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50 Shades of Tony

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 10th June 2012

 

  1. 1. Civil
    Looking at the ruins of his penthouse, Tony wonders why he invited those strangers to come to stay with him here in his tower. But then, old-man Jarvis always lectured him about courtesy and civility. So perhaps that’s why.

 

  1. 2. Strange
    There is an emerging pattern in all the snapshots of people’s encounters with Loki that Tony has gathered, both from his own security cameras and those that SHIELD keeps in their database. It doesn’t sit well with him. But whom can he tell about this strangeness?

 

  1. 3. Bleak
    The medical photos that JARVIS took on Tony’s chest area show him a bleak, short future. Apparently, the arc reactor embedded in his chest hasn’t been able to cope well with all the strenuous activities that happened this few days.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 13th June 2012

 

  1. 4. Teal
    With all the stresses piling up, from reconstruction of the tower, to demands to debrief from Fury, to his own impending death, Tony seeks shelter with his bots in the tropics. Here in Indonesia, from his sea-side little lab, he can watch the calm blue-green water to his heart’s content.

 

  1. 5. Yonder
    A komodo dragon is lazily sunning itself just beyond the fence of the little getaway home. Tony observes it with envy. He used to do that; just… in another life, it feels. But now there are so many things to do, to prepare for… things.

 

  1. 5. Guise
    Mingling with the natives is fun. Tony is just another ridiculous American tourist in a village of short, black-skinned, cheerful people. With his goatee gone and him garbed only in baggy shorts, baggier T-shirts and flip-flops, nobody will be able to recognise him as Tony Stark, the Iron Man.

 

  1. 6. Quilt
    Staying in a tropical climate would make everyone shun thick blankets. But Tony can’t ditch the quilt that Anna made for him that long time ago, when his world was practically just old-man Jarvis and that lovely wife of his. She was his mum in all but blood.

 

  1. 7. Scale
    In the scale from “horrible” to “horrendous,” this second impending death by arc reactor…. Well, it’s actually out of the scale, and not in a bad way at that, Tony muses. There are less loose ties to deal with, and SHIELD or other government agents are yet to find him.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 15th June 2012

 

  1. 8. Clutter
    “Oh, shit,” Tony grumbles, as he trips yet again on the toolboxes that either of his three bots have left open on the floor. Fortunately, this time he isn’t holding anything. “Oi! I didn’t program clutteriness into the three of you, did I? Come on – clean this up!”

 

  1. 9. Pump
    `One last good thing before I die.` That’s the idea. And now, Tony is delivering his custom-made water-finder kits to a few nearby villages, consisting of a groundwater measurer, a water driller and a pump set. The drought is still there, but at least it’s something… right?

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 16th June 2012

 

*11. Nice
Tony’s home-away-from-home is… swamped; by villagers with profuse thank-yous in rough and stumbling English, and gifts ranging from food items to virginity. And all because of just a handful of kits that cost so little, that he could rather easily make. To be appreciated so is… nice; bizarre, though.

 

  1. 12. Cup
    Playing with a few village children with the available utensils in his kitchen, Tony accidentally gets an idea when one of the rambunctious little things pretends to scoop “the blue light” out of his chest using a cup. `This kid might just save my life!`

 

Malibu, California, United States, 19th June 2012

 

  1. 13. Tired
    The need for advanced technical and medical tools regretfully sent Tony back to his home country. Now he is recuperating in his Malibu home, exhausted after a thirty-six-hour bender tweaking the arc reactor in his chest. And it works!

 

Malibu, California, United States, 21st June 2012

 

  1. 14. Wave
    Back on his figurative feet, Tony surfs about along his private beach with abandon. This reminds him of the waves just outside his little lab half-way on the other side of the globe, however, and the little child that unknowingly saved his life.

 

Malibu, California, United States, 23rd June 2012

 

  1. 15. Prolific
    Numerous water-finder kits after he began the industrious production, which had been sparked by the déjà-vu surfing, Tony has to concede that he misses his sea-side home in Flores, Indonesia. But, well, maybe it’s indeed the right time to return there for a while. SHIELD is sniffing round again.

 

  1. 16. Plate
    JARVIS has been fielding lots of calls from an exceedingly worried and increasingly frantic Pepper, apparently. Tony feels that he can’t face the world yet, though. So he sends her a custom-made plate he bought online, whose face displays embossed shapes of little strawberries forming the word “PEPPER.”

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 24th June 2012

 

  1. 17. Burn
    The land is still starving for water, Tony finds, as he visits his Flores home again. The soil is dry and cracked. The yellow grass crackles and breaks beneath his shoes. The waterways are empty. He delivers the water-finder kits he made to the villages, but they don’t seem enough.

 

  1. 18. Tasteless
    The porridge, made from mashed corn and nothing else, is tasteless and dry. In other places, in other times, Tony might reject it, shun it, even mock it. But the villagers insist to give it to him, in repayment for the water-finder kits, from so little that they have.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 27th June 2012

 

  1. 19. Kitchen
    Tony has learnt much, from tailing his mother in her Maria Stark Foundation events but actually speaking with people other than her. With that knowledge, he coordinates with the foundation and opens a soup kitchen that the villagers can partake of, as well as selling food ingredients inexpensively to them.

 

  1. 20. Itch
    JARVIS relays a video call through various bouncer servers. It’s Fury, and he is… furious. He rants about Tony’s lack of responsibility, lack of cooperation, lack of care. And Tony’s fists itch horribly. He wants to punch that bastard black and blue. He must keep “in character,” though.

 

  1. 21. Drink
    A group of Swedish tourists invite Tony “the American gone native” to drink with them, with the supplies that they brought from Jakarta, their previous stop. Tony has to pause, on that. `When did I last drink anything other than water, coffee, milk, pea soup or smoothies?` He can’t remember.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 30th June 2012

 

  1. 22. Scoundral
    Pepper is the one ranting, next. Tony can’t send up designs for new products from far away. Tony can’t just disappear, without telling anybody where he’s off to. Tony can’t ditch his responsibilities to Stark International. Tony can’t behave like a scoundral forever. And through all that, Tony is silent.

 

Puncak Jaya, Papua, Indonesia, 2nd July 2012

 

  1. 23. Cap
    Indonesian government agents have begun to sniff Tony’s presence. SHIELD will be just a step behind, he bets… or maybe they’re the one who squawked. So he moves to a more isolated place near the edge of the country, delighting in the snow that barely caps the highest mountain there.

 

  1. 24. Brindle
    Tony has a new bot, shaped like a little child. He names her Brindle, for her colourful coating. He wants a living reminder of his time here. A child living in a village of browns and yellows and creams and blues and precious green saved him, and he doesn’t forget.

 

Cartenz Piramid, Puncak Jaya, Papua, Indonesia, 3rd July 2012

 

25. Sublime
Tony is gathered with his four bots and JARVIS – in his newest Iron Man suit – atop the highest peak in Indonesia, seated on the light dusting of snow and watching the sun rise. The silence, broken just occasionally by the chattering of his bots, feels sublime.

Chapter Text

New York, United States, 4th July 2012

 

  1. 26. Satire
    Tony is not going to be driven out of his sanctuary like a stray or a criminal. He returns to his birthland on his own term, in his latest Iron Man suit, and immediately goes posturing to the masses in New York. He loads satirical limericks into SHIELD’s servers, too.

 

  1. 27. Stringent
    SHIELD agents in civilian clothes patrol round the tower and the Malibu home. Some even try to be hired into the household teams responsible for those places. Agents Pretender and Legolas take up on Tony’s offer of staying in the tower, to boot. A stringent measure, for a minor annoyance.

 

  1. 28. Cupcake
    Tony, garbed in clothes pretty similar to what he wore round his Flores home, although goateeful again, roams the streets of New York at night. On his way back, he drops into a hole-in-the-wall shop selling coffee and little cakes and, there, finds a whole new appreciation of jam-filled cupcakes.

 

New York, United States, 5th July 2012

 

  1. 29. Oyster
    Being underwater is still traumatising, even now, years after Afghanistan. But Tony still loves undunking wattery things. Right this afternoon, in fact, he is treating the lovely, irritated, exasperated, worrywart Miss Pepper Potts at a little restaurant that specialises on special-sauced oysters eaten right on their shells. Yummy oysters!

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 7th July 2012

 

  1. 30. Climbing
    Tony hires a trainer to teach him climbing in various terrains. He doesn’t care that the trainer is apparently SHIELD-affiliated, from JARVIS’ secret background research. He just wants to move, and relish in being able to move, and not think about the unseen eyes watching him, as long as possible.

 

Malibu, California, United States, 12th July 2012

 

  1. 31. Crux
    “You’ve… changed, Tony,” Pepper comments carefully one evening, as she’s delivering models from the R&D and attending a private dinner for two in the Malibu home. To that, Tony shrugs and says matter-of-factly, “Nearly died. Survived. Repeat. Three time’s the charm. And apparently now I’m a zoo animal for SHIELD.”

 

  1. 32. Doddering
    Odin Borson, King of Asgard, looks old but stern and powerful on the paintings that Tony idly, compulsively browses online. He’s not… old, though, Tony notes; doddering like an old man. But then again, he’s supposed to be the god of war to the old Nordic civilisation, isn’t he?

 

Washington DC, United States, 13th July 2012

 

  1. 33. Stair
    The President wants to cajole Tony in person to make anti-alien weaponry. Rhodey gave him a heads-up, after being silent for years. And now here he is, in the White House, having just fended off the press, now taking the stairs to avoid weapon-related chit-chats from all too many people.

 

  1. 34. Pub
    It’s been quite a while since Tony last haunted a pub. But after the President and the latter’s entourage held him in meetings for hours about making weapons, he just wants to drown himself in a sea of strangers, and maybe also in the alcohol he hasn’t touched for months.

 

  1. 35. Careworn
    Tony makes an interesting acquaintance in one of the pubs. Nalla. And seriously, Tony really can’t determine their gender. They’re gorgeous, though, especially since they don’t need to display awesome things to be so. They look youthful and speak lightly. But their eyes, they’re careworn, and Tony is drawn in.

 

  1. 36. Magical
    Tony talks, and talks, and talks. With some practised obfuscation on a few parts, and without revealing his identity but for his nickname, he rants about everything to his new buddy Nalla. And Nalla listens, and talks back, and tries to make things light without insulting him. It’s simply… magical.

 

Washington DC, United States, 14th July 2012

 

  1. 37. Weather Forecast
    “It is going to rain heavily,” Nalla warns, when morning comes and Tony at last thinks about leaving. He grins to that. “You a weather forecaster, now?” he teases. “Are you maybe a rain whisperer too? Any chance you can get it to stop drenching me once I’m outta here?”

 

  1. 38. Snack
    Somehow, Nalla managed the nearly impossible, and now Tony is seated in a nearby breakfast diner with them, enjoying what the menu book terms a “morning power snack.” Before this, the only date for the night that Tony spent the morning after with was Pepper.

 

  1. 39. Beach
    “You seem to like water so much,” Tony remarks, as he eyes the various soup bowls on the table, nearly all ordered by Nalla, who is now looking peacefully at the rain out of the window. “Wanna visit my home? It’s by the sea. Has a beach of its own.”

 

  1. 40. Kick
    Nalla agrees to go to Malibu! Tony’s really getting a kick out of this unexpected, unexpectedly prolonged date, and not in the literal sense at that. Just when he needs it, too. Now he’ll make sure they’ll get a kick out of this visit, as well. He promises.

 

Malibu, California, United States, 14th July 2012

 

  1. 41. Tray
    Nalla’s surprisingly with Tony and his bots in the lab, instead of lazing about in the beach. But, apparently, they’re there for the doodling materials, because then Tony finds all of his metal trays drawn on with intricate shapes in some white paint. “Really? Now, you’re a vandalist artist, too?”

 

*42. Clatter
The afternoon is overcast, and Tony finds a naked Nalla napping in the wet sand, with their legs in the water. Unfortunately, then the peaceful scene is broken, when the bucket of lunch things falls clattering from Tony’s hand, as he notices that Nalla has neither male nor female packages.

 

  1. 43. Indignant
    “You startled me!” Nalla is remorseful, but also indignant, and Tony glares at them as they splint the broken forearm he got from defending himself against their startled-out-of-sleep attack. Well, he has a good comeback for that: “You never told me you’re an alien!”

 

  1. 44. Kiss
    Nalla, for once, looks like the so-called deer in the headlights, vulnerable and helpless, on Tony’s retort, and Tony hates it. Kisses can make things better, he thinks, so, without further ado, he hooks his good arm round their neck, brings them close, and kisses them right on the lips.

 

  1. 45. Jam
    Nalla’s gone. Completely disappears. Just so. Right after Tony let them go. What’s left is only the tingling memory of Nalla’s lips on his own, what feels like a mental half-friendly shove at his mind, and what looks like a little glass jar of palish-blue jam on the kitchen counter.

 

46. Colouring
The apples remind Tony of Nalla’s eyes: light green, with a hint of yellow. The colour was most apparent in that last moment, when those eyes were open wide in fright as Tony kissed their owner. With that memory in mind, he hastily shovels away from the supermarket’s apple box.

Chapter Text

Malibu, California, 2nd August 2012

 

  1. 47. Hand
    The first thing that Tony does once his arm heals is to construct replacement hands for Brindle the bot. Working with just one functioning hand and with her own hands so limited in movement and finesse has been quite a pain, and Tony doesn’t want to experience that ever again.

 

  1. 48. Soap
    It’s been quite a while since Tony last dealt with pure chemistry, let alone biology. But now he does, with both combined, in trying to forget about Nalla. He busies himself making a soft-scented soap-shampoo combo for human skin that doesn’t need much water to be used or rinced off.

 

Los Angeles, California, 15th August 2012

 

  1. 49. Witty
    The CEO of the soap company Tony bought to manufacture and market his soap-shampoo combo is a witty, friendly, charming woman who seems to sincerely support his original aim to give this product for free to his friends back in Flores. She makes him miss Nalla more, though.

 

Los Angeles, California, 17th August 2012

 

  1. 50. Emotionless
    The looks of the board of Stark Industries directors range from angry, to disgusted, to emotionless. They are unanimous in censuring Tony for buying and operating a soap company half for charity, however. So Tony detaches the company from SI, making it fully independent, and gets Pepper to be co-owner.

 

United States, August-September 2012

 

  1. 51. Crawl
    The days crawl by. Tony helps the “Avengers” in various missions, helps Pepper direct the soap company, helps various charity organisations with supplies, and helps consult the military for defences. But he can’t help himself get over a pair of overwhelmed apple-green eyes, and that makes the days crawl slower.

 

  1. 52. Nightmare
    For the umpteenth time since Nalla dropped into his life and was gone again within less than twenty-four hours, Tony is woken up by JARVIS from yet another nightmare. Weirdly enough, it’s not just – strangely familiar – alien people and things that feature in this one, but also Loki.

 

Áyshkashla, Northern Alaska, United States, 1st October 2012

 

  1. 53. Wish
    Being a billionaire has its perks. Tony needn’t work hard to get his wishes – or even whims. But, even though he’s tracked down the jam’s producer to an old, exclusive, self-sufficient farming town in Northern Alaska, and its inhabitants share Nalla’s general built, Nalla proves not to be there.

 

  1. 54. Weedy
    A weedy not-so-little child from Queens is Tony’s next project, to alternatively get over or get a hold of Nalla. Peter Parker: an earnest, brilliant, cheeky, bubbly boy, who is in the accelerated study programme in his school, which has just arranged a field trip to Stark Industries. Perfect.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 15th October 2012

 

  1. 55. Talkative
    Peter Parker is talkative to the highest degree. By the end of the first day, Tony is half regreting having the preteen shadow him. He doesn’t want to hurt the midget’s spirits with an order to shut up, though. Worse yet, he has nobody else to sic the child on.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 16th October 2012

 

  1. 56. Clever
    Pepper’s an ear-saver. She suggested that Tony sic Peter on NaturAls – the soap company – for further “practical lessons.” And Peter, the clever boy that he is, has managed to solve three problems with simple solutions that the grown-ups failed to think of. In a day. Tony’s arranging further “lessons” now….

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 18th October 2012

 

  1. 57. Tiered
    Tony knows how dirty the tiered and stacked corporate ladders can be, rather well, from snooping round SI places as a forgetable, ignorable child. He never thought it’d still be the case presently, though; not till Peter told him about ordinary people having to pay some employees to see him.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 19th October 2012

 

  1. 58. Laughing Stock
    Tony expands Maria Stark Foundation and sharpens its visions, missions, goals – everything. He’s a laughing stock for many, for that. He’s seen as weak, false, short-sighted, money squanderer…. But his companies have made much money, all those idealistic foundation employees are happy, the recipients are even happier, so why not?

 

Malibu, California, United States, 22nd November 2012

 

59. Clump
For Thanksgiving, Brindle brings a clump of wet sand to the table, Dum-E contributes with those doodled metal trays, Butterfingers orders Tony a crate of green apples, and You gets him takeaway from that breakfast diner. The recipient can’t help but whine in protest and pain. He misses Nalla.

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 26th November 2012

 

  1. 60. Trust
    To trust the judgement of a preteen to putter about safely in a chemistry lab almost without supervision is a very stupid decision, many would say. But Tony has thrived on what many would label “very stupid decisions” before; and Peter has been sneaking into his school’s advanced labs, anyway.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, December 2012

 

  1. 61. Symbolism
    Bruce – the nuclear physicist, the green rage monster, Tony’s first science bro – is back, after vanishing who knows where and for so long. And his first comment on noticing Peter puttering in the lab is, “I’m sure there’s some kind of symbolism behind this. But, really, chem genius, you say?”

 

  1. 62. Falling
    With Bruce around, a routine is soon established, with Tony handling the tech, Bruce the biochems and Peter helping both. Day after day, Tony feels he’s falling ever deeper into the symbiosis, farther from Nalla, but right now he doesn’t care – can’t care, for the sake of his sanity.

 

  1. 63. Bright Red
    Peter painted You bright red. On a whim. Without permission. If Tony didn’t like that boy so much, the latter would’ve found himself booted out permanently from any Tony-related gig. But, admitedly, what disturbs Tony isn’t really the colour, but the reflection of eyes in that colour in his dreams.

 

Áyshkashla, Northern Alaska, United States, January-February 2013

 

  1. 64. Cliff
    The “red incident” has made Tony restless again. So he skedaddles to Northern Alaska once more, hoping that Nalla is there. And, when people still say they haven’t seen Nalla, he chooses to stay, this time. He buys a small property just outside the farming town, surrounded by climbable cliffs.

 

*65. Waterfall
There’s a waterfall not so far away from Tony’s new Alaskan home. And in a small cave behind it, he finds Nalla, lounging naked on a damp cot and fiddling with… “That a Starkpad you’re playing with?” `Damn. Why say that, you dummy?`

 

  1. 66. Brisk
    It’s amusing, to watch the prat Nalla, who has just bonked Tony’s temple with the Starkpad for the second surprise in their acquaintanceship, flail about trying to grab their things, even as Tony drags them towards the waterfall by one ankle. “There’s a perfectly good, brisk morning outside. Why hide?”

 

  1. 67. Trunk
    Tony tries everything to coax Nalla to pose for a picture with the backdrop of the waterfall. But, still grumpy, they stubbornly and silently lean against the trunk of a nearby pine tree instead. “Pleaseeeee,” he begs, at last. “If you pose there, I’ll join you playing in the water.”

 

  1. 68. Trickle
    Tony can acutely feel cold sweat trickling down the back of his neck as, fulfilling his bargain, he dips his feet in the shallow edge of the waterfall pool. He doesn’t fear the water, but he fears the prospect of being dunked in it, as retaliation for the earlier scare.

 

  1. 69. Footwear
    “Aren’t you forgetting something?” Tony prompts when, after the splashing about in the pool, Nalla ambles away garbed only in a pair of wet boxers and nothing else, not even any footwear to protect their fair feet from the sharp stones. And Tony is stuck carrying their other things….

 

  1.  70. Goblet
    Tony’s a decent blacksmith; he has to be, in his line of work. But he’s never smithed anything more delicate than that, and now Nalla’s… treating?… him to watch a local glassworker blowing fine glasswear. He even gets to try his hand on it, shaping a simple goblet.

 

  1. 71. Turn
    Nalla gave Tony a gift, so now’s his turn to give them something. And since he doesn’t know when – or if – he can meet Nalla again after this, if the latter doesn’t agree to go back with him, he gives them his newly blown, misshapened goblet… and they hug him.

 

  1. 72. Waylay
    Nalla keeps trying to excuse themself, and Tony keeps waylaying them. “You seem to be quite familiar with everyone and everything here. Give me a tour? I want the scenic and detailed tour! Please?” is his latest excuse. And, though long-sufferingly, with a glare to boot, they comply.

 

  1. 73. Most
    Tony is so very curious. Most of everyone that he encounters during the tour are deferential towards Nalla, barring himself and fellow outsiders. But Nalla themself is clothed similarly to the townsfolk, and behaves likewise… if, maybe, more like a leader than the rest. So, what’s awesomely special about them?

 

  1. 74. Unattainable
    Tony glances at Nalla for the umpteenth time… and catches their own glance, which makes them flush with mortification. Well, apparently, while he’s been observing them, they’ve been doing the same to him…. But they regarded him like something unattainable, and that’s absurd. Hasn’t he been throwing himself on them?

 

  1. 75. Slip
    “I need to be in other places, and you have been delaying me quite vociferously,” Nalla huffs, irritated and… worried? Tony frowns. Anti boring routines as he is, he can recognise a routine a mile off. So there are possibly more places like this little old town of aliens? Hmm.

 

  1. 76. Fare
    The fare of winter-themed things available in Áyshkashla – the little Northern Alaskan farming town – is certainly different from the usual, but Tony’s gotten accustomed to it. He wonders if he can get more if he tails after Nalla to wherever they’re to go next and set up a trading deal.

 

  1. 77. Broken
    Tony confronted Nalla, in private. He expected many outcomes, but not… this. Nalla looks so old, so pained, so broken. Is the routine that secret, to be a life-or-death situation? Absurdly, this look somehow feels like a déjà vu, too; of Loki’s fleeting expression in various situations, of all things.

 

  1. 78. Feisty
    Pepper’s gone into yet another long lecture, now in person instead of via text messages or video calls. Maybe it’s Tony’s fault for making such a feisty woman his CEO, all those years ago, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He still doesn’t appreciate the lecture, though.

 

  1. 79. Vigorous
    To protect himself and his freedom to tail Nalla wherever they’re going next, Tony strikes up a peace agreement with Pepper about his rights and responsibilities regarding Stark International. The agreement document’s forging has been a week of vigorous, exhausting, painful, somewhat hurtful contention, but at least it’s done, now.

 

  1. 80. leniency
    “If you dug deeper, I would be forced to end your current incarnation or wipe every trace of myself from your mind,” Nalla says, at last, after Tony demands for the umpteenth time to accompany them. He scowls. He never thought that “living” or “memory” could be proof of leniency.

 

  1. 81. Underneath
    Tony spends more time with Nalla in Áyshkashla, digging deeper into Nalla’s personality instead of whatever places or identity they wish to hide so much from him. He breaks through, at last, when he sends for Peter and has the bubbly, honest, innocent boy figuratively wiggle underneath Nalla’s well-constructed façade.

 

  1. 82. Error
    “Are you going to put your child in the agreement?” Nalla abruptly asks as they and Tony are forging a hopefully airtight arrangement; Tony’s solution for him to accompany Nalla without endangering himself or them. To that, gobsmacked, Tony blurts out… after a pause… “there’s an error in that equation.”

 

  1. 83. Trigger
    Tony’s too restless to bed down for the night, although Nalla has – for the first time – invited him to “share a nest” with them. Unpleasant reminders of Howard Stark are already hounding him, triggered by Nalla’s assumption that Peter’s his child. He really doesn’t want those memories as nightmares again.

 

**84. Water
Fear’s all that Tony feels as he watches Nalla and Peter try to dunk each other in the waterfall pool, like he never witnessed anybody do there before. Memories of his head being dunked and held down in a pail of dirty, lukewarm water overlay the supposedly bright, cosy scene.

 

  1. 85. Baby
    Nalla thought that a peaceful scene would calm Tony down from his panic attack. So here the three of them are, visiting a new mum and their baby in their little homely home. But it only makes Tony more jittery. `Do they want babies from me? I’m not a dad!`

 

  1. 86. Trick
    Tony watches Peter perform a card-trick game to the new mum’s younger “womb-siblings.” His heavy, confused heart twinges. He himself taught it to the boy, and now Peter’s so proud to present it to others. It doesn’t help that Nalla then whispers to him, “You have raised your child well.”

 

  1. 87. Close
    It’s a fact that Tony’s been a womaniser for most of his life. Ever since he impulsively kissed Nalla, though, he hasn’t been close with anybody. And now Nalla’s sharing their cushion pit with him for the night, fulfilling his secret dream, and he doesn’t know what to do.

 

  1. 88. Payment
    Snuggling up with Nalla, just snuggling up, turns out to be quite satisfying on its own. Tony rarely got such quality sleep, filled with dreams of more snuggles. So, in the morning, he asks them, “What do you want for payment? Got my best sleep yet to date last night.”

