1. Hurt” by Johnny Cash
What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
He gives Pepper the company, the empire he’s built on death and destruction, but he knows it won’t last. She’s good for him, his best friend in the world, and she’s beautiful, too. She won’t stay, though, Tony knows. No one ever does. Everyone Tony’s ever known has left him, eventually. It’s his own fault, he knows. He drives people away. He’s abrasive and destructive. He hurts people. No one, not even Pepper, will be able to stand it forever. Maybe not today, but one day, he’ll hurt her, and then she’ll leave him. They always do, in the end.
2. “She’s Always a Woman to Me” by Billy Joel
She only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child, but she's always a woman to me
She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth, but she'll never believe
Ohhh... she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants, she's ahead of her time
Ohhh... and she never gives out
And she never gives in, she just changes her mind
She'll bring out the best and the worst you can be
She's frequently kind and she's suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases, she's nobody's fool
And she can't be convicted, she's earned her degree
Toni’s got a mask she wears in public, hides behind it like a child. She’s a woman, though, and don’t think Steve hasn’t noticed. He knows he could love her, if she gave him the chance. She won’t though, or at least not by choice. She’s so smart it hurts, a woman of the future, but she’s clueless, too, oblivious. She never takes anything Steve says at face value, not even that he loves her. And she can be moody, kind one minute and cruel the next. Despite all that, though, she’s a woman, and Steve loves her for it.
3. “You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son” by Wolf Parade
I am my father's son
His bed is made
I was a hero
Early in the morning
I ain't no hero
In the night
You are a runner
And I am my father’s son
Steve looks at Tony and sees Howard. Tony looks in the mirror and sees a failure.
Steve says, “I knew your father, he was a good man.” Tony says, “Fuck you.”
Steve thinks, how can this be the son of the man I admired so much? How can this be the hero Iron Man? Tony thinks, everything bad about my father is inside me. The only thing I have is Iron Man, but I’m no hero. And Steve, he’ll never stay.
Steve tells Tony, once he realizes, how different he is from Howard. Tony smiles, but will never believe it.
4. “The Scientist” by Willie Nelson
Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start
I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
“Steve,” Tony calls through closed door. “Steve, I’m sorry, come on, I wasn’t serious.”
Steve yanks open the door, looking seriously pissed. Tony takes a step back reflexively, because, hey there’s a whole lot of raw strength in those nice-looking arms, and he could probably take Tony’s head off with one swipe. Not that he would, but still.
“I’m not one of your experiments, Tony,” Steve says, but he sounds more sad than angry. “Our relationship isn’t science.”
“I know,” Tony tells him. “That’s why I keep fucking it up. Can I come in?”
Steve sighs, but steps aside, anyway.
5. “Great Expectations” by The Gaslight Anthem
And I learned about the blues from this kitten I knew.
Her hair was raven and her heart was like a tomb.
My heart's like a wound.
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my first wife.
Everybody leaves and I'd expect as much from you.
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my old life.
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn't you?
Even after they start sleeping together, Tony doesn’t let himself get attached. He’s been down this road before, with Pepper, and he can still see the lights of her plane, taking off, going west, as far away from him as possible while still on the continent. Steve’s not Pepper, he knows, but everyone leaves eventually. His heart, even with the reactor in it, it just wasn’t made for things like emotions, and Steve’ll realize it soon enough, then he’ll be gone, too. Just like Pepper is. So Tony doesn’t get attached, because he can’t stand the sight of plane lights.
6. “Because of You” by Kelly Clarkson
I will not make
The same mistakes that you did
I will not let myself
Cause my heart so much misery
I will not break
The way you did, you fell so hard
I've learned the hard way
To never let it get that far
Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side
So I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust
Not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you, I am afraid
I'm forced to fake
A smile, a laugh, every day of my life
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasn't even whole to start with
I watched you die, I heard you cry
Every night in your sleep
I was so young, you should have known
Better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain
And now I cry, in the middle of the night, for the same damn thing
Because of you
I tried my hardest just to forget everything
Because of you
I don't know how to let anyone else in
Because of you
I'm ashamed of my life because it's empty
Because of you, I am afraid
Tony grew up watching his mother cry. She didn’t care if he saw her, just like she didn’t care when his father slapped him around. She perfected the art of not caring, but Tony knew it was an act, like the mask his father wore in public, the proud-father-happy-husband mask. Tony vows, when he’s still young enough to believe in promises, that he’ll never let himself get hurt like that. He doesn’t realize until later, much later in life, that never getting hurt means never getting loved, either. It doesn’t matter, though. Tony Stark will never break.
