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Rating: 3-3-3

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Thread Contributor: 616 Tony StarkStill Alive (Sorry)
Marvel-616

361 Posts
15 Threads
Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
Ship Status: Open to shipping
Sexual Orientation: Sure, with just about anyone (but I don't want to write it explicitly)
Jasmine (starkly-tony)

All Accounts Posts: 533
Points: 3,867.81€
#1
It was surprisingly good to be back. Extremis wasn't fully back online yet--whether it ever would be, without Maya's help, he wasn't sure--but the suit worked and the coffeemaker worked and there was electricity and the internet andd all of those were very good things.

His leg was still healing, but the pain was mostly background noise unless he pushed it, and he was getting by. Probably wouldn't even need crutches for too much longer, especially if his healing factor returned. That was good too.

Oh, and he'd been sober for more than a month, which he'd spent in Bes's pleasant and--more importantly--uncomplicated company. He wasn't happy about how he'd left things with Safi, of course. But the thought of the other man no longer made him want to dive headfirst into the nearest bottle of liquor, as it had before he'd left. There was no real recovery, of course--he'd always be an alcoholic--but for the first time in months he was sure he was doing better. He was picking up the pieces, like he always did.

There was one downside to his unplanned vacation: Chris.

He'd left his meeting with Chris with an arrangement that involved texting several times a day, and he'd been busy sticking to it. And then he'd gone entirely silent and unreachable for a month.

He was, perhaps, inordinately nervous as he texted Chris--with a phone, not his brain--I'm alive. Got stuck in another universe. Sorry to worry you. Probably not the smoothest announcement ever, but Tony was fairly certain there was no good way to tell people you weren't dead.

Especially... the man he'd only recently discovered was another universe's answer to Steve. Tony wasn't going to tell him, of course. That information had hardly gone over well with Safi. But it changed things. He just wasn't entirely sure how.

He fidgeted as he waited for Chris to respond.

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Nyte

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#2
Having friends and loved ones was a lot different than how Christian had always imagined it to be. Oh, he’d always had Belle, and honestly, he had always assumed that having friends and a...boyfriend.. (that was never going to be normal, that thought,) would be a lot like the relationship he had with his sister. Oh, there would be differences; people were different from each other, but when it came right down to it, he’d expected that easiness he had with her.

He did not expect things to be as… As consuming and terrifying as they obviously were.

He had come back from his date with Safi happy as a clam. He and Tony were friends, and he was helping Tony overcome his addiction to alcohol, and they were, he’d thought, doing very well. They texted and talked and it had been good, if not easy.

Safi left after that date, and Chris had amazingly stayed happy. Safi was texting him throughout the day, Tony was texting and he was happy to send Tony little happy faces and pictures of his projects as he worked, keeping the man included and involved. That first week while Safi had been away had been far better than Chris had expected, even if he blushed a hell of a lot more than he had grown accustomed to. He visited his sister, he ate better, he even slept more, and better. He began to put on the weight he’d lost over the weeks before.

Then Tony had disappeared. Just gone, no note, no texts back, nothing. Tony returned to Hub having missed an onslaught of text messages, whether or not he had received them. Concerned, then worried, then distraught. Where was Tony? Was he okay? Christian had searched for the genius; the mansion first, then the grounds then all of the borough before heading out into the rest of the city, Chris had sought out his friend.

Thing was, after Tony had disappeared, Safi had grown distant, those texts growing fewer and fewer with more and more excuses, until finally they had just… Stopped.

Two important people in his life, just gone.




I’m alive. Got stuck in another universe. Sorry to worry you.

The messages that received came in quick, staccato bursts, one right after the other:

Are you okay?!

I’m so glad you’re back.

Where are you?




@starkly
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Marvel-616

361 Posts
15 Threads
Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#3
When Tony had arrived home, the first thing he'd done had been to try to reconnect Extremis, to see what he'd missed in his weeks away. He's been frustrated to find that while the armor connections worked... adequately... he'd let the ability to interface with with the cell towers or satellites or anything but the most basic wifi connection. (Or, rather, trying to do so left him with a nosebleed and a thundering headache.) Unfortunately, that meant he had no good way of recovering any of the messages that Chris, or anyone else, had sent him while he was away. Not that he was expecting much of anything from anyone else.

He was trying not to think about that too much.

