Riassunto: Tony Stark is a name he decided for himself, but his original name Lucifer Morningstar is never too far behind.
Note: Scritta per la M11 della 7° settimana del COWT9 per "Il diavolo"
Tony looks at the drink in his hand and makes it slosh around in the glass. He has to admit, being among humans has its perks. The women and men that wanted to sleep with him every night, the alcohol that he could drink without pause.
The night sky. The freedom. The lack of screams.
There were many things he liked from earth and a lot of things he hated about hell.
It's not like he hasn't earned a vacation, after all. After countless milleniums guarding Hell, he deserves to have a little bit of peace and quiet, right?
He looks up and looks towards the crowd of people dancing, drinking and partying to the loud music from the speakers. Well, not a lot of peace and quiet, but that was how he liked it.
Ever since his arrival on Earth a couple of years ago, he has made a name of himself. He owns one of the most notorious clubs in all New York, Resilient, and he has a reputation as someone who grants favours for a price.
It seemed fitting after all, he's the literal devil.
Most of the people he has made deals with, however, aren't really the sort of people who used to make deals with demons. He leaves them to the actual demons like Natasha. He prefers to take on the special cases, the ones that a to be convinced that what they are doing is right.
There are desperate people that come to him and he has helped many of them over the years. He's a good samaritan in his own right, really.
"You know it's time you go home, right?" someone asks from beside him and Tony looks up, not too shocked to see Rhodey seated in the previously vacant spot.
Oh yes, his brother. "Rhodey! Rhodey! Have you finally come here to enjoy life a little? I mean, I only invited you five thousand times. I was starting to think you were mad at me."
"Tony..." Rhodey doesn't say anything else, but Tony can already feel the rest of the conversation etch into his soul. Into his body. He's tired, yes, but he's also angry.
Never a good combination for Tony.
"What? Afraid I'm displeasing Father?" he asks with a smirk. Rhodey doesn't reply, but Tony doesn't need him to. Rhodey might not be one of the most faithful of God's angels, but he's not a fallen one like Tony is and that's enough. "I don't care about dear old dad, you should know that."
"I do. And I covered for you when you decided to come here," Rhodey immediately replies. "But I don't know how long I can keep doing that."
He's not lying, Tony knows. He's once again torn between fury towards his father and everything Rhodey rappresents, and love for his favourite brother. Anyone else had tried to talk to him like this, Tony would have been a lot more violent.
With Rhodey? He decides to be honest.
"I can't go back there," he admits, taking a sip of his drink, "I... Hell is, forgive the tautology, hell. I should have never been there in the first place."
Rhodey doesn't say anything to that. Probably because there isn't anything to say. They both know the story of Tony's rebellion, of his failure and his punishment. It's no use bringing back old family stories.
"So I'll stay here for as long as I can," he finishes, shrugging, "and if dad has a problem with it. He can come here himself and drag me down kicking and screaming. Oh, wait, we don't even know where the fuck he is."
"Tony, you shouldn't..."
"Waste another single moment like this? We agree, Rhodey! Incredible! Do you want to dance with me?" he asks with a smile.
Rhodey simply glares and Tony shrugs. That's fine, he can have plenty of fun on his own.
He turns back towards the dance floor and then walks towards the bar where Natasha is mixing drink and flirting with half the humans in there.
Tony smirks looking at her. Ah, yes, his most deadly demon. "Nat, why don't you mix me a drink? Something strong. We'll drink it in honor of dad!"
Natasha look at him and then mixes something that would probably kill a normal human. She puts it down in front of him and smiles.
There's nothing friendly about that smile, Tony knows very well.
"Call me Nat again, and I'll try my new knives on you."
Tony immediately nods and takes the drink, a little bit spooked. "Fine. You never let me have any fun."
"I followed you into this terrible place, didn't I?" She points out immediately, shrugging. She's not exactly wrong, but Tony just sighs.
"Yes, but it has been years. I want something exciting again. Something different!" He drinks the shot (well, anything you drink in a single gulp can be considered a shot, right?) and asks Natasha for another one.
She shakes her head at him, but does as requested. This is really starting to become rather boring.
The next day, he discovers that Happy Hogan is dead.
And Tony is too angry to be bored.
He remembers Happy all too well. He was one of the first humans he had helped here on Earth. He had been without a job at the time, and desperate to find one.
