Hey guys, I got a good response on my fic 'The Victor's Guardian' and I got urged by reviewers to write more Avengers fics.
So it encouraged me a lot (: So thanks guys!
Here is another one, I'm not sure whether I'm proud of it or not. But I hope you guys like it!
Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers.
Of Monsters and Demons
The call came on a December evening.
"Stark, the team has been compromised."
The glass of scotch he was holding in his hand dropped and shattered.
Anthony Edward Stark remembered his childhood days, the ones that consisted of his mother attending parties with his father, putting on a fake façade of happiness that Tony was used to. Sometimes, in fact, when Tony had to go to the events with his parents, he reveled in the attention that they gave him – even if he knew that it was all for the cameras. He supposes that it's okay, that it's as good as it's going to get for him.
So he put up with it.
He also remembered the nights he cowered in his bedroom, under the Captain America blankets that Jarvis had gotten him for his birthday. He remembered the slow movement of his curtains under the influence of the wind.
Tony remembered being scared.
He remembered being scared of the monsters under his bed, and that his mother and father would never take the time to comfort him because damn it, why should they?
Why should they comfort a scared little boy?
Because that was just it, he was acting like a scared little boy. Not like the genius boy that his parents, no – his father, wanted him to be.
He knew that it was pathetic.
But he was a little boy – a little boy that was made to grow up too fast.
To be honest, Tony never knew why he was scared of the monsters under his bed. He wasn't scared when he was kidnapped at the tender age of seven for a 1 million dollar ransom. He wasn't scared when he was kidnapped again at age eleven.
He doesn't know why, and he's not really sure if he wants to know.
Tony sauntered onto the SHIELD helicarrier the next morning with an eerie calm.
Nick Fury was waiting for him on the deck, and Tony was, for once, on time.
"Mr. Stark, -"
"Cut to the chase, Fury, I have some work to do."
Fury sighed and rubbed his temples, "I sent them on an extraction mission in Baghdad, it was supposed to be simple, go in, get the guy and get out."
Tony crossed his arms, "If it was meant to be simple, then why did you need all five of them? And for the record, why wasn't I invited?"
"Because you were supposed to be in a meeting in Tokyo, which you didn't show up for."
"Are you that interested in my personal life?"
"Mr. Stark, we were fooled, there was no SHIELD agent trapped there. We needed all five of them because Baghdad is a dangerous place."
"Whoa, rewind. You got fooled?"
Fury growled, "Yes, we were fooled. Turns out there was someone working for them on the inside. All they wanted was the Avengers."
"Lucky I wasn't there then."
He hummed, "I suppose. But now, since Rogers and Romanoff aren't here to keep you following orders, we need you to be responsible and follow everything we tell you to do."
"And what makes you think that I'm going to go save them?"
"Because you have a heart, even if you try to hide it with a shield of armor."
Tony had no answer to that.
Tony remembers when he was twelve, and Jarvis was dying. He remembered how scared he was to lose his only companion – his true father.
He had cried and cried and cried and screamed and screamed and screamed until his throat was raw and red.
That was the only time that Tony remembered being as scared as he was of the monsters under his bed.
He knew that he never wanted to feel that way again.
But fate is cruel, and he just can't help feeling that way now.
"JARVIS, pull up the co-ordinates."
"Sir, the team is being held captive in a cave seventy miles north west of your current position."
Tony huffed and sped forward, "Estimated time of arrival?"
"Ten minutes, sir."
"I'm coming guys."
The cave was dark. And it reminded Tony of the cave that he was held captive in during his kidnapping in Afghanistan. That cave however, had a market of his weapons outside. This was completely barren.
The cave was quiet, bar the quiet whispers in his ear from Agent Hill.
The cave was cold and he remembered how cold caves were.
Tony Stark was a lot of things, nostalgic was not one of them.
He retracted his armor because he knew that it would make soft noises when he moved. He knew that it would leave him unprotected, but he did it anyway.
He was, in the famous words of Agent Romanoff, self-destructive, after all.
