Title: Clockwork Hearts
Category: Steampunk, AU,
Pairings: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark,
Summary: Steve was hopeless when it came to science and whatever else Prince Tony did. Still when King Howard approached him to be Tony’s assistant, how could he say no? How could he turn down the chance to be close to the one that he had loved since they were children?
“Do you want the job, Steve?” Howard asked from his position across the table. Steve looked at him in shock. The whole of the city and probably the Stark Empire knew what Howard was trying to do, all except Howard’s son Tony.
“I don’t think that I am qualified, My Lord.” Steve knew that he wasn’t but he wasn’t going to come out and say that Howard wasn’t thinking straight. Steve knew that he was getting frustrated by Tony not finding someone to settle down with but Steve thought that maybe Howard was going a little crazy.
“Steve, it’s Howard, I’ve known you since you were a babe. You, Bucky, Rhodey, and Tony terrorized this palace to no end. I know that Tony would enjoy having you as an assistant.”
Steve looked at Howard again in shock. Tony hadn’t wanted anything to do with him since he had returned from the war. Bucky and Rhodey were still out there, protecting the Empire and whenever Rhodey was in for a visit, he and Tony hung out to until Rhodey had to leave again but for Steve, Tony had looked at him, shook his hand, thanked him for his service and then had went right back to his experiments. Ever since then he hadn’t given him a second look.
“My son has turned down all females and males from the other kingdoms and empire across the stretch of the planet, Steve. He wants nothing to do with them. I could force him to marry one but that wouldn’t end well, he would terrorize his spouse until the day that he died. I am sure in the long run it would ruin the friendship between my Empire and that land.” Howard stood up and quickly moved to the table that held the drinks that Howard was so fond of. “This last war, the war that had you changed so much that my son wouldn’t recognize you, I saw what the world around me was really like. My Empire has been at peace for so many years that the Starks have forgotten what death is really like.
“My parents arranged my marriage to Maria. Love came after but we wed to stop a war. Tony needs not to. He can marry who he wants and he can marry for love. On Rhodey’s last visit in, after spend three days cooped up in Tony’s labs, he came out and we talked for a while. Did you know that when you were fifteen and Tony was twelve, he wanted to marry you? He came to me and asked for you to be allowed to marry him because you were the only one that he would stand to marry. I told him that he had to marry a prince or princess, he stormed out of the room and I did not see him for over three months. It was right after that you joined the militia to train and then just two years later, you were gone.”
“I never knew that, Sir.”
“I didn’t figure he ever told you. I don’t know why my son is acting like he is but I hope that being forced to be around you will pull Tony out of whatever funk he is in.”
“I don’t know what you aim to accomplish but I will agree to do it, when his current assistant quits. Until he truly wants me gone.”
“She did, this morning. Pepper took great delight showing her to the door.”
Steve entered Tony’s laboratory the next morning only to find a metal creature in front of him. The creature was not blocking the doorway all the way but it was hard for Steve to pass through. Tony rarely ever left the labs now. So to find Tony not there surprised Steve. He spent nearly thirty minutes looking for Tony. He checked in any place that Tony could have crawled into to sleep. The younger man was not there. He was on his way out when the metal creature shifted ever so slightly. It was barely a movement but a movement it was and Steve caught it.
Stepping up in front of the creature, Steve smiled at it.
“Captain,” Tony’s voice said from inside the creature. “I was not expecting you. Not able to find a job?”
“Your father came to me yesterday, after your last assistant left. He seems to think that I am the only one that you will not run off.” Steve didn’t like it when Tony called him Captain but it was all that Tony would call him now. He missed it when his name came off of Tony’s tongue.
Nothing came from inside the metal body. Steve waited and it wasn’t until he heard a few latches and the metal just collapsed down. Steve looked at the pieces and saw that it was a skin of some kind. An armor used in combat. It wasn’t anything fancy but it would do well in sieges. He could see mechanics inside that were used for movement but it wouldn’t be fast movement.
“I call them the Iron Men. This one is the prototype that I fixed up after the demonstration for father. He liked them a great deal and called for forty to be made to protect the castle. I handed the plans over yesterday.”
“That’s good.” Steve was surprised but he knew he really shouldn’t be. Tony had always had ideas; it was bound to happen that a few actually worked the way he wanted them to.
“So you actually plan on doing this?” Tony asked as he moved to a workstation and grabbed a few tools before walking back to the armor. He sat on a bench and started to mess with some of the inner workings of the armor.
“Doing?” Steve asked. He really wasn’t sure what Tony was talking about but even as a child he had talked circles around the other kids that he hung out with, even though most of them were older than him.
“I know that you hate the science that I do.”
“Hate?” Steve asked. This was the first time that Tony had even talked about knowing Steve. Grabbing a stool, Steve sat down beside him.
“You never came to my labs too much before. You’d always talk to Bucky or Rhodey when I was talking to the other about science.”
