Flight Risk
flightrisk_bw.jpg

Summary: Tom Paris’ infatuation with history leads him to make an incredible discovery. Meanwhile, Tony Stark enjoys some downtime.

 

Characters: Paris, Kim, Stark, Wilson

Codes: Paris & Kim, Paris & Stark, Stark & Wilson

 

Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Star Trek universe and its characters, and Marvel/Disney own the rights to the Marvel universe and its characters, all of which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.

Notes: This is my first, and possibly only, attempt to write in a fandom other than the Star Trek variants. Baby steps.

Rated K

“You cannot be serious.”

Tom’s double-wide grin fades the tiniest bit as he realises Harry’s tone is more pissed than fondly exasperated. Maybe he has let his enthusiasm run away with him this time. Maybe he should’ve put a little more effort into building Harry up to this. But sometimes Tom gets so wrapped up in his latest pop-culture obsession that he forgets to externalise it, and it surprises him every time that Harry can’t read his mind.

“Come on Harry,” he cajoles. “Don’t you want to try something different?”

“No.” Harry scrubs a hand over his face; it doesn’t wipe away the scowl. “I traded Ayala a double shift to get this holodeck time, and we’re supposed to be playing Chapter Sixteen tonight. You know, saving the Earth from the Black Order of Titan. Just because you get bored easily…”

“But Harry,” Tom tries not to whine, “it’s a flying suit.”

“It’s a toy. And there’s no way in seven hells the captain will approve you building this thing.”

“I’m not planning on building it for real,” Tom insists, “at least, not until we’ve tested it on the holodeck.”

We?” Harry raises his eyebrows.

“Yeah. We. I can’t do this without you, Buster.”

“How come I’m always the sidekick?” The puppy-dog eyes seem to work, though, because Harry relents a little. “If you don’t want to play Captain Proton, I guess we could run your grease monkey program."

“Forget it,” Tom says manfully. “You take the holodeck. I’m gonna head down to engineering and run some calculations. I think tritanium could work for the shell.”

“Tritanium? You’re kidding. You’d need too much thrust to get airborne.”

“You see? This is why I need you.” Tom shoves the padd into Harry’s hands. “Look at these specs. What do you think about tetraburnium mesh?”

“For the suit or the wings?” Harry frowns at the padd. “Maybe a modified nanopolymer over a tetraburnium frame…”

Tom hides a triumphant grin behind his hand.


“It’s never going to work.”

Tom shoves the holographic goggles up onto his forehead as he scrambles upright for the fourteenth time, dusting off his knees. “We’re almost there,” he enthuses. “I think I’ve figured out why the balance is off. We just need to –”

“Forget it.” Harry shuts off the padd. “We’ve wasted the last two hours on this thing. I don’t know why I let you talk me into your stupid projects.”

“Because sometimes they turn out great. Remind me who designed the Delta Flyer?”

“You mean, the genius who wanted to put two metre tail fins on it?” Harry starts striding toward the holodeck door.

“It would’ve been jacked,” Tom calls. “You have no appreciation for aesthetics.”

“I made your stupid flying suit out of shiny alloy, didn’t I?”

“Should’ve made it red,” Tom mumbles. “Red goes faster.”

“You know what happens when you go too fast,” Harry tosses over his shoulder. He takes one last glance around at the grassy hill, the San Francisco panorama, and sighs, “Computer, end program.”

“You’re never gonna let me forget the salamander thing, are you?” shouts Tom, but Harry has already gone.

 


“Computer, restore program to last setting,” Tom decides after wrestling briefly with self-doubt and pinning it to the mat.

Instantly he’s clad in glossy grey armour, a pack fitted snugly to his upper back. Tom keys a small button on his gauntlet and a pair of wings sprouts from the backpack.

“So cool,” he mutters. “Okay, computer, let’s try increasing the wingspan to six metres.”

Modification complete,” announces the computer. The wings expand, silvery-grey mesh glinting in the holographic sunshine.

“Now give me some thrust. Two hundred kilos should do it.”

Acknowledged.”

Lights flare from the tiny engines in his jetpack, propelling him gently upward, and Tom whoops. “Now you’re talking! Let’s see if two-fifty can make this baby fly …”

Moments later, he’s plummeting from the sky and thanking Daedalus that the safety protocols are switched on. Even so, he hits the holographic ground at an awkward angle. Rolling onto his side, Tom curls up and tries to get his breath back.

Maybe Harry’s right, he contemplates. Maybe this flying suit is a stupid idea.

