If You See Me, Please Just Walk On By

Chapter One

ghosting along the dubious boundaries of consciousness, wading through dark shadows thick as mud, pulling limbs from it, fighting the suction as it tries to inhale him back in

he hears himself cry out

voices all around him, many of them forceful, insistent. Angry words that he doesn't recognize spoken in a tongue familiar but indistinguishable

one of them soothing, soft, a pillow in the center of a bed of nails

he gasps. The smell of copper and rust is overwhelming. Mingling with dirt and shit

there's pain in his chest, pain which rises into steady pounding, searing agony of which he is unable to coherently describe

oh god

he screams. He can feel ruthless hands holding him down, the voices become louder, more panicked. His chest is exploding

he tries to reach up to stop whatever is happening but finds his wrists bound next to him by cruel straps. Tossing his head only makes it worse, strains the offending area

and opening his eyes only graces him with a brief moment of blurred horrific imagery, of gloved hands lowering a black object into a pool of bright red

he screams again


When he wakes, he doesn't bolt upright as usual, but his terrified shout is loud enough to make him thankful for sound-proof walls. Gasping raggedly, sheets drenched in his sweat, Tony just lays there and stares wide-eyed at the ceiling, fluid recollections of his nightmare eroding the already compromised shores of his composure.

"Jesus..." He breathes, one shaking hand coming up to wipe at stinging eyes. "That was a bad one."

And then his next breath comes with a hitch and a long groan as he realizes why such old memories had dragged themselves up with hooked claws from the pit he'd thrown them in. The arc reactor isn't willing to play ball with him today, sitting heavily in the cavernous hole, the hole carved out of him against his will. Lungs refuse to expand properly, ribs rubbed raw by his recent twisting and maneuvering in the suit, and painful internal swelling as his body attempts to reject the culpable implant. What a terrible, terrible privilege.

Tony sits up a little, propped against some pillows, and pulls his shirt down to inspect it. Yup, there it is. Bruising and swelling all around the glowing blue of the arc reactor, a sight all too familiar to him. It looks like a perfectly circular lake had been dropped smack dab in the center of a cracked and spoiled nuclear wasteland.

Funny, because the damn thing came out of a cracked and spoiled wasteland. Pretty much the worst souvenir ever.

Tony sighs, winces when the movement irritates the newly raw skin around the arc reactor, and lays back down, resigning himself to the unavoidable hours of recuperation he requires so his body can return to normal.

Or what he refers to as a mockery of normalcy. His body would never be normal again.

"Sir, Captain Rogers requests your presence in the lounge." JARVIS says, tone lowered so as to not prematurely induce the migraine he knew his creator would eventually have to suffer through.

Tony drapes an arm over squinted eyes, growling in frustration as pain shoots like electricity through the limb, originating from the hellish tomb in his sternum. He grits his teeth. "Not sure I could get up if I wanted to. Tell him I'm busy."

"I already have, sir."

Tony smiles through the pain which is now becoming worse with every inhale. Sharp, redundant, annoying. His A.I. is the absolute shit, knows Tony like the back of his own circuit board, is capable of sensing when he's in too much pain to do much else aside from laying there. "Thanks, J." He pants, staying stock still on his back to prevent movement induced agony. "I think it's gonna be one of those days."

A/N: This was written for a prompt on the kinkmeme: . ?thread=38897129#t38897129

Story is complete, so please review, and more will come faster, blah, blah, blah. Chapters are short throughout... sorry, I hate doing that but, meh.

Also, I'm still working on Dark Horse, so never fear. Just needed something to dispel a nasty case of blockage, and this did it, I think.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think.