Truth and Lies about Anthony Edward Stark with bonus James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes and Virginia Mae ‘Pepper’ Potts
Shield File: Anthony Edward Stark is the only child of Howard and Maria Stark.
Truth: He was Maria’s only child but not Howard’s. He remembers his big brother with more fondness than his father. He loved spending time with his big brother, Pip. Aunt Peggy would bring Pip over and they would play for hours while their mothers had tea or worked together on some society gala (Shield had been in its infancy still and ran more on private donation than government funding). He also remembers that it was his father that deemed it too risky for Pip to keep visiting. He remembers the screaming match that signaled the end of his brother’s presence in his life. He remembers Pip trying to distract him from hearing them. He remembers his mother and Pip’s mother united against their father but failing against the man’s utter stubbornness. It would be decades before Tony noticed that Pip’s last visit occurred shortly before Stane’s introduction to the Stark family.
Shield File: Tony Stark grew up having the best of everything money could buy.
Truth: Tony would have traded it all for Pip and their mothers. Don’t get him wrong as an adult he loves being rich but he knows without a doubt that he would have been happier without it as long as he had Pip, his mother and Aunt Peggy. No one ever talked about the fact that by twelve years old Tony had been kidnapped no less than fifteen times. It was a lot higher than that but he refused to count the times he made it home before anyone noticed he was missing. When he started at MIT he took over his own security and managed to avoid being kidnapped for the next twenty years.
Shield File: Tony Stark was a child prodigy graduating from MIT with a duel Business and Mechanical Engineering degree just days before his parents died when he was sixteen. Obadiah Stane took over parental duties as well as the running of Stark Industries until twenty one year old Tony was ready to take his place.
Truth: Stane had pretty much left Tony on his own as long as he stayed out of the spot light. He’d spent those five years building Dummy, You, Butterfingers and the core coding for what would later be Jarvis and quietly pursuing a third degree that he never mentions under an alias. He’d been assigned Rhodey as a roommate during his second ‘freshman’ year and they’d been friends since. Tony had been content with the situation until the board started asking questions and Obadiah dragged him back to Stark Industries.
Shield File: Tony Stark had been labeled the Merchant of Death. Tony Stark was also a drunken playboy with more money than god. Everything about his life was public knowledge. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes was his friend but no one knows how or where he met the Airman.
Truth: He wasn’t nearly as drunk or as much of a playboy as he let the media think he was for the first decade he was CEO of SI. He was a fucking genius after all; the persona made it a lot easier to keep his actual private life private and gave him a hell of a lot of leeway with the Board. Models, Playboy Bunnies and aspiring actresses are more than willing to play along with the deception for the media attention that being linked to Tony Stark brings to the table. Pretending to be drunker than he was happened to be an excellent way to make everyone in turns underestimate him or straight up ignore the fact that he was a lot sharper than a drunken playboy should have been. People were a lot less careful around drunken Tony than sober Tony. The problem with having a persona was the longer you wore it the harder it was to take it off and it was easier to ignore the fact that they called him the Merchant of Death when he wasn’t sober.
Rhodey was the only one that really knew just how much of it had been an act and just when it’d become real. It was the reason he stuck around no matter what crazy shit Tony got up to. He’d known Tony when he was happily living in obscurity without the public’s opinion weighing heavily on young but brilliant shoulders. He’d known him when reporter hadn’t followed him everywhere, when he hadn’t been building weapons, when he hadn’t been label the Merchant of Death, when he’d just been a brilliant kid creating functioning AI’s decades before the leading minds of robotics would even come close to the level of success Tony had managed with his first creation (Dummy).
Shield File: Hiring Virginia Potts was the smartest thing Tony Stark ever did. Ms. Potts was a saint for putting up with him.
Truth: It totally was. Tony had been bored and purposely made a mistake on a section of the R&D budget to see if anyone would notice and call him on it. Ms. Potts was an assistant to one of the assistant accountants at the time but she was the only one that had the balls to call him on it. The rest of the accounting department had either refused to believe Mr. Stark had made a basic math mistake or were to chicken shit to mention it. They told her it was career suicide but she confronted him anyways. He fired her with a smirk and five minutes later when she finished yelling at him, he hired her as his Personal Assistant and rechristen her Pepper. Falling in love with her while she ranted at him was one of the stupidest (most painful) things he’d ever done. She made it crystal clear that she was off limits as anything more than his PA.
Pepper wasn’t nearly as saint like as the masses thought she was. After three months of being his PA she figured out that she really liked the job. She was the highest paid PA in existence and she enjoyed watching Tony fuck with everybody. The worst part of her job was actually having to placate all the jackasses Tony purposely offended in the first place. She got a kick out of kicking Tony’s flings out in the morning and she was never bored while she worked for him. She got to travel across the globe and used him as an excuse to never visit her family. It worked very well for her until the day Tony got taken.
Shield File: Tony Stark was kidnapped by Ten Rings terrorist and held prisoner for three months. Ms. Potts and Lt. Colonel Rhodes were the only one that never gave up believing he was still alive.
Truth: The physical torture, the lack of amenities and even the permanent hole in his chest hadn’t been that bad. The absence of Pepper, Rhodey, his bots and his AI had been much worse. Shield hadn’t believed him to be dead either.