But ever since he found those old movies in one of his bored trawls through the entertainment database, Tom hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it. The flying suit. The Falcon.

When he’d started dreaming about it, he’d known his obsession had reached its zenith and it was time to make it reality.

Or die trying, he thinks now, gloomily.

What he needs is some help. Someone with whom he can toss ideas back and forth. Someone who’ll take him seriously …

Someone with experience in building the Falcon suit.

Tom scrambles excitedly to his feet.

“Computer,” he begins, “scan the entertainment database for any references to the EXO-7 Falcon winged harness.”

There are multiple references to that apparatus,” the computer informs him. “Please specify.”

“I don’t know. The coolest one, I guess.”

Cooling technology was built into the suit prototype and improved with each subsequent version.”

Tom rolls his eyes. “Just give me the latest version.”

According to in-universe chronology, the final version of the EXO-7 Falcon was created in the Earth year 2023.”

“Great. Show me that one, and recreate a holographic simulation of the lab where it was built.”

A moment later, Tom is standing in an expansive room. There are glass cases displaying weapons, spyware, drones and miniature scale-models of armoured ground vehicles and airplanes. The centrepiece is a massive worktable covered in sketches and half-constructed tech.

On a metal stand directly in front of the worktable is a mannequin wearing the EXO-7.

It’s not the gunmetal-grey outfit with red accents Tom knows from the movies he’s watched. This one is royal-blue, with bright red boots and a white star in the centre of the chest.

Tom frowns at it. “Bit garish,” he mutters.

“I couldn’t agree more,” someone says from behind him. “Should’ve stuck with the classics. This one is a hot mess.”

Tom turns to find a dark-haired man in a tailored suit leaning against a display case.

“Course, I’m dead, so I didn’t get a say in the aesthetics. My tech, though. I designed this version long before I put on the glove.”

“Excuse me?”

“You know. Snap.” The man mimes snapping his fingers in the air. “Save the world. Heroic but tragic. No more handsome billionaire genius.”

“You must be Tony Stark,” Tom realises. “Tom Paris. Nice to meet you.”

Stark ignores his outstretched hand. “So, you wanna be the Falcon, or is it Captain America you have a hard-on for? No, wait, you don’t like the red-white-and-blue. Good choice.” He pauses. “Red with gold accents, though … now that’s style.”

“Okay,” says Tom. “Anyway, I’m building my own Falcon suit and I’m having a little trouble with –”

“Let me guess – the balance is off. Can’t control your thrust. Probably leading from the hips like an amateur,” Tony mutters. “Show me your schematics.”

“Computer, recreate Paris Falcon delta-nine,” Tom requests.

Acknowledged,” the computer responds, and a replica of the grey suit Tom is wearing materialises in the air.

“Computer?” Tony raises a scornful eyebrow. “Try giving her a name – she might warm to you. Let’s see,” he mumbles, attention on the suit. “What’s the framework constructed from – aluminium?”

“Tetraburnium.”

“Never heard of it. Give me that.” Tony gestures to Tom’s padd. “Okay, here’s the construct. Your frame is okay, but you’re lacking the right composite for the wings. You need this metal fibre woven into carbon mesh.”

He taps the keys, then hands back the padd.

“Vibranium?” Tom screws up his face. “That’s not an actual thing. How am I supposed to synthesise a fake metal?”

“Fine,” Tony says with prodigious patience. “Use your tetrasporangium or whatever you called it. Don’t come whining to me when your jetpack fails and you break every bone in your body… or when you try using the wings as a shield and end up riddled with bullets.”

“Bullets, huh?” Tom’s own patience is growing thin. “Actually, we haven’t used primitive projectile weapons for a couple of centuries. We have phasers now.”

“How evolved of you. Here,” Tony hands back the padd. “Give that a test drive.”

Tom favours him with a brief glare before he turns his attention to Stark’s calculations. “This might work,” he mutters.

“Of course it’ll work,” says Tony. “I designed it.”

 


“I hate to tell you this, kid,” Tony announces several minutes later, “but you’re a terrible pilot.”\

So many scathing remarks start jostling for pole position on Tom’s tongue that he’s struck dumb. A vein pulses in his forehead.

“I think it’s time someone showed you how to work that thing. Where’s my cell?”

“Maximum security, I hope,” Tom mutters.

“Here we go.” Tony picks up a slim black oblong and taps at the keypad on one side, then holds the device to his ear. “Sam. That you? Get over here pronto … No, it’s not a mission. I need you to teach a flyboy a lesson … Yeah, in the suit. Ciao.”