 

89. Thesis
Being booted out of the “nest” for offering to repay his good sleep puts Tony in a bad mood as he – temporarily – farewells Nalla. Then, on the plane trip to NYC, JARVIS sends someone’s master’s thesis on “using dolphins as defence” for him to review as a “tiebreaker”…. `How not-awesome!`

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, United States, March 2013

 

  1. 90. Tariff
    “I should put a tariff on academicians asking me for advice,” Tony grumbles as he flounces into the tower’s electronic gaming hall. Bruce, who is busy playing a role-play game on a Play Station III, glances at him with an amused smile that just makes him grumpier.

 

  1. 91. Clarity
    Tony’s latest dream leaves a strong impression with astounding clarity, for once. Unfortunately, it’s about what he somehow knows as Nalla in another name and body and voice, trapping bellies slightly rounded with babies between the two of them, as they snuggle down in a nest of furs and pillows.

 

  1. 92. Delirious
    I dreamt about us with the little ones still unborn we were so happy despite the war you started you lout I miss it I miss it so much Afa come home please I shall do my best to protect you.” Nalla sounds… delirious, even through a text message.

 

  1. 93. Slave
    Tony doesn’t want to be a slave of the mysterious dreams that have been hounding him since he met Nalla, which Nalla seems to share with him, unknowing to the both of them. But, somehow, he doesn’t want to lose those glimpses, too, or bar himself from them.

 

  1. 94. East
    Where does the sun rise in your place? Do you even have a sun or just a moon? Ours rises from the east. It can be so hot during the day.” Tony rambles in the reply to Nalla’s unexpected text message, in hope of diverting both of their attention.

 

  1. 95. Blood
    “Is there an internal problem going on in SI, Mister Stark?” “Are you doing a mission with your team, Iron Man?” “Do you have something about your health that you want to tell our readers, Mister Stark?” – These reporters, they’re like vultures seeing a carcass, or sharks scenting fresh blood.

 

  1. 96. Care
    “You look haggard,” Nalla remarks, in one of their irregular video calls. Raising an eyebrow, Tony retorts, “You, too.” And Nalla does look like they suffer from lack of self care, judging from the exhaustion plain in their eyes despite their otherwise tidy appearance. And they don’t deny it.

 

  1. 97. Tip
    Peter, apparently bored, doodles on a thin leftover aliminium sheet scavanged from Tony’s bin with a laser cutter pen. Tony, taking a break from SI’s R&D product reviews, watches the pen’s tip waving about on the gleaming surface as if under hypnosis. He feels so, so tired and blank, empty….

 

  1. 98. Instrument
    “Thor said Loki used to go everywhere using what he called ‘hidden paths’, Mister Stark. I would like to partner with you for the creation of an instrument that could detect and navigate these paths,” Jane Foster the astrophysicist says. Tony perks up. He can possibly go to Nalla!

 

  1. 99. Watch
    Tony still fails to come up with a working prototype for what Foster wanted. He did came up with lots of improvements for his brand of smart watch, though. And profit from custom-made Starkwatches for health, safety, communication, navigation and defence in turn fuels this project. Not a total loss.

 

  1. 100. Extract
    A group of mercenaries try to ambush Tony a few blocks from the tower, on his way back from his near-nightly jaunts to the cupcake-selling shop. Miraculously, a night-owl doctor – from the Doctors Without Borders NGO that Tony invited to roost in his tower among other NGOs – helps extract him.

 

  1. 101. Blame
    Tony is exasperated with his head of security, most of all. “Hogan, can you be in two places at once? If yes then I’ll blame you for things. No, right? So go be with your sister. I know you don’t get enough vacation, and you’re Grumpy Hogan when you don’t.”

 

  1. 102. Hat
    “Mister Stark… you sure it’ll hide you?” Peter’s anxious, perhaps rightly so, but Tony can’t stand being cooped up anywhere. He heard about an exentric detective wearing this deerstalker hat in London, and, at worst, he’ll be mistaken as that man, wearing it during his nightly jaunts as disguise.

 

  1. 103. Fish
    Bruce and Peter have installed a huge saltwater aquarium along the hall that separates the bank of lifts from the common floor at large. And, returning from a Pepper-enforced business trip tired and grumpy, Tony immediately parks himself on the floor in front of it, watching the fishes swim .

 

  1. 104. Journal
    Idling beside a smaller aquarium, featuring a bubbling waterfall-like structure and small freshwater fishes, Tony rereads the thesis the board of examiners wanted him to tiebreak on. From the journal notes this Owen Grady appended, he seems plenty sharp with animals…. `Perhaps we could partner up? Want a unique zoo!`

 

  1. 105. Toy
    There’s a package sent from Áyshkashla, from Nalla. – Various jams, put in uniquely shaped jars boxed for travel, tagged “For Afa, from Fié. Happy eating.” And toys, too, in the other box, tagged, “For Peter, from Abý. Happy playing.” But it’s neither Christmas nor New Year…. And the names–?!

 

  1. 106. Framework
    Tony tries to forget the package for a little while by designing the basic framework of his dream zoo. He lets Peter play with the exotic beach and construction toys, though, and he’s not about to waste the jams either; but after he tested them all thoroughly in the labs.

 

  1. 107. Warm
    Pepper drops by, with another package. It consists of little gifts hand-made by the children in the orphanage run by Maria Stark Foundation. And then, blushing, she pulls out another, much tinier package from her inner blazer pocket; her gift. All, for Tony. He feels… warm; confused as hell, though.

 

  1. 108. Hair
    It’s… March 2013 already, apparently. Months after Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day. Tony celebrates none, personally, but he got gifts – meaningful gifts – recently, so he must repay them… right? Well, anyway, he’ll order a custom blazer decoratedly sewn with Tony-invented metal-alloy strands the colour of her hair for Pepper.

 

  1. 109. Ragged
    Nalla video-calls. They look ragged, this time, and totally silent, just staring intently at Tony with a storm of emotions brewing behind their eyes. And Tony finds it so hard to meet those eyes. `I forgot to say thank you or send gifts to them, didn’t I?` So… “Thank you?”

 

  1. 110. Tinker
    Peter presents a pair of Starkwatches to Tony, which he apparently tinkered with, just after Nalla hung up the call without ever saying a word. “JARVIS helped me,” he babbles. “I’m not so good yet with computer programs and the like. But I’m learning. These, they’re for you and… them.”

 

111. Void
Tony had always managed to ignore the empty space beside him in bed. Until that call. And now he’s acutely aware of the void left there, instead. He misses the “snuggle session” that night so, so much. He misses his snuggle buddy even more. If only he’d handled things differently….

Chapter Text

New York, United States, 1st April 2013

 

  1. 112. Serendipity
    Tony never believed in serendipity. But today, he happened to go larking with Happy when he found a travel agency that offered “memorable Arctic tour,” and then he happened to find Nalla in a café nearby while Happy’s away, and then Nalla’s jeep happened to stall before they could skedaddle….

 

  1. 113. Libel
    It mightily sucks that Nalla’s got to go so soon after their reunion. But at least, Tony thinks, they’ve cleared some things, now. Just, sadly, Justin Hammer has chosen a very “good” time to scorn his “hypocrisy” on not making weapons anymore, in press. Time for a libel suit, again.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 2nd April 2013

 

  1. 114. Uprising
    Nalla’s back, but only to drop a bunch of young strangers on Tony and tell him to protect them. Worse, most of the midgets call him “Amma,” refusing to just use his name. And worst… “There’s an uprising in your country and you’re going back to it?! Are you crazy?!!”

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 3rd April 2013

 

  1. 115. Bake
    “What to do with 2 teens and 4 kids to distract all of us from Nalla’s crazy stunt?” has been the prevalent question that haunts Tony since Nalla – that prat – vanished again, maybe to join the uprising. Thankfully, today Captain bloody America is there to teach the midgets… baking cookies?

 

Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia, 4th April 2013

 

  1. 116. Toady
    Wanting to keep his tagalongs out of the public’s eye, Tony brings them to Bali, Indonesia. He chose a sea-side, water-themed exclusive resort for his comfort, the midgets’ water games, and the privacy. Well, but he wishes he knew how toadying the service crew in this resort happen to be.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 5th April 2013

 

  1. 117. Scent
    The Flores home is so familiar. Tony wishes he went there right from the start. The midgets aren’t quite comfortable with the heat, barring Peter, but they do like the fellow midgets and the underwater view. Tony himself misses the scents. Then, that night, he’s treated to a super-familiar scent….

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 6th April 2013

 

  1. 118. Home
    Waking up to the sight of Nalla tussling playfully, gently, relatively silently with the littlest midgets nearby on the cushion pit is…. Well, Tony doesn’t know how to describe what he feels, in detail. But he does feel like this may be what home feels to other, more fortunate people.

 

  1. 119. Little
    Nalla’s always felt so composed, mature, even nurturing. But tonight, as they’re suddenly curled up tightly in Tony’s arms and tremble and bury their face in the crook of Tony’s neck, after a day of false cheer, they feel so, so little and vulnerable. And then their face becomes wet….

 

  1. 120. Twice
    Stumblingly, blubberingly, Nalla begins to tell Tony about Farbauti – otherwise Afa, or Úti – their late spouse, a difficult and prickly but loving person, a genius in many fields with bold and sometimes overelaborate plans, who carried four children and birthed two, who has been… born twice over? In Tony…?

 

  1. 121. Earnest
    “Thank you, but I’m just Tony, you know, nobody else. I’d… erm, well, can’t we just get to know each other, as ourselves? ‘Sides, I’m a man, from humankind, you know, so I can’t get pregnant,” Tony babbles, awkwardly but earnestly, after all the waterworks. “Hey, don’t cry again, c’mon….”

 

Mount Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia, 7th April 2013

 

  1. 122. High
    Tony often finds calm while perching on high places and looking down. Apparently, Nalla… or Fié?… is similar. Because, the next morning, once both are settled on the lip of Mount Kelimutu’s three-coloured-lakes caldera for some figurative and literal cooling-down time, the tension and clinginess slowly leave the distraught humanoid.

 

  1. 123. Tax
    Nalla – Fié – talks, at last. Not only about remnants of opposition from the civil war that instigated the recent uprising, but also about their crumbling country, their crumbling family…. Tony frowns. “Well, either review your tax system, if you’ve got any, or find a new place to live,” he suggest.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 7th April 2013

 

  1. 124. Sock
    A very nervous, very tentative Peter has been waiting with his gift of a pair of Starkwatches on the porch. That reminds Tony that he, recently, has also purchased a custom-made pair of sock-shoes for… Fié. “well, you don’t seem to like wearing shoes much, so I got you these.”

 

  1. 125. Laire
    After such a fraught night – no, a fraught week, since Nalla/Fié dumped their children on Tony and Peter – Tony wants something thrilling to release the stress. So he drags that buddy of his to visit a mummy Komodo’s laire… and poke inside for eggs. The chase afterwards is thrilling indeed!

 

  1. 126. Tear
    Tony watches silently as Fié curls up in the cushion pit that has recently replaced his bed, knackered and fast asleep. If they’re a piece of garment, then they’d seen much wear and tear, he muses; not that their real garments are that much better…. New mission, then: replace clothing.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 8th April 2013

 

  1. 127. Boot Camp
    Six pairs of bright, young eyes and grins spectate avidly as Fié undergoes a bootcamp on earth fashion courtesy of Tony. But then, in retaliation, they get him to learn everything there is to do with their country, aided by the five spectators – sans Peter, who must suffer alongside him.

 

128. Echo
That night, just before Tony falls asleep, Fié whispers something in their language in his ear. It echoes in his mind, in what feels like the distant past. And then, in the dreamland, it transforms into the vivid sight and feel of two blue-skinned bodies, entwined cosily round each other.

Chapter Text

Lembata, Flores, Indonesia, 9th April 2013

 

  1. 129. Candle
    Wishing to escape what he terms “the dream spell” and the physical entanglement he finds out the next morning, Tony sneaks away – alone – to a nearby island, to learn how to harvest wild-bees honeycombs and make beeswax candles out of them. It’s better, safer, less taxing than confronting Fié again.

 

*130. Poise
The lack of the usual poise is what Tony notices first when a repentent Fié manages to find him, mid-candle-pressing. Concessions are made. Promises are exchanged. “No more dream-spell. No more running.” But Tony can’t maintain his own poise in Fié’s company, now. The dream-spell felt so much like rape.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 10th April 2013

 

  1. 131. Book
    The Children of Ýmir: A Compendium; By Voðen Bestla-childe – It’s a huge tome, purportedly containing the basic things one needs to know about Fié’s country – Ýmirheim – and their people – milaðen. Tony prefers reading it to being forced to acknowledge that he was once spouse of one and mother of four.

 

  1. 132. Venom
    Fié speaks with lots of venom about their own sibling-child, whom they claim has robbed them of a vital anchor and one of their own “womb-children,” devastating both them and their country. Tony wonders about this for a while, but then remembers Obi, whom he once acknowledged as father figure.

 

Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia, 12th April 2013

 

  1. 133. Cake
    Fié can’t stay much longer, but they permit the children to stay. Tony wonders what to do as a farewell activity and gift for the children. When he asks Bruce, the latter sends him the video of the baking fest cap had with those kids…. `Oh well. Cake, it is.`

 

United States, April-June 2013

 

  1. 134. Tribute
    Fié sends Tony things whenever and wherever: files of books on various topics, odd bits of alien stone and ice-crusted dirt and plants in environment-regulated storage, photographs of alien views printed on thin but sturdy sheets of alien metal… many, many things. Fié calls them bribes. Tony calls them tributes.

 

  1. 135. Eager
    Helblindi, Býleistr, Peter, Álti, Lasla, Lafta… they’re all looking up at Tony with hopeful, eager expressions, no more wariness lingering as from the first days of their stay – barring Peter, who has been with him since… practically forever, he’s sure. And the treat today: “Ready to go to the zoo?”

 

  1. 136. Wild
    Tony misses some safari. Hell, he misses his Antarctic bunker, from which he can go out to simply observe and be with the wildlife. Bronx Zoo was nice, but… well. He wants something wild. And then, instead of sending him something, Fié drops onto his lap…. Now, something wild’s coming!

 

*137. Contour
“Now, isn’t this better than the dream-spell?” Tony purrs, grinning anticipatorily as he swipes a slow hand down the contour of Fié’s naked side. An agreeing, impatient whimper is his answer, before he got flipped on his back and receives the same treatment. Afterwards, the world exists only for two.

 

*138. Flash
Fié’s been back several times since the first one, for the fix that Tony himself wasn’t aware he needed. Always in and out, like a flash of light, but both cherish their time together more than ever. Not just for the sex, either, surprisingly for Tony, but for the closeness.

 

  1. 139. Tired
    Tony feels tired, always, after each of Fié’s visit until some time later. JARVIS is beginning to notice changes on him, after the third time. And after the sixth, Tony himself feels it. His senses are sharper. It doesn’t mean he’ll stop seeing Fié, though. He’s addicted, by now.

 

  1. 140. Vehicle
    By the tenth time, Tony’s starting to alter his vehicles. He no longer fits comfortably in his smallest – sadly fastest – cars, that’s why, and not because he’s growing fat. He’s leaner, in fact, but… taller, bigger, just himself but in a bigger proportion. And Bruce is interested in studying it.

 

  1. 141. Clip
    Helblindi got a hand of Howard’s dubious video clip, which raves about Tony being his greatest creation while at the same time pushing the real deal away like some pesky pest. The teen’s rightly terrified, when Tony catches them red-handed. But, surprising himself, Tony’s not angry. He’s just… tired.

 

*142. Fond
Tony’s really fond of Fié, he is. But he draws the line when his genitalia begins to be affected. So, next they meet, he bluntly asks, “S’there something in your body that got people to change sexes, buddy?” But, damn, Tony’s in too deep already anyway. Clever bastard.

 

  1. 143. Eerie
    Tony wakes up with a shout vibrating in his throat and ears. The dream is still vivid before him, although he’s opened his eyes wide. In it, Fié and Loki, sporting identical playful, eager looks that Tony’s seen several times on Fié, are moulding him alive. Eerie, and horrible.

 

  1. 144. Innocent
    Tony confronts Fié again after the nightmare, and this time they answer. “No! I did not know at the start that our closer relationship would change you physically.” There’s a wealth of unpleasant implications in there, so Tony distances himself again. Not from the children, though; they’re innocent in this.

 

145. Money
JARVIS’ a money-saver. Apparently, that smart, dilligent, paranoid AI’s been updating the retinal and voice passwords for Tony’s bigger bank accounts, daily. If not… well, thankfully not, anyway. Because, presently, the manager of one of those accounts whom he’s speaking with barely recognises him. `Damn you, Fié. Damn me, too.`

Chapter Text

Earth, July-November 2013

 

  1. 146. Free
    Tony goes adventuring alone, for once after quite a while. He drops into tech symposiums in disguise and brainstorms, goes on a safari in three continents and takes lots of doodle-notes for his ideal zoo, helps rigging electricity in various remote places…. But, oddly, he doesn’t feel free. Something’s missing.

 

  1. 147. Fountain
    Agent Pretender joins Tony, when he’s resting at the base of one of the famous fountains at Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg. “You know,” she says casually, “If you step on a certain tile, the fountain will spray you.” And, glaring, he grumbles, “I’ll make sure it sprays you, too.”

 

  1. 148. Boat
    Caving in under the demands of his own heart, Tony sends for the midgets and brings them boating in Galilee Lake and the Dead Sea. He lets himself drown in the midgets’ chatter and excitement and the tideous motions of steering the boat. And, at last, he feels free.

 

  1. 149. Glad
    The midgets are asleep, and Fié’s before him again. Tony glowers. But he can’t help notice how listless they look, how listless he himself feels. And then they kneel and ask for his forgiveness. He should be glad, maybe; should be flattered with obeisance from such a proud individual. Should.

 

*150. Tent
Tony sets up his little tent on the rented villa’s backyard,” then stuffs Fié into it before he follows suit. The tent should be able to accommodate two people, but neither of them are small, albeit skinny. Still, it’s perfect for what he has in mind. Fié will feel him.

 

*151. Fervour
Well, surprisingly, it’s not only Fié who gets to feel Tony, but also otherwise. Even more shockingly, Tony welcomes it. But then again, Fié’s worshipping him, with admirable fervour. Who doesn’t want to be adored so? And then that sly bastard adds what seems like mind-to-mind contact into the mix….

 

  1. 152. Erase
    The long period of separation between the… guardians? Parent figures?… isn’t easily erased in the minds of the midgets, apparently. They keep clinging to Tony and Fié, hatching all kinds of ways to reunite the two of them whenever both are apart, even when one’s just going to the loo.

 

*153. Ignoble
Clint is deathly bored, it seems. He posted a thread in the “Avengers-only chatroom,” titled “The Most Ignoble Deaths We Should Avoid.” And Tony’s contribution to it, while in the middle of latrine duty for the midgets who apparently ate something that disagrees with their stomachs, is: “Drowning in shit.

 

*154. Cream
Fié gives a long, slow swipe of their tongue to the top of their slice of cake, licking off all the cheese cream in one go. Their eyes, trained on Tony all the while, sparkle with sly humour and knowing eagerness. `That bastard,` Tony thinks, but hell if he can’t match.

 

  1. 155. Fickle
    Monsoon season in India is filled with fickle bouts of downpour, and the little not-quite-family experience it first-hand. They’re all meeting Bruce in New Delhi – because Bruce wants to see them, escape SHIELD for a while, and send necessities to his poor-district acquaintances – and they’re drenched from head to toe.

 

  1. 156. Harsh
    Bruce turns out to have been an unknowing bait. A STRIKE team is trying to ambush the little not-quite-family while they’re with him for whatever reason… with try being the keyword. Because, faced with eminent danger to “little Tony” and “puny Bruce,” Hulk comes up with his own harsh measure.

 

*157. Chill
Snow falls on the STRIKE team’s broken bodies. Chill both of the literal and figurative types permeates the suddenly dense air all round. holding the littlest midgets, with the other three clinging close, Fié stands glaring at the would-be ambushers. And to Tony, their expression is the coldest of all.

 

  1. 158. Bag
    “Can I go with you?” a naked Bruce, hugging a large, worn duffle bag to his chest, pleads weakly. He looks shattered and lost, Tony notes, but also resigned, as if he knows he’ll get rejected. Fié’s cold and pragmatic, still. “What are your intentions towards the eight of us?”

 

  1. 159. Toddler
    Bruce’ “intentions” are, apparently, a terrified toddler who was hiding in the duffle bag, who is now clinging to him with desperate tenacity. “She’s my girl, with Betty, my old girlfriend, year ‘go, and she – Betty – was afraid her father’s gonna take this one from either of us,” he rambles.

 

  1. 160. Fund
    “I can…. Betty set up a trust fund for Anna, and emergency funds too, for both of us, three if she can join us, so you don’t have to…. Tony?” Bruce’ further rambling, once Tony and Fié consented to his and his daughter’s inclusion, peters off on Tony’s quelling glare.

 

  1. 161. Egg
    “No eggs back home,” Lasla murmurs when, one morning in the Forest of Dean, England, Tony presents the not-quite-family hard-boiled eggs. “Too cold,” Lafta agrees. “Not if the eggs are kept inside a living body for incubation, however,” Fié mutters. And Tony loses interest on his own perfectly poached egg.

 

  1. 162. Alcohol
    “Your fault,” Tony grumbles when, even after a second bottle of whiskey, he fails to be even buzzed. He really, really wants to forget about the eggs-nesting-in-braindead-carcass thing, but the alterations to his body that Fié has caused prevent him. “S’there no alcohol to buzz yourself on in your place?”

 

  1. 163. Language
    Fié, returning from a long walk outside, grumbles in a foreign language and snatches the half-finished whisky right from Tony’s hand. “You are supposed to guard and care for the children in my absence, not get drunk,” they snap. “Have you forgotten what happened when we were meeting with Bruce?”

 

  1. 164. Sense
    Tony flounces away from the argument, taking his turn to walk the parameter of the rented forest cabin. Not long after, though, the argument’s forgotten, replaced with total emersion into his new, sharpened senses. It feels like diving into and swimming round like a dolphin among a school of fish.

 

  1. 165. Bivouac
    Tony heartily agrees to making a bivouac for the night further up the trail, since it’s still early autumn and there’s no dangerous carnivores in the Forest of Dean. In consideration of Anna the baby’s more fragile body, though, he buys her a bivouac sack for her to sleep in.

 

  1. 166. Young
    “You’re shorter than I am,” Tony remarks when he beds down for the night and Fié immediately snuggles up to him. “I am younger than you are,” is the sleepy return. Tony wouldn’t ever guess that they’re comparably fifteen years younger, though, in his ‘old life’. “Damn. I’m a cradle-robber.”

 

  1. 167. Mother
    Possessing female reproductive system and a slightly modified male one and an asexual setting is far more comprehensible, far more acceptable to Tony than being a mother. But this fearsome topic comes up again when the twins Lasla-Lafta ask to be breastfed. “You are not babies!” he chokes out, spluttering.

 

  1. 168. Curious
    “No, we are not,” Lafta agrees to the spluttered denial. “But we spent so much time with Býma. Býma finished carrying and raising us after Amma died then. We wish to spend much time with Amma, too.” And, against all sense, Tony is morbidly curious about such a curious statement.

 

  1. 169. Line
    Tony draws the line when, trying to flush Bruce and Tony out, General Ross got his men to besiege Stark Tower, forcing all the employees to stay inside or risk harassment, citing “public endangerment” as the reason. In answer, Tony cite facts and appeals to public sympathy via PR team.

 

  1. 170. Energy
    Bruce lacks the energy to fight back. Tony scoffs. “You’ve got Anna to fight for, and you don’t need to fight physically, at that,” he points out. “Go make a video of you playing with Anna, and I’ll complain about my employees being harassed. We’ll make the vids viral, then.”

 

  1. 171. Ribbon
    The midgets are bored. And when the midgets are bored, they make mischief, as old-man Jarvis once – more-or-less – said about Tony. This time, as the adults are brainstorming and charting a safe way out of the media and political fracas Ross is causing, they’re busy plaiting ribbons into Fié’s hair.

 

*172. Dangerous
Despite the ridiculous – though cute – tropical-bird-feather hair Fié’s sporting, they prove that their lethality is undiminished. The next STRIKE team sent their way, as the… well… family is camping in upstate New York, is the bunch of display dummies that suffer from that. And Tony loves dangerous sorts… Fié included.

 

  1. 173. Script
    “Looks different from the alphabets for the language,” Tony comments as Fié’s carving… runes?… into stone pendants. The addressee grunts, but answers at length, “This is for… magic-work. More compact script, to account for less surface to carve on and more directions to guide the power.” And Tony perks up.

 

  1. 174. Average
    “You aren’t an average milaða, aren’t you?” Tony murmurs when the family’s welcomed warmly back in Áyshkashla, now with open deference to Fié and Tony. Fié huffs to that, retorting, “You said my runework was average computing.” And, remembering the remark, Tony grins. He’s a “magic-work” programmer and producer now!

 

  1. 175. Well-being
    Pepper and Happy have been safe during all the fracas, Tony knows. But safety isn’t the whole measure of somebody’s well-being, and he never just go half-way for his loved ones. He visits them, alone, to just chat and give them the pendants he made for them, bound to them.

 

  1. 176. Pocket
    Tony’s pocket burns, it feels, with Pepper’s favourite pen and Happy’s doodled paper-scrap of a smiley face above the man’s own full name. But it’s a good burn, and he can’t stop grinning because of that, even when Fury’s waiting down the lobby of the tower, harping about his absence.

