Characters: Tony Stark, Howard Stark, brief Edwin Jarvis
Warnings/Triggers: swearing, blood, sutures, impaled objects
Pairings: References to Howard/Maria and Jarvis/Anna
Word Count 3,399
Summary: Tony makes a stupid mistake on a project that results in an ER trip and proves that Stark genetics really do run deep.
Author's notes: Sorry for all the hospital fics of late. I think I've hit the hurt/comfort stage of 'enthusiastic fandom adoption'.
This is the first part, the second part is from Howard's POV, and can be found here.
Tony is around thirteen here, so Howard is in his 60's, and the year is somewhere around 1983.
Tony was surprised at how little it hurt to saw into your own arm. It didn't hurt at all. In fact, the only way he'd realized he'd done it was that, instead of the sensation of cutting into metal, he had the sensation of cutting into a steak instead. And then the blood splattering off the saw blade as it oscillated was kind of a giveaway, too.
Somehow, his brain knew to turn the saw off right away. It knew to eject the saw blade, so that he didn't pull it out and let it all bleed everywhere. It knew to get up and go over to the intercom to the lower lab and turn it on.
“Dad?” he asked. “I need help.”
The response was the exact one he was expecting. “I'm busy, Tony.”
“It's important,” Tony said. “Like, a lot important. I need your help right now.”
He felt a little dizzy, so he crouched by the wall.
“I'm working, it can wait,” Dad said.
“Dad, I'm bleeding, it can't wait,” Tony said.
“Wait, what?” Dad said.
Tony put his head between his knees.
“Tony?” Dad called.
Tony made some noises that he wasn't sure were really words. The door to the lower lab burst open and Dad came flying at him like some kind of superhero.
“Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed. “What the fuck were you doing?!”
“Cutting,” Tony said. He thought that was pretty obvious. “I missed.”
“Don't pull it out,” Dad said.
“Why would I pull it out?” Tony said.
“I've seen people pull things out. They do it in shock,” Dad said. “It makes things a hell of a lot worse.” He grabbed the First Aid kit from the wall. “I once saw a guy get impaled on a steel rod. He pulled it out, bled to death in five minutes.”
“That's not really comforting, Dad,” Tony said.
“Oh, yeah. Sorry,” Dad said.
“S'okay,” Tony said.
At least it wasn't another Steve Story, which was where Dad usually went when he talked about things he'd once seen. Steve probably didn't get cut by saws. Steve probably fed homeless saws, and helped old lady saws across the street, and freed captured saws from internment camps during the war.
“Good thinking to get the blade off,” Dad said.
“Wasn't thinking,” Tony said.
Dad's face darkened a little as he pulled some big bandages from the kit. “Obviously not. You shouldn't be down here,” he said. “I've told you not to use my stuff.”
“It's my saw,” Tony objected. “You bought it for me when I was, like, six.” He blinked hard, finding the world kind of fuzzy.
“I did not buy you a recipro saw when you were six-years-old!” Dad snapped. He padded the area next to the blade on either side and started to wind gauze around it. “You were at least eight and you were supervised.” He gave Tony's cheek a light slap. “Hey, stay with me. We have to get you to the hospital. Can you walk?”
Tony knew the answer to that was 'no', but he didn't want to say that. He said 'yes' instead and slipped right back down to the floor when Dad tried to help him up. Dad put Tony's non-impaled arm around his neck, grabbed his hip, and lifted him up again. He half dragged him to the stairs, but they were too narrow to go up side by side.
“I can't,” Tony said.
“Okay,” Dad said. He set Tony back on the floor again. “Piggy-back. Hop on.”
Tony couldn't really hop anywhere, but he managed to sort of flop onto Dad's back, and Dad grabbed his legs and boosted him up.
“Watch your arm, don't jostle it,” Dad said. “Fuck, haven't done this in a while. You're heavy. Hold tight.”
Tony was actually super impressed that Dad got all the way upstairs with him on his back. He wasn't going to tell Dad that, but, secretly, he thought it was pretty cool. Once they were on the main floor, Dad put him in a chair.
“Keep your arm above your heart,” he said, lifting Tony's arm up to show him. “There we go. I have to get a car so I can drive you to the hospital.”
“Jarvis,” Tony said.
“He's out with your mother,” Dad said. “You had to do this the night everyone was out, didn't you? Even Nanny has the night off. Are you gonna be okay for me to drive you or do you want to go in an ambulance?”
