Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandoms: Iron Man & Captain America & The Avengers (MCU) / The Matrix
Genre: Action, sci-fi, drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner, Clint Barton, Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis, Loki, Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff, Betty Ross, Tony Stark (Iron Man), Thor.
Guest appearances: The Architect, Emil Blonsky, Phil Coulson, JARVIS, The Merovingian, The Oracle, Persephone, Thaddeus Ross, Sati, Erik Selvig, Seraph, Samuel Sterns, Glenn Talbot.
Pairings: Betty/Bruce, Clint/Darcy/Natasha, Jane/Thor, implied Merovingian/Persephone
Summary: The Truce between men and Machines is threatened by a radical group called ‘the Cleansers’. Steve Rogers, the captain of a hovercraft named ‘The Avenger’, takes his crew to find the ultimate weapon the Cleansers are looking for, and reunites with an old friend whom he’d thought long dead. How is Tony Stark connected to their mission, and does a weapon exist that could destroy the Machines?
Complete. Sequel to “Creator”.
Written for: Science Fiction & Fantasy Big Bang’s Round 5.
Also fills the “free space” square on my card in Trope Bingo’s Round 2 (used trope: “au: fusion”).
Artist: raktajinos (AO3/LJ) – see banner HERE.
Warnings: Language, canonical violence.
The ocean was calm, the sky blue and sunny. It was several hours after sunrise, but still early enough that the world hadn’t truly awakened. The hour was such that Tony wasn’t yet functioning properly, instead slightly pressed against Steve’s side as they stood together on the balcony, leaning on the railing, enjoying the slight breeze on their skins.
It was a perfect moment in the midst of the creative chaos that was Tony’s life; there was no need to rush, speak, or move.
Steve turned his head to look at the other man; the unruly dark locks held back by remnants of gel, the immaculate facial hair. No bags under his eyes, but a slight weariness in them nonetheless.
“Sir,” JARVIS called from the inside, signaling that the moment had passed, “the last batch of calculations is complete.”
“Thanks, J,” Tony murmured, then straightened and stretched. His neck cracked as he tilted his head from side to side. “Almost time,” he mused and turned to go back inside, leaving Steve alone on the balcony, above the ocean, in the sunlight.
With a small sigh, Steve looked up at the blue sky one more time, then pulled back from the railing and followed Tony indoors. There was no one in the living room so he took the winding stairs downstairs to the workshop.
The room was lit by dozens of holograph screens working at full capacity. Steve could stare at them for hours, reading every line in order to figure out what they were about – and in most cases he would still remain clueless – whereas Tony’s mind was pushing each screen around, scrolling past data, dismissing and discarding, editing and moving forward. Here, his body was at rest and his mind could wander around, never aimlessly but with such purpose it almost took Steve’s breath away.
Part of him knew he would always want to be here, watching Tony work from one problem to the next, from one option here to another solution there; he would want to be here for Tony’s failures and moments of rage when he would kick his chair across the room when nothing worked as he wanted it to.
He didn’t want to leave Tony here alone, nor did he really want to go out into the world without him, either.
Steve knew that question could still wait, though.
“Almost there,” Tony murmured, swirling his chair around and across the floor. He stilled, turned around again, closed his eyes and then clapped his hands, all screens and files disappearing. “Done,” he declared, opening his eyes. “All in a day’s work,” he grinned. “Time to get going, Cap,” he added and rose from the chair, leaving it there in the middle of the room.
Steve blinked himself out of his light reverie and nodded, turning to follow Tony up the stairs to the main floor. Every sound was muted, leaving them in a hushed silence. The balcony doors were closed, a barrier between them and the ocean, the sun and the wind.
“Ready?” Tony asked. His eyes were bright, mind primed for the next thing, and Steve nodded his acceptance.
“Captain,” JARVIS spoke up, “please close your eyes.”
‘I’ll see you on the other side,’ Tony’s voice whispered in his mind, and the next time Steve opened his eyes, he felt the brief, cold drag inside his skull as a small Machine pulled the data probe from his brain. Steve allowed his body to settle for a second before sitting up; the surface beneath him was shifting, from a flat bed to a chair. It was probably supposed to be comfortable, but he never remained conscious long enough to find out.
He got to his feet as soon as he was certain the dizziness had passed, walking down the dimly lit corridor. It widened after a while, and he took a turn to the right, coming to a wider room. On both sides the walls were divided into sections, and in each section stood a slightly different Iron Man armor, their metal surfaces gleaming as he passed. In the middle of the room was a table, and on top of it lay his shield – exactly where he had placed it before entering the Matrix.
Steve grabbed the shield as he went by and continued towards a door on the other side of the long room. The door slid open without a sound and a cool breeze brushed against his skin. An open space spread out before him, without ceiling or walls. He could feel the slight vibration of the hull as he walked out, trying not to think of how high up they were.
When he came far enough away from the door, he spotted Tony already standing further off, right by the edge, unafraid of the heights. Steve joined him and took a look at the ugly black clouds spreading endlessly beneath them, crackling with electric charge. Up here, it wasn’t as noticeable, and the thin air made his head spin a little. On the horizon, however, the sun was climbing higher, shining brightly, almost blindingly, and Tony stared at it, taking it all in.
Steve didn’t know how much closer to an answer Tony had gotten tonight while his body rested and his mind took full advantage of the Matrix’ connection to the Source. He had already learned this was Tony’s favorite way of working; the real world felt slow to him, for some reason. Tony was less in control of his environment here.
“It’s beautiful,” Steve noted, like he did most mornings – and evenings, when the sun set and left them in darkness that reminded him of the tunnels and the barren earth below the clouds. However, up here they could see the stars, which was another kind of comfort entirely. As things used to be…
Tony nodded. “One day, we’ll stand down there and see this. One day, it will all be better.”
Steve knew it wouldn’t be the same, but very few things in their lives were. Close enough, he decided.