"Wake up boss!" Spoke the soft robotic voice inside Tony Stark's helmet. Blood and sweat stung his eyes as they blinked open. Instinctively he reached to rub them, only to be stopped by the cold tink of his metal gauntlet against his metal helmet. He pinched his eyes shut and shook his head violently, as if he could rid himself of the mental-fog that way. "Boss, wake up!!" The voice spoke again, this time more infatically.
Tony sat up, looking around for an idea of what was going on around him. Instead of getting any clues, he was fed a static-ridden view with blue lines running through it. He popped the faceplate of his helmet open, and was given a better sense of his surroundings, as well as a much needed breath of fresh air. He struggled to his feet, having to grab onto an uprooted piece of concrete to do so, and then looked down at the rest of his armor. There was a dark black impact sight on the center of his chest, and scorching all over the rest of his armor, no doubt from a missile that'd hit him—it would have to be that to damage his armor so much.
He shaded his eyes from the sun with one hand, and swiveled his head about, trying to find a sign of any allies nearby—and more importantly, more missiles. The streets around him were mostly empty, and thankfully void of any tanks or armored vehicles. What he did see was a young woman, off in the distance, paying particular attention to his crash site. "Hey, hey you—you're on the uh," he glanced around at the war torn city, while out of breath and panting, "the New York side right? Not the evil bad-guys with missiles side?" He could tell blood was trickling down his side now that he was standing, "You happen to have a car? Or anywhere we could get out of the streets?"
"Thanks for letting me know you're awake, Boss," FRIDAY complained in his ear.
"You've got what, like two-hundred-and-fifty unique sensors in this suit? You should've known that, now shush," Tony admonished the AI. "I'm trying to not die."
Sam had the slightest possible outline of a plan as she booked it toward her university. She definitely wasn't strong enough to fight off the fuckers wrecking the city on her own, and she had been unsuccessful at finding anyone she knew. New York was big, obviously, and they could be anywhere fighting their own battles. She needed to beef up if she was going to make it on her own. The slim armor she'd built into this hero-spandex costume was fine for a little melee combat, but these guys had fucking bombs and shit. Real superhero level danger, and Sam was just a pathetic college girl with a hero complex.You're truly fucked out here in the open. You have to keep running.
What was usually a boring subway ride to campus had turned into a terrified sprint as Sam dodged debris and various skirmishes in her path. She was running out of steam quickly, totally lacking in the superhuman stamina department, when she spotted the top of Columbia U. Fucking FINALLY.Dear god how do the heroes fucking sprint everywhere, Jesus goddamn Christ. She slowed to a jog, checking the area around her for threats. All she needed to do was get inside and up to the second floor display hall, nobody would give a shit about the alarms at this point anyway. If she could get her Iron Man replica suit out of there, at least she could reuse some of those components to protect herself. With a sharp pain in her ribs that definitely wasn't from a regular slip, she definitely needed the protection.
An explosion overhead shocked Sam back to attention, and she reeled to a halt when something hit the ground across the street from the university. Shit, FUCK, it's not the fucking time for this right now. Can't these New York nazi bitches find anywhere else to bomb right now?? The crash site smoldered with fire from the explosion, though Sam couldn't tell how much there was behind the shield of dirt and concrete that jutted up from the street. Shit, I can't even tell who went down, and there's probably going to be guys rushing in to take care of whatever's left of them. Fuck this makes my shit so much harder.
Before she could take off running, something started to stir in the wreckage. The desperate heroic instinct in her commanded that she stay, so she waited until someone emerged and
Sam's pulse raced, but her body went numb and tingling when she realized that fucking Iron Man what the fuck was slowly standing from the impact in front of her school. He was definitely wounded, and as he turned looking for other people she could see a pit of black where some explosive must have hit him in the chest. His gaze stopped on her, terrifyingly close to the crash site, and Sam tensed every muscle in her body against the sudden and overwhelming fear that she was going to piss herself. Don't you fucking dare betray me right now, body. I swear to god I will kill myself if I embarrass myself in front of Iron Man right now.
"I, uhh..." Sam took a couple of anxious steps forward, trying to find some words in her stupid-ass brain. "Yeah, I-I'm New York."IDIOT. "I mean I'm... I-" Sam scrambled inside her head, trying to remember what that fucking superhero code name Impact had suggested was, but her STUPID brain was completely blank. "I ran here. I-I don't have a car, but that's my school and... I can, uh, find a place to hide in there." Sam pointed across the street, trying not to shake visibly as she approached FUCKING Iron Man and his small crater. She was thankful she'd finished prototyping her mask before all this shit went down, since the featureless white shell did a great job of hiding her fear and embarrassment.