Tony couldn't think straight. “Reporters,” he said. “If ambulance, everyone will know.”
“Don't worry about the press!” Dad snapped, really angry for some reason. “Do you want an ambulance or not?!”
Tony's stomach lurched and he vomited really, really hard. Dad bent him over and supported him until he was done then put him upright again.
“Okay, ambulance it is,” Dad said. He kicked off his puke-y shoes and went for the phone. “Ambulance.” He gave their phone number and address. “My son has a severe cut to his arm from a saw blade. The blade is embedded in his arm. He's thirteen. No, the bleeding isn't that bad. I think the blade is blocking most of it. Yeah, but he's kind of shocky. Yep, that's the right address. It's a big house, you'll know it when you see it. I've done that. I did that, too. Okay, thanks.”
He took the phone off the stand and brought it over with him back to Tony.
“Still with me, kid?” he asked.
“Mmm,” Tony said. The world was kind of far away and dreamy now/. Dad sounded like he was speaking from upstairs while Tony was downstairs.
“Keep awake, okay?” Dad said. “Keep talking. Um...what should we talk about...uh... What's...Ohm's Law?”
“The current through a...conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference...across the two points,” Tony said, dragging it out from a fuzzy part of his brain that was full of equations and formulas. “I equals V over R.”
“What's I stand for?” Dad asked.
“Current in amperes,” Tony said.
“What's an ampere?” Dad asked.
“One columb per second,” Tony replied. “These are easy, Dad.”
“Sorry,” Dad said, with a quick grin. “How many charge carriers in an ampere?”
“6.41 times 10 to the power of 18,” Tony said. “I'm gonna throw up again.” Dad aimed him again. “Sorry about your shoes.”
“I got others,” Dad said. “And you've thrown up on me more times than I can count. First time about two days after you were born. Kind of like when they break champagne bottles on ships. You were breaking me into fatherhood.”
“I don't want to be a father,” Tony decided.
“You get used to it,” Dad assured him.
Tony thought the idea of getting used to being thrown up on was even worse than the idea of being thrown up on. The thought of it made him feel like he was going to throw up again.
“This sucks,” Tony said.
“Yeah, I bet,” Dad said. “Good lesson about using your body to support the saw, though. You won't do that again.”
“Because I'm going to be dead?” Tony asked. He knew that was scary a thing, but he couldn't quite get the energy to be scared. Dad was blurry around the edges when he tried to look at him.
“No, no, you're going to be fine,” Dad said, quickly. “I just meant you'll have learned a lesson. You'll live to rue it.”
For some reason, Tony found the word 'rue' really hilarious and giggled. Dad kind of half-laughed back. Tony seemed to be drooping to one side, but Dad had him supported there and Tony was once again really impressed at how strong he was because he sort of thought of Dad as old and not the kind of dad like other kids had, who threw around footballs or taught you how to play baseball or anything active like that. He was the kind of dad who, if you wanted to play football, he'd hire a retired NFL player to teach you how.
“I'm glad you're not made of spaghetti, Dad,” Tony said. He didn't think that was what he meant at all, but it was what came out of his mouth.
“Um, yeah, me...too,” Dad said. He muttered something into the phone to the operator. “No, he's still conscious, he's just weird. I am talking to him.” He patted Tony's face again. “Tony, come on, kid. Keep talking to me.”
He kept drilling Tony on science laws and formulas and had him calculating resistance and wattage needed to power different things.
“I gotta open the gate for the ambulance to get in,” Dad said. “I want you to count out loud, really loud so I can hear you in the foyer, okay? Just count up from one.”
“That's stupid,” Tony objected.
“Just do it,” Dad snapped. “Don't start with me now.”
Tony stuck out his tongue and Dad kind of half-laughed again. Tony started to count, yelling as Dad left the room. He got up to twenty before Dad came running back in.
“Good job,” Dad said. “Ambulance is here, just hang tight.” A couple of minutes later, there was a shout. Dad yelled back, giving directions on how to get where they were.
The paramedics came with a stretcher. One of them froze when he saw them and the person behind hit him in the back with the stretcher, making him stumble forward. He shook his head clear. Tony thought Dad must be lying and he was totally gonna die for a paramedic to act like that at the sight of him. The paramedic rushed around to the other one and said 'that's Howard Stark' in a low voice and Tony realized they were just like everyone else who was surprised that they existed. Like they weren't supposed to be real because they were famous.
