Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Captain America/Iron Man
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words August Rush: Day 16:
Word Count: 1,199
Date Written: 29 August 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
His hamburger and shake sit before him, only one bite missing from the hamburger and his shake completely untouched. Steve’s fingers steeple in front of him as he tries yet again to block out the myriad of voices flowing through the bar.
“What’s wrong, Steve?” Tony asks, sliding up beside him and looking out at the crowd. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Somebody from your time, maybe?”
“No.” Steve quickly shakes his blonde head. “That’s exactly what the problem is, Tony. None of this is right.”
Tony frowns and scans the crowd again. “None of what is right?”
“This. This place! This time!” Steve waves a hand at the atmosphere around him. “Back in my day, a good woman never would have walked into an establishment like this unless she was looking for her errant husband or boyfriend!”
Tony smirks. “The women have changed, too, since your day.”
“Don’t I know it?” Steve returns with a heavy sigh. He shakes his head. “Do they not see why it is morally wrong for them to be in an establishment such as this?!”
“It’s the 21st century, Captain. Women can pretty much do whatever they want and go wherever they choose.”
“That doesn’t make it right! What kind of an example are they setting for their children?”
“Not all women have children, Steve. You’d better watch your voice,” he hisses in a lower tone, “or you’ll be answering to Natasha. Women can do a lot more than just bear a man’s kids. Believe me, I’ve heard those speeches often enough between her and Pepper.”
“I have no doubt you have,” Steve counters, “or that they’re accurate, but that still does not mean that they should want to deign to come into a place so filled with sin -- “
“Really?” Tony interrupts him with a smirk. “It’s a bar, Capt’n. What did you expect to find here? Just because people are getting drunk doesn’t mean they’re bad people. Even Jesus drank wine, or so I’ve heard.”
“Yes, yes, I know Jesus turned water into wine and all that, but that’s not what bothers me, Tony. There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks, but how many people in this bar do you think have only had a few? Then there are the drugs, and the knives, and the guns . . . Do they people don’t see what they’re doing?”
“No,” Tony answers solemnly, “they just think we don’t care. If we did, we either wouldn’t be here or we’d be waving badges around.”
“The cops are the only ones who care now?”
“I never said that, but some of the cops don’t care either. Some of them are more crooked than the petty criminals they arrest every day.”
Steve’s face turns a shade paler. “What has happened to our society?”
Tony looks at him for a long moment before he says gently, “People try not to stick their noses where they don’t belong. What a person does to his own body is his business.”
“Is it? Where does that personal business end then, Tony, and the public’s interest begin? When it’s too late? When they’re dead? When they take their own lives?”
“Hey, easy now. Just because they’re doing stuff that wasn’t done as openly in your day -- “
“It wasn’t done in my day!”
Tony outright smirks this time. “Just because you weren’t aware of it -- “
“It was not done in my day!” Steve repeats, getting to his feet. “Husbands and wives did not cheat nearly as much! Marriage was sacred, and if a person did cheat, most of the time it was the husband, and he was shunned by their society!”
“Please! People were not so good in your day!”
Steve waves a hand around them. “They were a lot better than . . . than this!”
“People have been cheating on each other for as long as there has been such a notion as dating, going steady, or marriage. Women cheating on their husbands have both helped to win wars and started them! Men have been fighting over women for millennia! You know the story of Helen of Troy.”
“I do, but -- “
“They say there is nothing new under the sun.”
“Surely you don’t believe that -- “
“To a point, I do. We create new instruments and medicines all the time, Steve, but the ways of human nature go back to the beginning.”
“You don’t expect me to believe that it’s part of human nature for people to hurt each other, to lie and deceive, to cheat, to harm themselves and others?”
Tony clasps his friend’s shoulder. “Like it or not, it is. It’s up to us to show them a better way.”
Tony’s head jerks up as he mutters, “Uh oh.”
A beautiful woman walks up to him and slaps him. She looks at Steve, rakes him up and down with a pointed gaze, and then walks away with her head, and especially her nose, held high.
Steve pulls back from his friend and looks at him with new eyes. “No wonder you defend them,” he breathes, shaken. “You’re as bad as they are!”
He reaches into his billfold and pulls out enough bills to cover his food and a hefty tip. “Where are you going?” Tony demands as Steve tosses the money on the counter.
“Away from here,” he says. Their eyes meet, and his gaze strikes Tony’s heart. Away from you, the Captain’s striking blue eyes clearly indicate. “We’re supposed to be heroes, Tony. We’re supposed to be above all this. We’re supposed to be showing them -- the ones who don’t know it -- a better way! How can we expect them to act any differently when we fall into the very same traps the Devil’s set for us?” He grabs his burger and shake and leaves the bar in a rush.
Tony sighs heavily and lets his countenance drop. His head hangs for a long moment, but then he trudges after the Captain. Right or not, he’ll follow him anywhere, but what pains him even more is the fact that Tony knows he’s right. Humans have done what’s wrong since the beginning, but without anybody to show them how to act better, how can one possibly hope for any improvement to their behavior? Monkeys watch what is done around them and mimic that behavior; human beings, though being a step higher on the evolutionary ladder, aren’t much better. It’s like Pepper’s always telling him: If they want to improve the world, they have to start with themselves.
He finds Steve waiting for him outside in the boiling heat of the Summer afternoon. Tony wants nothing more than to turn around and march right back into the cool air conditioning of the bar, but his Captain’s already watching him with an approving smile. “I knew you’d do what’s right,” he says, “if left to their own devices, and so will they once they can see a better way.”
Argumentative words are right on the tip of Tony’s tongue, but they fall away as he witnesses Steve’s beautiful smile. A peace settles over him. He can’t tell this man he’s wrong, but he will follow him. He’ll follow him gladly anywhere.