Heya again guys :D It is I, Zafona. This is another co-authored fic with my main m'ang Touta Matsuda. We aren't going to mutilate in this fic, as far as I'm aware. There will be sexual themes ahead and mature content further down the road. You will be warned in the author's note unless I forget lol
This story also has some time skipping and I hope we make it clear enough but if not feel free to ask questions, either of us would be glad to answer them.
"Good grades, straight laced, hard working, honest, and loyal to a fault." Steve read aloud, his cheeks flushing red as he tried to get through each little description of his classmates in last year's year book, he was stuck on his own. "Who wrote that? I didn't write that..." He couldn't believe he'd only gotten the darn thing in the mail that morning, school was starting again, right around the corner, and only now did he get the year book. He'd decided to look through his class photos for the last few years in a row, to see how everyone had aged and changed. He'd opened three at once and had splayed them out in a row, looking at one person at a time.
So far he'd been fairly surprised by the change in everyone he came across, the difference in appearance was becoming more and more astounding between the years. He felt a little excited about going back to school, he was excited about the work load, about having something important to do, about learning, and of course seeing how different everyone was after the two months of summer break.
The class list was in alphabetical order by last name; he was on himself, most of the way through the class. He couldn't believe the way even he had changed, looking at the freshman year photo with slight embarrassment. His mom had done his hair for him, greased it back like a proper boy should look. A tie and button up shirt to go with it. He compared the image of himself with his classmates of the same year and shook his head with a laugh; no one had been as done up as he had been.
Steve's eyes skipped on to the next person and he went on with his pattern until he found himself inherently scowling at one of the guys in his grade. Tony Stark. Steve could remember every time he'd worked on a group project involving Tony, the other teen had rubbed him the wrong way every single time. Not a team player, never pulling his weight and always looking for the easiest way out. And the most infuriating part about it was that he usually found it. Steve couldn't handle people cheating their way through life, what was point? They were cheating themselves out of experiences, out of opportunities to grow and better themselves. He never understood it and it enraged him to see others get away with it, especially others like Tony.
If he could have he would've forced Tony to do the same amount of work as everyone else, every single time. Possibly even more, just to help the poor guy make up for all the opportunities he'd missed. But of course, there really was no helping a lazy teenager who didn't want the assistance. Tony was rude, he talked too much; he had a dirty mouth and a dirty mind, a bad influence, as Steve's mother had told him over and over again. Steve furrowed his brow as he looked at the pictures, seeing the same sarcastic, smug smile each time. He scoffed and went on to the next person, decidedly not spending a large amount of time on the selfish brat.
Steve mentally prayed that Tony wasn't in his class, he didn't want to have to sit through another lesson that would inevitably be interrupted with either Tony walked in late or decided to rudely interrupt and argue that the teacher was wrong. It didn't matter so much that the instructor was wrong, everyone makes mistakes, what mattered was that Tony acted this way repeatedly and it was a nuisance to everyone who wanted to get something done. 'Please not him.' He thought with a wrinkled nose and furrowed brow.
"High school? Doesn't matter my boy, even a mere year after you graduate, no one cares how you did in high school." Howard was hunched over a work table dabbling with only he knew what. "Have fun, connections will always get you just as far as hard work does because you have something that those little nose pickers will never have – natural genius."
Tony could have sworn he felt what could've been the start of acceptance, almost a compliment. He'd never heard his father say anything encouraging to him in the past. And sure, he may be blatantly saying Tony's past achievements at school have all been for nothing, but he also called him a genius, and that must count for something. "You meant it?"
"Hell no, what are you, stupid? You've got to work your ass off to get anywhere in life! Now quit coasting and get back to your studies, you're interrupting my work." Howard spared the energy to lift a hand and shoo his son away before returning whole heartedly to his work.
Tony scowled and exited his father's workshop, kicking a robot-looking heaping of metal standing near the door, not bothering to stop at the sound of his father's disapproving shout. "Whatever, I'll show him."
"Mm..." Steve could barely lift his eyelids as he felt strong hands slide over his shoulders and down his chest, caressing and stroking his bare skin slowly. It was a sweet touch, nothing corrupt and nothing dirty, just a beautiful and relaxing thing. He exhaled softly and relaxed against the warm body behind him, letting the stranger's wandering hands outline and feel the creases of his muscles, breathing in their scent with a smile. It was soothing and making him feel heavy with sleep, his body slumping and going even more limp.