Shield File: Tony Stark escaped on his own.
Truth: Yensin kept him going. It took him three months using scrap parts and shitty tools but he’d done it. The mark I suit was more of a success than he even hoped for. Crashing hadn’t been a part of the plan but he sure as hell wasn’t going to give up. He’d never been so fucking happy to see Rhodey before in his life. Seeing Pepper as he stepped of the cargo plane relived an ache in his chest that had nothing to do with the Arc Reactor. Rhodey might have phrased it kinder but he and Pepper were the only ones that hadn’t given up on finding him alive.
Shield File: Tony Stark shut down the weapons manufacturing side of Stark Industries.
Truth: Weapons manufacturing had been his father’s legacy but he’d never actually wanted it. When he took over Stark Industries at twenty one Stane and the Board had always pushed him into it. He’d fought them less and less until he’d come back from captivity. He’d actually meant to stick to the cover story Agent came up with but he was tired of living a lie.
Shield File: Tony Stark made Virginia ‘Pepper’ Potts CEO of Stark Industries because they were sleeping together.
Truth: They hadn’t started dating until Pepper was already CEO. Pepper was the only one he trusted to take over for him. It didn’t even really have anything to do with the palladium poisoning. SI was almost as much Pepper’s baby as it was Tony’s.
Shield File: Virginia Mae ‘Pepper’ Potts had been on Shield’s watch list since she managed to last a full year as Stark’s PA. By the time Stark had become Iron Man she was near the top of their watch list. They wanted to recruit her as a Handler for the ‘difficult’ assets.
Truth: Pepper enjoyed the corporate espionage that went on when dealing with such a huge company. She got a kick out of politely eviscerating sexist pigs and corporate asses. She could take over the world with a smile and utter competency but Tony needed her.
Shield File: Ms. Rushman had been hired as his PA because of her looks.
Truth: Tony knew Natalie Rushman was a Shield plant. Shield was good but Tony was a hell of a lot better. He was very good at faking obliviousness when he wanted to know why Shield put an undercover agent on him. He’d used Jarvis to track Ms. Rushman as she went out to lunch with a man (mirrored sunglasses, worn jeans, plain black sweat shirt, sandy-blond hair) and Agent. He hadn’t expected the genuine affection the three shared but he’d cut back on the half-hearted flirting anyways. He didn’t poach and she was clearly taken.
Shield File: Stark’s birthday party got a bit out of hand.
Truth: He did think he was about to die at the time and he was pretty sure it was the only way to get Rhodey to take the suit without getting suspicious. Eating a donut in a giant donut had been on his bucket list since he was a kid so that probably would have happened at some point in time. When Agent Romanov stabbed him in the neck he damn near blasted her. Lithium dioxide doesn’t exist but whatever it was worked. Getting stuck on house arrest until he found a way to fix his palladium problem was annoying. Being threatened with tasering and Super Nanny was inventive. Sneaking out was only a matter of waiting until Agent was distracted by sunglass dude from last week’s lunch date.
Shield File: The Stark Expo was a hell of a show.
Truth: Totally worth it.
Shield File: Stark was offended when they rejected him for the Avengers Initiative.
Truth: He wasn’t all that bothered by it. He didn’t exactly do well with authority.
Shield File: Stark Tower was twelve percent Pepper’s.
Truth: It was entirely hers if she wanted it. He said it because fiery Pepper was his favorite.
Shield File: Ms. Potts is friends with Agent Coulson.
Truth: Tony hadn’t known Agent’s first name until Pepper called him Phil when he came with the data on the tesseract, Loki and everything else Shield deemed he needed to know. He could have kicked himself for not noticing, as it was he let Phil and Pepper walk out without mentioning anything.
Shield File: Stark’s reaction to Agent Coulson’s death wasn’t expected.
Truth: Tony was pissed, at Phil, at Loki, at Fury, at himself and pretty much everyone on the Helicarrier. His speech to Loki was from the heart and he damn well meant every word he said.
Shield File: Stark married Ms. Potts two days after the invasion in a private ceremony with Lt. Colonel Rhodes and Mr. Hogan as the only witnesses.
Truth: It was perfect but they were going to have an actual wedding when Pepper felt like revealing the truth to the world.
Shield File: Former Agent M. Coulson and her entourage showed up at Stark Tower three weeks after the failed Chitauri invasion (Director Fury did not cringe when he was informed of said fact).
Truth: Tony, Pepper, Steve, Bruce and Thor were already in residence at the Tower when Jarvis informed them that Agents Romanov and Barton plus guests had arrived. Steve and Tony had frozen as the group got off the elevator. Tony had frozen at the sight of his brother’s mother while Steve was reeling from the fact that Peggy was standing in front of him and not dead like the file Shield had given him to read had stated. Thor had broken the tension by greeting Darcy with an enthusiastic hug that left her laughing as well as rubbing her ribs. It took a less time to explain the situation than anyone would have believed but within an hour they were all at Shield’s New York HQ. Tony had recognized the look on his Aunt Peggy’s face and pulled out his phone to record the spectacular reaming out Fury was about to receive.