I clutch at my chest, the poisonous black lines spreading rapidly under my skin. They burn like fire, constricting my chest, making it hard to draw in air. Desperately, I try to perfect the new element, knowing that it is the only thing that can potentially save my life. As I feel my arc reactor malfunctioning, I know that I won't have the time, but I stubbornly cling to the small shred of hope.
As the pain worsens, and the lines spread, I can feel the weakness flowing through my body. It takes a great effort to pick up the tools. I can barely stay standing. My eyesight is blurring, but I can't tell if it's from the pain, regret, or the palladium that is poisoning my veins. Maybe it's a combination.
When my legs give out on me, I lay on the floor, shivering, trying to fight off the effects of the poison. Pain wracks my body, sending me into spasms. JARVIS' worried voice enters my mind, sounding blurry and far away. "Sir, do you wish me to summon Ms. Potts?"
"Ple- please," I manage to choke out, the short sentence taking away my breath, leaving me gasping for air. I suck in deep breaths, feeling as if I am drowning in the air. A single tear trickles down my cheek, and I realize that I am truly afraid, even more so than when I was trapped in the cave in Afghanistan. Maybe it's because I know that I'm going to die. I don't have any more replacement arc reactors. My palladium poison repressors are gone. Perhaps the biggest reason for the tear is that there's so many things I wanted to do, wanted to say. I've treated so many people badly, and now, I have no way of apologizing. More tears leak down my cheeks, but no sound escapes my mouth. I can see the door to the lab opening, and Pepper walks in.
"Tony, what's the matter? Where are you?"
"He- here," I manage to croak out. Pepper comes running over to me, and I lay back against the floor, thankful that I get to spend my last moments with the woman I love.
I follow the weak sound of Tony's voice, expecting to see him lying under one of his suits, unable to get up. However, the sight that meets my eyes is so much worse than that. Tony is laying on the floor, gasping for air. He winces in pain, and tears run down his cheeks. I know then that this is more serious than I could have ever imagined. I've never seen Tony cry. "Tony, what's the matter? What are the black lines?"
"Pal - ladi - um poi - son - ing," Tony manages to gasp out.
"What can I do? Tony, are you okay?" Tony chuckles weakly.
"It's - past - the point - where - you - can - do - any - thing, Pep - per."
"No, Tony, it can't be! You can't die on me! You're Iron Man! You're Tony Stark!"
"Pep - per, I - don't - have - much - time - left. I - just - want - you - to - know - that - I - love - you, - and - I'm - so - sor - ry - that - I - di - dn't - show - it - more - of - ten. You - de - ser - ved - so - much - bet - ter - than - me, - but - you - al - ways - stuck - through - it - with - me, - ev - en - when - I - was - a - to - tal - ass. - There's - so - ma - ny - more - things - that - I - wan - ted - to - do. - I - wan - ted - us - to - get - mar - ried, - I wan - ted - to - hold - my - first - child - in - my - arms, - and - ev - en - tu - ally, - I - wan - ted - to - be - able - to - hold - my - first - grand - child. -None - of - that - will - be - ab - le - to - hap - pen - now." At this point, I have tears rolling down my cheeks as well. Tony goes into a coughing fit, blood spraying from his lips and speckling the ground. At last, he stops coughing long enough to continue.
"I'm - so - sor - ry, - Pep. - I - wish - I - had - more - time - to - tell - you - every - thing - I - want - to. - I - wish - that - I - could - go - back - and - re - do - my - life. - It's - tak - en - me - dy - ing - to - make - me - re - al - ize - what - a - jerk - I - was - to - every - one. - My - big - gest - regret - is - that - I - didn't - ever - tell - you - how - I - re - ally - felt. - I'll - ne - ver - for - give - my - self - for - that. - Pep - per, - I - love - you. - Don't - ever - for - get - it, - ev - en - aft - er - I'm - gone." At this time, another coughing fit wracks his body. Blood sprays from his lips and splatters on my shirt, but I am beyond caring.
"Tony, I love you!" I shout desperately, pressing my lips to his. Tony smiles once, his lips barely curving upwards, before I hear his breathing hitch. I look him in the eyes one last time, seeing only love shining there. He takes one last shuddering breath, before his chest stops rising and falling. His eyes remain open, glassy, unseeing. Desperately, I begin CPR, determined to revive him. However, after ten minutes without any results, I stop and lay across him, not caring about anything, other than the fact that my on again - off again partner is gone. Tears stream down my cheeks, and I lay my head down and cry.
Tony may have had a reputation a a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, but he was so much more than that. He was my partner, my love. He truly cared for people, even if his demeanor didn't show it. Nobody besides myself may know the truth, which makes his death all the harder to accept. Iron Man may be gone in the eyes of the public, but Anthony Edward Stark will always live on in my heart.