In any case, while he supposed that Chris had worried--had probably assumed he'd fallen off the wagon or worse--he was unprepared for the edge of panic in Chris's response.

I'm back at the Mansion. It's a story. I'm fine. he responded, and it was more or less true. Then, since there was no reason to be more cryptic than necessary, he added: Lost Extremis, broke my leg, built a hot air balloon. Still sober. Hope I didn't worry you too much. Let's meet up sometime.

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Age:32
Job: PA/Magician
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Nyte

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#4
How anyone could live in this place with no one else around was beyond him. The mansion was huge, and Chris knew he wasn’t entirely alone, Wanda still lived in the mansion, even if he rarely really saw her. Still, it was easy to forget that there was anyone else around. Usually, Christian was happy to be left to his own devices, focused on working on his projects, playing with Jonah, cooking and baking. But knowing Safi was gone, and having no contact, feeling...what he felt when he sent the reserve energy he had at the end of each day made Christian feel so much more alone.

Message after message, growing more and more upset, Christian had tried to get in touch with Tony. No responses there either only left the magician feeling isolated and abandoned. Forgotten.

Falling off the wagon had never even occurred to Christian. No, when he wondered about what had happened to Tony, that voice in his mind didn’t go to something as simple or innocuous as slipping back into drinking. That little voice murmured things like missing and dead and never to be seen again.

Imagine his relief when Tony finally, finally reached out to him.

Chris was moving through the mansion even as he shot more back to back texts to Tony.

Not later. Now.

Where are you?

We need to talk.

Please. Kitchen?


@starkly
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Marvel-616

361 Posts
15 Threads
Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#5
Chris's texts came back rapid fire, and Tony felt a swell of guilt. It had been easy to forget his problems in the other universe. It had also been easy to forget that his absence meant anything to anyone here. Sure, Chris might worry some, but he'd no doubt make the reasonable assumption that Tony had changed his mind about getting clean, then get on with his life.

Steve had. The memory came unbidden. In the worst of his drinking days five years ago, it hadn't taken much for Steve to give up on him and get on with his life. (He wasn't bitter. Steve hadn't deserved the burden of helping him then anymore than Chris deserved it now.)

Sure. I'll be there in a minute he said, grabbing his crutches and heading for the hallway.

There was an odd feeling in his chest, a mixture of hope and remorse. This would be the first time he'd spoken to Chris face to face since he'd realized he was a Steve. It didn't change anything, really. He'd done little but hurt Chris in all the ways he could, thinking it didn't matter (he could hurt himself all he liked). In retrospect, he couldn't believe it had taken him so long to see it. Safi had shared enough with Steve--his intensity, his bitterness--that Tony had belonged they were one and the same. But Chris... Chris was better. And he deserved better. Knowing what he did now, Tony could try, at the very least.

It took longer to make it to the kitchen that he liked--he was really going to have to ditch the crutches now that he said was back--and he hobbled in to find Chris already waiting for him. Though he took in in an instant just how BAD Chris looked, like he hadn't eaten or slept for a week, Tony only gave a little wave and said in a flippant tone, "Hi. Miss me?"

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Age:32
Job: PA/Magician
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Nyte

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#6
When Tony had left, Christian had been thin. Bordering on the realm of getting too thin, really. Too much work and not enough of anything else, really. But before Safi had left, he had tasked Christian with spending more time with Belle. With gaining back the lost weight and getting back to healthy. And Christian had taken that task to heart, working to split his time more wisely, taking care of himself better, and the weight had come back. He was far away from overweight by any means, but he wasn’t gaunt, he wasn’t thin anymore.

That was about where the health gains ended, though. The magician’s hair was wild from running his hands through it, the dark rings under his eyes indicated a severe lack of sleep even if the way he held himself, the lackluster of his expression and how dull his eyes were didn’t spell out his exhaustion thoroughly. There was no suit today; jeans and a soft blue t-shirt was the outfit Chris had managed to dress himself in today.

The small man was in the kitchen, eggs pushed onto one side of a cast iron pan with carefully fried potatoes in the other half. In one graceful, fluid motion, Chris plated both halves of the meal, bringing turning to see Tony even as he raised his hand in a wave.

For a moment, it could go either way; the plate shuddered even as Christian’s grasp of it went lax, but he caught it and himself, shoving it onto the countertop even as he moved forward. His grasp was gentle but firm, aware of the crutches - those meant an injury - but unable to stop himself from hugging Tony tightly.

