Steve/Tony commoner!blacksmith (apprentice)! loving Prince Steve from afar
Princes, Tony has learned, are almost never kind. They are spoiled, and they take without asking and then get angry when they are called out. They are soft from years of pampering, they are foolish and smirking and cruel.
The exception, of course, being Prince Steven, because he’s been Tony’s exception for years now.
Every morning, Prince Steven walks through the town below the castle, and Tony hears tales of his kindness, his generosity and goodness, and doesn’t believe it until they are both thirteen and Tony watches their prince sneak an apple to an orphan girl he knows hasn’t eaten in two days now.
He watches, stupefied, as over the week, Prince Steven smuggles her blankets and more food, matches for a fire, shoes so she doesn’t have to hurt her feet.
He continues watching Prince Steven for years, pausing during his morning chores every morning to go to the window and watch Steven on his morning walk, occasionally stopping to help one of his people.
Tony knows how his face stiffens when he’s angry, knows his smile, knows how the sun hits his hair and the snow melts in it, but he doesn’t talk to his prince until they’re both seventeen and the town has been ransacked yet again.
Yinsen tends to Tony’s wounds as best he can, and Tony is wincing his way through getting firewood when he hears a voice say, “Who did this to you?”
Tony knows that voice. He looks, and there is Prince Steven, his face a mask of cold fury.
Orders are to answer his prince at once, but Tony finds his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth. He doesn’t answer for a few seconds, but Steven doesn’t seem to mind. “The bandits from the next town over, Prince Steven.”
He’s never seen Steven this angry, his face tightening hard. “I have heard from many others that you attempted to ward them off.”
Tony shrugs jerkily. “I did what I could,” he mumbles, and remembers he should probably add ‘Prince Steven,’ and is about to when Steven cuts him off.
"They are saying you armed yourself with weapons of your own making and fought several of them off before one of them caught you in the head and knocked you out."
Tony can’t think of anything else to say but, “Yes.”
"That was brave," Steven says. "Bravery like that must be rewarded."
"My mother has asked if you would come to a banquet," Steven says- blurts it, more like, hurried and nothing like Tony’s heard him speak before.
Again, Tony wavers. “I- what,” he says, and it’s no way to talk to a prince, but Steven continues, “My mother, the queen-“
"I know who your mother is," Tony says before he can stop himself, and freezes.
He doesn’t know what he was expecting, but it’s not for Steve to laugh and duck his head. “Yes, I suppose you do.”
"Sorry," Tony says. "I’m not- I’ve been told I have a smart mouth."
"I can see that for myself," Steven says, and his gaze drops to Tony’s lips, just for a moment, but it’s enough to get Tony’s heart hammering before Steve meets his eyes again, clearing his throat.
"Will you attend?"
"Good," Steven says, and doesn’t say anything else. Tony is silent, waiting, but nothing happens for a while until Steve makes a noise and says, "Oh! Sorry, you’re dismissed."
"Thank you, Prince Steven," Tony says, and starts to leave before Steven calls out, "Weren’t you collecting firewood?"
Steven’s mouth is twitching when Tony goes back past him. “Would you like help,” he offers as Tony starts bundling wood into his arms, and Tony startles.
"Since you’ll be sitting next to me at the banquet, I figured we should get to know each other before then," Prince Steven says.
Tony looks down at Steven’s hands, which flex as Steven sighs. “I know, they aren’t exactly worker’s hands, but I do what I can to help my servants. I carry the firewood regularly, at home. I can certainly help you carry it back to yours.”
"Okay," Tony says, unsure what the protocol is for this.
Prince Steven smiles at him, and they start gathering wood together, Steven picking up the pieces that Tony instructs him to, hesitating each time before he does. After all, peasants don’t make habits of ordering around princes, but today is a day for miracles, apparently.
"Tell me about yourself," Steven says as they’re walking back, and Tony looks at him.
"Why don’t you tell me about yourself," he replies, and there’s a startled glance before Steven laughs, a bright, joyful sound that sets Tony’s stomach aflame.
"As you wish," Steven says, and begins.
WHAT IF N AVENGERS 2 STEVE JUST PICKS UP MJOLNIR (MYUMYU) AND HANDS IT TO THOR LIKE "NBD HERE BRO." I NEED THIS TO HAPPEN.
oh. my. god. I NEED THIS SO MUCH.
so, avengers & co. are milling about post-skirmish, and everybody’s just gathering their shit together and regrouping
steve casually picks up mjolnir and helpfully hands it over to thor, and spends the next thirty minutes dealing with the complete emotional wreckage caused by this totally innocuous gesture
- thor & loki: freaking out quietly but powerfully, with the kind of wide-eyed disbelief and unnatural stillness that promises a lot of yelling & booming thunder & green-tinged lightning as soon as they recover their wits
- tony: prolonged hysterics over comms, just totally infuriated incomprehensible ranting. mjolnir has infuriated tony for ages - it’s a fucking fancy hunk of space rock, how does it fucking know who is worthy! how does it even determine what ‘worthiness’ constitutes! it’s an affront to science and dignity and american manhood, is what it is. and now steve rogers, who gets up tony’s nose more than anybody else he has ever met, just…picks up thor’s judgy magic god hammer like it’s nothing? tony is done. tony has no words. (that’s a lie: tony has ALL THE WORDS, and LOUDLY.)