I would give you anything he had said and Tony had looked at him and told him to get him a burger, then.
Happy had been surprised but he had done so, with the little money he had. Tony had been surprised and he had helped him find a job as the chauffeur of an important CEO of a company. They later fell in love and tied the knot but Happy still brought burger for Tony once a month.
He didn't have to, since their deal was now void, but Happy seemed to like it. He said it made him nostalgic and that he owed a lot to Tony, after all.
A job and a beautiful wife! You really changed my life, he used to say.
Apparently someone blowed him up and Tony is furious.
"We'll find who did it," Tony tells Natasha, while they are alone at the bar, "and we'll make them pay."
She smiles, reaching for one of her knives but she stops before she can touch it, looking at something behind Tony.
They should be alone at Resilient, since he closed the place up after hearing the news so he's surprised to hear steps, walking towards him. He turns around and sees two people walking towards them.
One is a man without an arm, he looks around with a skeptical face, obviously judging everything around him. He's someone Tony would enjoy breaking.
The other is more peculiar. He's small, but he walks with confidence and his blonde hair are distracting. He's someone Tony would not mind having in his bed, if he's honest. But there is something intense in him. It might be the single minded focus he shows while he walks towards Tony and Natasha, or the fiery look in his eyes.
"Don't think about it," Natasha murmurs in his ear, "they are cops."
"So?" He wonders. "It's not like human police can do anything to me."
"Anthony Stark?" the little one asks. He has a nice voice as well, Tony thinks before smiling.
"That is the name I've decided to adopt here, yes!" he says, with a little bow. "Normally I would love to chat more with you, really, but I have some pressing matters to attend."
"I'm sure," the one without an arm says, skeptical, "do you have strippers waiting in your room?"
Tony laughs, shaking his head. "Not today, I'm afraid. So you can stop being envious."
"I'm not..." the human starts, but the other one stops him.
"Buck. Stop," he commands, before opening the file he has in his hands. "We're here to talk about this man. Do you know him?" he then shows Tony a picture.
It's a picture of Happy. He's smiling and looking at the camera. He looks young, but he looks happy.
Tony does know the man in the photo, obviously, but he’s not so sure these detectives deserve to know he does. At the same time, he’s intrigued. How do they know of their connection? How did they manage to get to Tony so fast?
“I do know him, in fact, he’s the business I have to take care of,” he says with a smile, the one that usually makes mortal very nervous.
Midget doesn’t even blink while the one with just one arm raises an eyebrow. “Yeah, someone took care of it already.”
“I know. That’s what I need to adress. Whomever did this deserves to be punished,” there’s the need to make a sinner pay, but this time he also really wants to.
“Calm down, buddy,” the one without an arm says. He’s sure the feisty one said his name, but Tony can’t be bothered to remember it. “This really isn’t helping your case.”
“Oh. And what is my case, exactly? It’s not like you’ve said anything useful.” Tony drinks another gulp of his drink and smirks at the other man’s expression.
Before it can escalate any further, however, the small one intervenes. “My name is Detective Steve Rogers,” he says, sounding professional enough, “This is my partner, James Buchanan Barnes. We’re here to ask you a few question on your affiliation with Happy Hogan-Potts.”
“Don’t you think it funny that he took his wife’s surname?” Tony comments, because it’s something he always found a little odd. “I remember that, since the dawn of time, you guys were pretty strict in your marriage laws.”
Detective Rogers doesn’t even stop. “From what we know, he used to come and eat with you at least once a month. Always the same order, always from the same place. Very specific. And it all started just before he mysteriously found a job for Potts Industries.”
“Not really that mysteriously, I put a lot of good words for him,” Tony simply replies, enjoying the way the Detective brow raised in disbelief. Or maybe exasperation.
“So you’re admitting of not only knowing the victim, but helping him find what was his current job?” James Buchanan Barnes asks. He looks skeptical, wary.
Tony can only sigh. “Yes, why? Is it a crime now? He wanted to find a job, I wanted an hamburger and so we made a deal.”
“You made a deal to get him a job for an hamburger?” Rogers asked, sounding puzzled. Tony simply shrugs. It’s the truth, but humans didn’t seem to understand what was in a deal.
It wasn’t important what Tony received in exchange, but the power it gave towards other people. How much of their life he could impact.
