Title: Barricade, Citadel, Trench
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Iron Man (& The Avengers) (MCU)
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: Pepper Potts, Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Summary: There are many ways to look at the Iron Man armor and what it means. Pepper sees it as a direct metaphor for her relationship with Tony.
Written for: My card on Love Bingo’s (love_bingo) Round 3 (square: “Love story”)
Warnings: Implied violence and danger of death.
Disclaimer: Iron Man, Avengers and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Shane Black, Joss Whedon, Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction, created to entertain likeminded fans, for no profit whatsoever.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
Feedback: Very welcome.
About Barricade, Citadel, Trench: A small, random piece that grew from a few errant, grim lines.
The title attempts to describe, in a rather roundabout way, the things Tony’s armor represents – among other things.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Barricade, Citadel, Trench
Written for my card on Love Bingo’s Round 3. Square: “Love story”.
If someone were to take a survey asking what the Iron Man armors meant and represented, the answers would vary from ‘weapon’ to ‘cool toy’. Most people, if asked, wouldn’t think twice about their answer – even when they spent hours gossiping about the superhero and the man inside the armor. For them, Iron Man was both a symbol and a source of amusement.
Pepper had a completely different view on Iron Man. Somehow, that view had become almost synonymous to many of the things that defined her relationship with Tony, because as long as they had been together – in the intimate way that could be considered an actual relationship – the Armored Avenger had been there with them. Beside them. Between them.
The armors had evolved, meaning different things in Tony’s life at different times – just as he had meant different things to Pepper over the years. So, it wasn’t so farfetched that their love story could be found fused with a red-and-gold alloy that served so many roles in their lives.
In the beginning, it had been the means of survival and escape; a wild dream spawning Tony’s release from the cave.
When the air of freedom filled his lungs once again, however, the armor had become something else: a weapon of vengeance, a tool of justice – a refined pathway to something barely conceived in the genius mind. A way for Tony to redeem what he had back then begun to consider a personal debt to the world; a demon was released inside his mind, driving him subtly, then more firmly, towards a goal far greater than one man should have been able to achieve alone.
Since the beginning, Pepper had witnessed the variations, many of which she wished she could wipe from her memory, but one had to take the bad with the good since the two made the picture complete. Without them, the journey would never be completed.
She had seen the old armors set on display, a reminder rather than a hall of fond memories. Most of them had been marked with signs of failure, or victory, yet Tony had moved on from them with hard lessons learned weighing down on his mind.
Building and fine-tuning had become a distraction from Tony’s demons when he could no longer go out and fight them. The armors provided endless possibilities, to the point of insanity, because that was one journey Tony would never complete; he would never achieve perfection. Just like one could hardly expect to achieve perfection in their own life or their chosen partner; less-than-perfect was the natural order of things.
The armor was simultaneously a shield to protect and a shell to distance; a layer between Tony and the rest of the world. Pepper had found the shield shared easily enough, whereas the shell was Tony’s and Tony’s alone: his last refuge against anything the world might hurl at him.
It had also become pieces shattered all over the floor, a hazardous trail leading from a broken doorway to the bathroom; Tony sitting on the tiled floor, bleeding and pulling pieces of metal from his skin, lips tense against the pain. All the torn skin and jagged edges were like the vicious fights between Tony and Pepper, when the safety measures failed and angry words easily covered up the dark pit of fear.
No doubt the armor would, one day, be Tony’s final battle ground. Pepper didn’t want to think about prying open the metal and finding a lifeless form inside. Instead, she thought of the armor as a fertile ground, always renewing itself: in moments of growth, the armor was a cocoon to establish a safe nest for rebirth; in moments of loss, it was a mask to hide Tony’s tears from the world until he was ready to expose himself again.
Eventually, it was just simply a presence in their lives – an increasingly autonomous being existing next to them, without a heartbeat but ever so capable of decisions that came just shy of free will. A guardian without compromise; an extension of Tony’s life, mind and beliefs.
Pepper loved, feared, hated, respected and believed in Iron Man. While someone might have considered it irrational and blamed her for feeding Tony’s dissociative tendencies, she knew the truth lay so much deeper: in order to understand the man she loved, she had to accept that he and the armor were integrated, one with the other. Their building blocks had long ago fused together, and in part, the two of them would have never gotten together without the armor’s involvement.
It wasn’t a necessary evil, as much as Pepper liked to call it that in her most desperate hour, when she wasn’t certain if Tony was coming back; Iron Man was part of the package, just like any other trait or fault, and she could never look at their story – love or otherwise – without it being there.