"Got different people inside my head
I wonder which one that they like best
I'm done with tryin' to have it all
And endin' up with not much at all."
-Marina and the Diamonds, "Fear and Loathing."
"I was raped."
Tony felt all the color drain from his face; he felt sick, his stomach knotting and twisting every way it could. He was going to puke.
How had he forgotten? How, how the fuck, could he have let that slip through? Out of all the memories rattling around in his head, out of all the memories he'd been allowed to keep… that, out of all of them, shouldn't have been taken. "No…" he shook his head, watching her. She frowned, looking uncomfortable as she edged away from him. They sat side by side, her looking down at the comforter, unable to speak, him, completely speechless.
His hands covered his face, and he felt awful. "Lukin did it?"
She frowned. "Not Lukin, his, uh, right hand. D'Angelo." She hated saying that guy's name. It made her skin crawl, just thinking of him.
God damn it. "I can't believe I forgot that."
Paisley shook her head, obviously trying to comfort him. "No, it's not your fault. We have no clue what happened with all your memories, this could have ben Loki. Don't stress."
Don't stress? Mother of… "Paisley – "
"Don't 'Paisley' me. Look, it's okay. I don't want you worked up over it. It happened a while ago, I'm not really over it yet, but D'Angelo's dead, and we're hunting down Schmidt. There's nothing you can do. It's okay."
"It's not okay!" He practically yelled, making her flinch. "I should have known."
Her eyes were downcast. "Tony, you didn't. Just calm down."
Tony didn't have any words to express how he felt. How the hell could she expect him to calm down and pretend like nothing was wrong? He pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing that he could just go back in time and kill August D'Angelo himself. "I need some air."
She made no sound of protest as he pulled his removed clothing back on, instead, Paisley just watched him. He cast one more look at her before he left, and she felt terrible. His eyes were heavy, laden with unspoken words. She should have told him. She had suspicions of him not knowing, but she'd never acted on them. She should have told him.
After waiting for half and hour, he hadn't come back. She curled up in the giant bed, feeling alone and cold, and fell asleep.
Tony kicked the railing of the ship, foot throbbing in pain. He grit his teeth as the cold air cut through his jacket, and leaned over. What a way to start the trip.
He was getting the Extremis, the second they got back. No question about it. He needed those damned memories; they were causing him hell. He didn't want to have anything else hindering him, haunting him.
Pulling out his phone, he dialed Bruce's number. It wouldn't be too late in New York, so he might as well. "Hello?" The Doctor sounded a bit tired, but it didn't sound like Tony had woken him up.
"Bruce, hi." He greeted, frowning. "it's Tony."
On the other end, Bruce chortled. "Yeah, I got that. What's up?"
Should he just go right ahead and say it? "I want that vaccination - the, uh, Extremis."
He could almost hear the brow raise on Bruce's part, the questioning inflection of his tone increasing. "What spurred the sudden change of your mind?"
"I forgot something… crucial."
He knew it. "You forgot the rape, huh?"
Tony nodded, but felt stupid when he realized that, hell, Bruce couldn't see him. "Yeah."
Banner sighed, "I should have figured. Have you talked to Paisley about this?"
"Not yet," Tony shrugged. "She's gonna be against it, don't know if I should…"
"You should." He responded. "Look, I'll make arrangements. Things will be in order by the time you get back. I'm gonna go; just, uh, talk to Paisley, you two will work things out." The line went dead. Tony groaned in frustration, sliding that phone back into his pocket. He wasn't ready to go back, not yet. He'd wait.
And, wait he did. And, he waited some more. By the time he got back, she was asleep. He felt guilty for leaving after al of that, but he needed to clear his head. She looked small, all curled up in the huge bed, alone. He shed his jacket, changing into clothes for the night. She stirred at the noise of his arrival. "Tony?"
Tony looked over to her, lumbering in. He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her in to him. "I'm here," he responded. She was warm.
Paisley woke up to the sound of the ship's horn. She rubbed at her eyes, stumbling out of the bed. Tony was there with her; she'd woken him up when she wrestled from his hold. He looked peaceful, though the alert to reality clouded his face with the same disgruntled misery as last night. By the cruise's play-by-play, she knew they'd be arriving in Fengdu soon. "I'm gonna shower," she told him before he could get out a word, giving him time to get his thoughts in order. He blinked as the door closed and the water started.
"Good morning to you, too."
By the time she got out, he'd gotten them coffee and some room service breakfast – he got her French toast, but he opted for Eggs Benedict. She towel-dried her hair, surveying the smorgasbord. "Looks good, thanks."
He watched her slide into her seat, and a heavy silence settled over them. God damn, morning after awkwardness. And they hadn't even done anything! "You feeling okay?" He asked.
She only nodded. "Yeah, I'm good. How're you doing?"
"Good, I'm good."
Screw it. "Let's skip the uncomfortable banter, huh? There's something I've gotta talk to you about."
Paisley raised a brow, taking a bite of the syrup-covered bread. "Yeah?"
"The Extremis Virus…" he started, "I know you know of it, because of your investigations into Schmidt and Khan."
Her brow furrowed. "Yes, I know of it. Bruce talked to me about you getting it. I don't know if it's a good idea, though – "
"I'm getting it."
