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30 March 2011 @ 11:45 pm
FIC: When Logic and Proportion  

TItle: When Logic and Proportion
Prompt:  "Figuring out you and me is like doing a love autopsy; they could operate all day long and never figure out what went wrong".
Rating:  PG13 for some mildly disturbing imagery and spoiler (highlight to read):  character death
Warning:  Mild spoilers for Invincible Iron Man #502.  My spin on events to come.  This is pretty firmly set in comicsverse -- with what I have read and what I have cobbled together through the magic of the internet -- still should be fairly friendly to all fans.
Summary: 

 

Yinsen asked me, back in the cave, if I had anyone waiting for me back home. I told him I didn’t, but I knew it was a lie the moment I said it. There was you, there was always you. I had nightmares after that, that they had kidnapped you – that you had somehow, some way found me in the middle of the desert and tried to rescue me only to wind up captured instead. It wasn’t like you hadn’t accomplished greater feats when I gave you some impossible task so I could slip the leash of your BlackBerry for a few hours.

When I got back home I should have told you how I felt about you – that your face was one of the few comforts I had in that hell hole – knowing I couldn’t let those bastards win because they wanted to destroy a world that you lived in.

I knew you loved me, even if I did seem oblivious… Only there was the chest plate, the whole secret superhero thing, and… realizing that it wasn’t just those terrorists that were a threat to you – that I was a threat to you… a threat to the chance of you ever getting to live a normal life. Even if I had given up the Iron Man, which would be as impossible as choosing not to breathe, being Tony Stark wasn’t much safer.

I should have let you go, back then, but I was selfish… I wanted to protect you, but I couldn’t bear to be apart from you. I couldn’t live without you. I’d never been more relieved and distraught when you and Happy finally made a go of it. Happy was… a great man, a better man than I could ever be and if I had to lose you to someone, I knew, I could find no one more deserving of you.  

You still tried to reach me though – no matter how many other not-quite-as-beautiful women I tried to hide myself behind.   I saw you watching through your cool, professional, married mask and god knows I was tempted… because I’m that sort of terrible person – the bastard who sleeps with his friend’s wife, the loser who imagines that his secretary  is hot for him, the son of a bitch who willfully endangers someone for a moment of pleasure.

Between fighting the temptation of you and the seduction of a good single malt scotch, there were days I thought I would never make it, that I would be pulled into one – or worse bothof those forbidden territories and then everything would go to hell. The exhaustion is nearly overwhelming. It was only the knowledge that you were still safer as you were then you would be if anyone were to know that the man of Iron had a heart, and who he had given that heart to.

Only it wasn’t true, was it? I am so so sorry… for everything that my existence has done to your life… I used to wish, sometimes, that I had died in that godforsaken cave – god knows your life would have been better for it. Just you, Happy and your three children… the all-American family. If only…

There were good times too, though, weren’t they? How else can I explain why you came back to me after the kidnapping, after the miscarriage, after…Happy, after having a building dropped on you, after watching me erase my brain… Why else would you have come back after all of that?

Maybe you’re as crazy as I feel most days.

Why would you be here if you didn’t love me?

“Octavius told me it would be someone that I would never suspect,” A watery laugh burbles from his lips as he tosses his smashed helmet aside carelessly, stumbling as he makes his way across the remains of the building. “And he was right – well almost, he did get one thing wrong – but thinking creatively was always his weakness,” He lets out another bark of mad laughter as he collapses to his knees at his opponent’s side. 

He’d checked the sensors in the helmet before he discarded it, knows that there isn’t much time left, but he has so much he needs to say that it seems impossible. He’s fighting his own exhaustion and internal bleeding just to get this far – the adrenaline has already petered out and his body is screaming at him to sleep –

“Otto kept referring to the spy as a ‘he’… and that was his fatal – our fatal – error, wasn’t it?” His muscles protest, even with the armor actually doing all the heavy lifting as he pulls the metal-plated torso into his lap. “Never thought it would be you, not in a million years…,” Tears burn in his eyes and he stamps them down mercilessly as the ghost of his father, even after all of these years, hisses how weak and stupid he is, getting taken out by a ‘simple woman’…

Pepper Potts had never been simple.

“Why,” He asks, locking gazes with the green-eyed woman glaring up at him hatefully, her gaze cold enough to freeze the marrow of his bones.

She turns her head to the side and spits a dark clot of blood, leaving it dripping on his thigh before she looks up at him again with that fierce gaze that drew him to her all those years ago as she proved that he had made a mistake in the books – that for the first time in his life, his math was wrong.

