Fandom: Iron Man, Avengers Movieverse
Pairing: Eventual Steve/Tony
Genre: Angst, AU
Rating: PG for now
Notes: This is the story of Tony Stark not sticking out the ‘good guy’ side. The first part is why he decided it just wasn’t worth it to keep fighting why everyone else said he would fail.
Warnings: Tony is not a good guy. Not really. Not anymore. And this will eventually warp into slash as after all, this is AU and not sticking to canon.
Disclaimers: I do not own any of the characters and will make no money from this. Sadly… I want a Tony.
Word Count: 2,435
Chapters: One | Two
The secret side of me, I never let you see.
I keep it caged but I can’t control it.
So stay away from me, the beast is ugly.
I feel the rage and I just can’t hold it.
It’s scratching on the walls, in the closet, in the halls
It comes awake and I can’t control it.
Hiding under the bed, in my body, in my head
Why won’t somebody come and save me from this, make it end?
“Monster” by Skillet
People always want to know why something happens. They think it’s out of the blue or unexplainable. It just happened. All of the questions thrown around revolve around ‘What went wrong?’ or ‘How could this happen?’.
Tony likened it to a chip in the windshield of a car. It seemed harmless when it happened. Just a dip in the glass where a rock hit. Where did it come from? Another car in front of you, people doing yard work as you drive by, or well… your surrogate father selling you out to terrorists. That’s how it starts of course. Maybe not the very start… glass wears down and will eventually weaken from the abuse. Not that anyone has to know where that started. It never mattered anyway.
But it didn’t break on the initial impact. Yet over time as the world goes through the seasons, the heat expands the molecules and the cold compresses them. Soon the glass is a spider web of fractures and breaks in the smooth surface. Then something hits and the glass shatters.
Knowing that. Watching it break little by little. Why would you still ask ‘How did that happen?’ in the end? Obviously it lie in human error. Lack of attention and understanding. Human traits and human shortfalls. The answer was so obvious. And yet none of it even surprised him anymore. Nothing surprised him anymore.
He’d known Colonel James Rhodes since he was at MIT. Sure it was at the end of his time there, but that was still a long time for a man just touching into his forties. They’d built the relations between Stark Industries and the Military to an all new high that no one could even touch the contracts between them. There were parties, golf games, and training exercises they did sometimes.
Piloting. They both loved to pilot and fly. Tony even used Rhodey to help him design the best of everything to protect pilots in the air. For all the oblivious blind notions of naivety, Tony’s intents had been to protect the country and give the winning edge to the American boys and girls.
Beginning to end, Tony had Rhodey’s back even if he fell into the abyss of alcoholism and getting lost in his work. Considering his flaws, when he came back from Afghanistan, he thought maybe, just maybe, Rhodey would encourage the changes.
He’d been wrong. In fact, at every turn he took, Rhodey would tell him ‘It’s not good for us to be seen together’ when he went to him. The first time, he got it. When he made the Iron Man suit, he wanted a friend to share with… but he’d just shut down weapons production. Tony figured it was just because it felt personal… he’d get passed it. And he really thought he had.
That was, until they were in the plane leaving DC and Rhodey said he couldn’t be seen with him. It was ‘bad press’. Funny how friends were easy to shake all because you took a stand on your beliefs and those beliefs didn’t quite fit in their life. Why should that surprise him?
Which was why it never surprised him that the man never asked him again about the ‘road rash’ crawling over Tony’s skin as he died slowly. As Vanko said, it was a very painful way to die. But he made a promise to a man that did give him a second chance… which was why he gave Rhodey access to a suit to ‘steal’. Just one more olive branch that ended up thrown in his face.
When Tony had moved on from the years following his parents’ and Edwin Jarvis’ death, he wanted to retake his father’s company. Where he had the intelligence and know how to do that, he’d needed someone to help him with the business end. At age twenty-one, he met young Virginia Potts, a vivacious intelligent woman that was only a lower level secretary. A secretary that caught a mistake in the financial reports.