"We, uh, we should move fast. I mean... if you can." Sam nodded her head toward the front of the Columbia building, hesitantly moving toward it to lead the way. Do I help? Does he need help? I didn't fucking ask him if he needed help! I'd look stupid if I asked now, it's too late to ask now. If he needed help he'd say it, right? He's Iron Man, he's a professional, he'd know when he needed help. I wouldn't even know how to help fucking IRON MAN anyway, I don't even know what kind of help he would need, I'm a fucking idiot compared to him and I should not be the only good guy that showed up here FUCK.
"Gret, nice to meet you, New York," Tony quipped as he tried to rock to a standing position, only for his armor to seize up and force him to fall on his ass.
"Boss I don't think that's her name," FRIDAY chimed in, causing Tony to groan.
"You don't say." He tapped twice on his Arc Reactor, and his armor began to peel away from his body like a mechanized cocoon. "I had guessed that, based on New York being the city we're in," Tony sighed as he sat up, out of his damaged armor. He nodded along with what Sam was saying, while his eyes picked apart the suit of... armor? costume? that she was wearing.
"No car... that's... less than optimal, but yes let's move quickly." He grabbed his armor by the arm and began dragging it as quickly as he could behind him. His right leg ached, and a glance down at it saw blood slowly soaking through his pants at the thigh. Shit, need to check that out once we get inside.
"Do you have access to any kind of robotics labs or... any other shop equipment in there? I need to repair this suit enough to get to Stark Tower.... then we're golden."
When Sam had turned back to check on the actual fucking Iron Man, she realized that she probably should have offered her help at some point, but it was definitely way too late now. He climbed out of his armor from the ground, and Sam cringed at the thought that she was the only person at hand. Seeing Iron Man drag his armor around like this is definitely not something a shitty civilian like me should be seeing. He has no idea that I'm just a regular person that genuinely has no idea how to even be a superhero but he's still acting like he can trust me, fuuuuckkkkkk...
He wanted to know if they could fix his armor. Okay, good! Yes, great, actually. I can help with this, and nobody else could probably help with this like I can! Score fucking one for being a dumb civilian. Sam trotted ahead to the doors of the school, pulling the door open while she scouted around for enemies. They were clear at the moment, but they couldn't possibly stay lucky for long. "Yeah, actually, uhm. Yeah, I'm doing my graduate study in, uh... Robotic engineering. I can get us in the lab." As she ushered Iron Man and his broken suit into the building, she noticed a bloody color in his footstep. Shit shiiiiiiit, damn it. No, it's fine. I can handle this, I have to handle it. Shit Sam, why couldn't you just be some kind of magic person? This would be so much easier with magic.
"I'll find the first aid kit, too." Sam tried not to sound anxious, and took some long steps to get in front of Iron Man again, leading him down a hallway to the left and around the corner. Okay, nobody should care if I use the lab while I'm here. I mean, not any more than they would care about me stealing my suit from upstairs. It's fine, it's fine, and when this is over I can go back to studying like normal and maybe they'll even appreciate that I used the school resources for good. Yeah, that's wildly unlikely, but it could happen. Biiiig could. Sam took her phone out of a pocket hidden in the slim armor padding on her hip, and tapped it on the keyless door lock, then held the door open again.
The lab was probably shit compared to what Iron Man was used to, surely he had all the tech in the world at his disposal. Unlike me, with my shitty college budget. At least Sam knew her way around here. "Okay, uh, use what you can, I guess? There's the presses and cutters and stuff," she pointed at a large cubicle in the corner, "and the power tools and solderers and stuff should be around the workbench," she pointed at the far wall, lined with hanging tools and messy counter space, "and computers over here." She pointed at a glass cubicle on the right wall. The rest of the space was filled with tables and rolling chairs, and a couple of mobility assistance projects left incomplete by other students.
"Uh, I'm gonna grab the first aid stuff," Sam said, stepping into a doorway on the right wall, "so I'll be right back." She disappeared into the short hallway, shaking out her nervous limbs once she felt she was out of sight. Shit shit shit okay, it's fine. Just, mask on, don't let him see your fear, it'll be fine. Maybe you'll come out looking cool after this. Maybe you'll remember your fucking name and introduce yourself at some point, fuck. Sam grabbed a cart from the other room filled with first aid material, and wheeled it back to the main lab.
"Okay, uh... Where do you, uh, what would you... Want to do first? I can help...?"Fuck you Sam you're so fucking dumb.
Tony limped behind the girl as best he could, grumbling the whole way to FRIDAY about how the AI could at least try to make the mechanized suit actually act mechanized. His AI response with a variety of ill-formed responses, including "Welcome to Collumbia University boss! You graduated from here in the year... NULL! Are you here for a class reunion?" Tony rolled his eyes at the malfunctioning code in silence, and tried to favor his wounded leg. The girl explained that she was a grad student here, in Robotics, and Tony realized just how young his partner in heroism was.
