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a wiser hephaestus, a kinder aphrodite

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the first time they meet

Tony first meets Diana at an art gallery benefit in Paris.

He admits he’s a little tipsy at the time, having already taken a couple of dips into a bottle of champagne.

Upon entrance, he’s promptly seized by the curator of the Louvre, who strongarms him into meeting one of the man’s favourite antiquities dealers.

Tony goes along, because he’s a little too drunk to kick up too much of a fuss and lets the curator drag him across the function room floor.

It’s all in his best interests, though, because when he finally lays his eyes on the antiquity dealer the curator wanted him to meet, he has to practically pick up his jaw from where it’s lying on the ground.

“Holy shit,” he blurts out.

The woman in question cracks a smile.

She is easily the most beautiful woman he has ever meet in his life; in fact, he doubts he could describe her and do her justice in the same breath.

The curator smiles between the two of them, unknowing of exactly how fast Tony’s pulse is beating underneath his skin.

“Mr Stark, this is Diana Prince, one of our finest antiquities dealers. Ms Prince, this is-”

“Tony Stark,” Ms Prince finishes for the curator, in a slightly accented voice. “Yes, I know.”

Tony falters slightly, because of course, she knows exactly who he is.

His name and face have been plastered on every newspaper and tabloid from New York to Beijing, all because his father got drunk and wrapped his car around a tree with his beautiful, innocent mother in the passenger seat.

Now, Tony is the master to an empire and Atlas cannot shrug.

“I knew your mother,” she says, instead, and it makes him jolt.

In the six months that his parents have died, all anyone has spoken of is the American hero Howard Stark, the man who fought Nazis, fought with Captain America, who worked on the Manhattan Project, genius inventor and the fucking visionary of his age, born to a father who sold fruit and a mother who sewed shirtwaists.

They speak of Tony, Howard’s spawn, born with a silver spoon in his mouth: orphaned at such a young age; genius wunderkind at four, three doctorates at seventeen; engineering, technology and scientific prodigy; twenty-one and one of the most intelligent people in the world; playboy and hedonist, but philanthropist; employer of hundreds and thousands worldwide and the CEO to a company that stretches out across the entire planet.

But no one ever speaks of his mother.

Maria Stark doesn’t exist to anyone but him.

He’s the only one who remembers her, who mourns her like she was a real person and not some doll that Howard kept chained to his side.

“You did?” he asks, his voice coming out like a squeak.

Ms Prince nods. “I met her at a benefit just like this one. She was very interested in art.”

“Yeah, she was,” he says, roughly, looking away from her.

Something soft touches his hand and he looks down, jarred out of the moment, to see her olive-toned fingers touching his bared palm, blending into the olive tone of his skin.

“I’m very sorry for your loss, Mr Stark,” she says, gently.

The blood is hot in his face. “Yeah, me too.” He swallows hard. “And, uh, it’s Tony. Mr Stark is-was my father,” he amends, gritting his teeth.

Ms Prince nods, pulling her hand away. “She was a very kind woman. She spoke about you a lot: her genius son.”

Tony manages to crack a smile out of nowhere, a real smile, one which hasn’t seen the light of day since Jarvis knocked on his dorm room door in Cambridge six months ago and his entire world fell apart around him.

“And if I’m going to call you Tony, I must insist you call me Diana.”

the first time they go on a date

That one encounter at a benefit spawns numerous coffee dates whenever Tony is in Paris, and he finds himself making the trip across the pond more frequently than ever, under the guise of checking up on the Stark Industries subsidiaries in Europe.

He doesn’t particularly know or remember how it starts, who asked who to coffee first. But judging by his first reaction to practically trip over himself when he first met her, a good guess would be him.

That’s why they’re sitting opposite each other in this tiny little café in Batignolles, and Tony doesn’t know what to say.

It’s an odd feeling for him, to be tongue-tied.

Thankfully, Diana is good at filling in the silence.

“So, how’s work?”

Tony grins, fleetingly. “You really want to talk about my work?” he asks, bemused.

“Not really,” Diana teases. “But it seemed like the only question that would get you to open your mouth.”

Tony laughs (God, he laughs more than ever with her). “Good point.”

Diana thumbs the little handle on the edge of her teacup. “How are you doing?” she asks, gently.

Tony huffs. “You mean after my dad crashed his car into a tree, killing himself and my mother, and then I inherited the billion-dollar company that he made his entire life, above me, above my mother.” He rubs his hand over his eyes. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I sound like-”

“You sound like you’re still grieving,” Diana interjects. “That’s very much allowed.”

Tony shakes his head. “Thank you, uh, thank you for saying that. Most people that I come into contact with nowadays seem to think there’s a time limit on grief. It’s nice to talk to someone who doesn’t expect me to get over it.”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Diana says, flatly. “As if there would be a time limit on grief.” Her mouth twists.

“There’s a story there, I think,” Tony murmurs, eyeing her carefully.

Diana tenses.

“You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want to,” Tony says, quickly, rubbing the back of his neck.

Shit, good going, Tony, already fucking ruined it.

“Sorry, I talk too much; I say shit I shouldn’t say. If I said something to offend you…” he trails off.

Fuck, she’s going to throw the tea in your face and walk out ‘cause you’re such a fucking loser, Stark.

Diana bites her full, pink lip and looks down at the tea growing cold in her cup. “No,” she murmurs. “You didn’t offend me, it’s just… I don’t even know why I reacted like that.” She squeezes her eyes shut and when she opens then, she somehow looks older than her twenty-eight-or-so years. “There was someone… a long time ago. He died, and well…” she takes a deep breath.

“You don’t forget,” Tony finishes for her.

“You really don’t,” Diana agrees, wearily.

“I’m sorry,” Tony offers. “For what it’s worth.”

Diana softens, visibly. “It’s worth quite a bit.”

Tony would never have been brave enough to give into the urge burning under his skin; so, he’s very much grateful for Diana’s existence, because she does what he’s been aching to do since they first sat down together.

She reaches across the table and grips his hand.

Tony swallows hard.

The touch feels apple-sweet and warm, making his lungs constrict and something fragile and tender curl into the spaces between each ribs.

He smiles, shakily, and knows, in that moment, he’s willing to be a complete and utter fool for this woman, if it means just getting a sliver of her respect or her affection.

“I can’t promise it’ll get better. But you learn to live with it,” she murmurs.

“I think that’s all I’m hoping for at this point,” Tony says, dryly. “Now, to return the favour, how’s work?”

Diana starts laughing.

God, he’s so gone for this woman that he’s beginning to think that her laugh is the literal embodiment of bliss and beauty.

“Is this payback?” she teases.

“Just a little.”

“It’s as it always is. I deal in antiquities, so it depends on my investigation skills and the demand for these artefacts.”

“Why do I get the feeling that your investigation skills are on point?” Tony waggles his eyebrows.

Diana grins. “Now I see where you get your reputation as a charmer, Mr Stark.”

Tony shrugs. “I’m really not. I’m just good at faking it,” he says, honestly.


It’s dumb to spill his guts like this in front of a veritable stranger, but he can’t help himself, not with her.

“Where I come from, if I couldn’t fake it, if I couldn’t make people like me, well, not only would it have disappointed people in my life, but it would’ve made my continued existence very hard,” he says, simply.

“Your father?” she guesses with precision.

The air grows thick with tension.

Diana leans forward. “If I’m overstepping…” she trails off.

“You’re not,” Tony reassures, swallowing hard. “Yeah, my dad, uh, he was not the most encouraging presence in my life.”

“I never knew my father,” Diana confesses. “I was told of his existence in, honestly, the worst moment of my life.”

“Your mother didn’t tell you?”

