Well, the first scene of one, anyway. There are about 35,000 more words where this came from, but no title.* Our working title of "Captain America & Iron Man vs. the Nazi Mummies" had to be discarded, because there are no mummies nor indeed anything remotely resembling mummies anywhere in the fic.

The warehouses in the East End were burning again – he could smell the chemical tang in the smoke, underneath the acrid smell of explosives and the heavy scent of a gas leak from somewhere uncomfortably close. Fire itself made a noise, Tony had learned that in China, but he couldn’t hear it over the drone of airplane engines and the ear-splitting rattle of the anti-aircraft gun on the next block.

Nearly two months in London, and he still hadn’t gotten used to how loud it was.
The hotel that took up most of the block was already burning, the front façade and half the roof missing and the top three floors caved in. A building like that would have a big basement, and since the closest subway station had been damaged in the last raid, it would be packed with people.

He cut his jet boots a good six feet above the ground and let himself fall the rest of the way, just to be safe. Tony had replaced the original rocket boots with a combination of miniaturized jet engines and vectored thrust when he’d built his second suit, but there was still enough heat and flame to be deadly if he landed too close to that gas leak.

Close up, it was obvious that the hotel was no longer structurally sound. He was going to have to be careful moving the rubble.

Tony activated the armor’s cooling fans and strode forward, chunks of plaster crunching under his boots. That partially collapsed section of wall and the fallen ceiling beam resting across it were the only things holding up the weight of the upper floors; he couldn’t move them, or anything that was holding them in place. If the entrance to the cellars was under any of that, the people inside were – he’d find a way to get them out.

Inside the building the air was thick with smoke and almost too hot to breathe, and Tony thought briefly and uselessly of Gene’s ice ring. His air filters had already failed, and his armor’s internal oxygen supply was exhausted. It didn’t matter; it wasn’t that hard to breathe in here, not yet.

The grand staircase to the second floor had collapsed into a heap of smoldering rubble, partially blocking what had to be the cellar entrance. Someone on the inside had pulled the door inward, and as Tony came closer, he could hear the sound of panicked voices, and the high pitched wailing of a small child.

“Hush,” a woman’s voice said firmly. “Up you go.”

A small, round face appeared in the opening, belonging to a child of indeterminate gender. It saw Tony and shrieked.

A heavy overcoat had been laid across the top of the pile of rubble, enough to offer some protection against the heat, but it didn’t stretch all the way to the floor. The little boy – girl? – stared at Tony with huge eyes, frozen in place, unable to back away without falling into the cellar.

“It’s okay,” Tony tried. “I’m going to get you out of here.”

“Mommy!” the child wailed. “Mommy, there’s a robot!”

He should have listened to Happy and painted his armor, but the dull grey was harder to see at night, and kept the German fighters from firing on him.

“I’m a nice robot,” he offered, painfully aware of the weight of the upper stories hanging over their heads. The ceiling beams were heavy, and would take hours to burn through, but the heat would already be weakening them. They would crack and splinter long before they turned into char.

“Andrew, if you don’t climb down and run outside like a good boy, I will give you such a smack.”

The little boy inched forward, his face screwed up as if he were about to cry, and Tony snatched him off the heap of rubble before he could fall off the coat and onto the burning remains of the staircase. He set him on the floor, and looked up to find that a little girl had already taken his place atop the rubble. She looked a year or two older than the boy, and was clutching a stuffed giraffe.

She gave him a wary look, but kept quiet as he lifted her down, then immediately latched on to the little boy.

Three more children followed, and then Tony looked up, ready for the next one, to find himself staring at the blood-covered face of a woman.

“There are nearly fifty more people down here,” she said. “At least ten more are children, but they’re all too big to fit through this gap. We have to move some of the rubble out of the way.”

“I’ll do it,” he said. “You’ll burn your hands. Is anyone hurt?”

“Mrs. Shores has a broken arm, and she’s lost consciousness. I think her husband is dead. They were the closest to the door.” She didn’t mention herself, despite the vicious gash that stretched from her hairline nearly to her jaw.

Tony didn’t mention it either. He just started shifting rubble, careful not to destabilize the pile.

