He Without Sin

Tony Has Questions

Something doesn't make sense and Tony knows it, he just can't figure out what it is just yet.

The first days after the invasion everything seemed normal. Well, as normal as you'd expect things to be after an alien invasion, anyway. But then Tony started to notice that things didn't exactly add up the way he expected, the death count, for one. It was a startlingly low number, with more injuries than fatalities, and he knows it wasn't because of them. The Avengers were just six people who couldn't be everywhere at once and there were... a lot more than six aliens. He couldn't have said how many, hundreds he was sure, but he didn't have a count. There was no way that many outside forces didn't cause at least their own number in death counts, and yet, that was what happened. There was property damage aplenty, but that was it.

It was almost as if all the damage that should have been done to people was all expended on buildings and the like, which made absolutely no sense. Aliens do not invade for the purpose of building demolition. (I mean, Earth construction couldn't be that offensive, could it?)

More suspicious than the very low number of deaths, despite Tony being stuck on this first fact for a very long time, was the fact that many of the bodies just... disappeared. Literally, they just vanished. One day there were alien corpses littering the streets and the next day the majority of them were gone. At first, this had been worrying. Were they just playing dead? Would there be a covert stage two to the plan? But then video footage was found that showed them just... disintegrating... or something... and that put that thought to rest. (Jarvis has cameras everywhere, so once he'd sense the footage himself, from his own servers, he was forced to concede that it was legitimate.)

So, too much property damage, too little death, and disappearing corpses. If Tony didn't know better, he'd think it was a conspiracy or a cover up.

Actually, Tony didn't know better. So yeah, he wondered if it was a cover up or something. It wasn't as if Shield was open about what they got up to. He couldn't find evidence of what was being covered up, though, and that was strange, because Shield was pretty transparent if you knew how to hack into their data bases and peruse their servers for private information.

So yeah, something was up, but he couldn't at all figure out what. And nothing annoyed him more than knowing that he didn't know something. (He didn't build an A.I. into all of his systems to keep watch over all his property because he was bored. Well, not just because he was bored.)

It was for all these reason that during the next Avengers get together, because Fury couldn't stop himself from calling them all together, even though the archer never showed and Bruce never spoke and he could just as easily send an email, that Tony entered the room late and asked loudly, "Was the invasion a cover up?"

No has ever accused Tony Stark of having either tack or discretion.

The Widow was already sitting at the table with Captain America, both looking up at him but wearing vastly different expressions. The Widow narrowed her eyes at him, which could mean anything from 'how do you know our deep dark secret?' to 'Why are you annoying us this time?' and in all likely hood meant both, because knowing Shield secrets seems to deeply annoy her. The Captain just looked confused, but what's new? He'd be confused too if he took a seventy year nap and woke up in the future. (A seventy year nap and waking up in the past would be even more confusing, but Tony tries to stamp down on these sort of tangents.)

Bruce was shuffling quietly in after, the two having been together at the tower, trying to put distance between them so that he wasn't caught up in whatever crazy thing Tony was doing. Joke was on him, of course, because everyone got caught up in the crazy things that he did no exceptions.

Fury was standing at the head of the table, like always, looking angry and intimating, also like always. His typical frown turning into a scowl at Tony's outburst. "What are you on about this time, Stark?"

"The invasion," Tony repeated, because he knew that others had a hard time keeping up with him and he had to be patient with their slow minds, as he moved toward the table and took a seat. "Was it a cover up or something?"

Fury gave him a look like he thought Tony was stupid. "What would lead you to a stupid idea like that, Stark?"

"Minimal death, lots of destruction, and the disappearance of nearly all the invading alien bodies," He replied promptly.

The Captain frowned and looked toward Fury. Tony couldn't tell whether that frown was because he wasn't keeping up with the conversation or because he was suspicious as well.

Fury just sighed. "What would it be a cover of, Stark? You saw the portal yourself and the bastards that came through it. Shield couldn't have faked that."

"Maybe," Tony allowed, then added, "But did you?"

"No."

"Okay." He paused a moment, deciding to believe that before adding, "But you know that everything about this is kinda... off, right?"