Diana takes a deep breath, squeezing their joined hands.

He hopes he can provide some comfort to her.

“She thought she was protecting me, but…” she trails off, unsure of how to finish the sentence.

“But it doesn’t feel like protecting, not when you’re blindsided like that,” Tony murmurs. He exhales. “Yeah, I know how that goes.”

“We’re still here, though. Aren’t we?” Diana points out, quietly. “That’s the important thing.”

“I’ll toast to that.” Tony raises his teacup. “Even if it isn’t the most traditional one.”

Diana grins and clinks her teacup against his. “Actually, you’d be surprised. Teacups look more like Ancient Greek wine-drinking cups than actually modern wine glasses do.”

“I did not know that, but I will bow to your obviously superior knowledge,” Tony teases.

“That is a… good practice,” Diana hums, staring at him over the porcelain rim of her teacup through fine, dark eyelashes, long and curled at the edges. “I can be a very reputable source.”

Tony grins. “I don’t doubt it at all.”

When they emerge from the café, the ice lingers in the air around them. Tony shudders a little, rubbing his arms. Beside him, Diana cowers in on herself. Tony frowns, pulling his scarf off and wrapping it around her shoulders. Her face flashes with surprise and she stares down at him for a moment, before tightening the wool around her shoulders.

“I’ll walk you back to your hotel,” Diana offers.

“It’s fine, I can find it myself!” Tony protests, half-heartedly, but the last thing he wants is to end this quickly.

“No, I insist. You came all this way to meet me. It’s the least I can do.”

“Fine,” Tony sighs, long-sufferingly, as if it were such a terrible outcome that he’d be forced to spend even more time with this woman who makes the sun and the moon align in his universe. “If you must.”

Like the gentleman that his mother taught him to be, he holds out his arm. Diana smiles, lazily and sweet-as-sugar, and slides her deft, tanned hand into the crook of her elbow. The two wander down the cobblestoned path, in the direction of Tony’s hotel, swaying gently from side to side.

“So, you think I came to Paris just to meet you?” Tony nudges her, playfully.

Diana stares at him, belligerently, the look smooth as a slow honey drip. “Didn’t you?” she asks, knowingly, a smile playing on her mouth.

Tony’s mouth feels chalky. “I need to have some secrets close to my chest.”

Diana pouts a little, drawing his attention her peach blossom pink mouth. “Even from me?” she demands.

“Yes,” Tony replies, faking a stern tone. “Even from you.”

Diana sighs, the ice curling like smoke between them. “Pity. But I’ll change that,” she says, confidently.

“You seem pretty sure of yourself.”

Diana shrugs, as they turn into a more secluded lane, their feet splashing in the puddles on the asphalt. “I know how to get what I want.”

Tony hates the way hope stirs in those hollow, empty spaces beneath his heart and in his ribs. “And am I something you want?” 

Diana turns and the ripe look in her eyes makes him take a deep breath. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” she replies, sincerely. “I don’t like to play games, Tony.”

“Yeah,” he says, hoarsely. “I can see that.”

The lane goes darker with the shadows veiling the cobblestones behind them. Diana stirs next to him, going taut.

“Diana?” he murmurs, carefully.

“Tony, I think I’ll need you to move against the wall,” she says, simply, dragging her teeth over her lower lip.

Tony blinks. “What? I don’t understand.”

“Please,” her voice comes out weary. “Just trust me.”

Tony finds himself nodding and backing away until his spine is pressed against a grimy brick wall.

What happens next is a blur, because Diana is a whirlwind. He should intervene, help her; after all, what sort of decent human being is he that he lets her fight for him? But Diana doesn’t need his help. There’s a flash of gold and a rope wraps around the waist of one man and with strength that Diana shouldn’t be capable of, she uses the rope’s grip to throw one man at another. The third pulls a gun out of nowhere, out of fear and desperation more than any genuine bravery or hate, and for a long, terrible second, Tony’s heart stops in his chest and he reaches out, either to pull Diana away before she can be hit or to take the bullet himself.

But it doesn’t matter in the end. Diana’s eyes flash and her arm comes up to shield herself, which, by the way, Tony thinks is the dumbest idea ever (he’d just like to get that straight), but it actually works.


The bullet ricochets off silver metal wrapped around Diana’s wrist, crawling all the way from her ulna all the way to her elbow. Diana stalks forward, her beautiful face contorted with fury, intent on bloodying her knuckles on the would-be mugger’s face. A split-second hesitation makes Tony pause, but it fades away like nothing and he lurches forward, wrapping his arms around Diana’s waist and pulling her back, before she can beat the shit out of their last assailant.

At first, it’s like hauling iron, but the fight eventually gives away in her. She slumps forward and turns unbearably soft in his hold, like pillow fluff or cotton candy, her lean, long fingers gripping at his forearms where they lock around her stomach. Their assailant just stands there, the gun on the damp, dirty ground in front of them, from where he dropped it in his haste and alarm.

“Uh, let’s get out of here, shall we?”

Diana doesn’t protest when he drags her away. Instead, she curls her arms around one of his and quietly walks in the direction of Tony’s hotel. Tony stares up at her, concerned, but nonetheless accepts her silence until they reach his hotel suite and she can sink onto the chaise lounge and bury her face in her hands.

“Hey, Diana,” Tony says, alarmed, kneeling in front of her.

When she finally looks up, her eyes are rimed with salt. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.”

Tony wraps a single hand around her wrist and lets it rest there. “It’s okay.”

“No, no, it’s not.”

“You beat the shit out of some douchebags who were trying to rob us blind. You go, girl,” he teases.

Diana grins, helplessly.

“Like, seriously, it was the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen,” Tony can’t help but gush. “I mean, I’ve seen Peggy Carter kick ass, but this was like everything.”

“Peggy Carter?” Diana asks, bemused, running a hand through her dark hair.

“Yeah, you know, Peggy Carter. She fought in World War II. Punched Nazis. The whole shebang.”

Diana blinks. “I don’t know who she is.”

Tony waves it off. “It’s not really important. I mean, she is. She’s my godmother. And she might actually punch me in the face if I said she wasn’t important. But it’d be an awesome punch, you know?”

Diana’s lips twitch. “Most people don’t think getting punched in the face is awesome,” she teases.

Tony shrugs. “Well, it is when you get punched by Peggy Carter.” He frowns. “And you, I think.”

Diana softens with hurt. “I’d never hurt you, Tony,” she insists, earnestly. “You...” she seizes Tony’s hand in an iron-clad grip, which is even more distinct considering he now knows that she could probably break all the bones in his arm with a flex of her fingers. “You mean too much to me. I could never hurt you.”

Tony smiles. “I know.” He bites his lip. “Are you a super soldier?” he blurts out.

Diana cocks her head. “I don’t understand.”

“Like Captain America. That’s not possible though, ‘cause Steve Rogers could only bench press 1200 pounds; you, uh, you smashed those guys into the wall and the brick broke. You can do more than 1200 pounds, can’t you?”

“Well…” Diana trails off.

“Are your bracelets made of vibranium?” Tony doesn’t even wait for Diana to finish.

“What is vibranium?” Diana asks, curiously.

“That answers that question. Okay, so you’re not a super soldier. Or if you are, you were definitely not engineered by the American government.”

“I was not engineered,” Diana says, a little sharp as if the comment had actually offended her.

“Clearly, because you’re you, and well, anything that we’d create would probably not be as…”

“Powerful?” Diana guesses.

Amazing, beautiful, clever, impossible, fucking phenomenal, take your pick.

“Mind-blowing,” Tony corrects, and Diana smiles.

Fuck, that makes his heart beat like a hummingbird.

“Wait, mortal governments?” His mind finally catches up to what she said.

