A Fair Trade

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Post by Conleth on Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:39 pm

The next morning Tony awoke in the bathtub. He still had on his clothes and the bottle of scotch was almost gone. His head wanted to pound itself off of his neck and his balance was all off as he tried to get out of the bathtub. As soon as he left the bathroom sunshine stung his eyes. It was freaking bright! “Uh...what time is it?” He asked no one particular.

Steve was working out in the gym and Isabella and Bruce were down in the lab. They went through half of the rings, each with a different result when they destroyed them and had been working to fabricate a mini arc reactor core. It took both of them using what Tony called the ‘Hell Forge’. Roughly it has the same heat as lightning or 6x that of the sun. It takes a lot of power to use it and luckily what they needed to mold was about the size of a money clip. Bruce made the mold from one of Tony’s existing ones he used for the palladium cores. It took them most of the morning to cut the rings into shavings and the forge was now working. “Estimated time to completion, 2.5 hours,” Jarvis said.

James finally opened his eyes. They had removed the breathing tube last night when they deemed him able to breath on his own. He shifted his head off the pillow than winced as pain shot down his spine. His legs HURT! So much so that it brought tears to his eyes. He saw someone move out of the corner of his eye and knew who it was. Malia was there and he could see dark patches under her eyes. His throat was painfully dry and she was there in an instant with a straw and a cup. He took a few hesitant drinks and winced again at how sore his throat was. “How long?” He asked hoarsely. When she told him he nodded and then his eyes began to come into focus again and he saw his legs...in casts and traction.

“What...happened, the last thing I remember was running into The Mandarin...did we get em?” he asked weakly. He hurt so badly that he took ginger breaths. Something in his eyes must have alerted Malia because she pressed the nurse call button.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:51 pm

Looking at their bed Tony would be able to see that Isabella had never been in it the night before. Isabella was still up with Bruce in the lab working. She was beyond exhausted, but they were so close to being done. She had long since pulled her hair up into a messy ponytail and nearly all of her makeup was rubbed off. Her OBGYN would not have been happy with her if she had known all long Isabella had been without sleep at this point, but she didn't care. Tony's life was at stake...her husband and father of her child.

Malia's body wanted so badly to sleep, but she was determined to be there and awake when James finally woke up. She saw out of the corner of her eye his eyes slowly open and she looked at him. She could see he was in pain and it broke her heart to watch him. She quickly got him a cup of water with a straw and helped him drink it. She sat on the bed next to him and pressed the nurse call button.

"The Mandarin is dead and you're lucky to be alive James," she told him honestly. "The car went into the East River. It's gone...destroyed. I had to pull you out of the wreckage." Tears came to her eyes as she thought about it.

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Post by Conleth on Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:30 pm

The nurse entered the room. She was about 5 foot even and looked to be about 100 pounds soaking wet. She had green eyes and black hair and by how fit she was, she was also a SHIELD agent. “I see our honored patient is awake. “Miss Montoya, I brought you a coffee, you look like you could use it,” she said as she handed it to her. In her other hand she had a medication plunger to add pain meds to James line. “And I have a little something for you to James. We’ll get you fixed right up,” She said. “No,” James said in a throaty voice. “No pain medications,” James said and looked away from them.

Tony looked around. He still didn’t know which cupboard had the tylenol. Finally he found it and took 2 from the bottle he popped them into his mouth. He also took a vitamin and a few other things then drank some coffee. He poured a full cup then casually stepped down the stairs to the lab. What he saw though made his eyes bulge. “Is that...is that the Hell forge!?” Tony asked concernedly. “Jesus big guy, do you know how dangerous that thing is!?” He asked. “Isabella...what are YOU doing down here in your condition!?” He asked and spilled a bit of coffee.

Bruce winced as he saw Isabella draw herself up. "Ut oh," He moaned softly.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:43 pm

Malia was grateful when the nurse came in with a cup of coffee. She had wanted some, but hadn't wanted to leave James' side. She took a big sip, but knew she was going to need to sleep soon. Her body still hadn't fully recovered from the stress it had taken from summoning two animal spirits at once. Summoning spirits in general was taxing on her body, but two had truly weakened her.

She was relieved to see the nurse had some pain medication for James but when he said he didn't want it she blinked at him. She motioned for the nurse to leave and she looked at James. "James, you don't need to put on a tough guy attitude with me. It's me...Malia. I love you James and I don't want to see you in pain."

Isabella didn't hear Tony come down until he was suddenly yelling at both Bruce and herself. She turned and looked at her husband. Her eyes were red from lack of sleep and there were dark circles under them. Her hair was a mess and she hadn't changed clothes. One look into Isabella's eyes would tell Tony just how pissed off she was at him.