7. “Maria” by Blondie
She moves like she don't care
Smooth as silk, cool as air
Ooh, it makes you wanna cry
She doesn't know your name
And your heart beats like a subway train
Ooh, it makes you wanna die
Won't come in from the rain
She's oceans running down the drain
Blue as ice and desire
She's like a millionaire
Walking on imported air
Ooh it makes you wanna die
Toni’s a firecracker, and that’s for sure. She’s like no woman Steve’s ever met before. When she walks into the room, all dolled up, men stop and stare, fall all over her. Sometimes they call out things to her, both rude and flattering, but even though it makes Steve blush, she never even seems to hear them. She walks like she’s worth every penny she has, and men should swoon at her feet. Steve likes her like this, but it’s not until he sees her filthy in the lab after one of her benders that he really falls in love.
8. “Oh, Industry” by Bette Midler
I am the captain and this is my shrine
Lord of the manor, see what I leave behind
River in flames, cities on fire
Yes, I'm a relic trapped in the wire
Hydrogen fuel, it burns so clean
Throbs in the veins, a mother lovin' machine
She is my wife, her mechanical heart
Constantly serving 'til death do us part
Steve dreams of fire, spreading from one city in Europe to the next. He dreams of the world he left behind, the world still trapped in a war it didn’t really understand the repercussions of. He dreams of the ice, too, sometimes, of being frozen and trapped.
Tony dreams of energy, the potential and the danger. He dreams of bombs being made with his clean energy, more powerful and more dangerous than anything the world has ever seen. He dreams of his mechanical heart, running forever until someone takes it out.
When they hold each other at night, neither sleeps.
9. “One Day, Robots Will Cry” by Cobra Starship
I'm back after all these years
Don't be afraid my dear, now I'm older
'Cause people change, can't you see my eyes
Are they not the same after the lies?
I know I'm like a machine
But I still have dreams,
When you were a child, I was lost in the wild
But you built a home for me in the road
I was born in the cold, turn up the heat I know one day we will
Sleep for days, come over, come over
I won't make the same mistakes
Come over, come over, I'm dying not to hurt you
In our dreams we can be complete
If we go to sleep we can wake up home again
Everyone’s different in the future, Steve knows that. But he also sees how much things are the same, how much people still care. He misses home, sure, thinks that if he goes to sleep, maybe he’ll wake up and be back there again. But this life, living in the apartment Tony built him, with the heat that goes up all the way, well, it’s not such a bad thing.
“Do you ever think about how I was still frozen when you were a kid?” he asks, once, idle curiosity.
“Only every day for my whole childhood,” Tony says, and smiles.
10. “My Only One” by Amy MacDonald
After all the mistakes have been and gone
You're still standing here, standing strong
And I forgive all the wrongs that you have ever done
Cos you're still the only one
The apple of your mother's eye
Your life it passed your father by
I bet he wishes he was there too
So much grace and poise yeah you're always right on cue
And there were times
You know it's true
When the whole world
Was looking at you
They changed their mind from day to night
One minute you're wrong then the next thing you're right
God rest your soul
Keep standing tall my only one
Steve’s never sure how to feel, looking at Tony’s life. Tony never talks about it, but Steve’s read the file. A father with no time for him, a mother who loved him but never knew how to handle him. A life in the public eye, a celebrity from childhood. The partying as a young man. The carelessness later that allowed for war profiteering, then his attempts to stop it. Tony’s made mistakes in his life, and it’s visible in every line of his body, as well as his file. Yet, he’s still so strong, despite everything, and a good man.
