Title: Iommi: Rescue
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Summary: It could be said that it all began with an incorrect analysis of the situation. It should also be stated that Tony Stark had never taken care of a living being prior to the moment when he pulled a dog out of the debris following an earthquake.
Complete. Begins the “Iommi and Other Superheroic Animal Tales” series.
Written for: Animal Big Bang’s Round 1.
Warnings: General mentions of deaths and injuries at an earthquake site & during rescue efforts.
Disclaimer: Iron Man and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Shane Black, Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction created to entertain likeminded fans for no profit whatsoever.
Beta: Mythra (mythras-fire)
Feedback: Comments are like puppies: sometimes they bite, but mostly they lick their way to your heart.
About Iommi: Rescue: Author’s one-song soundtrack for this fic consists of track 7: “Mako” on Pacific Rim’s OST (by Ramin Djawadi).
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
The earthquake struck around sundown, originating somewhere in eastern Turkey. Tony had been in the area on completely unrelated business – business that included Iron Man shaking people in ways that weren’t entirely natural. He was preparing for the long flight home when J.A.R.V.I.S. alerted him to what was happening, and although it had nothing to do with his mission, Tony stalled to wait for reports on the earthquake.
Not long after, news of damages began to circulate. Nothing massive, save for a small city near the border of Iran and Turkey that, according to local news, was almost completely destroyed. Dozens had already been confirmed dead, hundreds of people missing and in danger.
Tony did the only decent thing and flew over to assist with search and rescue.
His suit alone was more than the locals had at their disposal immediately after the quake. Small aftershocks shook the area irregularly, threatening to upset already precarious, damaged buildings. People were out in the streets, huddled together, crying, looking for their loved ones. In most cases Tony had no idea what they were saying, but the universal language of grief, shock, fear and desperation needs no translator.
Tony didn’t wait for permission before selecting a building and starting to dig through it. The sensors of his armor located trapped victims easily enough, and after pinpointing them and scanning the structures to the best of his ability, he got to work. After he pulled out the first family, the locals no longer appeared hesitant at Iron Man’s efforts to help, leaving him to it.
Hours passed in a mindless search. Tony’s body ached but he kept going, knowing he could do more, find one more person alive. Every time a hand grasped his arm or a smudged face peered up at him, it was like a step closer to a great victory. Another life saved. It was like a drug, and he had to have more. The knowledge that his tech was the best in the area drove him forward, and the locals were more than happy to accept the help, occasionally dragging him this way and that when they had another site of destruction they wanted him to explore.
Rationally, Tony knew he was going to drop soon. He was just one man, and he needed a better suit. He ordered J.A.R.V.I.S. to dispatch a special container with tools and a couple suits that could get the job done even better.
Humanitarian organizations started pouring in after Tony had been on site for nearly fifteen hours. With them came doctors, supplies, shelters and water, not to mention more tools for finding those still trapped in the buildings and rubble. The new arrivals spurred Tony to continue for a bit longer, and after swallowing down some disgustingly thick coffee, he snapped the faceplate back down and got to work.
Tony went through a couple buildings that had mostly been checked already, scanning them to be certain there was no one left there. He dug out a few bodies while he was at it, trying to not let it drag his mood down; there were going to be a lot more bodies if the survivors weren’t found, but the dead also deserved to be located and properly buried.
“Sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. notified him, “the jet has taken off and is headed to your location. Approximate time of arrival: 10 hours.”
“Copy that,” Tony murmured. With any luck, the flight would take less than that, but he knew even that prediction was optimistic – not to mention hauling the cargo from the nearest airfield to the disaster site.
“Sir,” the AI spoke up again, “I have detected signs of life; the thermal scan suggests body heat over a small area with elevated heartbeat; perhaps a small child.”