"What the fuck do you really care Tony? Between you drinking yourself to death and just giving up on life I'd say you really just don't care about anything...or anyone. You were a real asshole last night, but despite that I decided to help Bruce find a way to keep you alive...because clearly I'm insane."

She then just turned away from him to help Bruce again. "Oh...by the way, we figured it out you ungrateful jerk."

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Post by Conleth on Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:12 pm

Bruce pursed his lips as he tried to slink down as far as he could behind the console he was at. Tony didn’t quite understand what Isabella meant and opened and shut his mouth more than once. Finally he narrowed his eyes at them...who did not appear in the mood to elaborate. He was used to Isabella being angry at him. Usually because he insulted someone...or more than one someone. Or he had been socially inept, insensitive...the list was endless. He focused on the diagnostic screen and began checking some of the readings. He couldn’t see them but every once in a while either Isabella and or Bruce looked in his direction.

“Huh…” He murmured as their last test result came up. “Hrmmm,” He murmured as Vibranium came up. He sighed, stood and stepped away from the machine. He moved and looked over Isabella’s shoulder at the Hell Forge. It was properly sealed...it appeared and then he began to get suspicious and started to look around the lab. He looked for anything out of place and before long his eyes fell upon the Mandarin’s rings. There were only 4 there where their had been 8 before. “mhhm, “ he said.

“So, The rings are made of VIbranium?” He asked Bruce casually and decidedly NOT looking at Isabella. “Yes, It was just a theory but we proved it...Isabella and I,” He said softly but loud enough for Isabella to hear.

----------------------

James would not speak with the nurse there. “You sure Mr. Rhodes.” She asked and James nodded. “Alright, I’ll check back in a while,” she said and stepped out. “You don’t have to stay Malia. I know you’re exhausted,” He said. “I’m feeling a bit better now,” He lied as a bead of sweat ran down his forehead. He didn’t ask anyone anything about his injuries because he didn’t want to know. He was usually fairly intuitive about his body and he knew something was very very wrong with him. And yet he smiled at Malia. “I’m really sorry about the car, I know you really liked it,” He said.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:24 pm

Isabella, while she hadn't been the main brain behind the finding the cure for Tony, she had helped quite a bit and by Tony not even addressing her, or recognizing that she had help him she felt upset and like her contribution hadn't mattered. She yanked off her goggles and threw them down onto the table and walked out of the lab. She knew she needed to sleep, but she was too wound up now. She just walked down to her office and shut the door.

-----------------------------

Malia knew James was lying to her. She slowly got up and carefully got into the bed next to him. She wrapped her arms gently around him and rested her head against his shoulder. "I'm not going anywhere James. We're going to get through this together."

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Post by Conleth on Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:45 pm

Bruce could see what Tony was going to do. “Tony...I” He began but Tony just held his finger up and moved quickly toward their office. He opened the door and shut it behind him. He could see that Isabella was on the verge of losing it. Either that or breaking down. Her back was to him. “So you and Bruce created a miracle...what am I supposed to say?” Tony said. “That your amazing? That your the greatest wife ever...that I love you?” He said hoping something...anything he said would get her to turn around.

----------------

Before long Malia was sleeping. The nurse came in to check on them and James put a finger to his mouth as a gesture for her She nodded silently, replaced his IV bag, checked his vitals and left. James laid back as silent tears fell down his cheeks as he looked at his ruined legs. Would he even be able to walk? He doubted it. He was good at reading people and the doctor sounded upbeat about his prognosis but nerve damage? He knew what that was. He looked over at Malia. She was still with him so that was a good sign. Maybe she did love him? He thought And smiled as he looked at her sleeping face. So beautiful, so...young and strong. He was going to be leaning on her in the coming months. He would try to pay her back...somehow. Somehow he would.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:53 pm

Isabella heard Tony walk down towards the office. She had her back to the door and so when he looked at her he wouldn't be able to see the tears in her eyes. She heard what he said and she just sat there for a moment before she slowly looked over at him. A few tears rolled down her cheeks.

"I just wanted to help you."

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Post by Conleth on Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:00 pm

“And you did babe. I realize its not been a picnic...the me dying part but do you think I want to leave you? Or to never see our daughter born? I thought about that all the time,” Tony said. “You’re my family Isabella. I married you, not the world, not the Iron Man suit. Just you. You’re all that really matters to me. And I know I’m an ass,” he said as he put his arms around her from behind. “You let me know constantly so how could I forget?” He asked as he kissed her tear streaked cheek. When she looked at him he kissed her lips.

“Now you got this...sexy, college, all night cramming thing goin on but I’m thinking you really do need to hit the hay. And I’ll be here when you wake up,” he said as he kissed her again.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:06 pm

Isabella let Tony take her back to their room. He helped her change and get the rest of her makeup off. She asked him to lay with her for a bit and so he laid next to her and put his arms around her. She got as close to him as she could with her round belly and she breathed in his scent.

