This is in responce to a challenge- sent to me by paisley 15. Oh- you silly plot-bunny machine.
The Challenge was- that the Avengers (minus Tony, for this one) read a fanfiction that revolves AROUND Tony.
Huh- how fun this was. ;)
Now! Information on the original story!
Title: Spectacular Ignorance
Author: darke wolf
Summery:What no one seems to remember is that Tony Stark created that armor. Iron Man would be less than nothing – literally – without Tony and his genius. Leave Tony alone, however, with access to a half-decent workshop and he'll revolutionize the world. Or, Tony is over protective and doesn't really care.
YES! I did get permission to use darke wulf's story- now do yourself a favor, and go read it NOW! :)
(P.S. She/he has only 33 reviews...honestly people, that's on the danger meter.)
"Where the hell is Stark?" Fury growled, single eye narrowed as his hands clenched into fists, sitting delicately on the wooden table inside the briefing room.
Natasha shrugged and Clint sighed, leaning back in his chair as Thor shifted in his seat, managing to look awkward while Bruce looked on edge, Steve just annoyed.
"He's always late." Natasha deadpanned, and even Bruce couldn't find the energy to argue.
"Figured he'd hurry if you stated 'urgent'." Clint commented, looking at Fury whose nostrils flared in annoyance.
"Stark or no Stark- we're talking. We have a major problem." Fury started, Clint looking up with a single lifted eyebrow as Steve frowned.
"What kind of problem?" Steve asked, head tilting ever so slightly to the left as Fury pulled out a document- stamped on the front protective cover in large bold red letters, 'Secret'
"…Someone find weapon plans?" Bruce guessed, and Thor lunged upright, looking at the papers as if they would magically form guns and nearly kill everyone in the room.
Yet again- he did grow up with Loki.
"No," Fury grunted, eying the papers himself as if he didn't trust them, "We've come to the conclusion that these are written documents over Tony Stark's thoughts." He growled, not liking the paper while Steve's frown deepened.
"So you found Stark's dairy?" Clint smirked, but Natasha shook her head slowly.
"No- Stark doesn't keep diary's…ever."
Now, they felt the concern.
"So…somebody read Tony's mind and wrote down what he was thinking of?" Bruce asked with a frown, and Fury sighed, pressing his fingers to his temples.
"God I hope not- I don't want to know what runs through his head." Clint groaned ever so slightly.
"That is what concerns us, Agent Barton. This isn't written in first-person." Fury grunted, and now they all stared.
"So there is some being out among us, listening upon friend Stark's thoughts?" Thor boomed, causing Bruce to twitch ever so slightly at the sudden noise.
"It seems so." Fury grunted, and the others waited in silence, thinking.
The first one to look was Steve; he took a small glance at the papers before darting his eyes away.
Then it was Thor, scrunching his brow as he read the top bold red letters before looking away and shaking his head.
Natasha and Clint each eyed it from the corners of their eyes, while Bruce just sighed, shaking his head.
"I have an idea- how about we read the damn thing instead of staring at it." Clint spoke up, glaring at the papers full out.
"We should wait for Ton-"
"His loss, he wasn't here." Clint quipped back, looking at the papers and reaching out, snatching them while sending Steve fumbling for a response.
"Okay- what do we have here- Oh…" Clint stated, cheerful attitude dropping quickly as he read the first sentence, jaw locking.
"What is it, friend Hawkeye?" Thor asked, frowning at the distressed motion Clint displayed.
"I think you better read it." Clint spoke, voice slightly higher as his hands gave the papers to Natasha, who took them with a lifted eyebrow as she noticed how his other hand clenched.
Her eyebrows pointed down, and she frowned, before her face went completely blank, void of all emotions.
"Oh- that's what you were thinking off." She stated dryly, curiosity now nearly killing the others as they twisted in their seats, awaiting the apparently distressing words. She cleared her throat, looking at the paper before opening her mouth to apparently read it aloud.
"Loki had not been completely wrong about humanity."
The first sentence had a reaction none could anticipate.
Thor startled upright, Bruce's eyes widened while Steve gave a slightly choking gasp, Clint's fist tightening even further while Fury's jaw clicked shut, apparently having read it before.
