Tony stepped forward, letting the suit wrap around him like a second skin. His HUD lit up, cataloguing the positions of everyone and everything on the field, along with several other columns of relevant flight data. His HUD looked less like a window to outside than an annotated diagram in a textbook. Tony’s mind raced, absorbing every shred of data as it scrolled past.
“Iron Man, status?” Carol asked over the coms.
Tony tore his eyes away from the numbers. “I’m here,” he said, already leaping into action. “We’ll win, don’t worry.”
“I wasn’t,’ she said with a laugh and a sound like she just punched someone. “I’m just making sure that when I beat your count, it’s fair because we started at the same time.”
“How considerate of you,” Tony shot back, blasting Wilson across the room with a special type of blast he had developed to short out electronics. Wilson raised his hands in surrender, wings drooping and sparking, so Tony moved on to his next opponent. “Spider Man, you have Hawkeye aiming at you.”
Peter jumped out of the way just as a concussive arrow landed where he was. “Thanks, Mr. St- um, I mean, Iron Man.”
“Good save, Spider Boy,” Stephen said from where he was engaged in battle with Maximoff.
“It’s Spider Man !”
“Chatter, Spider Baby,” Carol barked, but her voice was warm. “Iron Man, I want you on Widow. We have a temporary alliance with the Defenders, so don’t hit Daredevil.”
“Aye, aye, Cap’n,” Tony said with a mock salute in her direction. In a heartbeat, he had landed behind Romanoff, shooting her lightly with a repulsor. “Two down for me, how many left?”
“Barton is hiding, Ant Man is running around somewhere, Scarlet Witch is still fighting Doctor Strange, but not for long, all the Defenders are still kicking, and Captain America and the Winter Soldier are currently attacking them,” Carol rattled off.
“Roger that, I’m headed to help the Defenders,” Tony announced, landing in his flashy three-point pose. He ignored the way his heart sped up to be on the other side of Rogers's shield again. “You started the fun without me?” he asked Jessica, landing a solid kick to Rogers’s chest.
“Not my fault you’re clinically unable to be on time,” she snarked back, catching one of Barnes’s punches in her fist. Seconds later, she was thrown across the room, Matt stepping in to take her place.
“Lovely day we’re having,” he greeted.
“Matt, you don’t go outside.”
“I looked out the windows,” Matt defended, evading Barnes with a series of wholly unnecessary flips.
“Matt, you’re blind,” Tony shot Rogers again, this time with a series of harder artillery. Nothing life-threatening, but they’d leave bruises. Rogers stumbled, giving Tony an opening on Barnes. Tony took it, jumping seamlessly into the fray as Matt met Jessica’s fate.
Tony’s suit wasn’t the best for hand to hand, but Barnes had the same long-distance advantages he did. At least Tony packed a harder punch, both fists made of metal. Barnes had all his training on his side, but Tony was a genius. He anticipated Barnes’s throws, utilising both FRIDAY’s predictive algorithm and his own observations to duck underneath them. He fought with the suit as an extension of his body, using its weaponry as seamlessly as he used his own limbs (it wasn't like Siberia, where he was all too human, too disconnected for his movements to flow like the deadly dance they did now).
Just as he started to get Barnes down, Rogers threw himself back into the fight. Two against one, they regained a little bit of ground. Tony cast an anxious look over his shoulder, looking for any of his allies. Stephen was helping Peter with Ant Man and Barton, and it seemed the Defenders were no longer their allies, if Carol’s intense battle with the four of them was any indication. Tony was on his own. A heartbeat passed remembering Siberia again, remembering another fight against them where he almost didn’t walk out.
“You want a rematch?” he whispered under his breath, keeping the external coms off. He didn’t need to add fuel to the raging fire in Rogers’s eyes. “Bring it on.”
Tony blasted forward, knocking both Super Soldiers off their feet with the force of his repulsors. Barnes rolled with it, landing in a crouch. He sprung at Tony, using a small knife to try to lever off a piece of the armor.
“Cute,” Tony taunted, the nanotech encasing the knife. It crawled up Barnes’s hand, too, locking it in place. Tony swung around, placing Barnes in front of Rogers’s coming hit. He disengaged the nanoparticles so he could throw Barnes at Rogers, sowing chaos as the two struggled to right themselves.
“I didn’t know the suit could do that,” Barnes panted, stepping on the offensive again. Rogers stood behind him, brandishing the shield and trying to look scary (it worked, not that Tony would ever admit it).
Tony spread his arms in his trademark presentation move. “Lots you don’t know, Snowflake.” He didn’t wait for the two to attack. He aimed for Rogers first, meeting the swing of his shield with an iron gauntlet. Tony flung the shield off to a corner and fought Rogers hand to hand. FRIDAY silently displayed the algorithm, showing him where to attack. He pushed even more memories of Siberia away, of the same cold blue eyes telling him he could do this all day .
So can I , Tony thought, gaining the upper hand. A minute later and it was over for the Super Soldier. Tony caught him in a hold, limbs unyielding to Rogers’s ineffective thrashing.
“Rogers is out,” he announced over the coms, throwing the sulking soldier to the floor. “Status on the rest of you?”
“We’re all fighting the Defenders,” Carol sounded exhausted. “Can you handle Barnes?”
Tony saw Barnes, who had snuck away to play sniper in Barton’s place (Peter had webbed him to the wall. Tony was so proud). “On it,” he said, flying towards the soldier.
Barnes saw him coming, of course, and turned his sniper rifle on Tony. The bullets clanged harmlessly off of the armor, even the one that pinged the arc reactor (which had Tony freaking out just a little). Tony rolled his eyes, even though they were invisible behind the faceplate, and snatched Barnes out of the sniper’s nest.
Not to be outdone, Barnes swung around, forcing Tony to descend a little. He was still trying to find the armor’s weak points, stabbing into joints and just generally being a nuisance. Tony dropped him, aware that in flight, he couldn’t use his repulsors for an attack.
Barnes drew a gun, fast as a snake, and fired it at Tony’s faceplate. It didn’t go through the armor, but the impact (which Tony guessed was Barnes’s goal), stunned him long enough for Barnes to take him down and pin him.
Tony thought he would panic at being on his back again, a Super Soldier looming over him, but he didn’t. “Your eyes are the wrong color,” he muttered, coms off, before directing the nanites to encase Barnes instead of forming his suit. About half of his suit dissolved, trapping Barnes in restraints he couldn’t escape.
“I surrender,” Barnes said, face unreadable. His eyes were softer, less murdery than usual, so Tony figured the man wasn’t too mad. Tony hoped he wasn’t deluding himself with the small amount of genuine respect he saw there, too. “You could’ve done this in Siberia.”
Tony summoned the armor back from where it was holding Barnes. “Yes.”
“You let us win.”
“Yes,” Tony repeated. Barnes just looked at him, appraising. Tony didn’t lift his faceplate, didn't let the man read his face.
“Iron Man, Spider Brat and Lover Boy need backup,” Carol shouted. “I’m out.”
"Those are not our code names!" Stephen grumbled. "Tony, love, if you knock out a Defender or two, you'll beat Carol's count."
Tony made to leave, turning his back on Barnes. The man grabbed his wrist lightly, prompting him to turn around.
“I’m sorry,” Barnes met his eyes unflinchingly, sounding completely sincere.
Tony didn't move for a second, two. He thought about Stephen, about Peter, about his whole new family. He even thought about Howard and how the man would always hold grudges. Then he thought about Maria and how she preached forgiveness, always. “I forgive you,” Tony said, surprising himself with how much he meant it, before blasting off to help his family.