That’s when it all clicked. Everything made sense now. Steve had left without telling Tony in person that he was joining the militia. He had done it in a peak of rage after he and Tony had fought. While he had been inside the city for the two years of training, he hadn’t had much time and he always thought that Tony had been mad that he had joined up. The fight that had preceded the join up had been the worst of the ones that they had gotten into. He remembered the fight like it was yesterday.
Steve and Bucky had been brought to live in the castle when they had been but babes. Raiders that attacked the Stark Empire had killed both of their parents. Steve’s mother and father had been great friends of Howard and when they died, he took Steve in. Finding out that there was no one for Bucky to go to and that Bucky and Steve were friends, he had taken the other boy in as well. When Tony had come into the picture just a year later, Steve and Bucky had thought they were going to be pushed to the side but it became apparent early on that the little Prince Tony liked Steve. There were some days that only Steve being around made Tony happy. That had made Queen Maria very happy as that meant she didn’t have a crying child on her hands as much.
Rhodey came into the group one summer day as the three of them were trying to escape the castle. His name was James Rhodes but given that they already had Bucky whose first name was also James, Rhodey became his name thanks to Tony. The other boy didn’t blink an eye and later that night when all four had been brought before Howard and the newest Captain of the Guard, Rhodey’s father, the fun had stopped. Until Howard had started to laugh. The king had made comments about keeping the guard on their toes and if they couldn’t keep a group of children in the castle how well would they do at keeping intruders out.
That’s the way it was for years. Rhodey was being groomed to take his father’s job and Tony was being groomed to be king one day. Steve and Bucky though had never been trained to do much of anything other than odd jobs around the castle. When Rhodey and gone to the militia to train, Bucky had followed him. Tony had been ten at the time. It was just two years later that Steve and gone to Tony’s laboratory to find him working on a bomb of some kind. War had just broken out between the raiders and the Stark Empire. He hated seeing Tony work on things like that but the boy was a genius, even at twelve. That had scared him so much, seeing Tony working on something so dangerous.
It had set the mood for the fight. Steve was now fifteen and could find a job to do, he needed to. He could apprentice with any profession he wanted but what he wanted was to join the militia with Bucky and Rhodey. Tony hadn’t taken that well. It had followed so close to the death of his mother and while his father loved him, Howard was busy and hadn’t made time for his grieving son. The fight had been horrible and Steve had marched from the room and went and signed up for the militia. He was training started the next day and only made time to see Tony when Tony was out and about and Steve seen him.
The two years of training flew by and then Steve was with Bucky and Rhodey at the front lines. At fifteen when he had joined, Steve had been the smallest boy there. When he met up with Bucky and Rhodey, seeing them for the first time since they had joined almost four years before, he had forgot how tall he had really gotten until he was towering above them. Bucky hadn’t recognized him.
“Cadet Rogers,” Bucky had called. Bucky had looked down the line of cadets that had just arrived at the front lines. There were fifty of them total and they would all be split into ten groups. Bucky had been the one sent to get the new blood for his troop. “I have a friend waiting back home whose last name was Rogers.” Bucky never looked up from his list.
“Yes, Sir. He’s not at home anymore.” Steve cherished the look on Bucky’s face when he gave him the second look. He smiled at him and that’s when Bucky knew him.
“Tony has to be so pissed at you for leaving him,” Bucky’s first words had been. It was then that Steve should have known. Everyone else had seen it. Every single person saw it and knew that Tony had been in love with him. He had just never seen it. He had left, possibly never coming back and Tony had loved him. The militia had taught him a few things. All those things that had gone over his head when Tony was talking didn’t go over his head as much.
Steve had been too worried about proving to Tony that he was worth something that he missed that to Tony he was worth everything already. The only thing that Steve had to do was stay. Steve now had so much to make up for. The opening had Steve stepped back from Tony. He didn’t mean to but he moved so that whoever was entering didn’t see him.
“There he is, Malcolm. Go say hi to daddy.”
“DADDY!” a voice rang out in the laboratory. Tony spun around and looked wide eyed at Pepper and little Malcolm. Pepper saw it but not quickly enough. As she entered the room more she saw Steve standing there. Malcolm didn’t care he ran and jump up into Tony’s arms.
“I am sorry, Tony.”
“No, it’s fine. I know that you have never met him. Pepper Potts, meet Steven Rogers.”
“Captain Steven Rogers, hero of the Raider Wars?” Pepper asked, reaching out to shake his hand. Steve nodded and she smiled at him. “Is he also the Steve?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He wasn’t sure what she meant by the Steve but he was sure that he was the only Steve that Tony would be talking about.
“No need for that, Steve. I’m Pepper. I think that I should take Malcolm to my mother for her to watch for the day.”
“No, I can still watch him today. Steve was just leaving. My father thought he was being cute and setting up Steve as my new assistant.”
Pepper looked between the two of them for a few seconds before she smiled again. “I don’t know. I bet Malcolm might like Steve to hang around.”
