Note: Sorry!

Here's an apology kitten.


I own nothing in reality. Not even the picture. In my mind, I own it all.

"You build buildings and robots, not save people!"

"The day Tony Stark willingly does some good? That'll be the day nobody sees, because it will have never happened."

"Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, and what are you?"

"No son of mine would ever do that."

"I'm done, Tony. I can't do this anymore."

"This is it, Stark. This is your legacy."

- /:\ -

Now, the Avengers all had their places in the public eye. Most of them were good places. Natasha Romanoff, the unstoppable Black Widow, was the most feared. Not the other-worldly God. Not the mindless rage monster. Nope, Natasha took that title. What was it about her? Her agility? The ability to flow like water, dart like a snake, and still hit like the Terminator? Maybe it was her body? The way she would seduce, deceive, mislead and redirect until there was a knife at your throat. She brought to mind a dancer. Graceful in her movements. But there's no applause at the end of her ballet, just the ending of a person, the mission report with target eliminated.

On the next public podium was Clint Barton, also codenamed as Hawkeye. There was some original controversy with Clint. (What side is he even on?! Can he be trusted?!) Once the effects of Loki's spear were explained, though, the press was swearing that they trusted him all along. Instead of his movements flowing, like Natasha's, his were precise. No movement at all, then the sturdy snap! and goodnight Vienna. It was if the entire battle was already planned out in Clint's mind. He knew what he was doing, how he was doing it, and what needed to be done to get there.

There was also much speculation if Natasha and Clint were 'Together' or not. 'Clintasha' 'BlackHawk' and 'WidowEye' was the next big thing. [A/N: For me, it's always Clintasha. Though BlackEye dies sum up their relationship.] At one interview, Natasha had been blatantly asked about her relationship with Clint. She had smiled softly, quietly, and said bluntly she hated him with all her soul. When Clint was asked the same question later, Clint explained that they confessed undying love each night. No real answer. Everybody has their own ideas, explanations, thoughts.

Bruce had a great public image, which is to say he didn't have one. The hulk has, yes, but not that strange man in glasses that always hung around after battles. He was introduced as Tony's science bro, and the press just kind of rolled with it from there. Bruce was happy, Fury was happy, and the media steamrolled on to juicer gossip.

Thor was a god.

See above.

Enough said.

The last person on the team had the worst PR, probably.

People think that they know Tony Stark. They think that he is easy to read, that he's Iron Man, he's an arrogant billionaire, and that's all that there is to his existence. If you know what the majority of the population knows, then Tony Stark is a playboy, cares for nothing but himself, he's a genius but soul-less, and that he cares for nothing and nobody. If you know what all of SHIELD and Fury, and the Avengers know, then he is a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, who can buy his way out of anything, who flew a missile into space to spite Captain America, is cocky and defiant, and can't be trusted. And if you know what Rhodey knows, you know nothing at all, because you know about his masks, his lies, his attempts, his tries; and you know that he knows what everybody thinks, and that he says he doesn't care, but he actually does, and he hadn't trusted anything or anybody since Obidiah, except maybe you.

And you wish that he would just tell you.

Because he doesn't tell anybody anything.

He doesn't tell people when he gets hurt, he just shrugs it off, taps his armour, and helpfully points out that it's IRON man not TINFOIL man. He doesn't tell people that he cares. When they accuse him that he doesn't have a soul, he tells them that he met two Gods and it kind of changed how he looked at the world. When they accuse him of being heartless, he shows then a diagram of the human body and mockingly explains what the arc reactor is for. When they tell him to grow up, he snickers at them, then plays some completely immature prank on them later.

He's not a great liar, but he's a mastermind at deflection, and that's even worse.

Tony Stark can dodge, avoid, sarcastically retort at, shoot at, and laugh at his problems. He can smile prettily for the camera and tell them that all is A-Ok. He can even bring himself to look Nick Fury in the eye, and agree with the diagnosis of Narcism. He can put on a suit, he can hide in a lab, and he lets people believe that he doesn't have a heart.

But if you are that one person who REALLy knows him. Really knows him. Actually knows him, then it is different.

If you are Pepper Potts, then you know that none of that is true.

If you are Pepper Potts, you know that Tony Stark doesn't care about anything. He cares about everything. Highlight everything highlight nothing, right? He flew a missile into space because he figured it was either him or the rest of the population. He built an AI to have somebody to talk to, because he was hiding from his father in his room and got lonely. He built a suit to fly in because he knew that they wouldn't let him save them if they knew who was in the suit. He still has nightmares of Yinsen, and he still has panic attacks over New York. He put a tracking device into Pepper's phone, so he can reach her at a moment's notice. He laughs at insults to hide how much they really sting. He cries at night because his godfather betrayed him, and he wishes that he hadn't been blindsided by the betrayal, berates himself for not being ready. He had nightmares of his weapons in the wrong hands, has nightmares of Pepper falling from a crane into a flaming boat, and wakes up in a panic, running down to Pepper's room, because he hadn't honestly convinced himself that she's going to be fine.

If you are Pepper Potts, you know all of these things.

And your heart bleeds for him.

Now, everybody thinks he doesn't care. Stark isn't responsible enough to handle being on the Avengers. Honestly, Tony doesn't blame them. If he was anybody other them himself, he wouldn't want himself on his team either. Luckily they did. He knew that they were probably reconsidering their choice though. Who wanted a loser on their team?

A weakling?

A liar?

Somebody vulnerable?

Somebody pathetic?

A person with a weakness?

A person with a flaw?

Tony wouldn't. He'd never SAY that he wouldn't, but he still wouldn't. A person like that would be a burdon. A bother. They'd slow down the trst of the group, trip everybody up, and generally make a nusience of themselves. And while Tony was willing to put up with that when it was somebody else... Well, it was an entirely different story when the problem was him.

Duh-Duh-Duh! It's done! I have excuses! Anybody want to hear them?

(Hides from rotten tomatoes and flaming reviews)

Ok, ok... Sorry... Review!


Before that, here is the actual plan for this story.

1) Original chapter, already posted.

2) This angst filler thingie that just happened.

3) Afterward, reactions, and apologies all crammed into one chapter.

I apologize for the confusion on the format, but I assure you it will not change after this.