“Yes,” came the croaked reply just before the rest of his words all came rushing out together. “He left and it was okay but then it wasn’t and I didn’t know what to do; he’s hurt, Tony, he’s hurt and I don’t know how to help him and I’m so worried and then you just disappeared and everything was just falling apart and I wasn’t sure if you just didn’t want anything to do with me anymore or if you were dead but you weren’t because you were hurt and he’s not dead but I don’t know why he’s gone quiet and he’s hurt, Tony.”

The little magician sucked in a long, stuttering breath and murmured, “Safi’s hurt.”

@starkly
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Marvel-616

361 Posts
15 Threads
Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
Ship Status: Open to shipping
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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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Points: 3,867.81€
#7
The smell of breakfast coming from the pan was wonderful. At Bes's Tony had also put back some of the weight he'd lost, well, during all of the SHRA and what had followed. He'd been half disappointed to return only because it meant there would be less home cooking, and he started to smile at the sight of Chris at the stove before Chris's entire expression had crumpled and he'd been throwing his arms around Tony.

Balancing on the crutches a little awkwardly, Tony wrapped his arms around the smaller man and rubbed a soothing circle over his back. The gesture of comfort came naturally, and he held the hug until Chris started babbling.

Then he pulled back, looking down at Chris's worried face and moving his hands to rest on Chris's biceps. (Somehow he'd never noticed the height difference so much before. He pushed away the insistent thoughts about Steve and focused.)

"Slow down," he said. He assumed the 'he' was Safi--because who else could it be?--but none of the rest made any sense to him. "What do you mean, Safi's gone? Where did he go? How do you know he's hurt?" It wasn't that he doubted Chris was telling the truth, not with Chris's magic and that connection they had, but he needed facts. After all, Chris had been worried sick about Tony when Tony was just fine. He couldn't let himself get too worried until he was sure of what was going on, even as the insidious voice in the back of his mind reminded him that he'd hardly left Safi on better terms than he'd left Steve and it was his fault and he was going to lose him too. He kept gripping Chris's arms gently. "We'll get to the bottom of this," he added, in the calm, even voice he'd always used as Iron Man when he knew someone was scared. "You know I...I care about him too, and this is what I do. Save people, that is. Just talk to me."

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Age:32
Job: PA/Magician
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Nyte

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#8
Food was one of the few ways that Christian had to show he cared about people. He cooked for the people that meant something to him, the ones that were important. He cooked for Steve when he was at the mansion, he cooked for Safi and Belle, and he cooked for Tony, even if he wasn’t certain the man ever actually ate anything he made. Them eating the food wasn’t really the point; it was making sure he put the effort in to feed them that was the important thing. Making sure they knew he cared, that he thought of them, that he’d put in the time and effort to look after them. Food was caring, it was love.

Christian was aware of the crutches, even as he hugged Tony desperately, he was still careful, holding the man gingerly, making sure Tony wasn’t knocked off balance and that Chris didn’t put extra weight on the leg that was hurt.

He tried, he really tried to enunciate. To make himself clear, but… Emotion flooded into his voice, thickening and choking his words. The voice in his head was quieter, but it wasn’t gone, not by a long shot. Lately, especially since Safi had stopped replying to his texts, that little voice had grown louder, more insistent, and ever more present. And now, even as Tony pulled away, Chris heard it telling him that Tony would only listen to him, only care what he had to say, because it involved Safi. That was okay; as long as it meant Tony would listen, he would… He would deal with that.

“He went home.” The words were spoken more slowly, carefully so as the magician put forth an effort to make sure that Tony understood him. Chris trembled, focusing on his words and less on the state of his body language. It was a conscious decision to let Tony see it, feel it, to not pull away. “He went home to put his things in order. He said that he was going to quit Lexcorp and come here or go to your world to work, but first he had to settle things at home.” His words were careful, enunciated, but quiet in the attempt to keep his voice even. “Then you went missing, and I worried. It was… You were gone for so long, Tony, I thought… I thought maybe you just didn’t want me to bother you anymore, and then I realized you were hurt, and…”

Closing his eyes and taking another shaky breath, Chris worked to steady himself. Calm and even, he told himself, that was how they’d figure this out. Okay. He looked up at Tony, brown eyes wide and shining with tears he refused to cry, “I heal. With my magic. It’s one of the most useful things I can do. Doesn’t matter how far away Safi is, I can heal him. But this is…” A shudder ran through him, “This is different than when Belle was shot. That was one time, and she was better. This is…” Christian shook his head, “Different.”