“Come on, be serious. You must have wanted something else. Money, maybe, he certainly has enough of them now,” Barnes pushes. He tries to take a step towards Tony but, at the same time, Rogers puts a hand to stop him and Natasha shows one of her knives. “Is that a knife? Are you actually threatening a police officer?”
Natasha simply shrugs and cuts a lemon with a hellblade. “I’m making cocktails.”
“You don’t know anything about me, Detective. Yes, I just wanted an hamburger. Not all desires are complicated. Take you, I’m sure you’re a creature of simple desires.” He pushes forward, looking into Barne’s eyes and searches for that sparkle of want inside him, that flicker of desire that all mortal have. “What do you desire?”
Barnes hesitates for a second, lost in his own wants and desires. “I… I… I want to fuck your bartender,” he admits at the end looking quite shocking by his own admission.
“See?” Tony says, gesturing towards him, “really the most basic of desires.”
“I don’t know why I said that,” Barnes stutters, helplessly.
“Bucky…” Rogers sighs, massaging his own temples. It’s a rather funny imagine.
“Don’t be so judgemental, dear detective,” Tony says with a smile. He has to go and deal with the criminal, he knows, but he can have a little fun now. “I’m sure your desires aren’t much better. Maybe more interesting, however. So tell me,” he looks into the detective’s blue eyes and smirks, “what do you desire?”
Roger looks at him and stays silent for a couple of seconds. When he finally opens his mouth, Tony is actually curious to know what he will say. He’s very surprised when what follows is: “I want to solve this case. So if we could go back to it?”
“It didn’t work?” Tony asks, looking towards Natasha. “How is it possible?”
She’s not really looking at Tony, her gaze fixed on Rogers. He knows that glint and it spells nothing good for the mini-Detective.
She’s intrigued and curious, never a good combination with Natasha. But, Tony has to admit, he’s interested as well.
“Can we just have a straight answer from you?” Rogers sighs, standing as tall as his frame allows him. He’s rather adorable, if Tony is honest with himself.
He usually goes for the ones that are build like a house of bricks, but he appreciate a feisty spirit and an intelligent mind. Also Roger’s eyes are some of his father’s best work, if he does say so himself.
“I’ve been straight with you since the beginning!” He replies, offended. “I never lie.”
“I don’t know why, but I don’t really believe you,” Rogers murmurs, before shaking his head. “I believe you told the truth this time, however.”
“What? Steve!” Barnes’ voice is loud in his protest.
“We came here on a hunch, but there was nothing dirty in Hogan’s bank accounts, nor he was behaving strangely. Maybe they just really love hamburgers, God knows I do.” Rogers shrugs, confident in his deduction (a true one, yes, but Tony practically gifted it to him in a handbasket).
“If you’re sure. You’re the boss…” Barnes mumbles.
Rogers nods and turns back towards Tony and Natasha. “Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Stark, Ms. Romanova.”
Tony catches the surprise in Natasha’s eyes that Rogers researched her well enough to get a surname. Their identities in the city are layers upon layers of lies, built to avoid making anyone suspicious. Romanova is as far as the truth as any of them are allowed here on earth.
“Maybe I could help,” Tony points out. “I’m sure you might find me useful.”
Rogers obviously doesn’t think so. “What I need from you is for you to stay away from this investigation. I’ll find who killed your friend, and the justice system will make him pay.”
Tony almost laughs. Tony is the justice system, the only one that mattered in the end.
Still, he allows them to leave, enjoying the way Rogers traversed his bar. Confidently and with a purpose.
“I like him. He’s interesting,” he says, watching the door where the two detectives just disappeared.
“Stay away from him. You just like him because he can tell you no, and that never ends well,” Natasha replies immediately, drinking her scotch in one gulp.
“How would you know? No one has ever told me no before!” he protested.
She raises one eyebrow in disbelief. “Yes. Your father did, and look at where we are now.”
Tony shuts up immediately. “That,” he says, gritting his teeth, “was a low blow.”
“The only kinds I do,” Natasha simply answers, walking away.
“Is that a sex joke? You minx!” but Natasha doesn’t even look in his direction. No matter, he has a killer to find and punish.
Since he really doesn’t know much about Happy but his burger order and where he works, he starts with the latter.
Potts Industries is a very large building, but it's pretty easy to convince the lady at the reception that he needs to enter, and he's generally disappointed about their security. No wonder Happy got killed.
