- Just Like A Song
It was late, nearly past midnight. The sky was clear and the moon was full. The stars were twinkling in the sky merrily. The roads were deserted save for a few vehicles every ten minutes or so. Despite the eeriness, it was actually peaceful. Tony supposed that being out in the middle of nowhere was supposed to be that way. At least as peaceful as it gets driving in this shitty rental.
It had been a long and stressful year for Tony Stark. So much had fallen apart and had been ripped away all at once. His team, The Avengers, had split. He nearly lost his best friend, Rhodey, during their awful skirmish. And like the icing on that hellish cake his friend and teammate Steve Rogers had betrayed him. America's Golden Boy had chosen Hydras murderous lap dog over Tony. The very man that had murdered his parents.
Tony sighed heavily as he cranked up the volume on the crappy stereo. He turned down an old seldom-used country road that Friday had indicated to him just as he began to belt out the lyrics to the Bad Company song 'Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy' that had begun to play.
Why drive a shitty rental car late at night well into the middle of nowhere you ask?
Well, it was supposed to be incredibly low key. Like top secret low key.
Despite all of the awful and terrible things that has happened the past year things were about to get worse. Like end of the world kind of worse.
Thor had returned with a tale to tell. Natasha had gotten wind of it and had passed the message on to all past and present members of The Avengers. Right now, Tony was heading to a designated safe location where the factions can meet, call a truce, and hash out some semblance of a plan. Tony loathed to admit it but Natasha had made some fairly valid points. Essentially when it came down to problems like the end of the world Tony's issues including his animosity towards the captain and all the reasons there of get put on the back burner.
Speaking of, Tony had been informed that Steve would be there also. He idly wondered how that was going to go. He almost didn't show up on that basis alone. But by the way Thor was talking when he last spoke to him, whatever was happening was big. And maybe Natasha was right, just maybe, if it was truly the end of the world then he was going to have to put his big boy pants on and face this new situation head-on. Even if that meant being face to face with Steve Rogers.
Soon enough he pulled off of the road and into the parking lot of what appeared to be a karaoke bar.
He guessed that it would be as good as any place as far as Safety and Security is concerned. It was far enough out of the way so that anybody really important wouldn’t recognize them. And with all the music and drinking it would be hard for anybody to overhear any of their conversations. And if Nat said the place was Secure then you better believe, sure as shit, that it was.
The place was called Destination. He was sure there was some literary gimmick or slogan that was meant to go along with that particular name. He supposed it had something to do with being out in the middle of nowhere and somehow reaching something like the end of the line. Something like "You have reached your final destination."
As he parked and removed himself from the vehicle he looked around to ensure that he was not being watched. One cannot be too careful when intending to fraternize with fugitives. There are a few non-descript vehicles and even more motorcycles.
Wonderful. It was also a biker bar. A biker karaoke bar. Who would have thought.
The moment he walked into the bar he was hit with a wave of smoke, the scent of stale alcohol and the wretched sound of incredibly horrible singing. Despite being a desolate and isolated area the place was packed. He guessed that this place must be the one exciting Watering Hole of the locals.
Before he could really survey the area in search of familiar faces a busty blonde woman sided up to him.
"You looking for a good time, sugar?" The blonde woman whispered into his ear in a deep southern accent.
Tony nearly jumped out of his skin. Despite the disguise and perfectly formed accent he could recognize Natasha's husky voice from anywhere.
He chuckled, "I am. You offering?" He replied with a sultry smirk.
She returned his smirk in kind, and gave him a wink as she grabbed his arm to lead him away. She led him to the back to a corner booth where he noted that Thor, Clint, and Steve are already seated.
Each had their own unique disguises.
Thor was dressed in a tattered hoodie with board shorts and flip flops. His hair was in a braid down his back.
Clint had a purple baseball cap flipped backwards with purple aviators snuggly resting on top. He was wearing a lavender knitted cardigan with jeans and sneakers.
Steve on the other hand was nearly unrecognizable. If Tony did not know Steve was meant to be there he would have easily overlooked him. His hair was a few shades darker and he donned a full beard. He was wearing a red flannel over a dark t-shirt. Tony also did not miss the way the dark Levi's hugged his muscular legs so unfairly. His leather jacket and biker boots only served to complete his ensemble. To be perfectly honest he blended in almost effortlessly with the various men and women currently inhabiting the bar. If it wasn't for the sharp knowing look deep in the captain's eyes Tony would have overlooked him entirely.
"Now that we are all here, we can get started." Natasha stated as she slid into the booth gracefully.