Looking at Tony, Christian couldn’t hide how distraught he was. Usually, even when he’d been angry and irritated at the hero, he had been able to hide it behind a bright smile, even if he delivered jabs almost cheerfully, but now, with Safi missing and hurt, he didn’t have the energy left to smile and hide his sadness. “He’s hurt, I know he is.” Then, almost too quiet to hear, he murmured, "I love him, I can't lose him, Tony."

@starkly
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Marvel-616

361 Posts
15 Threads
Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
Ship Status: Open to shipping
Sexual Orientation: Sure, with just about anyone (but I don't want to write it explicitly)
Jasmine (starkly-tony)

All Accounts Posts: 533
Points: 3,867.81€
#9
Tony had never seen Chris lose his composure before. He kept his grip on Chris's arms, feeling him trembling under his hands. This was Steve, he kept thinking despite himself, the real Steve of his world and he hadn't seen his Steve break down like this in years. (Never would again.)

"Hey," he said softly, rubbing Chris's arms gently because it was all he could do. He felt fiercely protective of the man in a way he'd hardly expected. "It's okay. It's going to be okay. I'm sorry I scared you. I would have contacted you if I could."

He frowned at Chris's explanation of where . When he and Safi had been on that rooftop, Safi had talked about his government. His fear of what they might to do him or Chris. Tony had offered him amnesty, through SHIELD. He'd almost forgotten, between the haze of that night and all that had followed.

"Did he say why he wanted to quit Lexcorp?" Tony asked. Then, "This connection. How you heal him. You know he's hurt, does it tell you anything else? Anything that could help us find him?"

Chris's quiet admission made something inside Tony ache. They were lucky, current crisis aside (and in Tony's experience, almost everything came with the caveat of current crisis aside). Safi loved Chris, and Chris loved Safi in return, and it was everything Tony would never have because Steve was dead and he wasn't coming back. He swallowed, and moved his hand up to grip Chris's shoulder, determination making his soft voice strong. "You're not going to lose him," he said. He'd never be with Steve. But he could sure as hell make sure that neither Chris and Safi had to go through what he had. His own feelings for Safi, complicated as they were, hardly factored in at all. "I promise, Chris. We're going to find him and we're going to get him back. Whatever it takes."

It didn't matter that Tony was still healing, or that Safi would probably be less than thrilled to see him, or that he had no idea where to start. He was Iron Man, and this was what he did best.

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Age:32
Job: PA/Magician
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Nyte

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#10
If Tony had seen Christian lose composure before, the little magician would have been horrified. Hell, he would be horrified later about this whole encounter, but right now that didn’t matter. Right now he needed to enlist Tony’s help, to bring him up to speed and… And something. He didn’t know and what, but it was something, and it needed to be something soon, because… Because Safi…

Going to be okay. But was it really? Christian was shaking, but the panic that should have been shining out from his eyes was nowhere to be found; panic could only last so long, and Christian had been dealing with this for too long, was too exhausted, to be able to sustain it. That panic had died with no energy to feed it, but that hadn’t left Christian any better off. There was still the worry, still the fear, still the throbbing sense of urgency and of almost-loss. Tony’s arrival had all but undone the careful way he had been holding himself together with masking tape to hide the cracks. “It’s… It’s not. Okay. It’s not, Tony.” It was all he could do to stand straight, to hold himself up in the face of the comfort Tony was offering; he craved it, craved someone to tell him this, that it would be okay, but more than anyone else, he wanted that person, the comfort and reassurance, to be Safi. His hands on his arms, his voice talking. It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful for Tony’s presence, for his comfort, though. He just… Wasn’t Safi. “I’m not mad. I understand, I just…”

Even with everything that had been talked about and said during their...date...Safi had never mentioned the reasoning behind his trip. Not really, anyway, but Chris would give Tony what he had. “He said he needed to take care of some things. That he might quit and find something from your world.” He flinched at the words, that little voice too loud in his too-quiet head. Something in Tony’s world to be closer to Tony, not you. Just the one night, that’s what he’d said. And the thing was, Christian had no defense against that voice, not from this, not now with Safi gone. And he had left to go take care of these ‘some things’ that were holding him back. His voice dropped a notch, “He told me to keep magic and Jonah here, that he was hoping to be gone not longer than a month.”

