Author's Note: Okay, welcome to my follow-up to Family. Not so much of a team-fic, but I'm starting to think I should make it a sort of series. What do you guys think?
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, though Jarvis would be nice to have around.
Summary: He was always bent on finding her light. Now he's beginning to wonder whether she even has it.
The Light Loves the Dark
It was always a bit childish, but Tony had always thought he had the most darkness in his heart. Though he projected an uncaring attitude, woe-is-me was his inner mantra, especially after Afghanistan. After all, not many people were kidnapped by terrorists and live to be affected by PTSD. And of that small percentage, no one else turned it all around and became a hero, to use the term loosely.
He had thought this way until he met Natasha Romanoff.
No, he didn't mean Natalie Rushman; anything that happened prior to the day he found out she was a spy for SHIELD didn't count. After all, that wasn't her. That was his utterly hot, organized, efficient assistant, who directed his life in the absence of Pepper. Tony had trusted her. He mentally kicked himself for that now.
Once Fury had revealed her as a master assassin, Tony's psychoanalyzing personality began to pick her apart. He noticed how there was no emotion in her eyes, in her voice. Even when he was insulting her, retorting that there was nothing real about her, he couldn't see a flash of hurt. In fact, he was would've liked to see hurt; then he would know he at least got to her on some level.
So when he entered the scene at Stuttgart, he had already sworn that he was going to find her light. Whatever it took.
However, she had ignored him on the way back, and stayed out of his way on the helicarrier. The only time he had even seen her was before Bruce hulked out, when they were arguing –he couldn't help but shoot a few jabs her way. Then Bruce had noticed Clint's arrow and the smirk had wiped off his face, as he desperately lunged for Natasha. She might've been the most deadly person he'd ever met, but she was lighter than the rest of them. She would go flying.
He was right, and he caught a glimpse of her shocked expression before she fell away from him, shattering the glass of the nearby window. Their fingers had brushed, but it wasn't enough. He scrambled to his feet, to find her, to make sure she was okay with his own eyes, but Steve had pulled him the other way, telling him to put on the suit. A breathy 'yeah' escaped his lips, a sigh in relief as he heard her consoling Bruce from below.
Then Bruce had hulked out, and all he could do was pray Thor would get there in time, or else he would've abandoned saving the helicarrier, and focused on getting her out.
It was then he had to force himself to consider that maybe he wanted more from Natasha Romanoff than to see her smile, to see her break. In fact, she had become somewhat of an obsession, and Tony Stark didn't do obsessions. Other people had obsessions over him, but never the other way around.
Natasha, he could tell, had been unnerved by the way he had attempted to save her without even the suit, and avoided him.
Even mid-battle, he was given no reason to fight with her, and Steve –the bastard- had kept her with him when he gave orders. Tony thanked God that he had his helmet on, because he was sure his irrational jealousy had been visible on his face.
Oh yeah. He definitely cared for Natasha Romanoff more than he needed to.
Olympia. It had been a gift, a chance that he had barely gotten. It still made him upset to think one of his other teammates could've ended up comforting her the way he was supposed to. The way he was meant to.
When he saw her curled tightly against the hospital door, shaking unnaturally, it had only taken a few clicks of his expensive shoes to reach her. Knowing she wouldn't appreciated anything face to face, he approached her from the side, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and pressing his lips to her temple, inhaling her scent, murmuring comforting words in her ear. He had smiled when the older lady had called them a couple, but quickly turned it into a horrified look to match Natasha's. Wouldn't want to redhead to get the wrong idea.
The moment had passed when Bruce arrived, and Natasha pulled herself together. Tony should've been done then; he had seen a side of the Black Widow no one else had. Her walls had been down, he had helped rebuild them, and now he should be satisfied. Key word: should.
But he wanted more. He wanted to see pieces of the real Natasha Romanoff everyday. He wanted to pry her apart, and put her back together again. He wanted to be on the receiving end of her smiles and her laughs and her tears. He wanted to be the one she trusted, not Clint, and trained with, lived with, fought with, loved…
He wanted to find the light in her sea of depth and darkness. Her river Styx, the layers of hatred and death she was buried underneath.
He wondered if this aching feeling had just appeared, or if it had been long in coming.
He wondered if he had always been in love with the world's most deadly assassin.
Tony softly knocked on the door, letting it creak open slowly.
"Cap? Mr. America, are you-?"
Tony heard a loud sigh. "Come in, Tony."
The billionaire pushed open the door, waltzing over to the huge couch that the Avengers had moved onto Steve's floor so he could rest, but not have to be in bed.
As soon as they were able to move Steve out of Washington and back to New York, they loaded up the Quinjet and taken off. Natasha kept a watchful eye on Steve, and Tony kept a watchful eye on Natasha, waiting for a second breakdown. It never came.
Steve was more or less fine, but still had a broken leg and a sprained wrist, the wrist which was healing quickly. The leg, however, took a bit of time.
Tony sat on the edge of the couch, glancing toward to the flat-screen T.V. "How are you holding up, Cap? Ruminating about having a love life like me?" He teased, gesturing toward the screen where Rachel McAdams was gazing lovingly at Ryan Gosling.
Reaching to click the mute button, Steve shot him a dubious look. "Chasing after Tasha is a love life?" He retorted.
Tony was silent for a minute, then: "I can't believe she lets you, of all people, call her that."
Steve blushed, running a face through his American blonde hair sheepishly. "She, uh… She doesn't." Tony smirked. "But don't you dare say anything! A bomb is like nothing compared to her wrath."
"I know," Tony sighed, and Steve's eyes widened at his teammate's wistful look.
"Oh God… Tony… You aren't in love with her, are you?"