 

  1. 177. Heavy
    There’s a heavy, charged feeling in the air outside the tower, and it matches Tony’s mood perfectly. He didn’t lose the grin under Fury’s tirade, but he did lose the cheer, and now he just wants to go home, to his family. Still, he also wants to tear things apart.

 

  1. 178. Nest
    Come home. Storm is coming,” Fié texts, and Tony comes home, through the means Fié taught him. Fury’s out of his mind when Fié drags him into the nest the family’s made in his Áyshkashla’s home’s living-room, composed of all the soft things and surfaces, three adults and seven children.

 

  1. 179. Storm
    Fié caused the storm, to deter an advancing STRIKE team. That clever, dangerous, powerful, vengeful bastard. Tony shakes his head on the confession, more amused than anything. “Just take care that you don’t ruin the climate and the farms,” he grins. “And you don’t become a second Thor, either.”

 

  1. 180. Jerky
    On Thor’s name, Fié shuts down. Tony apologises. “Dunno what he did, though I admit I’m curious, but I won’t pry, ‘kay?” He nudges their shoulder gently with his own, then waves a beef jerky he’s just fished out of his pocket in front of their nose. “C’mon…. Your favourite.”

 

  1. 181. Herd
    The milaða midgets are sent back to Ýmirheim, given the escalating tension and hostility between Ross and the family. Tony’s relieved he needn’t herd them anymore; but, at the same time, he misses their closeness, their attention, their adoration. Noticing, Bruce apologises. Tony glares. “Not your fault, buddy. It’s Ross’.”

 

182. Roam
Lacking the foreign midgets he’d like to show off earth to, Tony decides not to roam anymore. He urges Fié to return to Ýmirheim, to do whatever they did before and take care of the children, then returns to the US with Bruce and Anna. `Damn. What a crappy ending.`

Chapter Text

New York, November-December 2013

 

  1. 183. Origin
    Tony tries to be enthusiastic when Pepper shows off the hygiene-based conglomerate she’s turning out of the soap company he purchased forever ago. The humble origin makes it quite impressive, he tells her. He even has a few ideas to help the expanding business. But she notices his listnessness instead.

 

  1. 184. Anchor
    Peter’s the only one that remains from the heyday before Ross. And now, the Parkers want Peter back, to enroll him in a public school, after a year being homeschooled and free to learn whatever he wants. And Tony has no legal right to deny. `Good bye, anchor to sanity.`

 

  1. 185. Doll
    Pepper wants Tony to implement his own ideas about the business they co-own. But the daughters – `Why all girls?` – his fellow billionaires sic on him “to help and for mutual experience” look and behave more like dolls than anything. `But Fié’s a mum and a badarse! So… just… why?`

 

  1. 186. Invade
    Thor visits the tower, with Foster. Tony asks Pepper to distract Foster for a while and corners Thor for a long-overdue chat. And then he finds that, in the latter’s hubris, Thor invaded Jötunheim – Ýmirheim, to the milaðen. Then, “Have you ever apologised to the ‘frost giants’, Thor?” he asks.

 

*187. Pair
Tony asks for stories of the months before Farbauti’s death, to distract himself from the various reasons Thor spouts for not apologising to the milaðen yet. And Fié texts back, “I carried a pair of twins, at the same time that you did with Lasla and Lafta. Asgard killed them.

 

**188. Flat
Videocall just worsens things. Voice and eyes flat, Fié drones about the three-pronged war that shook Ýmirheim, an Asgardian general – Týr – who bashed their pregnant belly with a mace, premature childbirth wrought with dread and agony, a baby buried alive by Farbauti’s underling, the other baby lost to the Asgardians….

 

  1. 189. Priority
    “How did you live, then?” Tony’s proud that he doesn’t throw up, doesn’t croak much; not yet, at least. And, in the same flat everything, Fié says simply, “First priority: I am a monarch, Mother of the nation, not only my children. I must survive. At least until Ýmirheim heals.”

 

*190. Still
“Do you… think the lost baby, do you think they still live, somewhere?” Tony asks, tentatively. In answer, deep, silent agony temporarily breaks the flatness of Fié’s expression, and he hates himself for causing that, but then Fié says, “No longer my baby,” and he hates Fié for that.

 

  1. 191. Argument
    “I’m not Farbauti and you still insist that the midgets are mine. So why not you? You going to just give up on them?” Tony snarls. And Fié flinches, shatters, bashed into emotional pieces by the argument, the words that Tony can’t deny meant to hurt. He flinches, himself, cringes.

 

  1. 192. Duty
    The videocall ends, just so. But Fié doesn’t visit Tony, or text, or send anything, otherwise. `They’ve got duty to their country, and I’ve got duty to mine,` He tells himself. He doesn’t believe it, though. Fié always had time for him, and he for them. This is just… wrong.

 

  1. 193. Invention
    Tony finishes his “pathfinder” invention, at last. Apparently, the element that he missed to complete the thing is magicwork, and Fié has taught him amply about it. It’s a small but bulky rod, perhaps the length of a pencil stub in the hand of a giant, like a blue-skinned Fié.

 

  1. 194. Honour
    Thor thinks that the majority of earthlings got their honour eroded overtime. Tony agrees with him, but not really for the things he holds. Tony knows honour, taught by old-man Jarvis: fulfil promises, no backstabbing, say sorry when wrong, no taking advantage from the weak, but not really “warrior’s honour.”

 

Ýmirheim, January-February 2014

 

  1. 195. Egress
    Tony maps out the points of entry and egress carefully; not only for the vital details, but also for possible watchers. Then, when everything’s ready, the pathfinder rod slips into his gloved hand, guides and pulls him along a path he can’t see. `Ýmirheim. Fié. Home,` he thinks, wills, prays.

 

  1. 196. Rich
    The air that filters through Tony’s woollen mask is cold, but not bitterly so. White-yellow light bathes the vista of rugged wasteland, weaker and softer than earth’s sun but so beautiful, so rich on the reflection of ice that layers everything. Ýmirheim, as Fié once described. `At last!`

 

  1. 197. Theirs
    Fié’s at least 18 feet tall. Lasla and Lafta are even almost Tony’s height. And they’re all blue-skinned, black-clawed, black-toothed, red-eyed… nearly nude, too, for the older, and fully nude for the younger. Seeing them all, Tony beams. He got Fié, he got the children, and it’s all theirs.

 

  1. 198. Rock
    Fié’s alarmingly subdued, past the initial shock and fury on Tony’s presence in their country, in their home. Tony tries his best to cheer them up, tag-teaming the effort with the no-longer-midgety midgets. But he’s also distracted by all the mineral-and-metal-containing rocks that Ýmirheim possesses in abundance, absent on earth.

 

  1. 199. Dance
    “C’mon, dance with me? There’s just us,” Tony coaxes when, suddenly, quietly, Fié drops by at his latest “dig site” – which is just a shallowish hole near the city of giant buildings and people. He gets no answer, but Fié doesn’t sit far, and he counts it as a success.

 

  1. 200. Unknown
    Angrboða – Anga – is the “First Regent” of Ýmirheim. But, more importantly, they’re the dad of the sibling-child Fié despises so much. Tony wants another perspective, so he asks them. And they tell him: about the child stuck in Asgard alongside their mother and womb-siblings… and their unknown twin, long dead.

 

  1. 201. Raw
    “We do not have the term ‘twins’ when regarding a pair of them, Tony. Only ‘twin’, because both are tightly interlocked. They are regarded as one entity. Losing half… the other does not survive long, usually, or grows twisted.” Anga doesn’t shout, doesn’t cry, but their voice is scraped raw.

 

*202. Thief
“Bor stole Bestla, my spouse, while I was carrying our first child. He imprisoned them, tried to force them to bear ‘his children’, moulded our children after him, Bé’s womb-children….” Anga chokes into silence. Tony can taste bile in his throat. If Anga’s right, Bor’s more than just a thief.

Chapter Text

Asgard, End of February 2014

 

  1. 203. Lustre
    Tony left a note beside Fié’s pillow. Then he and Anga snuck into Asgard. And here they are, standing in the sun, blinking at all the gold things around. To think that people call Tony gaudy…. If Anga’s right, though, this surface lustre has been hiding something very, very foul.

 

  1. 204. Empty
    The throneroom’s empty of the quarry. The pair find them in the foyer of their – his? – suite, instead: an old man in everything that counts, with ice-blue eyes as empty as the throneroom was. “Why now?” he?… whispers, and the tone’s just as empty. `Why not before?` Tony translates.

 

  1. 205. Devotion
    There’s an empty suite nearby, and Tony somehow doesn’t like being close to it. Voðen walks inside as if without a care, though, as if it’s home, once. And inside, amidst all the scene of an abandoned house, a small dress lies untouched by dust. `A desperate devotion,` Tony thinks.

 

**206. Wrong
It’s Voðen who shies away from a corner of the suite, where a bed crouches, wreaking of a plethora of dark emotions in Tony’s new perception. “What’s wrong there?” Tony prompts. And, in answer, Voðen shifts into… their… human-like milaða form, and, tremblingly, lies naked, face-up, spread-eagle on the bed.

 

**207. Culture Shock
Tony gags, jolts away. Anga whines, sobs. And still, the truth lies before them. Then, as Tony hastily covers Voðen with a dusty blanket, Anga talks, stumblingly describing a milaða tradition where sometimes a parent helps giving a sex-ed to their child by coupling with them. `Talk about culture shock!`

 

  1. 208. Roar
    It’s the tradition, but this is not the tradition. Children should not be afraid, harmed, forced. Anga sobs so. “We fix it, then,” Tony says, bravado-speaking. He tugs Voðen up, saying, “you’ll come home,” and listens from afar as Voðen themself implodes the quarters in roar of air and magic.

 

  1. 209. Emblem
    There’s a special spear that Anga once made for Voðen, their youngest kin-child, to help defend them. The spear’s been appropriated by Bor, then made into the emblem of kingship for Asgard, since it arrived in Voðen’s hand. And now, it’s no more, alongside the quarters that once caged them.

 

  1. 210. Alternative
    So close to ground zero and perhaps also cut off by sheer relief, Voðen is now an unresponsive lump. Hidden by magic alongside the poor lump, Tony and Anga debates alternatives, as guards and servants and mages scurry here and there, fretting about a huge explosion in the royal wing.

 

  1. 211. Hope
    “We can’t take Loptr and the Anchor right now, Anga. They’ll tie it all to us. We’ll just return later,” Tony whispers fiercely when there’s a chance. It’s been some time since the milaðen had much hope, though, instead of expectations, and he understands it, so he bears Anga’s fretting.

 

Cracatoa Island, Sunda Strait, Indonesia, End of February 2014

 

  1. 212. Colourful
    “There was a thick forest here, with colourful birds and flowers, and a tall volcano instead of an island. Voluna loved it, before… before the end,” Anga looks round, lost. The trio have been deposited on what looks like a small desert island. Tony frowns. “Think I saw this once….”

 

  1. 213. Necessary
    “No, it’s necessary to separate them from Fié right now, Anga. Voðen can’t be crushed more and Fié can’t be riled up more,” Tony points out when Anga proposes that they go to Ýmirheim next. “This could be Cracatoa Junior. Gonna check and get us to the mainland if yes.”

 

Jakarta, Indonesia, End of February-Middle of April 2014

 

  1. 214. Humble
    Anga didn’t lie about twins being tightly interlocked, maybe, because Voðen’s responsive only when the trio were about to deviate from an invisible path that seemed to lead to something. And now they’re standing before a humble little house in one of the busier, more packed residence complexes in Jakarta.

 

  1. 215. Déjà Vu
    A chocolate-skinned, curly-haired, squinty-eyed girl – late teen, maybe, like Helblindi – in shorts, T-shirt, magnifying specs and leg braces opens the front door on Tony’s knock. She promptly looks dazed and scared, despite none of the trio saying nor doing anything. `Déjà vu, maybe,` Tony guesses, his hair raising on end.

 

  1. 216. Clutch
    The girl looks even more freaked out when Voðen suddenly kneels and clutches her tightly in their arms. Tony can’t fault her. He – and Anga – are freaked out, themselves. `This can’t go on, though. They’re attracting lots of attention.` But on the thought of separating them, Tony’s own heart clenches.

 

  1. 217. Victim
    Surprisingly, it’s… not so hard… to convince the girl and her parents that she’s a twin in her past life, dying young as a victim of child abuse. Tony’s namedropping might help, supplementary to the fact that Voðen’s never letting go of her… and she dreams about her “past,” too.

 

  1.  218. Load
    “Come with us for a little while? To check for yourself? Your parents can hold my passport for guarantee, s’long as they don’t blab or lose the passport, n’I’ll give’m my number, too,” Tony proposes, translated by Anga. And, in short, he’s loading… new family members?… into a rental car.

 

  1. 219. Smile
    In the three days since the girl – Cintosha, whom Tony calls Chan-Chan after her middle name – has been with them in the family suite Tony rented, Voðen has said and done nothing but to tag after her like her shadow. But today, when she pokes at his nose, he smiles.

 

  1. 220. Fix
    “How can we fix this?” Tony mumbles, while he and Anga are spying on the twins, separated by more than just a gulf of years and experiences, from behind the glass doors of the balcony. To that, Anga chuckles bitterly. “I think this is the extent of us ‘fixing’ it.”

 

  1. 221. Liquid
    Voðen has a liquid grace in all their movement when they want to move, and they rarely do… except when Chan-Chan proposes some swimming time, apparently. And in the swimming pool, Tony notices for the first time how twin-like they are, matching each other stroke for stroke without looking.

 

  1. 222. Turbulent
    “They’re like fish,” Tony laughs, watching from the sidelines as the twins navigate the turbulent water of a far bigger, far more specialised swimming pool elsewhere, with all the waves, people and currents in it. Anga smiles, remarking, “It is in our nature, Tony. We are of the water.”

 

  1. 223. Beautiful
    Superficially, Chan-Chan is far from beautiful, at least in Tony’s standard. But Voðen looks at her like she hung their favourite things in the sky, sometimes. Anga grins and laughs when he tells them that. “You are not beautiful, either, in many ways, but Fié is smitten with you.”

 

  1. 224. Flag
    Chan-Chan is apparently a collector of little, hand-held flags… and maybe ready to call it quits, too. Because one morning she asks Anga if Ýmirheim has such flag she can collect, as keepsake. Voðen’s understandably alarmed. Tony wouldn’t ever guess they’d give her their Asgardian kingly ring, though.

 

  1. 225. Lead
    “You can’t lead, if you’re an automaton like that,” Tony muses during the bad moment that immediately befalls Voðen after the ring thing. But Anga disagrees. “One just does as one is expected. Fié was like that, until they stumbled on you recently.” Then, quieter, “I am like that, too.”

 

  1. 226. Pliant
    “Please reconsider?” Anga begs as they drape Voðen over Chan-Chan, pliant and blank like a stick of playdough. The girl shakes her head, looking lost and scared. “I have… adoption… adopted, twins, at home. Still small. They need me. I need to work, for… to… for them to grow up.”

 

227. Stuck
Chan-Chan won’t accept Tony’s “charity.” But he knows well that taking care of Voðen is more than a full-time job, in their current condition. He doesn’t have much time to convince her, though, because Peter’s just called, wanting to spend part of his spring break with Tony. “Huh. I’m stuck.”

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, Middle of April 2014

 

  1. 228. Effervescent
    Peter’s effervescent, as usual, but Tony can’t match the spirit, right now. He left Voðen and Chan-Chan behind, and it goes against his new-old instincts. Worse, Anga’s going back to Ýmirheim without him, to check on Fié who hasn’t answered Tony’s texts and videocalls. Worst, Peter notices and falls silent.

 

  1. 229. Woman
    Betty Ross is a fierce, sharply smart woman, more loyal and righteous than kind. But then, she must be like that to survive growing up and living under general – now Secretary – Ross’ thumb, Tony supposes. And now she’s in Stark tower, living with her little family, without telling Tony beforehand.

 

Antarctica, End of April- End of May 2014

 

  1. 230. Huddle
    Tony brings Peter and the little family to his Antarctic bunker when Ross the elder comes a-calling. Watching Bruce, Anna and Betty huddling together on the sofa there under a thermal duvet is… painful, though. It should be he and Fié and the midgets there, his heart treacherously whispers.

 

  1. 231. Current
    Tony isn’t in the habit of noticing calendars, whether personal or global. But now, as he realises that his chest’s arc reactor’s somehow failing him again, he does notice that he, once more, is approaching yet another birthday. Tiredly, he wonders what his current predicament will bring into the mix.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, End of May 2014

 

**232. Dogged
Tony thought that his charm and Anga’s dogged determination would be able to mollify Fié. But no, Fié’s still totally silent, not responding to Tony’s texts and videocalls. And Tony can clearly see the shrapnel trying to force themselves outward towards the arc reactor; ever healed, but slower each time.

 

*233. Three
Fié, there’s an expression here, three times the charm. So maybe the trouble will stop after this. Whether it means I’m dead or completely free of it, I don’t know. But if I’m dead at the end of this, I don’t want to go while we’re still having this silence.

 

  1. 234. Heir
    Anga stands abruptly, silently behind Tony in the tower’s medical wing, an hour after he texted Fié. “Give Fié heirs first before you go gallivanting elsewhere,” they murmur – smiling, hiding things behind it – when Tony’s eyes meet theirs. “Who knows, it might cheer them up. No going anywhere before that.”

 

Ýmirheim, End of May-June 2014

 

*235. Pieces
Anga tricked Tony. He came, expecting a farewell shag or at least a face-to-face good-bye that Fié can’t flee from. But he’s instead ushered directly to another medical healing and strong-armed to undergo a medical procedure. And now, he sees shrapnel pieces from his chest gleaming on a blood-spotted tray.

 

*236. Roll
“Never thought a giant could roll up so small,” tony remarks when, pronounced all-healed by the medical team, he finally gets to bother Fié. And Fié’s indeed rolled up in one corner of the nest: face hidden, back on him, all alone… and naked. “D’ya know how sexy this is?”

 

*237. Waddle
Anga’s laughter, the first thing that welcomes the duo in the dining hall, seem all delighted, incredulous and amused. No wonder: Both Tony and Fié have to waddle everywhere, after their long, rigorous reunion and stress relief. But Tony’s now blue-skinned at will, taller than Fié, and he likes it.

 

  1. 238. Power
    Hope’s a terrific power, Tony thinks. He and Fié are practically glued to each other, even while eating in the dining hall, and everyone who eats with them seems to draw the scene in to sure up themselves. They look – feel – lively and strong, now, no longer defeated and tired.

 

  1. 239. Terrible
    At the same time, though, Tony can’t help musing, hope’s a terrible power, able to bash someone into smaller pieces than without it if not fulfilled. He knows it, from countless lessons from his own mum and dad. Perhaps these people know from body language that Fié’s pregnant. But if….

 

*240. Sheet
No more horrible what-ifs and if-onlys, Tony decides as night comes and he’s still alone with Fié in the nest. `What will come, will come,` he chants, while rolling a laughing Fié into a sheet, nibbling all exposed skin as it’s slowly covered, and calling it a “reversed sausage roll.”

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, Early July 2014

 

  1. 241. Fake
    Thor had to go back to Asgard. “Grave trouble,” he said. Foster wants to go after him, and pesters Tony for the pathfinder rod for that. Tony gives her the fake, the one without the magicwork, because he knows she’s not safe in Asgard right now… or maybe ever.

 

Antarctica, Early July 2014

 

  1. 242. Sand
    “I miss sand, and sandcastles, in a beach,” Peter admits privately to Tony one day, as he and Bruce’s family are still cooped up in Tony’s Antarctic bunker. “I… well, miss playing with the kids, actually. Weren’t you there just now? How were they? Can I go visit?”

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, Early July 2014

 

  1. 243. Floor
    In all the exhausting excitement, exciting exhaustion and other cares, Tony’s forgotten about his bots. He realises this only when, as he’s visiting the tower to see if he can return everyone there, JARVIS tentatively reminds him. So he gets down on his lab’s floor and… just… hugs them tight.

 

  1. 244. Arm
    “Mister Stark… you said you aren’t in the arms business anymore,” Foster says, carefully neutral. Tony grunts, eyes on his latest project, ‘sixth sense’ on the woman jittering behind his work-stool. “Who says this is considered as ‘arm’? Also, dun’cha realise Thor’s a warrior and this is a restricted floor?”

 

Wakanda, Central Africa, Middle-End of July 2014

 

  1. 245. Trial
    Tony made an alloy, from the lightest but most durable metals on Earth and Ýmirheim. He forged a stretchy armour from that alloy, able to stretch and compact to thrice its size. Now’s the trial period, in Wakanda, because one of the Earth metals is the vibranium that Wakandans hord.

 

  1. 246. Case
    “Brucey, please? I do need Hulky’s help. At least let me explain the case to him? Maybe not in the tower, yeah, but somewhere green outside? Doesn’t he like Fié, too? This armour’s for Fié, ‘specially for their belly, ‘cause they’re pregnant and, last time, someone bashed their belly….”

 

  1. 247. Rags
    Someone in rags approaches Tony in his Wakandan lab. He nearly pushes the alarm button. But the intruder turns to be… just… one of Voðen’s guards?… in the wrong disguise. “How can you be a guard if you can’t tell the situation and adapt to it?” Tony raises an eyebrow.

 

  1. 248. Arid
    Asgardians have arid imagination, lack of systematic education, and towering arrogance. Tony comes to this conclusion when the so-called guard sheepishly explains that 1) all Asgardians believes that “Midgard” is still populated by rustic villages, 2) nobody researched the case before this, and 3) nobody thought it could be otherwise.

 

  1. 249. Awry
    Things go awry for the guard when he tries to stealthily aim a pathfinder-something at Tony, perhaps to triangulate where Voðen is. Because Tony’s been… trained… by the stealthier midgets trying to prank him, is rather sensitive to magicwork by now, and is protective of the lump in Chan-Chan’s care.

 

  1. 250. Emotion
    Based on previous interactions, Tony thought that the only emotions most Asgardians feel are anger, offence, puppy-like adoration, condescension and battle-lust. But, just now, another guard’s just materialised, nearly atop the – battered – first one, and the said first one is clearly petrified of the newcomer; guilty and desperate, to boot.

 

  1. 251. Bowl
    Unfortunately, this newcomer’s stronger, quicker and more to-the-point than the other. In a short amount of time, Tony got himself tied up in his swivel chair, sans everything that could be weaponised, gagged, and watching wide-eyed as the newcomer scries Voðen on Tony’s bowl of soup. And the scrying works.

 

  1. 252. Freeze
    On the now mirror-like surface of the soup, Voðen freezes, and their eyes – more lucid than even the first time Tony saw them in this form – lock on the newcomer, as if knowing that they’re being watched. And the newcomer breathes, in relief, in Ýmska at that, “You are safe.

 

  1. 253. Tend
    “Who has been tending them? Where are they? What is your relationship with them?” the newcomer fires out, after removing the gag. Tony gives him a look and drawls, “Why would I tell you any of those? You haven’t even given me your name, or your promise of safe conduct.”

 

  1. 254. Sliver
    A sliver of apprehension ghosts across Tony’s heart when the newcomer just vanishes with his predecessor; not saying a word, let alone releasing the poor captive. But then he returns alone, takes the swivel chair that You has just pushed towards him without batting an eye, and tony somehow relaxes.

 

  1. 255. Value
    Tony’s still tied up, but he’s the one interrogating the stranger. After he dangled the promise of a videocall with Chan-Chan and maybe Voðen, true, but to him it just shows how much the Asgardian values that chance, to willingly submit to a “weaker” opponent just for that. Thor wouldn’t.

 

  1. 256. Pail
    Chan-Chan responds to the videocall while strolling through a plastic-pail graveyard, it seems, judging from the numerous old and broken plastic pails of all sizes and colours all round her. An upturned pail’s even sitting on her head. And then the camera moves, and Voðen can be seen… also pail-headed.

 

  1. 257. Astonished
    Kientar, the would-be interrogator and former interrogatee, lets out an astonished sound. Tony laughs, for that and the view. “Good hats, twinnies,” he comments, grinning broadly. “You working in a scavanging yard, now? Or searching for parts?” He laughs louder when Voðen lifts a partially assembled pail-car to the camera.

 

  1. 258. Emersion
    “That’s a good example of a successful emersion, y’know,” Tony grins at Kientar when, long after the videocall ended, the latter’s still silent and looks totally stumped. Kientar makes a grunting, whining noise to that, and Tony bursts into laughter once more; delighted, amused and relieved. Voðen’s now mor-or-less healed.

 

  1. 259. Oblong
    Tony videocalls the twins again once Kientar’s gone. He spends much time admiring, critiquing and suggesting more things for the pail-car, which by now has taken a roughly oblong shape from the pail parts cut up and reassembled. He so loves this: how fortunate, unpriveleged children create toys for themselves.

 

260. Forest
All the fun, bright things he’s experienced fuels Tony’s spirit and patience when Bruce at last consents for Hulk to help him testing the stretchy armour in a Wakandan forest. After so much time and effort and explanation, he even gets to play with Hulk, after – successfully – testing the armour.

Chapter Text

Ýmirheim, August 2014

 

  1. 261. Leaf
    Laufey, why did I have to find your real name from a book?” Tony complains while Fié’s trying on the stretchy armour in the nest. In retaliation, they point out that “Tony” is a nickname, comparable to “Fié.” And all that Tony can say to that is, “Damn you, Leaf.”