This connection. Magic. Chris shifted, all tiny movements that indicated discomfort, but he didn’t flinch away or try to get out of answering. Tony disliked magic, he knew that. “I heal by pushing energy into the people I’m focusing on. When Belle was shot,” his voice only quavered the slightest bit at the memory, “I healed her. I could tell by how the energy went that she was hurt, but not what was wrong, exactly… But it was different than this, it was all at once.” The mage shuddered before hunching slightly, “It’s all the time, Tony. It wasn’t before, it was normal, but now…” He didn’t have the words for how it felt, the constant pull, the seep of energy from him to Safi that never stopped. Not that he tried to stop it; that Safi needed the energy, the healing, was obvious. When Safi, or Belle or Tony were healthy, the energy he sent had to be pushed into them, giving them extra to keep them going. When someone was injured, the energy was welcomed without any resistance, accepted but not drawn in. Safi was pulling, and Christian instinctively understood that that was… Bad. Very bad. “I know it’s bad, Tony. And I know he’s far away, but that’s… That’s all I know.” Anything else would be a guess.

Tony’s words broke something in the magician; a wall came crashing down, and Christian’s head lowered even as his shoulders shook. Too much. It was too much to hear a promise they both knew Tony couldn’t be sure he could keep. “Okay,” his voice was rough, as though he’d been screaming, as if the conversation, tame as it had been, was too loud, too much effort. Suddenly, Chris looked up, tired but dry eyed, serious and aching, determination buried in those brown eyes, along with concern. “I can heal you.” It was more than a statement, it was an offer as well, there for the taking if Tony wanted it.

@starkly
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Marvel-616

361 Posts
15 Threads
Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
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Sexual Orientation: Sure, with just about anyone (but I don't want to write it explicitly)
Jasmine (starkly-tony)

All Accounts Posts: 533
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#11
Tony knew he wasn't who Chris wanted. He also knew that, objectively, the situation was pretty far from okay. Well, he'd always been shit at comforting people. He could DO things for them. Speeches and reassurances had always been Steve's game, when they'd been team "Mom and Dad" of the Avengers. (Thanks, Peter, for that.)

So instead of trying to convince Chris of anything he focused. He had a solvable problem. Safi was alive, and needed to be found.

"He didn't say anything to me," Tony said, about Safi coming to his world. He tried not to feel the sting of it. If Safi really wanted work in their world, there was no place better than SHIELD for a man of his skills. But then, Tony had asked him to stay away. He couldn't blame the man for doing so. Unless... "Obviously, there are some good reasons for that. Most of them my fault. But it's possible he never made it out of your world. He was worried, when I spoke to him. That, uh. That night. About what the people he worked for might do. Enough so that I offered him amnesty through SHIELD." He stroked his goatee, his mind working. "It doesn't necessarily mean anything. But it could be a start, unless you have any better idea."

Well, if Safi was pulling energy from Chris, it might explain why the smaller man looked so ragged. "You know he's still alive," Tony corrected, when Chris said he didn't know anything. It was stating the obvious, perhaps, but the ever-present ache in his chest that Steve was never coming back never let him forget how important that was. Without thinking he slid his hand up to cup the place where Chris's neck met his shoulder. Like he might have done to Steve once. "That's something."

Then he pulled away at Chris's offer, shaking his head. "No. Save it for Safi." He gestured down at his splinted leg, grimacing slightly. "This is nothing. Inconvenient. Won't even slow me down once I'm in the suit." It wouldn't feel GREAT, sure, but he'd had far worse. He swallowed, forcing himself to remain calm since Chris needed it. "We're going to find him, but he needs to be alive when we get there. So, you do what you have to do and don't worry about me."

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Age:32
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Nyte

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#12
Tony wasn’t Safi, but he was still an important figure in Christian’s life. The hero he had looked up to every day of his childhood, the man he strove to emulate in the best ways, the person he had related to reading those comic books. Having Tony here, comforting him, was better than having most anyone else around. The thing was, Christian was simply not accustomed to being comforted, save for maybe by Belle and sometimes Safi, and he was too distraught now to consider what Tony was doing, to allow himself the luxury of being comforted. The hug was enough. It had to be.

