmistakably distressed growl erupted to Steve's left. His head snapped around on his neck and he vaulted over a table, knocking over a chair in the process and sprinted towards the source of the noise, hoping to god that Tony was alright.
"Tony?!" He shouted in alarm.
And then he saw him.
Steve stopped dead, eyes wide. What the hell was he doing?! Stark sat with his back to Steve, hunched over a work table, lamp trained on his chest and he was twisting what could only be the arc reactor with both hands in a violent, jerking motion. Steve gasped.
"Stark!" He barked in a harsh tone, hoping he could provoke a reaction out of the genius. No such luck, he remained lost in concentration, movements becoming even more desperate and even more erratic. Suddenly, Steve realized that an interruption now could be fatal. But god, it was making such terrible creaking and clicking noises, almost as though it were catching on something as Stark continued to wrench the object around. He needed to tread carefully. God only knew what would happen if something went wrong. Images of the dead arc, dark and empty, flashed through the soldier's mind and he had to forcefully push the thoughts away.
Steve blinked, swallowing hard, broken from his reverie by the frustration and anger in his team mate's voice. The billionaire was never anything but calm, cool and collected. He seemed almost...Unhinged and frankly, it was alarming. Clearly, JARVIS hadn't been exaggerating when he'd told Steve the other man was upset. Stark was more upset than Steve had ever seen him. He had to help him. Now.
Cautiously, Steve approached the genius so as not to startle him, dreading what he would find. When he was nearly beside him he said softly, "Tony? Stark, Are you alright?"
Said man made a truly horrific noise in the back of his throat, exploding to his feet. Pure rage and agitation flickered behind his eyes as he reared to look at Steve.
"NO, ROGERS. I AM NOT 'ALL RIGHT'." He glared at a shocked super-soldier, who involuntarily took a step back, eyes landing on the thing in the other man's hand and his jaw dropped open in shock.
The smaller man turned and hurled the offensive object at the wall with more force than was probably necessary and stood as it clattered to the floor, chest heaving in rage, a scowl firmly fixed on his features." Piece of crap." He muttered. "That... is ridiculous- like hell there's a trick to it. It's- That's impossible." The genius asserted. He stalked out of his lab, leaving a string of expletives in his wake.
Steve remained exactly where he was, a look of disbelief and amusement crossing his face. His eyes were fixed on the unsolved Rubick's cube lying on the linolium. Steve laughed so hard he remembered what it was like to have an asthma attack.
I have no clever rhyme for this one.