 

  1. 262. Drawing
    There are traditional coloured drawings – Fié’s drawings – in one of the many drawers lining the nest’s walls. Tony pages through the bundles of strange, plastic-like sheets; laughing on many, smiling on most, and pondering on some. Fié, head on Tony’s lap, comments on Tony’s reactions instead; acerbic and grumpy, embarrassment-driven.

 

  1. 263. Letter
    Tony hates composing a letter. A text message is far better. But he needs this to be formal, sadly. His dream zoo must be above-board. Fortunately, despite the “drawing moment,” and after explaining the said zoo to them, Fié agrees to help him. So, “Dear Mr. Owen Grady,…

 

  1. 264. Tangent
    The e-mails quickly go off on a tangent about the merits of serving fastfood on military cafetaria; definitely informal, now, past Owen’s “Yes” on consulting for Tony’s zoo. Fié somehow finds it very funny. The loon’s rolling about in the nest, howling with laughter, after reading it over Tony’s shoulder.

 

  1. 265. Fend Off
    Tony wants the zoo to be a surprise for the midgets. Seeing as the nest’s been full during Fié’s latest antics, though, he’s got to actively fend off their eager inquiries and snooping eyes, if he wants it still to be a secret till the D-Day. “Your fault, Leaf.”

 

  1. 266. Braid
    Claiming to show him their contriteness, Fié tortures Tony’s hair – longer, bushier and thicker in the blue-skinned form he always adopts on Ýmirheim – into intricate loops of braids. Most everyone look wide-eyed at the organic crown-thing, though, and Tony gets suspicious. `Damn clever bastard. They tricked me again! What now?`

 

New York, United States, September 2014

 

  1. 267. Ill
    Tony rushes back to Earth, to New York, to Peter’s Queens home, when May Parker texts him that Peter’s ill for several days already, after a school field trip to Oscorp, a genetic pharmaceutical research and production company. `If anything happens to him, I’ll kill them. See if I don’t!`

 

  1. 268. Peace
    Tony panics even more when Fié’s suddenly there, in their human-like form, once he’s moved Peter to the tower. He can’t deny stealing some peace in the moment when they hug him from behind, cradling him close, but still, “You shouldn’t be here. Think of the littlest midget, Leaf.”

 

  1. 269. Elaborate
    Trying to distract himself, Tony retreats to his lab and elaborates about his dream zoo to Pepper. In reply, she sends him online brochures about zoos and safari parks round the world, then refers him to John Hammond from InGen, who once asked SI to invest in a “special zoo.”

 

  1. 270. Leather
    Tony fretted about the wrong thing. Fié and their little bump are not in danger from Peter’s illness, but humans. SHIELD agents are trying to usher Fié out of the tower’s lobby. JARVIS shows him the footage. Fury’s machination, no doubt. “That leather-fettish fiend. – J, get Fury on the line.”

 

  1. 271. Vocal
    The PR team got another big, humanitarian job to be vocal about. While the subject in concern was Bruce, now it’s aliens. Because Fury wanted to bring Fié in for “questioning,” for “suspicion of turning people into aliens, starting from the Iron Man.” `Must be Barton’s idea. That little shit.`

 

  1. 272. Lecture
    Cap lectures Tony: about not defying “the good guys” at every turn, being more present as an Avenger, surrendering Fié to SHIELD. So Tony lectures him back: about following orders blindly, not trying to live the first time over, joining ungrateful people in trying to stab the home-owner from behind.

 

  1. 273. Street Vendor
    That night, as Tony walks Fié and a recently recovered Peter to his favourite haunt, a street vendor offers them free samples while bowing his head in obeisance. Tony chuckles. “Busted again, buddy. What’s your mission, now?” Because it’s the fumbling, inept Asgardian guard from before: Kalahar, Kientar’s littlest brother.

 

  1. 274. Kind
    “Kientar trusts you to do right by me.” Kalahar sounds shruggy, almost unconcerned. “He removed me from the active roster and assigned me to protect you for Ðinyé.” An openly sheepish grin, then, “I believe he means you to protect me instead. You were kind to me, after all.”

 

  1. 275. Less
    “I beat you up and you call me kind?!” Tony narrows his eyes. On Kalahar’s easy agreement, he scoffs. But the Asgardian speaks before he can: “You did not kill me. You would be less kind, however, if I fell unconscious. Kientar said, ‘Unconscious people can’t learn. Now you learnt.’”

 

  1. 276. Tunnel
    The now quartet return from the cupcake-selling shop through another route: Tony brought them to an SI warehouse complex just outside NYC on foot, guided by JARVIS via his Starkphone’s GPS, then back to the tower via his simple tunnel system. And all because of numerous guarded eyes watching them.

 

  1. 277. Shipwright
    Fié at last consents to go home, after the night’s incident. Not without a hard bargain, though. They send Ýmirheim’s foremost shipwright to come discuss and build a ship for Tony, and Tony must depart Earth on it with his loved ones on the slightest hint of trouble brewing big.

 

  1. 278. Attack
    “Where is the alien, Mister Stark?” is Agent Pretender’s opening line when she happens to intersect with Tony before the tower’s special lift. Tony considers it an attack, so, raising a challenging eyebrow, he says flippantly, “Here. Two of them. ‘Alien’ isn’t ‘human’, after all, and we’re not humans anymore.”

 

  1. 279. Peer
    The shipwright, Ýoluti, is a delightful elderly milaða who turns out to have roamed much of the universe in their youth, until slightly before the Asgard-and-Ýmirheim-A-B war. Curiosity-and-chatteriness-wise, they’re pretty much Tony’s peer. Knowledge-wise…. Well, Tony rarely feels so delightfully humbled. And still, they’re striking up a joint venture!

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, 5th October 2014

 

  1. 280. Dense
    Peter accidentally blabs about Ýoluti’s presence, when he comes home to the tower for the afternoon and chirps to Tony in the lobby about introducing “Elder O’u” to his space-series lego kit. As the result, someone pumps volumes of dense fog up the vents to try to flush Ýoluti out.

 

  1. 281. Take
    SHIELD doesn’t know that milaðen are creatures of water and magic. Ýoluti navigates the floors calmly, silently and smoothly, gathers Tony and Peter, and takes them to the newly completed spaceskiff. `Damn. Fié must’ve instructed them,` Tony grumps, as the now unsmiling grannie buckles him down in the co-pilot seat.

 

  1. 282. Hull
    When somebody knocks on the outer hull of the spaceskiff, Tony thinks they’re caught before they can go. But Fié apparently stashed another ace in their loincloth, or somebody got the initiative to look out for the stud of the Monarch, because the intruder turns out to be another milaða.

 

  1. 283. Shoe
    Tony nonchalantly lowers the shoe he’s been holding and puts it back on. “You’re familiar,” he remarks, instead of saying sharper things. The newcomer, bringing Pepper and Kalahar with them, smiles gently. “The Sherlock-Holmes hat was a good disguise on the first night,” they say, and Tony knows. `The doctor.`

 

  1. 284. Past Glory
    The spaceskiff has been installed in a soundproof, walled-off portion of Tony’s second floor, just below his penthouse, accessible only from a trapdoor at the bottom of the jakuzi in Tony’s second penthouse guest room’s en-suite. It’s safe, but boring. To battle that, Kalahar talks about… Asgard’s past glory. `Umm.`

 

  1. 285. Ball
    Tony saves the stupid would-be guard before there’s a mauling incident involving hacked-off milaðen. “There’s a ball stashed here somewhere. Go play with Peter at the back, gently. Shoo.” He gives Peter a look when the boy’s about to protest. Well, it can be punishment for the blabbing, too.

 

  1. 286. Find
    “J, retract our funds from SHIELD,” Tony, grinning wolfishly, proceeds to instruct JARVIS, after the AI brought his wandering attention to the documents SI’s legal team has recently unearthed from the depths of the past: Much of SHIELD’s funding comes from SI and Howard’s – now Tony’s – personal estate.

 

*287. Chain
JARVIS himself has been busy, apparently. He’s managed to track down seemingly unrelated things from various SHIELD and SHIELD-related servers throughout the years since the Battle of New York. He’s playing a video from the stash now, and it’s…, Why’s Loki herehow – strapped down naked in chains – what for?!!`

 

*288. Race
A “subsidiary” of SHIELD. Down in Turkey. Video dated yesterday. Loki’s prison log dated months ago. During Thor’s return to Asgard after Voðen’s rescue, in fact. And the life stats say that Loki’s slipping away. “Buckle up, people. We go to Turkey,” Tony barks. It’ll be his most horrible race.

Chapter Text

Turkey, 5th October 2014

 

**289. Well
It’s all that Tony can do not to throw up, to focus on just the impromptu mission. To call Loki “not well” would be a gross understatement. Some body parts are missing, the gag from years ago are still on, and so do the chains, and… between his legs….

 

*290. Science
JARVIS broke into the intranet while the milaðen got busy photographing and destroying samples, people, everything. Tony reads the gathered info while the AI steers the spaceskiff away from Earth, while Loki lies unresponsive in a cooling blanket on the deck by his side. And… “For science?!!” he breathes, disbelieving.

 

Switzerland, 5th-6th October 2014

 

  1. 291. Weightless
    Loki’s body is practically weightless in Tony’s arms, when the spaceskiff – the Rescue, he names it, after this unplanned maiden voyage – lands back on Earth but… somewhere in the remote areas of Europe… and its passengers disembark. Ýoluti has pleaded for discreet medical aid from Ýmirheim, and now’s the chance.

 

  1. 292. Hill
    “This is so UFO-ish,” Tony notes – partly in dark amusement, partly in factual concern – as he surveys the surroundings. They’ve landed on the top of a hill, and Týo – the DWB doctor, the milaða who once rescued Tony – have enshrouded everything in fog. Too late to find another place, though.

 

  1. 293. Ability
    “Do I have the ability?” Tony asks abruptly, after some time staring at the spaceskiff, where the medics have decided to treat Loki after all. Beside him, Týo humms in acknowledgement, then says, “To heal others? Almost everyone has it. The affinity, however, is another matter entirely.”

 

*294. School
“Do you have… like… medical schools? On Ýmirheim?” Tony’s too strung-up to stay silent for long. Týo shakes their head, murmuring tightly, “No longer. The war – Asgard – decimated our schools – all schools – through seemingly random Bifrost-deployed troops. The teachers and students were… not prepared. Our internal factions never targeted schools.”

 

*295. Treat
Tony winces. He doesn’t know how he’ll treat Thor after this, knowing everything that’s happened with Ýmirheim, with Loki. And to think, Ýmirheim’s top-boss is the one who tricked him into changing – in most senses of the word – and Loki himself – themself? – threw him out of the fucking hundredth floor.

 

  1. 296. Wall
    “We have done all that we could do, Aslakonnar,” the head of the medics reports, bowing, with throat slightly beared. “Only assured safety, the family bond and the child’s own will can heal them the rest of the way.” And Tony sees why. There’s an invisible wall round Loki, now.

 

  1. 297. Present
    SI’s bord of directors wants to boot Tony out completely, for not being more present in the running of the conglomerate or even his own “small subsidiary.” Tony stares at the e-mail and doesn’t know what to think, wat to feel. Pepper, though, is livid. “Those bastard – I’ll show them!”

 

Earth, 7th-8th October 2014

 

  1. 298. Semantics
    Tony forbids Pepper from returning. “It could be a trap.” Then he goes into a sniping match with Cap, while the spaceskiff runs round the globe. Words like “protection,” “questioning,” and “safety measure” are thrown to him, reasons for the latest hullabaloo. `Well, if they want to play with semantics….`

 

  1. 299. Aversion
    “Do you have that much aversion to rule, Mister Stark?” Cap asks, at last, apparently genuinely. Tony snorts, contemptuous, unmoved by the tiredness in the man’s whole expression. “Do you have that much aversion to critical thinking and independence, Mister Rogers?” He could say more, but Peter’s watching him, wide-eyed.

 

  1. 300. Time
    I regret not being present while Betty was carrying Anna,” Bruce texts Tony, seemingly quite out of the blue. Tony purses his lips. “Take care of the bots for me?” he sends back, at length. He’s sure Fié still has much time carrying the sprog, but he does miss them.

 

  1. 301. Get
    Fié’s text message gets to Tony before he can ask Ýoluti to get them to Ýmirheim: “The burial ice was broken Loki’s body was gone they are reborn Afa they are reborn but I do not know where Afa I am afraid please search around there? Ask for Ýoluti’s help.

 

  1. 302. Downy
    Ýoluti reads the message, then silently returns the phone. Still silent, they lead Tony to the back of the spaceskiff, where Loki – Loptr? – lies… or lay, rather, since what’s there now is a… toddler, he thinks, not an adult, with downy hair and little body and little limbs and all.

 

  1. 303. Eye
    Tony’s heart clenches tight. This child – whoever they are – is looking round wildly, with wide, frightened eyes so green, so similar to Fié’s that forever ago, at the beginning of their acquaintanceship. If this is Loki – not the dead twin, but Loptr-who-got-misnamed-by-the-kidnapping-Voðen…. He doesn’t know what to think, feel, everything.

 

  1. 304. Foam
    The Rescue slips towards Malibu via a combination of air and underwater travels. Tony tries with all his might not to notice when they’re fully under, but the foam and sprays that fill the bottom of the windows when they’re half-submerged are nice to see. `Maybe I’m becoming more ‘alien’….`

 

  1. 305. In Case
    In his Malibu home, Tony drops Pepper and Kalahar and loads all of his bots, equipment and notes into the spaceskiff, as well as logistics. “Don’t ever leave Pep’s side,” he instructs Kalahar while doing so. “I put the suits under your charge. Use’m to guard yourselves. Just in case….”

 

  1. 306. More
    “We shall need more space if Aslakonnar intends to live on board,” Ýoluti remarks, amused, when the Rescue – now definitely much fuller than before – is set up to go again, after Pepper promised to “get the naughty toddlers on timeout and clean-out duty” herself. Tony nods. “Next project,” he promises.

 

Puncak Jaya, Papua, Indonesia, 9th-15th October 2014

 

  1. 307. Rain
    Tony sets the Rescue down in the backyard of his Papua home, just as the sky’s pouring down. And, surprisingly, the fairly composed grannie that’s Ýoluti rushes out of the spaceskiff, just to run round, dancing under the rain. “There is no water rain on Ýmirheim,” Týo explains. `But still!`

 

  1. 308. Cube
    Tony waves a randomised rubic’s cube before the skittish, withdrawn little child, who hasn’t moved away from the bunk they’ve found themself on since the start. “C’mon, kid…,” he coaxes, somewhat impatiently. “I want outta here. There’s a nest with our names on it. Duncha wanna go rest and play?”

 

*309. Learn
Through various experiments, Tony learns that the child is still Loptr the Misnamed, who infamously went by Loki, who ever threw him out of his penthouse’ window, who got tortured senselessly in all sorts of ways by SHIELD until so recently. He’s yet to learn how they got kiddified, though.

 

  1. 310. Branch
    “Oh. You think what? A bird’s nest? With branches?” Tony peeks over his fat but airy duvet, which he uses for the sheer comfort of snuggling under a blanket. And he finds Loki – no, Loptr, since Fié thinks the dead-twin-Loki is back among the living – gawping at the comfy squishiness.

 

  1. 311. Opaque
    “Frightening” is Loki’s – Loptr’s – default look, Tony thinks, unnerved despite himself, because he invites… them?… to bed and the child replies just with an opaque stare. If not the madness with occasional desperate lucidity from the New York’s Invasion, it’s the totally vacant look from the recent rescue, or this.

 

  1. 312. Steal
    Tony’s half asleep when the various cushions and sheets by his feet shift, followed by the mattress dipping a little to his left, where it’s empty. The skittish, withdrawn little child’s trying to steal across somewhere, and he hasn’t the heart to spoil the “mission,” so he pretends to sleep.

 

*313. Main
Tony’s main concern with the newly kiddified – former? – villain isn’t that they’ll kill themself, or even that they’ll kill him and others. No, it’s got to do with Fié’s bitter pronouncement that time – “No longer my baby.” – and how Howard chased after dead people instead of his own living son.

 

  1. 314. Victory
    Tony fights not to react in any way when, slowly but surely, the small, cautious weight settles down just out of arm’s reach. The mattress dips deeper, soon enough, and the sleep-breathing starts not long after. Victory tastes sweet, despite possible future problems. Especially when the slumbering child rolls closer.

 

  1. 315. Bare
    It’s been so long, it feels, since last Tony heard soft patters of small, bare feet on the floor that are this cautious and conscious of distance. Surprisingly, it’s saddening. But at least, the footsteps follow him wherever he goes, with just a single instruction. `Were they ever obedient, before?`

 

  1. 316. Slender
    A tiny, slender arm comes into view with the sought-for tool, without being asked, as Tony works on checking on the Rescue. He looks up with a smile, which shrivels as he meets the small eyes blown wide, perpetually terrified. The once-Tony-tosser is petrified of him, somehow. It’s fear-born obedience.

 

  1. 317. Cold
    There’s no more snow on the mountaintop, Tony heard, but the weather’s still cold enough, especially for a tiny midget who’s coming out of deep physical, mental and emotional trauma. And yet, they follow him out to the fence, on bare feet and garbed only in a loose, flimsy shift.

 

  1. 318. Terror
    Unbridled terror is what Tony gets when he swoops down and picks the bony little frame up into his arms. Loptr is tense but shivering so hard, and none of his reassurances make an effect. Only when he fetches warm clothing for them as promised do they calm down slightly.

 

  1. 319. Ruffle
    Peter’s playing ball again, now willingly, with Ýoluti. Loptr, showered and properly attired after a fussy, terror-inducing – for them – ordeal of clean-up time, pretends not to watch from the sidelines. Tony notices, though, despite his preoccupation with the diagrams of the new spaceship. He ruffles their hair. “Shoo. Go play.”

 

  1. 320. Child
    Tony’s been chit-chatting with Fié these several days, and stalling. He doesn’t know how to tell them that their rejected surviving child has invaded two worlds, been tortured in all sorts of ways, and in his keeping these handful of days. This evening’s just the same as before, unfortunately.

 

  1. 321. Box
    Loptr has found a largish, sturdy box somewhere, and stolen various soft squishies from the nest to line its insides. “They are missing their mother, unconsciously,” Týo quietly explains, on Tony’s baffled look. On his more baffled look, they say, “The womb, and the power that surrounded them in it.”

 

  1. 322. Pen
    Tony’s putting pen to pepper, so to say, at long last. No more stalling. Loptr isn’t like the Loki that he knew, and they’re hurting, and he bets that Fié’s secretly hurting, too, or they wouldn’t be so bitter, so sharp about the rejection… maybe. Anyway, it’s all out, now.

 

  1. 323. Ground
    Anga summoned Tony to Ýmirheim, to the nest, and here he is, holding Fié close, trying to ground them as they fall apart for the however-many times now. It doesn’t help that he feels like falling apart, too, and he isn’t a sympathetic crier, usually.

 

  1. 324. Tiny
    Loptr, still sleeping but now sleeping sounder, is just a tiny, tiny ball in Fié’s trembling arms. Tony immortalises the scene in his first magically taken photograph, as guided by Týo, who turns out to be part of Ýmirheim’s elite commando unit, aside from Tony-saving DWB doctor and milaða-matters consultant.

 

  1. 325. Agony
    It’s so, so sudden. Tony’s just quick enough to catch Loptr, who’s fallen from Fié’s limp arms, while Fié themself falls back, spasming, twisting about, wailing thinly in agony. “Post-stress crash,” Týo diagnoses, while Tony’s scrambling, trying to calm Loptr and Fié down. `Why, why, why did I tell them?`

 

  1. 326. Bond
    “Some need a deep, constant bond with the sire of their children when they are carrying,” Týo explains when Fié’s finally calming down, being clamped against Tony by his arms and legs. “It is oftentimes the sign that they are carrying children with strong power. The bond provides necessary support.”

 

*327. Figure
“So Fié nearly lost the kid because of stress?” Tony’s breath hitches. In his arms, Fié whimpers. Týo doesn’t speak for a long moment. And then what they say is, “I figured that, if Ðolukonnar spent the nights with Aslakonnar, the bond would be satisfied.” Tony swallows. `It’s true, then.`

 

  1. 328. Rope
    The night’s silence is once more broken as Fié startles awake from a – most likely involuntary – doze. They blurt something in Ýmska that Tony doesn’t catch, in a panic, and Týo translates, “They are hanging on to a rope. They are scared. My baby is stranded on a rotting boat.”

 

Azkaban, North Sea, 15th October 2014

 

  1. 329. Chase
    Fié’s and Loptr’s intuitions are a perfect compass for pinpointing the now-resurrected baby’s location. `I’m living in a fucking odd alternate reality,` Tony muses resignedly as the Rescue chases down the rotting boat from Fié’s… dream? Vision? And, freakily, there’s indeed a rotting boat, in the middle of the sea.

 

  1. 330. Set
    The baby, not-misnamed-Loki, is a gaunt, dirty, smelly, petrified tiny thing curled up tight at one end of the boat, clutching a frayed rope dangling from a rusty loop on its side with all their might. Tony’s heart clenches, again. He recognises this. “Well, we’ve got a set, we do.”

 

  1. 331. Fame
    “I… recognise this,” Týo murmurs, shocked, when they gently brush the baby’s fringes aside, once the latter’s been towed aboard, boat and all. There’s a faded lightning-bolt-shaped scar on the little brow, right above the – `Green, so green.` – right eye. “Poor little one. Fame only costs you grief, did it?”

 

  1. 332. Narrow
    “There is a very narrow margin between life and death for this little one,” Týo continues to say, in addition to other alarming details that makes Tony narrow his eyes in fury. He can’t blow up now, though, because, pressed flush against him, Fié’s beginning to tremble again. `Not yet.`

 

  1. 333. Omen
    It’s really not a good omen when, tracking the boat’s path back to its starting point via tech-incorporated magicwork, Ýoluti brings them to the rickety dok of a literal gothic house of horrors in an island in the North Sea. Fortunately Fié’s asleep, tucked in with their babies and Peter.

 

  1. 334. Look
    “Looks can be deceiving,” Ýoluti offers hesitantly. Tony gives them an incredulous look, in turn. “I’m not much into these things yet, and I know what a bad news this dump is.” Because there’s a chill in his every cell that’s not caused by just the sight of that place.

 

335. Forethought
It’s really fortunate that Týo had the forethought to bring their personal medical supplies with them when the Rescue stopped in Malibu, because now there are three people in need of medical care, and they’re all… well, Tony’s family. It makes him work on the so-very-needed expansions more dilligently, too.

Chapter Text

Hogwarts, Scotland, United Kingdom, 16th-22nd October 2014

 

  1. 336. Thick
    Ýoluti tracked down the baby’s – Loki’s – previous abode… well, abodes, to London, then Scotland. And here they are, perched deep in a thick, dark forest with the feeling of thick, wary power in the air. “This is a good place to stage an investigation,” Týo notes. “Good proximity, at least.”

 

  1. 337. Own
    The milaðen conducts the investigation into Loki’s cause of suffering and the people responsible for it under Fié’s supervision, while Fié themself gets constant updates from Anga about the planet-wide country they’re running. Meanwhile, Tony gets busy searching for a plot of land he can totally own, for his family.

 

  1. 338. Icy
    Well, apparently, nobody owns Antarctica yet. Not many people stay there, too, let alone live. Meanwhile, Tony already has a bunker there since his Afghanistan months, and milaðen do love icy climate…. Grinning, he instructs SI’s legal team via JARVIS to negotiate the purchase of at least part of it.

 

*339. Blank
“Harry Potter,” living in a cupboard, then a tiny, prison-like room; accused of smuggling a deadly runaway convict into his school through an elaborate ruse; convicted of the crime by circumstantial evidence; thrown into jail for life afterwards…. Tony and Fié are in a blank fury, and nobody stops them.

 

  1. 340. Vegetable
    `We need to depart soon, Aslakonnar,` Týo says mind-to-mind while Tony’s once more wrapped round a spasming Fié, who has collapsed again given the horror story the team of two has unearthed. `The vegetable-tender and game-keeper who lives nearby is a… ‘blabbermouth’. He often comes here. We cannot risk exposure.`

 

London, England, United Kingdom, 22nd-30th October 2014

 

  1. 341. Shirt
    It’s unnerving, and somewhat frightening, to see 4 milaðen dressed in a shirt-and-trousers combo and looking comfy with it and, at the same time, to know that they’re all top-of-the-top in Ýmirheim’s commando unit. How many “ordinary people” are in fact milaðen or some other species, mingling with Earth’s population?

 

  1. 342. Derivative
    “Earth is young and still insular, derivative, overprotective of its own identity…,” Rústla, the spokesperson of this unit of commandos and spouses, remarks after reading the notes that everyone has previously gathered. “And changes, however beneficial, are not without turmoil.” Tony wants to lob something very, very foul at them….

 

  1. 343. Yell
    Hearing Peter yell and/or laugh and – playfully or not – whinge, disturbed from studying his online courses by the three loons that Týo’s brought in yesterday, has quite quickly become a usual thing in Tony’s London townhouse. “Peter studies too much and plays too little,” Týo explains indulgently when Tony asks.

 

  1. 344. Tile
    Tony finds out only now that Peter’s mysterious illness months ago actually changed the boy. He’s been drawn in to the rec room by Peter’s giggling, and now he finds the boy hopping about on neon-coloured tiles faster and agiler than a frog. And those tiles are on the ceiling.