- clint: cracking up in the background and egging on tony’s hysterics; this is the most fun he’s had all month
- lady sif: her disbelief unnerves steve even more than thor & loki; he’s come to expect a certain level of weirdness and emotional melodrama from those two, but not sif. steve likes sif. she’s a badass warrior goddess, she’s great in a fight and she’s very nice. one time they were training together and she even let him hold her glaive! they’re totally bros. warrior bros. but now she’s just staring and it’s freaking him out.
- natasha: suspected all along that steve could, but to have it confirmed…she quietly loses it, tucks herself in against steve’s side and giggles helplessly into his shoulder; she’s not surprised, it’s just…a small part of her is still waiting for steve to undercut her faith in him. but steve, annoying golden bastard that he is, keeps proving her right about him, and she doesn’t know what to do with that. (steve just looks down at her helplessly; he always likes hearing her laugh but this loss of composure unnerves him more than anything else.)
- sam & bruce: mystified. utterly mystified. hulk just blinks and sam dryly congratulates steve on his amazing hammer-lifting prowess.
- jane: rushes at steve, almost tripping over herself in her excitement and getting all up in steve’s personal space as she pokes mjolnir and pokes steve, who actually leans back in a futile effort to escape the torrent of incomprehensible science babble
- darcy: the only person in steve’s vicinity who (a) seems to understand the fuss and (b) doesn’t seem unduly put out by it. steve finds this tentatively reassuring right up until she grins widely, makes at least five filthy jokes about his inner purity, and asks for a fistbump.
sif is the first one to finally pull herself together and explain the whole ‘worthy of mjolnir’ thing; steve doesn’t even know where to look or what to do, he just goes bright red and stammers, while natasha giggles even harder and tony’s voice climbs up another octave
sam, perched on hulk’s shoulder and listening with increasing amusement, starts cracking up and actually tumbles right off while steve stares at him with betrayal writ large across his face, ET TU, SAM?, and sam is now laughing so hard he’s actually gasping for breath(bucky hears about it last, after the initial furor dies down, and he just grins at steve, bright and knowing and unsurprised. steve hasn’t seen that smile in years; the whole day’s embarrassment, including tony’s continued muttered ranting, is worth it for that alone)
well, he’s picked it up in canon before, so I’d say, at some point, it’ll happen in the films. (Hulk’s also picked it up, so, uh, can we have that? Can we have Bruce being utterly stunned outright that Mjolnir thinks he’s worthy?)
I NEED THIS TOO.
And the rest of the team, afterward, finding excuses to nonchalantly attempt to pick up Mjolnir - where/when no one else will see, of course. Maybe with bonus Faiza Hussain over for a visit, or something.
but here's the thing: if everything was leaked, there's a not inconsiderable chance that tony now knows it wasn't an accident but an "accident" that killed his parents. thoughts?
ha ha ha HA HA HA HA, don’t mind me howling and rending my garments over here in the corner, this is totally normal, howling clears the lungs and these garments were due for a rending anyway, I AM TOTALLY FINE. but, okay:
i think, actually, that tony has suspected his parents were murdered since pretty much the day they died. at first it was because he was 17 and his entire family was abruptly gone and it was easier to think of it as foul play than as something senseless, a twist of fate that could’ve been changed by any one of a hundred thousand variables. i think he probably got drunk and slurred to a worried rhodey that he knew what’d happened, that someone’d killed them, that everyone would see in the morning when it was on every paper and television show: howard and maria stark, killed for their money. howard and maria stark, killed for their technology. howard and maria stark, killed by a disgruntled former employee, by a crazed fan, by some lunatic trying to impress jodie foster — by anything except an accident, a fucking car accident, like they were just any old regular people and not tony’s fucking parents, what the fuck.
of course, the next morning came, and then the one after that, and then the one where tony stood between rhodey and obie at the funeral and tried to tell himself that he believed it, that he knew it, that someone had killed them and someday he’d find out how and why. that someday he’d avenge them, and prove to them — to himself — that he could do at least that much.
(he didn’t believe it, but it was easier than the alternative. he didn’t believe it, but it was nicer to think about than anything else.)