Tony slid into the booth after her eyeing the captain warily. He could tell that this was going to be a long night. 'It's for the good of the world,' he kept telling himself. 'It's for the good of the world.'
It was nearly an hour later and Tony thought he should just let the world burn. The world had a good run so far maybe it was just time.
At this point, he knows that he is being unreasonable but if he had to look into that bastard's insufferable face one more minute he was just going to scream. Steve, with his high-and-mighty attitude, and his smug unrepentant face. It was enough to make Tony choke.
They started off well enough. Thor got into a retelling of the copious misadventures he's had the last couple years. He then went into a brief summary of the foreboding dangers that may very well lie ahead. It felt pretty run-of-the-mill at that point. But then that Goody Two Shoe asshole had to open his mouth and put in his two cents. And the moment that happened a vein nearly popped in Tony's forehead. Just the sound of his voice was utterly irksome. It had nothing to do with the fact that the captain was on point with his opinion.
Not at all.
Then Tony may or may not have snorted in derision which may or may not have led to Steve commenting dryly at Tony's maturity level. Which subsequently may or may not have led to a snide comment in return. And that may or may not have led to a petty argument that would have escalated much further to admittedly very destructive levels if it weren't for Natasha, Clint and Thor butting in. The only recompense Tony saw in this whole disaster was the fact that Thor was slipping Asgardian liquor into Steve's drink.
As the discussion progressed Steve became quieter and quieter and verged on the edge of sullen and hostile. The genius couldn't help but to wonder what kind of drunk the captain was. It was funny to think that a year ago, he would have paid good money to find out.
Just as the discussion was going into contingency scenarios Tony began to tune out. He figured if it was something important he could always have Friday go back over the plan later.
He was aware enough to know when the conversation switched to the conditions of various team members and was happy to note that Wanda was safe and well. And maybe he cared a little bit that the others were fine too. Maybe just a little.
Suddenly Natasha slapped her hands on the table wrenching Tony from his thoughts brutally.
"I'm going to go sing." She said suddenly.
She shoved Tony out of the booth then went up to the mic. Many of the men began wolf whistling and catcalling when Natasha reached the stage. She ignored them, however, instead began choosing a song.
When the first few notes teetered over the speakers Tony had to hold back rolling his eyes. If there was ever a song Natasha was meant to sing ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra is definitely one of them. But there is definitely one thing Tony could not deny. She was damn good at it.
She made that song a thousand times more seductive than he had ever heard it before. It gave him chills.
These boots are made for walkin'
And that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots
Are gonna walk all over you
Are you ready boots?
And There She Goes. She began dancing around the stage with absolute Authority. Yep, she had completely owned that song. The place is a riot now. Move over Antonio Banderas, Natasha's got you beat tenfold.
Just as the last few notes of the song ended there was a slight commotion behind him. Tony turned around only to find Clint jumping over the table to head up to the stage next.
Before Tony could even begin to guess what song Clint was about to sing the man in question had already made his selection and immediately began belting out the first lines to the song ‘Move It Like This’ by the Baha Men.
Tony balked at him in indignation. Natasha remained on the stage with him and staying as his backup singer. It was incredibly upbeat and Clint’s silly antics as he jumped around on stage left the audience laughing uproariously. Even Tony had to admit after a minute the whole scene was actually quite entertaining. But then again that may very well have been the five beers talking.
Can you move it like this?
I can shake it like that
C'mon y'all let's rock the party
Shake your body everybody!
Wow, Clint actually got most the audience up and moving. But perhaps a lot of that had to do with Natasha grinding into him up on the stage.
Just as the last few notes faded into the background the audience cheered and applauded enthusiastically. Honestly, if Tony was in a better mood, meaning not having to be in the presence of Captain America of all people, he probably would have been enjoying himself right along with everybody else.
Before Tony even knew what was happening Thor bounded up onto the stage like an excited puppy.
'Oh, this is going to be good.' Tony thought.
Tony began to debate with himself what kind of song or even genre for that matter Thor was going to choose. Tony was certain it had to be rock opera or death metal. He was so hoping for death metal. He could just picture it clearly. The Asgardian definitely had the voice for it.
To say, when he heard the all too familiar chorus of trumpets and guitar chords, Tony Stark was utterly flabbergasted. There was no way in hell Thor Odinson was singing Johnny Cash right now. Just no way. Yet here we are. Country really?
Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring.
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire.
Thor’s deep timber voice had captured everybody's attention instantly. Wow, he was surprisingly good. He didn't even cover up his accent which only served to put a whole new wonderful twist on the song. It was truly fascinating and his voice covered the lyrics so well. It was truly mesmerizing.
