Another piece inspired by a role playing event on facebook, so might not make much sense- but at least I'm writing! Unedited.


"Stark! Conference room 3, now! You too, Rhodes!"

Tony Stark glanced up from his computer just in time to see Colonel Fury's back as he exited the Helicarrier's control room. "Do I want to know what you did this time?" Rhodey asked as he stepped over to where Tony was sitting.

Tony shrugged. "Hey, I've been sitting at this computer for two days learning S.H.I.E.L.D. protocols; I haven't had time to get in trouble." He pushed away from his desk. "Maybe I should be asking you that question since he wants to see us both."

"If I'm in trouble, I'm sure you had something to do with it," Rhodey muttered as they headed for the conference room.

Inside the conference room they found Fury, his secretary— agent Malashree Rasali, and Sharon Carter— Director of S.H.I.E.L.D Operations, sitting at the long table that dominated the room. Mala was tapping something into her laptop as Fury pointed to the chairs halfway down the table. "Park it. We've got a few things you might need to know about."

As he sat down, he looked across the table at Carter. She had a 'don't look at me' expression on her face as she waved a hand irritably in the air.

Fury ignored them both as he lounged in his chair at the head of the table and watched Mala work on her computer. When she nodded, he leaned forward and indicated the screen on the opposite wall. "Got some intel at your counterpart's wedding that may eventually have some impact on us so you can think of this as preventative measures."

"Wait a minute," Tony said with a shake of his head, "my counterpart?"

"Let me put it this way; Harkness was involved."

Carter rolled her eyes. "Wonderful."

Chuckling, Tony gestured to Fury to continue. Fury stood and walked down the table as the screen came to life. On it was an aerial shot of the Stark mansion; early morning from the looks of it. Tony raised an eyebrow at the huge dome that had been set up in the gardens, the lights that still managed to glitter in the California sunlight, and the beautifully decorated tables of food and drinks off to one side of the dome.

Rhodey whistled then whispered under his breath, "I think you've outdone yourself there, Tony."

"Yeah," Tony whispered back, "I've got good taste."

The view switched to inside the dome. A crowd was settling down into their seats, facing a raised dais that glowed in the light filtering in through strategically placed opening in the dome. On the dais, he could see himself, dressed in an immaculately tailored suit— looked like one by old Giorgio; nice— and Bruce Banner, oddly enough, looking down towards the camera. A quick zoom on the two confirmed Tony's suspicious and he had to grin in amusement when he recognized that rare formal look with the small smile on the other Tony's face. He was sure that was the same look he had had on his face the first time he had flown the Mark II— at least until he had started whooping it up when he had cleared the mansion.

The camera rotated away from the dais and swept over the crowds until it had turned all the way around. Tony's breath caught in his throat. "Pepper?" he whispered in an awed voice. Next to him, Rhodey could only manage, "Whoa."

Pepper looked radiant; a smile lit her face and her eyes sparkled as bright as the diamond accents woven into her pure white silk wedding dress. She held a bouquet of white lilies and cascading greens as she glided down the aisle. The wedding guests rose to their feet, but Pepper never turned to look at them; her gaze was focused on the dais. Tony had to remind himself to breathe.

The camera followed Pepper up to the dais where she handed her bouquet to a bridesmaid and turned to place her hands into the other Tony's. Tony smiled and felt a burst of joy for his counterpart.

The camera shuddered then pulled back to show a black winged figure dropping through one of the openings in the dome. The camera jigged about, lost focus for a second, then zoomed in on the bride. Pepper was looking down, a surprised look on her face, then she looked up at Tony. A red spot was slowly spreading out across the front of her wedding dress as she fell into Tony's arms.

The video suddenly blinked off. "Stark," Fury snapped, "sit down before you burst a blood vessel."

Tony stared at Fury then his vision seemed to go as red as the blood he had seen on Pepper's dress. He drew in a breath to scream at Fury, but Fury roared, "Sit!", before he could say a word. Rhodey grabbed his arm. Tony threw him off. He leaned against the table and closed his eye, panting harshly, his mind racing to make sense of what had just happened on that screen.