It's laughably easy finding Happy's office, right beside the big boss' obviously. Apparently Pepper Hogan-Potts isn't working today and there's no one on her floor. Easier for him to slip inside Happy's office and investigate a little.
Tony sits down at the other's desk and looks at the first paper on it. Then at the second. And then at the third.
He's bored. This is really not his style and from what he can see, there's nothing of interest in this papers, really. He lets his head hang back and twirls with the chair. "If I was some incriminating or interesting clues, where would I hide?" he wonders out loud.
When the chair returns to its previous position, however, he sees a woman there, with a pistol drawn and pointed at Tony. Well, that worked.
He recognizes her, obviously. Pepper Hogan-Potts. Who was supposed to be at home. "Hello. You shouldn't be here," he informs her, with a satisfied smile. This might actually be a productive endeavour after all.
"Me?" she asks, "You are trespassing. I know you don't work here, and I know you're not my late husband. So who are you and why shouldn't I shoot you?"
"Well. You can shoot me, honestly, this isn't even in my top ten of my favorite jackets. But! I think we could help each other, my dear. My name is Tony, I think Happy might have talked about me?" He bows, ready for the praise.
She doesn't say anything for a second. Then two. Then three. "What?" Tony asks then, completely offended, "he never talked about me? I thought we had a bond! A Burger bond!"
"Oh," Pepper finally say, "you're... Tony? You. He said you helped him find the job."
"Well, yes. That's a little..." he doesn't want to say diminutive, because that is literally all he did, but...
"He also said that you like to pretend you're the devil," she continues, furrowing her brows.
"Well, that's just rude. I have never pretended anything of the sort," he says with a pout. "I'm the real deal. The one and only Satan."
"Right." She sighs, and then walks towards the desk herself, sitting down in one of the chairs. "Obviously. Do you want to talk about your latent daddy issues?"
Tony shrugs, because it's not like he can really deny them, but he looks at her curiously. "What, pray tell, are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at home, mourning?"
Pepper laughs, a vicious sound. "And do what? Everything at home reminds me of him. And there's nothing else to do but miss him. I'm not a woman that likes standing still. I prefer working."
It sounds completely fair, he thinks, and he nods. "And you want to psychoanalyze me?"
"My major was in business, but I have a minor in psychology and there's nothing I want more than think about other people's problems," she admits, immediately. She sounds tired, and wary, but Tony immediately likes her spirit. And her taste in men.
It must have taken some courage to marry her driver, and to be one of the most powerful woman in all of America.
"Once I've solved this, I'll take you up on your offer, what do you say?" she asks her, with his most charming smile.
Pepper looks at him like she thinks he's even crazier than what she thought. "You're not a cop." It's not a question, thankfully.
"Well, of course not. I dress way better," Tony replies with a smirk. "That doesn't mean that I won't find whomever did this. Your husband was... a friend. And I won't sleep while the person responsible is at large."
She looks into his eyes for a long moment, searching for something probably. He doesn't know what she finds, but she nods, resolute. "Okay. If you need anything..."
"Yes. I need you to tell me why you're really here," Tony tells her. He knows he's right, that there's something that Pepper isn't telling him, he can smell it in the air. Pepper startles, surprised, but she doesn't deny it. Good, he doesn't like wasting time. "You're an intelligent human, and if you're here it's because you have a lead."
"Not a lead," she immediately, "a hunch. Happy shouldn't have been at the site of the explosion. There was no reason for him to be at that restaurant at that time of day. So I think he was following someone. But it's one of the most visited restaurants for business lunches. And I have so many people who didn't like me and my husband."
"But you think it's something more," he pushes, smiling and shifting a little closer. Now they were getting somewhere.
She nods, and takes the tablet from Happy's desk. She puts in a password and after a few seconds he hands it back to him. "This is a list of all the proposals we shot down this past few months, and all of the ones that have gotten violent and threatened us. Happy always kept a list."
"And you think someone decided to actually do something about it?" he wonders, surprised. There are a lot of important names in the list. Names that are untouchable.
"Yes. I... The police won't be able to touch them," she says, with a sigh, "most of them have enough money and power to buy the entire police department so I can't rely on them."
He nods, understanding. "You can rely on me. I can be... very convincing. They won't be able to do anything in front of a confession, right?"
She looks shocked, but there's hope in her eyes. "You really think you can do this?"
