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Del Rion [userpic]

Handling Pointy Things; Chapter 6: Reality Check

Title: Handling Pointy Things
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Avengers & Iron Man (MCU)
Era: Post-Avengers movie, after “Blue Glow” fic.
Genre: Drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Bruce Banner (Hulk), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Jane Foster, Nick Fury, Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Darcy Lewis, Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Thor, Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Pairings: Bruce/Tony, Happy/Pepper, Jane/Thor (, Clint/Natasha, implied past Pepper/Tony)
Summary: It starts with a dream and ends with something that resembles strutting more than tiptoeing; in other words, Bruce has a new-found obsession with Tony, Tony finds that endearing and wants to take it further while everyone else – including Bruce – seems to think it might actually be a very bad idea.
Work in progress. Part of the “Turquoise” –series.
Warnings: Slash (m/m relationship) and some sexual content, past and current het (f/m), superheroes vs. villains violence, language.



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Chapter 6: Reality Check



When Pepper found out, she got a worse first impression than was completely fair; she walked into the Stark Tower living room area to find Tony straddling Bruce on the couch, kissing him. That was perhaps their most uninhibited make-out session to date, including some heavy petting and panting when they ran out of air, and it totally didn’t reflect on what their relationship was usually like.

In hindsight, perhaps if Tony had actually told Pepper about it instead of waiting for her to find out on her own – which he could admit contained a huge possibility of walking in on them in a compromising position – it might have gone over much smoother.

Might being the key word.

Perhaps Tony just assumed Pepper would take it as she always did with his dalliances; she had been working for him far longer than they had been together. Maybe both of them would just bounce back to what they had been to each other prior to them dating.

If Tony had actually spent any time thinking about it, though, he would have known he was simply avoiding telling her the truth and making it worse by doing that.

As it was, she stood there staring, beautiful and immaculate as ever, standing so straight it made Tony’s back ache in sympathy. It was the weight of her stare – Tony refused to call it a glare – that made Tony raise his eyes and meet the steady gaze of the woman he expected to find by his side daily, even now. This place had been their home first; the Tower had been her baby although Tony refused to give her all the credit she probably deserved. It made him feel a bit dirty when she found him with Bruce like this and he didn’t like how that felt.

Tony leaned back into Bruce’s embrace, the other man looking at him, not seeing the source of the distraction yet, his back turned towards Pepper and the elevator door. “You have something in mind?” he asked, voice soft and a notch deeper. Tony might have enjoyed exploring that but right now his mind was veering away from their make-out session.

“If we can postpone this a little, I just might,” Tony replied, glancing briefly at Bruce’s face as it was overcome by confusion. Not waiting for Bruce to answer, Tony looked up again. “Hey, Pepper.”

Bruce jerked around to look behind himself, probably pulling a muscle or two in his neck.

“Dr. Banner,” Pepper inclined her head; they had met after the Chitauri battle. When she and Tony were still together. She had known Tony liked Bruce, wanted to keep him around, and hadn’t stood in the way when Tony tried to bribe Bruce with all manner of R&D goodies. Maybe she had known it was more than that even then – or maybe not, because she looked a bit startled. Not that Bruce could see it.

The man beneath Tony had flushed a little. “Miss Potts,” he stammered by way of reply. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Neither of you did,” she said pointedly. “Can I borrow Tony for a moment?”

Tony drew a careful breath. Her tone revealed nothing but they had worked together for years. He could tell when he was being taken like a lamb to slaughter.

“Of course,” Bruce was quick to answer, pushing Tony off to the side until he lay half-sprawled on the couch and got up, disappearing in the general direction of the labs; he would keep himself busy there for as long as it took, being no kind of back-up should Tony need him. Nice.

“What can I do for you?” Tony asked, picking himself up and straightening his clothes absentmindedly. There may or may not have been a red mark on his neck, although Bruce kept a lid on it nicely, not wanting to risk breaking the skin by accident. If there was a mark – it sure felt like it – Tony knew Pepper would notice. She always did; she was all too used to covering them up before Tony stepped in front of press cameras, even more so after he started wearing the armor.