Tony saw it on the HUD and he concentrated his effort to carefully dig his way down, not wanting to break the already ruined structures that might be protecting the child from imminent death. In the limited light, he depended on the armor’s sensors, moving pieces of debris out of the way until he finally caught sight of something curly and dirty, like matted hair.
“I’ve got you, kid,” Tony murmured, knowing the child probably wouldn’t understand a word he was saying, but it might be better than no words at all.
A strange whine reached his ears, muted, and Tony carefully cut through a beam of wood with the laser on his arm and moved pieces of heavy rubble to the side until he could grab onto the small body and release it from the confined little hole. Instead of holding a child, though, Tony found himself lifting up a small dog, the weight almost non-existent in the armor’s grasp.
Another whine reached his ears and Tony carefully moved up from the hole he had dug to get to the trapped victim of the earthquake, cradling the small body protectively on the way up. He was mildly disappointed, having expected something completely different.
Once he moved over to a place with better light, he turned the dog carefully around in his hold and was met by a pair of dark eyes. An equally dark tail wagged, just a bit, and one paw moved forward weakly, scraping against the armor’s chest.
“It’s okay, buddy,” Tony informed the dog. “I’ve got you.”
The dog shifted in his hold, obviously worn out and possibly hurt, although he could detect no dangerous amounts of blood anywhere. He held the dog a bit closer, gingerly, not really knowing what to do with it – and then the fuzzy face pushed towards the faceplate and a pink tongue came out, licking at it.
Tony allowed himself a tired chuckle. “You’re welcome.”
He scanned the dog, just to be sure, and although his suit wasn’t built for that, he was fairly certain the dog’s right hind leg was broken, and possibly one of its ribs as well. Looking around, Tony wondered if there were anyone here who could take a look at the animal.
In his hands, the dog whined again, and Tony rested it awkwardly against the armor’s chest, hoping the dog felt more comfortable that way. He couldn’t actually feel it, but he could see the dog was shaking a little – and a few seconds later he noted the animal was peeing on him.
“Real smooth, pal,” Tony cringed. On top of all the grime, it didn’t really matter. The dog looked up at the sound of his voice as it came through the speakers of the armor, and Tony couldn’t be mad at it for losing control of its bladder. “Okay, let’s get you a nice, hot nurse. They like shaggy fellows like you, right?” Tony joked and took off, walking over to the tents where medical help was being given to those who needed it.
“Excuse me,” Tony called out to one of the people nearby – a man from the Red Crescent. “Could you take a look at him?”
The man frowned and looked at the dog. “We have our hands full,” he started in accented English. “I’m sorry,” he added, but he didn’t really sound like he was.
Tony frowned and walked off. He ended up asking a half dozen people, all of them busy, and none of them either cared or had the supplies to treat a dog. Tony was starting to get rather pissed at them.
Finally he found a young woman who agreed to take the dog from him. She looked like someone who might be rallying against nuclear power the next day, which was probably why she showed extra compassion when so many people were in a need of help at the same time.
“Keep him safe,” Tony requested. “I spent half an hour digging him out of the rubble.”
“Sure thing, Mr. Stark,” the young woman smiled, and Tony took off, hopefully to be of some assistance before it was time for him to get out of the suit and take a nap.
Tony assisted in the search of another collapsed building, but he could feel exhaustion taking over him; he could barely see straight, sounds were getting mixed up in his head, and he was relying completely on the readings on the HUD because he wasn’t sure what was actually real and which a figment of his imagination.
“Sir, may I suggest taking a break until the new suits arrive?” J.A.R.V.I.S. finally suggested, and Tony nodded a bit numbly and walked off, seeing as more people were coming in, with more gear, and they could take care of it for a bit; this would all still be here when he had regained his strength.
Finding a safe place to rest was another matter entirely. Tony went to talk with a few UN representatives and they promised to set him up with a small tent; they wouldn’t have gone that far for just anyone, but Iron Man was a known superhero and when Tony said he would be back on the job in a few hours, once proper gear arrived, they were more than happy to accommodate him.