He tosses the device onto the table and smirks at Tom.

“They say you should never meet your heroes,” Tony informs him. “But since you’ve already met me, I figure you won’t be overwhelmed at meeting Bird Boy.”

“What did you call me, Tin Can?” demands a new voice.

A rush of cool air bathes the back of Tom’s neck, and he turns to the sight of a lanky, dark-skinned man in flight goggles alighting on a patio he hadn't noticed. Gleaming wings fold elegantly into his backpack as the man strides through the open glass doors toward them.

“Sam Wilson, meet Tom Paris. Your new student.” Tony Stark gestures between them, then scoops his cell up from the worktable and begins thumbing at it, apparently losing interest in the pair of them.

Sam Wilson pushes his goggles to the top of his head and drags his gaze over Tom from head to toe and back again. “I definitely wear it better,” he remarks. “What seems to be the problem?”

“According to your friend here,” Tom waves a hand in Stark’s direction, “the suit is perfect.”

“So the problem is you? Show me your takeoff.”

Tom taps buttons on his gauntlet to fire up the jetpack thrusters. Slow and steady at first – not really his style, but his pride has taken enough of a beating today – and gradually, as he rises above the ground, increasing throttle and spreading the wings in an attempt to glide gracefully around the high-ceilinged lab.

It starts with a wobble. Tom overcorrects, his right wing dipping too far; spreading his arms, he finds himself in a dive and brings his knees up with a yelp. A moment later, he’s tumbling hard across the polished floor. He flails to a halt against the far wall.

“Ow,” he groans.

Sam Wilson grins at him. “Don’t worry, man. Riley was almost as bad as you the first time he flew.”

“I’m actually a pretty good pilot,” Tom sulks.

“Whatever you say,” smirks Wilson. “Here, let me show you a few tricks …”

 


“Harry!” Tom bolts along the corridor to catch up to his friend. “Got a free hour?”

“I really don’t.” Harry doesn’t break stride. “The captain wants my report on her desk by 0900 tomorrow –”

“And you have it practically finished already,” Tom interrupts. “C’mon, Harry. You have to see this.”

“What?”

Tom ignores the mixture of suspicion and overtaxed patience in Harry’s tone. “I got it working!”

“Got what working?”

Tom lowers his voice conspiratorially as they pass a couple of crewmen. “The Falcon suit.”

“How?” Harry raises his eyebrows. “When I left last night you could hardly get it off the ground.”

“I had a little help. C’mon,” Tom tugs at his elbow as they approach the holodeck. “An hour, Harry. Just one hour. You won’t regret it.”

Harry groans, but doesn’t resist as Tom steers him through the holodeck doors.

 


“Uh, Tom?”

“Yeah?”

“That isn’t the suit we programmed yesterday.”

Tom rolls his shoulders experimentally and looks down at himself. Royal-blue plating, shiny red boots, white star on the chest. “What can I say?” he shrugs. “They talked me into the new design.”

“Who did?”

“You remember I said I had some help?” At Harry’s nod, Tom goes on, “Computer, activate program Paris Falcon delta-four-seven. Run characters.”

Two men materialise: one dressed in a slick navy two-piece, the other wearing flying gear in gunmetal grey.

“Cap,” the man in the tailored suit nods at Tom, then turns to Harry. “Bucky.”

“Buster,” corrects Harry automatically, then shakes himself. “Who’s Bucky? And who are you?”

“This is Tony Snark,” Tom tells Harry.

“Stark,” Tony amends with an eyeroll that reminds Harry eerily of Captain Janeway.

“He invented the Falcon suit. And this is Sam Wilson.”

“The Falcon,” Sam offers, still grinning at Tom’s malapropism. “The original and still the best.”

Tom rolls his eyes in unison with Tony, and Harry finds himself smirking along with Sam Wilson.

“Are we flying today, or what?” Tom demands.

“Be my guest.” Wilson’s grin widens. “In fact, since you’re an old hand at it by now, let’s race. First one to the top of the Empire State and back wins.”

“You’re on.”

Wilson and Paris take off in a double streak of fire and colour, and Harry runs out to the wide patio, shading his eyes as the pair of them disappear into the setting sun.

An instant later he’s almost knocked over by a whoosh of wind and red metal plating.

“What the hell was that?” he turns back to inquire of Stark, and finds himself facing an empty room.

Well, not empty, exactly. Harry eyes the worktable with interest; it’s covered in blueprints and machinery.

Tony Stark, he remembers from Tom’s movies, is supposed to be some genius inventor.

