Work Header


Work Text:

Steve was scowling at his tablet again.

Tony carefully didn't look up from the hologram he was manipulating. "Something wrong, Cap?"


Tony suppressed a wince. Steve had been in a downright foul mood for nearly a month, now. He'd been following the election closely, and had repeatedly tried to get Tony to pick a candidate even before the Primaries. When Trump had gotten nominated, it had been like watching Steve's composure shatter.

Fury and SHIELD were still struggling to regain the traction they'd had before the debacle in DC, but they'd valiantly done their best to keep Steve from storming back down to DC to start a (possibly literal) riot. Tony had been forced to put his foot down. Their relationship had still been a fairly new and fragile thing, and given Steve's strong feelings about the Republican candidate, Tony would have given himself even odds of managing to avoid a breakup.

Somehow -- he wasn't sure to this day what had turned the trick -- he'd convinced Steve not to interfere.

But afterward, Cap had taken to the Internet instead. He'd gone ahead and started a Twitter account -- Tony had had to find out about that one from JARVIS -- and started trying to rally the nation electronically. Tony had been skeptical, but he'd put JARVIS on the task of keeping tabs on Steve, and, more importantly, what people were saying about him. Predictably, the Twitter hadn't been live for a day before Steve had started getting death threats from morons who hadn't realised who they were threatening.

Tony made sure they all had every last trace of their electronic accounts deleted. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, the lot, then reported them to the police. Thankfully, his team of lawyers were well used to dealing with death threats. It had been simple to sic them on the problem and watch it vanish.

And then things had only gotten worse.

As election day approached and the Internet had grown more rabid in its opinions, so had Steve. The whole thing had been kind of fascinating to watch, Tony admitted to himself. He'd had to set his law team on Steve once or twice, to explain a few things that Tony knew he couldn't without starting an argument that he simply didn't have the resources to win. He knew a lot about patent law, thanks to his day job, but that kind of shit was not his arena.

In a somewhat hilarious turn of events, that had ended in Steve questioning the team for several hours about exactly what he could and couldn't do, and how best to skewer someone without getting into legal trouble for it. The law team had been fully in favor. They'd assigned one of the interns to him. That had ended in a squabble over which of the interns got the job, and eventually Steve had decreed that it would be a weekly rotation. All five of them had cheered and gleefully spent more time preparing for their weeks with him than was strictly necessary.

The whole thing had made Tony shake his head in a mix of wonder and disbelief.

Pepper had just thrown up her hands in despair on hearing about the affair and informed them both that as long as there were no new lawsuits, she didn't care.

That status quo had lasted until the votes were counted.

Watching the votes come in, county by county, had been a unique kind of pain, this year. Usually Tony couldn't be bothered to give enough fucks to watch it in real-time. He had JARVIS to do that for him and keep him updated. But Steve didn't like that idea. So Steve had taken his tablet and set up camp on the sofa in the corner of Tony's workshop, live-Tweeting the whole thing, much to the enjoyment of his followers, and Tony had been free to work.

Well. More or less. Steve's periodic swearing and demands to JARVIS about this or that legal precedent or historical case kept distracting him.

Trump's victory had led to Steve storming out of the workshop swearing and cursing about having spent years of his life fighting fascism in Europe only to have it follow him home.

He hadn't come to bed that night, apparently too pissed off or wound up to sleep, and Tony ended up spending the night tossing and turning uneasily.

Now, with something like a month until the Electoral College finalised its votes, Steve was doing his level best to find ways to make sure Trump didn't actually get to sit in the Oval Office. He'd gotten into several heated Twitter feuds, and all of them definitely hated his guts. They'd heard about what had happened to everyone who'd dared send Steve death threats, though, so they toed that line. But almost anything else seemed to be fair game, from simple slander to outright attempts at moral blackmail.

Steve ignored all of it.

