The building was the same as he remembered.
Green grass stretched over the long lawn, neatly trimmed bushes. A security guard sat in the booth at the entrance and another sat in an open golf cart. It could have been the outside of a country club. Then you drove over the hill and saw the outdoor garden. Scrub-dressed nurses pushed patients of varying awareness around the cobblestone path in wheelchairs, some nurses holding small towels incase the patients drooled.
The whole thing screamed helplessness and Tony hated it- hated visiting the hospital.
The entrance guard waved him through, and Tony drove his car down the familiar path to the parking lot. Happy had stopped coming to the hospital with him after the first few times when he realized that there weren't any threats that could catch Tony off guard here and Raven would never let a threat to Tony walk on.
The door that he visited was right off of the parking lot, one of the few rooms that had doors to the outside. He entered the familiar key code and pushed the door open.
Tony had been in many of the rooms over the course of visiting. Most were small with white walls and white tiled floors, only a bed in the corner and button to call for help. Not this room, though. This one was colorful, each wall holding a different color scheme and a different design. Bookshelves were scattered, filled with books on various subjects. Canvases were stacked up in corners, some filled and some waiting to be filled. A flat screen TV was propped up on the wall. Bright, mismatching furniture was scattered throughout the room. A large pillow sat in one corner, the mammoth dog atop it only looking up, seeing that it was him, and wagging her tail slightly. The patient was staring out the window, a contrast to herself.
She had long black hair falling in tangles, skin a pale tan, and eyes bright green. She was wearing a long, flowing white tunic and black leggings, fingers and toes were covered with rings of different colors and small gems. Multi-colored, tasteful, artwork showed on her arms, and peeked over the color of her shirt to swirl slightly to the back of her neck.
He coughed and she whirled around, smiling at him even though her eyes were unfocused. "Tony!" She seemed to float over to give him a hug, burying her head in his chest. She was the only one that never seemed to notice the arc reactor. ("What the fuck is in your chest, Tony?").
"Hey, Raven." He said, kissing the top of her head. He was one of the four people alive that was able to connect her real name to this patient, but he as one of them he also knew that she loathed her name. Any nickname was fine, but not Harriet James Lily Potter Black Slytherin Gryffendor Blah Blah Blah.
"Have you come to help me escape today?" She said. He shook his head, smiling at her. It was the familiar argument.
They had tried to take her back to the Stark Tower before it had become the Avenger Tower, before even Obie's betrayal. She hadn't been able to last long, though. Too many people caused her to loose focus more, each person she touched caused her to spout facts about them, even when Tony tried to herd her upstairs she had relived the things she had seen in touching them.
"Not today. Have you been making any friends?" Tony asked. Raven smiled at him and twirled him to the ugly purple couch that she had insisted on buying online when he brought her a computer.
"Nurse Calli and I are meeting for breakfast sometimes, but that may just be because she unlocks the doors and lost her mother a few months ago. She likes it when I can talk to her mother for her." He sat down and she curled herself into his side. "I even went outside the other day with her. She talked to Chris, her boyfriend and another nurse, and he kept everyone away."
She talked to him about what happened when he was gone and he listened, taking in every detail and not letting his mind stray. He had long ago learned that she already knew everything about him, knew it as soon as he had helped her up from the ground the day they met. He knew that he only had to talk about things if he really wanted to, that she would never push him and understood if he stopped half way.
Tony sometimes felt bad unloading all of his emotions on a girl that most thought of as crazy, but Tony knew as a survivor. He tried to protect her from everything that he could though. When he had hacked into SHIELD to see Fury considering her for the team he had removed her name.
She had already fought so much.
The doctors said she was Crazy.
She said she was Lost.
He said she was Physic.
Tony had first met her in the lobby of Stark Towers when he was twelve.
He had been in his last year of high school, the seniors getting the day off from school for whatever reason. He had wanted to go with a few friends for lunch, Tony paying of course, but Howard had said no. So instead Tony had been forced to come to the towers to work on the latest project that he was assigned.
