Stained Armor

Disclaimer: All familiar characters belong to Marvel. I own Farrah/Persiana and Leon/Crisis.

One Shot

Tony Stark, the former Avenger known as Iron Man, was sitting in a cell at what is now a HAMMER prison. The billionaire had been arrested for his failure, as well as SHIELD's failure, to predict the invasion of not only the White Martians, but also of the Black Lanterns. He was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, reflecting on his actions.

He thought to himself,

It had to be done. If Leon could only understand why we did it, then all of this wouldn't be necessary. But, while Osborn may run things, I will never give that information I have on the registered heroes. I'll die before that.

A guard came by,

"Visitor, Mr. Stark."

Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin and now the Iron Patriot, dismissed the guard,

"That's all. You can go now."

The guard saluted and left. Osborn smugly smirked,

"My, how the mighty have fallen."

Stark sat up, glaring,

"You bastard. You had something to do with this, didn't you?"

The head of HAMMER feigned innocence,

"Me? Oh, no, Tony. I'm afraid you dug this hole all by yourself. I mean, you and the other members of this Illuminati you had going on, I'm surprised it took you so long to get caught. But, then again, it comes as no surprise Fury found out about you. You can't keep secrets for very long when Fury's around."

Tony shook his head,

"Fury was a threat, and we had to remove him."

Osborn smirked,

"Oh, really? How come he is not dead yet? He's better than you. Hell, he's probably better than me."

He tilted his head,

"But, the one thing I don't get is this, Tony. Maybe you can help me out…"

Osborn slyly remarked,

"Why?"

The former Iron Avenger shook his head,

"What do you mean?"

"Why go through with it? Why did you undermine your friendship with Captain America for the sake of all this power? It had to be something, something you wanted so badly, you didn't care who got hurt or who got killed. I mean, you killed that man Crisis, which, by the way, was a good kid. A little frazzled in the head, but then again, I'm a bit nutty too. So tell me, Tony; why go through with it?"

Stark waited a moment and stood up,

"You want to know why, Norman? I'll tell you why. It was only a matter of time before something like the Stamford incident would happen, and I had to make sure we were accountable for that. Steve was endangering lives with all this they-could-come-after-our-families crap. That's why it had to be done, I had to show them that the superheroes were more dangerous to themselves and to all of us."

Osborn took all this in and began laughing. At first, it was a slight chuckle, but then exploded into a full blown out belly laugh. He held his sides and shook his head,

"Oh, come on, Tony. Do you really think that was it? To prove you saw the light? To prove you were the only one that could save the heroic community from themselves? I admit, that story is about as good as any work of fiction I've read."

Tony shouted,

"It's the truth!"

Osborn countered,

"No, it's not. You're jealous."

At this, Tony was taken aback. Norman continued,

"You see; you may have financed the Avengers, but it was Captain America that held the team together, and you couldn't stand that. The All-American hero, the soldier who tirelessly fought for the service to his country, and who always put himself last. You were sickened by that, you always have been. Even now, after your fall from grace, you still won't admit it. You'd rather take that secret to the grave than ever admit you will never, ever, ever have the magnitude that Captain America had over people."

Stark erupted in anger and upturned the bed,

"GET OUT!! GUARD, GET THIS BASTARD OUT OF HERE!!!"
Osborn started to calmly walk away. However, as he did, he stopped and turned, smirking,

"Oh, and by the way; your daughter is in control of your assets and my team. Plus, she's terrific in bed."

A loud, angry string of curses followed that from Tony's cell. Osborn smirked as he left,

"I thought that'd get your attention."

Later that night…

Tony Stark was lying in bed, asleep. He finally had calmed down enough to fall asleep.

Suddenly, he woke up, in a black void. He looked around,

"What's going on? Where am I?"

"Hello, Tony."

The former billionaire knew that voice,

"Steve?"

Captain America stood in a somewhat ghost-like state. He folded his arms,

"He's right, you know. Osborn, about you being jealous of me and what I stood for."

Stark shouted,

"I had to do it! You weren't going to do anything! Someone had to!"

Steve shook his head,

"Sometimes, it is best to do nothing and put your trust in people that, no matter how bad things get, they can persevere above it."

Stark fumed,

"What makes you so sure of that? What makes you so all-knowing?!"

Steve said,

"Did you do this to prove a point, or to try and obtain power? Why would you even need to? You were already rich, trying to help others with your money after you stopped manufacturing weapons. You tried to set an example, but it wasn't enough."

At this, Tony dropped to his knees,

"My, God. What have I been doing? Why have I been doing this?"

Steve started to fade away,

"Think about it, for your daughter."

Tony woke up at that moment, gasping for air. He wiped the sweat off his brow and shook his head,

"What's going on? Why have I been doing all of this?"

He sat in the dark, reflecting on what the dream meant and what Osborn said.

End of One Shot