He continued doing his damnedest to blow as many holes in Trump's already leaky ship as he could, preferably below the water line. The feuds Trump started made fantastic fodder for that little campaign. Especially the one with the cast of Hamilton. That had been one of the most ridiculous and egregious.

Tony, knowing with a certainty that transcended mere prediction that Trump's administration would wreck everything that had been built up in their nation practically since Steve went under, had decided to take a different approach. He'd focused on the rumours of ties to Russian oligarchs and the Russian equivalent of the CIA. The electronic voting systems that were being used in this election were not designed with iron clad cybersecurity in mind, and that left the system vulnerable. There were already hints floating around the internet that an attack on those systems had been planned.

The question was: had it succeeded?

Tony was currently working on finding out. Taking his eyes off Steve, who was sulking more darkly with every passing minute, he went back to what he was doing. Election night had been just over 72 hours ago, and it was high time he set JARVIS on the problem, and settled in to help. JARVIS was damned good, but there really was no substitute for gut feeling and intuition.

Right in the middle of all this, Pepper came storming into the workshop, surprising them both. "What the hell is even going on here?" She demanded. "Why do I have Trump's cronies trying to bang down our doors? What. Did. You. Do?"

Caught red-handed, Tony hesitated. Pepper's eyes narrowed, and she drew breath, but Steve interceded. He held up his tablet and gave her a slightly sheepish look. "Sorry about that. They keep trying to find ways to trick me into agreeing to some benefit dinner or something, and I keep refusing. That's probably their latest attempt."

Tony gave him a confused look. "Why didn't you say so? We could have had the law team slap them with a few restraining orders."

Steve shrugged. "It was fine until they tried to physically come here and force me into it."

Pepper was giving him a thoughtful look. "You know," she said, "it would be an amazing propaganda coup for him if it worked."

"Exactly." Steve scowled darkly.

"But," she went on, "refusing makes him look like the wounded party."

"So what do you suggest, then, Pepper?"

"Invite him onto our turf instead." She said simply.

Tony laughed. He knew she loathed the idea of Trump as president as much as Steve did, and possibly more, given Trump's sheer misogyny. This was her contribution to their little anti-Trump campaign. "The arrogant ass would probably go for it, too. JARVIS, find all the minorities you can get your hands on from the personnel files. They're all officially invited. And tell Rhodey to get you contact information. Invite all the veterans he knows. Hell, invite all of Fort Hamilton."

Pepper smirked, pleased with the idea. "Why not. Oh, and leave the PR to the professionals this once, Steve."

Steve gave her a rueful look. "But wouldn't it be more effective if I made the overture?"

She considered that for a moment. "Fine. But let me get Marianne down here to talk it over with you first."

Stepping over to give Tony a peck of a kiss on the forehead, she gave him a look. "I know you're hiding something, probably something barely legal," she told him. "Don't get caught."

"Don't intend to." Tony replied.

It had taken Marianne all of ten minutes to show up, looking caught between excitement and dismay, and start scolding Steve for not informing her of any of this because it was her job damn it. In the end it took them an hour to hammer out what Steve should say and how to say it, and then actually do it. They had a predictably arrogant (but affirmative) response in another fifteen minutes.

Gleefully and rather vindictively pleased that she could take part in this, Marianne had neatly snatched the reins out of Steve's hands and hurried off to start making the arrangements for the upcoming spectacle. Steve had sputtered for a few minutes before Twitter had demanded his attention again. It hadn't taken him long to start spreading the word all over the internet.

They had about a week to prepare, and Tony was sure it would end in a media storm that might even eclipse the one that had raged for a week after Steve's trip to DC. If only because of who was involved. Even if the media didn't make a big deal out of his attendance, or Steve's or Pepper's, Trump was sure to do his best to dominate the airwaves.

JARVIS pinged for his attention. "Sir, I believe you might want to look more closely at the Michigan election results. I believe they show possible signs of tampering."

Suitably distracted, Tony had turned his attention back to the task he'd set himself.