"Sir, I detect that the Avengers are down the left hallway to the right," JARVIS instructs him from his other earpiece.
Tony nods, and tip toes away.
The smell is of mold and rotting food, and the dense air makes him sweat under his clothes although it's cold.
He clenches his fists when he sees the cells at the end of the hallway.
They were being kept like prisoners.
He peered into one cell, and saw that Bruce was being restrained by shackles and cuffs. His face was bloody, and he seemed to be nursing a broken wrist.
Tony's anger flared.
There was a small cough, and Tony noticed Agent Romanoff in the corner. She too, had shackles, but only on her petite wrists instead of her ankles as well.
The cell beside Bruce and Natasha held Thor and Agent Barton. Thor appeared to be thrashing around in his sleep, with his face twisted like he was in some sort of pain. Tony then noticed the bullet wounds embedded into his leg and the broken arm.
Clint appeared to be calmer, retreating into a corner much like Natasha. He didn't seem to bad, just shaking with a couple of bruises trailing up his arm.
The last cell held Captain America in all his glory.
His suit was ripped, and there seemed to be claw marks running down his chest that blood was still spewing out of. His face was bloody and scratched raw, and his blonde hair looked brown from the blood matted into it.
Tony turned around, leaned against the wall, and nearly choked.
There was a stirring coming from the first cell.
Tony peered in, and saw Natasha with her green eyes observing him.
She seemed disoriented, as if she wasn't sure where she was or who she was looking at. She seemed confused, and then her eyes opened wide and it appeared that everything clicked.
She kicked Bruce lightly in his leg without making a sound because Bruce was always a light sleeper. He stirred and his eyes opened wide.
Bruce parted his lips to say something, but before he could, a booming demonic voice sounded from behind Tony.
A voice Tony had never expected to hear again.
Tony froze when his brain registered and put a face to the voice behind him. He straightened up, ignored the noises that his newly awoken teammates were making behind him, and face the devil himself.
Raza, with his half-burnt face, smiled crookedly with his teeth gleaming in the light of his oil lamp.
"You're supposed to be dead," Tony snarled.
Raza smirked, "Only the good die young."
"I guess that's the reason why I'm still alive."
"Funny, even after all this time, people still die because of you."
"I'm trying to fix what I started."
"Something that is broken will never be truly fixed Mr. Stark," Raza clarified.
Tony's eye twitched.
Raza walks towards him, and stops by his side.
He leans in, and whispers in Tony's ear.
"Do you want to know the real reason why they are here, Mr. Stark?"
"They are here, because of you."
Tony's iron façade breaks.
"Tony? Tony what did he say?!" Steve shouts.
"Tony! Get out of here!" Bruce screams.
"Man of Iron, please depart!" Thor booms.
And Tony's head hurts, because it's all too much, because he's the reason why they're here and it's too much for him to comprehend and it makes him scared to know that he's the reason why his team was put in danger.
"Listen to that, Mr. Stark, listen to the pleas and cries of your beloved Avengers and know that you are the reason that they are in this mess."
Raza pulls away from Tony's ear, and speaks loud enough for the Avengers to hear him.
"We had someone on the inside at SHIELD, and we knew that you would be attending a meeting in Tokyo and therefore would not be partaking in this 'extraction' mission. And that was exactly what we wanted."
Tony's eyes flicked to the side and saw Natasha prying at her shackles and the rest of the team clinging onto the bars of their cells.
"We knew that these five lost creatures were your weakness, and most of all, I knew that you would do anything to save them."
Tony bristled, "And what made you so sure?"
"The footage of your battles together, the care in your eyes when your faceplate is lifted up, the way you would lay down the wire and make the sacrifice play."
Steve's head dropped.
"Oh yes, we also obtained SHIELD's camera footage too."
Tony glared menacingly at the demon in front of him, "Then what do you want from me?"
Raza smirked, and leaned dangerously close.
"I want your reactor."
Tony's eyes met Raza's, and he suppressed the vomit slowly inching its way up his throat.
"And what do I have to do?"
