Hold Me Closer, Kevin Bacon: Until Someone Loses an Eye
October 13, 2016
“Boss,” Friday interrupted Tony’s musing. The paper wasn’t bad. It was good, in places. A lot of places. He thumbed between the introduction on the erosion of personal rights in favor of the protectionist state and the last full section, more of a rough outline really, on potential corrections to the post-Accords political climate. Some of it was great. A very small some. Like, a smidge. A smidgen. Something minuscule. The errors in his own psychological profile were huge. Large. Numerous.
Frighteningly real and appropriate.
“What’s up, Friday?” He glanced out the window of the jet, noting that he was still several hours from New York.
“My subroutine regarding tracking and isolating information on the web related to,” Friday’s voice went flatter and less Irish, as if she resented the wording he had programmed her with, “Cap-i-tan Traitor-Gator has been triggered.”
Tony grinned at the nickname. He would have to switch it up again soon. There wasn’t a lot of humor to be had in the situation between himself and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but he was determined to find it. The smile faltered as he stared down at the paper in his hands. One corner was already dogeared and curled; he caught his own fingers doing the damage and had to force himself to stop. Lewis stated that He hadn’t been wrong to refuse to sign. She wrote that He had been justified. That Tony was reactionary and suffering from PTSD and the overindulgence of billions to assuage a guilty conscious. She also said that He was rigid, ill-informed, and naive. And He suffered from PTSD too – and repressed guilt, depression, and an over-developed savior complex. So there.
“Start the show, Friday.”
Tony had designed a program specifically to track the Star-Spangled Bandits after they broke the Accords. It searched out their faces on news reports, YouTube videos, even social media posts. The thing was illegal as hell, but it had allowed him to track down the First Boy Scout and the One-Armed Wonder in Siberia. Not that it did me much good. Should have left it alone. Didn’t want to know. Killer. Murderer. Traitor. Used. Tortured. Afghanistan and the shocks the water the heatdarknesspainburning-
“What am I looking at?”
“This is in Los Angles County, Boss.” Friday gave an address, followed by GPS coordinates, and Tony listened, but most of his attention was on the screen. The camera angle was bad, and it shifted every time guns fired – which was a lot. However, even the amateur videography couldn’t disguise the broad shoulders and commanding voice ordering a speeding car to stop.
Tony huffed, “Needs to work on his stage presence.” Six foot plus of blonde super soldier jumped straight into the air to land on the roof, denting it and stopping the vehicle short. Not bad.
“Additional posts are going up online,” Friday reported. The screen split and Tony took in more shots of America’s favorite fugitive bringing justice to gang members. There were a few glimpses of a blonde with a distinctly familiar fighting style in the background, but her face was never clearly photographed. A wide pan caught a burning building, the windows exploding, and in the foreground a Kharmann Ghia that had been shot to shit. Tony stilled.
“Is that my car?”
“It appears so, sir. The tracking system is currently offline, but the last recorded location matches the source of these images.”
Lewis. Tony’s mind raced. Lewis had taken the Ghia. She wrote the paper. She had said Tony was wrong. She knew He was wrong, too. She knew how to fix it. She could tell him, show him, she could fix it if he asked. He just needed to think about it. Time. Time to think about it and to convince her and to make certain she understood it wasn’t because Tony was wrong or had made a mistake but because it needed to be done and he hadn’t had a choice and he just needed time for fuck’s sake. His heart was racing painfully. His sternum ached with the remembered pain of installing the reactor. Of removing the reactor. He had only agreed the night before to make something new with Pepper. A new design, a new model, better and with a future that wouldn’t mean anything if he couldn’t fix things and without Lewis he might not be able to-
Another video started and Tony jabbed a shaking finger into the projection. “This one, maximize.” Friday obeyed and Tony leaned forward in his seat. There He was again, standing at the mouth of an alley. Fire and smoke made strange shadows behind Him. In His arms, clinging to His neck was a soot covered figure. Leather jacket. Dark jeans. Brown curls. Tony zoomed in further on the face. Lewis. She looked just like the images he had pulled up after reading her paper the first time. Her eyes were open and her mouth was moving. Lewis. Alive. He had saved her. Of course. Tony’s lips twisted with irritated resignation. The one person that Tony needed – Pepper doesn’t count, because she is more than a need, essential, necessary, everything – He had. She was safe, though. Safer with Him than with anyone, even with the warrants out for him. Safe until Tony had time to think. To plan. To figure out a way to make sense of all the shit that had gone wrong, that had turned out so poorly despite his intentions.
The road to hell…
She wouldn’t be safe if the police and the national guard came busting down on Him. If Secretary Ross caught sight of the video files. Keeping Snowflake Soldier and the Super Un-Friends out of a major military action that could cost civilian lives was one of the very good and perfectly logical reasons for why he had never told Ross how he had found the Super Soldier Twins.
That, and Ross was a dick.
Tony typed in an authorization code. “Wipe it, Friday. No muss, no fuss.”
“Shall I continue to monitor for a period, Boss?”
“Forty-eight hours should give them a good head start. After that, let one or two of the posts through.” Tony grinned again. “That one,” he pointed. There was a video with Captain Liberty Bonds nearly tipping over a blinged-out pickup. He had a makeshift shield in one hand and there were two losers with automatic rifles who looked ready to shit themselves. It was no vibranium masterwork, but Tony had to admit He had style. Bad style, but still. “The Coke company is going to be sweating if they should use it for promos or not. That PR should be good for a laugh.”
This could work. It would work. Tony fixed things. That was his job. It was what he was. Who I am. He could fix this too, he just needed a little help. A tiny bit. A smidge. His thumb was toying with the edge of the papers again. Lewis was small. She would fit the bill perfectly.