TITLE: Sins of Omission
RATING: NC-17 for sex and violence and language
WARNINGS: noncon (in later chapters), torture, abuse, violence, canonical character death.
SUMMARY: A post-civil war/pre-secret invasion AU where Steve is dead, Tony's a mess, and everything sucks. Tony deals poorly with Steve's death and the invasion is imminent.
read on AO3 / FF.net
CHAPTER 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
CHAPTER 4: Creative Outlets
Tuesday is a fucking nightmare.
Apparently the Defense Department is taking this little incident as a terrorist attack, so the Alert Level goes back up to yellow and Tony suddenly has stacks of paperwork to do. His attempts to placate Kooning are less than successful, and apparently “it’s really not as dire as you seem to think,” is the wrong thing to say to the secretary of Defense, because then the alert level gets bumped up to Orange and Tony is almost certain it’s just to spite him.
It turns out there’s not actually any systems damage, but the entire ship is misbehaving, and the best they can do is reboot and wait for more diagnostics to run, which Tony knows will take hours. He feels like his brain is overheating. It may be. Eh. He’s had worse.
Tony ignores the messages that are piling up far too fast to keep up with, and pinpoints the source of the transmission to a half-mile radius somewhere in the vicinity of the Baxter Building. Reed has no idea what it is, and he didn’t pick it up at the time, but he promises to work on it before signing off abruptly. His equipment should have registered something, but Tony takes it as confirmation that whatever it was, it was meant for the Helicarrier. Dugan’s still crawling down his neck to stop fucking around and manage the overhaul, so he finally throws up his hands after an hour of fruitless analysis and sends it down to Maya.
Instead of overseeing repairs and coordinating with the D.O.D. like he’s supposed to, Tony makes Maria do it and takes the opportunity to run away to his office for a few hours so he can hack some security footage.
It’s slow going, and every time he switches processes his head throbs. There’s not much for him to work with, because the Mercy General deletes theirs monthly and of course Bucky didn’t show up until two days ago. So he buckles down and sweeps dozens of shitty low-res street cams, traffic cams, miscellaneous small businesses’ feeds. Most of them have already been erased, and the ones that haven’t are grainy and temperamental. Tony can do a lot of things with security footage, but there’s still no substitute for quality source material. After his 7th dead end, he decides to fuck it and hacks the hospital’s servers manually.
He finds what he’s looking for, half-rewritten and fragmented beyond all reasonability, but it’s there, so he sucks it up and dives in.
It takes him almost an hour to restore it to the point where he can see the ambulance arrive and the medics scramble out. They wheel Steve out the back and they’re not doing chest compressions anymore, so they must have already called it. The driver fucks off to another ambulance, and one of the medics scowls and heads out in the direction of the bay doors, probably to fend off the press. He doesn’t return, and his partner, a petite woman, goes about signing charts and rolling Steve down the hallway to the morgue.
He swears, because he hasn’t even touched the hallway feeds yet, but it turns out it’s not as badly fragmented. He skips dinner, though, and ignores two calls (one from Carol, one from Maria). There’s a dull pounding in his ears, but he presses on, and it pays off just after he goes off-duty for the day.
The two-man team obviously has military training – it’s the way they walk, the way they scan, the way they move a little too purposefully through the hospital. They skulk into the hallway about 9 hours after they put Steve away in a drawer, rolling along a gurney with what is presumably the LMD covered with a sheet. Their faces are uncovered, and Tony is pleased that they’re sloppy. They move Steve’s huge, pale body out of the drawer and onto the stretcher easily enough, and the LMD goes back in the drawer with the toe tag attached. It looks just like him, down to the fabricated gunshot wounds, and Tony wonders why the hell they haven’t been detected, because who the fuck misses 240 pounds of Captain America being rolled down a hospital corridor?
Tony realizes that if he’d let them do an autopsy, they would have figured it out. Really, there’s a hundred ways he could have prevented this. He should have assigned the body its own security detail.
At least he has faces to go by now, and he sets up the trace and pushes it to the back of his mind. The spins briefly when he stands up, but he has to go check on Maya’s progress, so he swallows down a handful of Ibuprofen and makes his way down to D-level.