Diana’s face flashes with something that could only be translated as oh, shit, before scrubbing clean.

“I can explain,” she says, hastily.

Tony sits back. “Only if you’re willing,” he says, steadily. “Don’t feel like you have to tell me anything just because of what happened.”

“That’s not…” Diana trails off, before looking away. “It’s not just that. I’ve not… I’ve not talked about it to anyone, not since… well, I told you, about the person who died, yes?”

“Yeah,” Tony says, slowly, unsure of where she wanted to taking this.

“Since then, I’ve kept myself away,” she confesses. “Kept myself closed off. I was so afraid of being hurt again. I never wanted to feel that way again. So, I never spoke of it, any of it. My family, how and where I was raised, what I can do. I pretend like it doesn’t exist. That I’m just… Diana Prince, antiquities dealer; that she’s a real person and not just a name that I’ve taken for myself.”

“So, why now?” he has to ask.

Diana looks at him so gentle. “Don’t you know?”

Tony sits there, on his knees, the world pulled out from underneath him. This is all he’s ever wanted since he first laid eyes on Diana at that art benefit, but when everything is so close in reach, when he can put his hands on it, his mouth fills with dirt.

Diana, taking pity on him, grazes his cheek where the Van Dyke is growing in with just a hint of her fingertips. “It’s okay, Tony,” she murmurs. “You don’t have to say anything.”

But Tony wants to say something; he needs to say something. The words just refuse to come out.

“Can I tell you my story?” Diana asks, hesitantly, like she’s afraid of him.

It looks so wrong on her that it actually makes him want to throw up the contents of his stomach. She shouldn’t ever be afraid of anything, anyone, let alone him; God, he’s so head over heels for this woman that he might actually set himself on fire before he’d do anything to hurt her, in any way.

“Diana,” Tony threads their fingers together. “I’d be honoured, but only if you want to talk about it.”

Diana swallows hard and finally nods. “Yes. Yes, I want to talk about it,” she says, definitively.

So, Tony sits there, in silence, as Diana tells him everything. He doesn’t quite understand everything she says, but he knows that he believes her. Had this come from anyone else, a story of gods and magic and war and Themyscira, he’d have seriously considered packing them off to the nuthouse, but not Diana. Diana doesn’t lie; Diana doesn’t need to lie; it’s below her, so he believes her. 


He doesn’t like that she’s hesitant, not with him, like she thinks he’s about to lurch to his feet and storm out of his hotel room, or kick her out because he thinks she’s delusional.


“Is… is everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine.” Tony realises that his responses may sound non-committal, even condemning of what she’s saying, and shakes his head. “Sorry, I’m not reacting properly.”

“You can react in any way that you want to,” Diana says, quietly.

“No, I’m just, uh, taking it all in. No judgment here. It’s not that I don’t believe you, but-”

“It’s a lot to comprehend,” Diana finishes for him, solemnly.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Tony says, vaguely, and then leans back, still stuck in a state of muzzy exhaustion that makes his head spin.

In his defence, he’s had a very long fucking day.

But, he’s also a fucking genius and he’s capable of functioning on a veritable smorgasbord of wavelengths, compared to his fellow man.

Okay, he can do this.

“So, let’s start from the beginning, if that’s okay?” Tony takes a deep breath. “You’re from a female-only island called Themyscira, which is hidden behind like some sort of force-field that prevents us normal people from seeing it, because the island is filled with real-life Amazons, who were created by Zeus to protect mankind from Ares, the god of war, whom you killed during World War I. Your mother, Hippolyta, is the queen of the Amazons and your father is Zeus, which makes you a demigoddess, if the terminology is correct, and a princess?”

“Yes,” Diana says, slowly.

Holy shit… in more than one way, I guess,” he muses. “You left Themyscira, in 1918, when your ex-boyfriend, Steve Trevor, crash-landed on the island, followed by the German navy, because it’s always Germans, and you found out it was Ares who was pulling the strings behind World War I. You went to fight him, with Captain Trevor, with the Lasso of Hestia, which is the gold rope you used in the alley, and seriously the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, and a sword called the God Killer, which is equally awesome, but you found out you were actually Zeus’ kid and while you still managed to kill Ares, Captain Trevor died. You never went back to Themyscira?” he asks, curiously.

Diana shakes her head, wearily. “I wanted to, but by leaving Themyscira the way I did, taking the lasso and the sword and the shield and the armour, and helping Steve escape, well, let’s just say that was treason. I didn’t want to force my mother to make a decision if I returned.”

“You mean…” Tony trails off, grimacing.

“It is very likely that she would’ve executed me.” Diana shrugs.

Tony is utterly stupid when it comes to feelings, but he knows pain when he sees it. The awareness that you and your safety come in second to a parent’s priorities is a reality he knows too well, unfortunately.

But thinking about Howard now, even if the man has been dead for six months and going, will just make him upset and aching for a drink and that’s not how this conversation should go.

“Banishment is a kinder consequence.”

“Not to you, though,” Tony says, quietly.

“Well,” Diana smiles slowly, but sadly. “I’ve grown to find comfort where I can.”

Tony looks down to where their fingers are still intertwined and Diana clutches at them, tighter.

He hears the unspoken end of that thought.

I’ve grown to find comfort in you.

“I’m glad.” Tony pauses. “And you never fought again? I mean, I’m only asking because I feel like someone would’ve heard about it if this goddess was going around with a lasso, a shield and a sword, beating the shit out of evil douchebags. Coming from the person who was raised on stories of Captain America.”

“I’ve heard about him,” Diana agrees. “But no, I never fought again. I… couldn’t take it anymore, the war, the violence. It just never seemed to stop, no matter where I looked. It made me bitter, thinking about what I’d given up and for whom I’d given it up. It made me remember what my mother said, about man and their appetite for cruelty. They enslaved us, you see, once.” Diana explains. “When man first learnt of our existence, they put shackles on us until my mother and our great general led my people to rebellion and we escaped our bondage.”

“Yeah,” Tony grits his teeth. “That sounds like us,” he says, bitterly.

Diana looks at him, apologetically. “I didn’t mean to insult you.”

“You didn’t,” Tony reassures.

“I thought…” Diana sighs. “Oh, I don’t know what I thought anymore. I thought if Ares were dead, then everything would be okay. The war, the violence, the death, it would all stop. It was our job, my destiny to defeat Ares, and I fulfilled that, but it didn’t seem to do much good. The world kept turning and people kept dying such horrible deaths at the hands of their brothers and sisters, all for such foolish reasons as well.”

“I wish it were that easy. But if spending pretty much my entire life making weapons and being the son of a man who made weapons has taught me anything, it’s that human beings don’t need a god forcing them to do terrible things,” Tony says, gently. “We’re capable of enough evil on our own.”

Diana bites her lip. “Is it terrible and insulting if I agree?” she asks, half-heartedly.

Tony laughs. He hasn’t mustered enough joy for a laugh since the café. “No. Of course not. Just because the truth is kind of terrible doesn’t mean that it’s insulting. Well, I suppose in this case it kind of is? But it is the truth, so I guess we just have to put up with it.” He forces himself to laugh and gives her an embarrassed smile. “Sorry, I just don’t shut up. I’ve been told it can get pretty annoying.”

Diana shakes her head. “I like it when you talk,” she says, shyly. “It makes me feel like I’m finally no longer alone.”

Tony barely resists the urge to blush like a schoolgirl. Instead, he does something brave and incredibly stupid and it makes the adrenaline sing in a way that alcohol or heroin or drag racing or blowing up his lab or any other brainless scheme he cooked up as a teenager ever could. He brings their joined hands up to his mouth, kisses her knuckles and prays to Archimedes that she doesn’t design to punch him in the face.