The song ended before he even knew it and he barely registered another participant going up to the mic to sing an okay version of an Aerosmith song. Once Thor was seated back at the table he had ordered another round of drinks for everyone. As Tony stared at the bubbles slowly making their way to the surface of his drink he could idly make out the sound of Natasha and Clint discussing the next song they intended to sing together.
After watching the tenth bubble break the surface of the liquid he began to tune everybody out once more. He was sure if something important was discussed they would either alert him or Friday would just fill him in on the details later. He was jolted out of his thoughts again as the occupants of the booth begin to maneuver around to apparently let Steve out.
Tony figured at this point Steve was either going to bail or go take a piss. Either way it didn't concern him. You can imagine Tony's surprise when Steve beelined for the stage. What on Earth was in that Asgardian liquor? Because Steve never participated in karaoke. Never.
In all the team bonding extravaganzas they had all participated in before they had become a fractured unit, Steve never ever put himself in the spotlight. Now Tony was utterly intrigued. As much as he would absolutely love to not look at his face any longer Tony was itching to see what the captain was made of.
Once Steve made it up to the mic he chuckled nervously before stating, “I usually don't do this. But I guess I'm really feeling it tonight.”
He began tapping at the screen and scrolling through the songs apparently searching for the right one to sing. Tony doubted that a joint like this would have such an extensive music library to have something from the thirties or forties. Tony smirked. Steve probably wasn't going to find anything that was up his alley.
Tony watched as Steve's hand hesitated over the screen. His entire countenance changed. It went from something akin to charmingly nervous to utterly devastated.
Okay, now the genius was really interested. Tony could not even begin to guess at what song Steve chose. Tony watched him intently and was mildly concerned about the far-off look in his eyes. Tony found that he was waiting with bated breath for Steve to begin singing. He told himself it was purely for the curiosity of it.
As soon as the first few notes of the bass and subsequently piano began to play Tony could swear his jaw hit the floor. There is no way in hell Steve was going to sing that song. He would sooner believe that Steve would sing any of the other songs sang tonight then Adele.
Then he sang.
Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk to the way you move...
And, oh, could he sing. His voice was so clear and melodic it was so wretchedly unfair. Beautiful could not even begin to describe it.
He looks that good and has the voice of an Angel too? Seriously, not fair. And his features... where once his eyes were sharp and calculating were now soft and expressive. He looked so vulnerable, like at any moment the barest of sound would shatter him.
But if by chance you're here alone
Can I have a moment before I go?
Jesus Christ, where is he pulling all of this from? This isn't just someone singing a catchy song. Steve was singing this song because it was important to him. Because it hit something a little too close to home. Tony could see it in his eyes, could hear it in the quiver of his voice, could feel it resonating. Tony found himself getting lost in the music, getting lost deep within the soul of the song.
You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young...
The way he was singing it was like he came up with the lyrics himself. Like he somehow meant every word of them. Tony thought for a moment, ‘Could he be singing about somebody specific?’
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song...
Shit, no doubt he was probably singing about Peggy. Really, that could only be the most logical explanation. Tony guessed he could possibly know a little about what he's feeling. He was still having problems getting over how beautiful Steve's voice was, however. Like he would ever admit it anyway.
And I swear you moved overseas
That's what you said, when you left me
Uhh. Okay, the way Steve’s voice broke over the last two lines of that verse indicated something entirely different than what Tony first thought. The look on his face now was something a bit too familiar. There was a little voice in the back of his head that was telling him that he knew exactly what Steve was singing about. That he knew a year ago what exactly Steve was singing about. Unfortunately, that little voice is the one Tony elected ignore most often.
It was just like a song
When we were young...
Tony could tell that the captain was just on the verge of tears. Tony was completely enamored and enchanted by the song Steve was singing. The way his voice enveloped him like a warm blanket. And the words, oh, the words, Tony could tell that they were all too real for him. This was all hard learned experience for Steve… How could he have not seen it before?
Nope, he was not going to think about it. It doesn't change anything anyway. That little voice in the back of his head, however, begs to differ. Regardless of his inner turmoil Tony continued to watch on still completely enraptured and captivated.
It was just like a song
When we were young...
Just as the last of the lyrics left his lips he choked back a sob. It was enough to shock Tony out of his reverie. He looked around at his table mates to see the same look of shock and awe on their faces. What Tony was also able to descry was that his team held the same look of realization and understanding on their faces. Of course, they did. They were far more socially adept then Tony was. Of course, they were able to figure out just by watching Steve. The captain was completely and utterly and desperately and heartbreakingly in love with his best friend, Bucky Barnes.
