I like Iron Man. I also like Batman. I really, really like slash. A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN, Y/Y?
I honestly don't have any idea how this happened. I wanted to write a little something (preferably pornographic) about these two, to, you know, get them out of my system. I ended up with a bunch of ridiculous and absolutely no porn. I am disappoint. Anyhoo, some Bruce Wayne/Tony Stark, because there should be more of it I think.
Note the first: This is pretty much film canon for the most part, other than all the lovely superhero mentions/add-ons and Tony's height because I love you to pieces Robert Downey junior, but my Tony Stark is pretty tall. Also, I don't have encyclopaedic knowledge of both Batman and Iron Man comics—more like an eleventh grade cheat-sheet. My love isn't in proportion to my wealth, thus this sad lack of nerd-facts.
Speaking of love and wealth: This is a disclaimer. It disclaims. Carry on.
Note the second: Andrej Pejic doesn't belong in Marvel or DC, but he was perfect for what I wanted so I borrowed him. Obviously in this fic he's as divorced from reality as flying in a metal suit, but poetic licence. Let's pretend it's not him, just some made up person with the exact same name and looks and profession. Because that is how I roll.
Now, without further ado, I give you:
The Billionaire Boys Club
The first time he sees Gotham relatively sober he vows never to try that again. He is young enough to find it vaguely amusing in the way seeing a large predator rend some fluffy creature to pieces can be amusing the first time. Every time after the first is just cruel and so, so sad.
Then he realises he can't possibly wear his designer shades in that kind of gloom and is no longer amused. Gotham, Tony decides, is other people's problem. No matter how many up-and-coming new talents, possible ventures, bla, bla, bla, you can find there—there are such things as personal ethics.
Let's face it, he's already so ridiculously rich that another few million here and there just aren't worth the aggravation.
"Fuck this," he says decisively, "back to civilisation, please."
Years and several experiences later, he is still unimpressed.
It isn't his turf and if he has his way—and he would— it never would be. Did a drearier place even exist anywhere on the face of this planet? No, they could keep Gotham with its dark, cold, and dreary forevermore.
Any place without at least a dozen days of sunshine a year is unnatural and unconstitutional as far as he's concerned.
For once he is on the right side of midnight but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy it just the same. If Pepper's expression is anything to go by he's doing a fabulous job of it so far. The last time she'd looked that constipated he'd demolished part of his house after putting a sizeable dent in his collection of fine cognacs. He smiles at the memory. Good times.
He isn't sure what it is they are celebrating—some technological discovery or other, it wasn't his so he doesn't feel the need to keep track. It had been short notice and so they'd merely invaded the nearest overpriced restaurant where it had taken Tony all of five minutes to order up a dozen or so models—and he kept telling Pepper they weren't strippers, what did she take him for, a common lecher—as to not expire of boredom. It maybe wasn't his turf but that didn't mean he had to go native. There were limits to what one could be reasonably expected to endure and Tony wasn't really interested in finding out what they were, exactly. There is nothing more boring than a party made up of suits, except, maybe, a party made up of nerds in suits.
"Sir, I must insist—" Unfortunately it isn't only Pepper's disapproval he has to deal with, that walking moustache looks close to bursting a vessel. It couldn't be helped. They don't really know him here, but he's the fucking Iron Man and that should cross the Ts and dot the Is.
Tony waves him away. "Must, nothing. It's a party and parties aren't supposed to put me to sleep."
One of the models is climbing up on the table, and oh, hello! That certainly explains the lack of pantylines.
"But sir, this is a respectable establishment, we, we can't have ladies taking their clothes off!"
"Mmmhm." It's a most wonderful development. "Miss Potts, my chequebook, please." He says this to be dramatic because the whole sign-with-a-flourish makes a statement that 'put it on my card' just doesn't.
"Yep, that's the name on it," he says absently. He is far too busy thinking of where exactly to stick a twenty considering the pantyline revelation.
Pepper doesn't so much hand him his chequebook as whoops him over the head with it.
"Thank you Miss Potts. Now," he says turning to Mr. Moustache and plucking a pen out of the man's breast pocket. "Let's pretend I care and tell me that this place isn't for sale. Come on, I want to hear you lie to my face." And get back to the important things, but that much is obvious. He'd already written down something preposterous and signed it while Moustache was spluttering something about not being authorised, yadda, yadda. He tears the cheque out and sticks it in the man's breast pocket along with the borrowed pen.
He then turns to the people staring at him with his arms spread wide and smiles winningly. "Now! Let's get some proper music in here!"
Gotham doesn't know Tony Stark, but he would introduce himself with his own personal brand of charm. It takes him all of three seconds to hack the restaurant's system and upload his own playlist. The girls really do a lot better when they have a beat to grind to and Pepper looks two seconds away from Armageddon so it is a win all around. He is having a wonderful, if overcast, day.
"Tony, come dance with us!"
A wonderful day that is only getting better and better.
It is now officially a party. The beat is thumping, the liquor flowing and the girls are either topless or close to it. The younger generation of customers has seen fit to join them and any stick in the mud had long retreated to quieter pastures.
"Mr. Stark, there's a couple of gentlemen who'd like to speak to you," his assistant warns him.
Uh-oh, a group that official-looking never predicted anything good and Sonja—Sandra? Selma? Sarah?—was this close to achieving an Olympic-grade spread eagle. Tony leans back in his chair and signals Pepper to deal with it. Sonja obviously needs all the coaching she can get.
While Pepper deals with the grumpy delegation he focuses his attention where it is needed. Now if only he could decide which perfectly shaped body part, exactly, warrants it most. The legs are triple A, but then so is the rest of her. He loves natural blondes.
Someone clears their throat right next to his ear.
"You really should get that looked at Miss Potts."
"Mr. Stark, there is a little problem with your acquisition of this particular establishment," Pepper says smugly. Smugly? She is smug? That can't be good.
"Whatever, raise the offer."
No, no no, smug is not nearly close enough. She looks utterly satisfied.
"The amount is not the issue, I believe."
He turns to give her a look. "Then what is?"
Pepper clears her throat again and points. "Apparently you're not the only billionaire playboy who solves all his problems by throwing money at them."
His head whips around to where she's been pointing. Sure enough, right there on the terrace is a man sitting at a table, laughing while he watches two girls swing from the light fixtures. He's a suit, but he's a suit in the way Tony himself is a suit—tailored, overpriced and suave.
"Mr. Wayne and the ladies of the Monaco circus had similar ideas about the restaurant's rules and regulations. He beat you to it."
"Oh. Ooh, isn't that something," he says to himself, watching the man and his companions. "Mr. Wayne, tsk, tsk. This isn't a boy's game." Pepper looks as if she'd love nothing more than to disagree with him on that and he's not in the mood to let her. "Miss Potts, would you be so kind as to enquire if Mr. Wayne would care to join us?"
"You can't be serious," she hisses.
He wags his finger at her, tutting. "Don't be insulting. I'm never serious, but this means war."
"Tony, a representative of the Wayne Foundation is expected at a charity event sponsored by Stark Industries this Saturday and it's imperative that you not insult—"
"Mmmhm. Now, Miss Potts."
She sighs and schools her features into something more neutral. He blows her a kiss as she turns to do as he's asked. He's won. He always does.
All that is left is for Mr. Bruce Wayne to be made aware of that.
That plan is reshaping itself very rapidly in his head because, hello, there's Pepper leading a slightly confused looking young man and the man is more than fine. Bruce Wayne is serious eye-candy from the tips of his Italian shoes to the shine of his perfectly coiffed dark locks.
Of course money buys everything, even looks, but the man is built in the way that hints at actual strength and not a shiny gym membership. It doesn't take much to imagine kneading those shoulders.
Here is something more. Something interesting.
"Mr. Stark," Wayne says, looking a little puzzled.
Tony grins charmingly, reaching out to shake the hesitant hand. "Mr. Bruce Wayne, a pleasure."
"To what do I owe the honour?" Wayne speaks but his eyes aren't on Tony, he is taking in the chaos around them. He doesn't look angry, which is a plus. That means he's still in business.
"Ah, I thought it would only be polite to apologise for this little"—he gestures at the mass of people still partying—" invasion. From what I hear this is your playground."
Bruce Wayne's smile could power a small country and while he'd known about Wayne in a kind of arbitrary 'yeah he's in my league but not in my league' kind of way he'd not known that yes, yes he is very much in his league. How, why, why had he not known this, damn Pepper she'd probably set him up.
"Don't mention it. Please, make yourself right at home." Bruce pins him with a look from those golden-green eyes. "But then, I see you already have."
"I am made up entirely of spur of the moments," Tony admits. Pepper seems very eager to expand on that but chooses to restrain herself. Wayne sees it anyway.
"Better to ask forgiveness?"
"That sounds about right. Miss Potts, make sure I own a t-shirt that reads that," he says very seriously. "In red and gold."
She rolls her eyes but takes out her PDA. "Right away, Mr. Stark."
Tony makes a grand bow—if he does say so himself—and offers Wayne a hand, again. "So am I forgiven, Mr. Wayne?"
"Bruce, please, and thoroughly forgiven. I haven't seen the staff here this flustered in a long time."
"Oh thank god, the Mr. Starks are coming out of my ears."
That actually makes Bruce laugh—yet another one of those things he really should have been warned about in advance, damn it Pepper.
"I can imagine. I admit I hardly expected to find the great Iron Man himself here in Gotham."
Tony shrugs, snagging two glasses from a table, and signals a waiter who actually runs for it. Huh, so Tony Stark is negligible but Wayne gets them going. Figures. "Spur of the moment. I'm a runaway, actually. Something about some meeting back home—too long, didn't read. Gotham seemed a safe distance away."
They are about to have a moment, Tony is sure of it, which is probably why the circus ladies arrive just in time to prevent it. They press up against Bruce like strips of velcro, evil slutty velcro.
"Come on, Bruce, you promised to show us the city from up high, yes?" one of them whines.
"Yes, Bruce, you promised," the other says. She tugs on his nose and Tony wants to strangle her right then and there. Bitch.
"It's only fair. A show for a show."
Bruce smiles apologetically at Tony and wraps his arms around the two of them. "I did promise," he admits.
"Yes," the girls chorus and start tugging him away.
"My apologies, Tony. I seem to be kidnapped," Bruce says laughingly.
"I apologise too, but I don't think this is really a job for Iron Man," Tony says, managing to keep the childish petulance out of his voice by the skin of his teeth.
Bruce laughs again and winks at him. "There's still the Batman if the need arises," he says lightly, and then he's gone.
Tony pouts for real. His day is no longer wonderful.
"I want to go home."
He's stewing in the car and Pepper is really not helping with her amusement and the fucking smugness.