Tony immediately nods, taking the tablet with him. "I can. And when I've found justice for Happy. Then I'll let you psychoanalyze me. Might be fun, I've never tried."
He thinks it should be more difficult to find the culprit, especially because the police didn't seem to be able to, but it takes Tony half a day.
Sure, he has the advantage of his powers and he is literally satan, but he expected more of them.
It's why he has Killian by the throat and angles him over the balcony. "I suggest," he says with a smile, "that you tell me the truth now. I'm not in a good mood, and I think it's in your interest to not make it worsen."
"I told you, I don't know what you're talking..." Killian tries to defend himself, but Tony doesn't really care. He pushes him further away, making him dangle. If he lets him go, his survival isn't certain.
"Do you want to lie again? Are you sure?" he asks and enjoys the flash of panic in the other's eyes. He doesn't miss hell, not even a little, but this, this was always fun.
Before Tony can do anything else, however, a voice comes from behind him. "Don't do anything that you will regret, Mister Stark. Put him back down on solid ground."
Tony turns, surprised, and sees Detective Rogers in all his small glory. He has a gun trained on Tony, and he looks deadly. He's still very hot.
"Well, if it isn't my favorite detective. Good news! I solved you case!" Tony smiles at the other, while Killian whimpers something that resembles a help me.
"No," Rogers says, taking a steè forward. "What you're doing is impede the investigation. If you harm our suspect further, I will have to arrest you."
"But I caught the bad guys!" Tony protests, because it's really unfair, but the other isn't moved.
Put him back, Tony. I promise he will see justice for what he has done to your friend, but this isn't the way," Rogers advances again and again. He doesn't seem to be too worried about Tony, or about spooking him into dropping Killian to his death.
Tony can't help but think that everything about this man seems to be interesting. Not many things have managed to hold his attention this way in a long time.
"Fine, but only because you asked nicely," Tony replies, putting Killian back up. The moment the feet of the spineless bastard are back on the balcony, the criminal runs towards the Detective.
It's obvious what his thought process is: Steve Rogers might be very things, but he doesn't appear to be particularly strong or a formidable force. If Killian manages to avoid him, he has a clear road to liberty.
Before Tony can move, however, the detective sucker punches Killian in the gut and then kicks him in the shin. The other is on the ground before he can even realize it.
"Aldrich Killian, you're under arrest. You have the right to remain silent, anything you will say can and will be used against you," Rogers chants while he puts the cuffs on Killian. He does it quickly and with ease.
There is something really sexy about it.
"Oh detective, you really are a man of many talents," he says with a smile. Rogers raises an eyebrow and then looks at him.
"I do have many talents. And that wasn't me asking nicely," Rogers says with a smirk, hauling Killian to his feet.
Tony can freely admit that he swoons a little. Still, he wants to hear the bastard confess himself.
"I'm coming too. I'm basically the reason why we solved this case!" Tony informs the detective, following him closely.
"No. You aren't. I already did it without your help," the other informs him. Tony has to think about it a second before realizing that it's true, he hadn't told anything to the police about Killian. So how did the pint detective knew where to go?
"And how did you do it?" he wonders, curious. Rogers sighs, putting Killian in the back of his cop car.
"Happy was a driver. His car had GPS. I cross referenced all his movements inside the city with people Miss Potts was making deals with. The only one that was at all locations was him. I did my job, the one you almost ruined," he finishes, looking at Tony. He looked annoyed on the surface, but he could see the smugness under it all.
Steve Rogers was a man of many layers. Unfortunately also of many layers of clothes.
"Well, I still want to assist to the confession. Come on! You saw what I did with your friends, people just tell me stuff!" Usually their desires, true, but he's sure he put the fear of his father in Killian, enough to make him talk.
Rogers thinks about it a minute and then shrugs. "Fine. Only this once."
Tony smiles and gets into the car with Rogers. He can ask Natasha to get back his own car later.
Watching Killian confess is an incredible feeling. It gives a rush to him that he can't really explain. Maybe this is what he's supposed to do here on Earth. Why should his role change just because he's not in hell anymore?
There are many people that deserve to be punished, what changes is just when Tony can deliver it.
He makes the decision quickly and it's really not that much of a problem to find the right person to put him where he wants to be. Which is at Rogers' desk, the next day.
"What are you doing here?" Rogers asks him, glaring at him. "The case is closed, I don't think you're interested in the fileworks."
