Actions

Work Header

Anatomy of a Moral Man

Chapter Text

-o-

“Congrats, Stark. It’s signed and all yours.” Clint whistled and tapped his calloused hands on the thick stacks of papers. “Damn you killed a lot of trees for this.”

“I killed a lot of people for this." Tony corrected with a tsk. "The UN killed the trees. Don't blame me for the wrong murder."

"Bitchy, bitchy, bitchy." Clint started to thumb through the paperwork. His nose scrunched up in disgust at all the political jargon used throughout. "This thing could put a guy to sleep. And you had to sit and listen as it was read aloud?"

The memory of the two day-long session of reads, questions, and horrendous boredom brought a terrible shudder over Tony's form. "Let's not think of that. As you said, it's signed and all mine. Done." He stretched back into his leather chair and sighed. The chair squeaked within the silent office-space as the group chewed over the world. Its weight was tremendous and grand but Tony found he did not mind its heaviness on his shoulders. When he looked around he could tell his comrades did not either.

It was tense in his space. Everyone understood while one battle has ended another was about to begin and it would be long and hard. It did not matter, though. They had done it. He had done it. Nearly twenty-years of hard, dirty, bloody work was accomplished. A world-changing victory. Tony found it giddy and interesting to realize his name was being written in history books as they talked. He and the Avengers would have chapters dedicated to them. How a group of misfits changed the world for the better and now owned it.

The grin that crawled up his face was one that would make typical people flinch. He was so happy. Everything felt quite beautiful in the moment. “All that paper...Natasha’s poor koalas.”

“Wrong trees.” Natasha said. She was up on her feet, side pressed on his chair, as she played with her phone. The light glinted on her red-hair and made the bruises and scabs on her right hand bloom darker. It was another reminder of where they had come from and what they had accomplished. The remainders of the final necessities it took to win the world. A few words from the Black Widow had plenty of people willing to keep jaws shut. Of course, it helped a few dignitaries had their jaws wired shut after a talk. Tony noticed Natasha carried wounds around finer than pearls. He still made a mental note to buy her the best set of pearls on the market for her hard work. Probably with a wire lining for future missions.

“You don’t know that. Probably orphaned plenty of big-assed-nosed bears just to say ‘we love Stark’ in, what, fifteen copies of a five hundred page document.”

“Twenty-three copies and four hundred and seventy two pages.” Bruce corrected as he cleaned his readers.

“Don’t get smart, Bruce."

"Oh," Bruce cleared his throat to hide a smile. "Wouldn't dream of it your excellency."

"Jealousy over my power is so unbecoming." Tony drawled. "How about I make it better, hmm? I’ll give you your own continent or something you can rule over. Want Antarctica? Plenty of quiet, nerdy stuff to do there. And penguins! Doesn’t the Mean Green love penguins? Who doesn’t love penguins? You can have an army of them. I think I’ll make an army of them as a matter of fact. Jarvis, make note of that. We'll give them cute jet-packs so they can finally fly.”

"Jarvis, do not make note of that." Natasha interrupted.

"You're no fun."

"I'm more fun than Ms. Potts will be if you actually spend time, money, and resources on making penguins fly and into assassins."

"Fair enough."

Bruce snorted but quickly after let out a small chuckle. “I don’t think the Star Accords gives you the rights to give away continents like party-bags. But I appreciate the gesture.”

“Details,” Tony waved him off. “I’ll make changes like that later and get you that penguin-wasteland so Mean Green can have some alone time. But first,” he brushed the international documents to the side and waved a hand over his desk and a light blue screen and keyboard started to glow in front of the group. “I, sadly, have to be boring and keep up with some promises I made.” He sighed dramatically and rubbed his head like a migraine was forming. “They were all so whiny I had to give them something. I’m regretting it now.”

“Most leaders have to suffer some political headaches, my friend.” Thor chortled. “You were most fair even when you could’ve used force. A strong start to what I hope is an everlasting reign. Be proud of your accomplishment and how easily you vanquished your foes!”

“Lovely speech. I always enjoy the reminder of how amazing I am. But you’re still not getting the mead until the actual party.” Tony warned and waved a scolding finger. “Which isn’t until," he now dramatically checked his watch, "a few more hours. And I best not see you down some of that thousand-year brain killer until we all can get our booze on, got it?”

“Your first decree?”

Tony huffed, “Yes. Dammit. You really made we waste that one.”