"I'm sorry the billionaire boys club hasn't worked out for you," Pepper says. "But I thought he wasn't in your league?"
"That's mean. You're supposed to be on my side," he whines. "What happened to being on my side?"
He heads for the swankiest hotel in Gotham having no doubt it is there Pepper has made reservations. He doesn't own property in Gotham. Why doesn't he own property in Gotham? A city this ridiculous, he'd need a base of operations—the Batman.
Right. That was why.
Well, too bad.
"A building. Something tall, yet sturdy. All the usual infrastructure," he rattles off, confident she will catch on to his meaning. "Tinted windows, maybe."
"Residential or commercial?"
"Residential of course. I'm not going to board the man's ship without permission."
She grins, catlike. "And here I thought that was exactly what you were planning." Damn her, damn her, damn her.
Tony steps a little harder on the gas.
She pats him on the shoulder. "There, there. You might see him Saturday evening."
He points accusingly at her. "You didn't warn me. You traitor."
"Oh, I'm sorry. As I recall it was you who said that Wayne was an idealistic airhead débutante and to stop bothering you with banalities last time I brought him up. You're the reason Stark Industries hasn't even bothered working with Wayne Enterprises no matter how profitable it might be."
"You sound angry, are you angry?" He taps his fingers on the steering wheel impatiently. "He's beautiful."
"It's typical you'd fixate on that instead of all the potential this meeting could have had."
"Right, this has been fun but I can see the hotel and I'm getting tired of being patronised so let me put this out there. I would not and will not use Wayne Enterprises as a crutch to support my company because of a problem I personally created. I also am not and will not be kissing up to a rich boy for any other reason than his very impressive pectoral girth. And pretty hazel eyes. And dat ass." He sticks his tongue out at her just to emphasise. "So there."
She's quiet for a moment before a smile creeps onto her face. "Would you like that on a t-shirt as well, Mr. Stark?"
"That would be nice, Miss Potts. I could wear it to my charity event."
It is finally a cheerful and above all determined Tony Stark who falls into bed that night. Life, is full of surprises.
The event is extravagant, full of beautiful people and a total bore. The only conversation he can even remember having was about Batman. Had he seen him while in Gotham? No. No he hadn't, wasn't that a shame.
Christ, why did pretty girls sometimes have to be so fucking stupid. You give them Iron Man and they natter on about a huge bat.
Wayne never showed. Instead, there'd been a boring suit with, yes, moderate intellect, but no social graces.
He later learned there was an incident involving Bruce Wayne, a tiger, and the trapeze artists of the Monaco circus. Oh, and some bank robbery, but what ever.
They are back in Gotham and are being driven around town by a far too cheerful fat man. There is actually a good reason for it this time instead of a spur of the moment escape from Malibu. He is scheduled to appear in a meeting between Stark Industries and Wayne Enterprises to discuss a joint venture in the altruistic field of limb prosthetics. He's managed to drag his company out of the pits and into the limelight once again so he feels not the slightest twinge of unease about the idea. Of course it's not really about the project, although it really would be a sound venture and between the two of them they could do a lot of good for the world, yadda, yadda.
If it doesn't get him an in with Wayne Enterprises, and by extension Bruce Wayne's pants, he doesn't know what will.
Pepper is shuffling papers and playing with her PDA at the same time. She is prattling on about real estate and plumbing of all things. He isn't even pretending to listen but instead gazes out over the urban wasteland that is Gotham.
"Does this city come in a shade other than grey?" he wonders out loud.
"No sir," the driver answers lightly, chuckling. "Unless you count black, brown, or washed out vomit-yellow and dirty pea-green."
Tony purses his lips and thinks.
"Miss Potts, make a note. None of those colours anywhere near my building." He thinks some more and comes back on that demand. "Except black. I like black."
She frowns unhappily, annoyed at being interrupted when imparting what she must have thought to be vital information. "Do you have a particular colour in mind, Mr. Stark?"
"Gold," he answers immediately. "Steel and glass and gold. Maybe a little green."
She stops playing with her papers to look at him sideways. Gold is actually predictable. She must have been expecting him to say something outrageous. She doesn't realise his new obsession is just as outrageous.
When they arrive at the high rise Pepper has chosen to show him it is everything he doesn't want.
"It has a good view of Wayne Tower," Pepper comments in this offhand manner that is entirely rehearsed.
"Buy it, renovate it, decorate it."
He can tell that she's seeing all the probable headaches the project will cause her parading behind her retinas from the set of her mouth and that adorable twitch of her eyebrow. "Is that all?"
"Just keep in mind Miss Potts—black and gold."
"Yes, Mr. Stark."
He glances at his watch. "Aren't we running late?"
She nearly drops her PDA. "Come again?"
"Let's go, Miss Potts. We have orphans to save and widows to comfort."
Tony's speech is a riveting spiel about world peace and orphans in need of love, which has nothing to do with prosthetics but that's a detail and he can't be bothered. He smiles winningly and ends it with, "In conclusion—profit." and a little bow. Nobody claps, it's such a let down. Pepper is clenching and unclenching her fists but he'd obtained his goal just fine—Bruce had smiled. The Stark delegation will smooth out the edges when they present the offer in more detail because he pays them to be bothered, so it's a double win. He lets them get on with it and sits down to observe.
He's counting down the minutes and doing mindless calculations in his head to pass the time. There is no way an agreement won't be reached eventually. Probably not right away, but he is in. When the discussion has finally wound down and appointments for legal things he doesn't care about are being made he stares Wayne down, holding his gaze until everybody leaves and they are alone. Pepper lingers in the doorway for just a second but even she can see what's going on and with a little huff she leaves, muttering under her breath.
"You are ridiculously transparent," Bruce tells him.
Tony wiggles his eyebrows at him. "It saves time."
Bruce fails to suppress a smile and Tony wants to pat himself on the back. Score one for the direct approach—his charm really has no bounds. It's enough to make him want to break out in song.
"I like the lack of surprise and homophobia. I'm ever so happy to avoid those," Tony says teasingly.
"Lunch?" Bruce finally says, and he's fondly exasperated. Tony knows this because he's very familiar with the tone from his many years of being babysat by Pepper. It pretty much means 'I think you're an idiot, but you're a loveable idiot and I will let you have your way—just this once, mind'. They never realise it means they've given him carte blanche, and he's a greedy, greedy child.
"Sure, but let's make it in bed," he stipulates, standing up and extending his hand to Bruce.
"Did I say ridiculously transparent? I take it back—you have all the subtlety of a blunt weapon," Bruce mutters, but takes the hand and lets himself be pulled up.
"Pitfalls of being a shark, Bruce. I see, I want, I take."
Bruce chuckles in that same fondly exasperated way. "You are so full of shit, Stark."
"Hey, none of that now. I told you, call me Tony," he chides. "I plan for us to be intimately acquainted which makes last names a little redundant."
Bruce quirks a brow at him. "Do I get a say?"
Tony lifts their joined hands in answer. Unfortunately, Bruce pulls away the minute they see people. Balls. Bruce has lovely hands, big and strong and, actually, a little calloused. His mind fills in all the pleasurable little blanks.
They walk through Wayne Tower together and exactly one person isn't surprised—Pepper. She falls into step behind them and brings up her PDA, waiting for instructions.
"Miss Potts, clear my schedule for the rest of the day, and if at all possible, the rest of tomorrow. Exacerbating circumstances, etcetera," he tells her in the Professional Voice which has fooled many but he doubts fools her even a little bit. She goes along with it anyway, bless her.
"Of course, Mr. Stark, will there be anything else?"
He glances at Bruce who rolls his eyes at him but shakes his head and takes out his phone. Tony waves Pepper off and follows Bruce to the main entrance. They are met by an old gentleman Tony desperately wants to call Jeeves. He refrains out of self-preservation—while it hasn't been proven a lack of sex will kill him, he's not ready to put it to the test.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Wayne."
"Hello, Alfred. Keys please," Bruce says sweetly, holding out his hand.
Jeeves looks from Bruce to Tony, realisation lighting up his eyes. Tony actually feels like he's being judged, which is sad because he's Iron Man and Jeeves is looking at him like he's something someone scraped off the bottom of their shoe.
Bruce catches the keys deftly and nods respectfully at Jeeves. "I'll see you tomorrow, Alfred," he says and Tony almost but not quite sticks his tongue out at the old man, who glares at him even after he gets in the car. If Bruce sees them firing lasers at each other with their eyes, he doesn't mention it. It's probably for the best—Tony doesn't think he can refrain from calling the man Jeeves and Bruce obviously respects him.
The drive is mercifully short, so Tony doesn't paw at his new friend in a way that could get them killed in a car accident with their pants down. He's fairly sure his reputation could take it but he doesn't want to put Bruce through that until at least their second date. The penthouse is unsurprising—remember, billionaire boys club—being slammed up against a wall as soon as they're through the door, a little less unsurprising.
By now he's certain Pepper set him up again. Kisses like that should be infamous and he had, again, been ignorant of Bruce's prowess. He can imagine her sitting in a dark corner somewhere, cackling and rubbing her hands together in a vaguely diabolical way. That is really no way to treat your boss.
When Bruce lets him come up for air he's breathing hard and ready to sign over half his company. Then, because of course, his phone rings and it's an emergency.
"Stark, where the hell are you? I've been calling you for three hours straight and if you think I don't have shit to do other than babysit your ass, you got another thing coming."
With his apology in his smile, he steps away from Bruce. "Nick Fury, what a pleasure to hear your dulcet tones after so long."
"Are you sassing me, boy? You better get your ass over to command before I have you collected."
"Is that an option? I never knew I could order a taxi from S.H.I.E.L.D.. What exemplary service you provide," he says because there's no word for how annoyed he is at the interruption but god help him, he'll make sure he's not the only one. He has to hold the phone away from his ears to spare himself injury, which means he's succeeded to properly infuriate Fury, which is a win. When the man winds down a little he jumps in. "I'm in Gotham so my ETA will be a little later than usual."
The shriek of Gotham nearly renders him deaf in one ear. Then there's some ranting about the Batman that he doesn't listen to because he's watching Bruce, who looks not the littlest bit gentle and playful. There's something in those eyes Tony recognises but can't name—a mystery. Shit, that means there's no turning back because if there's one thing Tony can't stand, it's not knowing something. He's hooked and he knows it.
He barely catches the 'get your ass over here' from Fury, he's so busy examining Bruce. Still, duty calls and he's gotten a bit better about answering.
"I'm on my way, keep your pants on," he tells Fury before closing the connection. He sighs deeply. The disappointment is sickening, really. "Well," he says.
