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. I decided to go ahead and describe the gradual transition... The next part will pretty much get things going.
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: 2,807
Chapters: One | Two
I can’t escape myself
So many times I’ve lied
But there’s still rage inside
Somebody get me through this nightmare
I can’t control myself…
So what if you can see the darkest side of me
No one will ever change this animal I have become
Help me believe it’s not the real me
Somebody help me tame this animal I have become…
”Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace
“So… what you’re saying is…” The raven-haired god seemed to gracefully glide from one side of the room to the other thoughtfully. “You’ll supply me with the information I need, scientifically speaking, if I don’t ask for information on the Avengers themselves.” Pales eyes rose and dark eyes stared right back.
Leaning back in his chair in the Stark Tower office, the genius simply tipped a tumbler from side to side slowly in thought. After a moment, he sat up and sat it lightly on the glass surface. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“And you seem to think, they will keep you there?” The flicker of cold amusement only flitted through pale eyes.
“I don’t really care if they do. It passes the time.” His voice was even, impossibly smooth as he folded his hands together on the surface of the desk. “There’s just no need for me to choose sides.”
“Like a puppeteer dancing the puppets across the stage.” Loki looked like he might almost laugh. “And you think I’m willing to dance for you? You, a filthy mortal from a world that is no more than dirt beneath my feet.”
That got the corners of Tony’s lips to quirk upward slowly. “About as much as I picture Fury dancing for me. But that’s not my plan. I’m an industrialist…”
“And you’re selling to the highest bidder. There’s another word for that, Stark. I believe it’s ‘whore’.” The demi-god lowered himself onto the edge of the desk and Tony simply watched him without moving. He knew those cold eyes were sliding over him, but he didn’t flinch.
“Semantics.” The world already thought he got into bed with anyone anyway. Why not make it a little more dangerous? “So, really it comes down to you.”
“And I’m the only one that will know you’re playing the field. Hm…” Tony’s eyes focused in on the fingertips on the glass as fogged condensation from the cold played over the surface. “I think… working with you… might prove interesting.”
A slow, charming smile slid over his face that didn’t reach his eyes. “I think you’ll find it mutually beneficial. Of course… once we lay out the terms of exchange.”
“I get what I want… and we’ll see about you getting what you want.” The exchange of knowledge. The only currency that really actually mattered to him. So maybe it took getting in bed with the devil. Like Loki said… it might be interesting.
“Tony, all I’m saying is you need to put more effort into the team!”
There were few things in life that made Tony stop lately. Piercing blue eyes that practically pleaded with him to be reasonable was one of them. After skipping most debriefs and practically ignoring all invitations to training and sparring Captain Steve Rogers finally managed to corner him in the halls of Shield headquarters.
“I told you, Captain Awesome… I’m busy. I happen to have a day job. Or did you forget? And a night job, and a part time job… Don’t tell me.” He eased his expression into the slightest hint of sympathy that was intended to be mocking. “He forgot to give you the memo?”
Steve’s brow furrowed, as he seemed to stand up straighter. “Is there really no way to fit even once a week into your schedule…? This team-“
“See that right there? That’s where you’re wrong Eagle Scout. When you say this team, you don’t mean me. I’m just the consultant. You know. The go to guy when you can’t think your way out of a circular room.” The sarcasm was almost venomous as he took a few steps away from him. “So if you’re not suffering that dilemma right now? I’ll be going. I have a meeting in half an hour.”
The lack of response only made a slow smile twitch at the side of his lips. It was predictable. Easy. They all expected him to walk out, so why stop him? Why argue a moot point for no reason. So he simply turned on his heel and smoothly started to walk away.
“You are a part of this team. Regardless of what a piece of paper says.”
Tony came to a stop, shoulders set and posture perfect. Sliding his hands into his pockets, he only let it hinder him a moment before he started walking again. “Sure, Rogers. You keep saying that and maybe someone will believe you someday.”
Maybe he would. But Steve Rogers was the minority. And it was already proven than one man can’t change an entire world’s perception. But it was cute that he was trying.
“You realize… if we’re going to work out… you can’t just keep doing what you’re…” Perfectly manicured and elegant hands moved in the air as though trying to draw a picture for him. “What you do.”