They waited, absorbing what was said while Fury got up, the scratching of his chair on the ground seemed to snap them back as he walked out, giving them one warning look before sighing and continuing around the corner.
"Continue, Lady Natasha." Thor spoke, voice lower and slower than normal and Natasha gave a sigh, stumbling over the first few words as she continued the paper.
"Not that Tony would say that out loud, at least not where anyone would hear him (yes, he would, because he has never believed in censoring himself to win the approval of others)."
There was a slightly pessimistic snort from Clint, who still had his hands covering his head.
He didn't want to hear this- nobody wanted to hear this.
"But people are like fucking sheep. The general masses don't want to think for themselves, they want to be told what to think, what to feel. They choose a guru – a single person or group of so-called experts, religious or social or political – and let their beliefs be dictated to themselves. They don't want to have to research, to learn, to discover the actual truth of things – hell no, that would take too much effort. It's so much easier to let others do the thinking for them (am I the only one who did the reading?)."
Bruce flinched ever so slightly, and Thor looked down at the table, Steve bit his lip, hands trembling ever so slightly.
"God Stark." Clint muttered, and Natasha winced a little before speaking.
"Tony is very familiar with the public believing whatever the latest tabloid stories say about him, thank you. He has, in fact, encouraged this behavior. People are so much damn easier to manipulate when they underestimate him. He was intimately familiar with this strategy even before Afghanistan."
"I-" Steve choked, cutting himself off while swallowing and looking away, Bruce looking at the table unblinking.
"I don't blame him." Clint muttered, and Natasha took a deep breath to continue.
"It's only gotten funnier now that he's practically considered two separate people, Iron Man and Tony Stark (Iron Man yes, Tony Stark not recommended). The idiots watch the news and see Iron Man going toe to toe with demi-gods and super-villains while Tony Stark just drinks and debauches his way through life, and they listen to the talking heads rant, and they assume they know the reality of the situation."
Natasha's voice wavered ever so slightly- oh how she never knew he had noticed.
Oh how she took it back.
"Tony finds it hilarious that the general consensus is that Iron Man's the dangerous one (take that off, what are you?), and that Tony Stark is the fool – the sometimes charming playboy who should only be taken seriously when he's talking about tech, and even then one would be wise to maintain a healthy level of skepticism."
"Who said that to him?" Bruce asked quietly, causing the others to look at him, and Steve try to fight down the rising levels of guilt.
"Who said, 'take that off, what are you?'" Bruce mimicked, and Steve made a choking noise, eyes drawing to him before drifting back to Natasha.
"What no one seems to fucking remember is that Tony Stark created that armor. Iron Man would be less than nothing – literally – without Tony and his genius."
"God- I feel like such a jerk." Clint groaned into his hand, while Steve flinched ever so slightly.
"I- I always assumed…" Thor started, shaking his head, his blonde hair flying as he showed his sadness with a frown- Thor with a frown…was odd.
" Leave Tony alone, however, with access to a half-decent workshop (or a dry cave in the middle of nowhere) and he'll revolutionize the world."
"A dry cave?" Steve whispered, and Bruce offered a dry laugh,
"How do you think he made the suit?" Bruce asked, voice void of emotion as Steve looked at him in shock.
"They call Iron Man a hero, fighting for the good of mankind. In reality? Even after going through everything he has, Tony's still a mostly self-serving bastard who generally prefers to not deal with people and has absolutely no problem taking what he wants when he wants it – in fact now would be good."
"That's not tr-"
"Wait- let me finish." Natasha growled, cutting off Steve, and continued to read.
"Except… Except for those very limited few who have managed to worm their way into his insanely-fortified heart. Who through stubbornness, determination, insane levels of compassion – what the fuck ever - have managed to earn his care (and trust - everyone leaves him, that is the one unchanging truth in his life… until it isn't). For those few he would do anything – steal, destroy, kill – anything it took to keep them happy (at his side) and safe."
"Pepper…" Natasha whispered, a slight smile on her face as she looked down, Thor looking at her questioningly.
"Do we count?" Thor asked, finally caving to his question, in which Natasha looked up with a slight frown.