The other paramedic gave the first paramedic a dirty look and came over to Tony, kneeling down in front of him.
“Hey, I'm Brad,” he said. “I'm gonna look at your arm, okay? What's your name?”
“Tony,” Tony said. “I'm sorry about the puke.”
“No problem,” Brad said. “I'm used to puke. You still feeling sick?”
“Okay, well, we'll get you fixed up,” Brad said. “Don't worry about that. Looks like someone bound it pretty well, so that's good. I'm just going to take your pulse. How old are you, Tony?”
Tony blinked as he tried to remember. “Thirteen...” he said. He looked to Dad, who gave him a worried nod. “Yeah, thirteen.”
“I have a son your age,” Brad said. “You must be in middle school, huh?”
“I'm in senior year of high school,” Tony said.
“No, he is. He's not being weird, he is,” Dad said, as Brad gave him a questioning look.
“Wow, you must be smart,” Brad said.
“I'm really smart,” Tony corrected.
“I bet, wow,” Brad said. “I'm gonna take your blood pressure now. It might squeeze your arm a bit.”
“Can't you just take him in?” Dad said, impatiently.
“We will. Don't worry, sir,” Brad said. “I'm just doing a quick assessment. You've done a great job controlling the bleeding, so we have a minute to make sure he's stable.”
Dad opened his mouth and Tony was afraid he was going to snap again, but he shut it and Tony was glad. Dad could be embarrassing when he got 'I'm Howard Stark'-y on people. Brad took Tony's blood pressure and asked him a few questions, then he and the other paramedic, who was still kind of gaping at Dad, moved Tony onto the stretcher and strapped him in.
“We're gonna move now, Tony,” Brad said. “Just lie really still.”
They brought Tony out to the ambulance and loaded him in.
“I'm sorry, sir, you'll have to meet us at the hospital,” Brad said, as Dad tried to follow. “You can't ride with us.”
“Yes, I can,” Dad said, super 'I'm Howard Stark'-y.
“Sir, I know you're worried, but it's unsafe for you to be back here,” Brad said.
“Then I'll ride in the front, but you aren't taking my kid without me,” Dad said. “End of story.”
He was allowed to ride in the front.
Tony was kind of disappointed that they didn't have any sirens going, but Brad said the lights were enough for the speed they were going at and they didn't have to go faster because Tony was stable and doing okay. Which was way more reassuring than anything Dad had done so far.
“Are you in pain, Tony?” Brad asked.
Tony looked down at his arm, trying to see if it hurt. It was hard for him to really get hold of any kind of thoughts. They slipped away and hid and he had to find them again before he could respond to anything. He was in a dream, on a cloud of jello.
“No,” he said, after a minute. Probably a literal minute, because he got distracted by the idea of a jello cloud and wondered if he could make one. It would be way comfy, like a water bed, but lime-flavored. “I've been in a lot more pain a lot of times before.”
Brad's face changed to something more serious. “Do you hurt yourself a lot, Tony?” he asked, in a quiet voice. “Do you fall down a lot?”
Tony had been through this before when he was hurt. “I'm not abused, I'm just a genius,” he assured him. “No one's ever hit me.”
One time, it was Jarvis who brought him in when Tony was really little and they had asked him if Jarvis hurt him. Tony had gotten so mad at the suggestion that he'd kicked the doctor in the shin. Jarvis said it was very noble to defend his honor, but that violence wasn't the answer, Master Tony. So, Tony told them they were stupid doo-doo heads instead. Jarvis said that still wasn't appropriate, Master Tony.
He wasn't sure if Brad believed him this time, but he was too tired to try to explain that when you were a genius, your brain sometimes gave you ideas but didn't give you how to do them safely. That's why there was a First Aid kit in the workshop and why Tony knew how to use a fire extinguisher before he knew how to tie his shoes.
When they got to the hospital, they wheeled him into the ER through a side door and a lady screamed. Tony was annoyed because, come on, they might be famous but they were still people, but it turned out that she was screaming because he had a saw blade in his arm. They put him in a room really quickly and transferred him over to the bed.
“Yeah, I know who I am,” Dad said, when the doctor came in and gave him a double take. “Look after my kid.”