"Indeed," Bruce agrees, a tiny smile playing at his lips.
"Do not think this is in any way over," Tony warns him on his way out.
"Wouldn't dream of it," Bruce says, and now he is indeed playful and damn it, Tony really doesn't want to leave.
He takes one look at the closed door and grits his teeth. "Today is no longer wonderful," he grumbles. There had better be something he can beat up because if there isn't, he'll not be responsible for what happens.
It's been a few months and Tony has kept relatively busy in the sense that he has broken at least five different bones and is the proud owner of a gruesome yet bad-ass new scar from mid-thigh all the way to his navel. Things have been interesting, to say the least.
He considered his properly full schedule a silver lining of sorts—there was simply no time for Gothamly escapades by Waynely incentive. It's kind of an accomplishment that he managed to refrain from storming up to the manor, or penthouse, or whatever, and demanding proper restitution for weeks of non-sexual torment because Bruce Wayne was everywhere. If he wasn't debauching a dance troupe, he was absconding with an actress—mind the 'ress'. There were no 'ors', which is either flattering or enviable, depending on one's view, because it either meant Tony has demolished the standards for male lovers or that Bruce has the best press agent in the universe. The jury is still out on that one but Tony is (justifiably) leaning towards the first.
All GBH aside, Tony Stark is frustrated with the entire universe. This showed in nothing so well as it did in his interpretation of S.H.I.E.L.D assignments. Fury seemed torn between fatherly pride and blind rage at the brutality Tony employed in dispatching various idiots who stood between him and Bruce Wayne's posterior, because damn it is fine even in newspaper photographs.
So, yes, he is a little frustrated and yes, it is a little obvious. Thankfully, no one really knows why—they just assume it's a genius alcoholic billionaire playboy thing and roll their eyes a lot but accept it as normal.
Pepper, curse her soul, knows better. He knows this because there is the case of the knowing smile and self-satisfied click to her high-heeled walk every time she brings him the day's news which often includes either Wayne or the progress reports on the renovation of his Gotham skyscraper.
Then, one day, it's finished.
"There was a minor conflict between the interior decorator and the construction crew but it has been handled to satisfaction," she prattles while queuing up documents for his perusal, "all in all I believe you will be satisfied with the results, Mr. Stark."
"Wait," he mutters, eyes scanning the blueprints and assorted photographs with lighting speed. "It's done? It's done. Awesome." Tony pushes his chair back and stands up in one smooth move like the graceful creature he is should. He breezes by her because he is on a mission and they have sayings for that. Pepper, of course, laughs.
"Shall I clear the schedule, Mr. Stark?"
"I know not the meaning of the word," he says, striding to the elevator while peons scatter out of his way. "Invent some technical failures—have J.A.R.V.I.S. help you with that. I don't plan to be reachable by anything other than carrier pigeon and even then it better be trained by wizards because I'll try to shoot it."
"Is he even in Gotham?" she asks exasperatedly, rushing to keep up while furiously typing on her tablet. "Generally he does know the meaning of the word schedule an I don't think he'd appreciate being kidnapped out of his own meeting."
Tony stops suddenly and she crashes into him with a squeak.
"That's actually a very good point. Find out for me? I'll be en-route but J.A.R.V.I.S. will patch you through. Besides, I need to inspect my new vacation house."
"In Gotham?" she hisses after collecting herself from their collision. "That's your excuse for it?"
Tony smiles and it's all teeth.
"No one will go for it," she says bluntly.
"Of course they will," he says, putting on his sunglasses. "I'm Tony Stark."
"Of course," she sighs.
His new holiday home away from home isn't difficult to spot. He has to hand it to Pepper, when she handles a project, she really handles it. The building he's heading for looks so little like the trash she'd made him sign for by way of childish possessiveness and stalker-like tendencies (both his), that she may very well have had it rebuilt from the ground up. Even if it is one high-rise among many, it is the only one with that shine that says new and expensive like all his things tend to with the typical Stark techy edge. He knows the edge well. Pepper's modern art fanaticism never fails to rear its head, the only difference here is her concession to the scenery. His tower is menacing, just like the rest of Gotham. Lovely.
Back on subject, his tower (because it really is) shines like a beacon despite the liberal use of black so he flies straight to it and lands on the roof which of course triggers about five million security protocols. "Yeah, not in the mood. J.A.R.V.I.S., kick it in the balls and tell me which way is in before I use the skylight and damn the consequences."
"Would you like me to add world peace to that order, sir?" his AI sasses him. It sasses. He doesn't know what he was thinking when he chose to submit himself to the mercies of both Pepper and a damn mouthy AI.
"If you can swing it. I'd like a holiday right about now," he mutters. "Entrance, J.A.R.V.I.S., I'd like a bath this century."
"The skylight is looking promising."
Tony huffs and scans the roof for an obvious door. Of course there is none. "J.A.R.V.I.S., how would you like to spend the rest of your days confined to something running Windows 3.0. The security system can't be that difficult to crack, I haven't touched it yet!"
"Kind as well as modest, sir." the AI says dryly while simultaneously a panel hisses and opens to something that better be stairs. Pepper never contacted him and he is in dire need of a drink and a long soak to mask his sulk. Waiting is not and never will be his strong suit.
Tony rolls his eyes and stomps into what seems to be an elevator. "Upload yourself and let's get this party started. Run diagnostics on everything, I'll review from the tub. Which floor?"
"Two down, sir."
"I'm not on top?" he pouts. "That's mean."
"A workshop has been assembled for your personal use there and while the suit is fully waterproof, I'd assumed," J.A.R.V.I.S. says.
"Smartass,"Tony grumbles without malice. He's not thinking clearly, which, duh, Gotham. Still, getting out of the suit is a relief only surpassed by ditching the bodysuit for sweats on his way to his bedroom and finding out that Pepper loves him truly, madly, deeply.
"This is quite the surprise," he says. Smooth. Yeah.
Stretched out on a black leather sofa is none other than Bruce. Fucking. Wayne. Is it his birthday? He must have forgotten, there is no way his karma is as good as to deliver him something like casual barefoot Bruce in jeans and ridiculously thin grey knit shirt for nothing.
Bruce shifts so the light hits his face. "Your assistant contacted me a little while ago. She inquired, I delivered."
"Raise. She is so due," Tony decides on the spot. And a car. Or a house. Maybe a country? He will hug her to within an inch of her life. No, he will get her knighted in some country that still does that. Then he remembers the fucking security. "How did you get in?"
"Your assistant had someone let me in. I like what you've done with the place."
Tony smirks. "Like I said, she is very due."
Bruce chuckles at him, slides his legs to the floor and sits up. He'd been reading something. A paper. Shit.
"All lies, I swear," Tony tries pre-emptively. Bruce rolls his eyes and shoves the paper away.
"I should hope so. I would like to think I had a say in who I'm marrying."
Tony doesn't twitch, but it is a near thing. "Marrying. Congratulations?"
Bruce has gotten to his feet and, unlike Tony, is capable of movement. His legs eat up the distance in seconds. "Mmhm. Jessica. Or Angela. Perhaps Michelle. I didn't read the article after seeing the obviously photoshopped picture. She has blue eyes. The children are bound to be spectacular."
"Oh, obviously. Tall, too?" Tony asks, his eyes glued on the neck a hair's breadth away. Screw it. He reaches out and puts two fingers on the pulse. Bruce's breath hitches.
"Of course. Heaven forbid the Wayne heirs are all midget children."
Tony can't help the laugh. "Isn't that sort of expected? They grow, I heard." Bruce's hand unerringly lands on his scar. He traces it down and Tony shifts his weight. Right, he has instincts now. "I like this surprise a little less."
"The news," Bruce explains. He visibly tenses when Tony presses his fingers down more firmly.
"Funny, I don't remember posting a list of my injuries anywhere lately."
Bruce relaxes minutely and breathes a laugh. "Stark, I'm a billionaire."
The fingers fall away but Tony still twists out of the way of Bruce's hand. "Fair point. Drink?"
Bruce lets him attempt to walk away for all of two seconds before yanking him back by his sweatpants, spinning him back around and nearly dipping him like a southern lady for a kiss that's featured in many a daydream for the past few months. The fantasy does not fucking compare.
Tony doesn't even think to struggle, he bites back at the mouth devouring all of him and just thinks fuck it, work with that you have. He fists his hands in Bruce's hair and gives back all he's got, which is plenty.
He is the one to break the kiss. Panting slightly he looks up at Bruce with a feeling of stubbornness he knows well. "You have got to stop defying expectation."
"Then stop underestimating me," Bruce growls and goes for more like he'd been the one pining and decimating the wicked to get rid of an infinitesimal amount of frustration only to see it returned when he opened whatever news source was closest to hand.
Tony loses a braincell or two through his mouth but hey, it's not like he can't spare them. Still, this is so not on. He's being dipped for god's sake. Thinking he's so very clever he tries a move he's learned from agent Iron-Man-yes-Tony-Stark-no with the mouth and ass, a move which has laid him out on the floor every single fucking time she used it.
Bruce grabs his leg, yanks, twists, does something insanely coordinated and limber, and gravity asserts itself. It asserts itself on the wrong person.
"What the hell?" Tony grunts from the floor. He's the superhero here! There is no way, no matter how much underestimation is going on, that pretty boy Wayne just countered a move that has brought Tony nothing but pain and humiliation for weeks before Steve took pity. He is distracted by hands and mouth but doesn't miss the whispered, "Reflex" and the way every muscle in Bruce's body is made of steel.
"We, are having a talk later," Tony threatens. Bruce grunts something which isn't a denial or an agreement but goes straight to Tony's cock. Yeah, okay, screw instincts. Hah. Screw instincts. "Bed," he gasps.
"Here," Bruce counters with a hand on his ass and lips on his neck.
"Here," Tony quickly agrees.
He wakes up in his bed alone. This is a new development to say the least but one he perhaps should have seen coming. He is sore in all kinds of fun ways and certainly very comfortable. There is a distinct lack of sticky mess which means Bruce is the considerate type. Not, mind you, that it showed in the way he fucked. Tony is practically covered in bruises and scratches in interesting locations.
There was zero alcohol involved so he remembers every little thing, and those things make him want to build a memory extractor just so he can revisit in full HD with surround sound.
Bruce Wayne is a spectacular fuck. His press agent should be fired because nowhere does it say anything of the sort! Playboy, idiot, spoiled, yes, yes, and yes. Tiger in the sack? Not a single mention anywhere. Tony feels he's been mislead one too many times when it comes to Bruce Wayne.