He gasped lightly when the touch was tinged with a perverse thought, fingers trailing over the pink nub of his nipple and pinching slightly. "Hey..." He murmured sleepily, nudging his head against the other person's chin, a slight warning in his tone though it wasn't terribly pushing. A soft chuckle escaped his partner and though he heard it he wasn't really sure he had. Sleep dulled his senses and he couldn't quite make out the voice.
Despite his gentle protest the hands continued, one of them snaking down toward his hipline while the other pinched more insistent, rubbing and swirling a finger over the erect flesh. Steve moaned softly when he heard a strange ring, a familiar ring that didn't belong in this situation.
Blue eyes flinched then fluttered open when he heard the subtle sound of his alarm ringing; it was one of the ones that subtly lifted in volume the longer they rang. Steve nearly always woke at the first ring, the sudden absence of silence was a startling thing for him and he couldn't help but wake because of it. A long and drawn out yawn accompanied with a stretch was the best way to start the day and often it was how he did it, his body curving up and shoulder blades pressing back into the mattress. He ran a hand down his front and closed his eyes, a small hope in his head that he didn't have anything embarrassing waiting for him. Luckily there was no surprises, his weekly dream hadn't managed to arouse him that time. Steve could feel it, first day of school; it would be a good day. He lifted himself from his bed and gathered his things, hurrying to the bathroom for a shower and other morning activities.
First day of his senior year, grade 12, last year of high school; needless to say he was excited.
Showered, shaved, teeth were brushed, dressed appropriately he stepped back from the mirror for about two seconds before deciding he looked fine and skipped down the stairs, his long legs carrying him faster to the bottom. "Mom, I'm up!" he called, "I think I'm gonna head to school early so don't worry about breakfast." He was already wriggling his feet into his shoes when he heard her shout back at him.
"Steven Grant Rogers you march your butt into this dining room, young man. You won't get very far without any food in your belly." She had on her best mom voice that demanded his immediate attention. Steve shuffled into the room and was about to protest but decided better of it when he saw her serious expression.
"Yes ma'am." He smiled and took his place at the table, a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and breakfast sausage placed in front of him, along with a glass of orange juice. "Wow, looks amazing."
"And you almost skipped it." Sarah kissed his cheek, ignoring the 'aw mom' kind of reaction she got from her little man and went to finish packing his lunch. "Now I'm going to be working late tonight," She zipped the bag up and put it in his backpack without really asking permission. She was his mom, she was more than allowed.
"Again?" Steve asked, glancing up with concerned eyes, "Didn't you work late yesterday? Why are you even up at this hour?"
"I'm not missing my baby's first day of his senior year." She smiled which only made Steve feel guiltier. "Don't worry about it, sweetheart."
Steve made a mental note to never skip out on breakfast again, his mom wasn't always going to be up to make him things and he'd miss out on so much if he didn't take the extra 20 minutes to sit down with her. It had only been that summer that she really started working late, she'd been getting lucky until then but every nurse ends up on the graveyard shift at some point. "Alright," he gave her his best grin and started digging into his breakfast, finding he was starving and mentally thanking his mother because he couldn't speak past a mouthful of food.
"Slow down, there isn't anyone behind you trying to steal it." Sarah scolded and Steve listened obediently.
Breakfast went down well with the orange juice and Steve was soon readying to step out the door, his backpack slung over his shoulder and shoes on he called into the house one last time, "See you later mom, I love you."
"Love you too, Steve." Sarah gave him a quick wave before heading off to do her own thing.
Steve paused before leaving and went into the living room for a moment; he lifted his hand to his forehead and saluted firmly. "Love you, dad." He gently touched the picture frame before bolting out the door. After getting up early and spending the extra time with his mom he found that he was going to be late if he didn't hurry.
But Steve Rogers is never late. He ran fast and ended up being about ten minutes early, just enough time to get his locker and get to his seat. Perfect. As he planned his way around the next ten minutes he noticed a crowd of people generally blocking the hall. Steve pursed his lips together briefly before relaxing them again and just attempting to squeeze by. He noticed that the crowd wasn't random at all; it was around the one and only Tony Stark. Steve rolled his eyes and slipped by, his broader shoulders brushing past more than a few people.