When their hands fall, Diana pulls them in and holds them close against her thigh. She upturns their palms and traces each line carefully with the edge of clean-curved fingernail.

Tony sucks in a breath and lets it sit before opening his mouth. “I have to ask: why me?” he asks, hesitantly, even though he really doesn’t want to know the answer (the word, convenience, comes to mind but that just makes his heart hurt and he doesn’t want to linger on the fact that he might just care about Diana more profoundly than she cares about him). “I mean, you must have known so many people. I guess we’re friends by now, not that I’m good at that shit, considering my friend circle consists of a grand total of one person, but why would you tell me any of this?”

Diana smiles at him, an open, vulnerable thing that tugs at his heartstrings.

“Don’t you know?”

For a long, blissful second, his heart stops in his chest. He smiles, rushed and wild, before focusing on the way that her fingertips press against his veins, his pulse, her skin warm and soft underneath him.

They stay like that for what seems like an eternity, until Diana finally exhales and slides to her feet, pulling Tony along with her. It gives him kind of a giddy rush to see a show of her strength, and he wonders, almost absentmindedly, whether she could throw him up in the air like a tennis ball.

Ha, so much for Captain America, he wants to gloat to his dead father.

“I have to go,” she says, apologetically, dragging him towards the door and crossing over the threshold. “I have a meeting with a client in an hour.”

Tony nods, swiftly. “I understand.”

“Thank you, Tony,” she says, in a low, rushed voice. “For everything. You didn’t have to… just, thank you.”

“You never need to thank me, Diana,” he says, pathetically earnest.

Diana smiles and something inside him melts. “Until the next time, Tony,” she breathes against his cheek, leaving the imprint of her lipstick behind.

Fuck, I am so screwed.

the first time they kiss

It’s cool that night in Paris, in front of the Palais Garnier, the towering, monstrous opera house in Place Vendôme. There’s a strong band at the front of the steps, playing Every Breath You Take phenomenally.

Diana and Tony are sitting on a bench, just in front the opera house, their hands intertwined and resting in the space between them. Tony turns to tell Diana something and is momentarily swept up in the way her dark hair flows in the breeze and the content smile on her face as she watches the street performers, making her look otherworldly beautiful. Diana turns, almost immediately, after feeling the eyes on her and raises an eyebrow.

“Is something wrong?” she asks, playfully.

There is so much he wants to say, but the words feel too big and too heavy on his lips, so he shakes his head, instead.

Diana shakes her head, fondly. “Silly man,” she murmurs, with a beautiful, lazy grin.

She leans in and presses their mouths together.

It feels simple, but she tastes of rain and gold and light and he decides, then and there, that he’s madly in love with her.

the first time they have sex

When Diana closes the door behind them and presses her back against it, she uses her grip on Tony’s collar to bring him right in. He parts his mouth under hers eagerly, crowding her against the wall, with his fingertips pressing against the divots in her spine.

“Are you sure about this?” he moans into her mouth.

Diana makes a muffled sound of pleasure, smiling against him, as she slides her hands underneath his blazer, shucking it off. “I would not be here, if I did not want to be.”

Tony wants to say something more, but the words catch in his throat when she shoves him backwards, and topples him down onto the bed. He thinks he’s dreaming when she crawls on top of him with a smug little smile and kisses him like they’re the only two beings left in the world.

He runs his hands through her unbound black hair, soft like silk, as it tumbles over them, obscuring his field of vision, but for her face. They’re both as rash and desperate as each other, so it doesn’t take much to strip each other off their clothes. He pulls him close, loving the weight of her on top of him. He can’t stop kissing her, touching her; he’s dizzy with all of it, and he thinks he could die in this bed with her bearing down on him, but he also thinks he’d be happy dying that way.

When it’s just her soft breasts and lithe body, with such power hiding under her skin, pressed against him, he digs his thumbs into the divots at the base of her spine, raising himself to a seating position, so that his arms have more movement, with her practically curled in his lap. His mouth moves down, from her lips to jaw to shoulder before rising and biting down on the tendon in her neck, which makes her gasp and her nails bite into his shoulder, just enough strength that she pierces the skin without dislocating or breaking any bones.

He clutches at her as her hand slides down his chest and between his legs, until she’s wrapping a hand around the base of his cock, giving him a lazy, upward stroke. He groans into her mouth and jerks his hips forward into her grip.

“You are too good at this,” he slurs, threading his fingers through her hair.

Diana laughs. “You just say that because I have my hand on your cock.”

Tony flushes at the use of the obscenity, but grins nonetheless, because it sounds so good in her voice and just makes him impossibly harder. He runs his fingertips against her warm, milk-smooth thighs, towards the crease between her legs and pelvic bone.

He thumbs the groove so carefully.

“Is this okay?” he asks in a hushed voice.

Diana nods with a gentle smile.

She’s already wet between her legs, drawing out a hurt little noise from him, and he thumbs her hard clit, slowly, in a rhythm that has the scent of her arousal flowering and her rolling her hips to meet his movements. She clutches at his shoulders, while moving over him, and her first orgasm rattles through her quickly and at once, soaking her thighs and his thighs with slick. Tony watches in awe, as she bites her lip raw and eyes tilt skyward, arching as she comes and muscles fluttering with aftershocks, before collapsing on top of him.

“Well,” she breathes into his neck. “That was quite good.”

This makes him laugh. “Only quite good?”

She swats him, lightly. “You know what I mean.”

He topples her onto her back, making her grin like a Cheshire cat. “I can do better than quite good,” he says, confidently, almost arrogantly.

Tony’s been having sex since he was fourteen-years-old and while he hasn’t always like it, he’s always been good at it. It’s time he used his knowledge for good, rather than for satisfying people who wouldn’t spit on him if he were on fire, let alone show him an ounce of love.

Diana stretches her arms out over the sheets, fluttering her dark eyelashes. “I await your offer.”

Tony leans down and presses his mouth against her breastbone, where she’s all creamy and soft, her nipples plump and pink, and he doesn’t the resist to tug at them with his teeth, just a little, making her grasp at him like straws. They harden under his mouth, turning red, and he kisses a trail down her stomach, until he’s hovering over her hipbone, where her thatchy curls are already damp with her slick and sweat, and look up at her for confirmation.

“I won’t do anything you don’t want me to.”

Diana runs her hand over his hair, ruffling the messy strands. “I would tell you if there was something that I did not want from you.”

Tony nods and sucks a dark bruise where the Van Dyke scrapes against her skin. He unceremoniously buries his face between her thighs, licking into her cunt with no small amount of enthusiasm, as she grinds against his face. He takes her apart in no time, sliding two fingers up inside her to help her along and soon, the dirty little grinds of her hips are turning careless and aimless and she’s coming desperately against his mouth and fingers.

“Tony, oh,” she gasps, leaving cracks in the headboard of his bed.

When Tony pulls away, she looks a mess, but still so beautiful. Her hair sweat-damp, her skin flushed a healthy pink, like peach blossoms, her thighs spread, like a dirty painting he’d have to keep hidden from the rest of the world.

Diana looks up at the broken headboard and laughs. “I’m sorry, Tony.”

He grins, showing his teeth. “It’s all good. I love it.” He turns smug. “Told you I could do better than quite good.”

Diana rolls her eyes. She grabs his shoulders and pulls him down so that she can kiss the breath out of his lungs.

“Keep going,” she insists, kissing every inch of his face that she can put her mouth on.

He runs his hands down her side, while absently stroking his hard cock. He kisses the curve of her belly and hitches her up against him, Diana going willingly.

A thought occurs to Tony, which should’ve occurred to him much earlier.

