In the Upright Position

Tony/Starscream. PG. ~800 words.
“I believe that was a challenge, sir.”

Sir.

“I see it,” Tony said, banking left and dropping a few hundred feet. “Coming up fast, isn’t he.”

No faster than you.

“Nag, nag. Punch it up, Jarvis. Let’s see if he’s up for a joy ride.”

With an easy twist, Tony rolled over onto his back to watch the approaching jet. It veered sharply to the right, arcing high and wide to come out in front. The engines throttled back as they drew level, driving Tony’s heart up into his throat as it rolled directly in front of him and fell behind off to his left.

I believe that was a challenge, sir.

Tony grinned, shouted, “It’s about goddamn time!” across an open proximity channel, and shot straight up to leapfrog over the top of the jet.

A garbled crackle of static came across the line as the jet nosed upward. “Straighten that mess out,” Tony said, corner of his lip caught between his teeth as he swerved down to the side.

In progress.

“Call me overconfident, but is that- Holy shit. Cut it!” Gritting his teeth against the sudden buffet, Tony fell back as the jet again looped beneath him, the currents sending him tumbling through the air. “Son of a bitch’s cocky for military.”

The craft is unmanned, sir.

“Now you tell me.”

Sir, you didn’t ask.

“Remember that talk we had about relevant information?” Tony asked, climbing quickly as the jet rose beneath him again.

Quite clearly.

“Tell me next time I’m playing chicken with a remote controlled toy.”

Another harsh burst of static exploded in Tony’s ears. He winced as it increased in pitch, gritting out, “Filter, Jarvis, filter,” his pulse kicking into overdrive when Jarvis remained silent and the jet arced high.

He hit it with a jarring thud, metal screaming as he scrambled for a handhold, the signal peaking at a deafening screech. About two seconds away from shattering his eardrums, it cut out.

His ears ringing, Tony said, “That was cheating.”

“Fair play is an excuse to let the weak live,” came the harsh, grating reply.

Tony whistled softly. “Got a chip on your shoulder?”

“A gnat.” The jet shuddered as if they’d struck turbulence and Tony held on harder, the metal plating buckling slightly under his grip. “Afraid to let go?”

“Hey, you put me here.”

“Let go.”

“Gonna catch me again?”

A laugh like an electric sizzle filled the silence where Jarvis should’ve been. “No.”

“I hate to point out the obvious,” Tony said, “but that isn’t really incentive. For future reference, lie.”

The jet dipped into a barrel roll. Slat plates shifted to compensate, slipping out of his grip as if they’d been slicked with oil. He skidded sideways, knees banging off one of the stabilizers and launching him into a freefall.

Slamming the manual trigger for his jets and not all that shocked when nothing happened, Tony said, “Now would be a good time to get back online, Jarvis. You know, whenever you’re ready.”

The jet dropped low, darting forward and swooping back in a move no pilot he’d ever met would’ve attempted. “You don’t seem afraid.”

“Falling’s cool. I’m okay with falling.” Once he could pick out the individual trees of the forest below, then he’d worry. “It’s the landing that bothers me. Be a pal and unjam my friend.” That had to be about ten thousand feet, give or take a few hundred. This was really going to ruin his day.

“You’re not going to beg me to save you?”

“The thought had crossed my mind,” Tony admitted. “Think it’ll help?”

“No.”

“And here I thought we were bonding.”

Something like a snort sounded across the comms line before the jet dropped completely out of sight. He slapped at his emergency chute again, nearly choking on the annoyed breath he huffed out when the jet shot forward under him. It banked smoothly as the cockpit windows slid down into the metal hull, scooping him straight out of the air.

Landing in an awkward sideways jumble, Tony wrestled a hand free and patted the curiously dark control panel. “See, I knew you liked me. Nice catch.”

The clear plating began to slide back into place and the controller belatedly advised, “Move your legs if you want to keep them.”

With some acrobatic wriggling, Tony settled properly into the seat, hands tucked behind his head. “And you said you didn’t care.”

“Don’t make me regret it.”

“I’d say I don’t move this fast on the first date, but one liar in this relationship is enough. That, and I really want you to take me for a ride.”

“Hold on,” came the vaguely pleased reply.

End

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