Disclaimer: I don't own Marvel or it's characters.

But Time Kept Ticking


He looked up at the man above him who was loosely gripping him, shock on his features, as the first started fading to dust.

Ever since he was little, he had always admired the man who was above him. Always wanted to be like him.

("I just wanted to be like you.")

("I wanted you to be better.")

He could remember watching the TV when he was only six years old, pointing at the hero who's armor flashed red and gold on the screen.

"Can I be like that?" he had asked his aunt, hope and excitement glimmering in his brilliant brown eyes.

"You can be whatever you want to be, dear," she had responded, smiling softly at the child who had already been through so much. Too much, both major and minor. They had such innocence at that age. Not yet thrown into the depths and darkness that was according to many, reality.

His six-year-old self had been content with that answer, turning back to the screen to watch as the hero - his hero- self-proclaimed that he was Ironman. I wish I could be like that, he thought in bed every night, and telling his aunt much the same. His aunt smiled fondly at the child, tucking him into the soft car-patterned covers of his bed.

It was still fresh in his mind when only a year after that, his young, perhaps more foolish, self, had stood up to the Hammer Drone. He had held up his hand with a fake repulsor, like his fake helmet which he also wore, hoping with all his will to be a hero. Like the armored man.

An actual blast hit the robot.

The kid turned halfway and saw him. For real.

Ironman.

The child's actual hero was next to him. "Nice work, kid," he complemented from inside the suit, his voice metallic, before taking off to the air to protect the rest of the people.

This may have only happened within mere seconds, but to the child it was everything.

He hesitated for some moments, in awe of the occurrence before slowly moving to follow the crowd, gradually quickening his pace into a sprint. His aunt and uncle were calling for him, and it was not hard for the young boy to find them. They, of course, scolded him as all concerned adults would, before that demeanor broke from them and they just started worrying him over, continuously asking him if he was fine. He agreed and told them that Ironman had saved him and kept saying that he actually saw him, to which of course the two didn't believe, thinking the child had made up the story. After about thirty minutes of the child still trying to convince his aunt and uncle believe what he stated, they finally obliged saying that if it was true, that they were ever grateful of the hero for saving their boy, though they both still internally doubted it. None of the kids at school believed him either.

Then there was the battle of New York. Once again his hero had done it again, courageously flying into the portal with a missile, ready to sacrifice himself to save them all.

The heroes won, the bad guy defeated and sent to prison, and the world was saved! Of course, there were arguments about whether the heroes were heroes or not, but it didn't matter to him. If his hero was a part of the team, then the team had to be the good guys.

"I want to join the Avengers!" he cried, jumping off the rocks with a red, (fake) cape around his neck.

"I know sweetheart," his aunt told him, moving to stop the child from jumping off of things which could cause him to be injured. They had been surveying the damage, but naturally, that only held the child's attention for the minimum. "What about you go draw?" she asked him. "I brought you the crayons and paper."

The young boy beamed. "Sure!" he yelled.

His aunt went to get the supplies from the backpack. "Shh… not too loud."

"Sure!" he whisper-yelled.

Of course, the drawing was of the heroes.

Also, much more recently, only around a year ago, when he was sought out by the billionaire himself, who had somehow (easily) figured out his identity. He tried to act cool about the situation like it wasn't that weird- or awesome, as his mind would admit -, but his inner fanboy was squealing so loud that his nervousness broke through.

And then after the fight against the other half of the Avengers - insert his inner fanboy here - he was his hero's own apprentice. He would like to say partner in crime, but he couldn't. It wasn't crime, nor was he the hero's partner. It was saving people, plus the man's partner was War Machine.

As his vision started to speck black as he turned into dust, he thought he could say that his life was nice, even though he went through many difficulties.

"I'm sorry," his whispered, his voice hoarse.

.

.

.

I'm sorry.