When Silence Falls
By: The Hatter Theory
Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to characters, concepts, or ideas by Marvel.
AN: Oh jeebus that first draft sucked the big ones. Pretty much a complete re-write but with the same story line. Feel free to reread.
Tony stared straight ahead, eyes squinting even as the visor tried to compensate for the glare, darkening so he could focus on getting a lock on Doom. Magic was scrambling the readings, making locating him impossible. Heat seeped into his skin through the armor from the summoned inferno. Tony ignored it, throwing himself deeper into the inferno, trusting the suit to protect him as he searched for the goat legged fairy fuck that had summoned it. The heat got worse, the further he went in, blindingly trusting sensors that weren't working all that well.
"Sir, the Mark V was not designed to take heat in excess of-"
"Shut it Jarvis, where is he?" Tony demanded, feeling himself sweating inside the suit, beads that were rapidly turning to rivulets. The fire around him was too strong for the suit, but it was all he had on hand, and damned if he was going to let Doom get away with incinerating a few square blocks and everyone that had been inside the buildings, walking the streets.
"I have a reading sir," Jarvis said. "It is in the center of the blast, where the heat is the highest."
"Cap, what's the ETA?" Tony demanded.
"Five minutes," Steve's voice told him.
"Jarvis, what's it looking like?" He licked the salt tang off of his lips and felt like he had a river running down his back and into his crack. He hated that feeling.
"By the time the others arrive, it is estimated a range of eighty blocks will be caught in the fire."
"Fuck that. I'm going after him," Tony shouted, following the pinpoint of green on the screen, forcing himself to run further into the conflagration. The heat only grew worse, and he could hear Jarvis warning him, again, but he would only be in for a minute. Just enough to find Doom and whatever magical toy he had pulled out of his ass this month. The green pinpoint grew into an outline, grew bigger as he pushed further in, ignoring that the visor went almost black to spare his eyesight.
One minute turned into three, turned into five. Tony could feel the sweat on his skin burning, boiling, felt like he was wrapping in tinfoil in the biggest fucking over he'd ever seen. His clothing was saturated with sweat and hot, hot like boiling water clinging to him and impossible to get away from.
"Sir, he is ten feet ahead."
"I got that Jarvis," Tony muttered, pulling his fist back even as he ran. The suit was slowing down, the metal groaning in protest to his movements. Metal connected with metal. Score then, he'd gotten a headshot.
If Doom was talking, he couldn't hear it. Not even the suit could pick it up for the sound of the fire. Eyes on the green outline that staggered and swayed, he threw another punch, then aimed his hand, readying the repulsor beam.
The blow wasn't unexpected, but he had hoped for more time. He felt himself go hurtling away, landing on his back. Pain jolted through him, the suit only cushioning him so much from the impact. It felt like his skin was bubbling and blistering, clinging to the inside of the suit and ripping with every movement, agony rippling through him with every fraction of movement. His hands fisted as he tried to will the pain away, tried to ignore the blanket of needles pressed against, rudely shoved into his muscles and bones.
"Sir, the highest temperature of the fire is in his hands, much higher than the fire surrounding us. It appears to be the source. It is in an open box in his hands."
Wonderful, which meant if he could get the box closed, the fire would probably go out, or at least stop spreading, and maybe his body wouldn't boil quite as quickly.
Tony pushed himself to his knees and aimed himself, commanding a surge of power to all four repulsors and sending him barreling into Doom's chest like a bullet. He cursed something uncomplimentary about Doom's mother when he felt something in the suit buckle and tried not to think about it. Blood throbbed in his ears, pulsed in his forehead and neck until his head was pounding angrily, sweat pouring over blistered skin and stinging in the ruptures.
"Task at hand Jarvis," Tony bit out, voice taut and sharp as he tried to ignore the way every movement felt like he was shoving a serrated knife into the bone and twisting.
"The box has been destroyed Sir," Jarvis told him, voice as calm and british as ever.
"Jarvis, analyze it," He commanded. "Visibility at fifteen percent."
"That will blind you sir."
The dark began to fade and light poured into his helmet, making him blink again and again. Tony reached at the outline of Doom, saw that despite the inferno the supervillain was untouched by the flames and knew there was more magic at work. Growling again, he wrapped a hand around Doom's throat, holding tightly.
"How do I stop it?" He shouted, praying Doom could hear.
"You can't." Doom's voice vibrated through his helmet. Projection, more fucking magic. "The only vessel that could contain Surtur's Breath was just destroyed by you. How perfect." The tone was sardonic, almost pleased.
Tony had already known he disliked magic. Now he was sure he hated it.
"There's always a way," Tony shouted, still holding to Doom and refusing to let go.
"Sir, a disruption is necessary. The object's atomic structure is fragile."
"Protocol seven," Tony shouted as Doom clubbed his helmet, making his head ring as blood filled his mouth.
"Do it Jarvis," Tony rasped, tongue swelling and blood and spit dribbling out of the corner of his mouth. The arc reactor began to whir and hum loudly in his chest, vibrating through him. Faster and faster until it was a constant buzz that thrummed and pulsed, until he felt like a human tuning fork that had been hit with a sledgehammer.
"Sir, DUM-E says he will miss you."
Tony tried not to think about DUM-E.
