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A New Strategy

Chapter Text

Tony sat in the board meeting listening to Pepper rattle off the most recent stock quotes. As usual SI was up and leading the market. As usual, the board wasn’t happy enough with that.

Tony slammed his feet flat on the floor suddenly and flipped up his shades as he looked around the room.

“I have an idea!” Pepper rolled her eyes.

“Thank you, Tony,” she started.

“Not done yet, thank you, Ms. Potts,” Tony said, standing and beginning to pace around the room.

“Well, let’s hear it,” William Anderson, a long time board member chuckled as he waited for the fireworks. Pepper pretended that she had to run interference with the board, but they knew who buttered their bread and it wasn’t Pepper Potts. More to the point, Tony was always fun to watch.

“We had a portal open up and spit out aliens in the middle of New York,” Tony said, gesturing wildly with his arms.

“Oh, god,” Pepper muttered, hiding her eyes behind a hand.

“Yes,” Tony said, stopping and pointing at Pepper excitedly. “I’ve been hanging out with a god too! Yes! So . . . aliens . . . and gods . . . from, Scandinavia,” Tony asked befuddled, and William laughed. “No, Asgard” Tony shouted excitedly. “That’s right, more aliens, but alien gods. Right!”

“Where are we going with this,” Olivia Merriweather asked drily. William always hated that old biddy.

Tony stopped and looked at everyone with steel in his eyes. William froze, all of the joy and excitement that Tony's showmanship effortlessly builds falling away in that moment when he saw the man that Howard Stark should have been. It was more than excitement to see Tony truly shine, it was a gift. Tony was more than a legacy, and it only took a single look into that man’s eyes to see that he was building universes, not just weapons and tech.

“What do you suppose I could come up with after a merger with an alien nation?”

“What was that, Tony? You can’t just spring crap like that on me in the middle of a board meeting! This is exactly what I’ve been talking about. I can’t deal with this constant drama. I honestly don’t know how Rhodey puts up with it. He must be a saint!”

“Ms. Potts,” Tony said coldly after he had let her rant and insult him, calling him a child and several less than stellar names. “You will sit down and be quiet now,” he said dangerously as Rhodey was walking into the office.

“And I’ll thank you not to bring me up as a weapon against my lover, Potts. I don’t know about you and yours, but I expect loyalty and support from my partner and he expects it in return,” Rhodey said, slipping into a chair across from Tony.

“I’m sorry, but”

“Ms. Potts, I am not going to ask you again,” Tony said, the threat hanging.

“You’d do well to remember that I am your boss, Tony Stark. I’m the CEO of this company,” she said, just as dark and dangerous.

“I’m not speaking to you right now as either Tony Stark your friend, or as Tony Stark the head of R&D at SI. I’m speaking as a majority share-holder to his CEO about the proposition that I just took to the board.”

“You’re shutting me out? After you gave me this company. After what Obie did to you,” she hissed.

“Not at all. If you had taken that stick out of your but for five seconds while I was pitching this to the Board you would have known that I’m proposing a split and a transition. We split the communications and media into a subsidiary of SI, retaining that name for the off-shoot, while the parent company will be renamed Stark Solutions, focusing on energy, medical technology, space exploration and travel, and”

“Weapons! I can’t believe you! After everything we went through to make the move away from weapons” Pepper shouted, gripping the arms of her chair in a white-knuckled grip.

“Satellite positioning and imagery,” Tony finished.

“For weapons!”

"That option will be there with minor changes in the necessary configurations," Tony shrugged.

“Are you finished,” Rhodey asked, as Pepper stared angrily back at Tony.

“How can you support this,” she huffed crossing her arms and legs while shaking her head.

“Pepper, I am a life-long military officer. My career is preparing for war and maintaining weapons. And I watched the man that I love fly a nuke into a portal because we had no other recourse to win the battle that landed right in our laps. Tony is proposing we look for the solutions to handle situations like that alongside other technological growth that needs to happen so that we are a force to be reckoned with instead of an intergalactic joke that got lucky.”

“Do you know what the scepter made Thor reveal on the helicarrier before the New York battle,” Tony said seriously. “He described humans as tiny and petty with the sort of mocking sneer that you might use right before stepping on a bug. I refuse to be the bug, Pepper. You can all stick your heads in the sand and mock and belittle and say that it’s my ego—but NO ONE IS DOING ANYTHING!” Tony shouted the last and threw a paperweight across the room, shattering the frame of one of his paintings. “I don’t care about SI’s stocks in any other capacity than that it gives me the funds to build a way to protect the people that I love. And if you stand in the way of that, then you can find out what it means to be on the other side of Tony Stark,” Tony finished, standing and walking out of the room.

The echoing silence he left behind was stifling. Pepper finally cleared her throat.

“Did . . . did Tony just threaten me?”

“Not if you get on board,” Rhodey said with a shrug, and followed Tony out.