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Tony leaned against the crumbling fireplace, mouth agape and expression bewildered. He watched War Machine take off in the distance, unable to comprehend the turn of events.

Wait. Tony wanted to say, wanted to scream, because that was his friend, his only friend, and that friend was paralysed from the waist down.

For life. They had said.

The monochrome suit disappeared into the night sky. Party lights flickered above Tony, hues of sickening blue. Tony ripped off his faceplate. He couldn’t breathe. He was alone. He was dying, dead.

Wait. Don’t leave me behind. Tony called out to the person that was neither here nor there. Don’t leave me.

“Sir,” Tony froze. “You are exhibiting symptoms of a panic attack. Please follow my instructions and establish a breathing pattern.”


Tony didn’t register what the A.I. said next because that was Jarvis. Jarvis was alive. Jarvis was talking to him, trying to help him again after he had lost Jarvis all those years ago.

Tony couldn't hold it back anymore; he slid from the fireplace and crashed onto the concrete. He curled in on himself, and he cried. Tony tasted salt as he opened his mouth in a silent scream. He was safe here, in his home. He still had a home. Despite it being ruined, despite the place reeking of alcohol, and despite his best friend had just taken off with his Iron Man suit.

All the pain, anguish, hurt, and betrayal erupted from his chest. It ached from a phantom blow that had yet to happen. Tony cried until he had nothing left.

He cried for the memories of a family that never was. He cried for the friendships lost. But most importantly, he cried because it was not yet too late.

If this was some cruel joke, some twisted sense of punishment…

Tony didn’t want to wake up.