- - -
Maya is usually thrilled about any puzzle that takes her longer than 30 minutes to solve, but when Tony comes into the lab, she’s scowling at him.
“Why am I working on this?” she says without preamble. “I splice genes.”
Tony sighs. “Because I asked you to,” he says, running a hand over his face. “I’m swamped, I need you to handle it.”
“Yeah,” she says, “I’ve noticed, Maria’s been haranguing me all day, she thinks you’re hiding down here.” Of course.
“I was doing stuff,” he says. She glares at him. “What? Where the hell is Sal?” Tony fidgets, pinches the bridge of his nose, trying to fend off the pressure behind his eyes.
Maya rips the glasses off her face and throws them down on the desk.
“How the fuck should I know? He’s probably smoking on C deck. And no, Jesus, I’ve only been on this for like 2 hours, I would have called you.”
“Fine,” he says, turning to leave. She’s pissed about something, and he can’t handle the volume of her angry voice right now. He knows when he’s not wanted.
“I’m leaving,” she says. “As soon as I figure this out, I’m going to leave.”
Tony spins around.
“What? You can’t leave,” he says stupidly, because it’s true. He’s personally responsible.
“I can, actually,” she says.
“No you can’t,” he says, “You have nowhere to go. Back to prison? Because that worked out so well last time.”
“There are people willing to vouch for me,” she says.
“No there aren’t,” he says, “if there were, that’s where you’d be.”
“Yes, there are,” she says. “People with ranks higher than yours. We both know this isn’t sustainable. No one here takes me seriously as a scientist, they all think you’re just keeping me around to be your personal physician-slash-whore.”
“What, I’m not - that’s not what everyone thinks.”
“Yeah, it is, there’s pictures of us in tabloids.”
“What? There are not, Maya, please,” he says.
“It’s what I should be working on, Tony! It’s what I was working on until you came along and scrambled yourself and made me look bad.”
“Ok, that’s not fair,” he says. “Extremis was your –“
“Oh, it’s not fair,” she says. “You know what’s not fair? Inviting me to move in, to live with you, and then not coming home for two weeks.”
“There were extenuating circumstances –“
“There are always extenuating circumstances with you, Tony!” she yells, her voice echoing off the metal walls, and he’s sure she’s about to throw something at him. “I know who you are, I’ve heard it all, Director of Fucking S.H.I.E.L.D., and you won’t even sign off on my research. We both know the only reason I’m here is so you can keep an eye on me, so you can fuck me when you feel like it, but that wasn’t so bad, really, until you started ignoring me and put me on shitty projects that the goddamn temps could manage!”
He should have prepared a contingency plan. Routine, he thinks, predictable. Hating him is apparently the fashionable thing to do, these days. It’s true, what she’s saying. He’s been shitty about this, and he’s spent enough nights alone in the penthouse to know that it’s awful. If he’s honest with himself, though, he hasn’t missed her.
If he’s honest, she was always just a body that wasn’t Steve.
“Maya, look, ok, I wanna talk about this, but I have to, I just don’t have time right now – ”
“Nope,” she says, “we’ve talked. That was us talking, just now. I’ll finish your damn EMP analysis tonight and I’m leaving tomorrow.”
She turns her back on him and makes a point of opening the doors manually.
Tony wants to argue with her, but he doesn’t have the time or the energy to do it. Maya is dangerous, and he knows he has to manage her, but it’s so much easier to just walk away. Besides, if what she says is true he’s lost control of the situation already. He knows what they want her for, knows she’ll weaponize Extremis on the government’s dime somewhere in a secret lab.
He thinks that a few months ago he cared, but there’s nothing, no righteous anger welling up inside him, no protest he can voice with any conviction.
Beautiful Maya, with her brains and her eyes that sparkle and her mind that thinks up terrible, wonderful things. Clever Maya, who saved and ruined him in one fell swoop. Sometimes he wishes he hadn’t gotten to her in time, that Mallen had split his skull properly, that he’d let himself bleed to death as a man instead of a machine.
- - -
He’s halfway through his 3rd briefing of the day when NGI finally puts out.
