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The life and woes, Part 3

He visits the Rogers’ Mansion again when he turns 25. He doesn’t have to do that of course, no one is making him, but he figures it’s only a decent thing to do, to visit one’s fiancé from time to time. And by time to time, he means once in a few years, of course. Well, Charles actually seems to be in disagreement with him on this one, repeating often that maybe if he just spent some more time with Steven, they’re life together wouldn’t looks as disastrous. But really, the boy is still a little too young for Tony to treat him like an equal, and he has a feeling that anything less would only antagonize the young Rogers to him. So he stays away.

Quite correctly, he thinks, sitting at the quiet dinner table, chatting nonsense with Viscountess and feeling a glare of two pair of eyes on him. One from Steven, because the boy still didn’t warmed up to him, the other from Erik for not taking Charles along. At least the latter one he can understand, Charles always makes everything better somehow. 

He has a long conversation with Steven’s mother this evening; about responsibilities and about the future. The both agreed that the distance is the best answer to their problem, and Tony promised to keep away for as long as it would be required of him, only keeping a correspondence with his young fiancé. Some contact is needed, as it would be easier to know each other at least a little when they will be finally pushed together. The letters will be also easier on both of them, Tony wouldn’t have to suffer through the unfriendly stares from everyone at the mansion, and Steven would have a chance to actually know the man he’s going to marry without being reminded about the fact too closely.

The plan seems to be working and Steven’s letters change from clearly hostile to carefully friendly and finally to warm regard. Tony’s not sure how he managed to make the younger man like him even a little, but when he asks that of Charles one evening he only gets some weird smile and a tight hug. Not that he’s complaining, but that doesn’t clear anything for him. He’ll just have to accept it for what it is.

He doesn’t notice how often he speaks of his young fiancé until Bruce makes an off-hand comment about it when they’re working in the workshop one day. It’s a surprise to realize that he actually likes the boy, and just maybe isn’t as devastated about the whole marriage deal as he was just a year ago. He blinks for a minute at his doctor friend and twirls him around with a laugh, taking off the metal gauntlets he was working on and running out of the shed. That is very good news.


This idyllic harmony continues for few years and Tony finds himself liking the young man more and more. Unlike his previous assumptions, Steven isn’t an immature, spoiled brat, but a genuinely kind and intelligent person. His love of war and of idea of protecting his country is something Tony could do without, but everyone has their quirks; he can imagine that his fiancé isn’t fond of his technical rants in their correspondence either.

They see each other for Christmas every year, the Viscountess insisting of spending the holiday together as a sign of solidarity and because they’re apparently family now. Charles and Erik usually sneak out on the first day and no one sees them up until the point when they have to leave back to the Stark Mansion, but Tony’s not really worried about it. He’s friend is a responsible adult and if he wants to spend some time with who looks for Tony as The One for Charles, then who should stop him. Besides, it’s not as if Tony doesn’t enjoy spending solitary time with what it seems are his new relations. Viscountess is an intelligent, passionate woman, and her son took after her in that.

That’s why he’s surprised when he sees the carriage with Roger’s crest one sunny day from the window in his workshop. It’s actually Bruce who points it out to him and mentions in that monotone tone of his that maybe he should change before seeing who came. Tony blinks down at the stains on his britches and torn shirt and has to actually admit that maybe good doctor is right this time. He thanks his friend for good work and goes in the house trough the back door, looking around for anyone who shouldn’t see him in a state he’s in. Like a mysterious guest. Or Virginia who would probably have his head if she found out he destroyed another pair of trousers. That woman can be scary when she’s angry.

He encounters his lovely housekeeper near his bedroom and gets even more worried when in her agitation she doesn’t even scold him for ruining his clothes, only ushers him inside and starts preparing another set. He cleans himself a little in the basin on the table and changes in a clean attire, allowing Virginia tie a cravat around his neck and push him into an uncomfortable jacket. It’s one of his best so when he finally steps in the office he’s suitably anxious and awaiting some minor disaster to befall him.

What greets him however is the turned back of his young fiancé, and he almost relaxes, relieved, after all Steven’s visit cannot mean anything that bad, were it not for the unusual tenseness of the shockingly broad shoulders that he notices. His offers to sit and then another for a drink are both met with stony silence and he’s not as socially inept as to not recognize this for the disconcert it is. He fidgets nervous, not quite able to lose the habit still and waits for the young aristocrat to speak.

