Don't Be Cry

June 05, 2017:

Desperate to pull together the $1 million bail for Bucky, Jane hurries to appeal to the one person she knows that can toss around that kind of scratch at will.

Stark Tower, NYC


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes, Thor, Jessica Jones, Matt Murdock, Pepper Potts, Obadiah Stane

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Life, for Jane Foster, is a blur.

One big blur, like a hand clawed over a painting, reducing every colour and texture and edge of her world into something that bleeds into each other:

Home from Germany. Siberia. Out of Siberia. Hydra's machine. James charged with murders — with treason. In chains. In the Raft. Bail granted. Bail set a million, and without significant sssets she can offer up as collateral, the next choice is reflexive for her.

Jane isn't rich, but she knows rich. She knows one of the richest men in the entire world.

The first thing she does, out of that Courthouse in the wake of Murdock's win, is take the trains and beeline straight for Stark Tower.

Her access gets her in, and her rushed, breathless pleas exchanged with JARVIS admits her elevator access up to Stark's penthouse.

When the doors ring open, the tiny, unstoppable bullet that is Jane Foster is already on a dash, unable to do such things as /walk/ as the world, and all in it, redshifts past so dizzily she stumbles to keep up. She has to pin one hand on the wall, breathing hard, just to stay upright. She hasn't slept or eaten in days, of course.

"Tony!" calls her voice along the glass walls, inside the domed ceilings. "Tony, where — I need to talk!"

From off near where the bedroom might be there is a sudden crash as if someone knocked over a tray of some kind. "PURPLE UNICORNS!" Is a sudden shouted exclimation in a familiar voice of one Tony Stark on the heels of that crash and then a few thumps and clumps.

A few moments later Dummy rolls his way out. Wearing most of what must have been some superfruit smoothie of some kind and tilts his manipulator arm at Jane. Much like a puppy tilting its head curiously.

She doesn't look good.

HE CAN HELP! So he rolls over to help nudge her upright so she can. Well. Walk.

Inside the bedroom Tony himself is just sitting up, hissing as warm feet hit cold floor as he stands. Shrugging on a shirt over his bandaged chest.

"Jane? Is that you Jane?" A beatpause. "FRIDAY who won the bet?"

"I did sir," The irish accented woman's voice comes over the speakers. "JARVIS said that she would be a half hour. I said fifteen minuites."

The crash makes Jane jump like a skinned cat. Her nerves are already suffering turn sixteen of the rack.

At least it's Tony. It SOUNDS like Tony. Thank God, is all Jane can think. Thank God, thank God, she found him, now she just needs to find a way to beg a /million dollars/ out of the man.

She stumbles forward — and Dummy rolls on out to meet her. Jane meets eyes — or well, meets mechanical hand — all of her sleepless mania somehow flatlining her into a quiet stupor of just /staring/. Staring, in total incomprehension, at a little Stark-made piece of tech, dripping smoothie everywhere. And trying to help her, on her trembling legs, stay upright.

The woman finds some sort of pause enough to pinch her eyes with gratitude. Jane makes a mental note that if she manages to survive all this, she's going to put an upgrade into that little bot.

FRIDAY's voice over the speakers, however, redirects what's little left of her mind, her sanity, her capability to think.

"Fifteen?" Jane calls as she makes her way urgently to the bedroom. Whatever propriety she would have — DOES have — is left somewhere back in Brooklyn. It's rude to bust into people's bedrooms, and they might be NUDE in there, but she's not thinking. She's not a full deck. "You heard, then? You heard about James? Then you know he needs —"

Like a tornado, Jane just blows on in past the threshold. Adrenaline-flushed and punched-black under the eyes with sleeplessness and shaking in the hands, the woman comes in all a bluster — and stalls the moment she catches a glimpse of those bandages before covered.

"What happened?" she asks. She didn't even notice the missing S off the TARK sign outside.

"Machine god, Thor hit me, dimentional portal in the basement now, jerk was hiding near my ARC reactor. Jess punched him real good. And so many refugees. I think SHIELD took em? Or I had Bunny buy a hotel. One of the two." Tony replies in his normal disjointed and entirely unsatisfactory way.

Its all true. Its just all unexplained.

"And yes, fifteen. JARVIS was calculating in more traffic. FRIDAY said you wouldn't care. I'm assuming I have a car parked in the lobby or something like that."

He squints towards her. There are two of her at the moment, one happens to be blonde and tapdancing.

"…man. JARVIS got me the /good/ meds…I /love/ the good meds." He takes a long breath. "…so how long is it since you've eaten?"

He doesn't even wait. She forgets these basic things.

