Recruit the Playboy
By The Alternative Source
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Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: Sorry for the long wait for the next instalment. Been busy, busy, busy. Btw...Tony might be a little out of character but who wouldn't be after lose?
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With a pull of her belly button she felt the tightness of using a port key surround her before she landed roughly on her feet. Leaning forward she closed her eyes and tried to centre herself. Using a port key always upset her stomach. Familiar hands grasped her shoulders and helped her up.
"Hello Agent Coulson."
He gave her a small smile, "We're going to be working closely together Agent Granger. Call me Phil."
She returned the smile. This was the opening that she was looking for with this man. She countered with, "Call me Hermione."
He nodded and started leading her forward. When she looked up she noticed that they were inside Mr. Stark's gates. Expanding her senses she felt for any protective wards. There were none. When she had a chance she knew that was the first thing she would set up. Anti port-key and apparition wards. Just like the ones she had set up at the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.
Peering up at the building that they were approaching she saw that the house was very modern and consisted of many levels. It would look like a perfectly normal billionaire house if it wasn't that she could see a couple broken windows and the front door was wide open. As if reading her thoughts Phil said, "That's of his own doing. As you read in his file he has been having some problems with his system. Combine that with his personality and," he gestured to the windows and the open door, "That's what you get."
Hermione nodded and started to make a list of the things that she would have to get on track before setting down to work. Phil stopped at the door and peered down at her beaded bag, "This is where I leave you. Do you have everything that you need?"
She nodded, "I'm all set."
He gave her one more look before nodding graciously and walking away towards the gates. She watched him for a second before squaring her shoulders and turning around.
'Here I go.'
Just as she was about to enter the house she heard Phil call out to her, "Hermione. Can I ask something of you?"
She turned to him and saw for the first time the man look down as if he was ashamed of what he was about to ask, "Anything."
He briefly glanced at the house before looking at her, "Mr. Stark will not admit this but he needs companionship. Someone to keep him in line. With Ms. Potts gone he has lost his way. Will you..."
She saw that he was rather ill at ease about asking her so she finished the sentence for him, "I'll help him. Anyway I can."
He gave her an appreciative look and nodded to her once more, "I look forward to your first report."
"As do I," she watched him for a second before turning around to face the house once more. From what she knew Phil and Natasha had worked with Tony. Phil longer. And it seemed that the brash man had earned a tender spot with Phil. And as she trusted him she would do what she had promised. She would look out for him during her stay.
Pushing the door slowly she walked into the home. To say it was a mess was an understatement. Clothes was strewn around, glass from the windows was on every surface and food boxes littered every shelf, counter, or table. Sighing she closed the door behind her and went to the small panel near the door. She had read through his file extensively. His smart house was by far the most advanced in the world. With the ability to cater to every need or want in an instance. It was basically this 'Avengers' right hand. And this is what she was here for.
The screen flickered and some muffled noises came out. She tapped it, "Hello. This is Hermione Granger. I'm here to see Mr..."
She didn't get to complete her sentence as the screen flickered even more violently and gave a hiss. Apparently it was worse than she thought. Turning back to the entrance way she knew that there would be no way that she would get through this mess.
"Guess I have to start here."
Shrugging off her jacket she folded it and put it next to the door. She tucked the beaded bag in its folds and grasped her wand. Turning back she swept the room with her eyes and glared at it.
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A half and hour later the house was...spotless. All clothes was in the laundry, rubbish in the bins, and every broken surface (be it window or kitchen table) was reverted to its old and pristine state. Running a quick spell over herself to freshen up she surveyed the room and came to a sudden realisation. The statue on the bar had just moved. Walking over to it she peered down at the award. When she saw something shift in its eyes she grinned.
'Independent system. Separate from Jarvis. He's been watching me.'
"Good afternoon Mr. Stark. We need to talk."
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After discovering that the statue had a camera in its head she waited for the infamous Mr. Stark to appear. He didn't. Suddenly a door across the room opened. Peering at it she realised that he wanted her to come to him. Pocketing her wand she collected her belongings and crossed over to the stairs. When she reached the bottom she saw what used to be glass panels and a door. Stepping through the door frame Hermione waved her wand and put it back to its original state. She paused momentarily and surveyed the room. It was an engineers dream.
