A/N: I just couldn't help myself but write this as I listened to "Strange and Beautiful" by Aqualung. enjoy...
He watched her as she danced in the middle of the room with the familiar colonel. He didn't quite know what to make of her, because she had somehow managed to capture his soul and the world he had built around him. The way he had specifically built boulders and walls to guard that boy he kept inside. The boy that was sincere, gentle and capable of loving and cherishing. She was the only woman to ever see that, to ever bare witness of it despite his reckless lifestyle and callous attitude.
She was the only one to ever really know him and he wasn't entirely sure how he felt anymore. He couldn't bring himself to look at another woman, let alone even flirt to one. He flirted outrageously with her and he actually loved it. He loved their constant bickering and the way she smiled and flared her nostrils at him. He loved that she'd laugh at him and occasionally flirt back but mention how completely and utterly 'unprofessional' they were.
But he knew that deep down inside somewhere, she didn't care. She was after all the CEO of Stark Industries and he was just that world renowned Iron Man beside her. That part time business man that kept his hands free, that kept far from the spotlight whenever it concerned Stark Industries yet remained close lingering in the background beside her. It took a matter of persuasion and his fine world class acts of charming to persuade her to remain as CEO. He knew he could never be CEO anymore because being Iron Man was more important, it was much more than keeping tabs with the daily shares or the new unfolding technologies. It was more than keeping track of the accounts or attending board meetings and attentively engaging in much needed video conferences with other partnering companies across the globe.
Being Iron Man was being a man he never was. It was showing the world that he was something new, that in a strange sort of way he had grown up. That he had finally seen the man he was and decided he wanted to do better. He gave up the alcohol, although there was the occasional drink and the occasional party. But she was always with him and he had made it a distinct point to remain sober. He glanced at the drink of scotch he sipped and smiled warmly at the thought.
He felt different, but better, something greater, something more fulfilling. He felt like something had come along and woke him up from the longest dream he had been in. He felt like a better person and he really couldn't thank being Iron Man for that. She was the reason he sat here staring like a fool. She was the reason he wanted to become better. She was the reason his heart fluttered and his world soared. She was the reason he smiled now and slowly she began to become his world.
Loving her was eternal. It was captivating, enticing and somewhat fulfilling. It completed him in every way possible. He wasn't accustom to feeling like this and he had to admit feeling it was strange but good kind of strange. He remembered the first time he woke up beside her and how surprised she had been that he had actually stayed till she woke up. He had never done that before, never slept in willingly wanting to hold a woman until she woke up. But for him it was something personal, something he had to do because she was different. She wasn't just a one-night stand or a one-time fling. She was an array of mornings to come because waking up beside her was so much better than waking up to anybody. There was something about waking up holding her that made his soul soar. It made him happy, truly happy.
And it was in those quiet mornings that he'd feel that strange sense of pride, that of all men she could love, she'd chosen him instead. That somewhere inside her heart she saw the man he was and the man he was slowly becoming.
He never told her how hard it was to write that letter. The letter he had specifically chosen to write last because writing it would mean he had accepted death. He didn't think he could ever feel so lost before, so helpless at a machine that kept him alive and killed him at the same time. But that had passed and he was lucky enough to have been given a second chance with an element his father had invented. Granted it had only been two months ago, the memory was still rather apparent in his memories. He remembered feeling hopeless, feeling that he had lost that spark inside of him. That his callous attitude and perky personality had somewhat drained into a more serious, more responsible look on life. It was then when he really realized how much he loved her. That she was all he had.
That without her he was nothing. She was like that puzzle, the one that made you feel complete. But lately it didn't feel like that anymore. She had evolved into just making him feel complete. She became that other part of him, the one that made him, him. She was the heart that beat in his chest, the life that gave him a reason to live. She was that energy, the thing that kept him going and he realized that without her, he wouldn't just be nothing, he'd be lost and unwilling to be anything ever again.
He shuddered at the thought of ever losing her and silently vowed to protect her always. He glimpsed over to them again and smiled when his eyes captured hers. The song the colonel and she had been dancing to had stopped and they were clapping. The colonel gave him a stern nod and that casual smirk. He smirked in return, raising his glass a little to salute him in his own way. There was a different look to the colonel when he wasn't strapped in the War Machine. He looked boyish and sometimes even child like. It was hard to imagine he was a colonel at all sometimes.
They were attending another company funded party to celebrate the coming of Christmas. It was the annual Christmas party, the one he never attended or at least, the party he never stayed sober long enough to actually remember it. But this was a nice change he thought as he sat there and watched her. There was something strangely satisfying at just sitting there, watching the world go by. There was something nice about watching her and letting his eyes implore her because for once he was allowed too.
He turned briefly to sit the empty glass on the table before he pulled himself to a stand. He glanced to her and he smiled genuinely when he caught her eyes. The world would never stop for him as much as he wished it would sometimes. But he didn't expect it and he didn't want it to anyway. Because she was all he needed and she was all he wanted. She was that strange and beautiful woman he had come to love and would always love.
He smirked when she raised her brow at him. He could almost predict the scolding he would get later but he didn't think twice about it as he made his way to her, his hand tightening on the little black box in the pocket.
He had a feeling she wouldn't mind.