Hiring her right there, she became his executive assistant. There were few people that Tony Stark respected, but after decades of her dealing with his ups and downs into alcohol and trying to shirk responsibility, he respected her. Her mind, shrewd abilities, great management skills as well as her patience were all as prominent and amazing as her beauty. But one thing Tony had always tried to do, was separate business with pleasure and she did the same. Sometimes better than he had even hoped to do.
For all the praise every magazine and even Tony himself would give her, nothing really prepared him for the things he’d see after he decided to plummet SI stocks. She had been like a blessing that first stint when he got home. She held her breath and followed him even if he caught the frowns and sighs every time she thought he wasn’t looking.
He should have seen the warning signs when she tried to walk out on him for trying to rid the world of his mistake. Pepper didn’t want to support Iron Man, and it took close to emotional black mail to get her to support him. It didn’t start sinking in till he spiraled out of control from the palladium seeping into his blood. A woman he respected and looked to so much he gave her his company, wouldn’t even look past the surface and run off with him. He really didn’t know if he could plead with her more than he had that moment.
Nothing. She brushed him off like a child that was misbehaving. He was dying. He had less than two days to live… And she didn’t even give him the chance to tell her. When no one would listen when you reached out to them, what do you do? Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.
In the end, it wouldn’t have mattered what he would say or hope for, the only way she reacted was a slip from the Black Widow about his dying problem. He’d really tried to convince himself that he should cut her slack for all of it. But when the person that stood by you the longest refused to find out why you weren’t ‘quite right’? Well… you stop trying to tell them the truth because it wouldn’t matter.
Every time he thought of S.H.I.E.L.D., Tony thought of his old man and all the secrets that had been kept from him. But that wasn’t all. There was a reason he was able to get a hold of the Project Rebirth files when he wasn’t allowed access. Anthony Edward Stark was the best hacker known to man when he put his mind to it. Ego aside, he found that information and so much more all with dear old dad’s name on it.
That aside, he also found the files with his name on them. Being who he was, he had to look. Had to see what they’d compiled on him so far. Call it morbid curiosity. The things he saw and read made him less than thrilled with Colonel Nicholas Fury. Especially when he realized that he’d been watching the entire time that Tony had been in Afghanistan. And according to Agent Phil Coulson’s notes, did nothing because he was suspect to being in on the entire thing.
Tony. A terrorist. When he’d sat back and thought about it, he’d tallied up his major crimes to naivety, idiocy and alcohol. But who was S.H.I.E.L.D. to him? They’d not done him any favors when he’d had to put General Ross in his place about the armor. Or gotten him out of the mess with the Ten Rings. They’d simply watched.
So they did come in when he was dying. Funny, in the midst of all his ‘friends’, it was his biggest stalker that came to the rescue. It was unnerving enough that they sent Natasha Romanoff in to weasel her way into his company. He only remotely accepted it because it had been his own shortcomings for a pretty face that got her in the door. She really lived up to the ‘Black Widow’ calling card.
But even if they got him through it, they didn’t keep up the good graces. No, he was soon slapped in the face with all of his mistakes again. When people say you can’t outrun your past? They weren’t lying. Didn’t people get a little bit of a curb when they were, you know, dying? Obvoiusly not…
He was a consultant. Not an Avenger.
“You used my technology right under my nose and didn’t even think you might need to mention that?” The iced anger that laced through his voice was surprisingly calm as he stood toe to toe with Nick Fury.
“Your clearance doesn’t run that high, Stark.” The slap down of ‘you’re forgetting your place’ was so obvious that Tony had to grit his teeth not to snap back.
“My security clearance has nothing to do with how my tech is used. Have you forgotten why I even became Iron Man?” The silence in the large circular room echoed behind him amongst the hum of computers and screens lit up with electronic engineering that he created. The entire Hellicarrier was his creation. “You have no right to just take something and use it. What did you do? Have your pet spider sneak in and take it? She’s been real buddy buddy with Pepper lately.”