11. “Cigarettes and Chocolate” by Rufus Wainwright
Everything it seems I like's a little bit stronger
A little bit thicker, a little bit harmful for me
And then there's those other things
Which for several reasons we won't mention
Everything about 'em is a little bit stranger
A little bit harder, a little bit deadly
You got to keep in the game
Retaining mystique while facing forward
I suggest a reading of a lesson in tightropes
Or surfing your high hopes or adios Kansas
I'm just a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish, a little bit
Tower of Pisa, whenever I see ya
So please be kind if I'm a mess
Tony’s a train wreck, and he’ll be the first to admit it. A good-looking one, who knows how to play it up for the cameras, but a train wreck all the same. He likes things that hurt him, things that make him crazy. The substance abuse, sure, the drugs, the drinking, the casual sex. But the battles in the suit, too. He does good in the world with the suit, but he loves it because it makes him fly. He walks a fine line and someday, he’s going to fall. He’s just not sure he wants caught when it happens.
12. “The Only Exception” by Paramore
When I was younger, I saw my daddy cry
And curse at the wind
He broke his own heart and I watched
As he tried to reassemble it
And my momma swore that
She would never let herself forget
And that was the day that I promised
I'd never sing of love if it does not exist
But darling, you are the only exception
Maybe I know, somewhere deep in my soul
That love never lasts
And we've got to find other ways to make it alone
Or keep a straight face
And I've always lived like this
Keeping a comfortable distance
And up until now I had sworn to myself that I'm content with loneliness
Because none of it was ever worth the risk
But you are the only exception
I've got a tight grip on reality
But I can't let go of what's in front of me here
I know you're leaving in the morning when you wake up
Leave me with some kind of proof, it's not a dream
Tony comes by his issues honestly, and that’s a fact. His father was a first-class dick, and sometimes Tony thought he cared more about finding stupid Captain America than spending time with his family. Tony’s mother popped Valium like candy, hated Howard but never left. That’s just how it was, Tony thought. Love wasn’t real, so either deal with the loneliness or let your heart get trampled on a daily basis. It just wasn’t worth the risk. Then Captain America makes a comeback into his life, and Tony thinks, this time around, he might be the exception to the rule.
13. “Demons” by We the Living
First impressions get you everywhere
Every time what I have found
Is first words win the war
When I'm with you, half the time
I am in places you'll never know
For all of the reasons that you've heard before
This is war
Tony doesn’t like to think of Afghanistan, but he stands by what he said there, demonstrating the Jericho. First impressions win wars before they can even get started. First words can make or break a battle. When he meets Steve, he comes on strong for this reason. Steve never backs down, though. Tony should have known, from all he’s heard about the man. Still, it plays its part: even after they stop fighting, there’s enough electricity running between them that it makes Tony think it’s only a matter of time before they give in and have sex. He can’t wait.
14. “Perfect” by Simple Plan
Hey dad look at me
Think back and talk to me
Did I grow up according to plan?
Do you think I'm wasting my time doing things I wanna do?
'Cuz it hurts when you disapprove all along
And now I try hard to make it
I just want to make you proud
I'm never gonna be good enough for you
I can't pretend that I'm alright
And you can't change me
Nothing's gonna change the things that you said
Nothing's gonna make this right again
I’m sorry I can't be perfect
Tony’s always known his father was disappointed in him. Howard never said it out loud, but Tony could tell from the looks and the sighs, the way he never had enough time to look at the things Tony could do. “You’re wasting your time with toys, Anthony,” he would say, sometimes. Tony tried, always tried so hard to do what the man wanted, but it was never enough. He realized, eventually, that he would never be good enough for Howard Stark, but not before years of trying to please him. He’s dead now, anyway, so it doesn’t matter, not really.
15. “We Are Pilots” by Shiny Toy Guns
Holding close my secrets
Naked broken pieces
-from the madness in what you do
The fingers point right back at you
What about my problems?
The people try to solve them
I guess I'm under the weather...
Since no one else belongs here, with me
Some news for you
I'm really not that crazy.
Why you think there's something wrong with me.
Tony knew he was different from an early age, and not just because he could do things other kids couldn’t. He didn’t see many kids, not until boarding school, but even before that he knew he wasn’t the same as them. They’d talk about him, sometimes, his parents, about what to do with him. He was confused, the first time he heard them talking about it like he wasn’t even in the room, like he couldn’t understand, because he knew there was nothing wrong with him. There really wasn’t, then, but for years afterward, he would be convinced there was.