It took much longer than expected but Steve managed to get his locker figured out and placed all of his books inside, fishing out the right ones and running to class before the bell went. He was in his seat as the morning announcements started and he let out a relieved sigh. Not late, still had his perfect attendance and didn't manage to mar it on the first day. So far so good.
Of course nothing ever lasted, did it? First, Tony was clearly in his home room and by the look of it, most of his classes. From what Steve knew, Tony had more than enough credits to graduate, even had the courses done on his own and was just taking the last year because he felt like it. Of course that could have just been a rumour, though Steve didn't put it past the billionaire teen. Also, since it was senior year there would be very little 'easing into' the course curriculum and after they read over the general outline and rules, like they always had to do, the teacher jumped right into it. Group projects.
Little did Steve know that earlier that week during the teacher's meetings, each senior instructor had decidedly made a pact; for every group project they assigned, they would ensure that Tony Stark would be part of Steve Rogers' team. It wasn't a way of punishment, it was a thought out plan that they truly assumed would work. Steve wasn't a straight A student but he never stopped trying. His determination and hard working manner was admirable at the very least, he was a team player and always did what was right. Tony was basically the opposite. The teachers thought the combination would be beneficial for both parties, that Tony would take Steve's average up where it deserved to be, and Steve would increase Tony's selfishness.
Steve sat with his mouth agape as his first group of the year was called out, luckily there were a few others involved, it was a four man thing but that didn't stop Steve from gaping. He glanced over at the other group members, noting that they were at least good at following direction and he knew a few of their strengths in teams so it wouldn't be so bad as long as the other two went along with him. Steve turned his gaze on Tony with slight dismay, wishing he could weasel out of it somehow. But that wasn't what he did. Not Steve. Life gave him this scenario and it was up to him to make it into something, groaning and complaining wouldn't accomplish anything useful.
When finally given a moment to gather in their groups, Steve immediately grabbed his pen and notepad, quickly scribbling their names down on it and the minor assignment details he'd need to know, "Alright, so this thing's fairly open, research a human rights related topic, write an overall report on it to hand in, a power point and/or video to present to the class, and our own little added touch for the extra creativity marks. Any ideas?" He looked up at the group with bright eyes, "I think we should start by listing some topics to cover."
Tony dropped himself into the desk in front of Steve's, turned sideways in the seat and leaned over Steve's desk space to get an unnecessarily closer look at his notepad. Every action he made reflected on his personality: when Tony Stark walked into a room, he owned that room. He was comfortable everywhere he went, and one could see it in the casual way he treated the people and objects in his path. This classroom was no different, and neither was Steve's desk.
"How about the church?" Tony offered, knowing full well what kind of hot water he was stepping into. He had a ghost of a wry smile shadow across his lips as he continued. "Everyone's always up in arms about people trying to silence the church when actually the Christian faith is single handedly responsible for some of the most atrocious violations of human rights. Even basic Sunday Services are offending in their nature."
Steve's gaze was nearly on fire as he glared at Tony. "First, you know full well that you're stepping on toes and you're doing it on purpose. Stop it. Second, that's too controversial and it'll cause too much fighting along the way, but I'm sure you already knew that." He didn't want to address what Tony had said specifically, they'd gotten into far too many religious arguments to start another one. Steve knew where it was going to go, Tony would throw facts at him and try to disprove his belief. It wasn't that he didn't believe the facts, or that he was closed minded to all of the different theories out in the world. Steve was raised with his beliefs and stuck by them firmly. If someone wanted to ask him about his faith he would share his opinion, other than that he did his best not to force it on others. He respected their choices as long as they did the same with his.
Tony Stark didn't fit that exception.
"Hey, you wanted ideas, I'm coming up with ideas," Tony's hands were up, palms facing Steve in a mock surrender. "And they're damn good ones," he smirked Steve's way; he loved to get under the other teen's skin. "If you're so oppressively devout, then we don't have to."
"This has nothing to do with-!" Steve stopped himself, noticing his voice had already risen to a shout and calming it down. "If we're going to touch on religion, we'll cover the freedom of religion, a right to believe what you want without being persecuted." His stare was piercing as he spat the last words out. "Enough arguing about that, it's a sensitive topic and we've fought enough about it just by mentioning it that I think having it as our topic would have us at one another's throats in a heartbeat."