"Nothing that interests me less," he admits with a smile. "You, on the other hand, interest me greatly. I think we could really work well as partners, what do you think?"
"No." Rogers' answer arrives immediately, and it's the most shocking refusal he has ever had in his entire life.
"What?" Tony asks, unable to hide his surprise. "What do you mean no? We made a great team yesterday!"
"No. Yesterday I solved the case on my own and you made it all harder." Rogers really has a skewed vision of the world, doesn't he?
"You know, I might get the feeling that you don't really like me?" Tony is obviously launching this right there because it's absurd. Everyone loves him. Well, when they didn't think he was responsible for all their mistakes.
Thinking about it not many people really actually liked him.
"Because I don't. Look, I have to work. Can you just go?" Roger sighs, standing beside Tony. Who is seated in Roger's chair. Right.
He stands up quickly, letting the detective sit down at his usual space. "Well. That's kind of awkward. Because we were already assigned at partners. I even met with your captain. Nick, a very stern fellow, told me to tell you it's out of his hand and you can't kill him or me."
Roger blinks and then blinks again and then he looks murderous. "What did you do?"
“You really do look like the tiny personalization of righteous fury, don’t you? It’s a great look on you, bravo!” Tony can't help but admire.
Rogers glares some more and then stands up, stalking away.
Tony is stunned for a couple of seconds before he hears a chuckle coming from his left. He turns and he sees Barnes, with what looked like a prosthetic, laughing at him.
"I haven't seen Stevie that mad in a while. You have no idea what you have unleashed," he says with a smirk "It was nice knowing you, buddy."
"It's okay, he'll come around. I'm very likeable," Tony answers immediately, fixing his own jacket.
Barnes laughs. "Yeah and he's more stubborn than a mule. Good luck, man."
Tony is sure it will be fine.
"It won't be fine." Natasha's voice cuts him like ice. She's standing behind the bar, drinking and there's a worrisome look in her eyes.
It's not really murder and so Tony is lost.
"What do you mean?" he can't help but ask, thinking about what stupid mistakes he might have made lately.
"Roger. It's not a good idea. Let it go, Tony," she tells him, pointing one of her daggers at him. She seems to be serious, however, and Tony is intrigued yet again.
"Is this again about him being able to say no to me because..." he starts but Natasha shuts him up.
"No. He could see me," she tells him, growling. "I tailed him, because I wanted to be sure there wasn't anything sketchy about him, and he noticed me following him."
Tony blinks, intrigued and impressed. "No one can see you if you don't want to be seen."
"No one can resist your powers either, Tony. No one beside him. This isn't a joke." She's really worried, he realizes. Worried about Steve Rogers, the little detective with fire in his eyes.
But if Natasha wanted Tony to stay away from Steve, this wasn't the way to go. She knew him too well, to think this would ever work. So the question really was: what did Natasha want?
Then he realizes it almost out of the blue. "You're curious about him," he says, gleefully. "He intrigues you too!"
Natasha takes another gulp of her drink and then she looks at Tony. "I don't like things I can't understand."
That makes two of them, and the reason why they have always worked so well together.
"So operation Detective Handsome is a go?" Tony can't help but ask, excitedly.
Natasha just shrugs. "I like Barnes better."
"Ugh, really? Grow some taste, dear."
Even after Tony and Natasha's decision to keep an eye on Rogers, the detective doesn't seem to get the memo that they are partners now.
Rogers tries to ditch him when there are crime scenes to be investigates or criminals to apprehend. He doesn't seem to listen to Tony's suggestions, all very good by the way, and he's more hostile than not.
He thinks that maybe Barnes had a point.
"Of course I did," Barnes says, huffing. "I don't know why you're here, however. I don't like you, can't wait for Steve to drive you away."
"I'm here because, I think, he's been insufferable with you too, since you two live together and all. Don't you want to have a normal roomate back?"
"Steve has never been normal, the punk," Barnes mumbles, but then he sighs. "Okay, fine. But only because Fury told me that Steve could get in trouble if he doesn't start collaborating with you. I'll tell you this: You're going at it all wrong. You have to earn Steve's respect first and you do that by being honest with him."
"I've been honest all this time!" Tony protests, looking offended.
"But only because you wanted something, right?" Barnes has a point, of course, but Tony doesn't know why that would change anything.