The Bruce Wayne who barely paused when he took off his shirt and there the arc reactor was, shining a soothing blue and cold to the touch. Bruce had kissed it gently, once, face bathed in blue light, before Tony promptly slithered down and sucked him off like his dick was the container of all the answers in the world. He'd never thought he'd find something so simple that sexy. It's a crying shame Bruce is MIA and not available for another round or two. Tony did some of his best work in the morning.
"J.A.R.V.I.S.," he groans, "order me a gallon of coffee and have it delivered." A chuckle answers him before his AI can and he cracks open an eye to investigate. Oh hello.
Tony had given as good as he'd gotten and Bruce is in a similar state concerning bruises and scratches. Interestingly enough, there are way more scars than Tony is used to seeing on his bed warmers. He works his way up to the jaw, which now sports the tiniest bit of stubble, over the lips he's kissed and bitten raw, to those eyes which devour. Tony approves wholeheartedly. He then tries to take in the full picture of morning-messy Bruce Wayne.
"Are those mine?" he wonders, gesturing at the sweatpants Bruce is wearing.
Bruce rolls his eyes and pulls them up to a more decent position, which leaves his ankles bare. "Obviously." He then—merciful god—uses his feet to pull each leg back down so they cover his ankles, but close to nothing of his pelvis. It's indecent. It's delicious.
Tony fights with the sheets until he can sit up. "I hereby decree you are never to wear anything else, ever."
Bruce ignores him. "Who's Jarvis?"
" J.A.R.V.I.S. is the AI. Say hello to mister Wayne, J.A.R.V.I.S.. By the way, he's supposed to be in the database. Be a dear and add him."
"Hello, mister Wayne. It's a pleasure to meet you," the AI says dutifully.
"Oh, sure, you can be polite to him," Tony grumbles.
Bruce smiles and his entire face lights up. "Extraordinary."
From where he's comfortably resting against the headboard Tony raises an eyebrow at his house guest. "I thought you'd left."
"I made coffee," Bruce says. "Thought it might be polite to say goodbye."
"You're crazy if you think I'm letting you leave after you made me coffee," Tony tells him, happily bouncing out of bed. "You found the kitchen? How?"
Bruce watches him like a hawk as he puts on his underwear and another pair of sweatpants so Tony makes sure he gives him a bit of a show while he waits for Bruce's brain to catch up to his mouth.
Tony pauses to stare. "J.A.R.V.I.S. is he shitting me?"
"No, sir. Mister Wayne indeed found all the facilities on his own."
Tony narrows his eyes at pretty air-headed Bruce Wayne. He gets a beatific smile in return. Something clicks in his head.
"Wayne Enterprises," Tony blurts out.
Bruce's smile widens.
"Of course. I bought and built in Gotham. Cheater," he accuses.
Bruce pretends—abysmally—to pout. "You don't like it? I made sure to pick the gold alloy personally."
Ohshit. Backtrack, backtrack. "Of course I like it baby, it's the best wedding present ever."
Bruce laughs. "Your face, oh my god, your face."
"Hey, now. You promised me coffee," Tony reminds him. In fact, he could probably do with some breakfast. And a shower. With Bruce. He is so obviously a genius it's a wonder they haven't awarded him some kind of thank you for existing for the good of humankind award.
They're in the kitchen where Bruce has indeed made coffee but it's cooled so he does it again and Tony falls a little bit in love. They're just sitting down at the island counter when a screen comes to life and J.A.R.V.I.S. starts the morning routine.
"Today's weather conditions are expected to include fog and drizzle. After 11AM there is a slight chance of showers; after noon, a chance of thunderstorms. Otherwise, it should be mostly cloudy, with a high near 81 degrees."
"Beautiful Gotham Weather," Bruce comments to which Tony makes a face and uncomplimentary grunting noises.
"I am taking you to Malibu. You've probably never seen a sun before. It'll be an adventure."
"There are thirteen messages. Would you like to review them?"
"Not right now J.A.R.V.I.S., I have a guest to entertain."
"Futhermore," J.A.R.V.I.S. continues, "the usual selection of domestic and international news, Mr. Stark, with the addition of the Gotham Herald."
"Fuck," they share their mutual dislike in unison. Tony glances at Bruce who looks slightly shaken. Probably not for the same reasons, then.
"Problem?" he asks.
"God I hope not," Bruce sighs.
J.A.R.V.I.S. chooses to interrupt again. "There is a call for Mr Wayne on his personal device," the AI informs them, splitting the screen to show the surveillance footage of Bruce's ringing mobile.
"Can you tell me who is calling?" Bruce asks, and J.A.R.V.I.S. zooms in on the little screen of the device. "Alfred," Bruce mumbles.
"Shall I patch it through, sir?"
Tony looks at Bruce who nods once. "Please, J.A.R.V.I.S.." He gestures to Bruce to speak freely.
"Good morning Alfred. What can I do for you?" Bruce says pleasantly.
"Master Bruce, good morning. I found myself surprised by your absence and thought to inquire as to your whereabouts," the older man says politely but there's no masking the slight scolding tone in his voice. Bruce seems to think it's fine because he smiles.
"Not to worry Alfred, I'm visiting a friend."
"A friend, Master Bruce?"
Bruce turns his smouldering look on Tony, who feels his cock jump a little. "Mmhm. Tony Stark arrived recently in Gotham and I wanted to welcome him."
The other end of the line is quiet. "I see. And when can I be expecting you, sir?"
Never, Tony mouths. Bruce rolls his eyes.
"I'll let you know when I know for sure, Alfred."
"Do you," Bruce chuckles. "Say, Alfred? Anything interesting in the morning papers today?"
The line is quiet again. Bruce tenses as if readying himself for a blow.
"Nothing of note, sir," the butler says and the tension flows away.
Huh. Tony finally makes the connection—in his defence, it's nothing he's ever had to worry about.
"All right, thank you Alfred. I'll be in touch."
Tony makes a cutting gesture and J.A.R.V.I.S. ends the call. He taps Bruce on the cheek with his index finger. "You're worried about the press?"
"You obviously aren't."
Tony rolls his eyes at the obvious non-answer. "I don't have a reputation to ruin. My body may be my temple, but it's one dedicated to lechery. What's your excuse?"
Bruce pauses a little too long before answering. "I don't want the extra attention."
Tony wants to cry bullshit, but he doesn't. It doesn't exactly sound like bullshit, but there's something distinctly fishy about the whole thing. Bruce gulps down his coffee while Tony tries to decide what it is about Bruce Wayne that has all his hackles up.
"I am going to leave before I get accused of giving you corporate favours in exchange for your talented tongue."
Tony pouts. It's a good excuse. He still doesn't buy it. "Can you go after we shower? I have a schedule I'd like to keep." He doesn't let Wayne answer. "J.A.R.V.I.S., call for a car to be here in two hours. Then order up some breakfast and if you can swing it, some clothes." He catches Bruce's frown just in time before it disappears under that pretty boy idiot smile. "The clothes from New York. I don't trust Gotham not to spit on them." He slides off the stool and wraps himself around Bruce. "Do I have a bath somewhere?"
"Yes," Bruce gasps. Score for the talented tongue.
"Let's find it, shall we?" He grins into Bruce's shoulder. He has plans for those shoulders.
J.A.R.V.I.S. does good work—duh, he programmed him—and Bruce leaves via the side entrance in the very mob-like car waiting there. Tony is luxuriating in his oversized bathtub, considering everything he's learned opposite everything he thought he knew about Bruce Wayne. It's not much, but it should be enough to get started.
"J.A.R.V.I.S., be a dear and compose me a file on Bruce Wayne. Wait, make that two. I want reliable sources and facts in one, every rumour which has nothing to do with girlfriends in another. Call me when you're done."
"Of course, sir. Would you like me to make you a picture book as well?"
"Funny, very funny. I wouldn't mind a gallery, no."
He's sore now and getting out of the tub is not on his list of priorities. Still, there are things to be done—at the very least he should contact Pepper and find out who exactly is responsible for the building's security and if she remembered to stock the pantry.
"Sir, Pepper Potts is on line two."
Tony grins and pulls himself out of the water. "Darling! Let me tell you of all the wonderful things I will buy for you."
"Tony, what are you doing! I just got a call from S.H.I.E.L.D., you're popping up in every cyberterrorism database around the world!"
Tony falters, slips on some wet tile and falls ass first back into the tub. Well, well, well. Mister Wayne, what an interesting man you are. He'll have to stop by and have a chat with Fury before he gets himself arrested for being curious. Tony feels that same iron-hard determination that got him out of hell using just a box of scraps.
Oh, Bruce. It is on like Donkey Kong.
"Sir, while I applaud the practice of test flying the upgrades to the thrusters I am a wondering if it was really necessary to do so over Gotham."
"Shut up before I invent a cyber STD just for you, J.A.R.V.I.S.. How are doing?" he asks, even though he can see the readouts for himself just fine. Sometimes he needs to distract J.A.R.V.I.S. from prodding him about his personal life.
"It seems that the improvements are indeed more energy efficient, just as you hypothesised. I calculate an eleven hour difference in possible flight time without engaging any of the weapon-systems."
Tony smirks to himself. "Score one for Norse mythology. I knew I liked that boy for a reason."
"I believe the boy is at least several hundred years older than you, sir."
"Cybersyphilis!" he threatens.
J.A.R.V.I.S. cleverly stays quiet and Tony attempts to enjoy his flight as he usually does. It's kind of difficult—Gotham by night is a menacing pit of despair. Even the bird's eye view doesn't detract from that, despite all the pretty lights. He feels iffy about the whole thing and berates himself for it. Is he a kid to be afraid of the dark? He's miles high, nothing will 'get' him up here.
He believes this for all of ten minutes, after which he's shot down like a clay pigeon.
"J.A.R.V.I.S., what the fuck?" he screams, fighting to keep his fall at least a little stable. The display flickers blue and static and all he has of J.A.R.V.I.S. is a mechanical gurgle and the occasional crackle. "Not cool, not cool," he chants. "Snap out of it J.A.R.V.I.S. I need these thrusters back online yesteryear!"
The display blanks out entirely and for a second he thinks yes, thank god, it's rebooting. It never comes back on and all Tony knows is that he's dead, dead, dead, eaten by that shithole called Gotham. "Fuck!"
"Chrttt, fzzbt," the system agrees and it is not what Tony wants to hear right now while he's plummeting to the ground. He closes his eyes for a moment and breathes in. His eyes snap open, determined and resigned. He'll die, true, but he's not taking anyone with him. Below him he can see the street, full of little ants scurrying. Nothing would survive being crushed by the suit from this altitude. His brain works overtime as he looks around, searching, then his muscles cry out in protest when he aims himself away from the road.
If he's lucky, he might even live through crashing onto a roof.