Pepper looked at him a moment longer, knowing it would make him uneasy, then sighed and walked down to the bar. The upcoming discussion was beginning to remind him too much of when she broke up with him and he followed her, getting himself a drink as well.

“I was wondering what Rhodey wasn’t telling me,” Pepper mused dryly, stirring her drink, not looking at him.

“He didn’t tell you?” Tony clarified.

She finally looked at him. “No, he didn’t. I’m sure he was waiting for you to do it – as you should have.” She sipped her drink. “Were you going to tell me?”

Tony swallowed a grimace and bit into a piece of lemon while trying to decide what to pour into his glass.

“Tony,” Pepper repeated.

“Eventually,” Tony managed. “I would have told you eventually.”

She sighed again. “Knowing you, you could have been dead by then.”

“I actually haven’t made it a habit to almost die once a week,” Tony argued. “Not even once a month; it’s not as pleasant as they advertise.” He opted for straight whiskey to take the edge off but before he could throw back the shot, Pepper grabbed his hand, stopping the movement. Tony gave her a look. Why was she allowed to drink and he wasn’t?

“Is it serious?” she asked.

“What?”

“You and him,” she elaborated although she knew it was unnecessary should Tony choose to actually put his mind to it.

He stayed quiet. In his mind, it was the most serious thing he had ever done, other than being Iron Man; he couldn’t afford mistakes with Bruce. He cared about him, and there was the other guy to consider. Hurting Bruce’s feelings might not end well for him, even though he doubted it would ever go that far. Still, he could offer that as an explanation for those who didn’t comprehend the iron will Bruce Banner had grown to use as a filter between himself and the rest of the world.

Pepper waited for his reply but she also knew when Tony wasn’t going to offer her an answer. She sighed, looked at the table, at the shot of whiskey he wasn’t allowed to have. “I know it’s because of me, of the way it ended. I swear, Tony, I didn’t mean for it to happen the way it did.”

“I’m glad it did,” Tony ground out. It hurt, thinking of that night. “You didn’t ask for it. You didn’t deserve all that came with dating a superhero. I want you to be happy.” He looked at her, forcing her to look back, then grasped the hand holding his. “Virginia Potts, I’m happy for you, from the bottom of my heart. I wish you and Hogan all the happiness in the world.”

Why Pepper gave him an untrusting look was wrong on so many levels. “Are you dying again?”

“What?” Tony blinked.

“The last time we had a conversation like this… it feels like it, anyway… you were trying to tell me you were dying. I think. You made me CEO.”

“I don’t think this resembles that discussion at all,” Tony frowned. “And no, I’m not dying. I’m very much alive and attempting to stay that way for the foreseeable future.”

Pepper didn’t look entirely convinced but let go of him in order to take another sip of her drink. Tony took the opening to throw back the shot of whiskey before she could stop him again. “So you suddenly dating one of your fellow Avengers has nothing to do with us breaking up?” she continued after a while.

“Will it make you happy if I say it has everything to do with you?” Tony challenged. Her face froze. He sighed and felt like pulling his hair in frustration. “It isn’t about you. Not like you would think. I’m lonely, he’s lonely. We like each other. After the incident… we’ve grown closer. It’s a natural progression, I think.”

“You think,” Pepper mused. “Are you certain of anything at all? Tony, listen to me,” she snapped when he looked away, pursing his lips, hoping to tune her out before he would have to listen to her nagging. “You know what he can do. You designed weapons to take him down.”

Tony’s entire body seized at that comment. If felt like the arc reactor had just fallen out of his chest. He got that ugly feeling, the horrible realization that he had lived through a few times since Afghanistan – like when Obie told him the truth about dealing under the table and ordering the hit on him. “That was a long time ago, and I didn’t know what they were using that tech for! I didn’t know Bruce…”

“That’s not the point,” Pepper pressed. “Even if you had known directly what they would be used for, you would have done it, because he is a monster. The body-count alone –”

“Stop,” he snapped and she did because he never used that tone with her; filled with seething rage and cold fury, self-loathing keeping it all together. “His body-count is nothing compared to mine. He regrets each and every loss of life; he’s isolated himself from the entire world in the past in order to keep from hurting anyone. It’s something I could never do.”

