- Explicit Sex
- First Time
Tony grabbed his tablet when it flashed at him. He had been finishing the framework for his new arc reactor. The only thing missing was the power source.
When he saw the message application was lit up, he smiled. Dom was reaching out to him again. If he couldn’t talk to his sentinel directly, a text message was a nice substitute. Opening the app, Tony started laughing.
Dom: How are you doing?
Tony: You going to start with that?
Dom: We’re essentially strangers. I thought I’d start off slow
Tony: Okay, I get that. On what level are you asking if I’m okay?
Dom: On whatever level you’re willing to talk about?
Tony: My life is currently a soap opera and I can’t talk about it with you on that cheap-ass government issue phone you’re using.
Dom: You snob. So, if your life is an unspeakable soap opera, we’ll let that slide for the moment. Tell me what your favorite foods are? Can you cook?
Tony: It’s not snobbish when my tech is better than what you have. And no, I can’t actually cook. It wasn’t something I was taught how to do. I can microwave and reheat in an oven though.
Dom: I can cook, quite well even. I can teach you.
Tony: That’ll be interesting.
“Sir, I have completed my analysis of the material Dum-E brought back.”
Tony reluctantly set aside his tablet after signing off. Talking to Dom was fun and so far, hadn’t pressed into areas he deemed off-limits. “Lay it on me, Jarvis.”
“I have not found a record of the element in any scientific journal,” Jarvis started. “However, I did find mention of it in Mr. Stark’s notes. There are notes stating that his research showed that the element should exist and that he would be working to synthesis it. Those notes were dated four days before his death.”
“When did Howard get his time on a particle accelerator?” Tony asked, startled.
“He built one, Sir,” Jarvis announced. “There seems to be a third level below the two lab levels, Sir.”
“Holy shit,” Tony breathed. “Is it still in useful shape?”
Jarvis sounded amused. “Yes, Sir.”
“Cool. Something to play with,” Tony mused. “Okay. What else have we got on our mystery element?”
“The projections on the energy production carry through, Sir,” Jarvis sounded pleased with that. “And currently, I show no negative side effects if you use it as an energy source.”
“Excellent. Time to experiment on how to form it,” Tony rubbed his hands together as he thought things over. “My current power source is a triangle. Can we forge the new material in that shape?”
“Easily, Sir,” Jarvis confirmed.
“Fire up the crucible Jarvis!”
“Sir, you have an appointment with the Alphas,” Jarvis cut in.
Tony blinked his eyes to refocus them. He’d been working to get the forms for his new power source ready for pouring. After the pour, the cleaning, polishing, and charging would happen. “Jarvis, do we have a heavy-duty laser?”
“Yes, Sir,” Jarvis confirmed.
A holo screen popped up next to him and detailed where he could find the parts to make up a laser sufficient to start things ticking over. “Good. Get Dum-E and U started on the assembly.”
“While they are doing that, Sir, you have an appointment with the Alphas,” Jarvis reminded him.
“How much time do I have before they’re due?” Tony asked.
“Thirty minutes, Sir,” Jarvis said. “You are quite dirty. It might be wise to clean up.”
Tony took a careful sniff of himself and grimaced. Yeah, he needed to shower. The only problem he had was his problem with water. Something else to talk to Hedge about. The shower was horrible and Tony did his best to make his way through it as fast as possible.
When he made it to the room the Alphas were in, he tried to smooth out his mood. From the sharp look Hedge gave him, he hadn’t managed it. “What?”
“You feel horrible,” Hedge exclaimed. He got up to stand in front of Tony. “What happened, Dr. Stark?”
“Call me Tony,” Tony requested. “You know I was kidnapped. And that I came back with an addition.” He tapped his chest and the arc reactor nestled in his chest.
“Yes,” Hedge confirmed. “What does that have to do with why you feel like hell?”
“The people that kidnapped me, wanted me to work for them. I declined. I kept declining. Even when they tortured me using water.”
“And we use water to get clean and this is fucking with you,” Hirst surmised.
Tony looked over at the sentinel and nodded. He was unsurprised to feel the seething anger moving through the man. Dom had been much the same.
“Can I help with that?” Hedge asked.
“I was hoping you would,” Tony admitted. He thought of what he’d confirmed to Dom the day before and sighed. “Also, you need to know I’ve walked the path and you’ll need to take that into consideration.”
Hedge stilled and Hirst turned to look at his guide. “Sam? What does he mean?”
“You walked the path? Why aren’t you talking to Blair?” Hedge asked.
“I’m trained. I just need help getting stable. Blair is great and all, but I don’t need him,” Tony said with a shrug. “If I need him, I know how to get a hold of him.”
“Any other surprises?” Hedge pressed.