"So they sent Sabrina this time," a voice drawled out from the far left of the room.
Her eyes peered over and saw that Tony Stark aka Iron Man was sitting at a group of desks with hundreds of parts in front of him. As she approached him she noticed that this room was spotless. Besides the door there was nothing broken or dirty. Especially his cars.
He didn't look up as he continued to fiddle with some gadget in front of him. She observed how his nimble fingers ran over the gadget and began piecing it together. And that's when she noticed it. She had learned all she could about Tony Stark. She had learned of his background, his rather infamous past, and the current predicament he was in. She had also observed that he was a rather good looking man. But that was all pushed aside as she spotted the thing that fascinated her the most about Tony Stark. His reactor. She had to tear her eyes from its soft glow before she forgot that she wasn't here to study Mr. Stark but his house, "My name is Hermione..."
"Granger," he finished off for her, "the latest and newest model of Operation Tony." He looked at her briefly, "At least you look better than Coulson."
Hermione felt her hackles raise. Instead of responding with an equally rude comment she watched him for a second gauging on how she was to respond, "I wouldn't say greatest. Just the one you're stuck with for the next two months or how ever long it takes to fix," she pointed at the general area around them, "Jarvis. So shall we get on with it or shall I start by myself?"
He looked up at her in surprise. Obviously he wasn't expecting that response. Steeling his shoulders he leaned backwards and crossed his arms across his chest. His very lean chest. Looking up at his eyes she scolded herself for observing the man to closely. His work left abandoned he now had his attention solely on her, "I didn't ask Fury for help."
She walked forward and pulled a chair in front of his desk. Sitting down she matched his stance, "And yet here I am."
"Sabrina has no place here with the big boys."
Raising an eyebrow she replied, "That's exactly why I'm not back home. I'm here to work with a man named Tony Stark."
He raised an eyebrow and gave her a wide grin that she was certain he used to make women swoon around him, "Oh I'm all man."
Not betraying any emotion or taking his bait she sat there and looked at him. If he was going to just sit there and throw lecherous comments her way then she was going to wait until he collected himself. She was going to use the ultimate weapon. Silence.
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Minutes later she realised that Mr. Stark was not going to let down. For the last couple of minutes he had sat there and stared at her. With no grin or hint of what he was thinking he just sat there and stared right back. His eyes flickered down to her wand hand and she could practically see the wheels turning in his head. He was waiting for her to crack.
'Two can play that game.'
So there they sat for the next fifteen minutes. Just staring at each other. Silently waiting for the other to crack. Hermione realised that this was going to be harder than expected. She tried a different tactic. Scooting forward she looked down at what he was working on. It looked like a reactor in the beginning stages of construction. It seemed that Mr. Stark was trying some new wiring and it seemed that he was at a standstill on what components worked together. She had devoured any information on Mr. Stark's reactor for the past couple of weeks. And with the never ending work she conducted on muggle power sources and magic she believed she could work with this. Looking over his desk she looked at all the pieces laid out. She could feel his eyes on her as she reached out and grabbed a couple pieces and examined them. Deciding on one she kept it on her side of the table and glanced around the room. A couple tables over she spotted another possibility. Standing up she went and retrieved it. When she sat down she looked back up at him quickly. His mouth was firmly set in a grim line and his eyes were boring into her.
Holding her hand out Hermione said, "May I?"
He gave it to her without hesitation. She let her hands work their magic and pushed it back towards him when she was done. He didn't like things being handed to him. She watched him warily as he snatched up the reactor and examined the piece. He made a little sound at the back of his throat that she thought was...approval.
He looked back at her and something had changed in his eyes. No longer was he looking at her in speculation or doubt. Hermione almost felt proud of herself that she had impressed the legendary Tony Stark. That was until he opened his mouth.
"Well looks like Sabrina knows more than she let on."
Seething with indignation she leaned forward and said, "My name is Hermione Granger. Not muggle. Not mudblood. Not Sabrina. It's either Hermione or Agent Granger."
He leaned forward and gave her a dazzling smile. Obviously trying to placate her, "Hermione it is then. As long as you call me Tony."
Feeling the tension float out of the room she leaned back and watched him as he prodded the device he was working on, "That's fine with me."
