Rating: PG-13, violent imagery.
Summary: Did he ever detail to Stark more details of before imprisonment? No. Because something like that, something so deep, so soon and so bloody, was far too personal.
A/N: Heck yes I will soon be writing for Pepper/Stark, but for now I wish to reflect on the doctor/scientist dude towards the beginning of Iron Man. There was something about his character I wanted to know more about, so voila, this came. But since my knowledge of Afghan/Indian history is painfully scant and hinges largely on Wikipedia, BBC and some Afghani site I found, I beg that you don't take this too seriously. But of course critique it.
That’s something that people – geniuses – don’t quite understand. That some people aren’t born into money, aren’t born into power and wealth. The majority of great prodigies – incredibly well known geniuses – had loving parents, money and “connections.”
Yinsen had five other brothers and sisters. (The number had originally been seven but that changed after Yinsen’s little sister died from TB and his older brother was blown to bits by stepping on a land mine.) He had a father who snarled about the “imperialist Puppet” who was their king before dying in early ‘77, and a mother who would die during the Soviet invasion in ‘79.
Yinsen had no connections. Had no wealth and certainly had no power. His medical knowledge grew largely from observing the damage rival warlords would wreak on middle-man villages and from learning how entirely huge opium was in his life. He understood before his brothers and sisters the importance of the British, hated as they were. And he understood that if he wanted to get out (and he did, desperately), he’d have to do it on his own, customs, family and village eighty miles from anything resembling something pseudo-modern be damned.
Yinsen managed to get into India. He had left the native village when he was fourteen and trekked, by foot, bike and rusting cars to Kabul.
By this point the borders were simultaneously tightening and loosening themselves in something Yinsen would later describe as spasms. There was an uneasiness in the capital city of Afghanistan – the Brits felt it, the natives felt it, and the city gently shook with it. Something was coming, and in its arrival people were leaving.
Yinsen made friends with a boy who was more of an old soul than anything else – seventeen years old and he had the connections in Kabul and a hatred for anything resembling bureaucratic bullshit and order. He made Yinsen a passport, gave him a more exclusive-sounding surname and sent him on his way with fifteen other migrants.
The other migrants found trouble at the border. Yinsen, miraculously, did not. In through Pakistan he went, and out through India he left.
And that was the end of an already painfully short childhood. That was the end of ignorance and stupidity and the shame that had come with being from an almost no-name village in the middle of the mountains and the opium and the Soviet AK-47's. Yinsen’s brains made friends and connections. Yinsen’s brawns (and now older, he wished briefly he had them back) kept him from getting his ass kicked for being an Afghani in British India.
He went to medical school.
And he managed to become the top of his class.
And then Yinsen found a wife (a beautiful woman named Ekta, who had a smile like the sun over the mountains and a brain that was almost indescribable), and they had children.
Did he ever detail to Stark more details of before imprisonment?
No. It was too personal.
In 1990, Yinsen came back for the sixth time to his homeland. It was a bloody, raging, nasty mess but at forty years old there wasn’t a lot that frightened him. He’d seen India in it’s bad stages and he remembered still strongly his childhood of opium and AK-47s.
He wandered back to his no-name village in the no-name mountains (which, Ekta reminded him, was probably one of the stupidest, most dangerous things he’d ever done in his life), disguised his now-refined accent and his western clothes, and he asked questions.
The father was dead, the mother was riddled with bullets. The brothers had wives and wailing babies and the sisters had glowering husbands and screeching toddlers. The family had accepted with gray resignation that the second-eldest had left when he was fourteen, and now Yinsen was but a frighteningly distant speck in memory clouded by the dirt of the village and the haze of opium.
They regarded Yinsen with suspicion and distrust, wary of any man who’d come over two days of dangerous roads, thieves, land mines and warlords to ask them questions about family. But Yinsen still had his brains, and they did not. So when he lied, they accepted it only as poor, uneducated villagers can and let him be. They invited Yinsen into their house, fed him and housed him, and accepted the food and money he gave them with sincere gratitude.
He left that night, in the darkness with an American Jeep, and when he returned home to India, he vowed to his wife he’d never commit such a deceit again.
He wouldn’t. But Yinsen would return, again and again, as he realized that something in his homeland needed help.
Clinics were established. Aid was given. While Yinsen was perfecting highly-technical cardiac procedures and giving lectures in colleges around India (and the world), his name was filtering in through villages and towns in Afghanistan. There was that disruption during the Shar’ia rule – a time when Yinsen knew that people were dying and the rule of a bullshit government was slaughtering the masses like frail, weary sheep – but he knew that something was happening. He knew.
Yinsen came back to Afghanistan after the Americans swept out the Taliban.
...this would be his last time.
He only recalled flickered fragments, like this:
A blow to the head, voices in languages he hadn’t heard in decades and the final ultimatum delivered by the Devil in disguise.
He remembered a video of his wife (and the horror at the realization that it had been because of his insistence that she came to Afghanistan with him this one last time) and the final seconds before her execution when she raised her head from looking at the filthy dirt floor of wherever they kept her and stared into the camera. Her eyes were black with fear and dread and empty surrender and a vow, a message meant only for him.
I’ll see you there.
They made him watch when skull fragments exploded outward, propelled by the point-blank detonation of 4.7mm and the pinky mass of Ekta’s beautiful brain sprayed across the room. Ekta’s always half-smiling lips were gone, her teeth a mass of calcium deposits on the dirt and her eyes – dark like the rolling thunder of night -- partial blobs that would never be recognizable again.
He keened, then. Sobbed in a way he never had before in his life and promised he’d do whatever they told him, whenever they told him, to save his family.
Nalin died next. Tarak third and finally – painfully – Abhaya, his favorite baby girl. It was at this point that Stark (unlucky bastard, he whispered to himself) arrived and Yinsen realized what had to be done.
In life there is death, and in death there is the same. Here was a young man who had everything (but nothing): brilliance, looks, American innovation and Yinsen’s makeshift pacemaker, and there was potential.
Yinsen felt tired. Was tired. And the final message from Ekta, that final, soul-piercing stare, told him that he knew what he had to do.
Yinsen is dying now.
He is going home.