Fandom: Iron Man
Category: Vignette. Angst, Friendship.
Spoilers: Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Summary: Happy is usually pretty good at just following orders. Not this time.
Word Count: 953
Note: Another take about the thing that Happy had at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Happy Hogan stared at the object in his hand and gave his boss a look of disbelief. He'd thought this day couldn't get any stranger. Apparently, he was wrong.
"You want me to do what, now?"
Tony Stark brushed him off with a one-handed wave as he walked away.
"Just return it."
Happy blinked a few times, but he didn't hesitate in his answer, and his voice brooked no argument.
Now it was Tony's turn for disbelief. Only his was tinged with more than a bit of anger as he stopped suddenly and turned back to Happy.
"No?" he said, stomping back to get in Happy's face.
"No," said Happy emphatically.
"But..." stammered Tony.
Happy shook his head. "I said no. I'm not returning an engagement ring. Especially not one YOU bought for some inexplicable reason."
Tony stared at Happy for a minute, not used to being denied anything.
"Why not?" he demanded.
"Because I'm not going to be that guy."
"What guy?" asked Tony, growing more agitated.
"The guy who returns an engagement ring."
Tony sighed. "You're making this a bigger deal than it is."
"Says the guy who won't do it himself."
"I said no, Tony."
Tony changed tactics. His irritation dissipated and he pouted like a child.
"Pleeeease?" he whined.
Happy sighed, but he didn't fall for Tony's change of heart and pathetic expression. This wasn't his first rodeo, after all. So instead of letting Tony get his way, he took a page from his boss's book and changed his own approach.
"Why do you even have that, anyway?" he said, hoping to derail the conversation, at least a little bit.
"I liked it," he said, as if that settled the matter.
"So you bought it? Just like that?"
"I have the money."
"So, what? You were just going to figure the rest out later?" asked Happy, incredulous. He shook his head and plowed on, not letting Tony interrupt. "Well, yeah. You probably were, right? I mean, like you said, you have the money. And you could probably find some random girl easily enough. I mean, it's you, right? And who wouldn't want you?"
Happy was so caught up in actually speaking his mind to Tony for once that he didn't notice Tony's reaction. He didn't see how Tony's eyes narrowed and hardened. He didn't appreciate much of anything until Tony growled a single word that stopped him in his tracks.
Happy paused, but he wasn't done – not this time. He rarely stood up to Tony, but he had enough pull to be allowed the occasional outburst. And he took advantage of it now.
"Why? What did I say that wasn't true, Tony? Did you not buy an engagement ring on a whim because you 'just liked it?' Your words. So you bought it? Even though you treat women like commodities? Even though you couldn't keep the same one around for more than a week if your life depended on it?!"
And that's when Tony lost it. Despite his volatile personality, he usually kept most things close to the vest. But like Happy, he'd had a very long day, and the usual rules didn't apply.
"I said enough!" he barked, loud enough to stop Happy's tirade. "First off, it's not your business. It's your job to do what I tell you. Second, it was a whim, sure. But it wasn't exactly random. And yeah. I know I couldn't do it. I'm not marriage material. You don't think I know that?! Why do you think I wanted to return it?!"
Happy was dumbfounded. He opened his mouth, then closed it, then blinked a few times. Tony had said so much that he had a hard time processing things. He'd never heard Tony lose control before. But finally, his brain kicked in and he realized the absurdity of the whole argument.
"But why return it?" he asked.
Tony looked confused.
"Well," said Happy, "it's like you said. You have the money. Why return it? Why not just throw it out or toss it in a drawer?"
Tony snorted. "Or melt it down for parts?"
Happy conceded the point with a sideways nod.
"Now there's an idea," admitted Tony.
Both men were silent for a moment then. But suddenly Happy's expression grew confused.
"What?" asked Tony.
Happy shook his head. "Nothing."
"No, what?" said Tony, clearly irritated.
"It's just... You said it 'wasn't exactly random?'"
Tony swallowed thickly and moved away from Happy.
"Yeah, well, whatever. Doesn't matter anyway."
With that, he turned and started walking away again.
Happy watched him go for a second , then called out to him. There was a challenge in his voice.
"Anyone I know?"
Tony stopped and looked over his shoulder.
"Forget about it, Hap."
Happy raised an eyebrow at Tony.
Tony sent him a warning glare.
"Don't," he muttered, shaking his head ever so slightly.
"Boss..." started Happy.
"I mean it. Don't."
"I'm just saying. Maybe you should keep it," suggested Happy.
Tony chuckled darkly. "Yeah, right."
"Look, Tony, I..."
"Don't worry about it, Hap."
"No, I'll do it. It's fine."
Tony started walking again, giving Happy a dismissive wave as he did.
"Do whatever you want."
Happy didn't stop Tony this time.
He just watched him go.
A moment later, he got into his (well, Tony's) car and started the engine.
As he did, he muttered to himself.
"Yeah. Okay, boss. Whatever you say. I'll return it."
And that was the end of it.
Until a drunken tear years later, when Tony got a little maudlin and Happy got a little tired of that, so the driver finally told his boss that he did nothing of the sort.
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