With a destination in mind, Tony went to walk through the field of tents, trying not to bump into people; his balance was precarious, and a collision would hurt someone else more than it would hurt him.
A little girl suddenly appeared around the corner of a tent, almost making Tony stumble and fall. She was carrying something, and a sharp bark told Tony it was a tiny dog wrapped in a piece of clothing. The girl gave him a long look and then ran off into the midst of the tents; she didn’t appear lost or afraid, so Tony let her go, but the bark forced his thoughts away from rest for a moment; he turned back, navigating along uneven rows of tents, getting a little desperate before he found the one he was looking for.
“Hi,” he poked his head in, finding the familiar young woman inside, tending to a local man with a head wound and a bandaged arm.
The woman glanced at him, then pointed to the side. “I did all I could. We’re low on supplies at the moment and I am not trained to treat animals. Would you like to take him?”
Tony looked at where she was pointing, finding the shaggy dark dog in a small wooden crate, the animal lying on top of a stained blanket with a small bowl of water. Its right hind leg had been bandaged and splinted, and the dark eyes regarded Tony with keen interest. The tail wagged a bit. “Uh, sure,” Tony replied, not knowing any better, and carefully moved over, picking up the crate and the dog in it, gingerly balancing it on one arm. “Thank you for taking care of him.”
The woman just nodded and focused on her current patient. She looked just as tired as everyone else Tony had come across, a look of grim determination on her face. He left her to it and headed back out where the UN people had said they would have a tent ready for him.
In the crate, the dog remained fairly calm during the walk, panting slightly and trying to see what was going on beyond the edges of the crate. Tony feared the animal might try to jump out and run away, but they finally reached the tent assigned to him – marked with a paper stating ‘IRON MAN’ in small, shaky letters.
“Subtle,” Tony rolled his eyes, then slipped inside the tent. To call it ‘small’ was the understatement of the year. Cramped was more like it. The cot set to one side looked promising, however, and there were blankets, which was more than enough.
After setting the crate down carefully so as not to jostle the dog in case the animal was in pain, Tony straightened and ordered for the suit to open up. The locking mechanisms seemed just as sluggish as the rest of him, some of the joints screeching and whining. Dried mud and sand fell off it as the armor opened up and allowed Tony to finally step out of it.
From its crate, the dog was peering up at him, and Tony looked down, unsure of what he was doing. He didn’t know the first thing about animals – not to mention sick, traumatized animals – and he wasn’t sure if the dog liked him all that much, either, now that he wasn’t in the armor anymore.
Sitting down on the cot, Tony took a proper look at the dog. It was a boy, obviously. It had an unruly dark coat, sticking up in every direction. A pair of semi-erect, flapping ears kept twitching this way and that. It had a bit of a terrier look to it, although not really; clearly the dog was a mutt, thin and wild-looking, but well-mannered. Perhaps it had been owned by someone, prior to the earthquake. Maybe Tony could even help reunite it with its family.
“Maybe we could put up posters tomorrow,” he mused and reached over carefully. The dog sniffed at his fingers, then licked at them excitedly. Tony supposed that even if Iron Man had been the one to save this little fellow, Tony’s skin smelled enough of the armor that the dog could tell they were related.
Tony got up to fetch himself some water, and once he found a supply tent, he was given a small canister and a cup. People looked at him go, clearly knowing who he was even if they hadn’t already seen Iron Man digging around in the rubble, and Tony felt a bit vulnerable. He returned to his tent and drew the flap shut, sitting down on the cot again. He drank some, then poured more water into the dog’s bowl. The animal sniffed at the bowl with interest, lapped at the water once, then looked back up at him as if waiting for something. Tony suddenly wondered if he should be getting it something to eat.