"That's not Miss Potts," Fury said. Tony's eyes snapped opened and found Fury standing in front of him.

Tony sucked in a breath. "What the hell—"

"That's not your secretary."

Tony shook his head. "What?"

Fury bent down and righted Tony's chair with a thump. "Would you just sit the hell down and watch, Stark?" Fury said irritably. He then turned and walked back to the screen.

Tony stared at him, then swore softly and dropped into the chair. He rubbed his face, then pressed his hands flat against the table.

Fury scowled at him, then nodded at Mala. The video picked up right where it left off. Tony stomped down on the anguish he felt for his counterpart as that version sank to his knees with Pepper cradled in his arms. Several men ran up to the pair, forming a protective ring around them. They looked up, scanning the dome for a target as Banner stepped over to Tony and rested a hand on his shoulder before kneeling down beside him. When the view zoomed out, Tony wondered why the hell no one was going after the Batman— he recognized the vigilante as soon as he dropped down onto the dais— when the camera zoomed back in.

A look of horror appeared on Tony's face as he watched the woman in his arms shift and change into something gray green and reptilian. The video froze in place.

"Apparently that is something called a Skrull," Mala said softly. "According to what little I was able to pull of the S.H.I.E.L.D. database before returning here, they are a race of shapeshifters who created one of the oldest empires in the Andromeda galaxy, and they are extremely difficult to detect."

Carter slumped back in her chair. "Shapeshifters with visions of conquest. Oh great, that's just great."

Fury made a gesture and Mala shut the video off. "There is some good news," Fury said. "Jack's never heard of these Skrull things. There's a possibility that this isn't going to be a problem on our end of things, but I'd rather be paranoid than file all this info into the archives."

"You could have just told me this instead of making me watch that!" Tony yelled as he stabbed a finger at the screen.

Fury crossed his arms and gave Tony a look. "Right. A race of shapeshifting aliens from the Andromeda galaxy who can replace your secretary with one of their own without you knowing may or may not be making an attempt to take over the world."

Tony leaned forward and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. "Yeah, okay, I wouldn't have believed a word of it." He dropped his hands. "But what the hell do you want me to do about it?"

Fury nodded at Mala. "Mala downloaded a breakdown of their genetic code. Want you to use it to come up with some way of detecting these Skrulls ASAP. that's discreet so we can start checking high ranking government personnel. I don't want another surprise like Harold Saxon dropping in my lap again."

"Fine." Tony muttered, then glared at Fury. "You want me to make one to detect Time Lords too while I'm at it then?"

"Nope, already got one of those." Fury walked down the table and tossed a flash drive in front of Tony. "Have at it."

Tony stared at the drive as Fury, Mala, and Carter left the room. Rhodey sat silently beside him as he lifted it up and turned it around in his hand.

He heard someone enter the room, then a familiar voice said, "Tony?"

Without thinking Tony was on his feet and walking over to Pepper to sweep her up in a tight hug.

"Uh. Tony?" Pepper asked as she tentatively patted him on the back. "Is something wrong?"

He pulled back and gave Pepper a strained smile. "Sorry, I was just happy to see you."

"Okay." She gave him a sideways look, then took a breath and looked down at her Stark PDA. "You have an appointment at two in Manhattan. Do you need me to cancel it?"

He glanced at his watch. "Nope, I'm on my way."

As they stepped out on to the flight deck and over to the Stark jet sitting off to one side, Pepper asked, "Are you sure you're all right, Mr. Stark?"

This time, Tony's smile was warm and honest. "I will be as long as you're here to keep me on the straight and narrow, Miss Potts."

She laughed and headed up the stairs and into the jet. He glanced at Rhodey. Rhodey nodded in understanding then followed Pepper in.

Tony opened his hand and looked at the flash drive, then closed his hand tightly around the device before heading up the stairs— ideas for an alien scanning device already running through his head.

He had no intention of ever going through what he had seen on that screen today.
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