Tony had only just started to really get used to James’ constant presence around the tower when the guy decided that they’d adequately harassed the hell out of the HYDRA people they’d been picking over and wanted to go take care of some of them.
Which had been perfectly fine, right up until his restlessness over his empty home drive him to actually attend a social event for the first time in… way too long. And somehow end up never making it home. That part well and truly sucked because someone had drugged the hell out of him at the party.
His bets were on the bubbly. It had tasted a little more sharp than he was used to, but he’d suspected some new maker, not drugging asshats.
But that had led to an extended stay with some kind of strange combination of pissed off HYDRA agents and destitute scientists. Which had sucked a fucking lot.
He was just grateful, so very grateful that he’d made sure that no one actually knew he had the reactor anymore. He didn’t want to revisit the nightmare of people reaching inside his chest to examine that, thank you very much. The tech he’d layered over it just looked like scarred skin, and he slapped that stuff on anytime he went somewhere with a lot of people.
And people claimed that paranoia wasn’t a good trait to cultivate. Clearly he’d culled his own crop a bit too short at some point. Needed more paranoia, and now it was on the damn list.
Especially since his kidnappers this time around were less of the ‘get the tech’ variety and more the ‘we want to make you suffer’ weight class. Which was both good and bad, because whatever the hell they kept giving him left him feeling like he was on fire, though without the horror that was actually being on fire.
He didn’t much want to share that experience with Pepper. Still, he felt strange and that was never ever a good sign. Worse, he was being kept in a well-shielded facility that meant that all his good damned signals were blocked so no armor. And no clue how many days he’d been there. It had to be at least a few, because his scruff was rather impressive, and he just… smelled bad.
But that might be from the bleeding. There was a very high fondness factor in this place for cuffing him in the head, like it wasn’t his prized asset or something. Actually that was probably exactly why they’d been doing it, but he’d been hearing whispers about ‘progress’ and ‘trying something new to accelerate’ and that was not promising.
Unfortunately, they seemed to have learned from the mistakes of those that came before, and he had his hands bound, no tech to touch in any capacity, and a shielded room.
God. Damn. Everything.