Tony watched with a heavy heart as Steve bailed out of the bar and into the night. There was a small part of him that knew all along the way Steve must feel about his friend. Tony knew logically that Steve cared deeply for Bucky but only tonight did he truly realize the absolute depth that it ran. The genius ran over the lyrics of the song in his head and so much of it made sense. Then he thought back to all the things that had happened a year ago. All of the events that have transpired and all of the miserable words exchanged. For the first time Tony truly understood where Steve was coming from, and why he made the decisions that he did all those months ago.
Let's be honest here, if the situation had been reversed and it was Pepper on the line. Pepper being pursued, Pepper being framed, Pepper being guilty. Would Tony not have made similar decisions that the captain did?
Well, if we are being honest here Tony surely knew he would but his own decisions would have been far more brutal.
He excused himself from the booth and made his way outside. He hoped that he could catch the captain before he fled from the premises entirely. The fresh crisp air that washed over his face was a godsend. He took a deep breath and allowed it to calm his nerves.
He rounded the corner of the tavern like structure to find Steve leaning heavily against his motorcycle. He approached slowly and cautiously not wishing to spook him.
“What do you want Tony?” Steve whispered harshly.
Tony said nothing. To be honest, he really did not know what to say to begin with.
“Well go on then! What are you waiting for?” Steve turned to him abruptly. “Is this not what you wanted? To see me at my weakest?” He shouted. “Well here I am! Better get your digs and now while you’ve got the chance.”
The kind of wicked creature Steve must think Tony is if that was something he truly believed Tony would do in his moment of vulnerability.
‘Well,’ Tony thought, ‘I guess I don’t have the best track record.’
“I’m not here for that.” Tony stated evenly.
Steve snorted derisively and turned back to his motorcycle again.
“Listen, for what it’s worth I understand now.” Tony started. “I know why you did what you did. And if I am being perfectly honest, I probably would have done the same thing.”
Steve visibly stiffened. “I just couldn’t let…”
“I know.” Tony whispered.
Steve turned to look at him and his expression was utterly devastating. This is a whole new level of personal. Tony could see the heartbreak is his eyes as clear as day. But as desolate his expression was, he also displayed an air of hope. A hope that maybe things between them weren’t all bad, that maybe things weren’t as unreconcilable as it seemed.
Tony sighed. “What you revealed to us on stage… well, I get it. It was surprising, yet, not so much." he said.
Steve took a shuttering breath then exhaled forlornly. "I don't even know what came over me." He replied shaking his head.
"Thor sneaking Asgardian liquor into your drinks probably had something to do with it..." Tony muttered off handedly.
Steve's eyes widened comically. "Oh, God. I didn't even realize." He groaned into his hands.
Tony sinckerd. He stopped suddenly, however, as his heart wrenched at the painful familiarity of their banter.
"Really Steve," The genius began seriously again, Steve looked up at him apprehensive. "I didn't realize before but now that I know somewhat where your head was at that day, I understand."
Steve eyed Tony tiredly.
There was a big "but" coming.
"But that doesn't excuse what you did or that you lied to me." Tony stated firmly.
Steve pursed his lips and nodded stiffly. He turned around intending to mount his motorcycle. Just as he swung a leg over the seat a cell phone rang in his jacket pocket. He pulled it out and gasped at the caller ID. He quickly looked up to, Tony surprised and confused.
Tony was holding the burner phone that Steve had sent him all those months ago.
"Regardless, we still need you, Cap. I still need you. Just because we have issues doesn't mean the world should suffer for it." Tony gave a crooked smile.
Ok, maybe Natasha did have a point.
Steve nodded and smiled brightly. "We'll be in touch, then. Tony, take care." He said as he started the bike and drove away deep into the night.
Tony stared up at the sky. The stars were still twinkling merrily and the moon was now high in the sky. He took a deep breath and smiled despite himself. The night had definitely twisted and turned into something that he did not expect.
He looked over at his shity rental and thought back to all that he had learned this evening. Yes, something big and nasty was on the horizon. But at the very least there was something positive that he could take away from this meeting.To be frank, reaching some sort of understanding with Steve Rogers was probably one of the last things that he had expected to transpire tonight.
Though the scars are still fresh and Tony is quite not able to forgive and forget just yet, he did come to understand just a bit better the reasons why Steve made the decisions that he did. Tony knew, however, that maybe, just maybe with enough time they were all going to be okay.