Pepper was beautiful. The pale skin flecked with golden freckles that seemed to highlight the luscious strawberry blonde hair. Strawberries. He remembered now that she was allergic. Better late than never, but he knew, in her mind the damage had been done. “What I do.”
Tone perfectly smooth and flat, Tony tipped his head back on the cushion of the leather couch. His white dress shirt was unbuttoned to a point that the reactor glowed in the dimly lit room and the dark red and black tie hung loose about his neck. In one hand, he held a glass of rich amber colored whiskey that was now half gone for the second time.
“You know… the flirting and… I would think this was obvious, Tony.” Pepper’s eyes met his for a moment and he wondered at the way she wrung her hands together on top of her knees. Pepper Potts was a perfect lady. From the neat posture to sitting no the edge of the couch, legs crossed in her pencil skirt. But for all that, she looked nervous and unsure. Things he’d never really seen on her before.
“All those things you used to say were fine.” Deadpanning the words, he knew they were wrong. Knew that she would take it as him wanting to keep up his lifestyle of sleeping around. And from the line of her jaw tensing, that’s exactly what she did. After all, once a man whore, always a man whore. Even if he hadn’t slept with anyone since he’d gotten back from Afghanistan. Even her.
“Things are different now, unless you plan to not finish one more thing in your life.” There it was. The past again. He’d been waiting for that. “I can’t do this. I just… we just make better friends.” And from the way she was looking away and blinking her eyes, he knew that she’d been thinking about it a lot.
“What are you saying, Pep?” Saying the words carefully, he set the glass of whiskey down and shifted forward to rest his elbows on his knees. Why, after all this, did it feel like he was bracing himself for impact?
“We never should have taken this out of professional context.”
“You’re breaking up with me.” The hollow tone of his own voice rang in his ears. Steepling his fingers between his knees, he stared down at them quietly before he forced himself to his feet. “All right.”
Picking up the glass in an easy gesture, he downed the contents quickly. “Tony… you know… I don’t… you can’t just say-“
“I have work to do. I’ll see you in the morning.” He offered an empty smile as he grabbed the entire decanter of whiskey and headed for the door to his lab. If she said anything else, he tuned it out.
Professional. The doors closed behind him with a finalized hiss. He could do professional. Tony could keep it ‘just business’.
Walking down the line of computers, work benches and projects, the room lit up with an eerie blue light as 3-D models and screens came to life just simply because he walked by. Computers. He got computers. They did what you made them to do and the need for deeper complicated understanding was unnecessary. This place? His lab. His.
“Jarvis, hold all my calls and no one is allowed down here.”
“Very well, sir. Will there be anything else you require?”
Tony sank onto his stool behind the main workbench and curled his feet into the rungs lightly. The squeak of expensive leather echoed in the room as he tipped his head back and took a long drink straight out of the decanter. “Play something loud.”
Only when the silence was shattered by loud music, did he finally lower his face down into his hands. Dragging those fingers through the dark hair, he finally closed his eyes. Just one more step.
“Now… see, Stark? I think you’re missing the point.”
Leaned against the glass window on a shoulder, Tony gazed down over the city of New York silently. People made little sense to him most of the time… but Loki made less on occasion. “And what point is that?”
His suits were shifting to darker colors these days. Some edged on dark gunmetal gray or midnight. As of late, he even added more black to the list. Cliché as the color seemed to be, it also matched the shift in his mood. The smiles and the charm came out for the camera as did the snide remarks and sarcasm for his ‘friends’ and the Avengers. But it wasn’t quite the same. Not quite.
Not that anyone noticed.
“You need to get your hands dirty. I don’t care how you do it, but it’s a stipulation if you want to work with me. Let’s just say that I don’t care to feed your little illusion that you’re building here.” The man cut a nice figure in a suit. The hour had been actually and truly booked through Pepper as a ‘business meeting’ with a potential client. Loki wanted to push the letter a little further it seemed. But why not?