 

  1. 345. Awe
    Hurt’s what Tony feels first. Peter didn’t tell him, after all, but the brat apparently told the milaðen, because Tony never put those tiles up there. But awe’s a close second, and pride that Peter’s done so much with the new ability, and joy that the boy’s finally having fun.

 

  1. 346. Lazy
    These days, there’s rarely time to be lazy and just enjoy the moment. Things are moving so fast, so weirdly. This afternoon, though, Tony’s cuddling in the nest with just Fié, Peter and the baby twins, while listening to Pepper’s positive report about clean-up in SI, and he relishes it.

 

  1. 347. Market
    “Think we can market this,” Tony mumbles sleepily as Fié soothingly scratches his scalp. “The nest, I mean; new way of sleeping… for families…. Hotel; it’s a hotel; we need a hotel; hotels, like this; for everyone… all.” He wriggles closer to Fié and purrs contently. “Duncha ‘gree, Fi’…? Midge’s…?”

 

  1. 348. Which
    “Which would you like to establish first, Mister Stark? The zoo or the hotel?” Pepper looks harrassed, irritated, but Tony swears he also sees amusement flitting past. He bets he looks exhausted but blissfully sleepy and that helps soften her. Seeing that Hammond’s Zoo has just e-mailed him, though…. “Zoo.”

 

  1. 349. Physical
    It’s saddening, and disappointing, but also quite understandable, that neither of the kiddified twins of Fié’s tolerate physical contact from anyone but their mum, and sometimes not even them. It’s also an effective periodical reminder for Tony to continue sketching ways to expose the slimy organisations that hurt them soon.

 

  1. 350. Onset
    It’s the onset of the Apocalypse, to Tony, when he gets a terse message from Chan-Chan saying that she, Voðen and her adoptive twins have been on the run for some time but now desperately need sanctuary, just as Pepper indirectly forwards him Cap’s paper letter about the Sokovia Accord.

 

  1. 351. Yield
    According to the Accord, everyone who is not categorised as fully human must fully yield to the close supervision of the United Nations and the local governments, so that the greater public won’t be in danger from them and will know what to expect. “We aren’t criminals!” Tony snarls, incensed.

 

  1. 352. Chuckle
    “We are ‘aliens’, however,” Rústla points out, chuckling, after listening to Tony’s rant. Huffing and glowering, Tony throws the Starkpad he read the Accord document on at their forehead. His rant continues right off. “I can’t believe it – Cap’s a modified human! And he’s gonna just submit to the Accord?”

 

Wales, United Kingdom, 30th October 2014

 

  1. 353. Down
    Tony gets everyone to pack up, back into the Rescue. Then he writes a brief, to-the-point paper letter to Cap and mails it from a random location in Wales. There, as factually and neutrally as he can make it, he lists down what’s good and what’s bad about the Accord.

 

  1. 354. Vein
    Fury looks like he’s going to burst a vein. Tony, seated at the very back with – hopefully – no visual cues the master-spy can discern, tunes him out until he touches upon the topic of Tony’s “alien puppet master.” Then, it’s Tony who’s bursting a vein. “Nope, baby, they’re my spouse.”

 

  1. 355. Trouble
    Well, the previous trouble gone, the new trouble setting in. Fury’s now harping about aliens turning earthlings into their species by marriage, or maybe just by having sex. Remembering Fié’s explanation forever ago, Tony snorts. “Fat chance of that. I’m one of a kind. – No no no, no prying, one-eye.”

 

356. Bomb
A bomb went off in Vienna, killing lots of UN officials during a discussion on Sokovia Accord. “Non-human protesters” are blamed for the incident. Tony’s PR team is practically frantic, trying to calm the riots happening offline and online. And they aren’t enough. Tony sends the milaðen back to Ýmirheim.

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, United States, End of October-December 2014

 

  1. 357. Alien
    Tony returns to New York with just Peter in tow. The boy wishes to be with his aunt and uncle, and Tony can’t – doesn’t want to – deny him such comfort, after such a hard time that’s still on-going. He stringently reminds the boy that they’re both considered aliens now, though.

 

  1. 358. Keep
    Tony keeps to himself while residing in his tower. Týo joins him after a while, back as a DWB member stationed in the tower. Peter doesn’t continue his education in any school, but even the elder Parkers admit that they like Peter to be near after such a long absence.

 

  1. 359. Fascination
    Tony misses Áyshkashla, but doesn’t want any eyes attracted to that town of “androgynous humans.” He satisfies himself by designing efficient and effective farming for cold climates, to be tried on various places including there. And people begin to notice his “strange new fascination”….

 

  1. 360. Casualty
    As the Sokovia Accord goes into effect, the rate of superhuman crimes skyrockets. And, as Tony and many, many others predict, the first casualties are the innocents, the helpless civilians… who oftentimes parrot the mantras of the Accord, anyway. Well, given that, Tony finds it hard to be sympathetic.

 

  1. 361. Double Standard
    The world’s government still approves of SHIELD’s existence, despite the well-known “Avengers” working for them. Then again, government-sanction superhuman operations are part of the Accord…. They’re having attack dogs, and they’re vilifying those dogs at the same time. To Tony, the connotation and the double standard burn.

 

*362. Soldier
“A soldier follows orders, true,” Tony murmurs heatedly, when he once more refuses to go ‘save the day’ with the Avengers, “but I’m not a soldier, a soldier can disobey wrong orders, and I distinctly remember a certain somebody fuckin’ runnin’ into danger after a fuckin’ direct order not to.”

 

  1. 363. Glowing
    JARVIS’ continued digging on any leads regarding SHIELD’s servers almost literally strikes a gemstone. This tiny, forgetable outpost of a server contains a spark of data that’s encrypted as deeply as the passcodes in Fort Nox. And, among the data, hides an image of a very familiar bluely glowing spear-rod.

 

  1. 364. Foundation
    While waiting for JARVIS to dig more info about the glowy spear-thing, Tony sets up an agricultural tech company and, like NaturAls the hygiene-based one, links it with Maria Stark Foundation for an easier and better flow of donated products. As a bonus, his PR team capitalises on this work.

 

  1. 365. Tower
    Thor harps on Tony’s reluctance to go heroing. Tony raises an eyebrow, but continues to chew his berries in silence. Well, that is, until Thor tries to grab his forearm. Growling deep in his throat, he snarls, “This is my tower, Pointbreak. Stop harassing me or I’ll throw you out.”

 

*366. Wet
Peter comes stumbling, wailing, babbling into the tower’s lobby, one afternoon. He glomps Tony before Tony can assess his health and situation. But, it seems, there’s no need for that, since the tang of human blood immediately fills the air, and Tony’s front immediately feels wet and sticky. “What happened?”

 

*367. Mind
The elder Parkers are dead, from a superhuman robbery that Peter couldn’t fight against. And Tony wasn’t there to help. Hell, he didn’t even think to assign the boy a guard detail! And then his mind chooses to remember that Chan-Chan and Voðen were already on the run, last time.

 

The Triskelion, Washington DC, United States, Early January 2015

 

  1. 368. Platform
    JARVIS ransacks SHIELD’s whole intranet platform when Tony – for once – tags along after Fury’s pet Avengers to a briefing. There, after the briefing, remembering the milaðen’s teachings, he sneaks away using layered magicworks, getting an actual reading on the Triskelion through unguarded chatter and places unreached by security cameras.

 

*369. Queasy
There’s a living body encased in high-tech ice-coffin in the deepest, most isolated, most unassuming corner far under the Triskelion. There are also detailed documents and… mad-sciency torture devises regarding the body, in a filing cabinet in the same hall. `Loptr wasn’t the first, then.` Tony feels so, so queasy.

 

  1. 370. Hand
    Tony’s hands tremble mightily, and his fingers keep sliding away from the aimed-for spots on his phone’s screen, but he stubbornly continues to text Týo: “I need you and your insane spouses here. Come here quick, light, disguised THOROUGHLY. Be ready to poof away many things all at once.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, January-March 2015

 

*371. Dither
“Shall we thaw him out, Aslakonnar?” Rústla asks, for once seriously, when the cargo, the extraction team and Tony himself have been deposited in Tony’s semi-secret living space under the penthouse. Tony dithers, as he watches wide-eyed at one of the videos where his parents “died” in that “car accident.”

 

*372. Sentience
“Having sentience means having dreams, wishes and preferences, Aslakonnar,” Neuolvir, the quietest of the group of four teammates and spouses, murmurs when Tony, devastated, looks between the television screen and the ice-coffin laid half behind him. “This person, they are no longer sentient. Other sentients carved it out of them.”

 

  1. 373. Conviction
    “You’ve got the talent to be quite creepy, duncha know that, buddy?” Tony manages shakily after a long, tense, awkward pause. The unlooked-for statement doesn’t only creep him out, though; it also, somehow, boulster his conviction to let the frozen guy free, in the bestest senses of the word.

 

*374. Towel
Having a nude guy with a metal arm blankly obeying his every whim somehow feels as horrifying as watching his parents get murdered by the guy, Tony finds. In the end, lacking anything handy, he gets the guy to wear a towel from one of the bathrooms and… just… stop.

 

375. Knife
Tony asks the guy to teach him knife-fighting, on Neuolvir’s advice, which amounts to: “Won’t bite you in the arse later when the guy’s truly back on if you ask him to teach you, rather than obey your commands.” It doesn’t hurt that he got a new skill from this.

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, United States, January-March 2015 (Ctd.)

 

**376. Oral
Milaðen apparently don’t believe in much deviation from “normal” sexual intercourse, for whatever reason. Tony didn’t bother with this before, too focused on just feeling things in whatever time he got with Fié. But now, after so much and so long, he indulges in a lazy treat of oral delights.

 

**377. Cloud
Fié turns out to be a quick learner and a decent partner. Tony babbles this out, fervently, repeatedly, intersperced with other noises, as they enthusiastically and repeatedly return the favour to him. He’s in the clouds and he doesn’t want to come back. `Why didn’t I try this before?`

 

  1. 378. Jump
    Having things jump from utter bliss to dense tension is really, really, really jarring, Tony finds. He’s giving Fié a proper tour of the whole tower, and the duo intersect ways with Agent Wannabe Robinhood, who snarkily says, “Whoa. Never guessed you’d fall for a fatty sack of meat, Stark.”

 

  1. 379. Robe
    Things got worse when, before Tony can say or do anything against the insult – `fié’s pregnant, not fat, and there’s nothing wrong with being fat anyway!` – a group of robed people suddenly materialise amidst them with a deafening crack and start to shoot unknown spells all round.

 

  1. 380. Earthenware
    One of his knives being turned into an earthenware pot clues Tony in to whom they’re facing, and that only makes him madder. The instant hostility just clinches it. But he’s not alone being mad at and can fight the intrusion, so, in short, the magic-disusing bastards are fully incapacitated.

 

  1. 381. Pool
    “Why can’t I join? It’s big!” Agent Wannabe Robinhood whines from the edge of the pool, and Tony answers by sending a huge wave towards him, from the other side of the pool. Meanwhile, down in the middle and pretty much under, Fié’s lazily swimming about, trying to calm down.

 

  1. 382. Board
    Tony’s on board with Hammond about making an island a safari park. He’s rather leery about resurrecting dinosaurs to populate it, however. “I think they’re extinct for a reason,” he writes. “We’ve got enough world-wide problems already. No need adding loose dinosaurs eating people to the list.

 

  1. 383. Tenant
    “You’re the whiniest, nosiest freeriding tenant here, y’know that?” Tony snaps at last, when, after the cooling-down session at the pool, Agent Wannabe Robinhood insists to tag along to where Týo’s team has been interrogating the magical intruders. “Back off, or I’ll get the team to interrogate you, too.”

 

  1. 384. Leave
    Tony’s glad when the whiny tagalong simply leaves. He’s far from glad, though, when the said tagalong returns, with a game-faced Agent Pretender in tow. “I simply wish to help,” she says levelly when Tony snarls at her. “Let it be not said that I am a whiny, freeriding tenant.”

 

  1. 385. Hard
    When Agent Wannabe Robinhood lets out a startled, loud, betrayed, “Whaaat?!,” Tony falls apart, laughing hard, with not a little tinge of hysteria in it. Who knows Agent Cold-hearted Bitch could joke? His eyes are hard, though, when he makes her and Barton promise not to reveal anything to anybody.

 

  1. 386. Delicious
    The info doesn’t so much trickle as pouring out from the interrogation when Tony and his little entourage arrive at the unused floor he hastily set aside for it. And it turns out that the attackers were British magicals, there to bring Tony in for questioning. What a delicious irony.

 

  1. 387. West
    West” is what Chan-Chan simply texts, just as Tony’s ushering his tagalong out of the interrogation-and-holding floor, back to the common hall. He stops dead mid-step. For the first time after that on-the-run text forever ago, he’s getting news from the elder twins. And then, `West. They’re here. West.`

 

  1. 388. Glossy
    Tall buildings stand on the west of Stark Tower, and everywhere else, too. But these tall buildings hide small streets and alleys between them, and Tony’s roamed many of them during his nightly jaunts, though not recently. Now he’s treading the familiar paths, with absently reading glossy magazines as cover.

 

  1. 389. Rumour
    Rumours are flying. About tall winter ghosts with sharp, glowing blue eyes, and the little black-eyed ghosts that follow close behind. About foodstuffs and drinks vanishing from supposedly secure places, to be replaced with heartfelt sorries and thank-yous – and, when the amount taken is more than the usual, some trinkets.

 

  1. 390. Hoarse
    Tony catches up to the “ghosts” after three days of tireless roaming, east of his tower. All… six?… of them are skin-and-bones, filthy, smelly, and skittish as hell. He flinches, heart clenching and plummeting, when one of the two Voðen-like twins – Chan-Chan? Or the real Voðen? – says hoarsely, “You come.”

 

  1. 391. Point
    The point of a dagger presses against Tony’s heart when he comes nearer, held up by the other twin. It means an awkward reach-up that he can easily disarm by now, but he knows the twin’s saying differently by this move. His mouth is desert-dry. “Failed you, didn’t I?”

 

  1. 392. Vote
    “Let me make it up to you? Go home with me?” There’s more that Tony would say but can’t. Breathlessly, he watches as the dagger-holding twin flicks a glance at the speaking one, who in turn stares at the tagalongs one by one. `They’re making a vote out of this!`

 

  1. 393. Layout
    JARVIS suggests that Tony give the twins a virtual tour of the tower instead of the physical one, once they’ve agreed. Wincing, Tony remembers the many nosy people currently there. Well, now they can avoid those, right? And he can give them a much more in-depth explanation of the layout.

 

  1. 394. Drop
    Tony goes to Ýmirheim nightly instead of risking Fié dropping by unannounced and encountering Voðen. Fié’s already pestering him about why he booted them out so summarily that time, as it is. It’s hard, still, having seven living secrets to keep away… and then somebody almost literally drops on him.

 

  1. 395. Exact
    Tony gives the newcomer exact details on how he’ll make them suffer, the newcomer replies likewise… and they’re off to a good start, especially after the said newcomer confesses to haunting the twins’ party to protect them, and spreading the rumours to attract Tony’s attention in the first place.

 

  1. 396. Companion
    Agent Pretender blanches outright when Sasha the newcomer strolls openly into the commons’ kitchen, smiles blandly at her and says in Russian, “Hello, Natalia. I hope you and Laura are doing fine. I am glad that some of my old companions have also… crossed over, so to say.

 

  1. 397. Picture
    Sasha’s story paints a bleak picture, once Tony gets them under the grindstone of Týo’s interrogation team. Worse, Neuolvir – who’s a bred-and-trained assassin who’s once tasked to eliminate all of Fié’s bloodline from the universeassures him that Sasha cannot lie in their presence… because Sasha’s part of Fié’s bloodline.

 

  1. 398. Shopping
    “So… you’re practically family?” Tony’s really, really tired with all the weird, shocking, life-changing – speechlessness-inducing – things, including how to respond to an unexpected, inherited expansion to his previously nonexistent family circles. It doesn’t help that then Sasha hands him a shopping list of defence materials instead of… luxurious makeup, maybe?

 

  1. 399. Template
    HYDRA’s still alive, Sasha said, and they’ve cloned “the Winter Soldier,” not only in look and strength but also training and… everything. It makes Tony think of the clone template lurking in the tower’s 99th floor, perhaps busy making a smoothie instead of a bomb, and he swallows back bile.

 

400. Jealous
“Whom do you bar me from meeting each time?” Fié glares. “You’re so rarely here, Tony,” Peter sighs. “You need to spend more time with your employees, Mister Stark,” Pepper huffs. “When can you practise with us, Mister Stark?” Cap whines. And Tony’s overwhelmed. They’re jealous, competing about his attention?!

Chapter Text

  1. Stark Tower, New York, United States, January-March 2015 (Ctd. 2)

  2.  
  3. 401. On Top
    Tony’s so not on top of the game today. First, Anga pestered him endlessly about Voðen out of the blue. Second, Voðen themself’s having a setback after… their child? Sleipnir?!… had a nightmare about their… “captivity” as a horse, and Tony could only gape to that. And now, he finds….

 

  1. 402. Blade
    There’s a blade digging into the side of Tony’s neck, but thankfully it’s just the yet-unnamed guy, formerly codenamed “Winter Soldier by HYDRA, who’s just snuck behind him as he’s visiting the guy’s laire. “Cut the shit, buddy,” he sighs. “Not in the mood to play. Y’got some leftover cake?”

 

*403. Establish
Voðen and Chan-Chan were bloodily driven out of Chan-Chan’s home, months ago, and Tony manages to establish the chronology only now, after weeks of careful prying. Chan-Chan and her sole surviving little sibling are a mess, presently, after Tony confirmed it. He feels rotten. And so, so much a failure.

 

  1. 404. Coarse
    Agent Legolas has a very, very coarse humour, coarser than even Tony’s. But Tony can appreciate the archer’s blatant offer to Chan-Chan and her little brother to go hunting the culprits of their whole family’s deaths for them. And then Agent Pretender offers herself, as well, clinching the self-made mission.

 

  1. 405. Swimming
    Tony proposes a swimming session to the overwrought Chan-Chan and co, remembering how it helped Fié. He forgot, though, that Fié’s usually the only swimmer in that pool, the twins come as a package, and milaðen are very sensitive about who’s previously occupying a given – stagnant(ish) – body of water….

 

  1. 406. Lean
    Voðen leaps out of the water upon touching it, and frantically drags their twin to dry tiles, as if there’s a hungry shark out for their flesh in the pool, or the water’s actually a very strong acid. Sasha, ever hovering, leans over Tony and inquires, `Who rules the water?`

 

  1. 407. Purée
    In the end, and avoiding Sasha’s question for the sake of the extended family’s privacy, Tony gets the twins to purée whatever they want for later consumption. He figures that mashing things out on a board or through numerous tiny holes before devouring them ccan be pretty cathartic.

 

*408. Assassin
Tony’s… bemused, and admittedly somewhat amused. – HYDRA’s top assassin. Cooking and baking. Using the various purées that a bunch of broken children made. No doubt imagining the crushing and devouring of their enemies while doing so. And it worked as a cathartic agent. `Huh. The world’s gone upside-down and inside-out….`

 

  1. 409. People
    Dealing with people in their new lease of life is an on-going issue for the eldest twins, whom Tony’s come to call Vovo when addressing both. It doesn’t help that the little twins Nathaniel-Natalia, “Nana,” Chan-Chan’s adopted children, look to them for cues… and vice versa. It’s a vicious circle.

 

*410. Desert
Tony wakes up with the sight, smell, feel and taste of the desert clinging to him. Desperately, he runs to the pool and, ironically for once after Afghanistan, submerges himself in it. But then again, here, now, he can feel Fié’s presence lingering, and the brief touches of Vovo. `Family.`

 

  1. 411. Plan
    Agents Legolas and Pretender are gone, sniffing out things. Left behind, Cap’s moping in his floor and the gym. Bruce, Happy and Pepper are busy with their own families. Tony’s left with his own family, and he has not even a sketch of a plan to do anything yet.

 

  1. 412. Twin
    “Meet the long-lost and extended family,” on hindsight, isn’t a good idea when one party is filled with broken members and the other is filled with tensely expectant ones. Fié verbally lays into Voðen once they clap eyes on one another, and, in defence of her twin, Chan-Chan fights back.

 

*413. Root Out
The two agents-on-mission have rooted out the info they wanted, based on Tony’s access to various servers and their own networks. Tony’s Loptr-rescuing mission hasn’t gone unnoticed, apparently. HYDRA – which has infiltrated SHIELD right from the start – took their revenge by killing off those seen as closest to him.

 

  1. 414. Goal
    Peter’s trying everything to cheer him up, Tony knows, and the boy – still grieving his relatives – even manages to snag the combative Fié and Chan-Chan into the effort. It’s an admirable goal. Sadly, it only reminds Tony that some very sick bastards are getting at him through his family.

 

  1. 415. News
    Hammond’s e-mail’s an unwelcome news on top of the mission’s results. Apparently, that grandpa’s company’s interpreting Tony’s “natural preserve and safari park for endangered animals” requirement as permission to clone dinosaurs. And Hammond wants Tony to bring his family for a “sneak-peek visit” to an island full of humongous toothies.

 

*416. Concession
Tony’s heart falls when, for the first time ever since he helped retrieve them from Asgard, Voðen expresses a wish, by themself, for their own sake, to visit the dinosaur island. It doesn’t help that Peter also wants to go there. He’s got to make a concession to Hammond. `Fuck.`

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, United States, January-March 2015 (Ctd. 3)

 

417. Expand
Driven to make the visit as safe as possible for his family, Tony buys 30% of InGen with his own money, supplementing SI’s contribution, and begins his “terror campaign” – investigation, adjustments, evaluation – on everything it has. Many critique him – billionaire new alien – for “expanding his empire,” but he doesn’t care.

 

  1. 418. Belonging
    Until just now, Tony didn’t know that Chan-Chan and her little family’s belongings can be gathered in just one backpack. He didn’t know either that they’ve been living from that backpack. There’s no sense of belonging to the tower, to the floor he’s set aside for them, and it hurts.

 

  1. 419. Uncover
    Tony, by the self-help of Agents Legolas and Pretender, uncovers many, many, many suspicious, maladjusted, and just wrong things in the ranks and plans of Hammond’s company, InGen, especially in the island-park Hammond’s inviting his family to. Simply said, if it’s SI, he’d go bankrupt from at least work-accident-related lawsuits.

 

  1. 420. Game
    “You’re kind, and enthusiastic, and beardy like a santa, I got it, but life isn’t a game and we can’t restart it once it’s game-over, Hammond.” `Except through reincarnation, which doesn’t count.` “In that park’s previous configuration, my family would be trapped there. It wouldn’t be a vacation at all.”

 

  1. 421. Evaluate
    “Get experts to evaluate the park before we come and no more interpretations on it,” is Tony’s requirement to still bring his family to Hammond’s insane park after all that’s been uncovered. “And the experts must be countersigned by me, you, SI’s CEO and other shareholders before they’re brought in.”

 

  1. 422. Travel
    Tony doesn’t want to let the world know about the Rescue yet, but he no longer feels comfortable riding in an ordinary, flimsy jet, especially when travelling to a dinosaur-populated island. So he modifies a quinjet with features and materials similar to the Rescue and loads it with just-in-case things.

 

  1. 423. Provision
    Getting provisions for the “holiday” is an… interesting experience. Families stock up on fastfood, snacks, toys, games and moment-immortalising devises for a holiday, from what Tony’s heard. But his stock up on weapons, ammo, medicines, medical things, getaway plans, call-for-help set-ups, and emergency rations. He prefers this version. It’s realistic.

 

  1. 424. Test
    Tony tests the modifications to the quinjet himself. He tests for bugs – of all senses of the word – too, and installs more just-in-cases that only he and JARVIS know about. He’s even improved JARVIS’ capacity and capabilities for handling such. And then, he gets Týo’s team to test it, thoroughly.

 

  1. 425. Year
    “We usually measure life in centuries, Afa, or decades, years, not days,” Fié sighs tiredly, as they and Tony are watching supplies being loaded into their transport. Tony quirks a smile, amused. “Well, accept it, buddy. I’m still a human in all that counts, and humans measure things in seconds.”

 

  1. 426. Luggage
    It’s a shock to Tony when Pepper, Happy, Kalahar and Rhodey suddenly appear on the launch-pad on the roof of the tower, with their own luggage. Pepper looks wryly at him, for that. “I am SI’s CEO, Mister Stark, and I’ll be there to assess SI’s asset,” she says dryly.

 

  1. 427. Order
    “Kientar ordered me to guard you; you ordered me to guard Miss Potts; then Miss Potts ordered me and Mister Hogan to guard her and you,” Kalahar says when Tony eyes him. Rhodey’s explanation’s even more succinct, but much more problematic: “Representative of US military, one of InGen’s bigger shareholders.”

 

  1.  428. Preparation
    Tony purses his lips, caught between anger, annoyance and worry. The worry wins, for now. He’s once best friends with Rhodey, after all. All his preparations for this trip didn’t include this contingency – that other people will hitch a ride. “We delay,” he decides, finally. “Stock up for just-in-case, people.”

 

429. Surplus
“But… you’ve got a surplus of everything already here, Tones! Why’d you want more? Where can we fit everything, too? Your jet’s not that big!” Rhodey squawks after reading half of Tony’s logistics list. “N’this is a submachine gun! You going in a war campaign or an island inspection, Tones?”