“You… destroy everything, … Tony,” She gasps, her words labored as bloody foam creeps out the corner of her lips, a ghastly contrast between her pale skin and copper hair. “Everything you touch… the armor, your friends… your lovers… the world – you turn to ashes… I couldn’t let you do it anymore.”

Despair swallows him whole, easily conceding to her logic – How many had died because – for – this armor? Then there was Steve, and Happy – only Happy wouldn’t be getting a convenient resurrection this time around – and what about that machine?  Then there were Janice and Rumiko…

“…I know,” he croaks out in a small voice, tears overwhelming him, dripping onto her face.

“Gotcha,” She says with a flare of pride as her arms lock behind his back, chaining herself to him. Her RT flashes menacingly and he doesn’t need his doctorate in engineering to tell him that it’s in the final stages of overload.

“I know,” He can’t help smirking at her shock, “Futurist, remember?”

He manages to break the hold she has, even as she fights him every inch with the last of her strength. Her RT whines alarmingly, reaching critical mass as he places her arms around his neck. She looks surprised and so he kisses her, lowering his own RT as far as he can so he can get in close enough to taste the blood on her lips.

“Love you, Pepper,” He finally gets to say out loud.

“I know,” She replies, her green eyes – as calm as jade – focused on him as she leans towards him –

There is blinding white, then darkness, and he knows he can finally sleep.

***///***///***


When logic and proportion ,
Have fallen sloppy dead,
-- White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane

 

 
 
 
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on March 31st, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
I kind of love the idea of Pepper as the spy, just because it is so outrageous. She is the person no one would ever, in a million years, expect, which makes her perfect for it. Normally, I would have said that actually justifying it would be impossible, but you did a good job at giving her a motivation that makes sense with what we know of her character. I really like how even after she has betrayed him and they are about to die, Tony still feels the same way about her.

I am always on the look out for more comic fic. Out of curiosity, what have you read? (Also, never, ever trust the magic of the internet for comics history. At worst it is wrong; at best, misleading and out of context.)
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on March 31st, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
Pepper just wouldn't be Pepper to Tony if she wasn't trying to set him on the right path -- even if said path is a one-way ticket to oblivion. That is what has bummed me about this whole arc with Tony and Pepper FINALLY, after almost 50 YEARS (in real life) of pussyfooting around each other get together... and what the hell do they mean she realized she doesn't quite like him like that? It's an interesting and realistic twist, I'll admit, but it hurts like hell.

Thanks for the tip about comics history -- It is pretty much a mess out there, I agree -- I kind of read a few articles from various places to figure out where the midline should be and go from there. I mostly use it to verify stuff that I think happened (i.e.: Pepper's adopted children that are NEVER seen, her miscarrying, etc).

Right now I am actually subscribed to Invincible Iron Man and Avengers. I also have a subscription to Wonder Woman (had to see what they were going to do with that outfit) and I'd probably be more into it if DC could figure out how to deliver the comic once a month without skipping. I'm also trying to slog through the Iron Man essentials books (so far running into difficulties with the early stuff because 'OMG the stupid... totally written for prepubescent boys in the 60s' and the '...that is the third close up of Iron Man's butt on this page... what is with that Mr. Artist?' and generally falling into hysterical fits of laughter). I'm trying to get into The Flash (had a small crush on him since the TV series in the 90s) and branch out into more Marvel, but have yet to decide where to jump on. I just use my digital comics pass at Marvel to poke around -- Thor seems pretty interesting at least. I did read through the early backlog of Ultimates, but I need to catch up.

I am actually fairly new to comic books (there isn't a shop in my town, or even one in a 3 hour radius, so little to no opportunity), but I loved the movies so much I decided that I probably needed to get out there and start reading it.

I'm always interested in talking with others about comics -- especially since most people look at me like I'm crazy for being so into them at my age ;D.
robot iconography: make better mistakesroboticonograph on March 31st, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC)
We find out about the fate of Pepper's adopted children in Volume 3 (aka Heroes Return)--apparently they were taken away from Pepper and Happy when they fell on hard times. Because apparently uprooting kids from their family when their parents are out of work is the norm...?

I mean, obviously it's just a convenient way to get the kids out of the picture so that they're not there cluttering up the new storyline, but I still can't read it without cringing.