"Grad Student? Those were the days," Tony panted, breathlessly. "Albeit, I wasn't the legal drinking age during my Grad School years," he added. The girl was obviously nervous, and still hadn't introduced herself. Given all that was happening, he couldn't exactly blame her.
"First-aid kit.... yes, good stuff," he said, trying to recover his breath once he made it inside the doors. He followed her until they reached the workshop, and then let out a sharp whistle. "It can't quite hold a candle to MIT or Stark Industries, but I see way more soldering irons and cutters than I did on that burning street." His attempt at humor came with a stiff laugh that caused his chest to hurt.
She explained that she was gone to get the first aid kit, and then darted away, leaving Tony alone in the workshop. Something childlike sparked inside him anytime he was left to do his own work in a shop like this. He limped towards the center of the room, hoisting his tattered armor up onto a bench, and then limping over to one of the computers. He set his phone atop a desktop, activated its holographic display, and tapped away at a few panels. "Alright, FRIDAY, their network is yours. Link up to Stark Tower and do a diagnostics dump. I want to see your current operating protocols so I can understand why you're being a batty bitch, then fix yourself, K?"
"On it boss!" FRIDAY cheerfully replied.
He then limped back towards a rolling stool, and plopped down in it. From there, he was able to roll himself around the lab, and did just that. First he got a few cutters, and began to cut the damaged sections of his suit open to reveal the damaged circuitry and fractured joints. From there, he was able to begin soldering—until the girl returned with her first aid kit.
"My leg, preferably," Tony said, trying to infuse some humor into his voice. "It's the only one that couldn't be fixed by a soldering iron... though I guess cauterization..." He cringed at the thought. He took one of the wire cutters and clipped his pant-leg, then tore it the rest of the way off, to expose a large gash where a piece of armor had stabbed into him. "Rubbing alcohol and any bandages / stitching? I can properly patch it up when we fight our way to Stark Tower."
Tony mentally laughed at the irony of relying so heavily on the girl, when he typically was anything except a team player. "I realize I forgot to introduce myself, when you were so nice as to introduce yourself, New York," he added with levity in his voice. "I'm Tony Stark."
Iron Man was already pretty well set up when Sam got back, so that was good. The faster they could get in and out, the faster Sam could get back to her original plan. He'd tried to lighten the mood after they got in, which was definitely super cool and probably a nice thing, but Sam was naturally anxious and really just fighting panic at this point. Good thing you didn't skip the damn meds today, Sam. It was already embarrassing bringing Iron Man into her college robotics lab, like some kind of dumb child showing her lego house to her architect father.
At the table he'd taken over, Iron Man's busted suit was already under construction. Sam tried not to stare at it too long, but there's just so many parts in that thing. All of these tiny circuits and panels... he has to be running so many operations inside that system to need all that wiring. Sam couldn't start to imagine what it would look like if she tried to build a similar skeleton of circuitry into her own suit. Probably a mess, there's no way she could wire all of that by hand. Surely Iron Man had some fancy robots already built that could handle all that detail.
The wound on his leg was distracting enough to pull Sam's attention away from the suit. She cringed, thankful again that her mask covered the grimace on her face. Definitely more first aid than she was used to giving. "Yeah, sure, okay... Haha, yeah, I can take care of it." Again, it seemed like he was trying to be nice, maybe? It was a little easier not to panic, anyway. "Mask, show me first aid for lacerations." She mumbled, trying not to seem super lame with her simple voice command mask while she grabbed a stool put prop his leg up on. The readout inside her screen pulled up some wound dressing instructions, and Sam rinsed her hands with a squeezy wash bottle of soapy water before drying them and slipping on some gloves. "Oh, yeah." Sam looked up again when he started talking. Introduced himself as Tony Stark... shit, should I have known that already? Stark Industries Tony Stark... Is this like common knowledge or super hero knowledge? Fuck, I haven't kept up with my research. "It's, uh, cool to meet you Mr. Tony Stark."I sound like such a dumbass. Sam dug through the bag of first aid tools to make it seem less like she wanted to slap herself in the face. A skin stapler clattered onto the cart and she quickly scooped it back into the bag, again thankful that she could hide her burning face. "You don't, uh, have to call me New York. Sorry. I, uh," she finally found and unwrapped a package of gauze, and started rinsing the wound with another squeezy bottle. Do I go superhero name? That'd be dumb, that's not an even trade. But then is he gonna think my superhero name is New York? Shit. "I usually go by Transistor, y'know, superhero biz and all that... But, uh, my name's Sam. Um, Bradshaw."This is so fucking weird what the fuck. Sam pressed gauze onto the rinsed wound, trying to soak up the blood so she could do something to close it. Do I stitch it? Do I fucking stitch Tony Stark's leg? Can I staple his fucking leg hole shut? Fuuuuuuuuck. "I, uh, I'll take care of... this... and then I-I need to run, uh, upstairs. I need this... this project I made." She sighed heavily, forcing herself to focus as she carefully removed the wet gauze, replacing it with more from the package. Hold it together Sam, fucking hold on. Be a regular fucking superhero and try to think of something funny to say so he doesn't think you're freaking out. Nothing came to mind.