"So what are your specialties? I attempted doing some research on my new 'handler' but Fury wouldn't budge besides telling me you're from a Ministry of Magic in England. If that wasn't strange enough records show that you don't seem to exist after the age of 11."
Hermione felt her shoulders relax. They were now in calmer waters, "I'm the Ministry of Magic Liaison for S.H.I.E.L.D. My specialties lay in the research of new powers and the interception of muggle technology with magic."
They sat in silence for a couple seconds. As if he was processing the information, "So that's why they sent you? You can help with this because apparently something magical has infected Jarvis?" He pointed around them when the lights flickered.
"Yes," she felt irritation growing in her at the disbelieving look he gave her, "Now can we get started?"
With a smile he gestured at a station across the room with multiple computers, "The computers down here run on a secondary system now. So go ahead. Have fun."
He then stood up from the table and walked over to the newly refurbished door. He looked back at her one last time before walking through the door and making his way upstairs. She heard a shout of surprise from upstairs and she smirked. Apparently he only saw a limited amount of what she had done upstairs.
Moving across the room she cleared off some of the rubbish parts and placed her things down. Sitting down she pulled up to the desk and powered up the computers.
'Time to get to work.'
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Six days. That's how long it took her to figure out what was going on with Tony Stark's system. And to say that she was surprised was an understatement. Pushing herself away from the computer she tried to catch her breath and ignore the pain of the memories that had resurfaced because of what she had found. This wasn't what she had expected and she needed to find him now.
'He has no idea what he's got here.'
Putting her computer away she began the hunt for Tony. He had given her a room as far away from his as possible. Thwarting the promise that she had made to Phil. Besides that he had ignored her completely. Not that she didn't try. She had tried to catch him by accident in the hallway before she got to work but she was pretty sure that he was sleeping in his lab downstairs. Where he always was. Remembering all the food boxes around the house she decided on a different tactic. She had gone out shopping and restocked the house. And every day in the morning, early afternoon, and evening she would bring him a meal before sitting at what was now 'her' work station. He never glanced at her or spoke except to mumble a 'thank you'. But he would eat it. And he was looking better for it already.
At first she had thought that he was being rude to her. That she wasn't up to notch as his past exploits. Not that she wanted to be one. But after watching him for a couple days she realised that Fury had left something huge out of his report about what had changed Tony Stark so drastically so that he was almost a shell of his former self. And it was all in his eyes. On occasion he would stop while working and get this far off look in them. One that she whole heartedly recognised. It was lose. Heart wrenching lose. And then as if he could sense her watching he would meet her eyes. Every time he did that she felt as if she was really seeming him. But just as quickly as it would appear it would be gone. His eyes would harden and he would continue to work on his suit or whatever circuit of Jarvis's system that had fried overnight without a word.
Ignoring all of the possible places he 'could' be she headed down to the one place he 'would' be, the lab. When she got there she was surprised to see that he wasn't at his station. Glancing at her watch she cursed. It was one in the morning and she knew for a fact that he would be glued to his station. She began thinking of possible alternate locations at this hour when she realised something was missing from his work station. His suit.
Her eyes widened in surprise. According to her reports he hadn't taken the suit out in ages. Especially with Jarvis being out of commission. Making her way over to her desk she quickly opened up a comm-link.
"Call me Tony," the voice responded in a playful tone. A part of her was relieved that she had found him so quickly while the other damned him for being in the suit.
"Tony I need you to return to the house."
"On my way as we speak. How did you reboot the comm-link? With Jarvis out of commission it shouldn't be working from the house."
"Magic goes a long way sometimes," she heard him snort before continuing, "I think I know what's wrong with Jarvis so I need you back at the house as soon as possible. I think it might have infected the suit as well."
There was a pause before he spoke, "I know."
She pulled back from her desk in shock, "What do you mean you know?"
He grunted before responding in a strained voice, "I think I might be coming in for a hard landing."
She put the comm-link in her ear and took off up the garage exit, "Where are you now?"
"A couple miles off coast. Sys- shutt- d-," his words began to cut off and he seemed to be...talking to someone else, "Why are you packing? I don't understand. I thought we were happy-you sai-that -. This is me! I'm not-change." His suit was shutting down and the infection had got to him. He was going to crash. She felt the adrenaline pump through her veins as she began to run. She had to get out there now.