In spite of that, the first half of Heroes Return is probably still my favourite Iron Man storyline.
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
Yeah... oh comics logic you are sometimes made of wtf-onium. Really... I mean, the angsty route is to go car crash... the not so angsty route would be idk... it sounds like they didn't have the guts to just rewrite them in as foster parents with pending adoption... that could have been a gut wrenching episode... yeah.

I haven't got into Heroes Return yet, but I'll keep an eye out for it.
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on March 31st, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
Pepper frustrates me a lot right now because she is very inconsistent. She says she doesn't like him that way, but her behavior and thoughts seem to indicate otherwise. (Dude, she had a memory of them kissing that was literally ON FIRE. To me, that says their making out is FREAKING HOT.) But why would she lie to herself about it in her own near-death hallucination world? And why didn't we get HER WORDS and HER EXPLANANTION for what happened between them and GRAAAH.

When I started using the internet to look at comic stuff, I would read a summary of a plot line, think, "Hot damn, I want to read that!!" and have it be...nothing at all like what I was told it would be. Even summaries from columns on Marvel's website! Not at all accurate!

akdakdk I LOVE THE 60'S AND 70'S STUFF. Before Happy and Pepper were around and it was just Tony talking to himself, it was awkward, but once he had supporting characters and everyone started displaying unique personalities, I love it. Also, I suspect Tony ends up naked on panel more than any other superhero. What other hero would ride a horse naked?

I really enjoy Thor. I started reading it because he and Tony are close and I wanted Tony's guest appearances, but Thor is hilarious and his supporting cast is SO awesome.

www.mycomicshop.com Live it, love it, order more than $50 and get free shipping.
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
Why the hell did she get all pissy when she found out he also slept with Maria BEFORE he slept with her -- I just don't get it at all. Personally, knowing Tony's character and finding out that someone else gave him a farewell encounter too -- well, to me that's kind of hilarious. You can erase the dog's brain, but some tricks are hardwired in. Then her refusal to talk about why she was mad at him I was pretty much *head-meet-wall*.

Yes, Tony is a not-so-secret exhibitionist -- although all I can think about the bareback naked horse riding is 'OWIE', personally.

I generally shop tfaw.com but I'll keep yours in mind when I start have more cash to throw at comics :D
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on April 1st, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
Yeah, that drove me crazy. I mean, okay, I can understand her seeing the bed-hopping as a little gross, but he didn't cheat on her. They were not together at the time. That entire expedition of his was fairly angering to me, though, and I don't fault anyone for being mad at him. He:
1) Slept with everyone!
2) Made a huge video to emotionally blackmail everyone into saving him, as if they wouldn't have done so ANYWAY. (Probably not INTENDED that way, but that's how it read to me.)
3) Gave her a suit, made her a superhero and then took it all away to save himself. He probably built the Mk 1616 in the first place with the intention of dismantling it to save himself, or decided upon that course of action immediately upon completing it, when you consider the time constraints.
He was basically manipulative on every possible level. And on top of that, there's that whole issue of him saving himself from being brain-dead, but not saving her husband. (Which...well, Pepper was the one who adamantly wanted the plug pulled, Tony was against it. But with his comic super science, he probably could have saved Happy eventually and just chose to stop arguing the point out of respect for Pepper. And the person who convinced him of THAT course of action was a Skrull out to destroy him and...)

SO YEAH. I totally understand her not wanting to date him, but I think she's a liar if she says she doesn't have feelings for him. I think all of their problems could probably be resolved if she communicated her expectations for his behavior. But that would require them both being adults, which I am not sure has ever happened!

I have never heard of tfaw.com and now have to check it out!
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)
I suppose I didn't read it as that manipulative -- but then I jumped into the series post-restore and had to catch up...

Tony sleeping around is Tony, unfortunately -- dogs like to lick their own assholes, you can't really be mad at them when they do it. Grossed out, but yeah.

Again, I really didn't get the deliberate emotional manipulation of the reboot -- Yes, on some level the whole "Its your guys' choice to bring me back or not" is some dirty pool, but on the other hand, he was not, at least, entirely oblivious to the amount of bridges he had burned around him.

The suit -- well the more functions a device can serve the better :D... and yes, he does meltdown the suit, but then he ends up melting down all of his suits and making her a new upgraded one... so maybe that all evens out in the end?

As for Happy not being resurrected -- man that killed me in the book... however Tony and Happy's situations were entirely different, imo. Tony had Extremis on some level at that point and was literally part cyborg -- a memory wipe was less devestating to him. Computers can, after all, be restored and uploaded with new software. Human brains are unfortunately not as easy (at least he didn't come back as Frankenstein again...).