“Uh, do we need something?”

Diana frowns. “I don’t understand.”

“You know, to prevent pregnancy or STDs?”

Diana blinks. “Yes, I suppose we would need something.”

“Condoms,” he decides. “I have condoms. Just wait here. Don’t move.”

He gets up off the bed just before Diana rolls her eyes. “Where would I go?” she calls out.

Tony ignores her and practically runs to the drawer, tearing a condom packet from the strip, and crawling back onto the bed and on top of her. He rips it open with his teeth like an animal and rolls it down on his cock. He gives himself a lazy stroke and looks down at her waiting for him.

“You sure you’re sure about this?”

Diana groans. “Tony, please stop asking me that question,” she says, impatiently.

“I’m just trying to be polite,” Tony grumbles.

“Well, be less polite and get on with it,” she insists.

“Fine, fine.”

He presses inside her, so slowly, until she’s full and stretched around the girth of his cock. She cries out, fisting her hands in the sheets until she’s gouging holes in the mattress below them. He snaps his hips forward and starts a slow, easy roll of his hips that has her writhing below them, leaving impressions of her nails in his skin. She tilts her hips out and he fucks her onto his cock, winding her up to a shattering orgasm. Her cunt spasms around him and he works her through it, rubbing soft circles around her hard clit, until the aftershocks are a little too much for her to bear. It doesn’t take much longer for his own arousal to peak and he’s coming, that taut line between pleasure and tension snapping and crashing over him until he’s shouting out her name and she comes a second time, tightening up around him.

The two of them are left limp and trembling and he pulls out of her to the wet, obscene noise of the mess of slick and come and sweat, falling back down against the mattress. The mattress is a little lumpy, with stuffing pouring out of Diana’s new aesthetic additions, but he wraps his arms around her, nonetheless, stroking her sides and the backs of her thighs lazily. Both of them are still shaking, the air is cloying with the scent of sex and he can still see fireworks blasting behind his eyelids.

He thinks the universe may have just come together for the first time, right there, while he was inside her.

“How was it for you?” he asks, tentatively.

Diana raises her head and kisses him on the cheek. “Beautiful. Very beautiful.”

“That’s good,” Tony says, half in relief. “I just wanted it to be good for you.”

“Of course, it was good for me, Tony; it was with you.”

“Yeah, but you’re you and I’m me, and I just wanted-”

Diana raises an eyebrow. “The last man that I went to bed with was in 1918, Tony,” she says, dryly. “I hardly have a wealth of experience with a male partner. Not that that has any bearing on my feelings about our union.”

Tony blinks. “Seriously? No one else in all those decades? I’m not saying you have to, but…”

Diana shrugs. “What can I say? I struggle to feel that way about those I interact with. Or perhaps, struggle is incorrect. I just don’t.”

“But you do, with me?” Tony clarifies.

Diana smiles, bright and unconditionally. She places a hand on his cheek. “I do. I do, Tony.” She pauses, looking a little thoughtful. “I find this… unnecessary, so it was never an issue with me. I never searched it out, nor did I accept any advances. But with you, I would like to be as close with you as I possibly can be.”

Tony runs a hand down her arm. “And did you?” he asks, tentatively.

“Yes. Yes, I did,” Diana reassures. She smiles, wickedly. “In fact, if you’re up to it, I wouldn’t mind feeling close to you again.”

Tony groans.

Okay, so, Diana may just be the death of him.

the first time they fight

“I just don’t understand why you keep shying away from this, Di,” Tony snaps, as he paces around his side of the bed.

“I’m uncomfortable with it, Tony. Isn’t that enough?” Diana demands.

“But why? You still won’t give me a proper answer.”

Diana crosses her arms over her chest, giving him a stony look. “I don’t have anything to tell you that I haven’t already.”

Tony makes a face. “Those are just words, Di. They don’t actually mean anything. You know that, right?”

“I don’t know what you want me to say. I don’t want to make some public spectacle of our relationship. I’m not comfortable with that, and I would like it very much if you didn’t push me on this.”

“Fine,” Tony says, steadily, even though the anger still feels too significant to ignore. “I’ll let that go for a minute. Explain to me why asking you if you’d like to move a couple of things into my bedroom in my mansion is such an overstep with you, Di.”

Diana grits her teeth. There’s pain shadowing her eyes before it quickly smoothens out, as if it were never there in the first place.

“I can’t explain it to you right now,” she murmurs. “All I can say is that I’m not ready for that.”

Tony runs a hand over his face. The pain flares up hot in his chest. “I’m not asking you to move permanently, Di,” he says, wearily. “I’m just saying I’d like to have a couple of pieces of you in Malibu, when I’m not with you, because I miss you. I’m sorry if I overstepped, but I don’t understand why this is a such a big deal for you. Maybe I’m missing something; that’s fair, but I’d just rather you talk to me, instead of stonewalling me like this.”

He watches as Diana’s arms fall from her chest, and she wrings her hands together, nervously.

“I’m sorry, Tony,” she says, quietly. “I don’t have much else to tell you.”

He waits expectantly, hope curling in his chest that there’s still something left unsaid between them, something that she could still tell him now that would fix all of this, that would let him finally see her peeled to the root, like she always sees him.

But she doesn’t.

Tony hangs his head, just for a second, and the blood is hot in his face, making him dizzy with it all. He exhales until he’s certain that there’s no air left in his lungs to continue.

“You know, I just wish…” he bites his lip until he breaks the fragile skin. “If this isn’t serious for you, if you don’t want to be seen with me, not really, that’s okay,” he hastens to reassure, for whatever dumb reason that doesn’t want her to walk out this door if he pushes too much or too hard. “I’d just… I rather you’d just tell me that, instead of me going around and around like an idiot. I’d rather just know the truth. I’m not a huge fan of the whole blowing hot and cold routine.”

A lovesick idiot, Howard would correct and scoff.

The old bastard is probably laughing at him from beyond the grave.

See what love does to you, boy. It makes you this spineless little fool begging for scraps from someone who doesn’t give a shit about you. I thought I taught you better. Guess I failed, or maybe you were just a shit learner.

Diana’s hands shake. “Tony, I’m so sorry,” she whispers.

“It’s fine,” Tony exhales. No, it isn’t. “Can you please… I think it’d be better if you left now.” Please don’t go.

Diana inclines her head and leaves without much of a fight.

And there’s that final nail in the coffin.

Diana always fights, but clearly only for things worth fighting for.

Tony sinks back onto the bed, throws his pillow over his eyes and desperately tries to ignore how much his heart is breaking.

Tony checks over the apartment, and decides that if he’s left anything behind, he can just buy it again.

There’s nothing left here that means anything to him, after all.

He sighs, and grips the strap to his bag, hefting it over his shoulder. He unlocks the door, only to find Diana on the other side, her hand, curled into a fist, hovering in the air, as if she were preparing herself to knock.

She smiles at him, shyly. “Hello, Tony.”

Tony ignores the heaviness in his chest, the way his lungs constrict as if to stop him from breathing. “Di,” he says, carefully.

He’s good at this. If there’s anything he knows well, it’s how to handle people who don’t want him anymore. He thinks of Meredith, the girl he wasn’t allowed to love, and Sunset, the girl who wanted none of the good, happy things from him, just whatever he could do for her, and Tiberius, the boy he shouldn’t have loved but still somehow did, to this day. Pathetic as it may seem, he’s always loved too much and too loudly for most people to bear, but he’s always coped on his own.

He’ll do it again with Diana.

“May we speak?” she asks, tentatively, wrapping her arms around herself as if to ward herself against an imaginary chill.