The next few days passed in a haze. Marianne breezed in and out of the workshop with questions and suggestions for Steve, and some stern admonishments for Tony once she'd learned what he'd been up to. Apparently sending his recommendations to the Clinton campaign managers that they ask for a recount had caused some waves. So had his offer to match whatever funding they could raise to pay for it. He regretted nothing about that.

Rather before he was mentally prepared for it, the day of the event itself arrived and Rhodey was knocking at the workshop door in full dress uniform, demanding to know what the flying fuck had gone down in his absence. Tony had taken one look at his best friend's furious face and sicced him on Steve, who had started this whole mess and therefore deserved a good grilling. Watching Rhodey's face contort as Steve explained, more or less calm in the face of Rhodey's upset, had been kind of priceless, and Tony intended to scrapbook that little chunk of JARVIS' video capture for his archives.

Once he'd learned what he needed to, Rhodey had groaned loudly and scrubbed at his face with his hands. "I swear. I don't know how the fuck you manage to be more of a PR disaster than Tony, but somehow you are."

"I'm offended, Platypus." Tony put in, leaning back in his swivel chair. "You've replaced me at the top of your list?"

Rhodey rolled his eyes so hard Tony thought he might have a stroke. "You are not helping. Shut up."

Laughing outright, Tony stood and stepped over to put his hand on Rhodey's shoulder. "You know you love it. And you get front row seats, this time."

Grumbling, Rhodey glared at him. "Thanks for that. Knowing you, I'll get clean up duty, too."

Steve shook his head at their antics. "I need to give Marianne a call," he said, then stood and left.

Tony had stared after him for a moment, wondering what that was all about, then shrugged. He intended to spend the time catching up with Rhodey.

It took him almost three hours to explain how this particular clusterfuck had come into being, and Rhodey had to give in and cut the explanation short so that he could harass Tony upstairs to clean up and put on his suit.

Steve had breezed in, still in his slacks, a few minutes later, handed Tony his favourite royal blue tie and left again. The tie that Tony had picked out because it matched the blue of Steve's uniform perfectly. Tony eyed it suspiciously. "Is this a hint, Rogers?" Tony yelled after him.

"Too late, he's gone again." Rhodey yelled back from outside the room.

Shaking his head, mystified, Tony put the tie down on their bed and mentally revised his decision of which suit to wear. He couldn't wear this tie with a tux. That would look weird. Actually, he realised as he sorted through his closet, he couldn't wear it with any of his tuxes. They were all too formal.

On the one hand, this event was black tie required and he didn't want to piss off Pepper or Marianne. On the other, he didn't want to deny Steve a request like that.

"Come on, Tony, hurry your ass up. I know you don't care if you're late and look like an ass, but I can't be."

Giving in, Tony pulled his favourite dove grey suit off the hangar. Pepper would have to deal.

Rhodey had taken one look at him once he'd finished dressing and sighed. "I shoulda known better than to hope you might follow the damned rules for once in your life."

"Where's the fun in that, Colonel?" Tony grinned at him. "Let's go. We've got a party to attend, and I'm pretty sure it'll be one for the history books."

JARVIS opened the elevator doors for them as they approached. "Sir, Col. Rhodes," he opened, "I feel I must warn you both that Captain Rogers has decided to make a last minute change to his wardrobe."

Well, fuck. Tony was pretty sure he knew what it was, too.

Rhodey was giving JARVIS a suspicious look. "What the fuck did he do now?"

JARVIS hesitated for a brief moment, then replied, keeping his tone carefully neutral. "He has decided to make his appearance in full regalia, and Ms. Lopez has approved it."

Jesus, this was going to be a slaughter. "J," Tony ordered, "I want this on video and audio from all available angles, you hear me?"

"Of course, sir."

Rhodey made a despairing sound. "This is not a good plan. Who the hell decided Rogers was a good strategist? This is more like a frontal assault."

Tony huffed, amused. "He doesn't do subtle. I thought you knew that."