Chapter Text

Isla Nublar, Costa Rica, 2nd April 2015

 

  1. 430. Dead Zone
    Fié’s getting antsy the closer they are to their destination, but Tony bets it’s not because of cabin fever. Because he feels it, too: a creeping emptiness in the air, which both hems him in and tries to suck something out of him. Then, “A dead zone,” Týo explains grimly.

 

*431. Little
The horrible sensation is compounded when, on the launch-pad atop the island’s hotel, the first people who rush out to greet the contingent are 2 unsupervised little children. The midgets are then followed by an unarmed, unwary teen, and nobody else. “What the fuck?!” Tony snarls. “This a kill-zone too?”

 

  1. 432. Question
    Pepper’s the only one to come out, just on the ramp, shadowed by ready guns hidden round the door, to question the midgets. Her modified Starkwatch acts as extra-sensitive mike for the plane’s passengers to listen to what they’re saying. And what’s heard’s almost just as disheartening as what’s expected….

 

  1. 433. Serve
    The people who serve as the soon-to-be park’s employees are all in a meeting with Hammond, a few floors down, and Hammon trusts drones to serve as eyes and ears round the park. Tony loves tech, he does, but he knows that today’s tech can’t serve this purpose optimally yet.

 

  1. 434. Wordy
    Hammond has lots of explanation of why there’s not even a skeleton crew round the island to man outposts, why the experts aren’t there yet, why children are left unsupervised in a potentially hostile land. Tony can be just as wordy, usually, but today he’s really not in the mood.

 

  1. 435. Royalty
    “Whoa, you’re so regal,” Lex Murphy, one of the island’s midgets, remarks admiringly when Fié flows down the ramp at last, blatantly escorted – with ready weapons – by Týo’s team and Tony. “You could star as royalty in a movie!” – It’s the first piece of amusement Tony has since before landing.

 

  1. 436. Costume
    “No costume,” Tim, apparently Lex’s little brother, comments thoughtfully, critically, after her outburst. “She looks more like a mom or a teacher than a queen to me, anyway, like Miss Priggen. You’re a dolt, Lexy.” And, hearing that, Tony valiantly attempts to stifle his ironic mirth. `What a bold champ!`

 

  1. 437. Extinct
    From Tony’s on-site interrogation of Hammond, he finally finds that InGen’s lawyers apparently interpreted “endangered animals” as somehow synonymous to “extinct animals” because, by the time of the proposal and contract for the zoo, they already had a handful of live dinosaurs, enough to be considered in the “endangered” category.

 

Isla Nublar, Costa Rica, 3rd April 2015

 

  1.  438. Chaos
    It’s even more upsetting to Tony that, when the “experts” at last arrive, the chaos-theory mathematician that he approved of on paper, with the assumption that the man would help design the changes to the park, turns out to be wholely ignorant of the park until now. `It’s a disaster!`

 

  1. 439. Sieve
    Tony’s patience and tolerance are running out nearly as fast as his senses and vitality do, stewed too long in this place. Worse, his attempts to wrestle things back in line, both for himself and the park, feels like trying to catch running water with a sieve.

 

  1. 440. Clash
    With how Santa-ish Hammond looks and behaves, Tony’s surprised – and frustrated, and disheartened – that they seem to clash with each other at nearly every turn. It’s bad for the morale of the employees, too, or so Fié claims, and Tony does try very, very hard to tamp himself down, but….

 

Isla Nublar, Costa Rica, 4th April 2015

 

*441. Syndrome
It’s a syndrome of powerful people that they feel entitled to have things their way, Happy comments when, in the morning of the second day they’re there, Fié actively tries to rein in Tony and ends up quarelling with him too. Then he points at how the family’s scattered.

 

  1. 442. End
    The quarrel ends, just so. Both combatants dazedly look round, noticing the empty penthouse the family stays in. Happy raises an eyebrow when Tony gives him a stunned stare, then continues, “The kids are going about with the experts. The team’s with them. Me and Sasha got the short straw.”

 

  1. 443. Judge
    “Hammond, sorry, for judging you, sometimes. Let’s start over?” Tony’s really not good in apologising. His pride usually doesn’t allow him, too. But he must reconcile with Hammond, or his family will continue fleeing him, and he finds he hates it. This was supposed to be a family sort-of holiday!

 

  1. 444. Fury
    Fury is furious. Apparently, even though there’s no avenging to do, he wants everyone back in New York where he can eyeball them to his heart’s content. “We’re on vacation,” Tony shrugs. “Deal with it, one-eye. And on that note, go clean house. I guess your agents sent the info?”

 

  1. 445. Soar
    Tony’s heart is in his throat. Hammond, standing beside him, squeaks. There’s a blur soaring up high in the flying dinos’ enclosure, riding one of the dinos. To think that he’s been harping about the park’s safety to Hammond! His own family’s breaking it themselves!

 

  1. 446. Crumble
    It’s… Voðen. Go figure. Frightened of sentient beings, but so bold with dinos. Tony’s floored. He doesn’t want to crumble their newfound confidence and joy, but… but…. “Fié! Go deal with your niece!” Last resort. Which may result in more problems down the way. But Tony’s really stumped!

 

  1. 447. Missile
    Tony really, really doesn’t know what to do when he looks to his side and doesn’t find Fié there. The milaða is instead far, far away, with a couple of ground missiles that’s the Murphy children streaking out to meet them. “Oh, damn, hell, I’m not made for this!”

 

  1. 448. Dessert
    “No dessert till we get back” is the only thing Tony can come up for an un-confidence-crumbling punishment for the scare. It’s too light, he thinks, but doesn’t know what else to do. Voðen seems to think so… until evening comes and Rústla brings out an apparently favourite Ýmirheimi dish.

 

  1. 449. Effort
    It’s startling, and amazing, how much effort Voðen’s willing to exert for the sake of a dessert. It’s a hillarious spectacle for everyone at the table, and it takes all that Tony has not to crumble against the puppy-dog eyes, the bribes, the exchange offer…. Worse, Fié’s laughing at him.

 

  1. 450. Cliché
    “Oooooh, you’re a queen, Nalla? But where’s your crown? Where’s your gown? Do you have a sceptor? Is it magical? So cool!” Tim Murphy runs round and round Fié, grinning, eyes sparkling. And, from Fié’s other side, leaning comfily against them, Lex boos at him. “That’s so cliché, dork.”

 

  1. 451. In Unison
    Robert Muldoon, the park’s head game keeper, said that the veloceraptors are the smartest, fiercest, cruellest and most lethal dinos cloned there. And now Voðen’s intent on visiting and playing with them. Tony and Fié flinch in unison, before looking wide-eyed at each other. `Hell, no. This time’s yours, buddy.`

 

  1. 452. Enter
    “Are you sure?” Muldoon clenches the barrel of his rifle as if to break it. Well, Tony’s not sure, but nobody has a defence yet against a suddenly determined Voðen. And now, they’re all watching wide-eyed as Voðen enters the veloceraptor pen, armed only with Tony’s malleable body armour.

 

  1. 453. Sport
    Voðen treats actively dealing with highly dangerous animals as joyful sport, Tony determines, as the aforementioned brat ducks and dodges and weaves and vaults over and circles and fleetingly tap the large, malformed scaly bird-like things below in the enclosure, all with a bright, beaming smile on their glowing face.

 

  1. 454. Consider
    “We’re outta job, Muldoon,” Owen Grady – the forever-ago tiebreaker-needing thesis writer on dolphin training, the recent expert animal behaviourist hire for the park – whistles disbelievingly as he considers the gladiatorial spectacle below. But Tony has a different thought. `Why doesn’t Voðen put this joyful abandon to dealing with people?`

 

455. Approve Of
“Well, if Miss Votten wants to be here, then she should consider herself hired,” Hammond blurts out when, down below, after however long Tony doesn’t know, “Miss Votten” somehow gets the ancient turkeys to play with them as a friend instead of dinner. And then they get their twin in….

Chapter Text

San Jose, Costa Rica, 5th April 2015

 

  1. 456. Overflow
    Fié takes Hammond’s declaration as a sign for the family to skedaddle. They borrow Hammond’s boat, though, for the ride back to mainland Costa Rica, because Týo – the healer and milaða expert on living on Earth – says that the overflow of senses and power may overwhelm the milaðen, especially Fié.

 

  1. 457. If
    “Would… any effect… if… we out early?” Tony grits his teeth as wave after wave of something bombard him, scald him, drown him, about half-way down their boat-trip. Fié, again clasped in his arms and legs, just whimper, whine, moan, cry in response, as their heavily pregnant body spasms uncontrollably.

 

  1. 458. Steady
    Tony’d never think that a steady flow of magic would be a comfort to his body, mind and soul. `Well, maybe, I’m not that human anymore.` But it’s hard to rue that, when he’s pressed right up against his sleeping, thankfully still heavily pregnant… beau? Spouse? Inherited spouse? `Well, whatever.`

 

San Jose, Costa Rica, 6th April 2015

 

  1. 459. Suggestion
    The twins Lasla-Lafta – otherwise Lala – are the grumpiest of all, when the family meet up for breakfast after spending the night in separate hotel rooms. “It’d make road trips hard, aside from the specs of the transport,” Bruce notes, amused. And then he makes a reasonable-sounding suggestion….

 

  1. 460. Approximate
    Tony asks his personal finance manager for an approximate value of his personal liquid cash, then begins planning, following Bruce’s half-joking, half-sympathetic suggestion of starting a milaða-friendly hotel chain. It’s another charity work, he thinks, because it must be a family-oriented hotel, given the milaðen’s values, but, well, why not?

 

  1. 461. Tight
    Money’ll be tight until the hotel and farm-tech companies are completely off the ground, the financial manager warns. Tony flickers his gaze away from the vid-conference-displaying screen for a moment, spying Lex and Tim Murphy yet again listening to the babies in Fié’s belly, nods, and shrugs off the warning.

 

San Jose, Costa Rica, 7th April 2015

 

  1. 462. Orbit
    “Can we go to the beach, Mister Stark?” “Can we go to the game centre, Mister Stark?” “Would you help me choose some things to give our parents, Mister Stark?” Lex and Tim, who usually orbit Fié, switch to tagging after Tony, somehow, when Fié must return to Ýmirheim. `Weird.`

 

  1. 463. Way
    `I’ve come a long way, and not just physically,` Tony reflects while herding all the younglings entrusted to his care, with just the help of Happy, Pepper, Rústla and Ovrekka (Týo’s mate that he knows the least), to the game centre after lunch. `Never thought I’d be a duckling herder….`

 

  1. 464. Strong
    Twin names are complementary to each other, Tony learns during a family’ downtime, after spying the 4 pairs of twins clumped together on a corner of the lounge and asking Rústla about it. E.g. one of the iterations of Vovo’s names is Strong Enough, with Voðen getting the “Enough” part.

 

  1. 465. Normal
    Some fellow guests who are also occupying the lounge look curious or even mesmerised by the sight of four pairs of twins lolling about, complementing each other subconsciously. The scene’s just normal, for Tony, so he doesn’t pay them any attention… until they’re about to photograph it. “No pics, please.”

 

San Jose, Costa Rica, 8th-20th April 2015

 

  1. 466. Every
    Tony flies to the island park everyday to check on things, mostly alone. He’s with the whole family – and family friends – every evening, and with Fié nightly. And, ruefully, he’s beginning to catch on to the fact that Fié’s slowly but surely domesticating him since first they met forever ago.

 

Malibu, California, United States, 21st April-31st May 2015

 

  1. 467. Idol
    Alien or not, Fié’s a huge idol to the new midgets. Lex and Tim Murphy, also Jessie Harding their older friend, even go as far as moving in with Tony for school and socialisation times, to get better access to them. “Huh, how did I get to running a homeschooling?”

 

  1. 468. Amazed
    “You’ve got a cool dad, Pete,” Tony overhears Tim, amazed, exclaiming over the complicated jungle gym and obstacle combo sprawling on one part of the beach. He stumbles on his own feet when he hears Peter answer, half-seriously, “According to Abý, Tony’s my amma, my mom. Well, s’okay, I guess.”

 

  1. 469. Symptom
    `Can you hero-worship a family member?` Tony thinks dazedly when Tim outright approaches him and asks him to be his and Lex’s second set of parents alongside Fié. All the symptoms of hero-worship are there – glittering eyes, beaming smile, excited tone – but… parents…? “Well, ask your parents first, buddy.”

 

  1. 470. Cover
    The Sokovia Accord’s heavily modified, after the crime rates in the world’s big cities have climbed too far to be handled even by the local and international military. Hearing the news, Tony shakes his head. “They’re just ordering us more softly to be their attack dogs. It’s just a cover.”

 

  1. 471. Effect
    “For one who advertises peace, you seem to be intent on fighting, Cap,” Tony drawls when Cap’s harping about his non-contribution in the Avengers again, when the good effects of the lightened restrictions slowly manifest. The other smiles… kind of cutely… and barks, “What about your weapons dealing history, Stark?”

 

  1. 472. Wary
    Tim’s so very wary when approaching Tony for a review on the boy’s drawing assignment for school, after almost literally stumbling into the sniping exchange between… well, the adults who should’ve known better, as Pepper pointed out when she broke up the argument. And Tony doesn’t like it. “Sorry, Tim.”

 

  1. 473. Blanket
    “You should make blankets for your children, Afa. It is tradition,” Fié suddenly says, faux-casually, one evening as they’re yet again sewing and adding to a pair of such: huge enough for a full-grown milaða but foldable for easy carriage and use by a much smaller one, durable and comfy.

 

  1. 474. Fruit
    Under Fié’s guidance, somewhat reluctantly and dubiously, Tony creates the requested blankets with his own hands, as per tradition. He learns sewing for that, but has no patience for more. He finds a new passion for decorating, still, as he adds various fruits that each “child” likes on each blanket.

 

  1. 475. Quake
    Tony adds an exciting feature to the athletic playground set on the beach in the expansion, requested by the midgets: a quake-pad set beneath the whole thing. He laughs when he activates it and the said midgets, playing as usual, unaware of the addition, shriek in mixed alarm and glee.

 

  1. 476. Crash
    It’s not amusing anymore, though, when the bots join the fray, trying to imitate the more versatile fleshies. Tony’s forced to deactivate the quake-pad, because the bots keep crashing and damaging themselves, unable to hold on to the shaking bars. “Come away!” he calls. “Will sort you out later! Promise!”

 

  1. 477. New
    “N’I thought I’d seen everything that’s new on earth when I saw the dinos,” Rhodey remarks, with a heavy tinge of awe that Tony’s wary of, when he suddenly drops by while Tony’s testing the bots' new, athletic-playground-related modifications. `Damn, J, you should’ve warned us! Now he’ll tell the military!`

 

Áyshkashla, Northern Alaska, United States, Beginning-Middle of June 2015

 

478. Just
Tony skedaddles to Áyshkashla with his family after Rhodey said that a military guy will come visit. Sadly, with the pregnancy entering its last month, Fié can’t risk visiting him even there. It sucks, all in all, despite the venue. `Damn you, Rhodes. Why can’t you just let things be?`

Chapter Text

Ýmirheim, Middle of June-July 2015

 

  1. 479. Pale
    Within a fortnight, Tony can’t stand being with Fié only nightly, when the latter’s gone progressively weaker, paler by each visit. He sends the Murphys and Jessie home (`Temporarily!`), entrusts his companies to Pepper, and parks himself by a by-now pale-blue, round-bellied Fié’s side with the rest of the midgets.

 

**480. Rancid
There are supposedly 10 days remaining, but Fié’s going into labour. Fear’s rancid in Tony’s mouth. They’re thrashing and moaning in the birthing pool, now, mostly face-down. Then they suddenly face sidewise and lock eyes with him, before the still, clear water turns blue and their navel widens, disgorging… something.

 

  1. 481. Blasé
    “Giving birth is not at all painful; euphoric, in fact. However, Ðolukonnar’s previous experience has been traumatic, and, during this pregnancy, their energy has been spent trying to keep the babies safe,” the healer expounds on why Fié’s unconscious, minutes after naming their children. `They’re so blasé about this!`

 

  1. 482. Repair
    “Repair your previous relationship with Ýmirheim, Farbauti,” Anga said pointedly. So now here Tony is: seated in Fié’s place in the audience chamber, receiving guests – supplicants, petitioners – in Fié’s stead… and being rained on by negative vibes, words, actions for “usurping” Fié’s authority. `Damn you, Anga. Trying to kill me?!`

 

  1. 483. Steel
    Tony knows how frustrated, irritated, angry and tired Pepper must’ve felt back then, as his PA, because he’s basically in the same job, now. To think that he often lobbed these unappetising interactions to Pepper…. Well, if she’s got steel backbone, then he does, too! `Ready, smurfies? It’s Tony 2.0!`

 

  1. 484. Niece
    Tony never experienced having extended family before this. Howard and Maria Stark were both only children, and he’s one, himself. But now, he happens to find the joys of such, because Fié’s four… nieces?… are giving him a relaxing massage and chit-chat combo, while he’s lying beside the unconscious Fié.

 

  1. 485. Yes
    Tony tiredly flips Anga off when the latter wakes him up for another gruelling day as glorified secretary. (`Monarch’s consort. Spouses share things legally. Bah!`) He really, really regrets saying yes to that manipulative git, by now. Unfortunately, aside from that trait, Anga’s also persistent. “Yes, yes, yes, I’m ‘wake!”

 

  1. 486. Wallet
    Ýmirheim’s resources are alarmingly low. Tony’s long known this; else why would its monarch work so much, so menially for food and other necessities? Now that he’s actively working on the ledgers and the problems and the sad, disappointed sighs, however, he truly wishes that his wallet’s contents could help.

 

  1. 487. Juice
    Tony must inspect a construction site almost half a world over. He hates it, even before he goes. He does set a few milaða-hardened Iron Man suits to guard his family, but it doesn’t feel enough. And his transport…. “Don’t you have more juice in this thing? It’s so slow!”

 

  1. 488. Only
    Raw materials and construction skills aren’t the only things that Ýmirheim can export, Tony thinks, as he spies one of the construction workers patiently moulding leftover gravel and crystal-shards into a beautifully exotic panel, which will bring artistically arranged pebbles of refracted light into a room. This, he can market.

 

  1. 489. Velvet
    “Can you make a softer version of that panel?” Tony enthusiastically asks the art-working construction worker. “With the general texture and tone of velvet cloth. Not everyone like that rugged look, y’see, though I do. But it means you can expand. Let’s try at least five more vastly different versions.”

 

  1. 490. In Absentia
    Fié’s awake at last when Tony’s back. Anga’s in the middle of giving report of what Tony’s been doing, and visibly tries not to be affected when, bypassing them, Tony pounces on Fié and kisses the latter silly. He’s showing them what he’s feeling in their absence, ‘complementing’ the report.

 

  1. 491. Layer
    Agents Pretender and Legolas sent an alarming message: HYDRA’s apparently soaked itself into even the top layers of Earth’s defences – the military and police forces, and maybe also others. And Tony’s remaining family and friends are still on Earth. They’re quite in danger, as shown with what happened with Vovo.

 

  1. 492. Footstep
    Helblindi’s proven themself an apt pupil; following after Tony’s footsteps in business management, if far quieter and more forceful than Tony. With a little more polish…. Well, that’s where Anga’s coming in. That prat owes Tony. So Tony leaves the state export business to them and trudges back to Earth.

Chapter Text

Earth, August 2015

 

  1. 493. Home
    It’s strange, and surprising, though maybe it shouldn’t, that Tony finds that something seems to be lacking on Earth. Everywhere he looks, goes, plans to go, and everything he does and plans to do, they make him think, `Ooh, he/she/they’ll like this!` or the opposite. They make him miss home.

 

  1. 494. Bounce
    “Can we bounce out of this?” Tony murmurs, horrified, as he reviews the full list that Tasha and Clint have gathered, with liberal distraction provided by Cap. List which they daren’t send to him, however many times the message’s securely bounced about on the way and however much it’s encripted.

 

  1. 495. Trail
    The agents picked up the trail from Tony’s dealings with InGen, at first, past what they’d found within SHIELD. It branched out and grew much, much bigger from there. HYDRA’s building and deploying nuclear, genetic, chemical, physical, living weapons everywhere, ready for use at a moment’s notice, and nobody knew.

 

  1. 496. Destroy
    “They’re going to destroy Earth!” Tony exclaims after reading the whole dossier. Cap agrees. But Tasha shakes her head. “They’ll control Earth,” she says. Clint concurs. “Don’t agree? Boom. Speak up? Boom. Have other ideas? Boom. Unless the ideas benefit them, of course. And we haven’t even uncovered everything….”

 

  1. 497. Neither
    Neither Tasha nor Clint are certain how to proceed, next. The “Avengers” are so few, while the corruption’s so deep, so well-spread, so quick. With HYDRA’s presence in SHIELD, they haven’t been candid in their reports there in the first place. `So where can we turn to, now?`

 

  1. 498. Moon
    “Why’d people compare girls to the moon, Tony? The face of the moon is pimply!” On the screen, Tim laughs, pointing at the respective photo on his textbook. Tony grins in response, the first after a long, stressful, fruitless few days. “Don’t ask me!” he matches the laughter.

 

  1. 499. Fly
    The agents asked Tony to be a distraction alongside Cap, and he said yes. Unbelievable. And, even more unbelievably, it’s been a while since Tony last flew in his Iron Man suit, or even the Rescue. Given what he’s about to do, though, he’d rather not fly the Rescue.

 

  1. 500. Crystal
    Earth’s apparently been the hub of travel for alien species since eons ago, similar to Asgard. There’s good evidence to that. For example, just now, in one of the HYDRA laires deep underground, the Avengers found boxes of polished, faintly glowing, clear crystals which emanate alien type of radiation.

 

Antarctica, September-October 2015

 

  1. 501. Refugee
    HYDRA’s beginning to get active. Pepper and Happy are under threat. “Bad ninjas” have even tried to kidnap Jessie, Lex and Tim. Thus, Tony temporarily calls off the operation, quarantines all of his abodes and people, and spirits the midgets plus the Avengers to Antarctica. “You’re refugees here. Behave.”

 

  1. 502. Flood
    “You’re a king now, Tony? They’re bowing to you! Wow!” Tim chatters on and on and on and on and on, occasionally joined in by Lex and Jessie, and Tony flails, mentally and verbally, trying to find a solid thing to hang onto amidst the flood of questions and comments.

 

  1. 503. Lack
    For being top spies, the agents’ lack of comprehension on Tony’s other role while among the milaðen is bemusing, and… well, amusing. But then he catches a calculating glint in Tasha’s eyes and realises. Cornering her, he whispers, deadly earnest, “I like you. Please don’t make me judge you guilty.”

 

  1. 504. Speech
    Cap drones on and on. Disregarding the man’s speech as background noise, Tony continues to tinker with the winterberry farm’s heavily modified tractor. And then Cap tries to shake his shoulders…. Bad move. A couple of guards hold the man back. Tony looks up. “You’re not Fié. Don’t touch me.”

 

  1. 505. Old
    “Who’s Fié?” Cap demands, still. Tony sighs, grumbles, “This is so old.” Then he glares at the undaunted man and snaps, “The ‘alien’ your boss tried to kidnap from my home. Now what do you call people who kidnap people for being different, huh? On an assumption, no less.”

 

  1. 506. Wound
    Tony and Cap can’t argue anymore because two more guards have appeared and silently urged Tony elsewhere. And “elsewhere” turns out to be a bunker in the heart of Antarctica, where he immediately encounters Fié, who instantly begins to check for wounds on him. He sighs. `Yet another fussy granny-type….`

 

*507. Pillow
Tony’d really like to ask why in the universe a recovering-from-birth Fié’s here and where they stowed their precious babies because he can neither see nor hear nor feel them here. But they’re sharing a breath and a pillow and a sheet in the nest, and things are rather… distracting.

 

  1. 508. Vanish
    Quite unfortunately, Fié pulls away before the heated moment can result in anything, saying, “Týo told me about what you and your cohorts have been doing these months. Why did you not tell me?” And Tony’s desire vanishes, just so. “If you knew, why in the universe did you come?”

 

  1. 509. Listen
    It’s ironic that the midgets prove themselves better at listening to instructions than adults. Because Captain bloody America has just insulted the milaðen severely by claiming that full-on monarchy is synonymous with tirany and tirany is synonymous with oppression, right before Fié, after the full title’s been introduced.

 

  1. 510. Breakfast
    “That’s your breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Tony tells Cap stiffly when a guard roughly shoves a bowl of cold soup past the cell’s food-flap with their foot. “No, listen, don’t say anything till we’re outta here. Fié can’t do much else to save you from mob-linching as it is!”

 

  1. 511. Derelict
    “You’ve got to admit, Stark, nobody’d guess this place got a royalty living or visiting. It’s practically derelict, almost worse than my farmhouse,” Clint says when Tony gets back. “Never thought you would stay here, either. Innit too… drab, for your taste? Then again, you, in a farm…?”

 

  1. 512. Upside
    Explanations take a long, long, long time to deliver, but deliver them Tony does, in the desperate hope that none’ll follow Cap’s footsteps. Because Fié’s brought out the babies now, and the milaðen are the more tenser for it. But the upside is: He at last gets people to listen.