"In all fairness," Tony interjected, "I simply offered an idea when you asked for one, doing more to participate in this group discussion than our other two group mates, might I add –and you're the one at my throat." He leaned back in his seat and propped his heels up on the chair of the desk across the aisle from him. "Go ahead and run the show, Pope Steve, I'll be here when you need me." With that Tony replaced his trademarked sunglasses over his eyes, presumably to nap.
"You're trying to pick a fight," Steve pointed out but he could tell that Tony wasn't entirely wrong. Steve was always on edge and ready to fight back when it came to Tony because that's just how most of their conversations ended up and quite frankly he was just too used to being ready for it. He'd jumped to it first and he knew that much. He exhaled slowly and nodded, he wasn't going to let Tony ruin his day and he didn't want to be the one to start the ruining process in the first place. He'd been raised better than that. "But you're right, I was at your throat, it was a valid idea and I shot it down, I'm sorry Tony." He smiled and looked sincerely apologetic, because he really was, "Can you please keep working with us?"
Tony slid his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose and peered out at Steve, one eyebrow cocked in curiosity. Steve wanted to play the part of the bigger man. Fine, two can play at that game. "Absolutely captain," Tony saluted, a gesture made purely in mockery of Steve' presumed authority. He slipped his shades back on top of his head and reengaged the group.
Steve furrowed his brow at that; Tony hadn't taken his apology seriously. 'For the love of... What do I have to do to- No. No. We're good. Nothing's wrong here. Just... let it go Steve.'
Eventually they settled on a topic after a long and thought out debate, Steve didn't want Tony to just pick something and run with it, he wanted the entire group to be excited about the idea before taking off with it. The process took a little longer than he would have previously preferred but they'd settled on the rights of children. No one can get into a murderous debate over children, Steve was glad for that much. He'd thwarted several of Tony's ideas, basically all of them aimed to get to him, bother him in some way or other. It was the first day of senior year, he wasn't going to let one little twerp get under his skin.
But each day that passed with this project he found himself ready to strangle the arrogant teen. They'd made a schedule and a list of who would research what and as the days ticked by and their deadline closed in quickly Steve noticed that Tony didn't have the same amount of work done, he'd put it off, ignored it and with only a few days left Steve approached him again.
"Tony." The larger teen kept his tone gentle and pleasant, not wanting to start the conversation with an argument. "Can I talk to you for a second?" He motioned toward an area where it'd be just them.
"One-on-one?" Tony asked with faux shock, "I know I'm perfect, but I'm really not in the market for men," Tony jibed in reply. Some days he honestly wondered if tormenting Steve was the sole reason he continued to attend high school.
Steve flushed and furrowed his brow, "Just... follow me, okay?" He led Tony outside the classroom and away from their group members. The blonde crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall with a thoughtful expression, he drummed his fingers on his bicep a moment before deciding on the words. "Tony, I've noticed you haven't gotten your share done yet." Blue eyes shifted and gazed into brown, displaying his concern simply. "We're three days away from the deadline and we need to put the whole thing together and practice the presentation before it's due this Friday. You're not pulling your weight."
"Seeing as how I have a smaller frame than the others in our group, particularly you, I don't have as much weight to pull," Tony replied smoothly, fully defiant of Steve's assumed role as group leader. Tony didn't care to tell Steve why, didn't care to make excuses or justifications that would make his actions seem anything less than fully intentional and deliberate. Steve had no business knowing that Tony was enrolled in full time college studies through evenings, weekends, and internships. He had no business knowing how hard Tony's father pushed him or how bad the punishment would be if he failed. Tony attended high school classes purely for the social interactions; it was one of the few places he was regarded as truly intelligent, where he could interact with others without needing to compute complex algorithms in his head.
Steve frowned deeply at that, "Tony, you know that's not the kind of weight I mean." He was trying to be nice about this, approach it humbly and solve it without an issue, because really, Tony was part of their group and he should do his part. "When I say 'pull your weight' I mean your portion of the shared weight of the project, how heavy I am or they are doesn't make a difference at this point. You've done almost nothing, Tony. You contributed ideas at the start of it and even though we had a minor fall back with that, I thought we'd fixed it." Steve had taken charge of the project, not that he officially said 'I'm the leader' but most of the problems the other group members had went straight to him, a flaw in their idea, they went to him, they couldn't find a way to be motivated so they relied on him to push them along. It wasn't something Steve bullied his way into, people knew he was responsible and that he'd get things done if left to him, or left alone at all. And now that the group had been complaining about Tony's lack of assistance it was left to Steve to go and fix it. Always.
