Title: Universally Agreed Upon Facts (or Why Tony Stark Doesn't Get the Girl)
Author: chocolatemooses
Disclaimer: I don't own Iron Man

AN: Another sad one but I find that this is sort of realistic, especially if you take into account the comic books. Anyway, please review and inflate my ego because quite honestly I love every single review I get. I don't care if you even just put a little smiley face (or frown face) on a review, I love it.! Please Enjoy.

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It is a fact agreed upon collectively. Balance is key to the fabric of a stable universe. Good versus Evil. Dark versus Light. Day versus Night. Balance. It keeps the world in check and it allows for the peaceful existence of beings in a random and harsh universe. It has been called many things throughout time. Karma. Divine retribution. Even justice. But the idea has always been the same, balance.

So thus, Tony Stark does not get the girl when all is said and done. Simply because of another collectively agreed upon fact that Tony was and to some extent still is an asshole, despite his new found lease on life. He still drinks ridiculously huge amounts of alcohol, and finds no issue with that fact. He still owns scantily dressed flight-attendants (sluts) and stripper poles. He still finds more and more creative ways to make the lives of those who care for him a constant headache. He still does all of these things, while moonlighting as a crime-fighting superhero on the side.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. There is another universally agreed upon fact, the hero gets the girl.

So it had been assumed by Tony, that he too would get the girl in the end. He assumed he would get the brilliant and beautiful redhead who had stuck by him through thick and thin. He assumed he would get the girl who set his nerves on edge and made his pulse quicken. He assumed he would get the girl who made him grin like an idiot every time he managed to make her laugh. He assumed he would get this girl who was way too good for him simply because he was the hero of the movie. And the hero always got the girl.

But sadly, Tony Stark lives in reality and reality runs on balance. And Tony was and is an asshole and assholes don't get the girl. It balances out, in the cosmic view of things. Tony gets the accolades, the fame, the money, and the love of millions; because he is a super-hero and that is what super-heroes are supposed to get. But as payment for the years he spent as a generally horrible person whose ignorance and hedonistic lifestyle allowed terrorism to thrive and innocent people to die, the universe doesn't let him have the girl. So as stated before, Tony Stark does not get the girl of his dreams when the curtain closes and the credits finally roll.

Instead, he goes back to the green room and smile self-assuredly to his flabbergasted assistant. She chews him out for weeks to follow before they fall once again into their old routine. Their night on that starry balcony only a distant memory, almost a dream, that they both studiously ignore whenever the constant tension that always simmered between them can to a boil.

Instead of any type of huge climaxing night that would result in admissions of love, they carefully pull away whenever their feelings become too intense, too real. Instead of a dark, quiet night of cautious confession, they tactfully sidestep each other every time a change in their relationship was on the horizon. Whether they did this dance of evasion on purpose or if it was a sub-conscious defense was unknown to both of them. What they did know was that every time they dutifully avoided confronting any real feelings between them they would both feel as though they had just missed something incredibly important.

So, they continue on as though everything was exactly the same, even though it never could truly be the way it was before. Tony started bringing home girls again and Pepper went back to having the dry cleaner on her speed dial. Pepper stopped staying later than 12:00 because she had finally convinced herself that Tony didn't need her presence in order to fall asleep. Tony stopped telling Pepper she was the most important person in his life, although sometimes-especially late at night-his eyes would betray him and he was sure that he still was able to convey that particular sentiment to her loud and clear. And Pepper stopped expecting Tony to remember her birthday, even though he did but was only to unsure of himself to actually to comment on it.

A few things did change though. Pepper began to date, much to Tony's chagrin. She never made any huge production about it, only asking to leave work early once for a date. Tony began to have Pepper call him every night when she got home. He told her that he only wanted to make sure she got home safe, which was partially true but it was mostly because hearing her voice was one of the few things that allowed him a good night's sleep. The most significantly insignificant change was that every time Tony went away on a mission, even if the mission was days long, Pepper would stay at Stark Mansion, waiting for Tony's return. She would never come downstairs unless he specifically asked her to. She never threw her arms around the returning hero. And she definitely never cried in his arms. But every time Tony made his way upstairs there always was a warm cup of tea and small smile would grace her lips, a smile that was only meant for him. That was all Tony really needed, not all he wanted, but definitely all he needed.

But small changes always lead to bigger ones. The biggest being a small little ring that found its way on to Pepper's hand one June night. The guy's name was Steve Carson and, to Tony's annoyance, he was really a good guy. He was a neurologist who spends his weekends teaching underprivileged monkeys or some shit like that. He was 35, blonde, blue-eyed, muscular Nazi type that girls seemed to go for. And every time Tony saw them together he had to lock his jaw and clench his hands. But he never says a word. He never tells Pepper that the reason he doesn't want to go to their engagement party isn't because he has some serious Iron Man work on the backburner but because he can't stand the thought of acting like he was happy for the lovely couple. He never tells Pepper that reason he stops having her call him at night isn't because he just doesn't have time anymore but because he can't stand the thought of hearing his voice in the background. And he definitely doesn't tell her he is madly, irrevocably, undyingly in love with her.

He doesn't tell her this because he believes in the balance of the world. And as much as he hates it, he knows his life isn't a movie and so it becomes a universally agreed upon fact that Tony Stark doesn't get the girl.

-End-