“You gave the world Iron Man,” Pepper reminded him.

“You can’t use that excuse with me,” Tony retorted. “That’s why you left me, remember? Because I threw myself out there, into the path of danger, in order to wipe away the legacy I no longer wanted people to remember.”

“I never thought the world would be a better place without Iron Man. I just couldn’t live with the constant fear of you being in that suit! You know I still love you, right? None of this changes that.”

Tony pressed his teeth together as tight as he could, the pain in his jaw keeping him from acknowledging certain other aches.

Pepper pressed closer, the smell of her putting him right back to the time when this was still a daily thing – minus the arguments. Well, sometimes the arguments, too… “I just don’t want you to get hurt. I’m certain Dr. Banner is a good man but you’ve never been smart when you’re hurt, and I know you’re hurting, Tony,” she insisted, voice lower, more intimate; sinking right under his skin. Saying his name was like a slap in the face and she knew how to use that.

He blinked, looking away, eyes catching some of her hair, silky and smooth. He wanted to run his fingers through it but then remembered Bruce’s gentle breaths against his skin at night, his hand resting on his chest, covering the glow of the arc.

“I know what I’m doing,” he finally said, stepping back.

Pepper looked almost hurt, then nodded and dug into her bag. “I have things for you to take a look at. Send them to my office once you’re done.” She dropped them on the bar, knowing he would either pick them up eventually or she would have to make another visit to remind him.

“Do you want me to walk you down?” Tony asked, implying they were done talking about everything she could think of bringing up.

She nodded and they stepped over to the elevator together. The ride down was quiet. Tony focused on looking slightly away from her, to breathe in the smell of the elevator interior instead of her aroma.

The elevator came to a smooth stop after a life-time of waiting and a car was parked nearby. Happy stood outside it having a smoke, starting a bit when they stepped out. “Mr. Stark,” he inclined his head.

Tony wasn’t sure what to say or do. He hadn’t seen Happy in a long time, but he looked the same. Better, maybe, and the smile he gave Pepper was new.

Pepper got into the car, which was kind of funny.

“You’re still her chauffeur?” Tony asked.

Pepper gave him a poisonous look before the door was shut. Happy seemed determined to not let her answer.

“For the time being,” he replied, then stood there for a moment, almost uncertain. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry –”

Tony waved him off. “May the best man win? Overrated. Take care of her,” he added before stepping back to the elevator. “If you make her more miserable than I did, I won’t be such a gentleman about it.”

“Understood,” Happy nodded as he walked around the car to the driver’s seat.

The elevator doors closed between them and Tony leaned back with a heavy sigh.

He stopped on the R&D floors after checking out Bruce’s current location. He was in one of their private labs, fiddling with some project but it didn’t seem he was actually getting much done; he looked up when Tony entered, giving him a careful look. “Pepper left?”

“Yeah,” Tony said simply as he walked over to him. He glanced at the read-outs on the screen, scrolled through them idly, his brain detached from what he was doing, hanging back for the last few minutes.

“Tony?” Bruce spoke up after a bit, grabbing his hand, pulling it away from the touch-screen.

Tony looked at him, blinking owlishly, determined not to cry; there was no reason for tears, none at all, and it wouldn’t help the situation in the slightest. Instead he leaned towards Bruce who braced himself in his seat as he felt the familiar arms surround him.

It was awkward and not working so Bruce eventually stood up to properly hold him. Tony allowed it, leaning into the embrace of the other man, knowing he should apologize. He wasn’t completely certain what to apologize for precisely, though, so it was better not to try. It was just another thing he wasn’t particularly good at.





to be continued…


Story Info