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So Many [Prop-Tony] Tropes, So Little Time

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Apparently some folks have crafted an AU where Tony not only refuses to help with the time heist, he lectures about how it's the best thing for everyone. (Because, of course, he got his "second chance.") What if someone who has nothing left to lose decides that Tony, too, should feel the ache of loss?


Tony woke up in his usual chair. It was dark and quiet. He asked, "What time is it?"

Friday didn't answer. But Clint said, "Too late."

Tony tried to activate his emergency gauntlet, but when he looked down his watch wasn't on his wrist. He quickly checked and found that none of his equipment was on him or within reach. He said, "So...Legolas. Long time, no...see."

Clint said, "You know, I figured out a while ago how to kill you. When I was locked up on the Raft, listening to Wanda whimper every time that shock collar zapped her. After you told Ross about my family out of spite."

Tony swallowed and darted his eyes around the room. He couldn't see Barton anywhere.

Clint continued, "That was the first time you betrayed my family. I heard about the latest incident. You got your second chance, so you won't even TRY to help get everybody back."

Tony sat up and declared, "Thanos happened. People need to accept their losses and move the hell on with their lives."

Clint chuckled and said, "Well, Tony, you're going to get to practice what you preach."

Tony froze and asked, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

Clint replied, "It means you now have a loss to accept. Two actually."

Tony leapt out of the chair and yelled, "What the hell did you do?"

Clint seemed to ignore the question. He said, "You know what I've been doing these last five years? I've been making sure that the bad people Thanos left behind can't hurt anyone else. I'm probably the best assassin still out there."

Tony gasped and fell back into his seat. He said, "You didn't---"

"No, I didn't," Clint confirmed. He continued, "Morgan and Pepper are starting new lives in another part of the world. So Morgan and Pepper are fine, and they'll continue to be fine---on one condition."

Tony asked, "What's the deal?"

Clint answered, "That they're dead to you. You never have contact again. You never know where they are, what they're doing, who they're becoming without you. Nothing. Ever."

Tony nodded and said, "Fine." He was already planning his search parameters. Friday would figure out where they'd been moved and...

Clint's voice seemed to sound right in Tony's ear as Clint said, "Don't even think about trying to find them on the sly, Tony. I know exactly how you operate. There are no second chances here. I'm probably saving their lives. Heads up, I'm not the only one who knows you can help and refuse to. And those guys, they don't usually let witnesses live."

Clint took a breath and said, "Funny how it works out. Thanos is dead. You're the only one I got left to punish, but I'm still saving innocent lives from your mistakes. So accept your loss and move the hell on with your life. I'll be watching."

When Tony turned to look, no one was there. He said, "Lights!"

In the bright cabin he couldn't find any sign that Clint had ever been there. Tony gulped and said, "Friday, track Barton. He can't have gotten far."

Friday said, "Clint Barton's whereabouts are unknown. He is not on the premises. Boss, no one's been here in the last 24 hours except you."

Tony frowned and said, "Pepper and Morgan?"

"Pepper Potts is no longer employed by Stark Industries, boss. No one with first or last name Morgan is associated with Stark Industries."

A chill went down Tony's spine. If Barton could do this to Friday...he couldn't risk looking for Pepper or Morgan. Ever.

Tony let his head fall into his hands as he listened to the quiet. And wondered if this was how half the world felt the moment after the Snap.