"Cheers, J.A.R.V.I.S., it's been fun," he says semi-cheerfully, even though the AI probably doesn't register it. Hell, he doesn't even get to say goodbye. Not a problem, that's what the emergency protocols are for. He knows what he got into and planned ahead for once. Fury would be so proud.
Out of fucking nowhere cables shoot out, missing him completely. The second time it's a direct hit, which ruins his projected crash site by the way, and for some reason the display starts a lovely strobe effect forcing him to close his eyes. He can feel the change in acceleration—fuck you, gravity—and then he's being pulled back up.
"Bzztchk... ine... Sir... o be back online. You appear to be alive."
He opens his eyes to readout after readout. "Cyber-fucking-AIDS, J.A.R.V.I.S.! Where were you when I was dying?" Tony shouts. "Is everything operational? I want off this fishing line." He tries to angle his head so he can see where he's being towed to, but it's impossible. Not entirely operational then.
He hears the whirl of some machine or another and then a click. He's stopped moving.
"Uh, hello?" he says to the empty air, which isn't great wit but forgive him, he's currently hanging off the side of a fucking building.
A low, throaty growl is all he gets in return, then he's being pawed at. He snorts. "Yeah, you're not lifting four hundred and twenty-five pounds by hand, buddy. Appreciate the thought, though."
"Shut up," he's growled at.
"Yeesh, sorry. I'm just saying."
"I should have let you fall," the growling continues.
"Rather you didn't to be honest. Woah, gently!" The rope wrapped around his chest isn't really uncomfortable but it's a question of style. The growly man behind him grunts and, woah, Tony is being lifted. He can hear the superficial damage to his suit happening, but he doubts a snappy comment would be appreciated by his audience, er, saviour. Once he's on his back and safely inside—a broken window, huh—he lets his mask open and takes a deep, deep breath of happy-to-be-alive air. He sees a great deal of black.
"Holy sh—Batman!" he says happily. Way, way more impressive in person, he has to admit. Possibly the mortal danger has something to do with it but Tony has liked a little fetish since the dawn of time so maybe not.
"Idiot," the Batman says.
Tony rolls over with a great deal of difficulty and crawls to his knees, then stands. Definitely needs to look into making the suit lighter. "So, what got me? Don't tell me—someone thought I was an alien invasion."
"Idiot," the bat says again.
Tony frowns. "Hey, it's been known to happen. But really, what the fuck? I was just cruising."
Batman closes his eyes and kind of sighs. "I hate tourists." Tony is about to argue because, hey, he lives here, but the bat is talking again. "Chances are someone mistook you for me. Probably. Lunatics don't need a reason."
"That's not nice. Any idea where I can find them? I want to talk to their parents." He's seriously put out, clomping to the Gotham branch of Stark Residential will take forever and a day and he can't wait to find out what he was hit with. Maybe he should call a cab?
The Batman growls again—seriously? What gives?
"Keep Iron Man out of Gotham."
"I live here!" Tony finally says. The Bat has some for real control issues, he feels. "Speaking of, want to come visit? I need a ride." Batman's turned back implies a no waiting to happen. Damn it, he really doesn't want a Gotham cab.
"Tony Stark may live in Gotham, but the Iron Man has no jurisdiction here. Keep him out. I'm not in the business of rescuing tin cans," he says, and swoosh, is out of there just like that. Tony rushes to the ledge to get a better look because wow, he'd not thought of suicidal as a superhero characteristic before, just in time to spot the cape-wing thing happening and Batman sailing away on the wind.
"Huh. Nifty," he mumbles. "Hey, J.A.R.V.I.S.. How big are the odds of the suit magically being capable of flight in the next ten seconds?"
"Point two percent."
Tony sighs. "Yeah, 's what I thought. Order me a car at wherever I am. Which way is down?"
"One would think you are intimately familiar with that particular route, sir."
"Fun-ny. See if I make you that girlfriend I was thinking about now, smartass."
"At least you're reducing my chances of cybersyphilis, sir. Through the door and thirty-five feet to your left is an elevator. It should take you to the ground floor. Also, I regret to inform you that the emergency protocol was put into action." Fuck, Pepper is going to kill him. "The press, also, is here."
"Fabulous. Right. Awesome face on. Let's rock and roll."
It's a good phrase, it's just that clunking along a corridor is not the best time to use it. J.A.R.V.I.S. doesn't hesitate to point that out to him.
He really, really needs a drink. After that, he can face the world, which now includes a giant fetish bat. Christ, his weakness for pectoral girth always gets him into trouble.
"Good morning mister Stark."
"Hngh," he says. He doesn't remember falling asleep with anyone, hence momentary confusion.
"I'm very happy to see you alive," she says but sounds anything but.
"Good morning Pepper. Happy to be alive." He chooses not to look up just yet. Pepper can be a little hard on a person in the morning, death-defying escapades or no. "Just got here?"
"Yes, sir. It took most of the night and morning to retract and explain the emergency protocols."
He peeks at her through one eye. "Don't be mad. I got shot at with a new type of energy ray."
She completely ignores him using her tablet as a shield. "You have eleven calls from Nick Fury, seventeen calls from Steve Rogers, a get well card from Thor which appeared on my desk before I left, and a message from Wayne Enterprises."
Tony rolls out of bed literally. It never hurts to look needy with Pepper, it's been known to make her go just a touch easier on him. He keeps the sheet so he's relatively decent and sits with his back against the bed and his legs stretched out in front of him. "Can I see my card?" he says pathetically, looking up at her. Pepper's stern face cracks and she kneels down to his level. She looks worried, which is regrettable. He's sorry there's nothing he can do, but he won't stop being Iron Man, not even for her.
"It's a very nice card," she tells him, and it is. It's glowy and blue and there's pretty pictures of ladies in metal underwear. Yeah, there are definite reasons he loves Thor best. Even if the man doesn't use phones and has a fondness for smashing up crockery.
He smiles at her and she cracks completely. He's engulfed in a hug which hurts a little but he doesn't mind.
"Hey. Hey, it's okay. I'm fine."
"No," she snaps. "It is not okay. Nothing is okay. I had to watch you tell me you are sorry you're dead and that you love me and don't you understand that nothing is okay?"
He spends a little while holding her while she convinces herself he is real. He knows it's hard on her and he knows this is the prime reason there will never be a Pepper Stark. He has come to terms in the best ways he knows how—self-indulgence and public indecency.
She finally lets go and in a show of un-Pepper like behaviour, folds her legs under her and sits with him on the floor. "You have no idea how much of a pain it is to un-kill you."
"Trust me, it wasn't a picnic on my end either," he says. "Hey, guess what. I met Batman," he tells her and she looks properly intrigued.
"Gotham's Dark Knight?"
He grins. "That's the one. The fetish bat saved my ass yesterday and then he flew—glided away."
Pepper snorts and covers her mouth with her hand. Tony wiggles his eyebrows. That pushes her right over the edge and she laughs. He wants to pat himself on the back but refrains. She might slap him if he did.
"So, is he a meta-human with bat-like characteristics, or plain man?" she asks with a smile. "I have a bet going."
"Nah, he's a man all right. I have scans to prove it. I can see how it could be confusing for people though. He's very growly."
She giggles again. "Growly fetish bat. Did you say thank you?"
Now he pouts. "I was going to, properly and everything. He's not a playful sort. A shame, really. You know how I like pectoral girth."
She rolls her eyes and smacks him with her tablet. "Don't remind me. Who was the one who had to explain to Rogers that no, you weren't crazy because we had you tested and yes, homosexuality is perfectly normal."
"Bisexuality," he cuts in. "I'm an equal opportunity kind of guy. Breasts are very nice too."
Pepper lifts her tablet again so he catches her arm. She has quite the swing when she's peeved. They stare at each other for a few seconds while she frowns at him. He doesn't release her arm until her face smooths out.
"Pansexual," she says.
He's momentarily thrown. "I beg pardon?"
"You remember, there was that time with those twins but only one of them was a real girl?"
He thinks back and, oh, right. "Michaela, who used to be Michael. Good times."
Pepper gets back up and dusts her skirt off while he ogles her legs. Then he remembers. "Wait, did you say Wayne Enterprises called?"
She pauses to give him a look. "You look like an excited puppy."
"Yeah, well, Wayne doesn't live up to his reputation." Her eyes widen with adorable confusion. "The media has monstrously underestimated that man's bedroom prowess."
"I have no words," she stammers.
He nods in agreement. "I know. It's tragic."
"You are unbelievable."
"Pepper, we have talked about this. What did I say about being mean to your boss? Now give," he says, starting out stern but even he can tell that last bit was a little childish.
She smirks at him with every inch of smug she can muster.
"Which building do you think you crashed? I'll give you a guess—it's a spectacular view."
He's getting really tired of listening to people talking money at him. For one, it's his money and they are far too eager for it. For another, there is a distinct stink of unfair.
"What about the Batman?" he'd said. They'd looked at him like he'd just pissed on the messiah. Yeah, he'd not tried it again.
"Just give me an estimate of the damages I won't want to have reassessed." He's hungry and bored. Hell, he doesn't even go to his own company meetings, what makes these clowns think he wants to be at theirs. He's just about to tell them to go piss against the wind when in walks Lucius Fox followed by Bruce. Armani suit. Wayne. Suddenly, he's not so bored.
"Tony!" Bruce says far too amiably. "What are you doing here?"
He will not call him on it. He will not. He has manners, for fuck's sake. If Bruce Wayne wants to be billionaire idiot today, then that is his right.
"Property damages, Bruce. These gentlemen were just telling me all about it."
Bruce gets a little puzzled frown and leans over him to look at the papers. "Wayne Tower? Really?" he laughs. "What did you do?"
"I crashed through a window or six. Oh, and probably scuffed the floor. The armour is a little unwieldy when it's damaged," he says nonchalantly. "It's been in the news."
And has it ever. 'Iron Man destroys Wayne Tower: is Gotham's newest resident a hero or a menace?'. He and Pepper had a nice laugh about that one. She obviously sided with option number two.
Bruce scoops up the papers and hands them to Fox. They have a moment where some sort of information is exchanged via eye contact and Tony stores it away. Bruce then claps him on the shoulder and smiles blindingly at the assorted personnel.
"I'll take care of it. My friend has clearly had a rough few days."
The peons look worried. Tony knows this is because the assessment they gave him is utter bullshit and Bruce just handed it to one of the most honest businessmen Tony has ever known. He feels a shark-like grin coming on and doesn't bother to hide it.
Bruce helps nail their coffins nice and shut with a single naively spoken sentence. "You'll take care of it, won't you Lucius? I'm taking Tony out for lunch."
