SHIELD had never truly understood the dangerous consequences of their methods. Not until the day that they pushed Tony Stark over the edge.
Not until the day that Natasha Romanoff poisoned Pepper Potts in her attempt to slip into the PA spot to spy on a dying Tony Stark.
Pepper ended up in the hospital and Tony?
Tony ripped SHIELD to shreds. He crashed their helicarriers, he exposed their agents, he dumped all their secrets and files onto the internet.
Fury could only watch in horror as his organisation burned. As Natasha was almost killed and barely escaped an enraged Iron Man. As Coulson was badly injured when he tried to slip into the hospital where Potts was being treated.
They’d pushed Tony Stark over that thin line between hero… and villain.
And there was no going back now.
Iron Man wasn’t tolerating any shit now. He was going out and destroying everything that he decided was a threat.
And no one could point the finger at Tony. He’d masterfully played the dying victim worrying at his girlfriend’s hospital bed, while the evil organisation SHIELD stole one of his suits and wreaked havoc over the world.
They tried reaching out to Rhodes. Surely the military man would step in to stop his friend before this got worse.
Instead, he arrested the agents sent to speak to him, using a sonic device that paralysed them to take them down.
Before the police could arrive, he’d whispered a message to one of the agents to take to their bosses.
“Pepper is my friend too. And Tony’s my brother. You did this to yourselves.”
SHIELD’s last, desperate hope was that Potts would wake up from her coma and rein Stark in.
However, when Pepper did eventually wake up to find Tony anxiously watching her, when she heard the story and found out that he wasn’t dying anymore because he’d hacked SHIELD for the information they’d been keeping from him, when she heard about what he’d done…
Pepper had smiled and cupped his cheek before saying, “Tony dear, you’re being terribly ineffective in taking over the world.”
And Tony had smiled and kissed her and the fate of the world had been sealed.
Tony stepped into the public spotlight as a full-on villain, still perfectly placing all the blame for his change at SHIELD’s feet. Pepper played the grieving girlfriend, cursing SHIELD for ‘pushing a good man too far’. Rhodes gravely promised to protect the world with the War Machine armour from his former friend.
It was all a masterful act and the public ate it up. SHIELD realised just how screwed they really were.
Tony was the perfect distraction, dramatic and flamboyant as he played the villain, attacking SHIELD almost exclusively as they desperately tried to pull themselves together.
Pepper meanwhile gradually began taking over the business world and winning the hearts of the public with her heartbroken pleas for Iron Man to come back to her. Everyone was supporting that storyline. It was a redemption story just waiting to happen when the time was right. Redeemed by the power of love and all that.
Rhodes was suddenly shooting up the ranks in the military, having earned his superiors’ respect for choosing to fight against his old friend turned villain. He accepted the promotions gracefully, continuing to amass influence and allies.
When SHIELD found Steve Rogers, they thought that they finally had a way to fight back. Until they threw Captain America at Tony the first time and he was soundly defeated with Iron Man barely getting a scratch. Not to mention the public didn’t react well to anything that had SHIELD’s name attached and Rogers proudly declared who he was fighting for.
He’d apparently decided Iron Man was his arch-enemy and was determined to take him down.
Tony found his attempts amusing but always got bored about ten minutes into the fight and knocked him out.
So Tony Stark and his friends were taking over the world. And SHIELD was the only ones to know about it as the public ate up their performance eagerly.
If SHIELD ever tried to point the finger at Potts she had the perfect ammunition of the poisoning incident. And Rhodes’ reputation was too pristine to touch.
Either way, it didn’t matter. SHIELD was considered just as villainous as the next evil organisation by now and no one was hoping for them to get a redemption arc.
Well… there was technically another group of people who figured out Iron Man’s plans and honestly? They were in awe of it.
“That attack on the SHIELD base? Where Iron Man saved that child and ‘tried’ to hide it? That was masterfully done,” Loki brought up the common conversation topic in their group.