“You’re trying on my nerves, Mr. Stark. I’d suggest you take a break…” The way that eye pinned on him; he read the message that was conveyed silently. ‘Get a drink and shut up’.
“You’re not denying it. That’s the surest sign of a guilty conscience, Fury.” Tony shot back, his voice elevating just slightly in the room.
“My conscience is just fine, Stark. Maybe you’re the one that needs to get that in check. What… with your track record….” Were he a lesser man, he might have hissed at the sting in those words. Fury was aiming low.
“Just give it up, playboy, he’s never going to take you seriously.” The chiding amusement behind him came like porcelain against sand paper. Clint was good at that. Good at saying something at the wrong moment to make it so much worse.
“Don’t you think, as a part of this time, I have a right to know what’s going on?” It was reasonable. They couldn’t argue that logic.
“Consultant.” This time, he did turn to stare silently at the auburn haired agent perched on the table next to Clint. She hadn’t even bothered to look up at him. And just like Clint, it was getting rubbed in his face.
You’re not an Avenger.
They didn’t need to say it. It was like someone installed a neon sign over his head that flashed the words brightly over his head. Tapping his fingers against his thigh in a nervous habit, he turned back to Fury snorting. “Thank you, peanut gallery. I’ll be sure and leave a nice tip.”
Fury didn’t budge. Didn’t laugh. Didn’t smile. Just stared him down until Tony felt the tension winding in his own shoulders from sheer irritation. “You should be proud of yourself, Stark. Your tech finally did something good.”
The jolt of anger seared up his spine at the jab and he wasn’t so sure that it was a joke or not. “Oh? Define good.”
“At this moment, we’re reviving the only successful super soldier created by Dr. Abraham Erskine. You remember right? Project Rebirth? I believe your father had a lead roll in that didn’t he?” And it hung there like a slap to the face. All the things his father accomplished… and Fury’s comment on his work finally doing something good.
“Oh, I heard about that… Guess it’s like father like son then, huh? Coming full circle finally.” Clint probably hadn’t meant it to sound like that. He hoped. In either case, he jerked a little from the words like he’d been sucker punched in the back.
“I think you’re dismissed, Stark. Unless you would like Agent Hill to show you out?” Fury added that pointedly and he grit his teeth. Maybe in another circumstance, he would have been thrilled. Steve Rogers, his childhood hero… but right then, he was the last thing on Tony’s mind.
“I have legs and I did build this place.” His tone remained sharp as he turned on his heel. Heading for the door in a crisp gait, he heard the soft amusement from Natasha’s voice in his wake.
“He’s never going to change. Like a child throwing a tantrum.”
No one could say he wouldn’t prove a point. He simply lifted a hand and flipped them off over his shoulder just before disappearing from the room.
It really isn’t that hard. It all starts with one betrayal in a domino effect of things falling into place. Once he started leaning harder on the bottle, it just took pushing to make the glass finally break. So, so simple. Even a moron could figure it out if they were actually paying attention.
All it came down to was self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell someone something enough over a long period of time, they start to believe it. They make it real. In time that’s the only truth they’ll know. For Tony, it was simply giving in and being what they said he was. They all believed he was ‘bad’ so why not just be what they thought he was?
Given time, he could make it into something even he could agree with. Less people, less trust, less reliance on anything or anyone but machines… really, the transition was so easy. Cutting Rhodey off, treating Pepper like it was strictly professional and meeting a certain God of Lies… well… it became easier than living.
The only part he couldn’t change… the only part he never killed… was the desire to preserve life. Because when a moment arose and eyes full of fear were on a repulsor, all he could see was Ho Yinsen’s face. All he could hear was that plea that he not waste what was given to him.
But maybe… maybe that would go away too given time. Anything is possible with enough time and enough lying to himself. Besides… who would even realize he’d fallen when they already thought he had?