Raza leaned back, and circled Tony slowly, like a lion observing its prey.
"Join them, and I will leave them alone."
Roars of protests shook the air, and Tony shut his eyes.
He remembers the monsters under his bed.
And he realizes that he has never been more afraid.
"You want me, so you'll get me, but only me."
Tony hears a growl behind him, and he thinks it might be Bruce.
Tony glances behind him, to the cells that hold his teammates captive.
"You let them go, and I'll stay. One life in exchange for five."
A chorus of curses, screams and pleas echo through the cave, and Tony is having none of it.
Raza smiles, and Tony notices a glint in his eye.
And the devil and the victor shake hands.
"Tony, no…" Steve whispers.
Raza snaps his fingers, and barrels of men barge in the hallway and stand in their place outside each cell.
"But first of all, give me the arc reactor before I set them free."
Tony growls, but reluctantly complies.
He lifts up his shirt, and he swears that he can hear his teammates gasp a long awaited breath when the light of the arc reactor glows in the semi-darkness.
In the blue light, Raza looks like a demon.
Tony brings his hand up to his reactor, hooks his fingers around it, twists and lifts it out.
The pain that it brings is immense and Tony finds that he can hardly breathe.
Raza cackles and rips the arc reactor from Tony's grasp while he crumbles to the floor heaving for air.
The Avengers are banging against their cell bars, shouting curses at Raza and begging, pleading with Tony to get up and telling him that it'll be okay.
Steve doesn't say anything, and it's more out of shock than anything.
Tony's proven him wrong countless times, and he's felt the guilt of his words throughout the time after the Battle of Manhattan, but nothing compares to this.
So he watches as Tony convulses on the ground clutching his chest in dear agony in complete silence. The cries of his teammates are mere buzzes in his ear.
Because Tony Stark shouldn't be in this position.
It is a situation not meant for a man like Tony Stark.
"You are a fool, Mr. Stark," Raza calmly states, "as if you'd really think that I'd let such fascinating creatures go from my grasp."
Tony heaves, and his vision begins to fog up.
"Y-you seem t-to be for-forgetting something Raza," Tony forces out.
"Oh really? And what would that be?"
Clint swears that he saw a hint of a smile on Tony's face, "I'm always one step ahead."
And that's when all hell broke loose.
SHIELD agents flooded the area and soon enough the cave was a warzone. Smoke from the bullets being fired clouded the vision of the Avengers, and two blue glows appeared.
When the smoke dissipated, Natasha could see that Agent Hill was holding out an arc reactor to Tony, while Raza's arc reactor was being carefully placed in a briefcase.
Raza, however, was being subdued by other SHIELD agents while the ones guarding their cells were dead.
Tony wearily reaches out to Agent Hill, and grabs the arc reactor before putting it back in his chest.
He breathes out slowly, carefully, trying to regain composure.
Then he becomes the Tony Stark that everyone knows.
"Took you long enough."
Agent Hill hums, "At least we got here, Stark. The earpiece was a great idea."
Tony twirls around and strides over to Raza with a dangerous gleam in his eyes. Unforgiving and full of hatred and malice.
"I remember when I was small, when I was afraid of the monsters under my bed. I guess it took me a while to figure out that the monster was me all along," Tony started.
He pulled out something from under his shirt, and Natasha mentally slaps herself for not noticing.
Tony brought a gun.
"You're the fool Raza, did you really think that I'd come unarmed? People forget that I am Iron Man, and that he does not exist without Tony Stark. They forget that sometimes Tony Stark is much, much more unforgiving."
Tony lifted his gun.
"This is for Yinsen."
Steve remembers the unforgiving look in Tony's eyes.
Thor remembers the stance of a warrior.
Clint remembers the pain of a friend.
Natasha remembers the blood on both their hands.
Bruce remembers the cold and calculating look in his eyes.
But most of all, Tony remembers the day the monster under the bed was unleashed.
Because there is no greater monster than Tony Stark himself.
So that's it guys!
If you liked it, please review!
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