“It really was,” Victor nodded. “Potts is using it as another way to point out that the ‘good Tony Stark’ is still in there. Her performance is quite brilliant.”
“I am jealous of that group. I mean, I’m more of a solo act myself but their teamwork is impeccable,” Agatha sighed, watching the news coverage of Iron Man’s latest attack.
“Those poor little mortals really are eating out of his hand. They’re coming up with the reasons for his attacks for him. I’m quite certain that time he just wanted a doughnut,” Amora sipped at her drink. “It’s so embarrassing how easily he’s managed to take Thor down the last two times.”
“That’s because Stark learns. Thor doesn’t,” Loki reminded her dryly.
The four villains watched the television for a moment.
“Dammit, where can I sign up to join them?” Agatha whined. “They’re having so much damn fun.”
“They make the rest of us look like amateurs,” Victor sighed in agreement.
“It’s a real blow to the ego,” Amora agreed.
“I can ask Sir if he is open to looking at resumes,” a British voice spoke up from Victor’s phone. “I do not believe it is something he has considered yet.”
The villains looked at each other for a moment.
“We all forgot about the sentient AI that can hack literally anything didn’t we?” Loki asked.
“Yes,” Agatha facepalmed.
“Most people do,” JARVIS reassured them. “I’m often underestimated.”
“Are you in the Whitehouse yet?” Victor asked curiously.
“I’ve always been in the Whitehouse,” JARVIS replied simply.
They stared at each other for a moment.
“Alright, that’s it. It’s pretty clear that there’s no stopping Stark,” Loki declared. “I’m going to sign up.”
“Me too!” Agatha bounced in place excitedly. “I do hope they’re into open relationships. Stark and Potts in bed with me? Oh what a dream…” she fanned herself.
Loki couldn’t really deny that that was a rather pleasant image.
Amora looked caught up in her own fantasising. Loki knew she had a thing for Rhodes. Her crush on Thor had cooled after watching him get beaten down by a normal mortal.
If you could really call Anthony Stark ‘normal’.
“What about Red Skull and his plans?” Victor asked but he was already typing out his resume on his phone.
“Sir is quite aware of HYDRA’s plans and he’s already made his own,” JARVIS helpfully offered.
They all shuddered a bit. They suddenly really didn’t want to ever get on Stark’s bad side.
Look at SHIELD after all.
The door opened and a truly miserable-looking sight entered. A soaking wet Winter Soldier slid onto a seat and ordered a Vodka. It must have been a rough mission.
Loki silently slid a tablet over to the Soldier who raised an eyebrow.
“We’re all signing up to hopefully join Stark,” Amora explained. “He’s well on his way to world domination after all.”
“His AI offered to pass it along,” Agatha added. “I wonder if JARVIS is in your arm?”
JARVIS suspiciously stayed silent.
Winter seemed to consider this information for a moment. “Iron Man would make a more than acceptable handler,” he decided.
Amora patted his arm sympathetically. “What happened with this one?”
“He electrocuted himself,” Winter answered blandly. “Good handlers are in short supply lately.”
“Tony Stark would make an excellent handler,” Loki agreed. “And a rather excellent overlord.”
“I’m pretty sure that their plan is to make Potts the overlord,” Agatha admitted.
“That’s… rather terrifying,” Victor murmured.
They all hurriedly finished filling out their resumes and transferred them to JARVIS
“Uh, J? What is this?” Tony asked, staring at the files in bewilderment.
“Applications to be your minions Sir,” JARVIS supplied helpfully.
Tony stared for a moment, munching on his liberated doughnuts. According to the public the store had been a front for SHIELD. In reality, he just wanted doughnuts. He gave the cashier a nice tip though.
“Huh. Why do I need minions? I’ve got minions.”
“Harley and Peter do not count Sir. They cannot actively help you.”
“I wonder if anyone is ever going to notice that I never attack Tennessee or Queens,” he mused, opening the files.
He stared for another minute.
“They are smart enough to know when they are beat,” JARVIS explained smugly.