Safi hadn’t said anything to Tony about going back to his home? About getting a job in his world? That was a surprise, really. Chris had assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the reason that Safi had mentioned Tony’s world specifically was because Tony had invited him. That this way Safi could be near the genius. And then Tony started speaking nonsense. Dean had mentioned something, when they had met, about Lex Luthor being a villain. Christian had dismissed it out of hand, agreeing with the hunter that such a thing would have had to be an embellishment, but that little voice reminded him of that conversation even as he spoke to Tony, “But why would Safi think Lexcorp might do anything we needed to worry about?” He frowned, brow furrowing as he considered everything Tony was telling him, “What night, Tony? Why would Safi need amnesty through SHIELD??” Concern was flooding into his voice, but at least it wasn’t panic. It was a puzzle, one that needed to be figured out right away, and that meant Christian had to stay calm and think. He might not be the genius that Tony was, but he was still plenty intelligent; they could figure this out, they could narrow down where Safi might be. “When he said he had to go home, I thought… He’s not in the apartment, Tony. I thought he had meant that he was going back to see his family; he…”

He was an idiot. A fool and an idiot. His thoughts about his own intelligence flew out the window as his eyes went wide and he pulled out his phone, scrolling quickly to find the message he was looking for, “He was on a beach, he sent me a picture of it.” He found the text that he was looking for; an innocuous comment, nothing really out of the ordinary except… “He said that his parents were moving to London.” The conversation went on, of course, and had been on and off since Safi had left, naturally. The messages surrounding the one Chris had looked for on the screen were… Painfully ordinary. Chris talking about the food he was making, chili amongst other things, and Safi had sent a picture of a cake that was only just slightly on the screen. “He was in touch with them, and he was on a beach, and Central doesn’t have any beaches. Not like that one.”

A smile grew on his face, not a happy expression, but a victorious one. He reached down to his own chest, touching something there; it was small, whatever it was under his shirt, but when it touched it, the outline of a small, solid item was there. “I can find him.” Chris moved again, clapping Tony into another ginger hug, this one different than the last because it was Christian giving comfort now, not seeking it, a warm, caring embrace, strong even if he was exhausted. “He’s alive, and I’ll make sure he stays that way. I’ll heal him, Tony,” he nodded as though he were agreeing with something Tony said. “Eat. I’ll go heal him, and then I’ll start figuring out where he is so we can go bring him home.”

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Marvel-616

361 Posts
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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#13
"Lexcorp? No. It wasn't Lexcorp," Tony said, pinching the bridge of his nose and wishing, work everything he had, that he could remember their conversation through the drunken haze. All he had left were snippets, scenes without context, and of course his drinking was still fucking over everyone he cared about weeks after he'd stopped. That was what it did. That was what he did. He closed his eyes, searching for composure. "He said it was... The government. His government. He thought... He thought you were in danger. That was--" he broke off for a moment, straining to remember, and calling up nothing but the painful confusion and longing of that night. "That was why I offered him amnesty."

Then Chris was talking about a beach, about where he could find him, and Tony's focus narrowed. The hug caught him by surprise. "How?" He said sharply. He'd seen Chris touch something under his shirt but he couldn't be imagine what it was. "How can you find him?"


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DC-DCTVU-1

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Nyte

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#14
Not Lexcorp. The confusion on Christian’s face was clear to see; both he and Safi worked for Lexccorp (maybe not anymore, he wasn’t sure if Safi had quit or not), so if Safi was worried about the people he worked for, the only thing Chris could imagine was Lexcorp. Safi kept secrets, and it wasn’t like Chris watched him constantly, but the magician was pretty sure if the man had found a second job he’d have noticed. But Safi hadn’t been spending more time away, or out. Unless he’d found something when Chris had started to avoid him…

The government? His government? That didn’t make any sense…. It does if he was a spy. Okay, yes, that was true, but… “Why would I be in any danger? I’m a PA, Tony, and not even one assigned to anyone specific.” Why would Safi need amnesty because Chris might be in danger? None of it made any sense!

Safi had given little clues about where he was. The beach, his parents, his daughter. He had gone back home, and that meant a certain place, or a few certain places. It narrowed things down a bit at least. And from there, well, from there he had his amulet, and he had his own spells. Tony asked how, and Chris blinked in surprise at the sharpness of the man’s tone. “With…” Tony hated magic, he didn’t trust it, Chris knew that, and thus his voice took an apologetic tone, “Magic, Tony. Not quite the same as how I heal him, I have an item I can use. The people I love, I can find them with it. And Safi is one of those people.”