16. “Human” by the Killers
Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Give my regards to soul and romance,
They always did the best they could
And so long to devotion
You taught me everything I know
Wish me well..
You've gotta let me go
Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?
There is no message we're receiving
Let me know is your heart still beating
Every night in the cave, Tony dreams of home. He dreams of his workshop, his bots, his greatest creations, abandoned in his lab. He dreams of JARVIS, reaches out in the darkness, trying to connect. He tries to send a message, sometimes, let them know where he is, that he’s not dead. He wonders if they think of him, sometimes, his friends, the humans and the machines. When that doesn’t take his mind off of where he is, he thinks of code instead, of JARVIS’s graceful programming. Grace under pressure, he thinks, and goes back to work on the suit.
17. “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes
She'll let you take her home
(It whets her appetite)
She'll lay you on the throne
She's got Bette Davis eyes
She'll take a tumble on you
Roll you like you were dice
Until you come up blue
She's got Bette Davis eyes
And she'll tease you
She'll unease you
All the better just to please you
And she knows just what it takes to make a pro blush
All the boys think she's a spy
She's got Bette Davis eyes
Toni’s a tease all the time, she’ll admit it gladly, but more to Steve than anyone else, because she likes how it makes him blush. “Wanna take me home, Cap?” she asks sometimes, making her eyes go half-lidded. “I could be good for you, make sure you like it.” He always stammers after that, some polite refusal that usually makes her laugh. He’s so precious, and Toni’s been doing this for years, but nothing gets to her quite like Steve’s innocence. That’s why she keeps trying, because she knows with everything in her that one day soon, he’ll say yes.
18. “20 Dollar Nosebleed” by Fall Out Boy
It feels like fourteen carats but no clarity
When I look at the man who would be king
The man who would be king
Goes to the desert the same war his dad rehearsed
Came back with flags on coffins and said
"We won, oh we won"
Tony’s twenty-one when he takes over his father’s company and his legacy, starts fighting the wars Howard began, but it’s not until nearly two decades later that he realizes exactly what that means. He goes to the desert to show off his newest and best weapon, at the urging of his father’s best friend, the man Tony trusts completely. When he gets back, months later, worn and wounded, he thinks, fuck legacy. He thinks of the airmen who died in the attack meant for him, and knows this war has to end, and he’ll be the one to win it.
19. “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
A world that sends you reeling
From decimated dreams
Your misery and hate will kill us all
So paint it black
And take it back
Let's shout it loud and clear
Defiant to the end we hear the call
To carry on
On and on we carry through the fears
Disappointed faces of your peers
Take a look at me
'Cause I could not care at all
Do or die
You'll never make me
Because the world
Will never take my heart
Go and try
You'll never break me
I won't explain
Or say I'm sorry
I'm gonna show my scar
Give a cheer
For all the broken
I'm just a man
I'm not a hero
Tony gets the look a lot, the one that means, you’re such a disappointment and what were you even thinking? He doesn’t take that crap, though. He’s Tony Stark, and he doesn’t explain or apologize. He’s broken and he’s got the scars to prove it, but that doesn’t mean he’ll break. The fuckers in Afghanistan learned that the hard way. Tony does not break, he just fucks your shit up and makes you wish you’d never been born. He’s no hero, he knows, but he is a stubborn motherfucker and he does what needs to be done, no matter what.
20. “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance
The boys and girls in the clique
The awful names that they stick
You're never gonna fit in much, kid
But if you're troubled and hurt
What you got under your shirt
Will make them pay for the things that they did
Despite how completely awesome and cool Tony is now, he wasn’t always. He was a dorky little kid in boarding school, years younger and worlds smarter than anyone else. He got a lot of insults, then. Of course, now that Tony’s all grown up and Iron Man, more people talk about him than ever before. He knows Steve gets it, from being little and taking so much shit for it. They’re both stronger, now, but Tony never forgets being a teenager, and he knows Steve doesn’t, either. And if this fact happens to bring them together, well, that’s fine, too.