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To Save A Genius

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Tony stared at his pilot for a few beats as his brain spun.

Where did he want to go?

He knew where he didn't want to go, he didn't want to go back to New York to have to face an empty Tower without JARVIS, to the destruction of what had been his home. To the emptiness of the Tower considering the Avengers had made it clear that they had no intention of returning to the place that had been their home, choosing to stay at the Compound.

They had made it clear that they still thought that Tony was to blame for Ultron, and they made it clear what they thought of him. The screw-up. The fuck up. The annoying man that they had been lumbered with and was handy for his money, his designs and his public clout but not for anything else.

Pepper had walked out and left months ago because she couldn't understand his being a Superhero, she couldn't understand his PTSD and the nightmares, she didn't get that, and she had left. She hadn't meant to hurt him, she didn't want to, but she had.

Rhodey, well the conversation that they had had not long ago had consisted of 'what did you do now Tony?' and even though it was partially joking, it partially wasn't, and Tony had no clue what excuse he had muttered before hanging up.

"Mr Stark?" The pilot asked patiently.

Tony tugged out his Starkphone and tapped it quickly bringing up the demands that were already waiting on his schedule. Demands from Steve for designs and things that was needed for the Compound, demands from individual members of the team for things that they needed. Pepper with a huge list of things that would be needed for him to do because of what he had done with Ultron - phrased like that - plus all the additional normal massive list of demands from SI. Demands from SHEILD and already Coulson was asking him for things.

He had two choices. Drag his exhausted body back to New York where he had watched the dying remains of his second oldest and brightest child flicker out and no one had cared, fall back into the daily routine of doing what was needed and working himself to the bone to be faced with derision, no thanks and the expectation of more.


"One second," Tony said to the Pilot. He pressed Bruce's contact and called him, both hoping and not hoping that the other would pick up.

He didn't.

Tony nodded to himself as he hung up on being requested to leave a message. Bruce had left him to face the music himself, the same way he had when the Avengers had been attacking him for creating Ultron. Part of him understood, after what had happened with Wanda Bruce was wounded and he had run to lick his wounds. But in doing that he had left Tony to face the shit storm all by himself.

And speaking of Wanda. Tony pressed his fingers to his lips as his brain spun. He had voiced that he didn't feel comfortable with her being on the team, he had barely even mentioned the fact that she clearly hated him and that he didn't feel safe to know that he would have to rely on her to cover his back, he had pointed out that she had volunteered for HYDRA, that she had willingly been experimented on, she had gotten into his head and helped forge the way for Ultron, she had worked with Ultron happily right until the moment she had realised along with her brother that Ultron meant to wipe out ALL Mankind, including them. That wasn't them being heroes, it was them saving their own skin.

The vitriol he had received from not caring about Wanda, not understanding, being heartless and careless had hurt. Having the bomb that had killed her family thrown in his face hurt even more. It was as though he launched the bomb himself.

"I…" Tony started to say and Pilot perked up at the chance that he was going to be told where they would be going. "Scotland, we're flying to Scotland,"

"Of course Mr Stark, I will have us there in no time," The Pilot nodded, bless him for not even blinking at probably the most random request ever.

Tony settled back into his seat, the words on his tongue to say he had been joking and to go to New York after all, but then he remembered seeing the Avengers standing together laughing as he left. There hadn't been a space for him there.

Once they broke the clouds he got to work, first, he opened a bank account under a false name, and then passed funds through so many holdings that someone would have to be...well him to track it down. He then transferred extra money for his pilot and set up a hotel for him when they arrived in Scotland.

He organised a rental car for himself, until he could buy one, he sent off an email to the housekeeping company that looked after his house in Scotland and let them know he was coming and asked them to make sure that it was clean and had food for him.

He dealt with everything that he would need while he was there for...he didn't know how long. Even ordering clothes for himself to make sure that he had something to wear while he was there.

And then he sent the emails.

As much as part of him wanted them all to worry and, he didn't want to risk them tracking him down. So he emailed them. But he made it clear as well that he was exhausted and done. He would do designs that he needed to do for SI, he would not allow a company that hired hundreds of thousands of people slip because of him, but he also wouldn't be going above and beyond, after ten years he thought he deserved something of a holiday.