“I need a manual,” he complained. The dog cocked its head. “We’ll manage,” he decided then, and made another quick trip to find something to eat. There wasn’t much to choose from, so he took some bread and a couple bananas, returning to the tent once more. The dog was still in the crate and wagged its tail as Tony approached, sniffing as Tony took a bite of the bread. It was hardly satisfying, but it would do, and Tony broke off a piece of it and gave it to the dog, who ate it with a few greedy snaps of his jaws.
The dog ended up eating most of the bread, and even half of one banana once Tony offered some to the animal, doubtful it would eat it. They had some water, then Tony laid back on the cot, the aches in his body easing a little. Letting his eyes fall shut was easy, even with all the commotion and noises from the outside. He had almost drifted off when a noise close by drew his attention: in its crate, the dog was moving around, and Tony had a feeling he was being watched.
Turning his head and opening his eyes, Tony could make out two beady little eyes peering over at him over the side of the crate; the dog had its muzzle propped against the edge so that it could watch him. “What?” Tony asked. “I gave you food.”
The dog kept watching him, blinking slowly.
Tony grumbled, sitting up, wondering if he needed to go for a walk with it or something. At the motion, the dog leaned back and sat down at the bottom of the crate, still staring at him. Its pose was a little off due to the splint on its leg, and Tony took pity on it, lifting the dog to his lap. It weighted more than it had when he handled it with the armor, obviously. Tony lay back down again and felt the paws dig into his skin as the dog moved around for a bit until it settled into the crook of his arm, shaggy head settling on his chest.
“Okay,” Tony said, to no one in particular. “Now can we sleep?”
The dog licked its lips and breathed evenly.
Tony closed his eyes and drifted off, a warm weight pleasant against his side.
He stirred several hours later, bleary eyed and brain barely active as the armor came to life. “Sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. announced through the speakers, “the plane has landed. The crew has been instructed to bring the container to your location.”
“Good,” Tony murmured, still not quite awake.
Beside him, the dog stirred, cocking its ears towards the armor. Guessing he should at least try and walk the dog, Tony slowly climbed up out of the cot, picked up the dog and carried it outside, taking it to the edge of the camp and setting it down. The dog stood there a bit awkwardly, looking around. Tony entertained the idea of it running off to find its family, but eventually it went around and sniffed at some random stone, then tried to raise its leg. The motion, with the splinted limb, almost sent it rolling to its side, and Tony moved towards it to help. After all, a man needed to do what he needed to do.
After the dog had marked the stone, it stood still and Tony guessed this was it. He relieved his own bladder behind a much larger stone, then headed back, carrying the dog, and went to see whether there was any manner of food available. He was given some beans, more of the bread that wasn’t particularly tasty, and a couple bottles of water. With those in tow, Tony managed to get them back to the tent where he shared his meager meal with the dog, who ate just as greedily as before their nap, then curled up beside Tony on the cot and started sleeping.
Tony absently scratched the matted fur and tried to ignore how dirty it was. He could feel the dog’s ribs easily and had a feeling no one had been looking after it for quite some time. Still, he had made a promise…
He moved over to the armor and the motion woke the dog up, making it raise its head and track his motions. Tony snapped his fingers to get the dog to cock its head, and J.A.R.V.I.S. snapped a picture of it. “Great,” Tony mused. “You two stay put; I’ll be right back.” He moved to the door of the tent, stepped out and looked around. In the distance, he saw something that had to be a tent used by the press, and he started towards it.
A muffled bark reached his ears before he got very far and Tony stopped and looked over his shoulder, finding that the dog had limped out of the tent and was following him. The black animal froze as it was spotted, and Tony shook his head. “I told you to stay, mutt,” he told it. “I have business to attend to.” He pointed at the tent. “Go back inside.”
Instead of doing as it was told, the dog walked over to him, clumsily, and Tony heaved a sigh and picked it up into his arms. “Fine. Be that way. But you’re not going to pee on me again!”
The dog licked his face and Tony tried not to smile at the tickle, continuing towards the press area instead.