The doctor muttered an apology and hurried over to Tony. The same sort of thing was repeated when the student doctors came in and the nurses came in, but eventually everyone in there got over the fact that Dad was Dad and started paying attention to Tony's arm. The main doctor said it was a good learning opportunity for the student doctors, so Tony got asked questions by all of them and he felt like when he was in trouble and Jarvis, Mom, and Dad all Had A Talk with him about it.
They gave him some medicine that made him feel weird in a good way instead of a bad one and did an x-ray of his arm. Dad was super impatient and paced around, but he didn't snap at anyone. Just used the glare he used when he wanted people to do what he said right away.
“I'm going to call down someone from General Surgery,” the head doctor said, after she'd looked at the x-ray. “It doesn't look like the blade has gone in too deep, but I want a second opinion before I pull it out.”
“Is he good?” Dad asked. “The on-call guy?”
“He's the best,” the doctor replied. “You're lucky he's on tonight.”
Dad nodded and let it happen like he had a choice, when Tony figured they would have done whatever anyway. It's not like Dad owned the hospital. He didn't think. He might.
“Do you own the hospital?” Tony asked, when all of the people except a nurse had cleared the room and stopped poking at him.
“No,” Dad said. “But I think I built one of the floors.”
“Stark 12,” the nurse said, cheerfully. “I used to work there. That's hearts.”
“Yeah, I built a cardiac ward, that's right,” Dad said. “It was state of the art back in the '50s.”
“It still is,” the nurse said.
“I don't want to have surgery,” Tony said.
“You might not have to, it's just precaution to have you assessed,” the nurse said. “Sometimes we take people who need layers of stitches to the operating room and put them under to be on the safe side. What were you building?”
Tony explained about the project he was working on. Her eyes glossed over the way a lot of people's did when Tony got technical about things. Even Mom sometimes zoned out. Dad looked interested, though. Except, as soon as Tony finished explaining it, Dad started questioning it and pointing out how Tony could do it better or what wouldn't work. Tony hated that. He could at least let Tony have a chance to make the supposed mistake before he dismissed it.
“But I don't want to do it like that,” Tony said. “I just...ow...”
“What?” Dad said. “What's wrong?”
Tony looked down at his arm. It suddenly started to feel like it was on fire. A slow sort of burn that grew worse and worse by the second until it throbbed. “Ow...” Tony said, again. “Ow...”
“Can you give him something?” Dad asked the nurse. “Adrenaline's wearing off, I think.”
“I'll go and ask a doctor,” the nurse said.
“Ow,” Tony said. “Ow. Ow. Ow.”
“Okay, yeah, I got it,” Dad said. “I got it, Tony. Sit tight.”
Tony gritted his teeth because, wow, that really, really, really hurt. Like, a lot. Like, it actually felt like there was a saw blade in there now and Tony wanted it out right this second.
“No, no, no!” Dad said, grabbing Tony's hand. “No. Don't you dare.”
Tony glared at him. “It. Hurts,” he said.
“Yeah, and it's your own damned fault so just sit tight until they get you something and don't be stupid about it,” Dad said. “Think about something else. We were talking about your project.”
“You don't like it,” Tony said.
“I do like it,” Dad said. “I just think--”
“I don't care what you think!” Tony snapped. He wanted to claw his arm off and was pissed Dad had his hand.
“Tony,” Dad said, in a serious voice. “Don't be a dick.”
Tony heard the tone and knew he couldn't push much further. “Sorry,” he muttered. Then, “it's not like you've never done anything stupid.”
“I've done plenty stupid,” Dad agreed. “But you shouldn't be using me as an example.”
“Do as I say, not as I do?” Tony said.
“Yeah,” Dad said. “But it's not bullshit. It's for your own good. I made the mistakes so you don't have to.”
“I have to make some mistakes,” Tony said. “I won't know how to fix them, otherwise.”
“Yeah, but I'd prefer the ones you make don't kill you," Dad said.
“Okay, that's probably a good policy,” Tony admitted. “I can support me not dying.”
“Good, something we agree on, finally,” Dad muttered. He looked over as the nurse came back in. “Here we go. This'll make you feel real good, Tony.”
It did. The nurse put something in his IV and it burned like crazy, but then it stopped burning and just felt like the most wonderful thing in the world. Tony leaned back against his pillow, and Dad let go of his arm.
“Thanks for not letting me pull it out and bleed to death in five minutes,” Tony said.
“That's gotta be the first rule of being your father,” Dad said. “I got that one down.”