"I couldn't bare the thought of going through the rest of my life without you. You're a man who drives me completely insane, but you're my man...my husband...my best friend. I wouldn't want to do it," she admitted as she looked up at him.

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Post by Conleth on Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:40 pm

Tony touched her belly hoping he could feel their daughter kick. He could feel her move but no kicking today it seemed. “I’m not going anywhere babe,” He said softly as he kissed her forehead. He felt her snuggle into his neck. “You’ve seen to that, haven’t you,” He whispered as he felt her drift off. He remained there for a while...until she started snoring.

When he got up Steve was in the kitchen making a sandwich. Bruce was there as well talking to him. “So James is awake and is doing as well as expected,” Steve said as he used a butter knife to put mayo on his bread. “I do need to talk to you...both,” Bruce said. He went onto explain the situation. “Vibranium would last a lot longer than palladium as a core. Significantly longer but they still needed to get more and its very rare. SHIELD has a store of it. Much more than we need but I doubt they’ll just part with it,” He said.

“Considering what Tony and his father have done for SHIELD, for the country, I think they should just give it to you,” Steve said, Bruce and Tony looked at one another for a moment and then they began to laugh together. Steve just looked at them and didn’t understand. “Nick will want something in trade,” Tony said. “Well..Dont you have 4 rings?” Steve said and Bruce and TOny looked at one another. They nodded and smiled. “Yes we do,” Bruce said happily.

---------------------------

It was late when Malia finally woke up. James was sleeping though his face was very close to hers when her eyes opened. The nurse was there checking his fluids. “Hey, Miss Montoya, Mr. Rhodes asked me to tell you that if he was sleeping you could go home if you wanted,” she said. “He’ll probably be out for a while. We’ll take good care of him,” she assured her.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:11 pm

Isabella slept for most of the day. She was utterly exhausted and fell into a deep sleep and remained there. When she finally awoke it was late and she was starving. She got up and went to the kitchen and began to make herself a very large sandwich. Normally, Isabella was much more delicate and refined in how she ate, but not today. Isabella even put some chips into her sandwich like she had seen Tony do before.

——————————————

When Malia awoke James was asleep. She looked over to see the nurse there and she sighed when she heard what she said. She didn’t want to leave him, but she knew she needed to eat, shower, and get something real to eat if she was going to properly take care of James.

She finally got up but before she left she leaned over and gave James a soft kiss. “I love you,” she whispered into his ear. She then left and headed back home for a few hours.

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Post by Conleth on Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:15 am

Bruce came by while Isabella was stuffing her face. He smiled and nodded to her as he went to the refrigerator and got a can of soda. He moved over to the table and smiled again when Isabella covered her mouth as she chewed. “I could have made you something, least I could do for the help,” He said as he snapped the can open and took a drink. Other then them two the tower was quiet, as if no one else was there. Bruce didn’t offer up anything either.

---------------------------------

When Malia got home her message machine was packed with messages. She had been ignoring her practice over the last day and a half and she had responsibilities there. People counted on her and she had just let it all lapse while she tended to James. She shared the practice with another vet, Jim Tarmane and he was a good guy but he was the first to leave a message and ask her if everything was alright. Two of the girls that work the front desk left messages as well. She was in truth a very busy woman and someone who ‘couldn’t’ just leave everything like she had.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:24 am

Isabella was rather embarrassed when Bruce appeared by how she must look. However, he didn't seem to mind and so she just kept on eating. She took another bite and chewed and as she did she realized that neither Tony nor Steve seemed to be around. She swallowed and then put down the rest of the sandwich.

"Where are Tony and Steve?" she asked curiously.

-----------------------

With everything that had happened to James, Malia hadn't been thinking about the veterinary practice she shared with Jim. She sighed when she saw her answering machine but she hit the button and let the messages begin to play. As she listened to them she began to think. James was really going to need her and while she had already decided that she wasn't going to leave him, in that moment she knew what else she needed to do. She

She picked up the phone and called Jim. When he came to the phone he sounded worried and she quickly reassured him that she was alright. "I'm fine Jim, but my boyfriend isn't. We were in a car accident and he's in bad shape. Jim...I need to leave the practice...at least for a while. He's going to need me there to help him."

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Post by Conleth on Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:48 am

Bruce looked at first as if he didn’t really want to answer but he had made no promise to anyone. And he did not want to be on Isabella’s bad side. This was her home and Tony was her husband. He had no real reason not to tell her. “They’re...at SHIELD HQ,” Bruce said reluctantly.

----------------

Jim was good but he wasn’t Malia. He didn’t have that kinship she seemed to have with animals. Their practice was booming and if he were being honest, he’d have to say it was because of her. Young in the field and yet she possessed an uncanny insight that allowed her to properly find the root causes of injuries and illnesses that he certainly could never have found.