Tony thinks for a moment. The good thing, the healthy thing, for him, at least, would be to send her away, contact her when he was hundreds of miles away and when he wasn’t so open and nervous and fragile. But Tony is a glutton for punishment and has never sought out the healthiest way of approaching anything in his life, so he twists his body to the side and allows her to slide though.

For a moment, they’re so unbearably close that he can see all the shades of blue in her eyes, the way her hair curls so artfully around her round, pretty face, and it’s enough to get his heart thumping erratically again, like he still hasn’t learned his lesson yet.

You really are a fucking fool, Stark.

Diana blinks with surprise when she sees the apartment now devoid of anything meaningful or lively.

“Oh, you’re leaving,” she says, lamely, her eyes zeroing in on the duffel bag still hanging from his forearm.

“Yeah.” Tony shrugs. “There’s this meeting at SI that I’ve been told that I must attend, according to Obie.”

Diana’s face twists briefly, before she smiles, lazily.

Tony knows better, though. Diana has never made a secret of how much she dislikes his godfather. They’d only met a few times, when Obadiah had joined Tony in Paris for business, and Tony had taken Diana and Obadiah out to lunch together. Later on, in post-coital bliss, Diana had confessed she found him oily and slick and more preoccupied with increasing the sum in his bank account.

It had made him angry, if he were being honest, but he had patiently explained to her that Obadiah was his godfather and now, with his parents dead, he didn’t have much family left. Just Obie and Jarvis and Aunt Peggy, and Diana, above many, was sympathetic.

Diana tucks her hands behind her back. “I’m sorry to hear that you’re leaving so quickly,” she says, quietly.

Tony sighs and drops the duffel bag onto the ground with a definitive thump. “Why are you here, Di?”

“I just wanted to talk.”

“About what?” he asks, wearily. “I think we settled everything before, don’t you think?”

“No. No, you don’t understand.” Diana falls silent, biting her lower lip raw. “This, us, is very serious to me, Tony. I promise you. Yes, I don’t want to be seen in public together, but not for the reasons you think.”

“Diana, you’re not really making any sense.”

“I was-am scared,” Diana confesses, sinking heavily onto a nearby chair. “I shouldn’t be, but I am.”

Tony crosses his arms over his chest. “You broke my heart,” he admits. “I mean, I admit I’m an emotionally-stunted fuck up most of the time, so I went to the worst possible scenario and decided that was true. I don’t always know what true emotion is, and I’ve been used before, so I just sort of lumped you in with them. But you did hurt me. I thought… well, I thought I was being honest and committed for the first time forever and you just threw it back in my face.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you, Tony,” Diana says, quietly. “Nor did I to throw your vulnerability back in your face like it didn’t mean anything to me. I… was very touched by everything you said, earlier, about wanting to have pieces of me when you weren’t physically near me, and I appreciated you accepting my choice regarding the publicising of our relationship. But I want you to know that nothing I said was about you, or our relationship. I was just… well, I was just scared.”

Tony leans back against the door. “What are you scared of?” he asks.

“I lost Steve, and I didn’t think I’d recover,” she confesses. “But then, I met you and it was like I came alive again. I’m so terrified of losing you, Tony, and I don’t know if I could do it a second time. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I hurt you, Tony, but I didn’t-I don’t know how to be weak in front of you.”

“You think I’m good at being weak in front of you? Me?” Tony asks, sceptically. “I think you’ve probably spent enough time with me to get a good look at my issues. I don’t like being weak in front of someone either, Di. And I’m not in a hurry to lose any more people myself. But… I love you.” he shrugs. “And I want to do all of this with you, not away from you. I can’t force you to magically realise that we’re worth getting hurt again, Di. That’s your choice to make. I made that choice for myself already and decided that we were worth it for me. But if you feel a different way, well, again, that’s your choice to make. I won’t force you on anything.”

“I do love you, very much, Tony,” Diana says, quietly. “That was never in doubt.”

“Yeah, well, that’s not how it felt to me,” Tony says, bitterly, and Diana flinches. His eyes close. Good job, Tony. Way to go. “Sorry. Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”

“It’s okay.” Diana shrugs.

“No, it isn’t,” Tony sighs. “I know… I know you love me. I do. I struggled with that last night, but I don’t think you’d be here now if you didn’t love me. That’s not in question here. It’s whether you loved me enough to risk getting hurt in the future.”

Diana swallows hard, but nods and holds her head high. “I have made my decision,” she says, determinedly.

Tony straightens, ruthlessly shoving down any hope that may rise. “Oh?” he says, lightly, pretending as though white noise isn’t roaring in his ears.

Diana reaches for him, taking her hand in his. “I thought about it last night, for a very long time. I wanted to be sure of my answer before I came to see you today. I never had any intention of just letting you leave, no matter what I resolved to do, with anger and hurt lingering between us. You mean so much to me, Tony.” Her voice cracks. “And I realised I didn’t want you to leave, not if I thought you wouldn’t return. I couldn’t stomach the idea of this being the end of us. I want more with you. I want everything. And if that means mourning you one day, well, I will endure that.”

Tony lets that wash over him, but sighs and squeezes her fingers. “Are you sure?” he asks, solemnly. “I don’t want you to change your mind. I don’t want you to regret your decision.”

Diana shrugs. “I can’t be sure. All, I know is that I don’t want you to leave, and I don’t want to be without you. And I am sorry for the way I acted yesterday.”

“It’s okay.”

“I hurt you,” she reminds him.

“You did,” Tony concedes. “But you’re here now.”

Diana smiles so unbearably soft. “I am.”

“That’s all I need.”

She surges into his embrace, before pausing for a minute to check his reaction, and kisses him hard on the mouth. It takes Tony a minute, but he soon clutches at her like a dying man clutches at a straw. He doesn’t know where the urge comes from, but tightens his arms around her waist, bends his knees and lifts her right into the air, making her shriek in surprise and joy, her face bursting wide with joy.

And just as Tony thought, the first time they have makeup sex is just as good as the first time they have sex.

the first time tony goes missing

Holy shit, I’m going to crash is the first thing that occurs to Tony, as the repulsors in his suit start to sputter and fail.

The sand below hurtles into his vision and he closes his eyes, ready for the inevitable collision, when his entire bolt jolts, hanging in the air.

“What the fuck?” he breathes and looks up, only to squint into the sunlight burning his retinas.

A long, gold rope is fixed to his waist and stretches up into the sky, where the other end is held by Diana, who looks resplendent in her battle armour, even in the Afghanistan sun.

Tony has an errant thought that Diana looks much better in red and blue than those old faded posters of Captain America he used to have pinned up in his bedroom as a teenager.

“Oh,” he says, lamely.

“Yes,” Diana says, grimly.

“Hi, babe,” he offers, cheerfully, but it sounds lame, even to him.

“Hello, Tony,” she grits out, lowering both of them to the ground.

For a long, terrible second, they are each other and the sun burns his bare skin, leaving red-orange welts crawling up his skin. But the tension shatters like a pane of glass and the two hurtle into each other’s arms.

“I thought you were dead.” Diana’s voice is muffled in Tony’s sweat-damp shoulder.

Tony snorts. “Not that easily,” he rasps.

“Tony, you were kidnapped by terrorists during a weapons’ demonstration in Afghanistan. What about that is remotely easy?”

“I love you,” he blurts out. “Fuck, I love you. I mean, I always love you. But somehow it just seems, like, more, right now? Does that make sense? Or am I suffering from heat stroke? You know, the more I say that, the more I think I am.”

“Tony, please, stop talking,” Diana says, with a trembling smile.

She kisses him hard on the mouth, on his cheeks, on his eyelids before returning to his mouth one last time.

“I love you. I love you,” she mutters against his skin.