Tony just at her for a few seconds before sighing. “Not you, too. Pep you are the light of my life, why do you do this to me?”
“Because I know you better than anyone and I know what you need, even if you don’t.”
Steve watched as the two of shared looks, having a silent conversation. Pepper was the one to win because Tony slumped in defeat and waved her away. She kissed Malcolm’s cheek and walked from the room.
“Malcolm, why don’t you go play in your room and I’ll be there as soon as I clean up.”
Malcolm nodded and wandered off into another room. Steve hadn’t even seen the door there, it was so well hidden. Malcolm had to fiddle with a few things in the wall and then it opened.
“Security door. You have to hit a few things in the correct order to get it to open. It doubles as a safe room for him, Pepper, and me if need be. Father has one in the throne room.”
“All those new things like the clockwork sneaker things that would record a few minutes of conversation and then return were something you created?”
“Almost everything from the war, I created. I am very good at clockwork things as well as other things. That Iron Man you saw will be used to guard the castle once enough of them are made. They are going to look more like the suits of armor that grace the entire castle. Attackers that don’t look like attackers. I have the ability to make clockwork creatures out of them as well. They can be taught to fight whoever attacks them.”
Steve just stared in shock. One of the small clockwork message deliverers saved his life out in the field one day. In fact the thing had malfunctioned because of it and his commander had given it to him, since all it did was follow him around. Bucky had named it Dummy and even now it was in Steve’s room. He wondered if he brought it to Tony if he could fix it.
“I see. I see that you moved on while we were gone.”
“What?” Tony looked up at him from where he was cleaning up his workbench. “Gods, no. My father spent the entire year of my fifteenth year telling me that I needed to marry and produce an heir. It was when the war took a bad turn before you single handedly went behind enemy lines and saved our troops that had been taken captive. I told father it was because they had taken Bucky. If it had been Rhodey taken, I would have been right there with you. Or you…”
“Then how did you get Malcolm?” Steve felt his heart break a little.
“I talked Pepper into it. No one knows that she is the mother. Pepper is rarely seen away from the castle and it was easy to hide her pregnancy, she didn’t get much bigger, she carried him really far back. About a month after the birth, he was given to a guard by a disguised Pepper, saying that he was the son of the Stark Prince. Father was the first to get his hands on him. It wasn’t that hard to prove. He has the same pale blue circle birthmark on his chest that father and I have.”
“And no one knows?”
“Father charged Pepper with helping to raise him. She and her mother know. Father was told later, after it was all said and done and the stink of the Prince having a child out of wedlock passed over. He wasn’t much too happy but he learned to live with it. I won’t marry just anyone.”
“That’s why your father has been trying to set you up?”
“What?” Tony asked looking up at him. Tony had put on a pair of glasses, his eyes were huge. Steve tried not to laugh and succeeded, barely.
“All your assistants. He’s been trying to get you to settle down with someone.”
“Then why…” Tony looked at Steve in shock. As he looked at Steve though the shock changed to anger. “I never should have…” Tony pulled the glasses off and set them on the table before moving to the room that Malcolm had disappeared into. “I don’t want to see you again, ever.”
“Tony!” Steve said as he stepped up to the prince, grabbing his arm and making Tony look at him. “No. I…”
Tony made to slap him but Steve caught his hand with his other hand. Before Tony could do or say anything, Steve was leaning forward and kissing Tony. Tony fought him for a few seconds and then stopped. He relaxed and opened his mouth. Steve dropped his hands and cupped Tony’s face. He pulled back seconds later.
“I thought I had to prove to you and your father that I was worthy…That I could marry you. I didn’t know that you already loved me and that your father would have let us marry.”
“I’ve loved you since we were children, Tony. I never would have left if I had known that you loved me too.”
Six Months Later
“Are you sure this is safe?” Pepper asked as she looked down at the ground underneath her. She looked back at Tony and Steve who were talking with the captain of the airship. Malcolm was with one of the crewman at the bow of the ship looking out at the people who had gathered to send their prince and his new husband off.
“Safe as houses, Pep. I wouldn’t risk Malcolm and you know it.”
“He’s put me through my paces over the past two month, Ma’am,” the captain said as he smiled at her. Pepper smiled and nodded. Tony and Steve were going on their honeymoon and Malcolm wanted to go so Pepper went to help watch him. It was also a vacation away for her because while they were gone, Howard was going to announce that Pepper was the mother of Malcolm and the circumstances of his birth and why Tony did what he did. Pepper was hoping that the shock will have mostly died down by the time that they all came back.
What Tony didn’t know is that Howard was going to be stepping down in a few years and Tony was going to be taking over. It was best to wait until closer to tell Tony. Howard wanted to spend more time with Malcolm before he got too old to enjoy it.
Pepper couldn’t wait to see him sitting on the throne. He would be a good king, even if she and Steve were going to be running the Empire more than him. He would protect it and that was what they needed.