“Apparently. Okay, sure, whatever. Bring ‘em on board. Let’s give Fury a heart attack shall we?”
“Very well Sir.”
Working for Tony Stark was not what the villains really expected.
First off, he gave fantastic benefits. They got paid and got days off. Not to mention holiday bonuses.
Secondly, their job was to essentially ‘do whatever the hell you want to as long as you irritate SHIELD’.
So that meant that Victor could spend hours in a state-of-the-art lab talking to a sentient AI. Loki could study his magic texts in peace and routinely bother Thor. Amora often joined him, although she wasn’t too interested in getting Thor anymore. She was interested… elsewhere.
Agatha could come and go as she pleased, taking great delight as she irritated the sorcerers and that silly little Scarlet Witch that had recently joined the Avengers.
And Winter was free from HYDRA and quite satisfied with his new handler. He’d been the first to actually meet Tony Stark. The inventor had quite literally walked into him in the kitchen after they’d moved into his huge mansion of a hideout.
Adorable Bambi eyes blinked up at Winter and the infamous Winter Soldier melted.
“Coffee?” the sad little whine had Winter producing the requested cup in moments and Stark perked up and downed the entire thing. It was quite impressive.
“I like you,” Stark patted Winter on the chest. “Plus you killed my abusive ass of a father. So you get points there.”
Winter had known that Stark had had a terrible relationship with both his parents. An abusive father and a neglectful mother meant he truly hadn’t been all that torn up about the murder. And of course he'd known. JARVIS knew everything.
“You are my new handler?” Winter asked.
“Sure, if you make me coffee like that I’ll be your anything sweetheart,” he kissed Winter’s cheek and wandered out of the room after pouring a new cup.
“Mission accepted, protect Tony Stark.” Winter nodded firmly to himself. Bambi eyes like those deserved to be protected even if they belonged to one of the most dangerous men on earth.
Victor met Tony when he came nose to nose with the genius after lifting his head from his latest project. The inventor was crouched down and watching him work, wide eyes burning with intensity.
Abruptly a grin stretched across his face, genuinely excited in a way Victor didn't normally see in others when around him.
“Science!” Stark yelled, practically pouncing on Victor.
Somehow, he got dragged into a three-day science binge and Winter had to kick them out of the lab for their own health at JARVIS’ orders. Tony had pouted rather adorably and whined.
He was a terrifying force in the Iron Man armour. But he was also damn adorable. Victor just knew he was going to have trouble saying no to the man.
Winter’s unimpressed expression told him that the assassin had already figured that out and was disappointed in him.
Those sad eyes were lethal weapons though! Lethal!
Loki and Amora officially met Tony at the same time when he walked into the room they were practicing magic in.
“I will pay you to prank Thor.”
Loki cocked his head. “You already pay us.”
“I’ll pay you extra. Just make his life a living hell for a week.” Stark’s eyes were dark and nowhere near the ‘Bambi eyes’ that Victor and Winter had described.
“Why?” Amora asked.
“He yelled at Pepper. And that is unacceptable.” And with that, Stark turned around and left.
Loki and Amora looked at each other and shrugged. They spent the week hitting Thor with various spells that caused him pain or discomfort and even left a flerken in his room once. He had… issues with flerkens.
The next time they saw Tony he was all smiles and hugged them both. “You guys are so much better than the order with the stick up their butts.”
Tony and Agatha met and promptly ended up in bed together. It turned out that Tony and Pepper were actually in an open relationship. One that Rhodes was a part of.
“How was it?” Amora asked Agatha the next day at breakfast.
Agatha smiled dreamily. “If he was still a good guy I’d flip sides for him.”
“For the sex?” Amora sounded surprised.
“For the sex,” Agatha sighed. “And for the fact that he’s sweet enough to bring me breakfast in bed.”
“Why are you eating breakfast here then?” Victor asked.
“To rub my fantastic night in your faces of course.”
And well, they were jealous of course. With that option suddenly available and Pepper Potts striding into the room in all her terrifying glory?
They were tempted. And you should never tempt a villain.