“I love you too,” Tony says, happily.

There’s a rumbling sound and Diana breaks away, immediately, pulling her sword from the scabbard mounted to her back, her eyes going over the desert stretching out in front of them with a fine-toothed comb.

A loud sound blares in Tony’s ears and he cringes away, clutching at Diana’s forearm. He looks up, only to see three grey Air Force helicopters soaring above them. The sharp edge of Diana’s sword is trained on the soldiers that emerge from the helicopter, running towards them. Tony places a weathered, scraped hand on Diana’s bare shoulder.

“Diana, honey, maybe you should put the sword down, huh?” he cajoles.

“I will put the sword down when I am certain that they are not our enemy,” she says, fiercely.

“Di, baby, it’s Rhodey,” he points out, half-heartedly.

Sure enough, Rhodey approaches them with slow, heavy footsteps pulling off the garb that protects his face from the elements, breaking out into a smile when he sees Tony’s tired face.

“How was the fun-vee?” he teases.

Tony huffs out a chuckle. His body aches too much, the still raw scars on his chest, spiralling the arc reactor, hurt too much, for him to muster any significant amount of humour.

Rhodey softens and reaches out, gripping Tony by the back of the neck, despite Diana’s initial baulking. “Next time, you ride with me, okay?” he says, gently.

Tony nods and collapses into Rhodey’s arms.

With a slick clink, Tony hears Diana sheathe her sword. When Tony pulls away from Rhodey, the latter turns to Diana with no small of scepticism.

“Hey, Di,” Rhodey says, casually.

“Hello, James.” Diana gives him a sweet-as-sugar smile.

Tony scoffs. You are such a suck-up.

“Is that a sword?” Rhodey clears his throat, with no small amount of confusion.

“It is.” Diana nods, patiently.

Rhodey looks at Tony, helplessly, as if begging him to explain, but he simply shrugs.

It’s not his story to tell, and as far as Rhodey’s concerned, Diana’s just the harmless antiquities dealer that somehow managed stick it out in a relationship with his genius, emotionally fucked-up best friend for seventeen years now.

Rhodey swallows hard. “Why… why do you have a sword, Diana? Wait, scratch that, how are you even here?”

Diana and Tony exchange a look.

“It’s complicated,” they say in chorus.

Tony’s eyes find Diana’s from the top of the podium.

She hides her smile when Tony puts an end to Stark Industries’ weapons manufacturing.

“Do you really think that just because you have an idea, it belongs to you?” Obadiah growls in his ear.

He leers down at where Tony is pinned to the couch by nothing but the weakness in his own body, like a butterfly tacked to a display case, his skin ashen white and the lines of his muscles dark and straining under his skin.

There’s a loud grunt and when Tony can ignore the knotted ache in his chest and the tingling in his arms and legs, he focuses his eyes on the sight before him. His vision is greying out at the edges, but it’s still distinct enough for him to spot Diana, in her battle armour, looming over Stane, on the ground, her foot on his throat and the sharp edge of her sword dangerously close to the soft underside of his throat.

“Tony?” Diana asks, her voice low and ugly.

Tony chokes, falling onto the ground with a loud noise. He makes a hurt little noise, clutching at his skull with one hand and thumping his fist against the floor. He stumbles to his feet, one hand poking at the rim of the empty cavity where the arc reactor should be.

He chances one last look at Diana.

“You got this?” he chokes out, his voice coming out more like a wet, gurgling sound.

Diana nods, stiffly, her eyes wide with concern.

He flashes her a thumbs-up, which makes his hand shake.

He manages to lumber his way to his workshop, despite the unending backdrop of agony. At some point, he slips and falls with a loud thud, and there’s no air left in his lungs.

But he crawls.

He crawls and crawls until he’s reaching the base of his workstation and his hand stretches up in the air, grappling for something that he can’t reach. He hears a strange, forlorn whir, and he looks up.

DUM-E is holding out Pepper’s gift to him, confused, as if wondering why he’s slouched down on the floor.

“Don’t ask, buddy,” he mutters and breaks the box against the floor, shattering the glass that surrounds the first arc reactor that he made.

He slides it inside the cavity and connects it with the magnet lodged in the base, his chest constricting and rapidly distending under the weight of the sensation.

It still hurts to breathe, with the heaviness in his lungs, and his heart patters like a hummingbird, a far cry from the sluggish thing that it was before he put the reactor back in.


He looks up, his eyes bloodshot, as Diana comes into his vision. She wraps her arms around him and pulls him to his feet, resting her forehead against his.

“Are you alright?” she asks, breathlessly, as if she ran the whole length of the house to get to him, which, in her case, wouldn’t have had her huffing and puffing anyway.

He nods, his head falling onto her shoulder.

“Obadiah?” he bites out through the knot in his throat.

“He’s… tied up right now,” she says, grimly.

He clutches at her.

“You were right,” he says, dully.

Diana makes a noise of confusion, petting him gently like a wounded animal.

“About everything… you were right.”

You’re always right, Di, but why did you have to be right about him?

the first time they do battle together

“Shit. SHIT,” Tony shouts, once the pane of glass shatters and he falls to his death from the tower.

Fucking Loki.

Fucking fucking Loki.

The armour is on his way, he knows; the bracelets are heavy around his wrists, but there’s still a 23% chance he’ll hit the ground first, his flesh and bones sick red smears on the pavement.

Diana’s lasso wraps around his waist.

He looks up and Diana is standing on the edge of the terrace to his tower, one hand on her hip and the other lashing out the lasso.

She looks so unimpressed.

“Hi, honey!” he gives a little wave.

The armour rushes down and wraps around him like a safety blanket. Diana frowns and retracts the lasso, knotting it around her waist.

“You got this?” he asks.

A Chitauri comes for them, screeching, and Diana calmly leaps off the edge of his tower, slicing the Chitauri in half with her sword, before propelling herself to the opposite building, hanging onto the edge of a balcony for support.

“I got this,” she says, grimly. Her face cracks wide open. “Don’t die.”

He blows her a kiss and wishes he could kiss her without this damnable mask, but he flies away, knowing that both of them will do whatever it takes to save New York now.

He wonders if this is his fault, if she’ll hate him now, for bringing her back to a fight she didn’t want to be a part of anymore.

He puts it out of his head. He can’t deal with that right now, not when a giant Chitauri anaconda-type thing is surging right towards him.

Somehow, the Avengers manage to pull it together and defeat Loki and the Chitauri, but when Tony learns of a nuke heading for Manhattan, there’s only one thing he can do. As he climbs towards the wormhole, with the nuke mounted on his back, he wishes he could hear Diana’s voice just one more time, but she doesn’t have a phone or a comm link that he can connect to.

So, he’s stuck making this journey alone.

He doesn’t know anything beyond throwing the bomb at the Chitauri, evaporating the monsters is a brutal wave of fire that threatens to consume him as well. He’s left with something that can only be described as hopelessness, even helplessness: the fact that they are irrevocably, irreparably small and weak and damned when these things come for them again, and they will come for them again.

And there will be no one and nothing strong enough to stop them.

Diana will die just like he’s about to.

Rhodey and Pepper and Happy, they’ll all go the same way.

He can’t even help them because he’s played his last card.

He just prays that it’s enough to save New York.

The next thing he knows, he’s staring up at Diana’s beautiful, distraught face, her eyes red and rimed with salt.

He reaches up with strength he didn’t know he had and touches her hair, gently, wondering if he’s in heaven.

Then, he realises the myriad of faces staring down at him, worried, and recognises a few of them: Rogers, Thor and the giant green behemoth that is the Hulk.

Well, clearly, this isn’t heaven, otherwise it’d just be him and Diana, and they’d be naked and there’d be champagne and a lot more chocolate.