Thor just grinned as if it were his plan all along though everyone noticed him, sourly, push back his hidden bottle of Asgard liquor.

“Now, business folks. Business. No more us being…us. Ahem,” he cleared his throat and ignored how his friends grinned. They were trying to mess him up and it was so hard to not grin back and start giggling. He could not do that now. There was far too much to do before relaxation. His mind provided a tornado of needs and plots that had a timeline of less than a month. The last few nations to threaten, the bribes of research, the act of kindness with vaccines, the rumors of a mole, and so much more. It made his head pound and all he wanted was the strongest whiskey in his cabinet. It was difficult to resist the temptation of starting the festivities early but he wanted to enjoy partying without any distractions. Sadly, that meant work.

'Almost, Stark. Just go a little further. What would he do? He'd focus and work.'

Tony took a deep inhale and focused himself and the tornado started to calm. His mind filled with clear, precise pictures of the next steps. Brilliant. He simply was brilliant. “Thor, after tonight, I need you to go back home and see how our deal with your father is coming. I want to get a move on those weapons he promised us.” Tony said as he stared down the god of thunder. "I plan on keeping my end of the bargain up with the Accords but Romanoff here has informed me there is already backstabbing afoot. I’d like to show them early on that this little rebellion,” he sneered at the word, “was a failure before their little minds started conceiving it.”

Thor sighed and shook his head, disappointed, “Pathetic. Some of you humans are such disappointing creatures. Failure in battle and defeat. It may be best to lay waste to them now with your own hand.”

“Been considering that, big guy." Oh, he practically dreamt it. The idea of crushing the rebellion in one glorious, explosive go was as tempting as a fat-dripping burger smothered in cheese and bourbon sauce. "But as much as I love showing off my babies,” he licked his lips and thought of his newly completed guns with the molecule collapsing ability and its sleek, compact form. How reloading was slicker than fitting on a condom and he needed to stop before he got a stiffy. Even Tony found it impossible not to be impressed with himself. “I’d like to show the world that this fable land of gods, magic, and technology is mine. That I have an alliance with Asgard, not them. Feels like a more thorough way to weed out the morons. If anyone is foolish enough to keep coming at me after a little display of your force…well Darwin and all that.”

“Then I’ll be off after the festivities tonight. I have little doubt it will progress swiftly. Father does enjoy your company.” Thor grinned.

Tony returned the hungry grin. “As I enjoy his. Do give him my thanks for his advice on the energy shields Stark Industries were struggling with. The contribution is amazing and has been a fantastic success.” His best customers and alliance were an “alien” society of bloodthirsty warrior gods. Who’d ever expected that? “Now, will the end of the week be an acceptable deadline?”

“I hope earlier but given how my father enjoys the politics and dragging things along for the sake of appearance," Thor sighed. "Yes, end of the week would be the safest date.”

“Perfect!” Tony slapped his hands together. “Natasha will have the names of everyone in the group by then. Our distribution should be finished at the time as well. We’ll make a move let’s say, oh…Jarvis, what’s the schedule looking like this month?”

The familiar metallic voice resonated within the office as a holographic screen of the August calendar appeared above his desk. “You have meetings over the next three weeks, however next Thursday you only have one. If you wish I’ll reschedule it to take place in the morning leaving you with better time to work with an attack.”

“Hmm," Tony rubbed his jaw and squinted at the screen. "How early we talkin’ about?”

“Oh, get up before ten for one god damn day, Stark.” Clint groaned. “I want this over with and vacation time started. My niece has a birthday party next Saturday! I ain’t missing it like I did Easter.” He crossed his arms and sulked. “All I got to see were pictures of all the rugrats in cake-topper suits and dresses. Do you realize how much it sucks to miss a ten-month old waddle around a fluff of a purple dress? She waddled, Stark, waddled!”

“Fine, fine.” Tony did not need to see the plethora of Clint’s family photos again as proof for the archer’s love of his family and all things toddler. “Jarvis, put that in the calendar as well. I at least want to send a present.”

“She wants a Powerpuff Girls Lego-set.” Clint ordered without an ounce of gratitude.

Tony scowled. “She’s a little traitor. There is a massive toy-line of Avenger product and she wants Powerpuff Girls?”

Clint shrugged.

“She’s getting everything with an Iron Man face on it and she’s going to like it.” Tony muttered as he went online and promptly ordered the snot-face brat the whole Avenger toy-line out of spite.