If Stark trusted the others, he wouldn't trust her.
"The Avengers are not included in this number. Not yet, at least – possibly not ever. Oh Iron Man will fight for his teammates, make the sacrifice play when needed (go ahead Cap, crawl)."
At that point, Steve gave a noticeable choke, getting up from his chair to walk to a wall, bracing his arm against it and leaning his head against it, trying to fight down the unbelievable waves of guilt.
" But on the whole Tony does not trust them, does not like them – isn't inclined to let them in where he would be vulnerable to them. Agent Romanoff he will never trust again – not personally at least (fool him once, but never twice)."
Her voice wavered ever so slightly, but with a blink, it was fixed, the cool clipped tone of a spy, ignoring all that happened.
" The good Captain is still searching for Howard in Tony, and when he can't find him he throws his way the same shitty disappointed look that Tony's seen all his fucking life. He's not searching for approval anymore, thanks."
Steve flinched, and Bruce winced ever so softly while Clint let out a sigh, running his fingers through his hair.
" Thor is a god, supposedly, and while he seems like a nice enough guy, his frame of reference is too foreign – and his feelings for Loki leave him too compromised – for Tony to really want to become too close to him."
Thor gave a more noticeable flinch, and looked away, giving a curt nod, he understood.
"Clint… is a possibility. His closeness to Romanoff is one strike against him, his continued involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. another, but Tony can tell that they are very, very similar in many, many ways (do you know what it's like to be unmade?) – Tony's pretty sure they will either become friends or bitter rivals, but hasn't decided which is most likely."
Clint twitched as he heard his quoted words. He didn't even know how Stark knew that- probably the security cameras or something along the lines.
"Clint?" Natasha asked in a careful dead tone, watching him, as he closed his haunted eyes, waving his hand for her to continue.
"And then there is Bruce. Who has the intelligence to match Tony blow for blow, and yet nowhere near the arrogance – not anymore, not since his one spectacular failure (it's a nightmare). Who Tony finds fascinating beyond reason - a hornets' nest that he just can't help poking. Bruce takes Tony in stride, showing patience – with Tony at least – that exceeds even the levels that Pepper has achieved."
Bruce gave a dry smile, a dead laugh that was more a chuckle or a grunt of his vocal chords to be called anything else.
"Even before Tony met the man, he had been intrigued by his story – sympathetic in ways he usually wasn't. But that was fine, that was safe, because the chances of them meeting were infinitesimal with Tony avoiding the backwater areas of the world and Bruce avoiding anything resembling civilization (the last time I was in New York I kind of broke Harlem)."
Steve looked up in alarm at that, but it was a shell of his normal surprised self, instead looking at Bruce who had gone all too still.
"And then the world goes to hell, and they do meet, and Bruce winds up being even better in person than Tony had imagined, except for the damned aura of sadness that smothers the guy. Tony finds that painful in ways he'd rather not contemplate (but for the grace of Yinsen…). He gets it, he really does, it's been terrible for Bruce, living in fear of himself all the time. But for Bruce to have let the situation – the world – beat him down so low (the other guy spit it out)… it's just not right."
Once again the haunted dry chuckle that caused Thor to flinch- how it sounded too similar to a sound he heard before.
"Yinsen?" Clint murmured under his breath, and none had an answer for him.
"Because everyone has their own personal monster, Bruce's is just more readily apparent than most. He doesn't deserve to be threatened, attacked, fucking hunted for it. He's a good man – better than most Tony knows. And that goes for the Hulk, too. Tony owes the big guy his life, more than once – and that's not a debt he takes lightly. Even without considering that, though, Tony's fond of the Hulk. He's straightforward, with none of the duplicitousness that Tony's stuck dealing with day in and day out. So maybe he has some anger management issues, but shit - he's stood between Tony and whatever was trying to hurt him too often for Tony to not like him, to not trust him."
This time, Bruce looked up with a sad smile, staring at the paper as if it was Tony himself, he could practically see Tony's face when he told him, 'That's because you haven't set me off yet.'
He hasn't seen Tony's face when he realizes he's the Hulk.