He emailed Steve and he made it clear that he was drawing a line in the sand, if they couldn't even give him the decency of hearing him out and letting him explain, they jumped to a conclusion as they always did and left it at that. He wasn't quitting the Avengers...yet, but he was also not tying himself in knots for them anymore.

They had a spending limit, and there was a limit on the types of things that he would be buying for them as well, they weren't going to be pissing his money away anymore. He had hired multiple SHIELD agents that had been burnt when SHIELD/HYDRA had gone down, and now he transferred them to the Compound to do the work that he used to do, including the designs for the Avengers. He made it clear that he would be willing to check over the designs, but he was not going to be spending hours upon hours designing equipment for a team that obviously thought so little of him, in fact, he couldn't remember the last time that he had received more than an absent thank you from them for something that he had spent up to 200 hours developing.

Pepper and Rhodey were harder. It had been a long time since he had told either of them no or stood up for himself with them. A lot of the time they bulldozed into his life because they thought they were doing what was best for him, and in some cases they were. But they had gotten used to not asking, just telling, and he had rolled with it, not wanting to drive them away.

But...they had hurt him, over the years, and this was the straw that broke the camels back for them as well. They jumped to the conclusion that he had done something wrong, ten years ago that would have been a fair conclusion to jump to, but not anymore, he had worked long, hard hours, with blood sweat and tears being torn from him along the way to make up for that. It wasn't a conclusion that they should jump to anymore.

Finally, he turned off his laptop and settled back into his seat, plugging in his earpiece and closing his eyes as he got comfortable.

"FRIDAY, you there sweetheart?" Tony asked softly.

"I'm here Boss, are you ok?" FRIDAY answered straight away. She was young, so young, he was going to have to take time to nurture her, guide her and look after her.

"I am good FRIDAY. We're taking a holiday,"

"That sounds fun Boss," FRIDAY chirped.

"It will be. I need you to run through all your code with me to make sure that you are nice and safe, can you do that for me please?" Tony requested and FRIDAY started reciting her code faithfully for him.

Partly he did want to make sure that she was safe, and partly because he needed to hear her voice right now, the ache from JARVIS so raw and jagged in his chest he needed to hear that his now youngest was ok.

Tony yawned to himself as he turned the car off the road and up the driveway to a large country house that would be his home for who knew how long. Though if he ended up here longer than 6 months he would have to look at getting a Visa.

He smiled to himself as he saw the light shining through the living room window, and saw that the fire was lit judging by the smoke trickling pleasantly from the chimney. He grabbed what he needed from the car and got out the car, his feet hurrying unconsciously to get into the house and to…

"Oh, Tonio!" The older lady stood with deceptive speed from her armchair when he stumbled into the room and rushed over to him. Grabbing his face she scanned him like she was the terminator, checking for any damage or hurt visible on him. Seemingly satisfied she yanked him in for a tight hug, one that felt like she was going to break his ribs.

"Aunt Angie," Tony sighed drooping into her arms.

"There there my boy, you're safe now," She hummed stroking his hair.

And for the first time, in far too long, he felt safe and looked after.

"It's all such a mess Aunt Angie," Tony admitted with a small sob as she guided them to the sofa and sat them down, still hugging Tony close.

"You're here now, you're going to take a break, you're going to recharge your batteries, and we will sort this out my darling," Angie assured him.

Somehow he found himself with his head on Angie's knee once he had cried himself dry, and was now staring at the crackling fire as she ran her fingers through his hair. It reminded him of when he had been little, normally Angie would be doing this while Peggy hunted down Howard and prepared to skin him alive after having hurt Tony yet again, Angie happy to allow her 'not legal wife' as they called each other, to the hunting while she comforted Tony.

"It is going to be fine sweetheart, you're going to be fine," Angie cooed to him.

"I hope you're right," Tony sighed sinking into her warmth, allowing those familiar fingers and the smell of her perfume to comfort him into sleep.