"Just relax, don't worry your pretty little head over it," Tony paused and looked inwardly contemplative for a moment, "Well, don't worry your large meaty head over it. Anyway, I'll get it done on time, I always do." Tony was entirely convinced that Steve took these group projects far too seriously, all the while never figuring out how to do it right. The blonde teen always poured his heart into his work, but in Tony's not-so-humble-opinion the teen should be pouring his head into it instead.
Blue eyes steeled at him then, Steve grit his teeth but tried to bite back his anger. He was always level headed except for when it came to Tony Stark. Always the biggest pain in his ass and he didn't know how to deal with the self-centered teen. "My head's not that big, and 'getting it done on time' is only part of the problem. We need your share before the due date, Tony, and you should be working with us, not alongside us. It's a group project, we're a team. I'm not letting you sleep through this class; you're going to work on it like the rest of us, understood?" He squared his shoulders and straightened up off the wall to make his point a little clearer. He didn't like to use size as an intimidator in any way but if Tony wanted to make fun of 'meaty head' then he'd do what was necessary.
"'Understood'?" Tony balked at the terminology, "Listen here, Cap, I'm not a team player. I never have been, and I don't need to be." Tony felt a chill run down his spine at the sight of Steve, the teen never looked so big. Tony didn't hesitate, Steve wouldn't hurt a fly, and even if the overly obedient soldier boy was livid beyond compare, he still wouldn't throw the first punch. "You dragged me here, out of sight, practically behind the goddamn school, with the intention of bullying me –Tony Stark- into doing school work? Something's broken in that empty head of yours." Tony jammed his fist into his pocket and removed a small USB flash drive. "Here," he tossed it at Steve. "My completed portion of the assignment, every part of it. Not to mention the rewrites I did for the other two group members. They're C-students, Steve. They're coasting on your back more than I am."
"I took you back here to talk to you," Steve caught the USB and shoved it in his pocket, "I just wanted to discuss your part of the project, why didn't you just give this to me then? Why did you have to try and make it funny or something? I don't think you're cool for doing it and neither does anyone else." His jaw was firmly set as he stared down at Tony, "And they aren't coasting, I've been pushing them just as much as I've been pushing you. Why is it so hard for you to just accept you're in a group and work with us?"
"I have accepted that I'm in a group, and it's a freaking pain in the ass. It's not like I'm in denial about the damn thing." Tony turned and started to walk away, infuriated at the other teen. "Oh, and for your goddamn information," Tony whirled around to face Steve for this, "No one asked me for the damn files, or even where I was at with the damn thing. I've been done for days." He flipped the other boy off and stormed away.
Steve glared after the gesture and threw his arms in the air, shouting after Tony, "So every time I asked you what you were up to or what part you were on sounded like a fog horn to you or something! ?" He slammed his fist into the wall and bit back the pained cry that flew to the tip of his tongue. "And doing all their work for them because you don't want a bad grade doesn't help!" He hollered louder, surprised he could get that loud. Of course, Tony probably wasn't listening anymore.
As the year progressed Tony was starting to feel the pressure. He'd never admit it, not to his negligent father or his non-existent best friend, but senior year wasn't the cake walk he'd expected it to be. His grades were nearly perfect –no thanks to Steve Rogers. Every other year was easy-peasy, and Tony had always been able to opt out of group projects, or at least run them. No one else in his class had ever had a problem with letting him do all the work and taking a perfect grade. Not until Steve Rogers. Tony could pull his hair out he was so frustrated with the teen. He was the exception to every norm and Tony was beginning to really hate that. But he wouldn't show it, and as far as Steve had ever known, he'd never gotten under Tony's skin. That was part of the reason it was so easy to get under his. Tony had a reputation of being socially impenetrable; he won every argument, and even in the rarer circumstances where he was wrong the loss ran off his back like water –unfazed.
