So! In celebration, I'm posting a couple of pages. Since there's been some interest in the Tony!whump aspects, I'm giving you Tony's first meeting with his new Sentinel. TW for, uh...whumpiness? There's no detailed on-screen torture, but it's pretty clear that Tony has been having a very unpleasant time of it for quite a while when we join him here. In ye olden dayes of House fandom, I would call it non-Poeia-safe.
Tony was fairly sure he had been left to die. He’d been at G-TAC for a while now—two months, maybe three. It was hazy. Most of the people who’d been in phase two when he got there were gone. He’d thought he was past the worst of it—there were no rumors of a phase three, and anyway, phase two was so much better than phase one that he figured it there was a phase three, it wouldn’t be too bad.
He’d thought that right up until he went down to Medical for what they told him were “inoculations”—they hadn’t offered any details, and questions weren’t encouraged, at G-TAC—and he’d woken up, stripped down to his briefs, in a cell with an overhead light, shelf bunk, chemical toilet, and fuck-all else.
He’d spent the first day resting up and trying to steel himself for whatever was coming next. When a day went by and nobody came—not even to bring him any food or water—he’d done some screaming at where he figured the surveillance cameras were hidden. Then he’d calmed himself down, trying some of the meditation tricks Bruce had taught him for dealing with his post-traumatic nightmares. Then the begging had started—asking them to let him out, to give him something to do, some fucking water for fuck’s sake, and he didn’t know what he’d done, but he swore he wouldn’t do it again. He’d even cried, which had been a waste of precious bodily fluids he couldn’t afford to lose.
Now, on what he guessed might be his third day in the cell, he was sitting cross-legged on the bunk, his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands. Trying to conserve energy, he told himself, but he’d die of thirst long before he starved. Although maybe not much more; even in phase two, he hadn’t been eating much—two meals a day on a really good day, and the portions were not generous. He was long past the part where his ribs showed; his hipbones and collarbones stood out like coathangers under his skin, and his chest was sunken around the arc reactor. The billionaire-genius-playboy-philanthropis
He was entertaining a vague, hopeless fantasy of his teammates coming to his rescue—the Hulk smashing that wall right there would a treat, about now—when the door opened.
“On your feet, Guide,” a trainer said, slapping a truncheon against his palm.
Tony obeyed—it was instinct, now, and even if he had taken the time for rational thought, he wasn’t about to fuck up what might be his one chance to get out of here alive. But he was weakened from hunger and dehydration, and as soon as he stood, his head swam. He stumbled forward , and oh, shit, he was going to fall right into the trainer; they really, really hated that….
Hands caught him. “Easy, now,” a warm voice said. The first one he’d heard in months that didn’t have the sneering tone G-TAC used on Guides.
Tony’s vision cleared, and he saw a man in SHIELD uniform, with Sentinel tabs. Tall, with close-cropped sandy hair. Tony glanced up at him—he shouldn’t have; the trainers didn’t like that, either—before dropping his gaze to the Sentinel’s hand, clasped around his arm just above the elbow.
“Guide,” the trainer said. “Sentinel Edwards. You’ll show him some respect, if you know what’s good for you.”
Tony nodded, and managed to get out a “Yes, sir,” from his dry mouth.
“We’re getting out of here,” Edwards said. He shifted his grip on Tony, supporting him with an arm around his shoulders, and took him out of the cell.
They didn’t go very far. It turned out Tony had been in Medical this whole time; a minute’s shuffling, unsteady walk took him back to an exam room, the same one where he’d had his “inoculation,” or maybe its twin. Edwards sat him down on the exam table, and stayed next to him so he wouldn’t fall off of it.
A pretty nurse came in. Tony was too thirsty, weak, and scared to really mind being seen like this, practically naked and looking like hell, but his relentlessly active mind catalogued the humiliation for later review. “Can we get him some water?” Edwards asked her.
“Of course, Sentinel.” The nurse went to the sink and drew a small paper cup of water. “Just a little, at first,” she warned, handing the cup to Edwards.
Tony tried to raise a shaking hand to take the cup, but Edwards patted it back down, saying, “I’ve got you.” He felt a moment’s stab of panic—maybe he’d just lost himself the chance of a drink—but Edwards held the paper cup to his lips and let him have a long swallow. There was still half the cup left when Edwards took it away, but he managed not to protest. “All right?” Edwards asked.
“Yes, sir.” If anything, the small amount of water had only made him more aware of how thirsty he was, but he knew better than to complain.
It must have been the right answer; Edwards put the cup back to his mouth and let him have the rest of it.