As expected, he found several stations already setting up camp, and he selected one that was ready for action. “Hi,” he told the first person who looked like they worked behind the scenes and not in front of the camera. “I need to use your printer.” The man looked at him, blinking at the dog and then at Tony, clearly trying to place his face.
“I can’t just –”
“Look, man, I forgot my wallet in my other Iron Man suit,” Tony threw in casually, “but I have a few pictures on my server I need to print and put up on display so that I can find out whether this little fellow has a home to go to.”
The man’s eyes bugged, just a little, behind his eyeglasses. “Right,” he nodded nervously. “Uh, please, come this way,” he stammered and Tony followed him to an area with a few computers and a printer. Without further invitation, Tony reached for a keyboard one-handed, logged into one of his private servers, withdrew the image J.A.R.V.I.S. had taken – along with a simple message in several languages asking whether this dog belonged to anyone – and then printed a dozen pages.
All the while, the dog rested happily against his chest while the man from the news crew shifted behind Tony, clearly not knowing how to act around him.
When Tony went to fetch his prints, he noticed an image displayed on another computer screen: Iron Man, covered in dirt, holding a black bundle of fur that was in the process of licking the faceplate at the moment the picture had been snapped. It was a perfect image, to be honest, although Tony had no recollection of seeing anyone record that moment. He glanced down at the dog he was holding with one arm, and it looked up at him and tried to reach up to lick his face.
“We’ll get you home yet,” Tony told it, nodded at the flustered man as a way of thanks and left.
He spent the next half an hour finding good places to hang up his posters, mostly on fences people were using to look for their lost relatives. No one else was looking for their missing pets, though, and Tony was starting to get a feeling this story wouldn’t have a happy ending.
An hour later, his crew finally arrived with the container, and Tony instructed them to put it out of the way while he went to get ready for another day of digging. In the tent, Tony put the dog back in the crate, made sure it had plenty of water, then tried to figure out a way to order it to stay put. “I’m going to work; to save people and all that stuff,” he told the animal. “You stay here, snoozing comfortably in your box, and I’ll come… check on you,” Tony promised. He would, if he could.
Once convinced he had done all he could, he took the armor he had been using previously and walked out. At the container, Tony opened it up with a palm print, retinal scan and an extra long code to keep any unwanted persons out, and quickly changed into a fresh undersuit.
When the new and improved Red Snapper closed around him, Tony tried not to feel that suffocating weight he had experienced when previously digging for survivors. He knew the odds – knew that they would find fewer and fewer people alive, and perhaps he had been wasting time, resting and waiting for another suit. He was back on the job now, though, and the new armor was specified for search and rescue.
Tony found more than two dozen people alive in the next twenty-one hours. Almost twice as many bodies were recovered, but Tony still tried to have faith, and every time he detected sounds of life, he dove for them madly, knowing he was racing against time as well as the odds, because one wrong move could crush a person waiting to be rescued, or worsen their injuries.
When he had finally driven himself past exhaustion and knew he needed a break, Tony took his armor to the container, left it there and stumbled to his tent. It was dark, although bright lights had been brought over to the rescue area – some of them from Stark Industries, providing the searchers with extra time to find the victims even after it got dark. The lights didn’t quite reach to the tents furthest from the disaster site, like Tony’s, and it took a while for his eyes to adjust to the darkness.
The first thing Tony noticed was that the small wooden crate was on its side, the bowl of water lying upside-down on the floor, and he couldn’t see the dog anywhere.
Tony whistled, lips dry and tongue barely moving to make the sound. “Hey, dog? Doggy? Come here, boy.”
Perhaps someone had come and taken it, although he doubted it, seeing as the contact number he had left on the posters would send the call to J.A.R.V.I.S., who could then relay the information to Tony. Maybe the dog had simply run away, after being left alone for so long. That was the likeliest option, and Tony felt guilty for getting so obsessed with his rescue attempts.