She had been sitting in the lobby, waiting in the section usually reserved for school tour groups. Security had already asked her if her dog could wait outside, it scared them, but she had said no. She even had some papers that said that it was her seeing-eye dog.
She wasn't blind.
Tony blew up his project an hour in and was moved to tour duty for the incoming class of fourth graders as punishment. He had no idea why the kids wanted to see a major weapons manufacture but was resigned to glossing over the weapons part and focusing more on the new brand of cell phones.
He had started the tour, giving most of the calls over to his "assistant" who was actually there to make sure he didn't mess up too badly. She had walked up to him as he fell to the back of the line.
"Are you Tony Stark?" The way she asked it made it obvious that she wasn't really asking but telling him his name. He nodded none the less, taking time to glance her over.
She didn't seem to fit in at all with the group. While she was only a little taller then the fourth graders, she seemed older somehow. The dog beside her, who had growled at everyone else, seemed resigned to him as though no matter how much it growled Tony wouldn't be leaving.
"Your dog looks like a hellhound." Tony told her. She laughed, in on some secret no one else knew.
"I know." She had fallen after that, tripped by a pencil pouch one of the kids had dropped and promptly forgotten about in the rush to get in the closing elevator. He caught her before she hit the ground, gaining a bark from the dog. "Oh." She had lain in his arms for a few seconds before struggling up and standing, swaying slightly despite her hand on the dog's head. "Sorry about that, Anthony Edward."
Tony stared at her. Only his grandmother had called him that, not even the papers knowing his middle name since his father hated it even as his mother had insisted. "Who are you?"
She gave him a smile that hid a thousand secrets. "I am Calypso Evans today. This is Marwolaeth all the time." She gestured to her dog. Then she leaned forward and whispered. "But sometimes people just call her Laeth." She leaned back and nodded seriously. Tony nodded seriously back.
He liked her.
"So, what will you be called tomorrow?" He asked. The elevators had closed so he led the walk toward the stairs. She shrugged. "Alright, I think I shall call you Raven."
The doctors said she was Crazy.
She said she was Confused.
He said she was Amazing.
She had been locked up in the hospital while he was trapped in Afghanistan, and by the time he came back she was too firmly there to be moved. She had gotten used to the routine, and even though she did want to leave the doctors all thought she was too insane to function without them. They would have tracked her down and made her life hell until she came back to them.
He thought doctors were full of shit, the self-important bastards.
What kind of doctor thought that they were that important to a patient that they didn't visit more then once a year? They hadn't even realized that she looked exactly the same every year. Even the nurses, people who saw her everyday, hadn't noticed that she never aged, never got a pimple or wrinkle. She had looked the same way since Tony had met her, never changing.
She said she was seventeen. He believed her, knew that one day he would have to get her out of the hospital, get her and Laeth away from those that document every thing or else people would want her secrets.
She could do magic, she had shown him numerous times. He hadn't believed her at first, but the casual way she did it ruled out dramatics. It was second nature to her and worked, not even the most elaborate hoax or delusion could do that. Raven said that she used to be able to do more, but that she had been forced to fight a war and as a result had become unmade. When Moon put her together again, she had been too scattered to be put fully together and had pieces of magic missing.
When she got too upset, the result being thrown in the hospital to start with, the magic pieces scattered reacted to her emotions and caused chaos. Only Laeth could calm her down then, calm her down and act as a replacement for her loose magic.
She never said how long she had been seventeen, only that she had been long enough for Moon, Book, Lion, and both Laughs to die. Sometimes when she was feeling like talking of the past she would tell stories of the six of them before she was undone.
The stories sounded exciting- full of drama, adventure, and touches of romance. She never told the very end, the last story. It was okay, though, he could guess the main events of the end.
Once there had been another girl sitting in her room when he visited. She was obviously not one of the patients, she was too horrified at being caught in the room and too wealthy looking. She had on a long purple cloak and Tony remembered all the things that Raven had told her about wizard fashion.
