Anthony Stark was never a sentimental person, period. Sure, he had the money to buy whatever souvenir from where ever he went on vacation but he never bothered. Of course he had several nice cameras, video camcorders, you name it—but recording a good time? That just wasn't him. So it was only logical that his desk was empty.
Not his desk in Stark Towers, or the one in his other office. Nah, those were always going to be barren, but for good reason. After all, if he had any distractions around, he'd never get anything done. Which was why Pepper made sure that the counter top of his table only had a clock, a computer, and all the forms he had to read over and sign. It wasn't as if he didn't finish things on time without something to take his attention.
No, this was the desk he actually cared about and used; the one that resided in his workroom, that is. The only reason he paid a bit of his thought to this one table was that it held the only one distraction on its surface for a very long time.
Before the Afghanistan events, the only thing that rested on the smooth mahogany surface was a frame. Inside was a picture of Pepper and him at a company holiday party. He was wearing ridiculous reindeer ears on a headband with jingle bells on the edges. And she, as always, was wearing her heels, jacket and matching pencil skirt. Though, for the party, a friend of hers managed to get her to put a bit of holly in her red hair. Unlike many of the parties he attended before becoming aware of his actions, he was actually sober in the photo. Sober and smiling a genuine, honest smile. On the corner in silver ink, Pepper had written, "Happy Holidays, Boss" and signed her name.
Perhaps it stayed there for so long because he never had remembered to store it somewhere else. After all, it was making everything else so cluttered. But for some reason, the billionaire genius never had the heart to put it away. Though he wouldn't admit it, it actually made him feel a bit happier on occasion.
After he began to clean up his act, Tony began receiving more and more gifts of the sentimental sort. Personal letters from people he had saved (which Pepper made sure that he responded to), thank you's from charities he ended up donating due (which may or may not have been pushed by Pepper as well), more photos from other company members and those on Rhodes team.
Speaking of the guy, the next thing he ended up keeping—on his wall to be more precise—was an award from the US military, thanking him for assisting them in saving people in the Middle East. It was complete with a certificate, a badge, but the one thing that made him keep the thing was the photograph in the corner of him and the Colonel, him pinning the badge on his black jacket.
More time passed with those two things and his many cars resting in the workroom. As usual, he was given more things meant to hold a place in his memories, but they ended up being stored and thanked with a letter he only half wrote—Pepper wouldn't let him send most of the stuff he wrote. But that was quickly changed once he joined the Avengers.
The first thing he received after the whole New York ordeal arrived a couple days later. It was a Captain America card, quite old and fading in one corner. It took him a moment to actually determine that it was not bragging from Steve, but indeed one of the cards owned by Agent Phil Coulson. The card was framed in a fine dark brown rectangle with writing in black sharply on the side, "Don't forget why what we avenge."
At first, receiving the card was an unexpected heavy blow. His throat constricted tightly, and he found his legs to feel slightly weakened for minutes on end. Apparently all the other members of the team also received one and all reported equal reactions to the surprising object in the mail. Steve got the image of himself, of course, but Tony thought he heard him mention that the card was still a bit bloodstained despite the efforts of the cleaners Fury hired. That was enough to keep them all in mourning for days. Without question it stayed on the desk, and it would for tens of years ahead. Though there was never a time when Tony would glance at the card in the process of fixing his suit and take a moment to pause for a long deal of time.
The next thing to find its way between blueprints, coffee, and severed metal parts was also rooted from the Avengers, to be more exact, from the one and only Doctor Bruce Banner.
The dubbed "green guy", was quickly accepted into the dysfunctional Stark family. From the first day he arrived at the genius-billionaire-playboy- philanthropist's mansion, Pepper automatically knew that her boyfriend had found himself a proper tech-y best friend. So it was quite natural for him to end up contributing to the desk.
Bruce's gift was that exactly; a gift. Tony's birthday fell a couple months after they're battle with Loki. And with the Iron Man being himself, some of the other team members were not very enthusiastic. After all, they were still not quite warmed up to his personality, though they did show up to the small party he hosted. The Doctor had come with a medium sized box wrapped in green and purple (of course) of which the genius was most excited to open.
The front of the Iron Man helmet Tony had worn during the battle lay inside the package, now lying on his desk. It wasn't the current one of course, because Bruce in Hulk form had ripped it off the suit while trying to see if he was alive. The shell was now relieved of all the dents and burns, all courtesy of the green guy himself and painted in a very light color of silver. On the inside was inscribed: "I knew you wouldn't die that easily. –Bruce"
In time, more and more of his teammates became accustomed to Tony's way of going about, and thus more and more contributed to his desk; a place that a year ago could only be home to Pepper and Rhodey.
Now whenever he came down to vent off his feelings in his work, he had something to distract him. Many somethings actually: A present from Legolas himself; an arrow painted red and gold with explosives provided by Stark Industries, a card from Natasha finally saying that since he never would stop, he could call her Natashalie, a picture someone took of him teaching Steve how to operate a computer, and a letter from Thor asking about the mysterious person named JARVIS that always kept talking when he visited.
So perhaps, he wasn't quite as not-sentimental as he thought he might be. For now, half of his table space was consumed by objects with varying degrees of emotional value. And, then again, with all the papers Pepper shoved in his face, having something to give him excuses for not doing work was welcomed.
One day, the PA herself came down to visit her loyal superhero, relieved of her business attire and instead donning jeans and a fitted white t-shirt. In her hands was a box of warm pizza, grease already forming at the bottom of the square. As usual, she punched in her code and opened the glass doors to the 'lair' of Mr. Stark.
She lazily walked in with a pleasant smile on her features, expecting to see Tony working on his latest find at a collector's car auction. So when she saw her boss sitting in front of his desk simply staring at the knick-knacks and papers he accumulated, she was honestly surprised.
With the sound of her entrance, the man turned around, "You know, you used to be the only one up here."
"Well I'll just have to get another picture of us," Pepper laughed, setting down the pizza next to his elbow. Though soon her eye was caught by the objects as well. She leant on the back of Tony's swivel chair and looked over his shoulder.
"Jealous?" Tony gave a quiet chuckle, elbowing her slightly.
However, she answered honestly, "Nope. Not at all."
He looked up to her at the sound of this.
"You know," Pepper started, "I'm actually quite glad Rhodes and I aren't the only ones. You needed other friends Tony—you needed a family."
A family, he mused as she patted him on the arm to go get a knife for the pizza. Never thought of it that way... Well we're all freaks, aren't we?
But looking at the letter, the arrow, the mask, the card, he knew that she was right. They needed him, he needed them. He knew they'd always be there, and they felt the same. And wasn't that what made a group of strange people count as a family?
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this ;) If you did, I have another Avenger's fic titled Isn't texting not your thing? Especially now? It's basically text messages between the characters of the movie, focusing on Pepperony.
Anyhow, reviews are much appreciated *wink, wink*