The last collapsing building he’d gone into had been full of dead bodies, and there had been the shattered remains of someone impossible to identify on the street outside. One death and one broken arm was a hell of a lot better than he’d expected.

His chest started to ache halfway through shifting the pile, and the armor’s cooling fans were wheezing loudly enough that he could hear them even over the roar of the fire and the sound of engines and gunfire overhead. English fighter planes, this time; the Merlin engine had a different pitch than the Daimlers and Jumos that powered Messerschmitts, Junkers, and Heinkels.

Junkers and Heinkels with Stark Industries-inspired bomb sites, thanks to dear old dad selling SI’s designs to anyone who could pay for most of the thirties.

Without the armor’s gauntlets, his hands would have been a mass of burns by now, past the point of uselessness. As it was, the metal was starting to get uncomfortably hot.

“Right. I think that’s done it,” the woman announced. She coughed, holding the end of her sleeve over her face, then went on, her voice hoarse. “We’ll pass Mrs. Shores up to you first.”

Tony gave her his most charming smile; the helmet would hide it, but those kind of things came through in the voice. “If I weren’t wearing this metal helmet, I could kiss you.” He’d expected frightened, panicking people, or shell-shocked casualties too stunned by disaster to be any help to him.

She touched the back of her hand to her forehead, pushing back hair sticky with blood, then winced. Whatever had cut open her face had also raised a bruised lump the size of a silver dollar over her left eye, and it was already starting to swell shut. “Not with the way I probably look,” she said.

“I like my women covered in soot and plaster dust,” Tony assured her. Then the armor’s low power warning sounded.

No more time for flirting with strangers who probably needed medical attention more than they needed attention from Tony Stark. He tore one of the sleeves off the now-smoldering overcoat and wrapped it around his gauntlets, insulation between the hot metal and the next person he touched. “Pass Mrs. Shores up.”

They had rigged up a crude stretcher using parts of a folding chair and several blankets. The woman on it was old enough to be Tony’s mother, and her left arm was a bloody, swollen mess. She didn’t even twitch when he hauled the stretcher up and over the remains of the rubble, even when a shower of sparks from the ceiling fell onto her dress and Tony had to clumsily pat them out.

He should have installed some kind of fire-fighting upgrade weeks ago. It was ridiculous to be putting out sparks with his hands, not to mention incredibly inefficient.

“Who the hell are you, and what are you doing to that woman?”

Tony whirled, automatically bringing up one hand – the repulsors he’d designed as flight stabilizers could take care of any human attacker as easily as they could a German plane – then forced himself to relax when he saw the distinctive shape of a civil defence helmet. “Trying to get her out of here.” It was a cliché, but- “I’m here to help.”

The air warden stared at him for a moment, then shook his head. “The little girl said there was a robot. I thought she was hysterical.” His Cockney accent was thick enough that he sounded almost like he was speaking a foreign language, all swallowed consonants and sharp vowels. “What are you?”

Almost out of power, according to the buzzer sounding annoyingly in his ear. “There are more people down there, and the ceiling’s about fifteen minutes away from caving in. You can gape at me later.” He held up one hand, and fired the repulsor at one-sixth power for a fraction of a second, just enough to shred his makeshift woolen ‘glove.’ “I even do tricks.”

The air warden called him an uncomplimentary name, but more people were arriving now, hustling bombing victims out of the building and throwing wet blankets down across the partially cleared entrance to cellar to make it easier for people to crawl out. Tony waiting just long enough to see the woman with the injured face emerge from the rubble, then left.

There was more he could have done – there was always more – but he wouldn’t be able to help anybody if he ran out of power and passed out.

He made it most of the way back to Bletchley before the armor’s power reserves ran dry and he had to switch to the nearly-empty battery powering his chest device. By the time he landed, and was climbing back through the window of his supposedly-secure room, the armor tucked back inside his briefcase, Tony could almost feel the shards of shrapnel moving around inside his chest.

He plugged himself into the electrical outlet by the nightstand and collapsed backward onto the bed, too exhausted to care how he was going to hide the blisters on his hands tomorrow.
His window faced southeast. Outside it, he could see London burning on the horizon.

*Title needed. Beta probably also needed.


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