One of the guys is Robert Blair, and he’s done time twice, both times for doing Hydra’s dirty work. Tony really isn’t surprised – they were the bane of Steve’s existence while he was alive, so it should only figure that they’d want his body for something ill-advised now that he’s dead. Steve always beat them back with a goddamned red white and blue stick while he was alive.
There’s no one to do that, though, now that he’s dead.
He waits for Dugan to finish talking about expediency, but only barely, and he elbows past Maria (who’s talking at him again) and half the Alpha squad before he climbs the steps to the landing strip.
12 Lakeview Terrace, the HUD blinks at him.
Tony is running on bitterness and rage and despair ignored for too long, so he raises his arms and the armor comes flying out of a hatch and wraps around him, and then he’s off.
Tony can beat them off. He can do that, at least, for Steve.
- - -
“Fuck,” Blair spits, “you S.H.I.E.L.D. bastards are fucking pieces of work, you know that –“
Tony squats on his heels and wraps his hand around Blair’s other thumb.
“You done?” Tony asks.
“I’m –“ Blair is panting, his voice strained. “I’m - more worried about that bitch coming after me than you,”
“Who,” Tony says. Blair grits his teeth and shakes his head.
“Look, man, I know – FUCK,” he yells, jerking in Tony’s grip, because Tony’s just snapped his other thumb.
He raises the faceplate.
“I’m gonna make sure you can’t use your hands for months,” Tony says. “Because you just kinda piss me off. Why, why are you giving me such a hard time about this? Hydra doesn’t care how long you hold out, you’re what, an independent contractor? You’re small-time, buddy.”
“She’s gonna kill me once she finds out I’ve told you what I know,” he forces out.
“So you do know things,” Tony says, “just to clarify.”
Blair glares at him.
Tony snaps one of his ring fingers, and doesn’t feel anything at all. Blair screams.
He’s been on the receiving end, he knows what he’s doing, but he looks at this man in front of him with his face screwed up in pain and he just doesn’t care.
You have new powers you don’t understand, Steve had said.
This should be harder than it is.
“Tell me,” Tony says. “Who.”
Blair looks torn now, and his breath is coming in short gasps that fall from his open mouth. He looks terrified, but of Tony or Hydra, Tony isn’t sure. He wraps two gold fingers around Blair’s wrist, and squeezes.
Blair breathes out a moan of pain and Tony squeezes a little harder.
“Christ, ok, god, she wanted it for her fucking monster father, I don’t know, you’re right, ok, I just contract with them sometimes through Hydra–“
“Who,” Tony snarls, “who wanted it?”
“The crazy fucking german bitch. I wasn’t gonna do it, she’s batshit insane, but she offered me a lot and all I had to do was steal a fucking body, ok.”
Tony’s brain fails him for a moment, and he’s left looking stupidly at Blair for a moment, because there’s only one person that could be.
“Sinthea Schmidt?” he says, when he recovers. Blair nods furiously. “Who let you into the hospital?”
“She did,” Blair gasps. “She was there, she was a nurse, she signed us in, I swear to god.”
“What does Sinthea Schmidt want with Steve Rogers’ body,” Tony says, dreading the answer.
“I told you, she wants it for her father, I don’t know, I don’t know, please don’t break my fingers again, I got a job lined up and it’s gonna be hard to hold a pistol after this already, just –“
“You’re not doing any more jobs, asshole. What about her father,” Tony says, his eyes deadly cold. “Where was he headed, tell me where they’re going, what are they doing with the body?”
“I DON’T KNOW,” Blair says, “I don’t know, somewhere in Europe, it’s not my job, I just had to get it to the first drop point, someone else was in charge of getting it out of the country. I don’t know what they need it for, I don’t know, fuck!”
It’s not good enough, it’s never challenging enough, there’s always another fucking thing to worry about, always someone ruining what’s supposed to have been settled.
Tony drags himself up from the floor and surveys his victim. He almost feels sorry.
Blair looks up at him from where he’s settled on his flimsy wooden chair.
“Better get those looked at,” Tony says, angling his palms towards the ground.
“Go fuck yourself,” Blair says with feeling.
Tony blasts through the roof, because he has what he needs. He knows where he’s going.
He has some business to settle in Latveria.