Tony sat slumped at the table in the physics class room; an uncomfortable stool for a seat did little to ward off his fatigue. College midterms were right around the corner, luckily out of sync with high school midterms, but generally far more daunting. He had the formulas for a grass-roots AI program floating around in his head, taking the occasional shape of ones and zeros and then more complicated coding, before dissipating out of concrete thought. He needed sleep. Nothing was making sense anymore, and running on three hours of sleep in the past 72 hours of work just wasn't cutting it. Tony opened his binder; the front page clasped in the rings was the course syllabus. 'December 2nd – Group Project.' Tony groaned and hit his forehead to the table.
"This will be a group project; you will team up in threes and put a report together, an essay, and a 3D model of your choice representing something we've covered in the first unit." The physics teacher strolled across the front of the room, writing the teams on the board. "Each person must have their hand in each part of the project; you're not allowed to give one person the model, one person the essay, and the last person the group report. You are going to present the report to the class in two weeks..."
The teacher's voice slowly vanished as Steve's heart fell, he watched in dismay as the name Tony Stark was written first and right next to it Steve Rogers, the teacher hadn't even looked down at the list to know that much. He was starting to get that something fishy was going on here but he didn't complain. Steve Rogers doesn't complain about these kinds of things, he'd just roll with it and take what was given to him. He was being taught how to handle difficult people at an early age, he was being given an opportunity and he would learn from it. Of course that didn't make it suck any less.
The only saving grace he had, or thought he had, was the fact that Bruce Banner was in their group. The soft spoken teen wouldn't argue and Steve knew Bruce's work ethic, he'd get his share done and on time. The problem, again, was Tony. It was times like this that Steve wished his best friend wasn't older than him, Bucky was a year ahead of him and because of that they didn't get to work on the same projects. Granted Steve could ask Bucky questions about how last year had gone for him, but his friend had graduated so now he couldn't even sit with him for lunch. It was starting to look like he'd replaced Bucky with Tony and as far as he could see it, that was not an even trade. But it was rude to say anything and his mom had told him like several other moms, if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all. When he remembered her words he tried to stick by them, though sometimes he just got mad and things happened to fall out.
Like they did half way through that project.
"Tony! You're irresponsible, not a team player, and quite frankly your personality could use some work!" Steve shouted as he picked up the pieces of the model off the floor. He'd done his best to make the model at least a little bit interesting, a model that Bruce had made the skeleton of and Steve had been left to decorate it. Because Tony 'had his own way' of doing things, or something like that. Regardless of what his reason was, he didn't have the right to toss it off the desk like he had. So what if what Steve had added was entirely perfect to the way the real model was? The skeleton of what Bruce had made wasn't perfect either, it didn't matter, they were both doing their best and it should be good enough for their teammate. Clearly not.
"Oh, is that what you think?!" Tony roared back, "You have a problem with how I do things and so your great come back is 'my personality could use some work'?!" Tony caught himself, he was shouting, he was stressed. "This is a physics project Steve, you suck at physics," Tony said evenly, collecting his thoughts and stowing his temper. "It's numbers and measurements and research, not art."
Steve gave up and dropped the pieces, rounding on his group member with a tamed growl though not by much. "You don't pull your weight, you procrastinate with everything, you don't care about the projects you're on or your group's grades, and you're a selfish, self-centered, narcissistic little brat! You do so little work that we end up carrying the group and the project ourselves and at the very end you add your 'portion' of it, which, by the way, isn't helping when you add it ten minutes before the presentation. Then you try to take over and give yourself all the credit! I'm sick of it, Tony! Either help, or don't, but don't you dare lie about how much you put into this. It's as much of a group learning experience as it is meant for us to learn the material."
Bruce fidgeted and quietly picked up the pieces, moving to glue them back together. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with the fight that was starting, or had started, or whatever. He just wanted to pass, graduate, and do something fun with science, chemistry and biology in particular. Bio-chemistry. Maybe he'd be the one to make the first zombie virus someday, and then the group project wouldn't mean a damn thing. But he really didn't have the nerve to say anything like that, instead he quietly worked on the project like a good nerd.
