Chapter 2: I Know Your Sin

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'I don't do this for the riches
I'm infected, my condition is I'm always in my head
These words are my religion
I'm obsessive by decision
I'ma do this 'til I'm dead,'

My right foot taps in time to the beat of 'Stronger' by the Score playing loudly through my earphones, the adrenaline of the song prepping me for enemy territory. Perched upon one of the seats attached to the cargo-bay wall, I rest my head back against the quinjet, craning my neck to face the cockpit where Tony presently is, flying the aircraft with Jarvis. We definitely won't be back in time for Tony and Nat's little training session, even with the impressive flight time we're making with Tinman's top of the line technology. He could've easily sent me with anyone else; Clint, who is briefly visiting the team at the moment, or Sam, who has been stationed in New York for quite some time now, or he could've even waited for Steve and Thor to get back before sending either one of them off.

'Set me on fire
Set me on, set me on fire
Whoa-oh, whoa,'

Tony has recently been a little... well, I would say skittish, but even then I don't think that wording is adequate enough to describe the billionaire's current disposition. He hides it well; I'm unsure whether the other Avengers even see the storm behind his eyes brewing. Tony Stark stands on the edge of a blade, teetering between remaining atop or falling into... what? Fear? Insanity? Depression? Anger? I'm unable to tell. I can only see where he stands, not what he threatens to fall into, to be consumed by.

'I'm still alive
I'm still a, I'm still alive
Whoa-oh
Bet you didn't think that I'd come back to life,'

Ever since I've regaled my experiences on Asgard with the stones he's been like this, high-strung about anything that relates whatsoever to life or beings outside of our own planet. I'm aware of his PTSD and anxiety, hell; I've even been to a handful of his therapy sessions with him when the thought of going alone unnerved him too much. The Battle of New York changed him in a way that I don't think he's come to terms with yet, enlightened him to the infinite expanse that is outer space and how hilariously outgunned Earth is in comparison to the life that lives out there.

Tony Stark likes holding some semblance of control, whether it's physical control over something, like a company, or control in the sense of knowledge. That which he knows about, which he is educated in, bestows him with that impression of control and understanding. It's why accountability is such a big thing for him as well. Finding out about the fact he was utterly clueless and in the dark about the hands his weapons were falling into, entirely out of his control at the time, resulted in three months of captivity in Afghanistan and shrapnel from his own technology being lodged in his chest. Since then, accountability and knowledge and control have been such important focal points to him, and when it comes to the cosmos, Tony Stark has none of that.

'Fire, faster, everlasting
(bet you didn't think I'd come back to life)
Higher, faster, never crashing
Bet you didn't think that I'd come back to life—'

Pulling the ear buds from my ears, effectively cutting the song short, I abandon my phone to my seat and languidly wander towards the cockpit, lazily slouching in the free co-pilot seat with my feet casually kicked over the right arm rest, facing the Avenger. The engineer spares me a glance to his left, quickly sighing before turning his own chair until he's facing me front on with an expectant expression on his face. "You've been quiet this whole trip and now you've got that look that Rogers wears when I'm about to be given a talk. What gives?"

"Nothing," I shrug, innocent as an angel, chair marginally swivelling left to right repetitively in my inability to sit completely still. "Just wanted to let you know that you don't need to take the weight of the world on your shoulders and put a big boy facade on around me if something is bothering you. Still trying to get that through Steve's head as well to be honest, but he seems to be getting better at it at least. Speaking of my scrumptious wall of muscle that is Steve Rogers," I quickly avert to a different topic, knowing that if Tony really wants to talk about that, then he's comfortable enough around me to instigate the conversation himself. Right now however, the genius seems relieved for the abrupt subject change. "You almost always send him on recons and missions with me, being our number one shipper of all time. So... why the sudden change?"

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