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Marvel-616

361 Posts
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Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#15
Chris was plainly confused, and Tony wished with everything he had that he could remember exactly what Safi had said. With Extremis, he might have been able to bring it up, but even probing gently at the link in his mind made a spike of pain sear through his head and he pulled back with a mild wince.

"It wasn't because of your job," Tony said, because that at least was obvious. "He cares about you." Loves you. "Whoever he's afraid of must know that. He thought if he could get out, for good, they wouldn't need that leverage anymore." He massaged his forehead, feeling frustrated. Memories of Safi holding a gun to his head and Safi kissing him and Safi looking uncharacteristically scared all swam to the surface but the words Safi had said were gone. "I'm sorry," Tony said, meeting Chris's eyes again, guilt and regret coloring his expression. "I don't--I don't remember anything else. If I hadn't been so drunk... I'm sorry."

At least Chris had a plan. As little as Tony liked magic, he was ultimately pragmatic above all else, and a magical solution was better than none. "Give me a couple hours," he said. If he was going to suit up, he'd have to make sure his leg could take it, and that would mean a visit to his least favorite doctor. "Get together what you'll need. Then we're going to find him, Chris, you got it?"

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DC-DCTVU-1

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Nyte

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#16
It wasn’t because of his job. Why then, would Safi think Chris was in any danger? Especially back home? Safi had asked him not to use any magic back home. Well, that had been all fine and good (and he hadn’t, he had behaved himself. Besides, the last week he had been way too occupied with healing Safi and Tony to worry about using magic anywhere else…) but now Safi was hurt, and Tony was telling him that Safi had been afraid of his government coming after him, or Chris, which didn’t make any sense, but it changed everything.

“Hey.” Chris looked up at Tony, brown eyes taking in the way Tony’s brow was furrowed, how he winced, the way he rubbed his forehead. Ever so gently, Chris moved to guide and support Tony toward the table. “It’s okay, we’ll find him. This isn’t your fault, Tony. Not even a little bit. Please don’t blame yourself for this.” The moment he had Tony seated, Chris moved to fetch the plate of eggs and potatoes, still warm from the pan, and set it before the other man with a fork, “Eat, please? I’ll grab my things and be in the living room when you’re ready, okay?” He didn’t like leaving Tony on his own. The man blamed himself for everything, and this… This was clearly not on Tony’s shoulders. Safi had been worried about Chris, not Tony, had gone to ‘clear things up’ back home because of him, and now he was hurt and missing. Not Tony’s fault at all.

A couple of hours. Okay. That would definitely give Chris enough time to gather the things he might need to work spells, to grab the rest of his premade shield spells from his desk, and get back to the living room. He could heal Safi from right there while he waited for Tony to get back. Right, okay, he could do this. He had to. Nodding fervently to Tony’s words, Chris agreed, “Got it. I’ll meet you in the living room.”

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Marvel-616

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Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#17
Chris was pushing Tony toward the table. Trying to reassure HIM. It was unnecessary. Backwards. Wrong.

More than anything it reminded him of Steve, before everything had gone to shit. Steve had been like that, always trying to support others even when his own world was crumbling. The only difference was that Steve had never really learned to cook worth a damn.

Tony wondered again how he'd missed it for so long.

"I'm fine," Tony said roughly, still disconcerted. Then he shook himself. "You're not going to eat?" He hardly wanted to spare the time himself, but it was worse somehow if Chris insisted and then went off to do his own thing anyway.

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Nyte

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#18
Everyone needed to be comforted sometimes. There was nothing weak or less about having that need, though sometimes it was prudent to hide it from certain people. It was evident, to Christian at least, that Tony was blaming himself, and that he was upset over Safi’s disappearance, just like Chris was. Except that Chris had had some time to come to terms with the whole thing, even if he was pushing himself to keep Safi as healed as possible.