"You and I have two very different ideas of how a group should be run," Tony replied evenly, if not with a bit of effort. "Your group work utopia is communism, you want everyone to do an equal amount of work all around and share in the benefits equally, like everyone working on the project is equal. Very un-American, Steve," he said matter-of-factly. "But I've got news for you, not everyone is equal. You measure work by the amount of time a person is putting into something, but you know what? I already know all of this! I don't need to do the readings or the research because I already know it! I can write out associated journal grade material from my head. And you don't seem to realize how much the group benefits from having me in it. Brainstorming: me, data sources: me, resources: me. I may wait until the last minute to get it done, but I still get it done, and then some. I have all of your pieces already because you've finished it with time to spare, and I correct it, I edit it, and I fix the garbage you lesser people take for fact and good work."
"Your problem isn't that you're too smart for us or not everyone is equal, Tony!" Steve bellowed, the entire classroom nearly shook with the force of his voice, any nerd in the room might have giggled about a 'fus ro dah' reference but no one said it out loud. His face was turning red and the veins in his neck were clear as day. "Your problem is that you don't know how to work in a group! You're frustrated and trying to do it all yourself because you think we're 'lesser beings' or something. Let me tell you something, you arrogant prick! You should be frustrated with yourself, you should be mad at yourself and I'd even go as far as to say disappointed. For all the things you boast you have, that you can do all on your own, you can't work in a group. For all of your 'I'm perfect' talk you can't stand the flaw that is so painfully obvious! I've been in every group you have been this year, I've seen it over and over again. No matter what I do to get you in on the group activities, the group meet ups and work periods, you won't take the hint! I've been in enough groups in my schooling life to know for a fact that people can be equal if you give them the right work and keep them going." Steve seethed, his shoulders tense and looking very solid.
Tony glared at Steve; full-on glowered at the other teen. His eye twitched, an unconscious reaction to the containment of his anger. Steve would look the fool if Tony could just win this argument, keep his cool. The glare was gone in seconds, replaced with a confident smirk, "That's a lot of talk there, Steve." Steve was angry and shouting, everyone present could see the full blowing of a gasket on this one, "Did anyone ever tell you that you might benefit from an anger management class?" Tony couldn't help but take a moment to admire the Adonis before him, and take in the hard lines of the other teen's shoulders and arms. Tony sighed, "You're not listening: I Don't Need To Work With Others. It's not that I can't, and I'm not inherently unable. Why would I trust other people to take on work that I already have done, why would I knowingly put my grades in the hands of people who I know are stupider than I am? If people are 'equal' when you give them the right work, then the right work for most clowns is saying yes sir to whatever the heck I tell them."
'He's trying to rile you. He's trying to make you angry.' Steve tried to calm himself though he was admittedly seeing red. "What are you trying to say, Tony?" He hadn't missed the glare, had caught every little twitch in Stark's face. Two could play that game, he could calm himself down.
"He's trying to say I'm retarded and so are you." Bruce pointed out and glanced at Tony with a mostly neutral expression though his eyes seemed to be on fire with something. "I'd like to show him up too. Though he is part of the team, Steve and we have to work with him just as much as he has to work with us." Bruce looked at raging teen, his tone doing much better at sound calm than Steve's was. "So let's just get through this, alright? We all have our strengths, mine and Tony's are closer to this subject than yours are, it would do you some good to relinquish leadership."
"I'm not trying to be a leader, here." Steve's shoulders relaxed, the vein slowly fading from the surface of his skin, "But when people ask questions I answer them, if I give a direction you don't agree with then explain why yours is better." He glanced at Tony then, "In an acceptable way that isn't picking a fight."
"Like you're not trying, you control freak-"
"Enough!" Bruce slammed his hand on the desk; the show of anger was almost more frightening than Steve's. And then it was gone. "Tony, you broke the model, you're making a new one. Steve, go over the report and fix the mistakes you find. After you're both done with those tasks, you switch. Tony you fix up the things Steve missed –do not rewrite everything or I will strangle you. Steve, you'll then make our model look decent and presentable –alter the shape and general function of it in anyway and the same punishment is yours." He smiled then and put his hands together, "We good?"
Tony blinked twice, trying to process what just happened. His mind was already reeling with retorts, 'what was the point in having Steve edit the report if Tony was going to edit it again?' 'what was Bruce going to do?' but instead of voicing these complaints Tony had the good graces about him to just let it go, "Yeah, we're good."
Steve swallowed and nodded, taking the report and refusing to look at Tony.