Disappointed in himself and feeling somewhat abandoned, although that didn’t make any sense, Tony sat down on the cot, propped his elbows on his thighs and placed his head in his hands. It was silly to get upset over a dog, of all things. Just because it had run away didn’t mean it wasn’t going to be okay, perhaps finding a new home with someone who knew what to do with it.
Tony sighed and blinked at the floor. One of the blankets had half-fallen off the bed, and he was currently sitting on top of it. He was too tired to get up and tug it properly onto the bed, the fight drained out of him.
Suddenly, the blanket moved between his legs, and a dark head poked out from under it – from under the cot. Tony blinked and watched as the dog slowly crawled out from under the low bed, wagging its tail, looking overjoyed to find Tony sitting there.
Just as Tony was overjoyed that the dog hadn’t left.
“Hey,” Tony cooed and picked the dog up, hugging him close. “Were you sleeping?”
The pink tongue lapped at the side of his jaw and Tony chuckled, then rose to his feet. “Let’s get us some food, yeah? Then we can sleep.” He got another lick in response to his words.
Tony got up and went to the supply tent. The food hadn’t improved, but Tony wasn’t about to complain. After returning to their tent, Tony and the dog ate in silence, and Tony began to debate if he should give the dog a name – just in case he didn’t find it a home.
The idea of giving it a name, though, was intimate. The only things Tony had given names to were his bots and AI – and occasional inventions. To name a living being, however, was a different deal, and he laid back, debating as the dog lay between his legs, head resting on his thigh.
If he didn’t find the dog a home, what would he do? Leave it at some animal shelter? And what would happen to it then? Would it be put down when no one wanted it?
Tony reached out to scratch the dog’s fur, fingers catching on tangled, dirty patches. “Who wouldn’t want you, huh?” he mused, and the dark eyes regarded him. The tail wagged a couple times, beating against the surface of the cot.
He hadn’t spent half an hour digging just to leave the dog in some shelter where it might end up God knows where.
People always complained that Tony couldn’t see things that were right in front of him, but he could see this; he saw a lonely, hurt animal, looking for a home and shelter. A family. Tony knew what it felt like to be abandoned, even when surrounded by people – people who said they loved you, and who should have loved you, but who, in the end, didn’t make the effort.
“I think I’ll call you Iommi,” Tony mused. “You know, after Tony Iommi. Great man, great guitarist. You look a bit like him. Iommi.” It was a good, proper name.
The dog – Iommi – looked at him, moved its ears, and didn’t seem to have an objection.
Tony scratched the small head and closed his eyes, knowing he needed to get some shut-eye.
He woke some time during the night at the sound of the dog growling. Raising his head, Tony listened to the sounds coming from around the tent, then saw shadows at the bottom of the flap: two pairs of feet, standing just outside the doorway.
Iommi growled a bit sharper, loud enough for a dog twice its size, and the feet shifted and moved away.
Tony’s lips curled as he watched the dog lying against his leg, head propped up on his shin, face turned towards the flap of the tent. “Good boy, Iommi,” Tony praised and saw the ears turn towards him, then face front again.
Trusting that Iommi was on guard duty, Tony lay back down, tugged the blanket a bit better over them both against the cool night and slept for a few more hours until it was time to go back to work once more.
This time, he didn’t put Iommi in its crate: he took the dog out for a small walk, fed them both, then left Iommi lying on the bed, telling it to stay, hoping that it wouldn’t run off.
As soon as Tony slipped into the armor, J.A.R.V.I.S. had news for him: “Sir, it would appear your animal rescue has created a global phenomenon.” The HUD became filled with news articles, most of them showing the image Tony had seen on the computer screen in the press tent: Iron Man holding up a small black dog which was licking the armored face.
“It’s a good picture,” Tony mused and stepped out, walking towards the rescue site.