“Hmmm,” Tony hummed softly. “Yeah. I found my sentinel, there’s an asshole trying to take over my company and I may have found a way to keep myself from being poisonous.”
Hedge and Hirst stared at him and then blinked. “You love to surprise people, don’t you?”
“It’s a fun side effect, but I wasn’t actually aiming for it,” Tony admitted. “Shall we get started?”
“Let’s,” Hedge suggested.
Tony settled into place on the carpet and waited for Hedge to join him. The slip from the real world into the psionic plane was quick and easy. He could feel tight mental muscles relax and he gave himself over to Hedge’s guidance.
When Tony surfaced from the meditation, he felt like he could breathe easier. Mentally stretching out, he flexed his mental muscles, taking a read on the area around him. What had been muffled and indistinct was clear and easily parse. He no longer felt like he was working blind.
“You feel better,” Hedge said quietly. “Less brittle.”
“I feel better,” Tony admitted. Under normal circumstances, Tony guarded his privacy with the same zeal a dragon guarded his hoard. But to heal, he needed to relax his walls and let Hedge in. “I rarely used my abilities before Afghanistan. As much as that sucked, my abilities as a guide helped get me out. I can’t let them go fallow again.”
“And since you found your sentinel, letting your abilities go fallow would also be something your unwilling to do,” Hedge finished.
“Yes,” Tony said. “I need to be mentally healthy if I want to bond. I’m working on the physical as well.”
“If you need me to sign off on your mental health, let me know,” Hedge offered.
“I’m good,” Tony reassured. “But I’ll reach out to my attorneys to see if they want an affidavit.”
“Do you need to work on your shaman abilities? Because I’m not one and I don’t want to cause you any distress,” Hedge asked warily.
Tony poked at the part of him that was tied to the psionic plane. His connection felt flexible and healthy. He felt…good. But not fully healed. More like he was just starting to be healed enough to start working. “Okay. So maybe I do need to talk to Blair. I think I’m fine, but having a trained Shaman check me over might help.”
“I could call him?” Hedge offered.
“I’ve already taken the liberty of reaching out to Dr. Sandburg. He’s stated he can be in New York in three days,” Jarvis announced in his earpiece.
Tony tapped the area below his ear and smiled. “Taken care of. Have you talked to the Manhattan Alphas?”
“Yes,” Hirst growled. “They’re not going to be a problem going forward.”
“Can I ask what was done?” Tony asked. He was curious. “What their problem with me was?”
“They were under the impression that they could pick and choose who they acknowledge as a sentinel or a guide. If the person who came to them didn’t meet their standards, they turned them away,” Hirst bit out. “That’s been dealt with. Thankfully, they did keep records of who they turned away, so we’ve been able to go look in on everyone. Most parties have gone on to work with different S&G center.”
“If you need help tracing people, I have plenty of people on hand who can help,” Tony offered.
“We’ve got it,” Hedge promised. “You mentioned your physical health?”
“Yeah,” Tony rubbed his chest and sighed. He wasn’t going to go into the mess that was the arc reactor. “I was pretty fucked up when I was rescued. Malnutrition, low-level infection from my wounds, sleep deprivation, there’s a whole laundry list of things I came back with. Landstuhl did their best, but the biggest thing I need is time.”
“And food,” Hedge reminded him.
“I’m eating,” Tony promised. “Every time I have a meeting, I get fed.”
There was a tap on the door before it was pushed open. Butterfingers pushed the door open and rolled in with a basket held in his pincer. Tony started laughing as his bot beeped his pleasure at completing the errand Jarvis had set for him. “See?”
“I do,” Hedge said with a laugh. “I take it this happens a lot?”
Tony took the basket and patted Butterfingers on the housing. “Thanks, Butterfingers. Good boy.” Butterfingers beeped madly at him before he turned to look at Hirst and Hedge. He beeped once at them before heading back out. “Let’s see what we’ve got.”
Meat, cheese, pickles, and bread, all the ingredients were easily fetched from the kitchen and laid out on the table. Tucked into the bottom of the basket were three bottles of root beer. Laughing slightly, he pulled their haul out and offered it to his guests.
“I see you are being well taken care of,” Hirst took a bottle of root beer and cracked it open. “And it’s the good stuff too.”
“If I’m going to drink root beer, I’m going to drink the good stuff,” Tony admitted.
“Speaking of drinking,” Hedge started. He was eating neatly of the spread. “You have a reputation for using alcohol a lot.”
“I’m not drinking at this point,” Tony promised. “As much as I’m tempted to have a drink to help deal with shit, I don’t need my control to slip.”
“Okay,” Hedge nodded.
Conversation moved away from alcohol to more innocuous topics. Tony found himself enjoying the company of the two alphas. Neither were pushing him to do anything he wasn’t ready for and he appreciated it.