"JARVIS send some dinner up. And yes, I know why you're here. I mean really there arn't that many places you can get that scratch on short notice."

Machine god. Dimensional portals in basements. Jessica punched — what? Refugees where?

Jane's face is a perfect mirror that reflects every single one of those questions. Her eyes stare at Tony's face between helpless blinks. Her jaw tics open bit by bit incredulously. The things you miss out on when your entire life is falling apart.

"Oh," she says weakly. Then: "What, Thor hit you?! What did you do?!"

Because there is no permutation of this universe where Jane Foster believes Thor to be anything less than a paragon of godly righteousness. What did Stark do to piss off the God of Thunder?

Jane rubs her own face to try to wipe off the digression. Tony's apparently on trip-out meds, and she's feeling halfway there dead sober.

"Not hungry," she says breezily to Tony's question, instead arrested by his confirmation that — he's heard. He's in the know when it comes to James Barnes. Jane takes in that knowledge like a punch to the gut. Means everyone else knows. Everyone else in the entire world. But Stark, even hopped up on meds, is more than sharp enough to know why Jane's come calling. She has enough self-consciousness left to cringe with apology.

And so, the woman implores, "I — wait." And she goes digging. All through her handbag, opening it, tearing through her things, upsetting a few keys and fallen change. She comes up empty and searches her pockets, jeans and then coat, before — thank god, she comes up with a small crumpled leaf of paper, what looks like an old receipt.

"I made a list," she explains, trying to flatten it out with her exhaustion-trembly fingers, "on — on the way. For you. It's a lot, I know, a million dollars, it's so much money. I have a list — of reasons — why, why I hope you'd — "

Jane rambles straight into them, afraid to pause, afraid that stopping means she'll hear the "no" that much faster. And then this is what Tony's life comes to, a tiny, underslept woman standing in his bedroom, reading her own chickenscratch on the back of a coffee receipt why he should give her one million dollars to free her in-custody boyfriend. "James was good friends with your parents. Which — which makes you family to me. He helped your father a lot — no, wait, that." Sounds like Tony /owes/ them. "He was there for them, and will be for you. He's honourable and won't break any of his conditions, ever — so I promise you won't lose any money you'd give. It means I'd owe you a favour and I'd do anything, I'd — help work and you don't have to compensate. I'll work for years to make up the amount. And then — wait, there's… another… there's another list —"

Pathetically, Jane tries to start sorting through her handbag again, weakly pulling it all apart.

"What I didn't do anything! It was part of a cunning plan to let us get the drop on a mind controller. Or something. I couldn't really pay attention past the burning pain in my ribs after that. He hits /really/ hard." Tony confesses as he rubs at his size.

"Not hungry. Of course you're not. Because you /forget you need food/." He retorts as he starts to get out of bed.

As she starts to go though reports and lists and reasons Tony just quirks an eyebrow at her. A shake of his head before he's looking for a phone.

As she franticly sorts she'll feel a metalic weight across her shoulders as Dummy tries to awkwardly hug her. Its…really awkward. He's just an arm. BUT HE TRIES.

Tony isn't even paying attention to her rantings though.

"Yeah, Pepper? Obi? I need a million on short notice." He's talking into the phone. "No I didn't do that." A longer pause. "No I didn't do that either! Its not even for me!" A beatpause. "Oh well I need you two ta disguse that it came from me. Just wash it though some of those offshore whatevers, you two know the details better than I do." A longer pause. "Why? Well Jane is busy signing her soul over to me. I told her she can keep it, and instead I can have the rights to be soul producer of her new ballistic cloth. I'm guessing thats going to make a lot more than a million. So fix if for me alright?"

A quirked eyebrow is arced towards Jane as if to ask. 'That cool?'

There's another one of those just-too-long, surrepititious looks from Jane Foster, pale-faced and quietly horrified, as Tony Stark puts /Thor/ and /mind controllers/ in the same sentence.

Her mouth parts with a dozen questions she wants to ask. But he mentioned Jessica there — maybe this has to do with that case she's working. Probably absolutely has to do with it. Mind controllers as a thing makes every muscle in her body want to lock up with dismay, even before Thor is added to the picture — it hurts her to imagine him, noble, good-hearted Thor, with his sweet mind ripped apart —

But Jessica was there. She hasn't heard from Jessica a wrong way about it to think anything terrible happened, though Jessica probably wouldn't tell her either, not right now, not with this, and Tony is still /alive/ so it means —

She makes the decision to put the questions on hold. Just for now. She only has so much in her right now to focus on one thing, and it's Bucky Barnes, sitting in chains. Sitting in a cell.

