She can't look at him when she hands him the file. Rustling, like it'll never end; he can't read nearly as quickly as he adds. She can't look at him. He's going to do it. Every time it just sucker punches her, and he's going to do it.
She looks at him.
His eyes are too wide, even though he's trying to cover it because he's always, always surprised when she does something like this. She wonders, not for the first time, what would have been different if she had been born rich. Maybe she would have been a doctor. Maybe she would have been in the lab with him at MIT, bossing him around over the chemistry set. Most likely she'd have come to nothing, with no reason to push and push and push until she got to the top. Or until she suddenly ran out of ambition, stalled out in what was supposed to be an entry job, before she even got in to graduate school.
One deep breath, in and out. She's only bitter like this when she's terrified. He's only this quiet, then, too, because no matter how often she surprises him he knows her.
Which is why he's dipped his head, just a little, to look up at her, wearing his most carefully fun smile. "I think you're trying to pull an All About Eve on me."
She can't stop her lips from curling, just a little. When on earth had Tony boned up on his Betty Davis? "I prefer to be the power behind the throne."
"I am a prince." She arches an eyebrow. "Or a pretty pretty princess. Whatever floats your boat." He smudges the cover-up on his face with a thick finger, waggles his brows at her.
The gash on his chin that she'd worked so hard to mask is very visible now, caked in beige around the edges and oozing. He notices her noticing and it's gone, the friendly-frightening moment, replaced with that devastating look. Now he'll talk about mission and right and wrong and he'll be absolutely, 100 percent justified, and still her gut, her small, selfish gut will be screaming no, no, too dangerous because he comes back a little bit broken every time.
This time, she will beat him to the punch. "You can't be everywhere, Mr. Stark." Wrong thing to say, the absolute worst. He's got his dander up now. She nudges the folder he's holding. "Make this, and you won't have to be."
The fight hasn't gone out of him – his eyes still crackle enough to scare her a little – but she's got him. He's shredding a piece of god-knows-what from his breast pocket, sprinkling in all over the seats, totally oblivious to Happy's evil eye. Oh yes, she's got him because once a thought is in his head it doesn't come out.
And this is a good idea. A really good idea. Sure, the military hasn't been to keen to fund upgraded security systems in the past, but if she can get him to think of it as part of the mission… She doesn't like to think about how much money he's thrown in to the suit. Hell, the government will probably fund it all if he agrees to make more weapons, foolproof, theft-proof weapons that he can personally track from the basement of his house. Not, of course, that the brass will know it. With a little fast talking, Tony – Mr. Stark – could convince them that they would be the ones with the last word, the absolute ability to track the output of missiles from Stark Industries, and what general wouldn't jump at that chance?
"Cheeseburger," he mutters.
"Sure thing, boss."
He's tapping his fingers against the hard seam of the seats, staring at the floor mats. He's forgotten that he's in the car, forgotten that she's here.
Oh, yeah. She's got him.