She set down her fork as the horn blew again, most likely to signal their arrival at the port there. She didn't respond, but nodded. "So you've said," this was turning out to be a nightmare. "Look, let's just put this behind us for the rest of the vacation, okay? This has been our only time off, in forever. We can discuss it when we get back."
He nodded in agreement. "Yeah, let's go have fun."
After Tony got ready, the entire issue was dropped. He was careful of how he touched her; though, she was annoyed quickly of his tiptoeing and told him to just act like he normally would. He tried.
The Fengdu Snow Jade Cave was the only little 'adventure expedition' left open by the time they went down to the land. Paisley hadn't realized just how different it was being on land and moving water, suddenly, her legs felt like jello. She damn near crashed into Tony, though that idiot just laughed about it. It almost felt like they were gaining back their regularity, second by second. Almost.
"Now, if you'll all follow me, we'll make our delightful excursion…" The tour guide was English, the accent very distinguishable. Only a few from the cruise were actually on this outing with them; there was a family of five, a newlywed couple, and the Chinese man from Captain Kenway's dinner. "This cave is over a thousand miles long," he continued on to explain, "it was discovered in the 1990's, and has been a tourist hotspot ever since."
Tony rolled his eyes. "These guides are always exaggerating…"
Most of the attractions were Tony making fun of everything that the college-age Brit said. When they arrived at the coral tower, Tony made multiple jokes about it resembling male genitalia. Paisley couldn't help but laugh – the younger couple found it pretty funny as well, especially after they all got autographs – but the guide and the older Chinese man just looked annoyed. Well, she couldn't really describe the man's look as annoyance; every now and then, he'd send them an unsettling smirk. Tony never noticed, but it sent a wicked chill down Paisley's spine. She couldn't read him, which disturbed her. Every time he wandered off from the group, what was he doing? What were his motives?
Why did he look so damned familiar?
They got back right before the ship continued on to its next destination, which would be a late night to early morning sail through some of the river's gorges. "We can skip that," Tony had told her, yawning, "go to the spa, or something. I'm hungry, are you hungry?"
She rolled her eyes as they went back in, ordered dinner, and he fell asleep before it even arrived. Though things were more comfortable now, it felt like there was some sort rift between them. There probably was.
Days passed, and things remained platonic. They didn't kiss; Tony barely touched her, for fear of what he'd forgotten. The cruise would be over soon, and they'd go back to a hopefully completed tower, and a fully regenerated Tony Stark. Paisley voiced her uncertainty whenever he allowed for it; the second she hinted that it wasn't a good idea, he'd switch topics and that would be that. He often found himself going up to chat with the good ole' captain, when he thought se was asleep and wasn't going to wait up.
She wasn't asleep, and she did wait up. Paisley was still terrified of something happening to him. Every little pop and creak made her worry that agents of the Ten Rings were on their heels, ready to finish Tony off like they thought they had the first time. She was afraid of the space that had grown between them. She was afraid of him, and what would happen if he got a hold of the Extremis.
If she'd have just gone through with it all, and not said a single word about what had happened with D'Angelo, then this wouldn't have happened. Maybe if she instigated something, she could make him forget. She could dissuade him. She sat up in the bed, knowing he was coming back to the room. She could hear his footsteps; uneven, laden with whatever drink he'd just shoved down. It killed her.
"Oh, you're up," he sighed, shutting the door behind him.
She furrowed her brow, watching him cast off his clothes. "And you're drunk…"
Thud. He cursed, wincing as he stubbed his toe. "Yeah, no shit."
"C'mere," she murmured, frowning as she motioned him to her. He raised a brow, not drunk enough to really go for it. She rolled her eyes. "Tony, come here."
He crawled into the bed, expression questioning. "Whaddya – " she cut him of with a kiss, to which he backed up. "Paisley, I dunno…"
She pulled him back. "Come on," Paisley urged. She'd have to suck it up. This, if it did, would be the only way to get him back to her. She could try and get him to forget everything. She could keep him by her side, not out till god knows when, where something could happen to him. She was desperate, and she hated it. But she honestly didn't know what she would do without him.
She'd never wanted to be like this.
"You sure?" She nodded, and he put his lips on hers. He didn't question anything more, and she didn't let him. His lips resumed their dance across her skin from nearly a week ago. His hands were cold, she realized, as they went up under her shirt, and massaged the skin there. It felt like forever. Each touch, each kiss, it was unbearably slow. She forced down the sick feeling that formed in the pit of her stomach. When he fell down on the bed beside her, he pulled her body in next to him, his breath on her neck.
She'd just have to get used to it.
Here we go! I'm sorry about the shortness of this chapter; I really should have merged this with the last one. Anyway, after this chapter, I'll be working on the rated M one-shot, which will fit in with what you just read. I'm not exactly sure when the next chapter will be out; I have four term papers due within this and next week. I'll be working on it while I'm working on those. :)
A big thank-you to those who have followed, favorited, and reviewed this story! This is all for you guys :). And also, kudos to you all who got my Assassins' Creed III reference (amazing game). Sorry about my shameless advertising.
One last thing - I know previously I've talked about working on more mature stories alongside this one. and I've finally gotten a stable idea for a Steve/OC story, that, if I do, will probably start up next year. What do you guys think? Drop me a line, I'll need a proofreader or just someone to maybe help me out with some things. Don't fret, though - this story is my priority. I won't leave you guys hanging. :)