“Please tell me nobody kissed me,” he says, immediately.

All of them sigh.

He turns his eyes to Diana, hoping he looks as lovesick as he feels. “Except you. You can kiss me,” he declares, boldly.

Diana rolls her eyes and pulls him to his feet. “Duly noted.”

“What the fuck happened?” he mutters.

“You fell,” Diana says, thickly. “The Hulk caught you. I couldn’t… I was too slow…”

She pulls apart the helmet of his suit with her bare hands, the metal clumping in her palms, so that he can fully free his head. When she can see his thick, dark, matted hair, she threads her fingers through it and leans down to kiss him.

To think he could’ve lost all of this.

He melts into the kiss, never wanting to let her go.

Like the perpetual buzzkill that he is, Rogers ruins everything.

“If you could table this for later,” he begins, disapprovingly. “We’re not done.”

Tony gives him the finger and Diana shoots him a stern look.

“What? He started it!” Tony exclaims. “I literally almost died. I should be able to kiss my girlfriend in peace.”

Diana softens. “He’s not wrong,” she says, gently. “We aren’t finished here.”

Tony sighs. “Fine. But we’re not done with the we didn’t die make-out session, understood?”

Diana kisses him quickly on the cheek and links their hands.

He turns to the Hulk. “Thanks for the save, big guy.”

Hulk nods. “Hulk like Tin Man.”

Somehow knowing that Tony is made of more fragile stuff, when they fist bump, Hulk only lightly taps Tony’s clenched fist with his own, making him grin.

“Great! Now, let’s go deal with Mussolini up there,” Tony grumbles. “God, what is my life right now?”

When they finally make their way back to Tony’s top-level penthouse, Diana makes a sound of disgust at the destruction, and at the scraps of artwork that litter the ruined floor.

“This will take forever to fix,” she complains.

He squeezes her close to him in comfort.

Tony starts laughing when he sees Loki.

The would-be villain is trussed up like a turkey in loops of Diana’s lasso, with one end tied to the rafters above. He looks humiliated and miserable and furious, but he’s still the douchebag threw him out of a glass window on the ninety-third floor of his fucking tower, so Tony has no compunction about doubling over and laughing his guts out.

“Di, let’s get married,” he wheezes out.

“What?” Diana demands, placing her hands on her waist.

“I feel like I have to lock you down right the fuck now after seeing this, or someone’ll steal you away from me,” Tony explains.

Diana raises an eyebrow. “Tony, we have been in a relationship for twenty years. The time for stealing has long since passed.”

Tony makes a face. “Okay, you have a point. But I’m still locking you down,” he warns.

“Uh, I’ve got a question,” Rogers interjects. He’s looking straight at Diana and the urge to punch him in his perfect teeth like when they were on the Helicarrier rears its ugly head. “Who are you, and how did you tie Loki up?”

Tony turns his head. The Spy Twins are similarly and completely bewildered.

Romanoff almost looks pissed there was a sliver of Tony’s life to which she wasn’t privy.

“Oh, right, this is Diana, my girlfriend, my partner in all things, including life, the Chandler to my Monica, the Ares to my Aphrodite. Not literally.

Diana closes her mouth and shifts awkwardly. She crosses her arms over her chest. “I don’t understand why you introduced me yourself,” she huffs.

“Uh,” Tony leans into her. “These aren’t exactly the people you want to give that spiel to. Not just yet, I mean.”

I’m looking you at you, Romanoff.

Diana frowns, but seeing the resolve in Tony’s face, she softens and nods. “Very well.”

Tony grins at the show of trust.

Diana unsheathes her sword. “Now, what do we do with this one?” she asks, smoothly, the tip of the Godkiller trained on Loki’s exposed neck.

Thor steps forward. “He is my brother. He will be judged by Asgard,” he warns.

Diana raises an eyebrow, shamelessly. “Your brother has destroyed this city,” she says, disgusted. “If he faces justice, it will be that of this world’s. Man’s justice. Do you understand?”

God, Tony loves this woman.

You slay, babe.

Thor looks at her, perplexed and intrigued. “You are a curious being, Lady Stark.”

Diana smiles.

Tony wonders if he should intervene and tell Thor that Diana isn’t Lady Stark, but his girlfriend seems quite content with the title and it might be giving him ideas that he doesn’t want to let go just yet.

“That I am, but I stand by what I said; Loki isn’t leaving this world. Not yet, anyway. He will face the justice of the men and women and children he has slaughtered and orphaned here.”

Thor clearly wants to say something more and honestly, Tony wouldn’t have expected it from someone who looks like he epitomises dumb jock, but he keeps his mouth shut.

“Uh, no one answered my question,” Rogers points out. “How did you tie up Loki?”

Diana shrugs. “He was just lying here, in the concrete, after the Green One was done with him.”

The Hulk gives Diana a wide, toothy, besotted smile. “Hulk do good, Sword Girl?”

“Hulk do great.” Diana beams at him. “I didn’t want him to escape. The Lasso of Hestia is indestructible, and rats can only struggle so much.”

“I am a god!” Loki shouts, struggling.

Diana bares her teeth. “I kill gods.”

Steve blinks. “Excuse me?”

Barton looks at Tony. “Where’d you find her?”

Tony shrugs. “Art benefit in Paris when I was 21. Oh, and she really does kill gods. There was Circe and Cheetah and the Morrigan and Deimos and Phobos and Strife and Hecate and Tezcatlipoca and Hades and Urzkartaga and like all the Titans and Nemesis and Apollo.” He pauses. “Wow, I just realised that Ares’ kids all really hate you, don’t they? Which, I mean, I understand because you killed their dad and everything, but it’s still weird, because aren’t you like their aunt? Huh, and I thought I had a fucked-up family.” Tony shakes his head.

“For the last time, Tony, Circe is not a goddess,” Diana insists, hotly.

“Honey, I know, but for ease, I just group her in.” Tony waves off.

“Wait, so, you’re a goddess?” Rogers clarifies, his voice slow and uncomprehending.

“It’s complicated,” Tony and Diana say, simultaneously.

Tony claps his hands together. “Now, if we’re done here, I like carried a nuke into a wormhole into space and almost died, so I’d really like to go and take a nap before shawarma. Feel free to use any of the non-ruined guest rooms. You coming, Di?”

Diana nods and takes his hand.

“Wait, Stark, we’re not done here,” Rogers protests.

“Oh, yeah, we are.” Tony snorts.

Tony drags Diana away, moving through the corridors that are still somehow standing, even with the Hulk’s rampage.

“You don’t have to be rude to the blonde man,” Diana points out.

“That’s Captain America,” he explains.

“Oh. Oh.” Diana’s eyes dawn with realisation. Her eyes search over him carefully. “Well, that explains a lot.”

“Oh, God, don’t start with that again,” he groans.

“Start with what?” Diana says, innocently. “I’m not saying anything.”

“I don’t like him,” Tony insists.

“And why not?” she asks, patiently, like she already knows the answer.

“He’s like a sucky version of you,” Tony points out, feeling like a pouting child. “Why would I like him?”

Diana sighs and places a hand on Tony’s arm. “Oh, Tony,” she says, pityingly.

“Don’t,” he warns.

“Don’t what?” she laughs. “I’m not doing anything.”

“You’re always doing something,” Tony complains.

“No, you just don’t hearing me saying something you don’t want me to hear.”

“Well, isn’t that obvious? In fact, the law of romantic relationships dictates that you can’t say something I don’t want to hear.”

“Oh, Tony.”

“Oh, Diana.”

Even when they close the door to their room, even when they crawl into bed for a well-deserved nap, they can’t seem to stop bickering.