"Tony!" No response. Again she called his name, "Tony?!" She emerged outside and began looking around frantically. He had said he was near by. She was sure of it. But there was no sign of him.
Her mind began racing a mile a minute coming up with various reasons why she couldn't spot him, 'What if he landed in the water? If his system is down. He could be trapped.'
Out of the corner of her eye she saw a flicker of light. Focusing on it she realised that it was Tony. The thrusters on his feet where failing and he was coming down hard and fast. He couldn't do it on his own. Pulling out her wand she shot a spell to slow him down before apparating to him. In a matter of seconds she felt herself tear through the sky and crash into him. Wrapping her self around him she turned them around and stabilised them as much as she could for their landing.
With a crash they landed on their backs. Tony rolled over to the right side in a heap of metal and Hermione rolled over to the left and slammed into one of the walls.
Groaning she tried to get up. Pain shot through her ankle, "Tony?"
There was no answer from across the grounds. Ignoring the pain she crawled over to him. When she reached him she saw that his core was flickering. She needed to get the suit off . And with Jarvis on the fritz she only had one way of doing it.
"I'm not letting my first assignment die."
Pulling her wand out of its holster she traced the weak spots of the suit. A subtle 'Bombarda' would be able to help her strip him of it. So she set to work. And in a couple minutes she had stripped him of the malfunctioning suit.
Leaning forward she grabbed the sides of his face, "Mr. Stark. Come on Tony. Open your stubborn eyes."
When he didn't respond she began to panic. Grabbing his shoulders she gave him a harsh shake and yelled, "TONY!"
Instantly Tony jerked and his eyes opened. They wildly flickered side to side before settling on Hermione's face. A smile blossomed on her face and she saw the mirth in his eyes. He was ok. He looked down at himself quickly and looked up at her with a smirk, "So you gave me mouth to mouth and undressed me? I can work with this."
And the moment was gone. She gave an unladylike snort and smacked his chest. Even though he annoyed her greatly she had learned that she would rather have this than him ignoring her completely, "You could have been hurt. What were you thinking taking the suit out?"
He shrugged as he looked at the ripped up suit that lay all around them, "I had to test it out. See if I could work the bugs out of it."
"Well you didn't."
"Obviously. Doesn't look like there's anything left to work with either Sabrina. You tore it off of me."
Ignoring his jab she began to explain what she had found out,"What's infected your system is different. It's a Boggart. Well like a Boggart. This creature that embodies your greatest fears and uses them against you to destroy it. But this creature is different. It infects your system and makes you replay your worst memories. In a ploy to destroy you in the worst possible way. From inside."
His eyes became hard and he went to turn his head. She stopped him. He wasn't going to avoid her gaze anymore, "Tell me."
"There is nothing..."
She cut off what was obviously the beginning of a lie, "Tony. I need to know so I can help. Tell me."
He let out a sigh before speaking, "Pep. Pepper was leaving me. I could see it...feel it. I wasn't in my suit anymore. I could feel the floor beneath my bare feet. I could feel the breeze from the open window. How is that possible?" He looked up at her when he finished and she realised that this was probably the first time he had been open with anyone about Pepper Potts.
"I don't know," she pulled him up into a sitting position and began examining him for wounds. When her hands ran through his scalp to look for wounds his head relaxed and moved forward to rest on her shoulder. She froze as she realised the intimate position that they were in. He was sitting up with practically nothing on while she straddled his thigh looking for wounds while his head rested gently rested on her shoulder. She waited for him to throw a comment her way about their position or her use of magic. But he didn't.
So she waited. His breath came out slowly against her collarbone. Warming her skin. And yet he said nothing. She kept still as not to break the moment.
"It was so real," he mumbled softly into her neck.
Closing her eyes she placed a hand on the back of his head. What he saw had shaken him. Shaken him to the point where she no longer saw the hard man who hid himself behind cockyness and jokes. She now knew for sure that he was a man who had experienced lose. Just like her.
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Author's Note: So what do you guys think? Should I continue with it? Already working on the next piece as we speak.
Also I'm still looking for suggestions on Hermione's code name. I'm making a list and will most likely put a poll up.
Please stop below and leave me a lovely review! It's my fuel! lol. Cheers.