“Malia...I’m sorry about your...boyfriend...but I need you...we need you. The animals need you. Our clients rely on us...I’ll have to reschedule half of our appointments...Malia, please, isn’t there a way you can help, uh, James and still work? I need you,” he told her. Nan ofcourse was listening and what Jim said had made her...curious. As to what Malia was going to do most likely.

Nan believed that helping animals was Malia’s calling. Her responsibility. Nanyehi had never had a host that did what Malia did and she wanted her to continue in that. She didn’t understand about love and what that all meant. Or how Malia needed James to need her. The emotional link between her and James was strong. And alpha wolves like herself and James typically mated for life. She had had other boyfriends but James was different. He was an Alpha, like she was and that made all the difference.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:57 am

Isabella looked at Bruce for a long moment as what he said sank in. She realized then that a decision about what they were going to trade for the Vibranium had been made...without her. She wasn't sure how she felt about that, but the fact that Bruce was still here meant that the trade hadn't involved him and that was a relief.

"What are they trading?" she asked him straight out.

------------------------------------

Malia liked working with Jim. He was nice and had a kind heart. He made her laugh when she needed to and had always been there for her. Leaving was difficult for her. She enjoyed working with animals and helping them, but James needed her help more now and she couldn't let him down.

"Jim...James may not ever be able to walk again. He suffered severe nerve damage to his left leg. He's going to need a lot of help. I really don't want to leave, but I need to...at least for a short time. I need to get things figured out with James and determine if it will be possible for me to work part time. If he and I decide that that will be alright I will come back. Until then I will find a replacement for me...I promise. I wouldn't be leaving if I didn't have to Jim...please know that."

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Post by Conleth on Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:19 am

Bruce pursed his lips but he still intended to answer. He didn’t know Isabella all that well but he knew her to be a very strong, independent woman. He could see why Tony married her. She was beautiful, intelligent, strong, willful and obviously wasn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty. She dug in when she needed to and they got it done. He respected that and respected her as well.

“The 4 rings that were left,” he said. “I’m concerned about that though. SHIELD will likely use them to make some kind of weapon,” he said.

-----------------------------

Jim paused on the phone for a moment. “Alright Malia. I’ll have to scramble to adjust our scheduling. You’ve put me in a bad situation but we’ll figure it out. I hope James gets better soon,” he said and then hung up. Nan’s disapproval was palpable but she had already said her peace and ultimately she followed where Malia led her. She had considered having Malia pass her on to someone else but Nanyehi liked Malia and knew her to be an honorable woman. This ‘emotion’ she felt for James was new as well and it was worth experiencing.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:32 am

Isabella found she wasn’t entirely surprised to hear that the rings were what Steve and Tony were going to trade. She knew it would be a risk, but they weren’t going to hand over Bruce. She considered him apart of the team now.

“Well, if they do then we’ll just have to deal with it.”

She was quiet a moment before looking at Bruce. “Thank you for helping Tony. You helped me save his life.”

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Post by Conleth on Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:26 am

Tony had wanted to examine and experiment with those rings himself but he took the trade. Nick asked about Bruce but Steve had jumped in and said that that would not be possible. Bruce was a human being, not something to barter. Tony had witnessed Steve’s angry side during that exchange and for the first time he saw Steve in a different light. Nick ofcourse wanted to know what they would do with the Vibranium but they didn’t tell them what it was for ofcourse. Add in thats its life or death and your bargaining position got much worse during a negotiation.

They talked alot on the drive back and though Tony and Steve didn’t always agree on everything, there was a mutual respect that existed between them. When they arrived back at the tower he saw Isabella was up and dressed. She was showing much more now and sometimes when she stood a certain way, with one hand on her belly and the other on her hip she looked very matronly to him. Especially when she looked at him like she did sometimes. He irritated her and yet he was the father of her daughter that she carried inside of her belly.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:37 am

Isabella heard the elevator and saw Tony and Steve step off the elevator. She saw Tony holding a case and knew they had gotten it. She walked over to him and Steve and Bruce stepped away to give them a moment of privacy. Isabella looked far more rested and relaxed now. Her anger had dissipated and she was far more calm and like herself.

“So, you got it?”

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Post by Conleth on Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:43 am

Tony wasn't certain how Isabella would react to him just leaving her behind. When he did that her ire over it was sometimes sharp. Right then though she seemed more relieved than angry and he felt himself relax a little. "We did," He said simply. "Did you get something to eat?" he said changing the subject to her instead of him. "You know your not eating enough," he added. "When she said she had Tony nodded again. "So then...that means that you're...feeling better?" he said but in a tone that had a suggestion behind it. he wanted sex.

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