Years ago, Howard Stark told his son, who was in a Captain America costume, that there were no superheroes. Tony grew up believing that there were no superheroes. And when he tries to prove that there are superheroes, and he himself can be one, his father's words come back to him.
Prompt fill for avengerskink:
Mini!Tony is running around as a kid in a Captain America costume. Howard is busy working at something, and Tony gets on his nerves a little too much. Howard snaps something along the lines of "There are no superheroes Tony. Grow up and stop believing in childish things."
Later we see Tony working on something technical, the costume crumpled and abandoned on the floor, because there's no such thing as superheroes.
Based on this prompt, Tony grew up believing in technology, because that's what his father had taught him. When he escapes back from Afghanistan, he continues the weapon manufacturing, because he is more determined that weapons (the guns on the suit) can protect people, not the person him or herself. But secretly, he works on the suit – the Iron Man suit.
Something Extra: The Epilogue where Loki wins because Iron Man isn't there to protect the Earth.
"Daddy! Daddy!" Five year old Tony rushed into his father's workplace. "I got a new Capt-"
"Shut up!" Howard roared. Tony stopped in his tracks, his eyes big and frightened. "I told you not to come in when I was working! I told you!" He glared at his son, too energetic and curious for his own good. He was so close to figuring out the theorem, so close to the equation, and-
"I'm working, Tony, get back up." He said, sighing. He didn't want to terrorize his son. "But Dad… It's my new Captain America costume!" Howard grimaced. He missed his old friend, but this was pressing too far. "Go study, Tony." He tried to dismiss the kid, but apparently Tony was having none of it. "But Daddy… I don't wanna study… I wanna play superheroes…"
"There are no such things as superheroes!" Howard snapped. If there were superheroes, Steve wouldn't have died. Peggy wouldn't have had cried herself to sleep for months, calling for Steve in her sleep. Captain America was nothing but a symbol, a fake dummy. Howard would rather that Steve was just Steve, instead of Captain America. Maybe he would have lived that way.
"There are no superheroes, Tony; they're nothing but lies, made up for the naïve adults and the children who are scared of monsters below their bed. Superheroes don't exist, they don't protect you. Technology, this," He jabbed at the research, "Is what saves you. Tony, there are no superheroes. We? We save ourselves, and we can't save the others. Grow up and stop believing in childish things." Tony's eyes watered, but Howard didn't see it.
"Mary?" He called for his wife. "She's out." Tony murmured. A vein ticked in Howard's temple. "Jarvis?" The elderly butler appeared after a few seconds, in the same impeccable manner. "Yes sir?" He said patiently. "Entertain Tony. I don't want him in my workshop until I figure this out. And bring my dinner down." Howard ordered, turning back to his work. He had to figure out what that blue cube did.
"Be assured, my absence will not hinder the development of Stark weapons and we will create more to protect America and her interests in the future. Thank you very much." Tony Stark left the podium, ignoring the reporter's raised questions. Obadiah fell in line behind him. "So… what new weapons do you have in mind?" Tony unconsciously brushed his arc reactor. "Marvelous ones. Ones that can protect us."
Obadiah was silent for a moment. "You've gone a very long way from the kid who would run around looking for Superman, Tony." Tony smiled wryly. "What can I say?" He answered.
Humming quietly to himself, Tony drilled the screw in place. Perhaps he wanted one more shot. Perhaps he wanted one last answer. "Sir," JARVIS said, "I don't believe that it is feasible." The AI hadn't held high hopes for Tony's secret project, though he wished it was possible to create what Tony wanted to recreate.
"Just let me try, JARVIS." The AI fell silent. Tony knew what he had in mind. A suit, similar to the one Yinsen built, but far more eco-friendly and less weaponry. If it worked… perhaps it might fulfill some childhood dream of his. Perhaps it would prove that his father was wrong. Perhaps it would prove that superheroes did exist, and Tony was going to be one.
A kid's costume hung on a lone hook, a memento of Tony's early life. Blue, red, stars, stripes.
"Just a tad bit more, JARVIS. This works, I tell you, this works." Tony huffed.
"Sir," JARVIS suddenly said, "There was a press meeting on Captain America, as of five minutes ago. Would you like to read it." Tony paused in his engineering. Maybe they finally found him, with the technology that Tony had given the government, they should be able to revive him. Maybe… "Open it up, JARVIS."