Fury glanced to Widow for a moment before he decided to speak. "We did notice a few things that were strange, but we decided that they weren't really worth discussion."

"I disagree."

"You always disagree, Stark."

"Yeah, but this time I'm justified. I think when aliens invade and I'm one of the people that has to deal with it, I have a right to information. Not to mention, if this happens again, it would be better to have all the information available."

"Stark does have a point," Steve agreed. "If there's something else going here, I think that we should know about it."

Fury frowned at them a long moment, obviously debating whether or not he should say anything. After a long silence he spoke. "Several agents that were thought to be killed by Loki when he first came through the portal were revealed to be alive."

Tony and Steve just blinked for a few moments as that obviously was not what either of them expected. Steve spoke first. "Do you mean that they survived the attack?"

"No, I mean that he didn't attack them at all," Fury answered. "Apparently, their deaths were feigned and he simply took control of them the way he did Barton."

"But why would he pretend to kill them?" Steve asked. "He obviously didn't have a problem killing with what he did to Coulson."

There was something in the silence that followed that statement that made Tony sit up straighter. He narrowed his eyes and asked, "Did Loki kill Coulson? Or was he one of the ones that were taken?"

"Neither."

"What the fuck does that mean!" Tony demanded.

"It means what it means, Stark."

"You mean that you lied and manipulated us. Twice!" Tony yelled. "Anything else you're hiding? Is your name even Nick Fury?"

"Stark--"

"Are you my real dad? Swear to god, if you're my real father--"

"Stark!" Fury yelled. "Shut up."

Tony forced himself to be quiet for a moment. Joking could only calm him so much, but he absolutely being manipulated and lied to. It was one of several reasons he could never really trust Shield. To many secrets, too much deception, and too many assassins glaring at him across the table during meeting.

Said assassin chose that moment to speak up. "Loki did attack Coulson, but it wasn't a critical wound. When he examined his possessions we found a note in his pocket that revealed the location of the agents that were thought to be dead."

"And we weren't told this because..." Tony made a hand gesture indicating for them to get on with it.

"Because it was Shield business," Natasha replied.

"Bullshit! Doesn't any of this seem suspicious to you?"

"Yes," She replied calmly, offering no more information.

Steve had a severe frown on his face, obviously thinking, but Tony couldn't fathom what the Captain would come up with, especially when Tony himself was still contemplating a conspiracy. Then Steve said something that mildly shocked Tony, on account of him not having thought of it first. "Is this why we haven't seen Agent Barton at the meetings?"

"Shit. What did you guys do with all those agents?" Tony asked quickly.

"They're being evaluated," was the curt answer they were given by the director.

"Something doesn't seem right about this," Bruce spoke up for the first time.

"Yes," Natasha said again, and Tony was already tired of her monosyllable, monotone answers.

"So let me get this straight," Tony begins. "Guy comes through a portal, pretends to kill a bunch of people that he actually kidnaps via mind control, gives us their location via sparing one of our own, and then doesn't put up a fight when he's taken back to his own planet or whatever. And let's not forget that someone, whose mind he was controlling placed an off switch on the portal, cannot be a coincidence."

"Plus the lack of casualties," Bruce added quietly.

"Yes, that." Tony paused, looking around at them all. "Is anyone else feeling like a fool without knowing why?"

Fury sighed. "For once, it isn't just you, Stark. Something is wrong here, but we can't figure out what."

"Are we even sure he really wanted to take over the world?" Tony asked, mostly to be facetious, but after he said it, he had to wonder.

"What else would he want?" Steve asked.

"Million dollar question, isn't it?" Tony replied.

Steve frowned more. Tony was tempted to warn him about his face sticking that way, but displayed a rare moment of self-control. "What have the other agents said. Do they remember much?"

"They remember everything," Natasha answered. "Or, at least, they say that they do."

"And what is everything?" Tony questioned.

"That's classified, Stark," Fury replied.

"How long have you waited to say that to me?"

"It doesn't matter, anyway," Natasha spoke up. "Whatever Loki wanted to do, he's gone now."

"Yeah..." Tony replied hesitatingly.

No one ever accused Tony of knowing when stop, either.


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