“Sir, the schedule has been updated. You’ll meet with SHIELD at 8am on Thursday while that evening you plan on attacking, kidnapping, interrogating while filming the possible traitors to your rule. I will remind you Saturday to send a birthday wish to Abby along with her toys.” Jarvis updated.

“There, all free.” He looked to the redhead, “You think you can resist bloodshed till Thursday?”

“Get me a koala and I’ll live.” Natasha popped some gum in her mouth.

“Your first command is a koala? Ridiculous, ritzy, and unnecessary? You after my heart or something?”

“Please.” She blew a bubble as she played with her Farm Hero game with vigor. “You’re good-looking and all that but there is no way I’d bang a man with facial hair like that.”

“What? My art too deep for your shallow, dry Russian soul?” Tony huffed as he unnecessarily smoothed out his goatee. “Rude.”

“It’s an abomination.” She clicked her tongue at him.

“Your face is an abomination.”

“You’re ruling the world after threat of slaughter and that’s the best you can come up with?” Her lips curled. “Weak.”

“The tension is getting too much to handle. Are you two gonna make out in front of us or…?” Clint tilted a brow and waved a hand over his face. “Cause that’s both ew and hot at the same time.”

“Fuck you, Clint.”

“You know I’m up for it, Nat.”

“Children,” Bruce sighed. “Let’s try to focus on plans, hm? We’ve had a long day of work and about to have a long night of partying.” His droning voice made it very clear he was not looking forward to that. Clearly, being a ruler did nothing for his lack of a desire for a social-life. Nerd. “I’d appreciate getting all of this done.”

“I have to agree with the adult in the room.” Tony picked himself up to his feet and walked around the desk. “I want to ensure that there is no issues with the plan and with what is necessary for the Accords.”

“Whoa, you’re getting all mature on us?” Clint held up his hands in awe. “Power has changed you, Stark. I don’t think I like it.”

“Sucks for you then.” Tony closed his eyes to meditate for a few seconds and lounged against the desk. The uncontrollable tornado was stirring once again. 'Think like him. Think like him. He'd get through this. We're almost done, Rogers. We're almost there.' Reopening his eyes he felt power within him swell and a familiar sense of calm confidence thrum in his chest. He could not forget who all of this was for and how even the last second details needed to move with him in mind. “We’ll assist with the medical request without issue but none of the development or deliveries is made without Stark Industries or an Avenger present. I wouldn’t put it past some of our new allies to try and disrupt the process to try and hurt my image. Or steal the work placed into it." His knuckles popped as he clenched his fist. He loathed when people touched his things. "This request is going to make us look even better than before as long as we are successful. So, Barton, this is yours. I want you to assemble a small team of at least five that you trust to keep the supply chain of our vaccines and cancer research secure.”

“As long as I get to the birthday party I’m all good.” Clint, who had grown bored at the mention of adulting, was twirling an arrow around his fingers.

"You'll go to the main allies in this and a few who need a little nudge. You'll arrive back Thursday evening when we make everything a televised event.If anyone does anything that may postpone your vacation time you and your team are free to do whatever necessary to get it back on schedule. Deal?"

The assassin grinned. "Oh, that is a deal."

"Nat," Tony tilted his head to look at the spy at his side, "of course, already knows her job.I want you ready by the time we get to Thursday. Not just with the names. You’re going to be in charge of the…sessions.” He smiled. “I’d like you to put on a show that evening. As you know we’re going to record it for any future disputes.”

Her smile in return was feline-like.

“Big guy will have our help from Asgard by then. Maybe you two,” he pointed between Natasha and Thor, “could get together and come up with some new techniques for the audience’s viewing pleasure.”

The two grinned at each other, excited about the assignment.

“Bruce, you’ll be happy to know I want to keep you hidden. The public knowing your whereabouts right now isn’t the best. I want you in a lab. Any lab of your choosing and I want you to make some progress on the Tesseract-technology. That needs unlocked sooner rather than later since I’m positive Odin is going to demand it in return for future alliances.”

Bruce was very relieved. “I’ll stay in the compound and if I can’t make enough headway to your liking I can always travel with the Tesseract and Thor back to Asgard. My studies would be more controlled with Odin’s eyes around but it wouldn’t cause the worst delay.”

“Looks like a lot is up to you, big guy.” He noted to the blond. “This all acceptable for you?”

“Indeed! These war games of yours are very entertaining. My involvement is impressing father and many of my followers." His chest puffed out. "Because of this I look to be ruling Asgard very soon.”