Leaning back on his chair, Tony watched as the screen popped up, and a slightly balding man appeared at the podium. His eyes were weary, and his voice was monotone as he said, "Three hours ago, our expedition team was able to find the body of the late Steven Rodgers, also known as Captain America, in the Polar region." Immediately flashes went off as reporters tried to load the information. The man held a hand up for silence. "The original plan was to revive Captain Rodgers with technology that Mr Tony Stark has offered." He continued. "Did it work?" One of the reporters screamed out. Tony bit his lip. "However," The spokesperson said, "When we retrieved the body, the body had already decayed."
Silence as the news set in. "But he should be invincible, sir, at least it was what the government had been telling us for the past seventy years." A reporter finally spoke. "JARVIS, is this true?" Tony asked, rubbing his head. The AI was silent before he replied affirmative. Tony cursed audibly. "The blood samples we obtained from Captain Rodgers showed that the Captain should be capable of proper body functions, right?" He questioned. "No data showed otherwise, sir." JARVIS replied. "Switch it off." Tony said, perhaps a bit too harshly, turning back to his work abruptly.
The metal flashed below his hands. "Sir-" JARVIS tried to say, but he was too late when the whole thing exploded into Tony's face, and he flew back, landing a few metres away from the bubbling mess. Dum-E came over and sprayed at the concoction, putting out the small fires from the explosion.
The lab was in a mess, papers flying everywhere, the chair overturned, the hook falling from the wall, the article with it. "Dum-E, go and pick the costume out and iron it." JARVIS ordered, but Tony shook his head. "Leave it Dum-E. Leave it."
Both machines fell silent as Tony left the room.
"Tony believed in technology. He believed that with technology, with science, the world didn't need anything else. He didn't believe in teenage dreams, didn't believe in other people saving him. He believed in himself saving himself. To the very last day, he did that, so did his father. Although Tony has left us in a young age, he has left us with numerous reassurances that work far better than what we adults do when we try to convince our children that there are no monsters below their bed. We will remember you, Tony Stark."
Obadiah bowed to the coffin of the late Tony Stark, and descended the podium to his new secretary. "You have a meeting with the Board of Directors in half an hour, Mr Stane." The secretary said. She was Tony's old secretary, the one who had survived the longest. "Thank you, Ms Potts." He said. "Should we go back to Tony's lab to see?" Pepper opened the door to the limousine for him. "As you with, Mr Stane."
JARVIS cleverly fell silent as Obadiah overrode the security controls and entered Tony's lab. Both the AI and Pepper didn't say out loud that Tony hadn't entered the lab ever since the failed experiment.
The lights flickered for a moment until it came back. Dust was piled all over, on the table, on the overturned chair, on the faceguard, on the computer. Papers scattered on the floor, blueprints peeled away from the wall. The trash bin was full, only the high security and Tony's insistence of no critters in the house had kept the flies out. Cobwebs had begun to gather in the corners of the ceiling. It had clearly been uninhabited for months.
Obadiah circled the room, surveying it. He picked up one of the blueprints. "A suit?" He asked aloud. "Or a drone? Why didn't it work?" Pepper adjusted her collar. "Mr Stark destroyed all data on the project, Mr Stane, leaving a shell called Iron Man." She answered. "Tell me more about it." He said. Pepper hesitated, and said, "I don't know, sir."
Obadiah resisted the urge to scoff. He knew Ms Potts was hiding something, and he knew that she was far more loyal to Stark than she would ever be to him. His gaze swept the room, until they landed at a heap of clothes. "What's that?" He asked curiously. He recognized it, of course. Tony used to run around in it when he was young. "I believe it was Mr Stark's personal possessions, Mr Stane." The normally soft secretary's voice had a hardened edge to it.
He wondered about the story of the costume.
Pepper slowly descended down the stairs, and found Tony in front of his old lab. "Mr Stark, you really need to rest. Your health isn't as good as it was before." Tony ignored her, bracing his arm and his whole body on the glass pane. He was far paler than before, the arc reactor a contrast against his sickly body. Eyebags were under his eyes, which were half-lidded with weariness.
The lab was still in a mess, Tony hadn't entered it for a long time, and ever since he had Dum-E move to his new lab, it was practically inhabited. Everything was still chaotic, as Tony had forbid JARVIS from sending Roombas from cleaning it up. "I know I'm going to die soon, Peps, very soon." He said, never looking at her. "Mr Stark!" Pepper protested weakly, but she knew nothing could convince him anymore.
Secretary and CEO just stood there in silence. "I was so stupid, Peps." Tony suddenly said. "I actually thought that my old man was wrong. Imagine that? Howard Stark wrong?" He laughed bitterly. Pepper remained silent. Tony was so different after… after everything.