"Tony's careful with his heart, because it's always been fragile - even before there was shrapnel threatening it. And yet he can't help but give himself completely to those he deems worthy and just hope for the best (and ignore the lurking shadows - fingers grasping, ripping his heart from his chest). But time and again, Bruce and the Hulk both have proven that they will have Tony's back, that they will protect him from Loki or Doom or Captain America during a bitch-fest. And so he can't help but add Bruce and the Hulk to his list. Because they always try to look out for him, and as far as he's seen no one ever really tries to protect them, and there is no way he's letting that shit continue."
Clint gave Bruce a smile, Natasha hollowly echoing it while Bruce gave a sigh, running his hand through his hair- his nervous sweat causing it to stand erect.
"He invited Bruce to Stark Tower, welcomed him into his home (and heart) and so far has never regretted it. Bruce just… fits. At first he was irritatingly hesitant, like he was trying to navigate a floor covered in broken glass, but once he finally got it in his head that it wasn't some dream that he was going to wake up from or some joke that was being played at his expense he started to relax and let go and then… yes. Bruce fits – like Tony knew (hoped) he would – and it's fucking glorious."
'Good,' Natasha thinks, eying the man who had the traces of a smile- a real smile on his face. 'He deserves it.'
"JARVIS gets along with Bruce famously, and he and Rhodey can spend hours giggling like little girls over the shit they've seen Tony pull, and Pepper loves having full-time backup against the crazy that is Tony (and Tony pretends he isn't aware that they all threatened Bruce at first, just in case, because Tony is not actually the most overprotective person – or Intelligence - he knows, and they made a mistake once, but never, ever again). Even Dummy likes Bruce, and has taken to leaving actual computer mice – and who the hell knows where he's finding the things, because Tony hasn't owned any since he was eight – on what has become Bruce's stool in the workshop."
Steve looks at Bruce, and smiles, a smile that he saw mirrored on his face when he was with Howard and Peggy what was yesterday, and what was so long ago.
"And so, when one General Thaddeus E. Ross continues to hunt the Hulk - in spite of the big guy saving the planet, in spite of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s directives and Fury's warnings and Thor's threats - when nothing or no one is able to deter the General from his chosen path – Tony Stark schedules a meeting with the good General. All right, so he uses JARVIS and his S.H.I.E.L.D. badge to bypass security and barge into the General's office - and voices his protests as well."
And then, Bruce's face changes.
He was opening up to close again, slamming heavy metal doors and spinning deadlock seals as his face became void of feelings- eyes dim from their usual intelligence, watching, thinking and breathing accelerating ever so slightly in panic- as Natasha read on.
"General Ross laughs in his face. Because he is, after all, just Tony Stark. And everyone knows that Tony Stark is helpless without the Iron Man armor. And they both know that attacking Ross with the armor would absolutely not help the situation (though it would feel so fucking good). Which means General Ross has nothing to fear from Tony Stark – at least in his mind."
Bruce is still masked, emotions held at bay when all things mention Ross.
"You know Tony would kill Ross if you asked." Clint mentioned, looking at Bruce intently, who only stared back, a grim smile on his face expressing all that needed to be said. 'I know, but Tony's not a killer.'
He ignores the little cries in his head, shouting in sync as he tries to lock those out also. 'Yes he is! Yes he is a killer!'
"And Tony has to rush out of the base as abruptly as he entered, because keeping a straight face is damn near impossible when he knows he's won. Now it's just a matter of initiating the plans unfurling in his mind like a Julia Set – beautiful and chaotic and so very, very dangerous."
They were shells, reading and listening as Tony ranted on about him- about all they thought was the truth be torn down, burned, ran over by a truck, and pasted together to fit as glue for the truth.
Everything was a lie.
"Because Tony is anything but harmless. Once upon a time they called him the Merchant of Death, and while Iron Man now seems to fight for truth and justice and all that fucking shit, Tony really just… shifted focus a bit. Yes, he shut down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries, but he still develops them – it's in his blood; it's what he's best at. He's just more careful now about keeping track of to whom his weapons go, about ensuring that they don't wind up in the wrong hands. His client list is beyond selective – specific applications for S.H.I.E.L.D., new and improved toys for his fellow Avengers… and of course, there's himself. After all, what is Iron Man, if not his own personal arsenal (turn the Iron Man weapon over)?"
