"Mr Stark, Mr Stark!"
"Over here Tony!"
"Tony Stark, one minute of your time please?"
Tony ran a hand through his hair and cut through the babble without missing a beat, it had been like this his whole life and he was about to start letting it get to him. He had donned his best pinstripe suit for the occasion and had sobered up as best he could. He felt bodies press against him on all sides as he shouldered his way to the entrance of the conference building. Paparazzi didn't even feel like people anymore just nuisances he had no time for, which he knew was crude and ungrateful but it wasn't his job to be compassioante. It was times like this he thought of Steve and how much compassion he had for everyone, Tony used to scoff at the time and effort Steve went to to make each fan feel like they made a connection with the great Captain America but now Tony wished he had the capacity to make just one person feel like that.
It was almost irritatingly easy to organise a very well attended public speech, everyone still rushed to him at the drop of a hat it seems. He hated how much the public had grown to rely on him, feeding off his existence like petty mice; he was only one man for god's sake. But Tony had to remember as he was prepped by a some twenty year old with ponytail and a headset, this was his domain. Time to come alive again, show the world who's boss, maybe feel that rush of adrenaline and appreciate the respect he was given like he used to. Maybe. He took a deep breath, removing his sunglasses and stepped up to podium,
"Hey world! Tony Stark here, missed me?" Winning smile, casual lean, hand thrown in the air as a greting. Yup, this felt normal again, if he closed his eyes he could pretend everything was alright, pretend he was happy.
The next half hour past in a blur of nosey media questions, shameless self-promotion and numerious reminders to himself that it was nearly over. He sometimes got the feeling that if stood at the edge and screamed 'Stark Industries is brilliant and I am a genius," over and over again that it would have the same effect on the dimwits, they all lapped up his bullshit like it was the elixir of life, except for Douglas Wainwright. Douglas Wainwright, the no nonsense business talker he had employed to be Stark Industries' new CEOwas no doubt a wildly intelligent man but he was also a wilidly angry and boring man. He glowered and fidgeted from just off stage for the entire time like an ever present itch, despite usually keeping as much distance between himself and Tony as possible.
"That was atrocious, why have you always got to play the charming fool? You're making the company look like a joke" He snarled as Tony finally made his grand exit, all laughs and waves. He had to stifle a snort as he saw Douglas' moustache bristle at the sight,
"Correction, I always play the charming billionaire. Now if you'll excuse me, fuck off." He knew it wasn't a good idea to piss off the man essentially in charge of all his money but he couldn't care less at this point. Or any point. If Tony was to say when he stopped caring about anything and everything he would guess at the moment when Steve fucking Rogers said the Avengers just weren't 'compatible' anymore. Compatible, what does that even mean? It had been almost a year now but the words still stung whenever he thought of them, which was regularly, he could never keep himself from being sidetracked by the memory of them.
At least he still had Happy. The drive back to his apartment in Stark Tower was unnecessarily climatic, by the end and with a total of four cars trying to follow them, Tony had forgotten if decent human beings existed. And then of course, he again thought of Steve.