"Just be honest with him and let him be honest with you in return. And, if you can't, get him drunk. He's a very sloppy drunk and he tends to love everyone when he's wasted," Barnes says, huffing. "But he also wants to fight everyone when he's drunk, so. Be careful."
"I can take care of the detective," Tony says, with a smirk. "And I have an entire bar worth of alcohol at my disposal."
"Your funeral, man," Barnes tells him before going back to his filework.
Such a dramatic man. How much problem can the detective be?
A lot, he realizes later that night while he holds back the detective from punching another drunk man in the face.
"You should always fucking ask for consent, you fucking neanderthal!" Rogers scream, trying to reach the other guy. Tony doesn't enjoy fights on principal, but even less in his own bar.
"Okay, calm down detective, really. We don't want to make even more of a scene, right?" he asks, trying to haul the detective back to his penthouse. It's harder than it should be, really, considering the small size of the other man.
Natasha, the traitor, doesn't even try to move and help him. She's there, smirking at him from the other side of the bar. It feels like even more divine punishment. He thought hell was bad...
"They can't just think they can do whatever they want," Rogers says, shaking his head. "I'm a police officer, you hear me?"
"Everyone hears you, detective really. You had only one drink, how are you this drunk already?" he mumbles, finally putting the detective in the private elevator.
"It's because I'm so small, or so Bucky says," Rogers tells him, Now that they are out of the crowded bar, Rogers looks even smaller. He's not swaying on his feet, and the only sign of his dunkness is the red on his cheek.
Tony can't really look away.
"Then why did you go for a scotch?" he asks. In fact, Steve had asked Natasha the strongest scotch they had. It had been a ballsy move, and Natasha had just smiled her deadly smile.
Rogers is silent until they arrive at the penthouse and then he replies, quickly: "I didn't want to appear weak."
Before Tony can really process any of that, the detective moves forward and throws himself on one of Tony's couches. Still. What?
"I'm sorry, I'm not sure I follow you," he has to admit, getting closer.
"Everyone looks at me," Rogers, Steve he assumes he should be calling him, continues, "and they think they have me figured out. That I'm too sickly to do anything, that I'm too weak. I don't like that they think that."
"So you get drunk and pick fights with big men?" Tony can't help but wonder and Steve laughs, almost as if the thought Tony was really funny.
"God, you sound like Bucky."
"There's no need to be offensive," Tony jokes, and Steve laughs harder. "I have to say, you seem more friendly like this. Maybe I should help our dear Detective Barnes."
"Of course Bucky told you to do this," Steve says, with a smirk, "that punk. He says I'm much easier to get along with when I'm drunk."
"I have to agree, You're quite pleasant like this." It's true, Steve looks more relaxed now, almost as if he had left some of that weight on his shoulder back at home.
"I know," Steve admits with a rueful smile, "I've been kind of a dick."
"I mean, I wouldn't have said so but... yeah. Totally a dick," Tony admits, liking the vibe between them. It was like, for the first time, they were starting to act like a team.
"It's just... I thought they put you on me because I'm the small and weak one, you know?" he says, with a sigh. "I never get the big cases unless Bucky accompanies me, and he doesn't have an arm! I mean, I love him, he's my best friend, but..."
"You want to prove you can do it..." Tony can relate in a way, "without anyone's help."
"Yeah," Steve admits. His voice is just a whisper and Tony nods.
"I want to assure you, detective, that isn't why I asked to be put with you, quite the contrary," Tony reassures him. It's important that Steve realizes why Tony is interested in working with him. "You're fascinating and smart. I was impressed. And you have impressed me more and more in these past few weeks."
Steve looks at him, surprised, and the flush on his cheek reddens. It's almost titillating, really. Tony knows he's attracted to Steve, he might not be built like the perfect hunk, but Tony appreciates character and intelligence as much as a well toned body. Sometimes even more.
It's always the smart one that go to hell.
"You've proven you're not exactly terrible as well," Steve says, with a little smirk.
Tony laughs, unable to help himself. "I'm a delight and the best thing that ever happened to you, detective! Admit it!"
"No. But you are pretty great," Steve replies with a shrug. It's such a surprisingly genuine comment that Tony freezes.
He doesn't know how to react to this kind of compliments and he feels like Steve has just stabbed at some unprotected part of his body.
"We are a good team," Steve continues, with a smile. "And there's nothing more important. I just want to be a good cop."