And the sooner Thor ruled over Asgard the better it would be for Tony. Now that his rule over the Earth’s governments was finalized and secured he could progress to the next phase of his plan and it was one he was looking forward to but he wasn’t cocky enough to think he didn’t need all the help the Avengers could provide.

“Now, we all know I need to suffer through meetings and stay in the public eye for a while. I can’t make many obvious moves so I’ll leave all of this to you. It may be a while for all of us to meet up physically. But we all know what we’re doing," he clapped his hands again and grinned. "Now let’s take care of the details so we can enjoy our victory Stark Style.”

-o-

The party was phenomenal.

It was loud with delicious food, plenty of drinks, and beautiful people for all of his loyal followers. There was not a single soul Tony saw that was bored. Even uptight Bruce was laughing over his rum and coke with Rhodey as they shared some boring story about how great they were. Natasha and Clint were in an epic stalemate with darts while the crowd surrounding them kept swelling their egos by rooting and hollering. Clint was starting to sway though so Tony made a mental note to not tread too close lest he earned a dart to his fine ass. Thor was leading his third drinking game of the night. Already four patrons were passed out over a couch or a bar because of him. Tony knew there would be vomit found in some plant the next morning. Hopefully no one died because...yep, Thor was urging for a fourth round. He'd better get that stopped sooner than later for the safety of the public.

Despite the concern of drunken-sickness he could not help but puff out his chest when he noticed even the ever-perfect T’Challa appeared impressed by everything provided. Finally, someone was out sparkling the king's (aggravating, unfair, just plain rude) perfectness.

Everywhere he looked he was reminded of what he had accomplished. It made his chest burn pleasantly when he caught sight of people once loyal to Ross or Hammer enjoying themselves after a few years of hardworking betrayal. He had crushed many lives for the victory, but he knew the world would be far better for it. He may get named a tyrant by some but by the end of his plan he would be viewed as a savior, as a god, by all.

His smile was sharp as he finished up his well-earned whiskey.

Things would be even better if the one who inspired it all were here to celebrate it with him.

‘Here’s to you, Captain.’ He toasted in silence as his smile fell sad. ‘It took over seventy years and for you to have to die but because of you all of this came to be. This is for you. You and mom.’ He closed his eyes a moment and sighed. ‘I know it’s not quite the route you wanted but you’d appreciate the end results, mom.’

“Tony?”

He shook himself out of his thoughts and looked at Pepper at his side. “Was I lost there?”

“Just for a few seconds.” She smiled. Her lips were painted with bright red lipstick and her white dress was both professional and sexy as it hovered over her knees but had a spectacular view of her collarbone and back. “I don’t blame you though. You should have a lot on your mind. Hopefully that means that you will finally crash, pass out, and sleep properly.”

“Don’t hold your breath." Tony laughed. "I actually have free time till Monday. I’m going to get my armor upgraded and catch up on Game of Thrones.”

“In three days? You’re behind three seasons. You’re going to kill yourself if you binge it.”

“Worth it.”

“No, Tony.”

“That’s supreme leader the great Stark to you.”

She gave him the most deadpanned look he’d received in some time (minus everyone in the Avengers that is). Once upon a time, committees and juries would sneer in his direction, thinking him nothing but a spoiled, eccentric man with too much time and money and concern. Amusing to see where those faces were now. Tony, however, was still a smart man despite his success and he knew who not to piss off (Pepper, never piss off Pepper) so he gave her his cutest pout in hopes of forgiveness.

“Not working on me. You’re going to sleep.” She then gave him a playful smile. “You know, if you promise to be good I may have something you’ll be interested in upstairs. Before you, ah,” she pried the empty glass from his hand and placed it on the tray of a passing waiter. “Get all ready to handle heavy machinery.”

He sulked some more when he realized she was talking about no more booze. Ok, so, yes he had used pyrotechnics and messed with heat-sensitive arsenal when he was a little tipsy ONCE, let it go Pepper. His attention instantly snapped up at her words.

“Oh, is it a stripper? It’s a stripper isn’t it?”

She rolled her eyes. “Get upstairs and you’ll see.”

“It’s so a stripper.” He grinned and led her to the elevator. He felt like swaying a bit. His head was cloudy from booze, excitement, and exhaustion.

“Uh-huh, walk it off mister. I want you in a slightly clearer head for this. I’ll meet you upstairs.” The woman smiled and turned him to the stairs before she sauntered off to the elevator. She was tempting him being all sexy and mysterious.