Reaching out for his tablet, Tony fired off a text to Dom.
Tony: Things are going well over here. I’m still getting help and I think I’ll be getting a clean bill of mental health soon.
He turned his attention back to the forms he needed for the metal pour. Each form got inspected closely and he carefully cleaned each to make sure that there were no burrs. He also added the needed channels to direct the metal to the right area.
When his tablet pinged, he finished his last line before he pulled it to him.
Dom: That’s great to hear. I’ve started filing all the paperwork we generated and making sure that all the men and women who were with you are remembered.
Tony: Good. I can’t say that I remember all their names, but they deserve to be more than my last memory of them.
Tony: Is there anything I can do for their families?
Dom: Okay, I’m going to be crass. Are you talking about paying the families money?
Tony: Not to boast, but I’m a billionaire. Money is mostly an abstraction to me because I’ve had it all my life. But I am observant and I know that not everyone has the same options I have. If giving the families of the people who died when I survived helps, I think I need to.
Dom: Is that the guide in you that’s saying protect the tribe?
Tony took the time to think that over. Offering people money in these circumstances might seem mercenary, but his presence was what got those people killed and this was something that he could do to help. While he wasn’t planning on financing death benefits for the rest of the Marine Corps in the future, he could take care of these people. Because for a little while, they had been his.
Tony: Yes. That’s what it basically boils down too.
Dom: Okay, we can do that. Where should I send the relevant information?
“Jarvis? Can you get Dom the information he wants?” Tony asked.
“Yes, Sir,” Jarvis confirmed. He highlighted an area in the lab and Tony wandered over to look at what Jarvis wanted him to inspect.
“That looks like an excellent crucible set up, Jarvis. Light it up. Let’s get this going,” Tony directed. One of his interests while he’d gotten his engineering degree had been metallurgy. That had led him to actually learning how to pour metal. The last time he’d done it had been almost ten years before, though.
“Yes, Sir,” Jarvis agreed. The mechanical arms Tony had designed for him started moving, controlling the flame. “If you could add the element, sir?”
Tony pulled the vial out of the testing machine and opened it up. “Did we ever determine how much of this stuff we had?”
“Just over three ounces, Sir. By your designs, you should get four cores,” Jarvis announced after a seconds quiet.
“Well, that’s good to know,” Tony allowed. He carefully poured the mineral into the crucible. He stared in the cup and watched as the metal started to melt. It was mesmerizing.
Tony pulled himself away from the sight and moved back to his workbench. He’d made enough blanks for a half-dozen cores, so it was easy to pick four to set by the crucible. As fast as the metal was melting, it wouldn’t be long before he could pour.
While he waited, he pulled the tablet over to see if there was anything else from Dom.
Dom: Thank you for getting me the correct address. I’ll send on the information for those who were lost.
Tony: We’ll be on the lookout for your message.
Dom: What are you doing?
Tony: Casting metal.
Dom: I didn’t know you could do that in New York City. Cool. Learn something new every day
Tony: With the right equipment, you can do just about anything.
Dom: I’m sure you can. It’s Wednesday. I have the weekend off. Want me to come to visit?
Tony: Hell, yes.
If he could get the cores casted, activated, and installed, Dom could install it. One less worry on his mind.
Tony: Come on up Friday night.
Dom: Barring cases, I’ll be there as soon as I can on Friday.
Tony: Want a trip on a private plane?
Tony: Dom? Seriously, why go through fuss buying a ticket when I have a jet that I can send to pick you up?
Dom: You do know that I’m not using you for your money, right? I have my own.
Tony: I know. But I still have the ability to do it, so I’m going to offer it.
The text app was quiet for several minutes and Tony kept an eye on the crucible. The metal in it was almost ready to pour. “Jarvis? Howard never named this metal, right? We’ve got no notes on what he wanted to call it.”
“S.H.I.E.L.D. has refused to release Mr. Stark’s papers, Sir.”
“Right. Well. Get Geake on it,” Tony directed. He peeked in the crucible and hummed. “What’s the temp?”
“Over 2000C, Sir,” Jarvis reported. “We have reached full liquidity.”
Just as he was about to pick up the protective gear needed to safely handle the hot metal, the text app light up again.
Dom: If you were as poor as a church mouse, I would still want you to be my guide. I find you fascinating. I can’t wait to be with you again. I’ll be ready to leave noon.
Tony grinned at the tablet. Tapping a message out quickly, he hit send before he changed his mind.
Tony: If I was as poor as a church mouse, I would want you as my sentinel. And I am as fascinated by you as you are by me. I’m looking forward to seeing you Friday. The plane will be ready at 1:30.
Message delivered, he turned back to his work. He had a lot to do in only a few days.