Tony doesn't argue. Bruce has a grip on his trapezius which is one shade away from uncomfortable and when he gets up the grip is transferred to his back. Bruce doesn't say anything and Tony tries very hard to hold everything in until they get to the elevators. Once they're inside it's game over though.
He decides to lead with "Why on Earth do you pretend to be stupid?" He gets a blank look of sheer stupid from Bruce. "Yes. That. You can't honestly expect everyone to fall for it. For crying out loud, it's not that hard to get to your academic record."
"Not everyone cares to find out every detail of my life," Bruce says with a definite undertone of accusation.
Tony shrugs. "I'm curious, sue me."
"You're not going to let this go, are you?" Bruce sighs. Tony shakes his head vigorously. "Fine. I do it because it's easy."
The quiet is uncomfortable. "Sorry I crashed your tower," Tony says for lack of anything intelligent.
Bruce smiles at him. "You could have called. I'm pretty sure the great Tony Stark can find my number."
"Um, yeah," he says, nodding and trying very hard to exude vibes that say 'harmless boyscout, no sir, I didn't hack your personal records at all'. He's not very good at it, he knows, but he's an eternal optimist. "You see, I was on my way to do just that when I got shot out of the sky. To be honest, the fetish bat helped with the wreckage. You could say it was his idea to begin with."
Well, well. Bruce Wayne is choking on air.
"Fetish bat?" he manages to say eventually and Tony indulges him with joy.
"The Batman. You know, caped crusader, Gotham's defender in the dark," Tony elaborates. "Admittedly I owe him my life, but it was his idea to use your tower. Say are we really going out to lunch? Because I totally give head on the first date." The elevator dings and Tony can't help himself. "This place is so adorably old school—I love it. Say, do you think I need a manor house? I can't help but wonder if I'm missing out on some awesome traditionalist in-crowd stuff."
Bruce walks away from him muttering under his breath. All Tony manages to catch is 'idiot', 'fetish bat', and 'narcissistic twit'. They walk straight into a wall of cameras and microphones. But of course. 'Tony Stark makes amends to Bruce Wayne – all is good with the world again'.
Bruce smiles like he was born to be on the cover of GQ and throws an arm around Tony's shoulders. Not to be outdone Tony throws them his best playboy philanthropist grin and wraps his arm around the taller man's waist. He is pretty sure he just saw several lady journalists swoon from their animal magnetism.
"Mr Wayne! Mr Wayne! Is it true you're suing Stark Industries for twelve million in damages to Wayne Tower?"
"Mr Stark! Why did you feel you needed to vandalise the offices of your future business partner?"
Tony can tell Bruce is struggling, which is a little odd. He's used to these clowns by now, Bruce should be too. Still, out of the goodness of his enormous heart, he decides to give the younger man a break. He holds his arms up, demanding silence. There isn't a doubt in his mind he'll get it.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please. There is no need for all this hostility. If you'll give me a sec, I'll explain the misunderstanding you're operating under." The shit-eating grin works overtime to mask his irritation but it's worth it to see Bruce relax slightly. Fuck a duck, when did he learn to be considerate? He shakes it off
"Thank you. Now, there seems to be a rumour going that I deliberately destroyed part of Wayne Tower." They go absolutely wild at that and he tries to shush them again. "Please, if you don't let me finish I won't get home in time for lunch and that makes me very cranky."
They laugh. They have no idea he's perfectly serious.
"Now, as I was saying, there is a big misunderstanding. What happened was a simple accident, a technical malfunction on my end and unfortunate location on the end of Wayne Tower. To put it bluntly, ladies and gentlemen, I crashed. Wayne Tower was so kind as to let me live through it."
"Mr Wayne, any comments?" an excited looking brunet asks, her eyes gleefully awaiting anything to the contrary of Tony's statement.
Bruce smiles at her and turns to Tony. "Only that I am glad that I could help in whatever way to preserve the life of a distinguished hero and my friend. The damages are minor, really, and I will fund the repairs personally. I don't believe in fining a man for nearly dying through no fault of his own." The press goes wild and Bruce laughs a little. "Now, now. I better keep my word and take Tony to lunch as I promised, so if you'll excuse us?"
He doesn't wait for them to let him through, he walks on with the confidence of someone who is used to the red sea parting for him when the mood struck. Tony catches sight of Jeeves the butler and gives the cameras a little wave before following Bruce.
There's a car waiting along with the butler. Predictably, it's a Rolls-Royce. Tony claps in glee. Bruce drops his face in his palm.
"Don't make me regret this," he says sternly.
Tony grins like a child on Christmas morning. "Somehow, I think you already do." Bruce's hands twitch. It's a definite sign he's getting to the end of his rope, Tony knows. He's seen that twitch before and usually it means the person performing it is mere minutes away from trying to strangle him. "Shall we? I'm honestly starving."
He gets shoved into the car which is fine by him as Bruce follows right behind him. "Home, Alfred, before he eats me," Bruce tells the butler whose name sadly still isn't Jeeves.
"Very good sir."
"So, there will be pictures of you manhandling me," Tony points out.
Bruce nods. "I know."
"I thought you didn't like the press?" Tony prods further.
"And I don't. However, this is on my terms," Bruce says firmly. He exhales slowly. "You live part time in Gotham. It's practically inevitable we are seen together."
Tony smirks at him and leans in close. "Just not in the middle of the night?"
"Oh, I don't know," Bruce muses, "stranger things have happened."
He breathes in and out with satisfaction, resting against Bruce. The billionaire boys club is a go.
The curtains are snapped open and Tony burrows into his pillow with an angry snarl. "Fuck off J.A.R.V.I.S.. I have nowhere to be today."
"Good morning Mr Stark," says a voice which is emphatically not J.A.R.V.I.S..
Tony rises up awkwardly and is faced with a lot of old money. Oh, right, he remembers now, Bruce took him to see the family mansion—suitably impressive despite the lack of techy edge he's used to.
"Where's Bruce," he says groggily. The butler smiles and sets down a tray on the bedside table.
"Master Bruce was called away most suddenly. I am to convey his regrets. I have taken the liberty of procuring some fresh clothes, sir, I hope they will be to your satisfaction," Alfred—not Jeeves—tells him. "Master Bruce also wishes me to tell you that the mansion is not for sale."
Tony blinks. Wow, he's never been on the other end of these things before.
"Is that a butler-slash-assistant thing or did Bruce and I both just get lucky?" he wonders.
"That air of smug condescension," Tony says. "You're almost as good at it as Pepper. I was wondering if it was a mandatory skill when dealing with us pampered rich kids."
The butler actually quirks a grin. "Not mandatory, no, sir. But it helps."
Tony falls back into the mountain of pillows and sighs. "Can you call a car for me, Alfred? I feel a premonition I'm going to be called away suddenly coming on."
His phone chirps, proving him right. Alfred brings it to him and he rubs his temples before answering. "I'm on my way, Pep, stop shouting. Yes. Yes. Hey, listen, can you look into getting me a mansion? An old one, preferably bigger than Wayne's, somewhere sunny."
She cackles like a witch and tells him most cheerfully that he is hopeless and to stop chasing cars. He has no idea what she's talking about.
Tony shields his eyes despite already wearing a pair of sunglasses. The California sun is blinding him, which may or may not be a side effect of holing himself up in his workshop for the last week. He's been back for several weeks now and he's feeling restless.
He'd resolved to leave Gotham the minute he'd left Wayne's manor. Pepper says that means he was feeling neglected which he is absolutely not for reasons of not being a girl. So, here he is, back home where all the good things happen, feeling restless.
Thankfully he can keep busy enough for it to be negligible. Unfortunately he's not busy enough to make himself not call Wayne. So far, he's done it three times. Each time he spoke to Alfred the butler, and each time he left a message. He's yet to hear anything from Bruce.
Christ, he's not had sex since Gotham. What is wrong with him?
"Are you over your tantrum yet?" Pepper asks him. "Because if you aren't there's no point in celebrating the new division's long term contract with Wayne Enterprises."
Pepper is rubbing it in. He's stopped checking his messages with her in the room because he's tired of the knowing look like you wouldn't believe. She, of course, finds the entire thing infinitely funny and he, of course, does not.
"No! No, we're going through with that as planned. I'm not a child," he whines.
"There's no guarantee he'll show," she says, her voice dripping pity.
"Hence the date I have."
"You could just tell him," she snaps.
He gives her a look. "Tell him what?"
Pepper makes a noise of frustration and click-clacks out of there like an angry cat on stilts. He's still trying to figure out what the hell he's supposed to tell Wayne.
The party is in full swing when Tony arrives with his arm candy nestled neatly against him. His date is taller by an inch but when one takes the heeled shoes into account it's more like five. Tony doesn't mind a single bit, Andrej is a whole basket of exceptionally gorgeous and understands the concept of arm candy better than many a girl Tony has dated in the past.
Pepper, coming to investigate the uproar at the door, took one look at them and flushed redder than her hair. She is seething and Tony wants to stick his tongue out at her but it would ruin his entrance. The blond poster boy for androgyny snuggles his arm and poses with Tony for the multitude of flashing cameras. It really is easier to bring models to these things—there's a level of understanding, and of course the pictures turn out great every time.
Pepper ushers them inside before he can answer the screamed questions about his sexuality. He brought a publicly gay model to a corporate party, of course they want to know if that means he prefers the cock. Apparently Pepper would rather he didn't tell them. She stands near him vibrating with nervous energy while he meets and greets with the required people and is on him like a fat kid on cake the minute he excuses himself and his date to get a drink.
"What are you thinking?" she hisses at him. "No offence," she adds on quickly, and Andrej laughs.
"None taken. He surprised you, right? God, Tony, you are such a bitch."
"Hey, hey, none of the abuse. I get enough of that from Pepper." He signals a server and they rush off to fulfil his every desire. Damn, it's good to be home. "You look a little warm. Do you need some air?" he asks her.
Pepper takes several deep breaths before speaking.
"I hate you. Do you have any idea what an upheaval you've just caused? Not only will there be media fallout but the board! You have just ruined any free time I might have had for the next year."
"Oh come on, it can't be that much of a surprise, what, with my Catholic schoolgirl record of chastity." He hands a drink to Andrej and downs his own. The boy rolls his eyes and tosses his drink back like a pro.
Pepper closes her mouth with a snap and her hands start shaking. "Tony, he's under-age," she hisses through her teeth.
Andrej shrugs and Tony smirks at him. "Pumpkin, you are divine. Let's dance. I'll lead."
"As if there were ever any doubt," Andrej laughs and lets Tony drag him to the dance floor.