Harry walks over to pick up a mechanical device. The machine whirs and beeps at him and Harry tosses it away, jumping back from the table as though it’s Borg componentry. Then, feeling stupid, he reaches for it again.

“What the hell is this thing made of?” he wonders aloud, turning it around. It’s far lighter than he expected, but dropping it to the steel tabletop didn’t leave a dent in the little device.

“It’s made from vibranium. Strongest metal on the planet.”

Harry jumps. Tony Stark stands behind him in a full-body metal suit, shaded in very unsubtle red with dull gold accents.

“Iron Man, I presume,” Harry notes. “Back already?”

A moment later, Sam Wilson swoops down onto the patio, wings folding neatly into his jetpack, and strides into the lab. “You cheated,” he accuses Stark.

“Nope. You’re getting slow.” Tony looks over his shoulder. “But not as slow as him.”

Tom Paris alights – with less grace than Wilson – and grins widely as he rushes into the room. “That was so cool,” he gushes, slapping Harry on the back. “You have to try it.”

“You lost,” Harry points out, trying to hide his smile.

“Should’ve made the suit red, kid,” Tony adds. “Don’t you know red goes faster?”

Harry barks out a laugh. “Maybe this program is more fun than Captain Proton after all.”

“You guys know Captain Proton?” Sam Wilson asks, eyes widening.

“Sure,” Tom shrugs. “We play it all the time.”

“Hear that, Stark?” Sam elbows his friend, snickering. “They know about Captain Proton in the future. What’s your favourite episode?” he turns back to Tom and Harry. “Wait, let me guess,” he lowers his chin and deepens his voice dramatically, “Captain Proton: Defender of the Earth! You get to save Miss Goodheart from the evil clutches of the demon squid. You maybe even got lai-”

“Hey,” Stark cuts in. “Don’t talk about Miss Goodheart that way.”

“Can you believe that’s your legacy?” Wilson crows. “All those weapons and flying crap, and you’re remembered for some dumb Flash Gordon role playing game …”

 

 

“I can’t believe you’d rather be tied to a rock with that screaming blonde woman than strapping on a jetpack and flying over Manhattan,” Tom grumbles. “And my Proton suit is much less comfortable than the Falcon.”

“Shut up, Tom, or I’ll leave you here to fight Thanos on your own.” Harry wriggles one hand free of the ropes. “Anyway, I’m not the only one who wanted to play Chapter Sixteen.”

“Does he always whine this much?” Tony Stark demands from Harry’s other side. “He’s giving me a headache.”

“Yeah,” Sam agrees, struggling with his own bonds. “He’s worse than Banner.”

“But only half as ugly,” quips Tony. “Hey, how much longer am I supposed to pretend I can’t get out of these ropes?”

“How should I know? This is your program.”

“In that case…” Tony yanks on the rope until it falls free.

“Just in time,” notes Sam as he steps away from the rock. “Look who’s here.”

“Is that Thanos?” Harry pulls binoculars from his voluminous Buster Kincaid pants pocket and peers through them at the approaching purple giant. “What is that on his chin? Looks like a nutsack.”

“That is his chin,” Sam chortles.

“Huh,” says Tom. “When you said this guy was rampaging around the universe stealing the family jewels, I didn’t realise he wanted to keep them on his face.”

 


“Hey, FRIDAY?”

Yes, boss?” comes the lilting reply.

Tony Stark reaches up to adjust the visual intake on his VR goggles. “Have you been messing with my code again?”

Why would I do that?” the AI questions.

“Oh, I don’t know… to make me think I’m going insane?”

What seems to be wrong with it?

“It’s glitching. I’m supposed to get the lines.”

Aww,” offers FRIDAY, deeply saccharine. “Maybe the Star Trek boys are just funnier than you are.”

“Shut up, Computer,” Tony grouches. “Shouldn’t have given you a personality. Anyway, the only funny guy in Star Trek is Spock.”

Whatever you say, boss. Miss Potts wants me to remind you that it’s almost Morgan’s bedtime.”

“Tell her I’ll be there in ten minutes.” He pulls off the headset, tweaks a few lines of code and fits it back on. “Okay, FRIDAY. Run program from my last position.”

Tony blinks to reactivate the game, and finds himself standing on a desolate world beside the Falcon, Captain Proton and Buster Kincaid, all four of them pointing weapons at the approaching Titan.

“I’m gonna blow that ballbag right off your face this time, Thanos,” Tony mutters to himself. “Come and get it.”