"It's been a pleasure sir."
"Liar," Tony muttered as he licked his lips and took a shuddering breath. His chest felt tight, a spring that was coiling tighter and tighter until it would snap. Just a few more seconds.
Pepper, the team. Oh god the team, the building, the tech, the suits, the whirring shattering him apart as the heat scorched him through his suit, the smell of something burning and the red just outside of his visor, the blinding red that was nothing like his red.
A hand came sailing up to his face and grabbed, metal scratching against metal as the hand made contact and pulled. Soft, pliable metal crunched and bent.
"You will not take this from me," Doom shouted. Tony could barely hear him inside of his head, couldn't even hear the roar of the fire over the humming inside of his body, the sound waves ripping and pulling him apart.
His faceplate buckled easily, the heat compromising the integrity of the alloy. A flash of whiteredorange and then darkness. Tony didn't feel the heat searing his lungs or his face washed in fire because it was suddenly just there, transitioning so quick that the steam inside the suit vanished and he was boiling alive as Doom punched him. He could feel the metal of the glove coming away with flesh.
He didn't let go.
The whirring grew, intensified until there was nothing but the ungodly hum through him as his lungs collapsed, capillaries bursting, organs collapsing and cooking. Vision had more than failed him, but he could still see the red orange hate in his mind. He prayed for shock, prayed to die as he held on, Doom trying to rip the gauntlet from his flesh and failing.
Tony smiled, an awful, rictus smile where lips had burned away. In an awful, dark corner of his own heart, he found a joy in taking Doom with him, found a measure of peace that he was doing more than destroying another enchanted piece of whatever. He shouldn't have found such vicious satisfaction in it, shouldn't have found peace, but he did, and he hoped, though he couldn't tell anymore, that his hand tightened on Doom's neck.
The whirring stopped so suddenly Tony felt his whole body spasm, felt the jerking stop of a hundred city buses at once, of hitting a tree in his father's prize car when he was only fourteen and drunk on scotch, of his first orgasm, his first punch. The darkness of his vision exploded and he felt himself shattering, breaking apart as the arc reactor splintered, raced through him, through Doom, through the piece of shit magical toy caught between them.
He didn't feel the explosion, didn't see the fire, didn't hear the hum or the screams. A beat throbbed in his skull as he fell away from the hateful, angry red orange that wasn't his, pulsed and echoed through him as forgiving darkness pushed up, surrounded, and swallowed him.
The funeral procession was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. A casket was walked through the streets, a coffin that held only bits of twisted metal in lieu of a body that had been incinerated. It was held up by two immortals, two assassins, a colonel, and a doctor. The procession was lead by a woman with red hair and eyes that could have been either blue or green, but tears made it impossible to tell their true color.
The casket was more than a physical weight, one they bent beneath, but did not break. They did not mourn publicly, the evidence of the depth of their loss almost impossible to find in the stern stoicism they wore as masks to hide any hint of weakness. If they shattered beneath the weight, it was not for the world to see. It would be when they were alone, when the whisper of loss is curving in their ear with a hellish 'what if' or 'too late'.
They marched into the cemetery, armed guards keeping the fans and impersonal paparazzi at bay. Through the peaceful green and rows of stones until they arrived at the grave already bedecked with flowers and pictures. The coffin was lowered onto it's stand, and the funeral service for a fallen hero started.
A eulogy was given by the woman with tears in her eyes, her face red and blotchy, ungraceful except for the way she held herself, shoulders bowing down and chin tilted high. The light caught the tears and proved them to be green, filled with every emotion she was trying to contain. A speech was given by a stern colonel who did not let his mask slip. He said very few things that were kind, but he said nothing that was untrue, telling everyone that his friend hated eulogies that were lies. But he smiled anyway, because even if his friend was not a paragon of virtue, he was a good friend, and he proudly told everyone that gathered. The team leader, the one with broken shards of soul and self in his eyes, took several moments to speak, throat thick around them. He told those gathered that Tony Stark was worth ten of him, and more.
A flag was folded while the sound of gunfire echoed. Thunder, out of place in the warm blue day, boomed above that, a refrain to each volley, pronouncing it, dulling it, making it more bearable as the team leader held the flag, fully folded, and presented it to the woman with the green eyes. She accepted it, a sardonic, hopeless smile on her face, murmuring about irony. The team leader tried not to flinch.
The coffin was lowered, dirt was dropped. ACDC began to blare from hidden speakers unexpectedly, startling laughter that cut the lips and tongues of those present. People began to filter out, one by one, then in groups, until only five heroes remained. Expensive scotch from the deceased's private stock appeared as if out of thin air, compliments of an assassin with a lock pick, and alcohol from another realm was also poured. A cigar stolen from a hidden stash made an appearance, and the smell reminded them only of workshop experiments gone awry. It stayed lit anyway.
Five heroes drank, got drunk. They did not cry. Instead, they told stories, recounted memories of battles and the hazards of being roommates, of a volatile personality with a sharp wit and more heart than was readily apparent. There were jokes, recollections, and even laughter. There were no tears, there were no sobs, although a quiet moment would descend on them from time to time before someone would speak, as if the silence would destroy them.
A thunder god that had seen much of war and much of death saw it as a fitting tribute, but he did not say so.