The brunette jumped to his feet. "Oh, God, no! You know me, a girl a night, always the playboy. In love?"
But Tony couldn't stop rambling. "I would never… But Natasha is so beautiful, and smart, and badass, and- God, Steve, I think I'm in love with her."
There was a pause, in which Steve realized Tony had just gone through that thing without giving him credit for the observation he made, acting like he had realized it himself. The super solider rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Tony, I noticed."
Tony just kept going. "I feel I can help her, Rodgers."
At this, Steve sat fully up. "Help her?" He repeated disbelievingly. "Tony, what do you mean?"
Tony snorted, sitting down next to him. "She has so much darkness in her. But one day with me, and I'm sure we can fix that."
Steve's mouth dropped open. "Fix that? Tony, do you hear yourself? Natasha hasn't just had one or two bad experiences, or even a series of them. She's spent her entire life killing people. I don't care if we're talking about the good or the bad side. Don't you think she deserves just to be left alone?" He paused. "Stark, don't get me wrong. Natasha is one of our teammates, and probably my best friend as far as friends go. I just don't think she's fixable," he finished sadly.
Tony got up, fuming. "Well, give me a call when you get your head out of your ass and are willing to try."
He left quickly, storming through the doors and pacing in the elevator. "Jarvis," he directed, "deploy the suit."
He didn't know how long he flew for, but eventually the air grew foggy and dark, and Tony was forced to ask Jarvis where they were.
"Narragansett, Rhode Island, sir."
Tony snorted. "So basically the middle of nowhere."
"That is correct, sir."
"Find me the nearest bar," he directed, slowly starting to sink below the cloud line.
"Mr. Stark, are you positive that is the best course of-"
"Jarvis," Tony interrupted sharply. "I did not build you to be my mom."
"Very well, sir."
A few minutes later, the suit now folded into a suitcase, Tony entered a small pub called Twin Willows. He sat down at the bar with a loud sigh. "Scotch, please," he asked the bartender.
The girl raised an eyebrow at him. "Wow, someone's moody."
Tony gave her a look, and shrugging in defeat, she quickly poured his drink and slid it to him. "Enjoy," she said with a sarcastic edge, slipping away to serve another customer.
Six drinks later, Tony was feeling a little drunk, but not drunk enough not to feel someone's hand on his wrist. He attempted to pull away, but the grip was tight. His gaze following up the arm to the face, he recognized the bartender.
"Tom, I'm taking my break," she called, her green eyes not leaving his face.
"What are you doing?" Tony exclaimed as she yanked him off his stool.
"Yeah, Azza, are you sure that's the best idea?" That must be Tom, and Tony noticed he had been shooting puppy-love eyes at 'Azza' all night.
"I'll be fine, Tom. This drunk kid can't hurt me," she laughed, pulling Tony out of the bar to a park across the street. They sat down on a bench, and Azza pulled out a cigarette. "You don't mind, right?" Tony shook his head. "Good."
She lit it, taking a long drag. She had shoulder-length auburn hair, and green eyes reminiscent of Natasha's. In fact, except for the fact this girl wasn't really built like Tasha, she could really pass for a younger, more carefree version of the assassin.
"Why did you bring me out here?" Tony questioned. "And is your name really Azza?"
The girl laughed. "Nah, it's a nickname." She paused, giving him a once over. "And, let me just tell you, sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective."
Tony, with no help from the six drinks of course, found himself telling this twenty year old all about Natasha and himself. He used different names and other occupations –it probably would've scared the chick if he started mentioning master assassins and secret government organizations- but everything else was true.
When he finished, there was a brief silence, then: "Have you ever heard of the saying about the moth being drawn to the flame?"
Tony snorted. "Yeah, but I don't see how that's relevant."
"Just think about it in reverse. You're like the flame, and this girl is the moth. You feel like you have an obligation to fix her." He nodded. "Why?"
Shrugged, Tony opted for the most simple answer. "She deserves it."
"Yeah, from what you're telling me, she does," Azza agreed. "But have you ever considered the possibility that she doesn't want to be fixed?"
Everyone wants to be fixed," Tony shot back.
"Like you," Azza finished strongly, and Tony gave her a wide-eyed look.
"Like you," Azza repeated, with even more conviction. "When you got back from the Middle East, you wanted someone to put you back together again. With all your girl has been through, she obviously just wants to find someone who loves her for herself. Tony, you have a case of light loving the dark. You just have to figure out whether you love her or the thought of saving her."
"I see," Tony replied, though he wasn't really sure.
"You will," she promised. "You guys both deserve some happiness, I can tell. You might just have to wait a while. Start doing little things for her, start touching her more, talking to her more. Get her used to the idea you have a totally huge crush on her."
Tony grinned. "I'll wait as long as it takes, Azza," he swore. He started walking away, calling over his shoulder. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some wooing to do."
He stopped, turning around. Cigarette hanging between her fingers, she raced toward him. "Tony, you have to remember one more thing: she might not have any light left within her, you have to start accepting that. But you can be her light." She paused, smiling sadly. "God knows Natasha deserves a happy ending after all the shit she's been through."
"I know," Tony agreed, uncharacteristically gravely. "Thank you, Azza, I won't forget… Wait, how did you know-"
But Azza was gone.
"-that her name was Natasha," Tony finished, a quizzical look on his face. "Huh. That was weird."
Oh well. He had a girl fall deeper in love with, and a captain to prove wrong.
All in a day of the life of the one and only Tony Stark.
So did you guys like?
Sort of a follow up to Family, if you can tell, 'Family' was Natasha's and this one is Tony's.
Maybe I should do one for each of the Avengers… what do you guys think? I probably need to have Tony and Tasha kiss before the end of this thing anyways.