Personally I was a bit 'wtf?! Pepper!' when she asked him to turn off his life support. I mean, I get not wanting to do it yourself, but saying to someone who happens to be friends with both you and your husband, "Hey, go pull my husband's life support with your brain and never tell me okay? It's what he would've wanted." That's... not normal.

What actually makes me think that Pepper might be the spy was when she said to the military investors "Well, to be honest, we have got no money." While brutally honest and entirely true at that point, I am totally with Tony in the "... you told them we have no money? Why?" In the business world that's showing a whole hell of a lot of weakness and inviting people to take advantage of you.

Actually Pepper's insistence that Happy needed his plug pulled probably lends more credence to Pepper being the spy -- after all, Happy would have tried to stop her, or at least told Tony. *finger crossing for awesome super villain Pepper*

There are plenty of good reasons NOT to date Tony: Manwhore, short attention span, short anticipated life span, and a good percentage of his girlfriends end up dead, crazy or evil. I just don't believe that Pepper doesn't have feelings, and I have got a 1 foot stack of back issues at least to back me up on this.

Tfaw is great if only for their nick and dent section. HUGE discounts on things that really just have some shelf wear.
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on April 1st, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
It....really, really bothered me when I read it. I can safely say that Tony's plan to save himself and his video on the subject was the only time I have ever been sincerely ANGRY at a fictional character. I had to put the books down and take a step back for a few days. I felt it wreaked of manipulation and you know what? He should have TOLD THEM FROM THE BEGINNING that he had this backdoor. Especially since in the end, so much of it came down to everyone being exactly where he needed them to be. If he was going to trust Pepper with a suit and trust Maria with getting the drive, he should have trusted them with the plan.

Oh, I won't deny that Happy's situation was different. It's just...comics. There ain't a whole hell of a lot that Tony Stark or Reed Richards can't fix. If Pepper had allowed them to work on it, we'd be in a very different situation. Happy was killed off solely for the sake of killing him off and I really wish it had been done in a way where I could honestly believe that just being a comic character could not have saved him.

I can't imagine for a second that Pepper would actually be the spy. Matt Fraction started writing Pepper when he realized he might have a daughter someday, because he recognizes that comics have not treated women well, and he wants her to be proud of him for having a great female hero that she can look up to. (And he does, now, have a daughter.) Pepper is his heroic character and he talks a lot in interviews about her hero's journey and how she follows the same path as Tony. I seriously wonder if when he leaves IIM, if he'll take Pepper with him to his next project. Had The Order continued, she would have become Rescue in that book. Her story moved books with him. I think she's clearly the best choice for the spy because no one would ever think it could actually be her, but it's probably one of the new guys. In addition to the damage she could deal just due to her knowledge and what she is trusted with, Pepper also has an advantage in that Tony would probably not fight back. Given the way he treats his other villain former lovers, I'd have to question if he'd even work that hard to just immobilize her. But then from there, I have to ask--how much control does he have over her suit? Because it's him, I'd wager a lot. If you look at when she turned off her RT rig in the fight against Detroit Steel, Tony remote accessed it to turn it back on again. If Pepper turned on him, he could probably shut down her suit and/or RT just by thinking about it.

This is such an interesting road to go down. So many variables.

I have an entire long box of just Iron Man and an additional 22 book collections. By this point, I'm pretty convinced they are into each other.
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
True, in a realistic world Tony should have told them that there was a backdoor -- but not letting anyone see the whole plan has been a character fault of Tony's that is currently being heavily explored in Avengers (and Steve, Tony's right, it's totally all about you on this one babe). It's the control freak in him, and a tendency that, from what I can see, has been nutured by the arc of his story thus far.

Also, the more people who know there is a back door, means the more people who can tell Osborne that there is a way to recover the information -- admittedly Tony had a pretty specific set up as to how it could be done that Osborne could not have accessed; however, Osborne is nothing if not resourceful.

I did not realize that was how Fraction saw Pepper -- I'll admit her character has come a long long way from the early days (the one where Happy goes to Ireland because Tony wouldn't let him pilot the submarine, even though it turns out he probably would've died if he had and Pepper is all mad at him, even though he would have died and blah blahblah it was so much wtf-hilarious). I'd be interested to see where he would take her... (and yeah, never in a million years would she actually be the spy. Also, sometimes I secretly wish that Tony would go supervillain for reals though, not just temporary insanity by mind control/alcohol/magic/skrulls).