"But my old man was right, you know. He was right. Do you know that, Peps?" He looked at her. Pepper didn't know what to say. "There are no superheroes, Peps. Dad taught me that, and I didn't believe him. There are no superheroes. I tried to create one myself." Tony laughed, which gave way to coughs. Pepper rushed over, supporting Tony as he faltered. "There are no superheroes, none."
Chapter 2: Epilogue
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Five Years Later
Pepper carried the coffee into the room, curtsying to the seated man as Obadiah was reporting to him. "Thank you Miss Potts." The ruler of Earth said. Pepper curtsied again. "Any other orders, Master?" Loki shook his head, his green eyes appraising the secretary. "Any, Mr Stane?" Obadiah's now eerie blue eyes jerked to her. "Yes Miss Potts, please bring me the file codenamed Iron Man." Pepper started, but she knew better than cross Loki. "Yes sir." She answered. "Clint," Loki said to the man with the bow and arrow behind him, "Go and help Miss Potts." The man nodded, and followed Pepper out the room.
Pepper wondered what the man was before his brain was gone. He wondered what his eye colour was. Now the blue eyes rested at the door, as Pepper punched in the code.
Ever since the governments were destroyed, Obadiah had become blue-eyed and was moved to the facility former named Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. Pepper went with him, of course. She remembered this Division, a Phil Coulson had approached her after Tony's escape but Tony wanted nothing with the governments, so they never met.
It was nice that 'Clint' had come along, but Pepper had rather someone to talk to. As Clint was moving the shelves, to the cabinet carrying the documents, Pepper randomly picked up a file with the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division embelm. Avengers Initiative. It read. Pepper flipped it open, and almost dropped it in shock. She looked up quickly, glad that Clint wasn't alerted to her actions. She didn't want to become another mind-possessed person.
Clint's photo started up at her at the left, a grinning, cheeky Clint. His full name beside him, Clinton Barton, codenamed Hawkeye. So he was a Special Agent before the world ended as it was known. A report, written in neat, yet a bit angry handwriting. Our best asset possessed by the hostile known as Loki. There was a pale blue stamp, on it, Compromised, and a yellow one, Hostile.
The other side of the page was another person, a Bruce Banner, a kind-looking man, codenamed The Hulk. A dark blue stamp was on his file, Unknown Whereabouts.
The next page was a Steve Rodgers and Tony Stark. This time she gasped out loud, and Clint looked up. She smiled apologetically. The red stamp on Steve Rodgers was Failed to Retrieve, but the green stamp on Tony Stark was Failed to Initiate Contact.
She went to the next page. A red head, the only woman, and… Agent Coulson. Both bore a glaring black stamp, Dead. There was a sentence on the relationship row, adopted sister of Agent Clinton Barton. The last sentence of the report chilled Pepper the most. Died after extensive torture under compromised Agent Clinton Barton.
She tore her eyes to Phil Coulson's entry. They hadn't seen much, but Pepper knew that Agent Coulson was a good guy. She risked a look to the last sentence first. Stabbed in the heart by hostile named Loki. The words were different, and Pepper could only presume that the reports of the other people were written by Agent Coulson. Her eyes veered up to the relationship entry and they widened. Spouse of Agent Clinton Barton.
"The cabinet is opened, Miss Potts." Clint's emotionless voice sounded behind her, causing her to drop the file back into her original cabinet. She turned to face the man. "Thank you, Clint." But his eyes weren't on her. It was on the file she had dropped, and a shiver ran up Pepper's spine. If he was under orders to report back everything he saw…
But for that split second, Pepper thought she saw something in his eyes. A flash of hazel, tears threatening to spill through. But perhaps, it was only a trick of light.
This makes sense. Without Tony Stark, I don't really see Obadiah Stane as a government person and unlike Tony he wouldn't give money to fund the research and S.H.I.E.L.D. So S.H.I.E.L.D would have had to close down. No S.H.I.E.L.D, no Avengers. No Avengers, Loki wins. Clint is being mind-controlled by Loki (sobs) because, well, the government still has the Tesseract. Natasha is dead, killed by Clint (sobs again). Tony is dead. Bruce never resurfaced after he Hulked out in the helicarrier, because there is no Tony who gave him the faith. (Whimpers again). Thor is, presumably, dead. In Valhalla, or whatever you wanna call it. Thor doesn't have an entry of Steve is still buried in layers of ice, because S.H.I.E.L.D didn't have the money to do so. Phil is, is, is, dead. (wails) Fury? I don't give a ****. There is no nuclear bomb because this Loki was smarter and possessed the World Council. And I couldn't help but adding some Phlint, or Clint/Coulson like you call itt. End of story. Ja, alimasen! (And no, I'm not Japanese so I have no idea what that means)