Laeth was growling lowly at her, and Raven was staring out the window. The girl was begging her, "Auntie Harriet" to come home, saying that she could help Raven, that the world missed her, and that they needed a hero again.
Tony kicked her out, not caring that he was technically not allowed to. Raven had been clingy that day, and they had sat on the couch in silence for the most part and watched some comedy movie that Tony could never remember the name of, and he didn't think she was really watch it as much as she was taking comfort. Raven had later said that the girl had been a descendent of Book's, but had never said how far of a descendent she was.
He had told security not to let her in, but he knew that it was mostly just for records. Raven had already taken care of it in her own way.
It was that night that he realized that the great, playboy Tony Stark was in love. He promised himself that he would do anything to protect her.
The doctors said she was Crazy.
She said she was Missing.
He said she was Listening.
He knew what the rest of the Avengers thought of him for hacking into SHIELD, the great Captain America had made sure of that when he had caught him making sure Raven's name wasn't mentioned and location remained unknown. ("Take off the suit and who are you?")
When Raven had isolated herself in her room and the hospital had called in a panic, Tony had rushed down there. He honestly hadn't known that Fury had called an all-call. If he had he would have told them that he couldn't go, probably giving a fake excuse if they insisted, before rushing to the hospital. Raven had needed him to talk her out of the corner, pull her away from the wall and curl up with her and Laeth to get familiar memories and emotions flowing through her again.
Everyone else took second place behind her.
He had read the reports of the Battle of New York. He knew what the others had said about him, and he knew what Natalie Rushman had said when she had been a spy in the company. They all thought that he was spoiled and lazy. ("Textbook Narcissism"). He had heard it all before.
Tony wasn't sure why it hurt more coming from the team then the fickle public and press. He had been called those names since he was able to walk, first by Howard then by the press. All of his accomplishments were written with his latest failure in larger print. He never had a victory without some reminding everyone of what he had done wrong.
New arc reactor that will save the plant? Well, he did contribute to global warming with all of his fast cars. New weapon that only kills those it targets and will avoid others? Only monsters use death to make money, Stark is such Merchant of Death. Stop selling weapons? Only an idiot would stop selling weapons at a weapon manufacture.
Anything good had to instantly be followed by a disclaimer least Tony read it and think that he was doing something right for once. Why should the Avengers, a team he had almost quite literally died for, be any different? It's not like he gave up his home, labs, time, and social life for them.
They got irritated when he ignored team meetings, which accomplished nothing, to visit Raven. They never asked where he was, never gave him the benefit of the doubt. It was only blaming him for what went wrong ("If you had been at the meeting, maybe you wouldn't made such a fucking idiot move, Stark!"). There was no chance for him to explain, even though he probably wouldn't have.
Tony had let the keep their secrets. No one asked Steve where he went on the anniversary of his crash into the ocean, or if he had visited Peggy yet. No one asked Bruce about Betty, why he didn't talk to her anymore, or where he went after he Hulked. No one asked Clint why he would take the ear piece out for long times or why he preferred air vents over hallways. No one asked Natasha what happened in the Red Room or why she loved fresh fruit but hated anything canned. No one asked Thor why he wasn't surprised that Loki had taken over, or why he wasn't scared for his "brother" when Fury got ahold of him.
Why only ask him?
"They're jealous." Raven had told him once. Tony had realized that she was listening to his unspoken words again, and had felt a pang of guilt that she ignored. "The rest of the team visualizes you differently. They see you as rich, spoiled, and a genius. They see you as a genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist. They are ignorantly blind to the truth. Feelings are wasted on those that are ignorantly blind. In their defense, though, most people are ignorantly blind to at least something."
Tony had given a sad laugh and kissed her head again, "My little Confucius."
He may have to be held to a higher standard with others, but at least with her he could just be Tony.
The doctors said she was Crazy.
She said she was Searching.
He said she was a Genius.
Tell me what you think!
Sequel with the team finding out?