Hi everyone. I'm still dead, but I found an old piece of Iron Man fan fiction from forever ago that I wanted to spruce up in lieu of starting a project for graduating college. I'm awesome, right? Anyways, when I first published this over a year ago, it was a horror show. But now that I've reworked it, I feel it's not as OOC as the first draft. Your comments are always appreciated, and hopefully over my winter break I'll post some new stuff. Enjoy!


. All's Fair In Love and Vanity .

For the sixth time she pressed the doorbell despite Jarvis's promise to return in just a moment.

He hadn't.

So she kept ringing.

"He's opted to mute the doorbell," the A.I's voice suddenly informed her rather flatly.

She narrowed her eyes in determination.

"Yeah? Let's see him turn this down," she said, promptly knocking at the door in steady, loud rhythm.

She continued her series of knocks over Jarvis's voice with no regard to what he might be trying to say, and finally, the door opened. She was somewhat taken aback by his disheveled appearance but turned on her recorder with a smile.

"Good evening, Mr. Stark. I'd like to ask you a few questions."

"No."

"You don't look so well."

He stared at her boredly. "Really?"

"You're eyes are bloodshot. Looks like you've been drinking," she continued as he sighed, irritated. "Have you slept in the same clothes all week, too? Bathed at all?"

"I would thank you kindly to leave before I jettison you off my property," Tony curtly replied as his voice rose slightly. "And I don't need my suit to do it, Caitlin-"

"Christine."

"Listen. What-Everhart," – he leaned down inches from her with a snarl so nasty she actually felt startled for half a moment – "leave. This is nobody's business. Not yours, not Vanity Fair's, nobody's. Get – the fuck – off my porch."

Tony took Christine Everhart's Bitchy Reporter Voice Recorder out of her hand and fiercely whipped it into the darkness, not even satisfied when he heard it obliterate. Her lips returned to that thin pressed line while he stared her down with silent fury. Christine blinked once as he stood back up and turned, ready to slam the door in her face. She'd have none of it.

"I've already talked to her."

Tony stopped, and part of her congratulated herself as a smirk came to her lips. He looked back over his shoulder at her weakly, speaking with a broken whisper.

"You talked to her?"

Christine nodded. "Yes."

"When?"

"This morning."

Tony found himself involuntarily turning back around. He was breathless, staring her down like the desperate life line to a previous life that she now was. She held a firm stance under his stinging red eyes, an uneven breath unsuccessfully going unnoticed from the irregular bob of his arc reactor.

"What did she say?"

"Interview-interviewee confidentiality, Mr. Stark."

Toy looked away angrily. Brimming with such furious frustration, he took a step back, grabbed the door, and went to again slam it, but Christine gave it quite the stiff-arm and him, a dose of his own stubborn persistence.

"I need answers for these questions. Those broken record responses don't really fit the nature of the story."

"You aren't getting fuck from me."

She lifted an eyebrow at that and snorted.

"What did she say?" he repeated through gritted teeth.

"You just smashed my recorder; otherwise I'd play it back for you."

Then, Tony stepped back in the doorway, opening it wide. "Up for a bargain, Miss Everhart?" he asked with a hint of long-lost amusement in his voice.

"Elaborate," she said, stepping into the living room slowly.

He shut the door hard, and the A.I. initiated the locking system. Some lights came up, and Tony walked back towards the couch. She proceeded carefully after seeing the state of what looked to be his seven-foot living space for the better part of three days.

Tony pushed a pile of deflated pillows to the other end of the couch after picking up an empty cereal box.

"If I answer your damn questions – ones that I feel aren't any more of an excessive intrusion on my life than what the world already knows – will you give something to her for me?"

Christine tried to avoid his eyes casually, but pity grew somewhere in her solid core seeing all of the trash, alcohol bottles, spills, stains, and general mess surrounding him on the couch, floor, and coffee table. She skirted around a dried out bowl of pasta near the leg of the coffee table, eyeing it as she gingerly sat on the edge of the couch that looked more or less diseased.