When they walked in the doors, the room went dead silent.

Steve wasn't there, and that was puzzling. Pepper was, though, and she recovered quickly. Taking the mic from the aide who'd been holding it she stood and introduced them. It was a departure from the plan; Steve was supposed to give the opening speech, so where the fuck was he?

The whole room was on edge except for Trump and his immediate circle of hangers-on. They could feel the showdown that was bound to occur. Not one of the invitees had missed the fact that literally everyone here but Tony and Trump's delegation itself was on the list of people that Trump wanted to degrade, disenfranchise, or deport and it was clear they were just waiting for the shoe to drop. Hell. Technically, Tony was too, given his relationship with Steve, but the media didn't know about that yet.

Tony sauntered over to Pepper as she finished speaking and casually swiped the mic from her. She scowled at him, but he could tell she was happy not to be in the spotlight any longer than she had to. The tension in the air was thick enough to cut with a knife. Tony tried, rambling about any and everything that came to mind, regarding the politics behind the election and more or less avoiding saying anything outright about either of the major candidates. Trump spent the time staring at his smartphone. Probably Tweeting to his followers about any and everything he could think of to lie about, relevant to what Tony said or not. Tony intended to sue him for libel and slander, regardless of the outcome of this little party.

Before things could get truly out of hand, Rhodey decided to step in. He caught Tony's eyes and held them and Tony knew that little hint. That was 'give me that mic or I will make your life hell for a month'. He didn't need that to deal with on top of the fallout from this little shindig, so he complied, abruptly ending his rambling speech and handing the mic to Rhodey.

Rhodey only had time to say two sentences before Steve walked in, though.

It wasn't immediately obvious that he had, and Tony was damn sure that was deliberate. The murmur of the crowd that followed his progress was like a wave. Heads turned, and photos were snapped, and Tony just knew Twitter was about to explode.

Rhodey stopped when he realised what had happened. "Nice of you to join us, Captain."

"Sorry about the delay," Steve called back, loud enough that the entire hall could hear him. "I had to make sure Democracy and Freedom were still part of the national philosophy."

Another murmur went through the crowd at that, and Tony wanted to make a face. That was a bit heavy handed. Not that he could talk. But still.

Steve casually made his way past the Secret Service men surrounding the Trump delegation, and up to the stage, where he chose to stand next to Tony. "Go on," he told Rhodey, "I apologise for the interruption."

Things went smoothly after that, until the time came for Trump to join them on stage and give his own speech.

The whole thing ended predictably badly. With each sentence Trump uttered, he made himself look more like an imbecile, and the air in the room got heavier. Not one of the people in the room believed the spin or Trump's attempt to make nice. And then something Trump said made several of his hangers on stand and salute him.

Tony could just see the instant Steve saw red. "Why are they saluting you like Hitler?" he asked, voice tense and holding leashed violence Tony knew everyone in the room could hear. Steve was just about oozing anger.

With a wince, Tony stepped carefully out of the line of fire, letting Steve face Trump directly. He did not want to be caught in the middle of this without his armour.

"I will say that people who are following me are very passionate," Trump said. "They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate."

Steve visibly shook with the effort of holding himself back. "Passionate. Really." He managed to choke out. "Well, I'm passionate, too."

"Then you'll understand why that kind of strong emotion is so important. It leads to change. Your actions in Washington last summer are proof of that." Trump's smarmy grin was back.

Steve's face went carefully blank. "Are you saying that my efforts to keep this country safe and its people free of tyranny are the same as your supporters' use of a nazi salute?"

"I'm saying it comes from a similar place, yeah."

It was like watching a train wreck. Tony couldn't seem to tear his eyes away as Steve just lost it. He landed a beautiful right hook right in Trump's face, and damn it, the law team was going to kill Steve for this.

Totally worth it, though.

Tony decided he would make sure that the clip went up on all of the social media platforms he could find. In its entirety.