He fills the time with observing the young man, who, he is surprised to see, is not as young as Tony tends to think of him. Long gone are the days of gangly limbs and little boys. The man, because he is one, who is standing before him now is a tall and well-built gentleman, with perfect stance and mannerism that Tony himself could never quite learn, to Jarvis’ agitation. The blond locks are still in place, but instead of awkward short cut, they’re pulled back into a loose ponytail falling on the tanned neck. Tony is stunned in the realization that somehow, when he wasn’t looking, his little fiancé changed from a lanky boy into a handsome man.

He’s still reeling with that sudden recognition when he’s finally put in focus of the pair of steel blue eyes. Steven is glaring at him, which in itself is unusual, Tony thought him too polite to ever show his anger in such a blatant way. He’s aware that for some reason he’s found himself in the middle of the man’s irritation, but he’s not sure what he did to cause this. He quickly scans mentally the last few letters they exchanged in vain hope of finding the reason, but he draws blank. There was nothing unusual in Steven’s messages so either it’s a very recent something or it was too personal to put on paper. Tony really hopes it’s the former, he doesn’t do personal very well.

It doesn’t take long for Steven to start talking and it’s apparent from the very start how out of depth Tony is. He knew there was some resentment in the younger man for that arranged marriage of their but he never would have thought that it runs so deep and so bitter. He shouldn’t be surprised though, he realize, if there is not one thing Steven loves more than anything it’s freedom and this is so much opposite of what liberty should be. He guesses also that he should have been expecting to be put in the position of the guilty party seeing as he’s the only one that can really be actively blamed. What else would the young man could do? Yell at the graves?

It’s after some time and a lot of yelling that Tony is able to understand the core of the issue. And that core is a girl. A young heir to the Count title, Peggy Carter, who stole Tony’s young fiancé’s heart quite easily. It’s not like he didn’t know it could happen, but actually being faced with the fact that someone who he has to marry is in love with someone else, brings a pain to his chest that he didn’t quite expect.

“What do you expect me to do?” He finally asks exasperated, moving to the liquor cabinet and pouring himself some scotch. “It’s not like I can break up that agreement. More so,” He continues after taking a rich mouthful of gold alcohol. “I don’t want to.”

“And why not?” Steven asks, his hands curled white-knuckled on the edge of the chair he’s standing behind.

Tony sighs and sits on the edge of his desk, turning to the younger man with a sombre face. “I understand that you’re upset and I understand why. Finding love only to know you’re not able to do anything about it must be painful. But I can’t just break the agreement our father’s drawn.” Steven is ready to intercept so he raises his hand, commanding silently attention and the younger man focuses on him again, this time listening more intently. “If I do, you’ll lose your title and I’ll lose my fortune. While you might not care right now about your future I do. I also care about the future of dozens of people my company is employing and who would have to lose their jobs just because we break one little agreement.”

“So you’re ready to sacrifice both of our happiness because of your supposed altruism? Is that it?” Steven snarls, clearly not calmed even slightly. Tony winces at the tony and tries to not let it get to him too much. He thought they were making process when it comes to that happiness while being together thing, but clearly he was wrong.

“You can say that, yes.” He says calmly, not looking at the younger man. “If you want to have so many lives on your conscience, be my guest, but don’t ask me to do that.”

His only answer is the sound of the door slamming shut and the heavy steps walking away from his office. It seems that the friendliness is over now. He really hopes Steven isn’t going to break the agreement after all. He can understand that the man doesn’t want to spend his life with Tony, but endangering lives of many, many people working for Stark Industries would be as cruel as it is thoughtless. Tony hopes he knows Steven enough to sleep calmly knowing that it won’t happen.

He’s partially right, it doesn’t happen, Steven leaves the agreement as it is. What Tony didn’t think about was how the young man would react to the knowledge that he can never free himself from that promise without dire consequences. The news of Steven’s enlistment to the army leaving for France arrived for him during dinner time one afternoon after a painfully fruitless day. He’s not sure how can he even still breathe knowing that someone so dear to him is right now travelling to meet his death.


Surprisingly, their correspondence picks up after few months of Tony worrying and building weirder things each day to Virginia’s utter dismal. The battered letter comes one day in the evening post and even Tony who brings it to him looks unsure about wherever he should give it to Tony or just throw it in the fire. It’s not much, but it’s a gesture of friendship; an apology and a question of wherever they can start again. Tony sends an answer back that they don’t have to start anything, because nothing has been finished. The letters starts coming three times a month from then on.