 

  1. 513. Entire
    Tony gets to keep the entire “desolate” continent, on the stipulations that: 1) he allow restricted but genuine access to Tony-and-UN-preapproved research teams, and 2) he provide eternal funding similar to the Nobel Prize on categories that he choose himself. Providing the milaðen a second home’s worth it, he thinks.

 

  1. 514. Compass
    “The monarch… they’re more like a compass than a dictator to their people, aren’t they?” Tasha murmurs one evening, as Tony visits the nest she shares with Clint, Bruce, Betty and little Anna. Tony snorts, grumbles. “Took you long, Agent Badass. What gave it away? N’you missing the name, y’know.”

 

  1. 515. Defend
    Tony thanks his paranoia, his offensive skills, and the milaðen’s speedily deployed and sured up defensive measures. Because, before long, they have to defend themselves from illegal parties trying to land on, spy on, steal from or attack various places in the continent. And no country nor organisation own up.

 

  1. 516. Wind
    The former Winter Soldier pops up, next, alongside Sasha, all armed up, from wherever they were. Tony raises an eyebrow. “We got wind that you might need us,” Sasha says breezily to the implied question. “This one wants to help… and I need to pay my penance.”

 

  1. 517. Predator
    Sasha acts like a predator, and they are, in a sense, but they still feel jagged and wild, and Tony worries. “Don’t waste yourself for revenge. Hypocritical of me, I know, but that’s not the point. Learn from my mistakes. And… well… I’d hate to lose you. So please don’t.”

 

  1. 518. Recognisable
    “Won’t Steve like to go with us?” Clint asks carefully as he’s suiting up to go with Tasha, No-Name and Sasha, back to the fray, without Tony. Tony shakes his head to that. “Nope. Got him lots of doodling materials; won’t get bored. Both of us are too recogniseable, anyway.”

 

  1. 519. Cave
    There are times where Tony can’t suffer being underground, including this afternoon, after Fié got him to talk about his anti-terrorism gigs. Fié insists that milaðen are naturally cave-dwellers, but, “You can’t argue that way with PTSD, buddy, and whether I like it or not, I still have it.”

 

  1. 520. Library
    Online libraries and communities are Tony’s saviour, since the human midgets are mostly cooped in, where it’s warmer, and have little to do other than school. With such resources and little distraction, they’re even doing projects now, under his, Brucey’s, Betty’s and Cap’s guidance, like Lex and her video-game program.

 

  1. 521. Jail
    Post-jail Cap is terribly pensive, awkward and avoidant, although he was there only for a week and nothing bad happened then. The isolation was even tempered with the presence of books, blank journals and drawing pads plus tools to use them. Tony privately wonders what’s going on in his mind.

 

  1. 522. Generation
    Tony takes much delight in getting “the next generation” to prepare for inheriting SI and his other companies, especially those who are most interested, like Helblindi, Peter and Lex. Well, technically, Lex’s eligible to inherit InGen from Hammond, but she’s much more enamoured of tech and computerisation than animals anyway.

 

  1. 523. Source
    Attending board meetings remotely is just as boring as attending them live, and, with how his businesses have expanded and grown, Tony must attend many more of those than before. But, lately, he’s finding the midgets to be a good source of fun on remote conferences: Bored? Just go play.

 

  1. 524. Mellow
    “You are… much mellower, than you were before,” Ályavanu, Fié’s state secretary, murmurs suddenly after a period of shocked, awkward silence on their end, when Tony picks up a call from Ýmirheim for a sleeping Fié. `Before,` Tony thinks. `They knew me quite well as Farbauti, seems like. Hmm. Curious.`

 

  1. 525. Reedy
    Tony can’t immediately dig deeper into this curiosity, unfortunately, because Hammond’s also calling, and he must terminate Ályavanu’s call to receive it, for secrecy’s sake. The old man’s voice is somehow reedier than before. Tony concentrates on that, rather than the fact that Hammond’s asking after his grandchildren only now.

 

  1. 526. Visceral
    Tony squeaks and leaps away from Fié, after the latter’s finished reviewing the calls made on their shared devise. It’s a visceral reaction to getting a mouthful of numerous sharp, sharp black teeth framed by an angry grimace and complemented by an angry snarl on his face, he tells himself.

 

  1. 527. Borrow
    “You are not someone that they can borrow for their pleasures,” Fié snaps when they’re – mildly – under control. Stung, Tony snaps back, “But I’m not a thing kept for your pleasures, hypocrit.” He tries to flounce away, then, but Fié pins him in place… and kisses him. `Oh. They’re jealous.`

 

  1. 528. Knowledge
    The knowledge that, as Farbauti, Tony also contributed to Álti’s genes although the child isn’t Fié’s, which Tony’s just pried off of Anga, explains much, and helps Tony understand Fié’s seemingly unfounded jealousy a little bit more. But still,, `How many times should I repeat that I’m not Farbauti?`

 

  1. 529. Journey
    Perched on one of the farmouses’ roof, Tony sullenly checks on his e-mails and messages. Then, he happens to find a belated video of a 3rd year memorial on the Battle of New York, sent by Tasha through SI’s file-sharing system. He frowns. `Three years. It’s been such a journey….`

 

  1. 530. Tender
    Unluckily for Tony, given his latest spat with Fié, the one who found him on the roof is Álti. Perhaps noticing his not-so-friendly vibe… or having heard about the spat somehow… the poor child stays as far as possible. Tony sighs. He’s never a tender man. But. This. Is. Ridiculous.

 

  1. 531. Message
    Tony doesn’t care what message he’s sending by walking back to the nest with Álti riding on his shoulders. He cares, though, much, when Tasha sends him a message about one Dennis Nedry sabotashing an island-park full of dinosaurs and people. And the victims from both sides keep coming.

Chapter Text

Isla Nublar, Costa Rica, End of October 2015

 

  1. 532. Survey
    Encased in his toughest, fastest Iron Man suit, if rather lacking in spiffy firepower, Tony surveys the carnage of the island-park below him, wide-eyed. The zoo combo has been open for only 6 months and it’s a kill-zone now. Then, JARVIS points him out to the culprit of it all….

 

  1. 533. Impoverished
    “Dennis Nedry,” Tony growls, as he dangles the fat slob by one forearm and the neck, tens of feet above the road the slob sped along in an – unfortunately for Nedry – an open-top jeep. “What did you have in your impoverished mind when you thought of this ‘bright’ idea, huh?”

 

  1. 534. Touch
    Tony drops Nedry in Tasha’s care, saying, “Give this one your bestest touch, will ya? Highest priority.” Then he’s back in the kill-zone, helping herd the hapless visitors and park employees away from the dinosaurs and vice versa. “J, some help here. Break out the Iron Legion. Herding-and-guarding mode.”

 

  1. 535. Select
    The veloceraptors seem to target select people, Tony notes, as he does his damnedest best to guard the latters and shoo the formers to the dino-fall-back jungle. `If only Voðen’s here. The animal whisperer.` But Fié’ll kill him if he dared bring Voðen here, damn the enmity; he knows that.

 

  1. 536. Simple
    There’s a simple, preferable solution for the catastrophe, the military – as shareholder – says: nuke the island and its inhabitants, “to prevent the dinosaurs from reaching mainland.” Tony can’t believe it! `This again! Since when does nuking things become the prefered method? Since when do warheads become so simple and cheap???``

 

  1. 537. Furnace
    The island-park is powered by geothermal energy, and the plant there’s the first sabotaged thing among so many. “Nedry’s been doing this for a long time,” Tony grumbles as he steels himself and dives close to the river of magma to repair the intake pipes. “Damn. It’s a furnace here!”

 

  1.  538. Slice
    A precise slice on one of the sturdy intake pipes is all the evidence that Tony needs to prove the sabotage. He gets JARVIS to photograph it through the HUD, repairs it, then skedaddles back to blessedly cooler air, if no less dangerous. “Now, where shall we go, J?”

 

  1. 539. All In All
    Half of the island-park’s employees and visitors are dead or injured from the sabotage, all in all. Mostly those who are too in-the-open to dive into the nearest bunker, too ‘confident’ or ‘dedicated’ to do so, or directly in the path of a stampeed or a dino’s claws and/or teeth.

 

  1. 540. Carve
    Dennis Nedry turns out to have been bought by BioSyn, InGen’s rival and one of HYDRA’s front companies. “We can carve out HYDRA once and for all with this momentum, with the right strategy,” Tasha proclaims, supremely satisfied. Tony stares, disturbed by how blasé she is with all the deaths.

 

  1. 541. Rush
    Tasha rushes to implement the plan she’s cooked up before Tony can ask about her apparent callousness. But that’s maybe for the best, because he’s just remembered that she was made by a branch of HYDRA, once, and total personal detachment is one of the atributes left from that time.

 

Wakanda, November 2015

 

  1. 542. Supply
    Dennis Nedry goes to court, and all data about HYDRA is released to the world, supplied by Nedry himself, Tony, and the Avengers. Governments quake. SHIELD shatters. Earth goes into pieces, figuratively… but nearly literally. If JARVIS hadn’t been quick enough, stopping various mass weapons from being launched….

 

  1. 543. Protect
    “It’s supposed to protect us all.” It’s the most remorseful feel that Tony ever gets from Tasha, as she sees the fruition of her plan, cooked up in what feels like forever ago. And indeed, now they’re doing HYDRA’s work, accidentally or not, he thinks, as the reports keep coming.

 

  1. 544. Visual
    Tony’s PR team, which has morphed into a PR media company some time ago, does their best in battling bad press on the Avengers, aided by the visual evidence of the latters’ relief efforts. It feels fake, though, however true the footages and all are. Earth needs peace, not PR.

 

  1. 545. Alone
    “You are not alone in trying to do good, you know, Mister Stark,” T’Challa, the young King of Wakanda, succeeding his father who was killed in the Vienna bombing forever ago, says gently as his path crosses Tony’s in the palace’s main garden. “Wakanda can do more than shelter you.”

 

  1. 546. Map
    “It may be time for Wakanda to make itself known in the world,” T’Challa declared. And so maps are spread, plans are laid out, resources are pooled and organised, and many Wakandans join the relief efforts. Not everyone like the King’s decisions, though. Unrest threatens to blow into uprising.

 

Ýmirheim, Beginning of December 2015

 

  1. 547. Quiet
    Tony steals a quiet moment to nest with his whole family in-between the planning, implementing, figurative and literal fire-dousing, and on-the-spot scrambling to battle unexpected problems. To achieve that, he bulldozes over the protocol and Fié’s awkward distance, by snatching them right out of their throne in the audience chamber.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, Middle of December 2015

 

548. Interview
“That’s not an interview but an interrogation, Nat,” Tony remarks in resigned amusement when Tasha’s finished ‘interviewing’ the new batch of the Avengers’ relief-effort helps, after watching half of it through a security camera. But Clint’s the one replying instead of her, huffing tiredly, half-heartedly, “Y’wanna labels or results, stark?”

Chapter Text

Isla Sorna, Costa Rica, Middle of December 2015

 

  1. 549. Ledge
    Isla Sorna. An island 84 miles off the island-park, full of wild dinosaurs. And rogue InGen people cleverly surround their activities with these naturally dangerous creatures, hiding in a lush, barely touched rainforest jungle. Tony, encased in his stealth-suit, surveys one of their buildings from high up on a ledge.

 

  1. 550. Join
    “The military wants you to join us?” Tony asks Rhodes in his neutralest voice once the figurative dust has settled from the raid. The man came and joined the operation just after Tony’s back from scouting, in the suit Tony once gave him, and Tony feels mixed about it all.

 

*551. Prisoner
Tony finds it hard not to “go medieval” on the prisoners when, in the deep sweeping of the secret mad-science facility, the hotchpotch team encounters cages of hybrids between veloceraptors and human children. Not all the experiments have been… quite successful, at that. Some are grotesque, crippled, or even dying.

 

*552. Stand
Tony has one clear, unshakable stand on things: You, on full cognisant, have ultimate right on your own body and mind. He wouldn’t dream of robbing it from anybody, especially the little raptor hybrids, who have been robbed empty of this basic freedom all their lives. Even when regarding euthanasia.

 

  1. 553. Disaster
    The data retrieved from the facility refers to “Emil,” which leads to “Lockwood Estate,” which leads to “Eli Mills” and a project for militarised dinosaurs for the highest bidder. The hybrid children and two other prototypes are meant for warfare. Tony feels sick. “We never learn, don’t we? S’a disaster."

 

Lockwood Estate, Northern California, United States, Middle of December 2015

 

  1. 554. North
    Cap and Tasha visit Sir Benjamin Lockwood, the employer of Eli Miles, with the half-truthful guise of funding a safe place for displaced “special” children to live. Rhodes in a borrowed stealth-suit shadows them, while Tony checks the Lockwood Estate at large in detail. And, north-wise, he finds something… interesting.

 

  1. 555. Machine
    Bunkers, labs, testing areas: Tony knows such facilities pretty much, from having and using them himself and visiting others. These lack the machines that he uses to churn out awesome tools… but they’re in line with the ones from Isla Sorna. “Folks, I found it,” he broadcasts to the team.

 

  1. 556. Auspicious
    Tony listens with one ear as Lockwood talks auspiciously to Cap and Tasha about atoning for past wrongs and helping pave the way for a great future for humankind. `Apparently ‘atoning’ and ‘great future’ involves human cloning,` Tony thinks, amused and bemused, as he finds the data in the server.

 

  1. 557. Bed
    And,snooping in the manor proper, Tony finds the cloned being, an ordinary little girl, huddling under a bed, terrified of him. He’s incensed. It’s been so long since the last time any child was scared of him. `This won’t do!` So he dilligently gets to work to win her over.

 

  1. 558. Loud
    Lockwood may be old and refined, usually, but he’s loud when he sees his “granddaughter” hanging fearlessly on a special harness on Tony’s stealth-suit as it flies in overhead, while Tony strolls in in his best business suit and suave manner below. Then the team presents him Eli Miles’ deeds….

 

  1. 559. Gamble
    The team’s gamble strikes true… although Lockwood nearly got a heart attack from the shocking problems and betrayal he’s faced with. He takes steps to rectify the matters, under the team’s advicement: quietly, to – hopefully – not stir up the world’s problems even more and incite retaliation from the candidate buyers.

 

*560. Tour
A second tour through a mad-scientist lab doesn’t make it easier to bear, Tony finds. Especially when he finally discovers the “specimens” created in this lab, as specified in the data he and JARVIS previously dug, kept and starved in small, dark cages. `Damn. There’s human in them, however slight!`

 

*561. Violence
The team’s prepared to be met with violence from the rescuees, given the prior treatment the mad scientists gave them. But, thankfully, the violence seems to be centred more on the food the team’s giving them instead of the team members. “Hmm, maybe Vovo can give’m some TLC?” Tony muses.

 

  1. 562. Squint
    The big, white hybrids and the small, black ones are much more dinosaur than human, the data says. They do appear as the amalgamation of dinosaurs that they are. But Tony disagrees. No need to squint to see the human in how they interact with each other and the team.

 

  1. 563. Key
    Imprinting is the key to these hybrids’ humanity. Henry Wu, the leading scientist of the island-park who’s gone missing since the sabotage catastrophe months ago (`Either voluntarily or not.`), confirms this when Tony finds him hunkered in a tiny, armoured lab+hatchery+nursery just off the cages. And Wu is the imprinter.

 

  1. 564. Elementary
    It’s elementary work to claim to his kidnappers that he could make sure things are up to par through “careful and controlled monitoring,” Wu says, and Tony believes him. Not because his words alone, though. Everyone from Eli Mills down indeed seem so desperate as to believe almost everything.

 

*565. Mercy
Lockwood’s inclined to show mercy to Mills for the betrayal, after a few days. Tony’s not. `After all this work and all the victims and my sacrifices? Oh no no no no no, old man!` He gets Tasha and Cap to convince Lockwood otherwise, through footages of the hybrids’ “trainings.”

 

  1. 566. Boulder
    Tony’d rather finish work as soon as possible than babysitting a child, truthfully, but he can’t help it when Maisie, Lockwood’s “granddaughter,” drags him to play among the boulders in the nearby stream. Apparently, she’s just as affected by the tense, grim atmosphere round the manor these few days.

 

567. Gown
It’s Maisie’s fifth birthday. 21st December. She wants a gown and a party with friends; something that she’s known only from books and films. So, in addition to the hybrids from both the estate and Isla Sorna, Tony gets her a day with… well, his children, all said and done.

Chapter Text

Ýmirheim, End of December 2015

 

  1. 568. Fling
    Tony flings himself into the nest, nearly on top of a dozing Fié+babies, once all legalities for the – previously semi-fake – “home for special children” are finally finalised. Lockwood’s tweaked his will, too, bequeathing custody of his assets – and Maisie – until Maisie’s of age to “the Avengers.” And now, Tony’s knackered.

 

  1. 569. Rank
    Owen Grady, US navy animal behaviourist and trainer, now ranked captain, and former island-park expert, wants to visit Fié’s homeworld to observe the wildlife there. Tony agrees but stipulates that he not report anything there to anybody in any way, except by Fié’s fully willing permission, with death as penalty.

 

  1. 570. Maid
    Nests are so private for the milaðen that nobody other than the nest-family can drop in without expressed permission of the nestlings – the ones nesting there. Ýmirheim’s monarch’s nest is no exception to that, hence no cleaning maids, and Fié’s making Tony clean up his accumulated mess now. `Joy….`

 

  1.  571. Collection
    3 “womb-children,” 2 semi-womb-children (`And what a freaky situation it was from story alone!`), 5 “kin-children,” 8 foster children including Wu’s imprinted hybrid-children (`Their parents – or grandparent – are better grateful!`), 10 surviving hybrid-children from Isla Sorna, and Tony’s got quite the collection of children he must look out for. `Uh….`

 

  1. 572. Doodle
    Tony’s so distracted by his lists that he isn’t quite aware of his surroundings. It’s the only reason why there are colourful doodles on various places on his skin now, adding to the natural striped, braidd, shaped and wavy silvery lines there. Still, he glares at the – literally red-handed – culprits.

 

  1. 573. Hunting
    “Maybe you can take the children hunting?” Fié – the ring-leader – offers hopefully when Tony glares at them last. An unimpressed look answers them. “Herding? Or swimming in the lake?” they persist anyway, nervouser. And he pounces on them for a well-deserved tickle torture, in answer, far from the babies.

 

  1. 574. Guard
    Tony forgot to guard himself from anybody other than a giggling-and-squirming Fié. As the result, the other to-be-punished culprits managed to creep up close. Now they pounce on him, freeing the other parent from torment. Then, predictably, Fié retaliates…. It’s a free-for-all mess of flailing limbs and giggly noises, next.

 

Stark Tower, New York, United states, End of December 2015

 

  1. 575. Owe
    Life seems to balance the very good with the very bad right next to each other in Tony’s life. Right now, for example: Knowing – somehow – that he’s back in the tower, people queue in front of his office, with more-or-less the same demand – for things they say he “owes” them.

 

  1. 576. Querulous
    Being called querulous for not obeying somebody else’s every wish is off-putting, to say the least. Being called unreasonable for losing temper for that is unreasonable on itself. And Tony has to point these out in detail on each of the occasions, which are numerous. Then, they call him bratty….

 

*577. Slap
Watching Pepper slap one of the offenders is immensely satisfying. Punching the guy’s goons into unconsciousness with one hit is even better. Airing the guy’s outrageous, alarming demands anonymously and getting lots of sympathy for the plight is the best of all. Then Fié drops in for mature-rated activities…. Bestest.

 

  1. 578. Cradle
    “You never tell me when you need to relax. I always have to find about it from another source,” Fié says carefully when Tony’s totally putty in their cradling arms. He snorts, snuggles deeper and mumbles, “Ssssh. ’Plaint ‘ceived ‘n’ set ‘side. Y’never tell me too, n’way.”

 

Ýmirheim, January 2016

 

*579. Thrice
Tony wakes up in a totally different place from where he was; nauseated, achy, exhausted, and surrounded by… grieving people? “Huh?” he tries to complain, but no sound vibrates in his – so, so, so sore – throat. Then, sobbingly, Fié begs, “Twice you died and thrice you live…. No more, please.”

 

*580. Understand
From secondhand, somewhat jumbled account plus muddled personal recollection, Tony figures that he’s been poisoned by some consumable-looking thing in his tower that – fatally – didn’t agree with his new constitution. He doesn’t understand why’d people be concerned for him, still, given his… first?… life being a “traitor to the throne.”

 

  1. 581. Ocean
    Fié carts Tony to the balcony of his sickroom the moment he feels well enough to sit up and move a hand. And below, as Tony hobbles slowly, painfully into view, an ocean of blue-skinned bodies breaks into raucous cheering. “Uh, why’d they do that? I did nothing worthy.”

 

  1. 582. Isolated
    “We have been isolated since the war, for various reasons, and you helped us to reach out… be more like what we used to be… something that I could not do, on my own,” Fié admits when Tony asks, once they’re away from the balcony, back in his hospital prison.

 

  1. 583. Help
    “You’ve been their glue, all this time,” Tony points out when he recovers his breath and energy back from the small trip. “Like Pepper with our companies, all this time. Much help. I… don’t usually pay much attention to things. She’s been harping ‘bout that. So… umm, help? Please?”

 

  1. 584. Moment
    Fié huffs out a brittle chuckle. “We were having a serious moment about Ýmirheim and you veered off to rambling about somebody else, elsewhere,” they complain, semi-seriously. Tony gives them an exasperated look, more than half-seriously. “Was trying to ask for help, like you wanted, and you complained ‘bout it.”

 

  1. 585. Lunch
    Fié shoves a spoonful of… something… into Tony’s half-agape mouth before he can say anything else. “Your ‘lunch’,” they say when Tony glares at them, mouth full. Swallowing the – admitedly tasty – goo only results in another spoon in his mouth, though, not freedom, and Fié’s even blocked their mind link.

 

  1. 586. Negotiation
    Negotiation after the ‘lunch’ is intense, hard, and emotionally charged. Fié wants Tony to remove himself and his responsibilities completely to Ýmirheim. Tony wants to explore the universe while still basing himself on Earth. At the end, they settle with – sizable – permanent milaða guard detail for Tony wherever he goes.

 

  1. 587. Perfect
    Tony’s debating about the dilemma of whether he’d be willing to be poisoned again to get a free, attentive, cuddly massage from Fié that hits all the spots with all the sensual comfort that he craves, like he’s presently experiencing. Then again, this is almost too perfect to be real….

 

  1. 588. Fat
    “Why’s there no fat kids here? Haven’t you solved the food production and distribution thing?” Tony asks in the lull between petitions as he accompanies Fié in the audience chamber. Fié shakes their head. “We grow big, not grow fat, usually. And recovering from the losses has been… hard, slow.”

 

  1. 589. Roof
    If Tony didn’t know better, he’d claim the milaðen way as living in poverty. Roofs, walls and even worldly possessions are optional, since people are so used to water-based things – both living in them and using them – and Ýmirheim is practically soaked in such things. Family, on the other hand….

 

*590. Singe
Presently, Tony’s finding out how uncomfortable it is to smith metals while being blue-skinned. The heat, the fire sparks, the metal splash-droplets, the stabbing glances of bright light on metallic surfaces…. Even worse, being singed now feels like getting a third-degree burn. `Oh damn crap fuck hell – that hurts!!!`

 

  1. 591. Tool
    Facing a furiously frightened Fié is just as unpleasant as the singeing incident. So, Tony, the escape artist that he is after so many kidnapping attempts throughout his life, deploys this finely honed skillset of his. This time, his escape tool’s composed of, among others, a convenient jar of glitters.

 

  1. 592. Equivalent
    A huge hunk of a milaða drops lightly beside Tony as he’s hunkered by a cliff-sheltered water hole. “Whom is Ýto fleeing from?” There’s a clear, wavering note of laughter in their voice; the milaðen’s equivalent of grinning mischievously, since showing teeth is interpretable as either aggression or lust.

 

  1. 593. beggar
    Tony lifts his eyes from the water hole to glare at the intruder, but then gapes instead. The giantly giant’s dressed like a beggar, and they even smell like one, despite their size and general mannerism. But their eyes, their face…. “Do I know you?” he swallows. `Why so similar?`

 

  1. 594. Wander
    The stranger tries to wander to a different topic, when Tony asks why they look alike, at least facially. They even tries to wander away in truth, when he persists. But, at last, Tony gets what he wants to know… and he doesn’t know whether to try to un-know it.

 

  1. 595. Range
    Farvangr. Youngest and only surviving womb-sibling of Farbauti. Target of general ire and persecution, post-war. The only “sane” sibling under the “tender” care of a ruthless, power-hungry mother. Raised mostly by Farbauti. Saved because of it. And Tony thought he got the full-range version of his insane “past life” already….

 

  1. 596. Quality
    Tony looks at the huge… little sibling?… up and down and even sidewise. The hints that he sees from them clash terribly. Horrible-quality loincloth and hygiene, high-quality built seldom seen in his travels here, terrific-quality intelligence and humour despite the centuries of ill will directed at them…. So he asks.

 

  1. 597. Honour
    “The Monarch is not honour-bound to protect Ava,” the giantly giant says, slowly, with their eyes far, far away. “Was Ýto informed? – It was a marriage of spouses, not clans, so Ava was not included in the claiming of the Royal House. But Ýto Fié set aside… things, anyway, discreetly.”

