“Can’t I stop?” Steve paused. He fixed his direct, blue gaze upon Tony. “I’ve done quite enough of these propaganda films.”
He squared his jaw into a stubborn rigidity which Tony had come to recognize.
Captain America was about to take a stand.
“It would be better if you simply talked to Peter yourself.” Cap crossed his arms and planted his feet into the ground. “Instead of bombarding his school and countless others with these motivational speeches you’ve written.”
“One.” Tony lifted a finger and waved it in Cap’s face. “This way, I’m sharing these speeches with impatient, would be heroes in high schools all over America.”
“Only it’s Peter you’re really trying to get to.” Steve ignored the finger. He kept his eyes locked upon Tony, filled with the determination of a true hero.
Or the stubborness of a true dick. How easy it was for the two to overlap, becoming one unstoppable force.
Not that Tony Stark would know anything about this. Naw.
“Why don’t you simply stop beating around the bush?” Undeterred, Cap continued his argument. “Go talk to him, Tony.”
“Two, I’m trying to find the right voice of authority to get through to him.” Tony found his own gaze wandering. Not dodging Steve’s, of course. Just wandering to the pile of paperwork, lying scattered about his desk.
Maybe he could persuade Pepper to deal with it. If he took her out somewhere. Bought her something expensive.
“I don’t have the moral authority Steve Rogers does.” A nauseating admission to make, but true. “I’m a businessman, a man of compromise.” Tony bit his lip. “Kids can sense this. When it comes to someone they should look up to, I’m not the best Avenger for the job.”
“Peter looks up to you.” Steve allowed his jaw to soften a bit. “I think he’s accepted you as an authority figure in his life.” A hint of a smile touched his lower lip. “He respected you enough to fight for you.”
“That was just him being star struck by one of the Avengers asking him to come out and play.” Tony waved Steve’s words away with a hand. “Not to mention having more money than he’d ever had thrown at him.” Tony looked Cap up and down. “You, on the other hand, never compromise on principle. Never.”
Tony closed his eyes, recalling facing down those steady blue ones before. An odd gentleness had filled them, even while their owner did his best to pummel him.
Steve hadn’t stood a chance. Not that Tony could see. It never stopped Captain America from getting back up.
“Kids respect that unwavering conviction.” Tony spoke to himself as much as to Steve. “Your voice has an authority like no one else’s because of it.”
“Such a voice encourages rebellion.” The stubborn hardness returned to Cap’s jaw. “As does distancing yourself.”
“Three.” Tony raised a third finger and pointed it at Cap. “You’re not the real Steve Rogers. Where do you get off, lecturing me as if you were?”
“You programmed me to look, speak, and act exactly like Steve Rogers.” Steve, or rather Stevebot shook his head slightly. “You of all people shouldn’t be surprised by this lecture.”
“No, I shouldn’t,” Tony growled, squashing down a discomfort which felt suspiciously like pain.
Steve, the real Steve was gone. Off with his freeze dried psycho of a boyfriend and the rest of his merry band of righteous marauders.
Tony didn’t need a reminder of that. Not on top of everything else.
“Maybe there’s a reason I built you, Stevebot.” Tony looked ‘Cap’ straight in the eye. “I can continue to punch you in your perfect teeth.”
“Only that won’t make you happy.” Stevebot met Tony’s stare straight on. “Why don’t you go talk to Peter, Tony?” Did the Stevebot’s lower lip tremble just for an instance? “Talk to Peter while he still respects you as an authority figure.”
Once again, Tony dropped his gaze. Once again, he found himself seriously considering the Stevebot’s advice.
Not that he’d ever admit it.