They are the subject of every conversation, just as Tony likes it. Andrej is a surprisingly good dancer and a cheerful yet sarcastic conversationalist which makes the entire thing very entertaining. He finds the kid's running commentary on everything from the fashion faux-pas of assorted guests to the uncoordinated shuffling of some dancers does a great deal to brighten his evening.
After a few spins on the dance floor they find Pepper, who is conversing with Lucius Fox and, hah, Bruce Wayne. She sees them coming and takes a fortifying drink. It's sad to see he's such a bad influence on her.
"Mr Fox, Mr Wayne, what a pleasure to see you again." He smiles at his date and puts a hand on his back. "Let me introduce you to my glamazon for the evening, Andrej Pejic—am I pronouncing that right?"
"No," Andrej tells him without hesitating, "but don't worry about it, I'm not with you for your brain."
That makes Tony laugh for real, especially with the way both Wayne and Fox kind of twitch like someone said a bad word in front of their parent. "I share the sentiment."
"A good thing I like them big, beautiful, and dumb, and you like them long-legged and blond."
"Win-win!" Tony says making finger guns.
"J like 'yoghurt', not like 'jeans', the I like 'in', and the first sound in 'child'," Bruce says knowingly.
"Yes!" Andrej says and claps his hands. Tony pulls him closer. "No schmoozing with my competition. Wayne, stop showing off your brain. I think he lied to me about his preferences."
Bruce inclines his head to hide a smile. Hah, try harder, Wayne.
"I'm flattered you consider me competition, but I cheated—my tailor is a Jovanovic."
"That explains it," Andrej nods.
Tony watches them discuss West Germanic versus Balto-Slavic languages and doesn't know what to feel about it at all. Yeah, okay, he knows one thing and that is that Bruce Wayne is a dirty little liar. There is no way you learn that much about languages just because your tailor has an interesting last name.
Fuckin hell, intellectual conversations make him hard.
"Shall I say I told you so now, or would you like me to save it for later?" Pepper murmurs at him.
"Told me what? I'm learning fascinating things about Indo-European languages and imagining what filthy things sound like whispered in certain dialects."
Pepper snorts delicately, like a proper lady and raises an eyebrow at him. "Who's doing the whispering, jailbait or Wayne?"
They hear a muffled cough and Pepper turns, startled. Tony simply winks at Lucius Fox and holds his hand up in a drink-less toast. That needs to be rectified, but there are lots of busy bees in penguin suits weaving through the crowd with full trays so it's easily taken care of.
"Mr Fox, I'm so sorry that was completely inappropriate," Pepper says, mortified. Tony doesn't really agree so he doesn't say anything.
"Miss Potts, I have not the slightest idea what you mean," Lucius Fox says with an enigmatic little grin Tony takes an instant liking to. Now there's a man he can do business with.
Andrej slides up to him and takes his arm as well as his drink. "Mr Wayne tells me you bought a place in Gotham. I've never been."
"Please, call me Bruce," the little liar interjects.
Tony looks into laughing blue-grey eyes. The kid is playing at something, but it's obviously benign so he plays along. "I have indeed. I figure if there's one place that can use some Stark charm, it's Gotham. Believe me, it's all doom and gloom and no colour whatsoever."
"Oh, I don't know. I find it homey," Wayne says. "Living in Gotham builds character, isn't that right Lucius?"
Lucius laughs. "That it does, Mr Wayne, that it does."
"It builds insanity if the media is to be believed," Pepper says, "but I guess out of everyone you should know best that you can't believe everything you read."
The blond model tosses his hair over his shoulder and flutters his eyelashes at Tony. "And now they have Iron Man, yes?" He then smiles widely at Wayne. "Doesn't that make you sleep better at night?"
Oh. Oh that look on Wayne's face is priceless. Tony never wished for a camera so hard in his life.
"Of course, there's the Batman," Andrej says pensively. "But no one knows who he is, or anything really. I think it makes people feel more secure if they can put a name and face to their heroes."
"Ah, but not everyone wants to be known, Mr Pejic," Lucius Fox says. "To the citizens of Gotham, Batman is more than a hero. He's more than a man, he is a symbol and an icon. Put him into the spotlight, and he becomes just a man yet again."
Tony frowns a little. "That may be true, but it has its advantages to be 'just a man' as you put it. In my case, for instance, I find it makes me a better man when I am held accountable for my actions."
"Some people," Bruce says, "are capable of holding themselves accountable."
"People like you?"
Bruce smiles a little a looks away. "Ah, no, I wouldn't say that. But then, that's why I'm not a hero. I'm just a man."
He wants to scowl at Wayne—he has never been so irritated at someone's perfectly sensible public persona before—but Pepper tugs on his sleeve and it looks urgent so he gives her his ear. She subtly gestures at the crowd and whispers, "Steve Rogers at three o'clock."
Oh hell no. Not happening, not now and certainly not in front of Wayne. Tony takes Andrej's hand and smiles winningly. "You know I promised his mother I'd have him in bed by a decent hour so we should make the most of the time we have. If you're still in town in the next few days, feel free to come say hello—we'll go sightseeing or something. Dance, darling?" Without waiting for the response he waves at Bruce Wayne and drags Andrej off to the dance floor, narrowly escaping whatever it is S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to ruin his night with. He'll have to check in later of course—if they sent Steve, it's probably big—but there's no need to let Wayne see how whipped he is.
They move in between the rest of the dancing crowd and Andrej lets him take the lead again. At least that he still has in hand.
"What was that?"
"I bet your intelligence gets underestimated a lot, goldilocks," Tony grumbles.
The model makes that face, you know, the 'who, me?' innocent one that never really works. They dance quietly for a while before Andrej stabs him in the back again.
"So. Bruce Wayne, huh? You aim high."
Tony almost falters but he's awesome so no one notices. Probably.
"Next time I'm picking a stupid one. I might just find someone who's your type—definitely not Bruce Wayne."
Andrej laughs and rests his head on Tony's shoulder. It's a little awkward but he appreciates the gesture. "You have to admit, he is big and beautiful."
"I admit nothing. It's not smart to compliment your competition."
Andrej leans in until his lips are almost touching Tony's ear. "Oh honey, he's not competition. He's prey."
"And that is where you're wrong." It's not just Andrej—nearly the entire world is wrong about Bruce Wayne. Tony hates to admit it but he's not gotten to where he is by being blind. Bruce Wayne is a liar and a cheat. He's clever, strong, and most importantly, hiding something. "Now stop molesting me, your mother will kill me if she gets the wrong idea."
Andrej giggles into his neck. "You're a bad man, Mr Stark, but I like it. Call me again if you need a date sometime. It gets boring to talk mascara and heels all the time." He hums thoughtfully. "That is, if mother lets you live through this one."
Tong sighs. "That's is. Next time I'm taking Johnny Storm and damn the consequences."
"Ooh," Andrej says excitedly, "can you introduce me?"
It's an absolute madhouse everywhere he goes. He's refused to comment on the gay issue one way or the other which only makes it worse. It's hilarious, the media's chosen to hound all his male acquaintances and friends in the hope that one of them is Stark's Secret Boyfriend. So far Rhodey's punched two reporters, Johnny Storm said something along the lines of 'I wish', and Thor's girlfriend kicked a photographer in the balls.
As entertaining as all that is, the best part has got to be Bruce 'I'm sorry, what?' Wayne. The theory is that they're both lonely billionaire playboys who found their soul-mate in each other. There are pictures of them leaving together, and what has been termed 'obvious affectionate touching'. Tony laughed like a madman when he saw the article headlined 'Stark-Wayne merger more literal than previously thought?' with a picture of them standing close together, Bruce's hand on his shoulder and his on Bruce's back. He has to admit, it's a good picture.
Fury had quarantined him in his Malibu house and given him some toys to make to keep him busy. It's all important S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff to be sure, but he knows when he's being sent to bed without dinner.
"Are you pleased with yourself?" he hears and for a split second he wonders if he left the television on, but no, J.A.R.V.I.S. wouldn't let that happen so as impossible as it sounds, Bruce Wayne is in his house. Tony sets his tools down and yanks the goggles off.
"How the hell did you get in here? J.A.R.V.I.S.! What the hell are you doing? Wake up!"
Wayne strips his jacket off and throws it on a chair. He loosens his tie and unbuttons his shirtsleeves, then rolls them up. Tony blinks.
"Are we having a fistfight?"
"Do you want one?" Bruce asks him levelly.
He shrugs. "Not particularly. I'd rather you tell me how you broke into my house."
"I spoke to Miss Potts. She understood the urgency of the situation, even if you don't seem to."
"Ooh, straight for the heart!" Tony exclaims. "First you shanghai my assistant, then you insult my intelligence. Two for two, now I'm disgruntled."
"You're a child," Bruce snaps. "You have no respect for people's boundaries or opinions and your selfishness and greed are both astronomically outside of tolerable limits." He rubs the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed. They look at each other and Tony swallows his angry retort. It's clear he's really gotten to the man.
"That's a little harsh," he says finally. Bruce laughs ruefully.
"I'm being followed everywhere I go. Every man I know is under scrutiny because what if Bruce Wayne was always homosexual but they didn't know it? My butler is being suspected of doing more for me than cooking my meals and driving me around. The man practically raised me! And as if that weren't enough!" He glares at Tony. "Wayne Enterprises is the family business Stark, and you put it in jeopardy."
"Oh come on, a little scandal never hurt anyone," he says and immediately knows it's the wrong thing.
"You really are as shallow as everyone thinks you are, aren't you," Bruce says. "I'd wondered, it seemed so unbelievable that the same man who as Iron Man saved thousands could have so little regard for the people he surrounds himself with." He shakes his head, smiling bitterly. "This was a waste of my time." He grabs his jacket and turns to leave and Tony knows that if he doesn't deal with this now, he will regret it forever.
"Wait!" Bruce Wayne pauses for a breath but then continues his exit. "Bruce, come on, wait a minute. Please," he adds. That, thankfully, works. He doesn't think asking J.A.R.V.I.S. to lock the place down would go over half so well.
The young man watches him with betrayal and anger in his eyes. Tony doesn't like it. He far prefers the half-lidded worship combined with 'yes, yes, harder, Tony!' but that doesn't seem to be in his future at the moment.
"Look. We should talk. Upstairs? Okay?"
Bruce looks like he wants to argue and Tony doesn't want to let him.
"Please?" he says again—jackpot. Bruce rolls his eyes and gestures for Tony to lead the way and follows behind him.
Tony takes him up to the living room and gestures for him to sit, be comfortable and all that jazz. He takes his tank top off and uses it to wipe some of the grease off his hands. It's a lost cause until he showers for real but at least he won't be dropping everything he picks up now. And while he's on the subject of holding things. "Do you want a drink?" he asks Bruce, who shakes his head. Damn it, that means he can't have one either.