 

  1. 598. Shelter
    “Ava could not find shelter in the palace. It would only endanger Ýto Fié and the Monarch’s standing in such delicate time. The palace would only remind Ava of Ýto, too. But Ava was – is – always nearby, in various disguises. Ýto’s last request was… for Ava… to guard Ýto Fié.”

 

  1. 599. Gaudy
    Tony thought to lift the giant’s spirit up by turning into his gaudy self. But now, he must deal with a sobbing, blubbery mountain of unwashed muscles instead. Then he finds that, for Farbauti, being gaudy and larger-than-life was both a defence mechanism and their only way to joke. `Creepy….`

 

  1. 600. Engine
    The sound of spaceskiff engines rumble-keening rapidly closer tells Tony who’s finally catching up to him. The royal guards pouring out, followed by Týo’s team, clinches it. So it’s not a surprise at all when Fié trots out last. The high-tech empty stretcher that follows them, though…. “I’m okay, Fié.”

 

  1. 601. Office
    The nest-turned-private-office setting is totally not Tony’s favourite. But he understands that matters related to him – including his last “antics” (`Damn you, Fié. I’m not a kid!`) – have set the Monarch back a lot regarding “essential realm-wide recovery.” Just… sometimes… he wants to crunch that lofty, big-worded prat small, paper-ball-like.

 

  1. 602. Monarch
    Fié for once forbids Tony from accompanying them to the audience chamber. “Ava,” likewise. And Tony wishes he didn’t think to eavesdrop…. Petitioners – of the same ilk, it seems – are requesting that the Monarch “terminate their traitorous former spouse.” `How long has this been going? Why didn’t they tell me?`

 

  1. 603. Pain
    Confronting Fié dead-on when they’re back in the nest only makes them fold deeper into themself. It goes worse when they’re trying to breastfeed the babies and barely gets out any milk. `Stress-induced dryness, Ýto,` Ava informs him gently, mentally, while Fié’s an imploding ball of pain in his arms.

 

  1. 604. Tell
    “Tell each other. No big or possibly harmful secret. No omission.” It’s the new deal that Tony and Fié make, on a magically binding contract no less, with a mental poke that escalates to pinching harder and harder on escalating breaching. Anga – the suggester – is a good mediator, apparently….

 

  1. 605. Crunch
    Number-crunching for the queendom in Ýmirheim setting always takes time to adjust, given the different measurements, the scope of the covered areas, and even the shapes of the numbers and letters themselves. Tony likes it best, though, compared to taking complaints. Seated beside Fié in the throneroom, he number-crunches away.

 

  1. 606. Doable
    Grady wants to borrow Tony’s stealth-suit, for protection against extreme temperatures and dangerous animals during the wildlife observation. It’s doable, but takes another contract before Tony agrees and transports him to Ýmirheim. Then Fié got an idea to make an Earth-compatible book on Ýmirheim – culture, flora, fauna and all.

 

  1. 607. Change
    “It’d mean a big change here, y’know,” Tony cautions on the book idea. “I’m not the only explorer out there. You sure we’re ready to receive tourists? What about safety and security? I don’t want this place to turn into a kill-zone like the island-park. It’d quickly go intergalactic!”

 

  1. 608. Acrid
    The acrid fumes from burning materials are even more unpleasant on milaða nose, Tony’s finding out, as he’s trying to return some power to Ýmirheim without “the Anchor,” AKA “the Casket of Ancient Winters” that Thor once talked about, which Asgardians took during the last war and keep ever since.

 

  1. 609. Option
    “Wish the arc reactor’s an option,” Tony grumbles when, even using the thing that formerly kept him alive, the ambient magic still feels rather unstable. Fié just shakes their head and spirits him away from his workshop, first, but then says, “Your arc reactor generates power, Afa, not stabilising it.”

 

  1. 610. Hug
    Fié goes bug-eyed as Tony hugs them long and fiercely for the brilliant, problem-solving info. He’s confused about the reaction, at first, but then, “I never hugged you, didn’t I? Sorry. My parents…. They never encouraged things like this. My peers liked my money and status more than me, too.”

 

611. Never
On the topic of families, Fié apologises to Tony about never telling him of his “family” here until he met one himself. It’s Tony who goes bug-eyed, now. People seldom apologise to him; unprompted, sincerely, with no additional motivation. He tells Fié that, then promptly tries to escape the mushiness.

Chapter Text

Malibu, California, United States, February 2016

 

  1. 612. Frank
    “To be frank, Mister Stark, you are far from the person I thought you are,” Lockwood says, while his eyes are glued on Maisie, playing down on the beach with Tim, Lex, Jessie, Tony’s sprogs, Vovo’s, and the hybrid children, watched by their parental figures. Tony just points to Fié.

 

  1. 613. Member
    “Can we add new members to the sprog fest?” Clint asks carefully when he manages to corner Tony alone. Tony shrugs to that. “Depends on if the new members need it, won’t unnecessarily antagonise the other kids, and can be sworn to total secrecy. Their guardians, too. No exception.”

 

  1. 614. Leverage
    “Are you going to use the new members as leverage against the guardians?” is Clint’s next question. It makes Tony stare sharply at him and retort, “Are you going to take children as hostages? If you are, let me dump you in the outer space. See how you’ll like it.”

 

Diagon Alley, London, England, United Kingdom, Beginning of February 2016

 

  1. 615. South
    Tony learnt much, from what manuscripts Týo’s team gathered during their reconnaissance to gather info of who cast a child to one of the most horrible prisons on Earth. It’s not enough, though, for what he wants to do. Sadly, his jaunt at the magical shopping street quickly goes south….

 

  1. 616. Personnel
    “What’s wrong with being a giant?” Tony squawks, when one of the red-robed people – law-enforcement personnel, he supposes – tries to clap him in what feels like magic-suppressing cuffs, after another one cited the reason of why he’s a danger to society. “I was doing nothing offensive, at that!”

 

  1. 617. Jigsaw
    The hidden magical district empties in record time on Tony’s admission. Not even the shopkeepers are there. Some establishments even close abruptly, tightly, and got surrounded by strong wards. But another group has just materialised nearby, intent on capturing him too. The situation feels like a wrongly completed jigsaw puzzle.

 

  1. 618. Clean
    Imitating Hulk’s favourite way, Tony makes a high, clean leap above the converging groups, thanking his hours of exercise. He makes a running beeline to the huge white marble building that’s this place’s bank from the intel, next. He needs clean money for his purposes, and the bank offers bartering.

 

Gringotts, Diagon Alley, London, England, United Kingdom, Beginning of February 2016

 

  1. 619. Hold
    Tony barters away a chunk of ore, first; native to Ýmirheim, plenty to find, and nicely magic-conductive. The short, sharp-faced beings – goblins, the intel said – haggle fiercely. He haggles fiercely back, joyfully. They ignore the yappy, grabby humans flooding the bank, trying to… hold him hostage? Capture him for parts?

 

  1. 620. Rest
    Tony ends up dealing with the clan chief of this bank for the rest of the ore he’s got with him, for quite a nice sum of this community’s currency, kept on his person in a small leather pouch bonded to his blood. Apparently, the goblins like making magicwork creations….

 

  1. 621. Name
    Tony’s starting to make a name among the goblins when he confesses that he likes to artifice magicwork things, himself, and does some blacksmithing on the side. The name gets more recognition when a visiting clansgoblin from old US of A reveals that he’s a hugely successful global-scoped businessman.

 

  1. 622. Table
    Then, Tony puts a reputedly famous, definitely useful Ýmirheimi pearl on the table…. The congregation bursts into paroxysms of delight and awe, this time. Apparently, the huge, rich-glowy-blue, magic-storing-and-amplifying pearl’s supposed to be just a myth here. And that’s before he tells them that it’s to be bartered for, too.

 

  1. 623. Unable
    “Ah. Sorry. I’m unable to decide on any trading agreement for this one. The ore’s more abundant than this beauty, y’see. It’s a national treasure,” Tony explains when the goblin tries to set up a second contract with him, after agreeing on binding paper that they won’t misuse the pearl.

 

Diagon Alley, London, England, United Kingdom, Beginning of February 2016

 

*624. Scout
Tony adores the fairies at the pet shop, but hates the fact that they’re sold. From a brief observation alone, he finds that they’re sentient, that they got their own language. To think that the pet shop’s located in the supposedly “light-oriented” shopping district…. Still, “Wanna be my scouts, buddies?”

 

  1. 625. Flower
    Various fresh flowers available for shelter, sustenance and garments are the currency for the fairies, apparently, and they’re more than happy to become Tony’s new eyes and ears. At least it’s what he can interpret from their high-pitched chattering, which often overlap one another. Well, if so, “Wanna be babysitters?”

 

  1. 626. Lesson
    The petrified salesgirl at the pet shop and the creepy, desirous-for-parts old man at the… wand?… shop are the only shopkeepers left in the district, if Tony doesn’t want to go down the reputedly seedier part, Nocturn Alley. Well, it’s a lesson to be more discreet in the future… maybe….

 

  1. 627. Loopy
    It should be alarming, maybe, that Tony suddenly got loopy while trying to exit the district through the way he came: a humongous wrought-iron gate mascarading as dirty naked-brick wall. But, being loopy, all that he knows is how the world’s suddenly a dizzying blob of colours which loves jigging.

 

  1. 628. Throne
    Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for the world to right itself up again. Unfortunately, the first thing that Tony hears afterwards is how serious Neuolvir the ruthless killer sounds, when they proclaim, “You shall answer to the Throne for intending harm on the Monarch’s spouse.” `I just wanna go shopping!`

 

Stark Tower, New York, United States, Beginning of February 2016

 

  1. 629. Flow
    “Go with the flow” is the kindest thing any of the 4 teammate-spouses can come up to soothe Tony’s temper. The would-be captors, just like the first batch forever ago, got transported to the interrogation floor in stark Tower. Unlike before, though, they apparently don’t belong to a vigilante group.

 

Nocturn Alley, London, England, United Kingdom, Beginning of February 2016

 

  1. 630. Crate
    Stubbornly, Tony returns to Diagon Alley, although now much shorter and looking different (`Thanks, magic!`), and escorted blatantly by the royal guards. Boulstered with such protection and seeing that the district’s still empty, he veers off to the darker one… and finds two terrified teen boys stuffed in a crate.

 

  1. 631. Warming Box
    Tony’s no longer attracted to hot things anymore, except for hot people, after his transformation’s this advanced. He’s still got the nifty pocket dimension tied to his illusioned ellastic bracelet that he made forever ago, though. He gets out a warmer from there and makes hot chocolate for the kids.

 

  1. 632. Vantage View
    The flying brooms available on Diagon Alley are ridiculous, for someone Tony’s real size, but a flying carpet is another matter entirely. Fortunately Nocturn Alley isn’t only a den of sins and vises, but also smuggled goods against political laws. The vantage view offers Tony and his people much intel.

 

*633. Worn
More children and adults in horrible situations not of their making who want to escape are recovered through the new way of “window-shopping.” It mars Tony’s first magical carpet ride, but the outcome’s worth it… perhaps. These people are worn, beaten, even forced into obedience, but apparently still mostly salvageable.

 

  1. 634. Sickly Yellow
    The endeavour isn’t unnoticed by the wrong people, though, as expected. Jets of colours ranging from sickly yellow to sharp green rain on the flying carpet, creating air hazards that Ovrekka has to concentrate fully to navigate. Tony picks up the slack in shielding, marking his first ever magical battle.

 

  1. 635. Demotion
    “We will get demoted by this,” Týo remarks somewhat humorously at the end of the battle. “Ðolukonnar will not appreciate their spouse gallivanting into any battle, let alone an elða-based one.” And, to that, Tony promises to rescind the demotion, in one way or another. `My own squad sounds good.`

 

  1. 636. Transform
    Rústla notices the stowaway before the team’s transported back to the tower. It’s a girl… maybe… who can’t seem to settle with being young, old, in-between, female, male, small, large, etc. Apprehension and excitement make her transform so quickly and randomly. Then she introduces herself, “I’m Nymphadora Tonks, former Auror.”

 

  1. 637. Legal
    The name draws the team’s attention to the ever-transforming girl. Even Tony’s aware of the significance. “Your organisation got a reason why they didn’t do things all legal and the like, kid? Why’d they wanna kidnap me? What’s an Auror? Why’d you wanna tag along? Y’know anything ‘bout this situation?”

 

  1. 638. Phantom Pain
    Nymphadora Tonks winces, cringes, curls into herself, as if with phantom pain too great and unexpected to hide… or maybe with real pain from some unseen attack. Tony frowns. Before he can say anything, though, she says, “Save all the Muggleborns, then don’t come back. It’s no longer safe here.”

 

  1. 639. Reminiscence
    Tony’s further questions are met with visible resistance. “No time for reminiscence,” the girl says at last, when Rústla prods at her with a hard look. She then explains that she’s been evacuating the persecuted people off UK for a while, and she must return to that self-imposed duty ASAP.

Chapter Text

Stark Tower, New York, United States, Middle of February 2016

 

*640. Prison of the Mind
“Aslakonnar’s mind is self-imprisoned in the norms, rules and traditions of the culture Aslakonnar was reborn into,” Týo says quietly when Tony complains for the umpteenth time about Fié’s offer to make him pregnant. “Nobody else can free Aslakonnar but Aslakonnar’s own self, willingly. Forcefulness will not serve anybody well.”

 

*641. Catching Up
Ignoring the topic entirely, Tony sets to catching up to news about the rescue of the persecuted British magicals with gusto. His impromptu team has saved 5, 3 of them children, but they – and Nymphadora “Dora” Tonks – reported that there are many kept in manors or sold somewhere else.

 

  1. 642. Crunchy
    Physically attending a board meeting is very, very, very boring. Tony entertains himself by loudly snacking on crunchy treats whenever someone’s speaking, though he daren’t do so when Pepper’s the one who speaks. Despite that, he goes serious when it’s his turn to speak. He does care for his companies.

 

Malibu, California, United States, Middle of February 2016

 

  1. 643. Border
    Colin Creevey, Dennis Creevey and Natalie McDonald, the 3 children rescued from Nocturn Alley, are still largely withdrawn and unspeaking after a few days. They have no problem decorating the borders of the Malibu home with the other children, using creatively managed recycled materials hardened for the weathers, however, thankfully.

 

*644. Lash Out
The “Wizarding” adults, with their spouses missing and presumed sold, are harder to live with. The men lash out at everything, on seemingly random triggers. Tony has to remove them from active socialisation – for now – after they triggered each other and almost killed one of the small, black dino-hybrid children.

 

*645. Lurid
Lurid tales of human-on-human predation and degradation keep coming as Tony keeps in touch with Nymphadora Tonks and other British magical humans in their guerrilla efforts to free the so-called “Muggleborn” and “blood traitors” from their “Pureblood masters/mistresses.” Tony feels dirty, even just receiving the recountings secondhand.

 

  1. 646. Arsenal
    Tasha helps put together the evidence to beg for international hand in UK magical side’s business. None of the people sheltered in Tony’s home or playing a deadly hide-and-seek in Britain have enough clout to make the court see, but with such arsenal as this dossier… a wallop is incoming.

 

  1. 647. Florescent
    Strolling along the home’s borders and looking at all the florescent, beautiful and unique decorations the children have put there is the most soothing activity that Tony can come up without leaving Malibu. He’d love to skedaddle to Ýmirheim for some Fié-branded TLC, but… well, he can’t leave yet.

 

  1. 648. Flammable
    Tony wouldn’t ever guess that Ýoluti the cheerful, eager, well-educated grannie got a flammable temper; not only for their crafts, at that, but also – no, especially – regarding the abuse of children. And Fié’s just confessed that they’ve told that grannie. `No wonder my beach’s now a battle spaceship parking lot….`

 

  1. 649. Bittersweet
    The expansion and toughening of the Rescue is a bittersweet triumph for Tony. It’s fiddly, complicated and useful enough to give him a huge sense of accomplishment. But, at the same time, he wishes that the circumstance weren’t so horrible. Well, anyway, he’s now ready to transport lots of rescuees.

 

  1. 650. Buckle Up
    The children have been secured away in Áyshkashla. The volatile adult rescuees have been knocked out – humanely – and stored in Antarctica. The new-and-improved Rescue has been stocked up to secure more volatile rescuees, who are maybe also heavily injured. And now, the rescuers buckle up for the trip in truth.

 

Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, End of February 2016

 

  1. 651. Holiday
    “We need a long, long holiday,” Nymphadora Tonks says wryly when Tony asks what she and the others need now that the adult rescuees have been settled temporarily in the island Tony leased from the Indonesian government, while the young ones are grouped together with the other children in Áyshkashla.

 

  1. 652. Recent
    “Isn’t this counted as holiday?” Tony smiles lopsidedly in response, deliberately looking at the pristine sea, white-sanded beach and traditional huts they’ve been staying in. But he knows – oh he knows – that the recent traumas can’t be wiped out so soon, so easily… maybe even never, for all of them.

 

  1. 653. Island
    “I have an island, an unplottable one,” Sirius Black, one of the seemingly saner adult survivors, says, apparently overhearing Tony’s chat with Dora. “Black family’s. Safe, if I key you in. Nobody unauthorised can take it. Nice defences. Permanently expanded inside. I… meant it for my godson. Harry. Harry Potter.”

 

  1. 654. Rustic
    “I like this one better. It’s got a rustic charm,” Tony quirks a smile. “We can always buy this island, too, and ward it, if we like.” But the real concern’s actually the instability flickering deep in Black’s eyes. ”Nice” defences for one like Black may translate as “very lethal.”

 

Áyshkashla, Northern Alaska, United States, End of February 2016

 

**655. Intelligent
Natalie McDonald. Eleven years old, and already leading a hellish existence for months, beginning with the very traumatic experience of her whole family being tortured and murdered right before her. Sadly, she’s not the only one. She’s the only child greeting Tony with an intelligent gleam in her eyes, though.

 

Lockwood Estate, Northern California, United States, End of February 2016

 

  1. 656. Riverbank
    Tony’s once more chaperoning an excursion down the riverbank of Lockwood’s grounds. Now, though, Fié, the Avengers and co and a few Wakandans help him, since he’s got a horde of broken children to look after. They splash away on the riverbank. Some even paddle about on inflatable canoes.

 

  1. 657. Occasion
    “I never thought I would ever experience an occasion like this,” Lockwood whispers, as his gaze’s locked on Maisie, twirling about and laughing with the other children on the lawn, humans and milaðen and hybrids alike, following the upbeat music of the party meant just for them. “Thank you, Tony.”

 

*658. Hunger
Tony presses close and locks lips with Fié on a corner when the other adults get busy eating in shifts, after the children have eaten. There’s another kind of hunger he’d like to sate, really, but for now he has to be satisfied just with this… and some discreet groping….

 

  1. 659. Route
    When the children are abed, tired out by all the activities and excitement, the adults meet to discuss what route they’re going to take regarding the British magical community, and the magical side of the world at large. Especially when there are still the on-going, ever-spreading, oft-violent, insidious HYDRA-related problems.

Chapter Text

Lockwood Estate, Northern California, United States, End of February 2016 (Ctd.)

 

  1. 660. Grass
    Clint seats himself beside Tony on the grass when the meeting adjourns. “Remember what I said about adding sprogs to this horde?” he begins, carefully. “Got word from their guardians. They’re all ready to keep mum about everything. Even after I hinted about the latest situation to them.”

 

  1. 661. Face
    Tony scrutinises Clint’s face, which is for once so open and so, so vulnerable. “Your family, isn’t it?” he murmurs. “Are they in danger? Need extraction? When? Where?” Clint’s slumping shoulders answer the first question of the barrage, then, “Can you teleport them and things away once we’re there? Soon?”

 

  1. 662. Resource
    Tony can’t yet extract an image safely and securely from somebody’s mind, to get to Clint’s safehouse. He asks for Týo’s help for that. And, on his explanation, the whole team offer theirs… plus all resources. “You got more resources, now,” Clint observes. “Your baby’s a big name on alien-land?”

 

Ketapang, Banyuwangi, Indonesia, End of February 2016

 

  1. 663. Port
    To have the new sprogs bond with the others, Tony got the… probably bright… idea to revisit Bali, the “poor folks” way, via ferry crossing from Java. As his modified bus queues – long, long queue – at the port to board the ferry, he lets the sprogs wander outside, under supervision.

 

  1. 664. Recover
    Natalie McDonald returns to the bus with Lila and Cooper Barton, carrying 2 steaming cups of instant noodles. She gives one to Tony with a small – but still there and genuine – smile. `She’s recovering nicely,` Tony thinks. Still, `It’s hot! Will it be poisonous for me? How can I refuse?`

 

  1. 665. Fight
    It’s good for internal unity for the sprogs when they’re willing to fight on behalf of their own, namely the dinosaur-hybrid children. It’s bad for the atmosphere of the already impatient queuers, though. Fortunately, Týo’s there to cool down the atmosphere… rather literally…. Then Neuolvir broadcasts their peaceful, friendly intentions.

 

Bali, Indonesia, End of February-Middle of March 2016

 

  1. 666. Mansion
    One of Tony’s new milaða-friendly hotels is a modified mansion plus private surfing beach in a remote, hilly area away from the touristic hubbub. He’s got his own pavilion somewhat removed from it, though, and directs his folks there. Unfortunately, HYDRA catches up with them, just then, seeking the hybrids.

 

  1. 667. Pall
    A pall of fear permeates not only Tony’s folks but also the guests of the hotel. It makes him mad. Ordinary, good people should feel safe with him, about him, in his properties. Not even his before-Afghanistan self would tolerate any deviation from this policy. So Iron Man acts.

 

  1. 668. Quick
    Tony’s quick action earns well regard from the hotel guests, but displeasure from the government. “Well, you should clean house and police your borders better, then. I’m here for a vacation, not your jobs,” he snipes when the Governer of Bali confronts him. “Now, either you skedaddle or we’re gone.”

 

  1. 669. Die
    Tony’s folk’s enthusiasm has died with the HYDRA attack and subsequent government-type whining, apparently. They’re just sitting about, looking tensely at everything, instead of surfing, playing in the sand, or chatting with the guests. It won’t do! So Tony searches for simple-but-fun games for everyone to play in the beach.

 

  1. 670. Reconcile
    “You know, Mister Stark, it’s… hard, to reconcile the image you presented to us in 2012 with… this,” Cap admits when evening grows late and people litter the sand, porch deck and tideline, happily tired and sated. “Can we… start over? For peace? I don’t want to upset the children….”

 

  1. 671. Quarantine
    The Indonesian government argues that some of the midgets are more dinosaurs – animals – than humans, therefore they have to be quarantined and examined for diseases before they can have – limited – access to anywhere in Indonesia. Tony argues that they are human enough not to be jailed, experimented on and shunned.

 

  1. 672. Concentration
    “My apologies, Aslakonnar, but Aslakonnar does not possess enough concentration at present to safely learn about viewing a stranger’s memory,” Ovrekka, Týo’s teammate-spouse that’s reputedly good at viewing memories, says when Tony requests a lesson from them. “Aslakonnar should learn meditation first, probably moving meditation. Ðolukonnar is good at it.”

 

  1. 673. Unstable
    Unstable situations aren’t good for the development of children, parenting books claim. But Tony thinks differently. The only constants of his life growing up were old-man Jarvis, Anna Jarvis, the absence of Howard and Maria Stark, and an overflow of money. These children are already much luckier than he was.

 

  1. 674. Queue
    Watching the various children – family and guests alike – queue to get a few scoops of ice cream is so very fun, Tony finds. The sharp differences that some of them sport only make it funner. Then Týo and Rústla team up, teasing them into laughing and making snarky words/sounds/moves. `Bestest.`

 

  1. 675. Alacrity
    Apparently, periodically but in random places on Earth, Fié’s been acting as tour guide, area search assistant, design consultant and many more, throughout the centuries after the war. Someone whose grandfather was helped much by them recognised how they instructed the midgets, and now catches them up with all alacrity.

 

  1. 676. Pernickety
    “Mister Nalla was most pernicketty with the number and conditions of our supplies,” Douglas “Doug” Homer, the Fié-fan, reminisces grinningly over a cup of Fié-made iced chocolate. “Grandpa’s most irritated with that, since they also had to start the hike pre-dawn, in thick fog. But then he turned pernickety, too!”

 

  1. 677. Crack
    Pepper’s smart, mature, composed persona cracks horribly when Doug posts to his social-media groups, one of which is for Fié-fans, including her, boasting about meeting “the famous Mr. Nala.” Clinging fast to Fié, she tearfully claims she’s Nia, whose hatred and fear towards wintertime he helped erase when she’s eight.

 

  1. 678. Over-Bright
    “Afaaaa. Too bright!” Fié whimpers when Tony clicks on the light in their nest in the morning, when they’re still asleep, with eyes half-open as usual. They spent all night catching up with Doug, “Nia” and lots of other Fié-fans in an impromptu reunion, and now Tony wants his due.

 

**679. Shall
“Promise me you shan’t give too much of your time again to those people?” Tony asks when, after Fié’s been dragged into wakefulness, however grumpily, he manages to coax them into the cusp of ecstacy. Unfortunately, though arching up to chase completion, trapped in his hold, Fié still says nothing.

 

**680. Quit
“I won’t quit till you promise,” Tony gasps after he’s brought Fié to ecstatic completion seven times more, in various ways. Unfortunately, Fié seems to be good under torture, however sweet… or maybe they’re just knackered. Either way, they’re still silent, promise-wise. `You’re not a quitter either, huh? Damn.`