“I don’t think you’re being clear enough in your demands. You realize that there are quite a few loopholes in your proposition.” Tony’s voice went silent when the cool solid presence of the trickster suddenly pressed in behind him. Keeping terribly still, he managed not to move away when Loki’s fingertips pressed into the curve of his side. Even the cruel smirk on those lips carried in his tone of voice when the god whispered in his ear.
“Oh, I’m being quite clear. You don’t have to get caught, but you can’t keep playing the good little boy in a suit of armor.” Only, when that hand nearly touched his wrist, Tony pulled away. He refused to turn around and see that laughter in those cold eyes. “It’s only fair, Stark. You can’t sit on the line forever and hope that you’ll be redeemed. You’re getting no where like this.”
“And I want to get somewhere in particular?”
“Freedom. I think we both know that’s what you want. But the part I’m still trying to figure out… is what exactly you want freedom from. In any case, that’s the deal. Take it or leave it.” The subtle shift in air heralded the departure, but Tony still didn’t turn. Reaching up to pull his tie loose, he looked back down onto the streets below.
What it came down to was if he really wanted this or not. Did he want ‘freedom’? Or Absolution? Or did he just want nothing at all? Sighing softly, he leaned back against the glass and touched his cheek to the cold surface. Closing his eyes, he let the ideas run through his head until he found his mind tied up in knots with dead ends.
Maybe he needed to be far away from the Avengers. The lack of need for his presence was all to ‘obvious’ with each conversation he had with Fury. It always came down to money or tech. Didn’t it always?
Thirty-six hours and eighteen minutes had passed since the last time he stepped through the door leading to the lab. Mussed dark hair stuck up at odd angles while the white tank looked more gray than anything else. The more impressive feature happened to be the black slacks that had once been a part of a lovely expensive suit. Not it was drenched in grease and torn in places along with singed spots from the blowtorch.
Pushing his goggles up to the top of his head, he stepped into the living area of Stark Tower only to come to a complete stop. There on his couch was the back of Fury’s bald head sitting diagonal from Pepper. Off to the side, he noted the plaid shirt and knew who it belonged to instantly.
“Miss Potts, I’m concerned with Tony’s behavior.” The man leant forward, resting his elbows on his knees. Steve on the other hand looked like he was trying not to be in this conversation. “He never shows up for debriefing and I can’t recall the last time he returned my call.”
Good luck with that, Fury. Tony wanted to talk to him about as much as he’d like to chop off his left hand. “Really? He’s actually kept up with most of the meetings at Stark Industries… even if they were teleconferences most of the time.”
Pepper, for the life of her, looked perplexed by the notion. True, he rarely showed that much interest in his company… but if he wanted to truly be free of the weapons manufacturing name, he had to come up with new sales tactics and new products. This became a necessity when Tony wanted all eyes away from what he worked on. If he decided to design something for Loki, he didn’t need the suspicion on him.
“And how long as he been hulled up in there, Miss Potts?”
Tony could almost feel the condescension rolling down his spine. It was something he really, really hated about Nick Fury. And he could almost see the anger rising in his assistant. One thing he loved about her being a redhead. She didn’t take the crap.
“He’s right here, you know.”
For the first time since he walked in, Steve looked away from the window. For a split second, the blonde smiled at him then it was gone when he looked down at Fury. Sometimes, he really didn’t get the guy. But it was a great possibility that the quick looks had more to do with his relation to Howard Stark than it had anything to do with Tony.
“And I think you were just leaving. Nice seeing you. Watch out for that traffic out there, it’s a real killer.” Waving at the two men as he walked through, he didn’t even deign the colonel with a look. “Hey, Potts, could you call R&D and let them know I have their designs ready to go?”
“What have you been working on so intently, Stark?” Pepper stopped mid nod as Tony turned to finally look at the man in black on his couch.
“I’ll have your designs over for checking tomorrow morning.” It was an accusation. Or possibly a threat. Where Tony had honest to god, worked on Shield and SI designs, no one believed it. But that didn’t surprise him at all…
Maybe now was a good time to do what they thought he was doing anyway… Loki did want him to get his hands dirty. “Weren’t you leaving? Nice seeing you, GI Ken.” This time he didn’t wait as he disappeared into his room closing the door firmly behind him.