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Competently Incompetent

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Tony cackled as he counted up his stack of money, which was considerably larger than anyone else's. Again.

They'd played with Coulson as Banker, without any other player designation, because they knew he wouldn't cheat in anyone's favor because he hated them all pretty equally.

As games went, this one was pretty much a massacre.

Clint went bankrupt in the first five turns. No one knew quite how. Steve followed quickly - everyone agreed it was likely his lack of a poker face that did him in. Natasha went next, and it was odd to see her lose at anything, but she accepted it with good grace, seemingly unsurprised. Bruce had held his own against the other genius, but had eventually given way to Tony's prowess at the game. Thor, amazingly, had held on longest, but then got decimated in about two turns, so that might have simply been because he wasn't a threat.

And they were all gaping at the victorious Tony Stark, even Natasha was visibly surprised, though the expression was quickly replaced with understanding.

"How - What - How did this even happen. You beat us six times. How can you beat us all at Monopoly that many times in a row without cheating?" Clint asked, honestly bewildered.

"SI," Tony replied after a short silence, during which he considered how best to answer. "Was a large company when I inherited. It was a good foundation, but Howard only received US military contracts. From there, I was the one to make it what it is today. I took on contracts with the UN and US allies. I expanded into medical research and computer technology, I took the Stark name from being a side-note at rich parties and galas to being the one everyone wanted a piece of." He grinned viciously. "And you lot playing Monopoly have got nothing on any of the sharks I was raised to swim with in the business world."

Collecting his winnings (they'd been bargaining with the last piece of cheesecake, this time) Tony nodded at them all. "Excuse me."

There was a silence after the billionaire left the room.

"...I thought Miss Potts did it all." Steve said eventually.

"I do, but everything I know I learned from Tony himself. As his PA, I didn't do as much as people thought I did, mostly just dragged Tony out of the workshop and made sure the right paperwork got signed." Pepper stood in the doorway, eyebrows raised. "I'm still not as good at it as he is."

"Why did he give it up?"

"He was dying. Again. And he decided there were more important things...and he finally stopped trying to please a dead man." she said softly. "You need to start learning to see through the masks if you intend to survive. No one sees anything he doesn’t want them to see; and if incompetent is how he wishes to be perceived, then he will be.”