"Why?" Tony asks, curious and jumping at an opportunity to know more about the detective.
Steve seems puzzled by the question and he looks at Tony for a second, lost in thought. "I don't know. I guess I like helping people, and I don't like bullies. My father was a cop too, but he's not the reason I wanted to join."
"Oh, not a good cop?"
"Not a good father," Steve simply replies. There is something dangerous in his tone, a minefield Tony doesn't want to touch.
Still, daddy issues. If someone can understand, it's him.
"In any case, I'm glad you became a cop. I'm sure the streets are safer because of you," he says, smiling at the other. Steve turns towards him and smiles as well, a sweet expression.
"Sorry, again, for being a dick," Steve murmurs, his voice now deep with sleep. It's a good look on him, Tony thinks. Too good.
"It's okay, I just hope you'll remember enough about this tomorrow to stop being a dick," Tony admits, shrugging. Steve laughs again and then, he puts a hand on Tony's arm.
"You can stay," Steve says, smiling, before closing his eyes.
Tony feels something constrict in his chest and he looks down at it, surprised and a little alarmed. He's not mortal, he can't be having a heart attack or whatever they call it, so what was happening?
"Detective?" he asks, but Steve is now asleep on his couch. He's sleeping with his mouth open and his breath is louder than it should be. Tony doesn't really care.
He's reluctant to wake him up and so he shrugs and looks around. He could leave him on the couch, but it's not the most comfortable place in the house.
Tony makes the decision quickly and he takes Steve in his arms, he doesn't really weight all that much, and puts him down gently on his own bed. He tucks him under the cover and huffs.
He wants to say that this is one of the most disappointing conclusions to one of his nights ever, but it would be a lie.
He's strangely content. Happy. Well, time to go sleep on the couch,
"...and so you see, everything ended up working perfectly," Tony finishes with a satisfying smile.
Steve and him have been working incredibly well lately. They still annoy each other and drive each other up the walls, but that's why they work. They push each other, challenge each other.
He isn't bored, not at all. Even Natasha has started to like Steve to a disturbing degree and, unfortunately, he thinks she might have something with Barnes. He really doesn't want to think about that.
"Yes," Pepper says, looking at him, "it does seem like your work life has balanced itself out. But there's really nothing else you want to talk about?"
"Oh! Do you want to talk about my daddy issues again? That's always fun," Tony smirks, confidently.
Pepper, however, shakes her head. "No. Although we do have to pick up the discussion about your father apparently cursing you for all eternity, that seemed a little extreme even for you metaphors." Tony opens his mouth to correct her, but Pepper stops him. "No, I'm not interested. What I want to talk about is this strange feeling you felt while you were taking care of Steve that night."
"What? That? Why? It's not that important, it never came back," he says, shrugging. It probably was happiness over having secured his partnership with Steve.
"Yes, but it was important in that moment, right?" She pushes, looking at him. "I don't think it's something you should ignore. You surely know what that is you're describing, right?"
Tony furrows his brows and looks at her like she's crazy. "I don't, really. I see why you didn't major in psychology, you're quite bad at this, you know that right?"
Pepper sighs, taking a pen and writing something in her book.
"One of the first rule they teach you is that therapy is a journey of self discovery, and we should never give people the answers they need to find themselves," she tells him with a serene smile. "But as you said, I didn't major in psychology so i can tell you that you're ass over heels in love with Detective Steve Rogers and still have my conscience clean."
Tony sputters. And then stumbles. And then sputters again. "What? Wha- No. Pepper Potts, I'm the literal devili, I'm not in love with a mortal!"
"Reall, it's a little pathetic. We've seen each other three times, and you've talked as much time about Steve as you did about yourselves. That, tells me you're really fucked. And that's my opinion as your therapist."
"You're not my therapist, certainly not after this appalling conclusion!" Tony informs her, very sternly.
"So you'll be back same time next week? I have work to do."
Tony gets up, and glares at her. "Sure. Only so I can tell you more about how you're wrong about this."
"Yeah. Sure. And what are you up to tonight?" she asks him, with a smirk.
"Wouldn't you like to know," he answers her with a wink and a smile, walking out of her office. Truthfully he has nothing planned but a night with Steve and Barnes at their home, but Pepper doesn't need to know, does she?
In love with Steve. Preposterous.
He's the devil, he can't be in love with anyone.