"Um… sure," she found herself saying distantly, discreetly scooting away from a dirty sock beside her.

She looked up at Tony uncertainly, not sure even she was expecting this. He took a drink from one of the many glasses on the cluttered coffee table and emptied it, setting it on the floor. Scratching his overgrown goatee, Tony grunted and said, "Then come on. What?"

Passed the phase of stumbling over words as she flipped through a notebook for her questions, Christine exercised her expertise in looking right at him and directing her first question at him.

"What happened?"

"You haven't heard?"

"Oh, I've heard," she assured him without hesitation, "but I want to know how. How are you taking this devastating blow everyone had come to expect?"

"Please." Tony huffed sardonically, sinking back into the couch like his eyes were sinking back into his head. "No one ever expected shit. I never expected to get married in the first place, let alone everyone else on the damn planet."

"But you changed after becoming Iron Man, didn't you? The cave," Christine mused. "Changing Tony Stark, ladies man, into Tony Stark, devoted heart."

She saw his eyes flicker guiltily to a framed picture across the room. She couldn't quite see it from the lighting, but she didn't have to know the specifics. His silence, his wringing hands were evidence enough.

"You know, I agreed to answer your questions, not undergo your patronizing bombardment of snarky bullshit comments," he warned. "One more thing out of your mouth that's not a respectful question, Rita Skeeter, and you're leaving."

"Fine."

"Stop writing stories with your damn assumptuous ego and pay attention."

She paused at his bitter words but said, "Okay."

"Are we on the same page?"

"Yes."

"Good." He picked up a bottle of bourbon and took a sip, making a face at the burn. "Now what the hell are you getting at?"

"How did you manage to make the one person that could possibly be insane enough to agree to spend the rest of her life with you want to divorce you?"

Tony slammed the bottle down, causing Christine to start. "She is not," he mumbled slowly, "insane." He stared at the quiet television, his speech somewhat monotone. "This wasn't any fault of hers."

"Don't you think she was too hasty in ignoring the advice to run in the other direction?" Christine felt herself driving home now, moving closer to Tony with her curiosity and intense berating climaxing. "The pleas of her family to think of her career, the doubts she must have been having when she looked in the mirror on your wedding day-"

"Get the hell out of my house."

"Why haven't you signed the divorce papers yet?"

"Get out!" he shouted as she walked backwards in the direction of the door, keeping as much distance between them as possible.

"Why won't you just end it? If you loved her-"

Tony opened the door with such force that it damaged the wall. Christine's bravery waned in the face of his seething anger, swallowing as his expression deteriorated emotionally. His fist hit the door, crushing it into the wall further as he hung his head. Christine dared to breathe, overwhelmed.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Stark," she said gently, her heart hammering violently. "I was wrong, I-"

Tony slipped away from the doorway back to the coffee table wordlessly. Christine stepped back into the doorframe as he briefly rummaged through the debris of his drunken depression and returned to her with a large, crumpled envelope and tears lining his eyes.

"I do love her," his raspy voice crooned. She stared at the envelope as he passed it into her hands. He blinked, words painfully working through his throat.

"Give this to her. Please."

Christine met his shadowed face and began to stammer, but when he shook his head, she fell silent, clutching the wrinkled paper close to her body. She nodded, her face red as she exited the house. A few steps out the door, she turned back to the grief-stricken man barely holding himself up in the doorway. A genuine pang suddenly ricocheted through her, catching on her breath.

"Mr. Stark, why are you giving up?"

He didn't look up. His eyes fluttered shut, the arc reactor's light fading as he slowly stood with the door in his hand.

"Why are you still here, Miss Everhart?"

Waiting for no reply, he retreated inside, quietly shutting the front door on the reporter. As raindrops began to accompany the distant sound of thunder sounding overhead, Christine Everhart blinked at the ground, tucked the envelope under her blazer, and turned to go.

. Please Review .