“Dearest Tony,” Steven writes in one of his messages.

“I am sad to inform you about the death of my beloved watch. I know you have put a lot of work into it and it have served me well. I will not get rid of it like James (I wrote to you about him so you should know who) suggested, but will carry it with me as a charm. It did save my life today after all. Oh. That is how it met its end, I am sorry for not clarifying it sooner. I was being shot at and if it was not for that watch, I would have a rather unattractive hole made in me. So thank you, for looking over me even when you are away.”

“My dear Steven,” Says one of Tony’s replies.

“I do not like the way in which you and the rest of your division seem to wave your lives in Death’s face. I beg of you to be more careful with your safety, if not for yours than for my sake. Every news from the front I hear bring the breathless fear with it that this will be time I learn of your demise. Do not lose your spirit, my dearest. I have survived French while knowing nothing of warfare. You are the best I have ever known of, it would be unseemly if you fell where I have not. I have every faith that you will come back to me sound and whole, do not disappoint me. After all, what a shame for me would it be if I were to be left at the altar in that fashion.”

It took Tony two years of correspondence and one too many teasing jibes of Charles to realize that somewhere along the line, they stopped sounding like friends and started to behave like real fiancés. How did he manage to fall in love with the man he scarcely got to see will be forever a mystery to him.


Tony is sitting alone on a bench behind the house and looking at the expanse of his orchard. He knows he’s wealthy, but he never stopped to think what does it really mean. He doesn’t have to be afraid of not being able to afford a doctor for example. He tightens up his coat and blinks quickly to get rid of the tears forming in his eyes. His crying won’t bring Viscountess back to life, and he’s not sure if he is even allowed to mourn her in that way. He’s not her son.  Even if he is engaged to him. He doesn’t think the woman cared for him much actually. The whole marriage idea was the doing of his and Steve’s late fathers and although Tony doesn’t remember his mother even voicing any negative opinions about it. That is not to say that Steven’s didn’t. And who can blame her. Wealth is not everything. Although it could save her. If she only sent for him, Tony would have arrived at the mansion in a day’s time, together with Bruce who as far as he’s concerned is better than any doctor they could ever really find. But she didn’t. Because she had too much pride.

He swallows back a sniffle and bends over himself. He really should stop being so miserable. It’s not like someone close to him died. It’s just that he cannot imagine what the news has done to Steve. His Steve, who even in his darkest hours at the front always took the time to answer Tony’s letters and was infinitely patient even when Tony was especially obnoxious. He can do that, even in letters, it’s a talent. One that no one else but his poor fiancé would tolerate. He hopes there will be someone for Steven when he receives the news, maybe even Peggy. The man wanted to marry her, Tony wonders if he still does. Maybe there is some way of freeing him from the stupid marriage agreement so he can. He, if no one else, deserves some happiness in his life. Tony would know, he went and fell in love with the man after all.

Suddenly there are arms around him and a forehead pressed into his shoulder. A glance to the side reveals golden tresses, a little longer than Tony remembers, but unmistakably Steve’s. He sucks in a surprised breath and turns around, almost falling from the bench in his haste to reassure himself that he’s not seeing things. But there he is. In a battered uniform, with longish hair and tired eyes, but it’s Steven. He looks more adult than Tony has ever seen him. He supposes that’s what the war does to everyone.

He hastens to get up and round the offensive piece of furniture, but before he can even utter a single word of surprise he has Steven all around him. He’s not really sure who’s holding who, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Steve is back and he’s alive and safe, the war didn’t consume him like Pepper pessimistically prophesized. Tony pushes his nose under Steve’s chin and muses that Erik will be glad to see his friend back. And maybe Tony is a little glad too. Or maybe a lot, but it’s not like he’s going to tell that to anyone. Well, maybe to Steve, if he’ll earn it. But that’s for later. For now, Tony lets himself be held and holds in return, seeking comfort and giving it in turn. They both deserve it.


I really liked that. Very interesting setting and I loved how you involved all the other characters, like Natasha, Charles, Jarvis, Clint, etc. <3
great work!
Thank you! I wanted to write a Tony-centric story, but don't forget about the rest of the Avengers so I'm happy it worked out :D I'm glad you enjoyed it <3