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.
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 both – of 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