Chris could cook, there was no arguing that. The eggs were soft and fluffy, the potatoes crisp but soft on the inside, salted and peppered, but neither overwhelmed the little starchy squares. The magician’s shoulders relaxed just a bit once he had Tony sitting down at the table, relieved that it might just be this easy to take care of Tony, because honestly, Chris wasn’t sure how much he had left to take care of the man if he needed more. He was just so tired…

But he had gained weight back since Tony had been away, too. That he had been eating better for at least a while was evident, body, face, hands, they were all filled out, less gaunt than he’d been before. “Good. Because people who are fine eat breakfasts when they’re made for them.” Was he going to eat? Chris blinked, but then he nodded, “Sure.” It took only minutes to crack another couple of eggs and chop up a small potato; less than what Tony was eating, but Chris was smaller and wasn’t all that hungry.

It didn’t take long to make up his own breakfast, and when he was finished he moved to join Tony at the table, sitting across from him as he ate, watching quietly even as he did to make sure that Tony was doing so as well. At least it might give him a boost; fuel his magic a little bit better. “Two hours. I’ll be in the living room.”

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Marvel-616

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Age:35
Job: Director of SHIELD
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Jasmine (starkly-tony)

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#19
He wished Chris would stop. It was true that Tony was still coming to terms with Safi's disappearance. It was also true that his inability to remember what Safi had said, even to save his life, was like a knife in his side. But he could live with that. Unexpected calamity and regret had been more or less constants in his life for a long time. He didn't need or want Chris's reassurance to get through it. Especially not when he knew a Chris was trapped in his own personal hell.

And maybe it was selfish, but when Chris had thrown himself into Tony's arms, it had felt good to be needed. Hell, he'd felt better than he had in months. Helping a friend. That part was so uncomplicated it made him want to laugh.

He tucked into the eggs, too distracted to really feel hungry, but fairly sure there was no other way he was going to get Chris to eat. He watched the younger man as he cooked up another meal and then sat down, fully planning to mother hen him if he didn't eat. Why the hell not.

But he did eat, which left Tony with his thoughts and the quiet clinking of utensils. He was stuck again that this was Steve, another universe's Steve, and he was just sitting here eating eggs with him like it was the most natural thing in the world. He missed his own Steve with a sudden pang so strong he had to look away, fingers twitching for a drink that wasn't there. It had never been like this when he'd been with Safi.

The longing morphed into something like determination. Chris wasn't going to have to go through any of this. Tony was going to bring Safi home, whatever it took. He owed it to Safi. He owed it to Chris, somehow, because he might have failed his own Steve but he wasn't about to do it again.

"Two hours," Tony agreed. He'd have to get Justin to clear his schedule but he had little doubt the other man would say yes. He was an Avenger. He know what was at stake. After only a moment's hesitation, he reached across the table and rested his hand on Chris's. "If you need anything in the meantime," he promised, letting it hang. "I'm here. Okay? You know where to find me."

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DC-DCTVU-1

533 Posts
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Nyte

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#20
It was impossible for Chris to simply stop. His manners were a part of him, of his being. Still, while every instinct told him to take care of Tony, to make sure the man was okay, to feed him and comfort him and reassure him, it took so much. By the time Chris had made his own breakfast and sat down, he felt so heavy.

Eyes on the table before him, Chris hunched over his plate, eating slowly, forcing the food down. Each bite was an effort, not because he wasn’t hungry even though his appetite was nearly non-existent, but because worry and fear weighed everything down, made the very act of chewing scrambled eggs a chore. He didn’t complain though; trapped as he was feeling as though he were moving through water, he knew that if he didn’t eat, tony was likely to skip the meal as well, and Tony needed to eat. Not even looking at Tony directly, Chris looked up when Tony’s fork stopped scraping against his plate, the lack of sound enough to pull him from his thoughts. His brown eyes were rimmed red, and his voice was rough when he finally spoke, “He’s going to be okay..” He might be speaking to Tony, but the fact that he was trying to reassure himself was painfully clear. Then his head went back down, focusing again on his food.

The touch was unexpected, and Christian’s face jerked over to look at Tony again, though he didn’t pull away. If anything, Christian relaxed and pressed into the touch, seeking comfort, seeking solace and companionship. Small as he was, Chris drew himself up, sitting up straighter, and put a small smile on his face even as tucked away as much of the pain and worry as he could. “I’ll be in the living room. I’ll text you if I need to.” He knew where everything he’d need was, where Jonah would be. It wouldn’t take him long to get everything together, and then he could focus on healing Safi. The food would help, he’d have a little bit more energy in a little while.

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