So there it comes down to Jane, hopeful and brittle-voiced, trying to read off reasons for bail monies off her receipts. The robot arm comes up to try to hug her. It makes her words trip and her eyes water, but the woman holds strong. She soldiers along, trying to find receipt part two, because there's more, she /wrote/ more, she had at least twelve reasons thought up on the way here, and she —

— is hearing Tony, on the phone, agreeing to cut her a cheque. Just like that. The price is her nanotube-aggregate fiber. He wants rights? The way Jane stares, visibly reeling, means she cares less. It's nothing to her, meaningless in comparison with the realization of having James set free, out of chains, out of that /place/ they have him.

'That cool?' asks Tony's expression.

Jane's answer is a simple one. With tears streaking down her face, she rushes forward to try to hug Tony Stark desperately and obliviously right around his poor, poor damaged ribs.

This is what happens when you do nice things. She's crying on him.

"Yup thats cool, alright get it done pronto would ya? Yeah yeah. I'll come by and explain later! Don't worry about it!" He knows they are totally gonna worry about it. They always worry about it ah well. Totally not his problem. Right? Right.

So he clicks the phone closed and starts to turn back towards Jane.

Which is when he realises she's coming at him.

There seems to be intent to hug.

There are many reasons to panic at that moment. /Hugging/. Jane /hugging/ which may lead to Bucky shooting. (HE'S TRICKY HE COULD BE WATCHING.). Ribs. Oh god ribs. Tears. OH GOD TEARS.

All this is processed in the blink of an eye, synapses faster than lightninng blazing though whats coming. Also the horrible realisation that there is no stopping it.

She hugs him.

"…I…can…see…through time…" He gasps out as pain explodes somewhere just behind the eyeballs. The drugs take the edge off, which leaves him franticly looking for an off swich on Jane. "Its…ribs…" He adds after a moment. "Fine. Don't be cry. Its fine…" There is much awkwardness as he tries to get enough breath to tell her how much it hurts and the fact that she's crying on an important piece of lifesaving tech…

A few awkward pats on her head.

"Its fine!"

Relief comes so ruthless a shock that Jane wants to slump down where she's standing — just collapse on the spot — and fold over. After two straight days of anxiety and anguish and terror and the /not knowing/ which is worst of all — not knowing what could be happening to James in that place, not knowing what they could be doing to him, not knowing if he's all right in that prison, if he's safe, if he's being subjected to more tortures /he doesn't/ need, and not KNOWING —

But in just all of one phone call, Tony Stark comes to the rescue. He fixes it. And it doesn't solve everything, doesn't erase the charges still pressed against Barnes, but, for the time being — it will bring him home. Jane might be able to sleep again.

So with what little spirit and energy is left in her weary body, she gives it /all/ to Tony. Every last bit. She rushes him and swallows him into the most needy, clinging hug possible, perhaps even destroying him a little with how surprisingly strong a tiny thing like Foster can be.

Stark is a genius engineer, but not even his eye can behold it: there is no off switch on Jane Foster. Believe it, many others before him have tried. Erik Selvig would wearily attest to wishing for one for many, many years.

James Barnes too, no doubt.

Jane clings in utter gratitude, and if that isn't torture enough, she racks with sudden, soft sobbing, trembling as wave of relief takes the tears out of her. What he's done means so much, /so much to her/, and she doesn't even know what to say to even express gratitude, except —

"Oh, god! Sorry!" she blurts, horrified, realizing too late she's squeezing him right around his possibly Thor-smashed ribs. Jane guiltily lets go, not without a couple of his pats that muss up her dark hair. "I'm so — are you OK? Do you need —" Please don't let it have changed his mind. "I can get you — thank you so much, Tony. So much. You saved James. You saved me. This means so much. I have to go. I should — call. Call everyone. Murdock, and Jessica, and — and we can get him out. I owe you, Tony. You get that? I /owe/ you."

"It's—fine…" Tony repeats as if telling her that his ribs arn't /more/ crushed now will somehow make is so. The power of drug induced disbelief is strong. He does though flop back on the bed though, arms splayed out as he tries to recover his wits.

As she starts to babble again he raises one arm.

"What you are going to do is call people from a bed. Then powernap in said bed. Then at least drink a goddamn smoothie, because JARVIS makes great ones, and /then/ you can go out and do whatever else. Because if you don't you'll fall asleep in my elevator and Pepper will yell at me more than she's already planning on yelling at me for everything else thats happened."

A pause.

"Plus you'll make Dummy sad, and you don't want to do that. He gets oil everywhere."

Dummy hangs his little manipulator arm in sadness.

"SO. NAP! Do it or I'll ground you or something!"

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