"You're not a weapon, Tony. You're not a weapon." Bruce whispered, and he briefly noticed Clint pull an arrow off of his quiver he always kept on him, fingering the sleek shaft and Tony's custom made arrowhead- a toxin built into the tip, one that activated when buried in one to a certain depth.
'You aren't a weapon- you aren't a monster, Tony.' Bruce whispers mentally, ignoring the constant shouts.
"Tony isn't any better a person than he was before Afghanistan, not really. He's just more protective – and who the fuck knew that was even possible – of those people he lets close, more determined to keep them safe. He's become more hands-on in his approach and less willing to trust their fates – or his – to outsiders."
"No Tony- you're a different man. You're a better man." Clint muttered, Steve swallowing silence, since 'when was Tony in Afghanistan?'
"And so he will feel absolutely no remorse when he takes General Ross apart piece by piece; when he rips away anything and everything the bastard ever even thought of caring about until he's left broken, disgraced, alone – and imprisoned if Tony has anything to say about it (and he does)."
Bruce let out a strangled breath- a relieved breath that caused Natasha's eyes to narrow slightly.
She had to hack into Ross' folders again- see what he had done.
"Because Tony learned the hard way that you have to make your own safety in the world, but Bruce isn't willing to fight – not for himself, at least. So Tony will fight for him – and for Pepper and Rhodey and JARVIS – and will fucking laugh as he destroys Ross and anyone else who thinks they can hurt those he lo… deems important."
"Who he loves- just say it Tony." Steve whispers ever so quietly, his mind long since grown numb.
"And the world won't believe it, will never even suspect a thing, because Iron Man is a hero and wouldn't, and Tony Stark is helpless and couldn't."
"That's not true." Natasha murmured ever so quietly, taking a pause to catch her breath, looking at the others with their emotional conflicts.
Clint was still staring at the table, eyes dull and glassy as he thought- 'You know what it is like to be unmade? Yes, yes you do, Tony Stark.'
Steve was facing the wall, unsure on what to say- how a few months of friendship had completely torn apart the life of his teammate. 'Take off the suit and what are you? You're Tony Stark- you are the suit, Tony. You're the hero.'
Thor wasn't thinking, everything was a lie- 'Everything is a lie, it's all a lie. Midgardians speak of hushed voices- it's all a lie.'
Natasha simply stared at the paper- not really understanding the half completed sentences that ran through her head- cutting off and mixing together in a mixture of confusing languages.
She stopped, mind halting as she seemed to settle on one few statement, repeating it as a mantra as she stared, void and emotionless.
'Fool me once, but never twice. You learned faster than me.'
Bruce, he was staring at the wall, arms trembling upon the table as he thought- mind still jeering from the sounds of Ross' sneers and insults, then of Tony's carefree attitude, turning dark into said sneers. He closed his eyes, head dropping ever so slightly as he took a deep breath to clear his mind , as well as the rising grumble of something large…and green.
'Oh Tony, why would you do something for a monster like me?'
"Do you want me to finish the last line?" Natasha murmured ever so quietly, eyes sliding back to her as she exhaled, ready to flip the page to see the final words.
"Go ahead." Clint murmured, not having the heart to walk away when he knew he probably deserved every thinly veiled insult.
"Fucking Sheep." A voice said instead of Natasha, as she reached to turn the page. Heads snapped, looking at a man standing in the doorway- neatly combed hair and dark tinted sunglasses on his face. A crisp clean suit and a crimson undershirt added with a gleaming golden watch.
"The last line, is Fucking Sheep." Tony clarified in an emotionless voice that gave Natasha a run for her money. He stared blankly for a few seconds, before turning on his heels and walking away in a few crisp calculated footsteps.
Natasha swallowed, looking at the paper and flipping it hesitantly.
I hope you all enjoyed it- thanks to you Paisley! Hope you enjoyed it- oh! Special thanks to dark wulfe for letting me use his/her story!
Now- go review on my story, or go to the original (info at the top)