Tony tried to keep from wincing as she started to operate on his leg, but eventually let out a loud "Ouch!" as alcohol met one of the more tender parts of his wound. His face was pinched taut, and his teeth clenched to try and keep more explosive outbursts in check. "Jesus CHRIST," Tony shouted as she started rinsing his leg, "A pleasure to meet youTransistor... please don't fucking amputate my leg," he managed between gritted teeth.
"The proper steps to amputate a leg are, step 1: sanitize the afflicted area!" FRIDAY began from the overhead speakers.
"FRIDAY shut the FUCK up," Tony growled loudly, "I didn't ask you, and you've obviously failed your diagnostic repair. I'll chop you down and feed you to the AI vacuums." He took several deep breaths, trying to regain his composure, and realized that Sam was almost done patching him up now. This would definitely hold up until they got to Stark Tower, assuming he could get his armor operational.
"Yeah..." Tony replied, when she said she needed to run upstairs. "For sure, I'd hate for the building to fall on your shoebox Raspberry Pi," Tony quipped, but then let his sarcastic expression soften. "Seriously, run, go get it," he shoed her with his hands, "I'll be done by the time you get back."
As she was leaving, FRIDAY spoke up, "Diagnostic repairs complete, boss! I'm here to help!"
"About time," Tony replied, "get me some guidelines on the repairs I need... just enough to get me to the Mark L"
Sam flinched as Tony - Iron Man - Stark...? He complained about his leg. Probably a good thing Sam didn't decide to go into medicine, because it's hard not to fucking panic when the patient and his AI are complaining the whole time. It's fine, it's first aid. It just hurts sometimes, you cannot accidentally destroy Iron Man's leg... can you? Fuck. Sam anxiously finished up the bandaging, thankful she survived such a harrowing test, and started cleaning up the mess of supplies. "Um, yeah." Sam felt like she was probably dark red under her mask, blushing with fear and embarrassment when fucking Tony Stark made a condescending joke about her project. Sure, yeah, it's small compared to a hundred fucking Iron Man suits and an international technology business but... FUCK, man. FUCK. Sam pushed the first aid cart into a corner and shook her hands, trying to relieve some of her nerves. "I-I'll be right back. Just - uh, yeah." Sam took off for the door, catching a short snippet of the AI's voice again before the door closed.
Sam balled her fists as she rounded the corner to the elevator, trying to hold her shit together. Once the doors closed and she started up to the third floor, Sam punched the wall. "FUCK!" She gritted her teeth, trying not to yell at the top of her lungs, and slipped her mask off for some fresh air. This was fucking stupid and you should've known it. You should've rewritten this whole fucking plan because now what the fuck are you gonna do? Show goddamn Iron Man your stupid fangirl suit? What's he gonna say, that it looks like some dumb tin can he designed a billion years ago? You should've just searched the lab for something else to use. Sam turned the corner after exiting the elevator, heading into the display hall where her suit stood on a glorified rolling doll stand. She unlocked the wheels and rolled it back to the elevator, scanning it all over for the smallest imperfections. It was a 3-D print of the Mark III Iron Man that she'd designed herself, so she'd put a lot of meticulous work into making sure every part worked just right. It was printed in aluminum, so the accuracy was pretty high, but she couldn't help looking for every spot that the joints might rub or separate too far. It was a stupid project, and she shouldn't have wasted her time on it. It was ridiculous that a girl trying to be a real superhero spent any time making fan replicas of actual superoes.
When Sam got back to the lab, she slid her mask back on and stuck her head in the door first. "Okay, just... Don't look at it okay? I just..." She sighed heavily. "You don't wanna look at it." Quickly, she wheeled the suit into the room and pushed it down the short hall to the storage room where she got the first aid kit. "I just need some parts from it, really, so it, like, it doesn't even matter what it looks like." She was talking fast, like she wouldn't be so embarrassed if she just got the words out really fast. She grabbed a toolkit from one of the work tables, one marked SAM on the side in big gold letters, and darted back into the storage room again. "Back in a minute!"