“Are they complaining that I’m wasting my time saving puppies from collapsed buildings?” Tony asked, knowing how good people were at turning this kind of thing around.
“Anyone who has dared to suggest anything in that vein has been shut down and silenced very effectively,” his AI told him. “Mostly, the press seems to be delighted that a known superhero is present in the rescue effort – and refuses to decline help to any who need it.”
Tony supposed that was right. “Any word from home?”
“Miss Potts would like you to know she hopes you’ll stay safe and tells you to take your time.”
“I’m sure this is doing wonders for the company image,” Tony huffed and tried to decide where he would be needed the most today.
“I believe the biggest impact is on Iron Man’s public image.”
“I didn’t know we needed to worry about that?”
“Certainly not after that picture was taken, sir; you’ve melted the hearts of the nation.”
Tony made a gagging sound, then shook his head and joined a search crew – who welcomed him into their midst with grim nods. These people weren’t getting recognized or displayed all over the front pages of tabloids, but they would be here long after Tony was needed elsewhere, pulling people and animals from the ruins. Tony would have tipped his hat to them, had he been wearing one, but for the time being he strove to help them to the best of his ability.
- - -
Four days after the earthquake, Tony decided it was time to head home. He had done all he could and left some useful technology for the remaining rescuers to use. Also, he was determined to come up with lighter, easily portable ways to detect living beings in surroundings such as this and ways to map the area so that the rescuers could spend less time worrying about the safety of those they were trying to save.
By the fourth day, he had also decided Iommi was coming home with him. The day of their departure, Tony took the dog to see a vet – to have a professional take a proper look at him and vaccinate him against rabies, among other things.
“You saved this dog?” the vet asked while examining Iommi.
“I did,” Tony nodded. By now he wasn’t surprised if everyone had seen that picture of him holding up the rescued animal.
The vet nodded. “Sometimes, the unhesitating love and thanks of an animal are much more satisfactory and easier to interpret than the thanks from a rescued human being,” he noted.
Tony could agree with that most days. Not that a lot of people he had saved during his time as Iron Man bitched and whined the moment he got to them, but sometimes people were so absorbed in their own survival that they didn’t have the power to react to anything else.
Iommi’s leg was put into a new, better cast and with his brand new collar and leash, the dog followed Tony into a car that would take them to the airfield where his plane was waiting. He was yet to tell Pepper they were going to have a new family member, but he had a feeling she already knew. After all, Tony had tasked J.A.R.V.I.S. with stocking up on dog food and other necessary items. He trusted the AI to know what to get.
During the drive to the plane, Tony held the dog in his lap, absently scratching it. He went over the checklist J.A.R.V.I.S. had made for him, of the things he needed to take into consideration when bringing a dog to the States without a proper medical certificate. The CDC would be on his ass about it, and he needed to keep Iommi in confinement for at least a month as his new vaccinations started to work, but all that was just a slight discomfort compared to the deep-seated feeling of contentment he had over the idea of bringing Iommi home. After all, no one had missed him, and after the global press sensation, Tony was afraid to leave the dog with just anyone.
When they finally got to his private jet, the container with the Iron Man armors already on board, Tony boarded the plane after giving Iommi one last chance to put his mark on this country. The dog sniffed around the cabin excitedly and Tony sat back, exhausted to the bone.
As the pilot informed him of their imminent take-off, Tony called the dog with a sharp whistle. Iommi ran over, his gait still a bit unsteady with his leg in a cast, and Tony drew the dog carefully against his body for the duration of the lift-off. “We’re going home,” he informed Iommi, who panted in his arms and then nuzzled closer and promptly fell asleep.
Tony looked down at the shaggy ball of fur, the steady rise and fall of the ribs under the recently bathed and brushed coat, and then glanced outside as clouds sank beneath them before the plane leveled out at cruising altitude. One of his hands remained on Iommi’s flank, protectively and comfortingly. They would have such great times together, he was sure of that.