I am a complete Tony Stark apologist...no lie.
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on April 1st, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
He's a control freak, pure and simple. And sometimes it bites him in the ass.

I would cry forever if Tony went supervillain. He is my baby and I love him. I refuse to go anywhere near the Crossing or Civil War. When Civil War was coming out, I used to stand at the counter of my comic shop and try to convince people not to buy it. (Don't ask me why this was tolerated by the store. Possibly because I was never actually successful. And I was dating one of the guys who worked there at the time, and he agreed with me.)
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 04:00 am (UTC)
From what I read of Civil War (admittedly from the very biased end of the Iron Man comics) I can say that I think Tony had some very good points. There are a lot of good reasons to have some sort of registration process (after all, my neighbor when she was 10 got her black belt in karate and had to register her hands with the police department). I mean, at least if they're registered and get to be on some sort of payroll you get the sweet bennies and health insurance -- something I think superheros without super healing powers might find useful.
Even if you didn't want to get paid for it, registering as a volunteer still lets there be accountability for your actions.

Part of the problem is that in the Marvel universe you have the drama of anti-mutant legislation and since a lot of superheroes would also be considered mutants there's a good reason for them to be wary of any legislation.

All in all, it was a good idea with a terrible execution -- not including the nether prison and cloning Thor wtf.
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on April 1st, 2011 04:24 am (UTC)
Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant
The idea of registration itself makes sense. In the real world, all these heroes who take justice into their own hands would be criminals. However:
1) Vigilante-ism is a staple of the genre, unlikely to change whole scale.
2) Characters were hugely OOC to facilitate their place in the story. Tony as a rule-enforcer. Tigra betraying a boatload of her nearest and dearest. She-Hulk seemingly forgetting anything about laws.
3) THE SHIT THEY PULLED, OMG. Thor clone, negative zone prison, inciting a war against Atlantis, hiring villains to make them look good and/or hunt heroes.
4) Steve standing for What is Right over Public Opinion and then surrendering when the public didn't like him anymore.
5) That the mutants, who have had the registration storyline about a billion times, somehow just magically stayed out of it, as if it didn't affect them.
6) No one ever defined what, exactly, registration would entail.
7) No one ever defining who registered and who didn't! Whether or not the Young Avengers registered changed constantly once the dust cleared.

I'm gonna stop now, but I could go on. Forever.
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
Re: Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant
True facts. I'm not saying the arc didn't have huge massive issues. (Also, dude, Steve, if you're all about the American way, shouldn't you be fighting it through the opportunities granted to you through the American legal system wtf gdammit).

Actually, that tends to be my one regret about comics is that not very many choose devote a lot of time to digging into the issues a bit deeper... or at least developing it *gives Watchmen a forlorn glance*...

Right now I'm just blown about how godawful this episode of Grey's Anatomy is. I don't even know how to explain how god awful this is... and it's a *musical*. I am genetically predisposed like them and this is terrible.

So I guess there are worse things that could happen in comics. At least Tony can't sing about his pathos using pop standards.
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on April 1st, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant
Tony would sing about his pathos via 80's metal!

And I just want to say that I'm sorry for hijacking your fanfic post to TL;DR about comics forever. I have no self control when it comes to this stuff.
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 2nd, 2011 03:21 am (UTC)
Re: Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant
See, at least 80s pathos would be entertaining... *is now visualizing Tony's escape from Vietghanistan set to "Running in the Jungle"*

Oh and I totally don't mind... I love talking about comics and I rarely get to do so...
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on April 2nd, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant
Same. Or at least, I rarely get to talk about comics with people that read the same books as I do.
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
I should also totally disclaim a thing for bastards with hearts of gold and will go out of my way excuse them... yeah, there is a reason I don't date ;D.
NekoReinneptunesubmerge on April 1st, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
I love Tony because he knows he's a bastard and trying so hard to be better and just..all around failing.
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
Yeah... I think it's how you come at it -- I'm much more of a pragmatist with an optimistic and a certain frustration with humanity in general. So, in general I get where Tony's coming from, and sometimes don't disagree.

...i'm sad because I so relate to a comic book character.
robot iconographyroboticonograph on March 31st, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
I love it for the exact same reason. Who else would have the amount of access to all aspects of Tony's life calculated to do the most harm?

MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on April 1st, 2011 12:46 am (UTC)
Exactly. Pepper is more dangerous than anyone Tony knows.