"Okay, fine. Just talking then," he rambles, not looking at Bruce. He glances at him to gauge the mood and wishes he hadn't. "That bad?" he asks before he can stop himself.
Bruce scowls. It's all the answer he needs.
"I ask because I haven't been out for a while now. Work," he says. He runs a hand through his hair—ew, greasy—and hopes he doesn't fuck this up. "I guess I should start by saying I'm sorry. I didn't mean for things to go this far." Bruce snorts a snort of disbelief. He's being serious! Damn his reputation. "I really didn't," he says.
"You can see where that would be difficult to believe."
He looks away again. "Yeah, okay, fair point. I guess Jeeves was right to give me the stink-eye when we met."
Bruce chuckles. "Calling him Jeeves didn't help your cause."
"Ah, shit, did I really? I tried not to," Tony says, a bit taken aback that his mouth ran away without him again without him even noticing. "Anyway, I am sorry. I didn't think ahead. I never meant to cause you this much trouble."
"But some trouble, yes?" Bruce says sardonically. "You're not very good at apologising."
"Ah, it seems so."
Bruce sighs and leans his elbows on his knees. Tony barely restrains himself from scooting closer.
"Why, Tony? Why was all this necessary?"
"Ah... Well." Tony smiles charmingly. "I'm a greedy, selfish child." Bruce merely stares him down. "... and you didn't return my calls."
Bruce throws his head back and laughs like a cartoon villain. Tony has by now realised there is nothing that man can do he will find unattractive.
"You caused the biggest upheaval since you admitted to being Iron Man because I didn't return your calls?"
Tony thinks about it for a sec. "That sounds about right, yeah."
"I don't know if I should be flattered or terrified."
Oh, poor Bruce. That sounds like fond resignation and Tony knows all about that. It means he's been forgiven. Score!
"Just tell me one thing."
"Anything," he says eagerly.
Bruce isn't laughing any more. "Why me, Stark? When you can have anyone at all, why go after me?"
"Probably because I can have anyone at all. But not you," Tony admits. Bruce seems disappointed. "You're beautiful, darling. Beautiful, intelligent, and one of the few people who might come close to understanding me." He doesn't say anything about his fascination for the lies, doesn't admit to being baffled by Bruce's personal history—especially that bit where he disappeared and was declared dead only to show up like he'd never left.
Bruce looks at him through half-lidded eyes. "You could have just told me."
Told him? Told him what? What is this thing everyone seems to believe he needs to tell Bruce? It's not like—oh. Ooh.
Well, damn. That sneaked up on him rather suddenly.
He drops the shirt he's been tearing apart in his hands and stands up.
"I like you, probably more than I should. You're pretty and interesting, and I think you should sleep with me right now before I say something very embarrassing."
Bruce slowly reaches for his tie and tugs it looser. He's smiling gently as he stands up, pulls the tie over his head and drops it to the floor. He cracks his knuckles and raises his head to look at Tony.
Tony doesn't need more of an invitation.
They're lounging in Tony's oversized bed, Tony propped up against the headboard with his hands behind his head, Bruce snuggled up against him, drawing circles around the arc reactor. He seems strangely fascinated by it but hey, who's he to judge anyone's fetishes?
"You can ask, you know," he tells him, and believes he might even answer.
"Wouldn't want you to accuse me of pretending to be stupid again."
Tony chuckles. "Smartass. Did I apologise for that? Because I don't think I should."
"Is there a reason you implanted an arc reactor into your chest other than seeing if you could?" Bruce asks, and Tony is almost speechless. Almost.
"You!" he exclaims, pinching Bruce's delectable behind. "Why are you hiding that brain?"
Bruce laughs and swats his stomach. "Answer the question."
He wants to, badly, but he knows it's a weakness, and those can be exploited.
"Tony?" Bruce is looking at him now and Tony caves.
"Promise not to kill me."
Bruce frowns, puzzled. He probably thinks Tony is trying to be funny when actually, he's never been more serious in his life.
"I don't know. You might irritate me beyond my ability to cope."
"Bruce. Promise me."
The tone of his voice must have worked because Bruce is pulling himself up and looking very earnest.
"I won't kill you, Tony. Why would you even—" Tony puts a hand over Bruce's mouth to shut him up.
"I know. I know. It's not personal." He removes his hand and takes Bruce's, placing it over his heart. "Do you feel that?"
Tony inclines his head. "Yes. When I got caught up in a missile blast, I ended up with tiny bits of shrapnel lodged in a very inconvenient place. The electromagnet makes sure they don't pierce my heart and kill me. The arc reactor powers it." He feels Bruce's hand start to shake and stops him from pulling it away. "It's fine to touch it. It's not dangerous."
Bruce's eyes are all fire and brimstone.
"Who all knows?"
Tony is a little taken aback at the anger behind those words. It makes no sense.
"Well, Pepper, my good friend Rhodey, some people over at S.H.I.E.L.D., and now you. Oh, and it also powers the suit, but not all of them know that."
"Idiot," Bruce growls. "Do you just make people promise not to kill you and then tell them exactly how to do it?"
"Hey, now. I know what I'm doing. I have been at this for a while, you know."
Bruce rolls his eyes at him and scoots back down to snuggle. He's playing with the reactor again.
"Duh, it has to match the rest of me," Tony says. Best of it all is, he's not even really joking.
Bruce laughs. "Idiot," he says fondly.
Somewhere, in the distance, a quarter drops.
"Oh my god," Tony blurts, sitting up properly. Bruce rolls to his stomach and gives him a questioning look. "Oh my god," Tony says again. "The lies, the scars, the musculature." He scowls at Bruce and points an accusing finger. "You're Batman!"
"What?" Bruce splutters, "what the hell, Stark?"
"No, no, no, don't you dare! I would know these lips anywhere and no one says idiot quite like you," Tony babbles. "You're the fetish bat. Don't deny it, I can tell when you lie."
Bruce drops his head onto the mattress and groans. "This is why I didn't return your calls."
Bruce raises his head and glares at him. "You infiltrate my life, you hack my records, you set the press on me. This is why I knew it would be a bad idea to take up with Tony fucking Stark. Your brain," Bruce says frustratedly, "is a threat to society."
Tony thinks about that, then grins widely. "Baby, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me." He pounces on Bruce, one leg on each side and sits on his thighs. He licks a long strip down his back. "Let me show you my appreciation."
Bruce turns his head to look at him. "That's it? You're Batman, let's fuck?"
Tony tuts at him. "Baby, no. I always want to fuck. Batman is details."
It'll take him a long, long time to get tired of Bruce Wayne, he thinks. Smoking hot body aside, the man is genuinely interesting. Pretty and smart—not as smart as him, but who is—with awesome secrets. Gotham may just be the most depressing place on the planet yet even he can't deny it has its charm. He'll be keeping Stark Tower - the Gotham Edition, he thinks. It might take him a while to find his way into Jeeves' good graces.
Alfred, right. Crap, he really needs to work on that.
So he's just coming out of the shower to find Bruce doing push-ups on his bedroom floor.
He whistles appreciatively. "Is that for me? That's very nice, honeybee. "
Bruce stands up in a smooth move. His muscles ripple and he's wearing Tony's sweatpants again. He's never as happy to be shorter than Bruce as when Bruce wears his clothes. They're always indecently low and all Tony wants is to nibble on the pelvic bone calling to him.
"I'll never understand why all those nicknames are necessary. What's wrong with Bruce?"
He stops his appreciative gawking reluctantly. It's becoming one of his favourite pastimes.
"Abso-fucking-lutely nothing is wrong with Bruce. In fact, I have a list of all the things that are very right."
Bruce shakes his head at him and drops back to the floor. If he plans to be that sexy, Tony won't be held responsible for his actions.
"I need to go back," Bruce says between push-ups.
"Do you have to?" Tony whines. "Take a vacation. You can stay with me. In fact, I insist."
"Can't just disappear, Tony. Besides, do you really want the headlines?"
'Romantic getaway in sunny California – billionaire boys club of two'. Yes, yes he does.
"Gotham needs me."
Tony pouts. "I need you."
Bruce kicks himself up into a handstand. Holy shit. "No, you want me. There's a difference."
He sighs and sits on the edge of the bed. "Fine, you're right." His eyes follow every movement Bruce makes. The crew at S.H.I.E.L.D. has taught him that there are indeed people who can do one-handed handstand push-ups but he's never found the sight to mesmerising before. Probably because none of them do it half-naked. "Can I come with you?"
Wayne gracefully flips to his feet and cracks his neck. Tony tosses him a towel, which he catches without looking.
Because he doesn't want things to go back to the way they were. Because he doesn't want Bruce to find he can do perfectly well without Tony after all. Because he doesn't want to leave messages with the butler only to never have his calls returned.
"Because I want to see the batmobile."
Bruce throws the towel in his face. "No."
"Okay, just the fetish suit, then."
"No. Don't you have things to do? What about S.H.I.E.L.D.?"
"I'm just a consultant," Tony says dismissively. "Come on. Won't you miss me?" he pleads. "Please?"
He's not facing Bruce Wayne right now. He knows those eyes, and they are not right for a billionaire playboy. "I can't have Iron Man in Gotham when Tony Stark is part of Bruce Wayne."
"I swear I won't interfere," Tony says, "That's not why I want to come with you." In a soft voice he admits it. "I don't want this to end."
He feels arms around him and then he's being kissed. He's still not used to just how good it feels and adds a 'damn you, Pepper' out of habit in his mind.
"All right. Let's try it."
"But I can still see the batmobile, right?"
"No," Bruce laughs. "I don't trust you not to equip it with nuclear missiles." Tony kisses him to shut him up because he would so not. Some tinkering, sure, but nuclear missiles are so passé.
They hear a door slam and frantic footsteps. "Tony!" Pepper shrieks, "you better not have killed Bruce Wayne or I will end you!"
Bruce chuckles into Tony's mouth. "Maybe we should get dressed?"
The click-clacking is too close for that, Tony knows. When he hears her gasp, he is proven right. He looks over Bruce's shoulder at a stunned Pepper.
"I told him. Now close your mouth, this isn't even in the top twenty of worst things you've caught me doing." She does as he says but her eyes are glued on Bruce. Oh, low-riding sweats. He can sympathise with her.
"I have a job for you. I'm taking a little holiday, probably two weeks. Arrange it."
Pepper is a champ, she composes herself in the blink of an eye even when faced with Bruce Wayne's butt crack.
"And where will you be heading, sir?
"Gotham," he says. "I have a vacation home there after all."
Bruce laughs at that and Tony bites his neck. Pepper cleverly makes herself scarce.
Good things are in his future, he can tell.