Tony was mildly buzzed as he followed Pepper’s directions and went to the staircase to head up to the penthouse. It was not likely she wanted sex, they stopped that well over two years ago, but he certainly would not fight her on it. He could use a good, mindless romp in the bed to close the night for the better. And Pepper was a fine romper.

He paused on the ascent to look out at the skyline of New York. His city.

‘Mine.’ He thought and glee washed over him. The dear Captain would not get to see the peaceful world he worked so hard for but Tony gave it to him none the less. It was not much, but it made Tony feel proud. He had done something for the hero no one else had. Only he thought of the fallen man. Only Tony had the means and power to accomplish something this grand. Only Tony gave one fallen Steve Rogers a gift of peace.

'Hope you're smiling at me.' He looked up at the foggy sky. 'If there ever was a heaven I know you'd be there. Wish I could've given this to you...' His head lulled back and he snapped back into attention before he fell. 'And that is enough melancholy dramatics. Hell, I nearly fell down the stairs. Yeesh, what a statement that'd make.'

He did not want to keep Pepper waiting so he turned away from the capital of his kingdom and continued his way up to his penthouse in the tower. ‘Fuck, I’m glad she caught me before I drank any further. These stairs suck. Why don't I have an escalator? Jarvis, put in an escalator. Jarvis?...oh yeah, I'm talking in my head.’ He was very pleased Pepper stopped him from drinking any more.

“Alright Ms. Potts, I’m here and sweaty.” He announced as he arrived. Instantly he was relaxed and light once in his own home. It was still and empty and filled with just himself. It was a nice contrast to the party. He could not even make out the thumping of the music three floors below. It was his space. His territory.

“Tony,” Pepper greeted him from the bar and she held out a flute of champagne.

“Well, well.” He took it eagerly after shedding himself of his jacket. Back in his room he didn't care about the idea of not drinking any more. Even sex sounded less appealing in comparison to flopping in his sheets and sleeping till the next afternoon. “Didn’t you tell me to go up the stairs to get the blood pumping and not be as drunk?”

“Maybe I just want you to suffer a bit.” She shrugged and her eyes glinted.

He smirked. “Not buying it. If I didn’t know you so well I’d think you were seducing me. Which I’m not against falling back in bed with you but I can’t help but feel like I’m being used. CEO sleeping with owner of Stark Industries and current mad-ruler of the world, again, is such a great publicity.”

“I so want to pour this over your expensive shirt.”

“You’ll see my nipples so win for you, you harlot.”

Pepper laughed and their glasses chimed together in a toast. “And this is for you, a celebration, for twenty years of hard work. This week has been such a success and I think this is the start of something a little easier for you. Something better. I'm happy for you, Tony.”

“Mhm, I do appreciate the compliments. So please, continue.” He purred as he sipped his drink.

“Best not get used to it but yes, to you Anthony Stark, and your great world domination.” She drank her own champagne.

“Well?” He grinned and looked around. “Where’s my present?”

“Ugh, you’re such a child.”

"What? I came here with the temptation of a present and now I want it."

"Can't you be patient once?"

"Nope."

"Would you say please, at least?"

"Please gimme.” Tony held out his hand and made a grabby-motion.

Pepper shook her head but gave him a smile in defeat. “Ok. Ok. Your present isn’t here quite yet but I just needed to let you know about it. We'll have to go pick it up.”

Tony pouted and his hand fell back down, “Not here yet? Got me another custom made Rolls Royce?”

You got yourself that. No.” She shrugged as if it were not a big deal. “I’m sorry I didn’t get you a car. I figured with your suit and whole collection of toys you didn’t need another one.”

“Pepperrrr, come on! Stop dragging this out.” He whined. “What did you get me?”

Her annoyance melted into a smug smirk. “Him.”

Tony blinked. “That’s supremely non-helpful.”

Pepper's smirk grew and she pointed to Tony's right. “Him.”

Tony looked over and the only “him” he saw was one of his memorable poster of Captain America near his kitchen and looked back to Pepper with a titled brow. She returned his expression with a smug smile, gave a nod, and his cocky face fell. He looked back at the poster then back at her. “What?”

“I found him.”

His drink long forgotten he was up to his feet and looked at her, stunned. “W-What?”

“I know he was your project, to find his final resting place, but you just haven’t had the time. I wanted to give him to you.” She approached him and gently pressed her nail against his cheek and dragged it against his beard. “I found him. And Tony,” she breathed. “He’s alive.”