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#young robert downey jr

Young Tony Stark, a portrait.


Thursday, June 9, 1994.

‘Sir… the winners of the science fair are here.’

‘Yeah, yeah, heard you the first time… minute…’

Tony Stark sucked in the last remaining milligram of nicotine from his morning cigarette with obscene pleasure. He was still in bed at 10am, naked, content and completely unconcerned. He very slowly exhaled the smoke with his eyes closed, his youthful face sporting a five o’clock shadow, his wild dark hair—far too long for Jarvis’s taste—sticking out in every direction. The old family butler waited patiently in the door frame with a clearly disapproving face.

‘Oh come on… you know I hate it when you give me the long face… and this isn’t even a joint.’ His voice was deep, sultry and playful, the words slipping out fast and effortlessly, confidence and power oozing out of his every pore.

‘I only do that face because I am fully aware of—’

‘Where’s Gloria?’

Jarvis cringed but remained extremely professional.

‘Did you mean Claudia, sir?’

‘Ah. Mmh.’

‘She left half an hour ago.’

‘What? Why?’

Jarvis pressed his lips tightly together, pondering his answer. ‘I believe she felt a little mistreated.’

Tony abruptly looked at him, startled. ‘Mistreated? What the hell is that supposed to mean?’

‘Well, sir… you do know my personal opinion on how romantic encounters should—’

‘Oh come on! She got to spend an entire night with me, here; I offered her some Château Margaux and—what are you saying, that I was a heartless jerk? I thought we were past such futile moral judgements, Alfie.’

Again, Jarvis visibly cringed at the annoying Batman reference—as he always did whenever his young boss felt like comparing him to the fictional butler— but he went on in his perfectly polite British voice only now slightly tinted with sarcasm. ‘I wouldn’t go as far as employing such a derogatory term, sir.’

‘I was the perfect gentleman given the circumstances. A little blunt, yeah, maybe; but it’s not my fault every chick I bring ends up falling head over heels in love with me.’

Jarvis tried really hard not to roll his eyes at that, he really did, even though Tony’s tone clearly pointed toward self-derision.

‘I was very clear with her from the get go’, the young billionaire went on, getting rid of the sheet covering him and standing up on the bed in full naked glory. ‘I asked her if she wanted to have some fun and we had some fun! Where’s the harm in that?’, he asked, shrugging, his voice and body language ever so slightly betraying his repressed guilt. He then hopped onto the floor, walked up to the coffee table a few feet away, picked up a pack of cigarettes and shook it out a little before taking another one with his mouth.

‘Perhaps it would be preferable to consider human emotions in a more complex and empathetic fashion, sir, especially since the women you—’

‘Oh spare me the moralistic tirade. Is the smartphone kid here?’

‘I believe he is, sir.’

‘Good. I don’t care about any of the others. I’ll have lunch with him!’ Tony said with the new cigarette trapped between his lush lips in the corner of his mouth, widening his eyes in a comical way as if to say: I gotta see that fucking thing with my own eyes!

‘You do have to pose for Forbes magazine with all of them, sir, and you already are a few minutes late to your appointment with Mrs. Norman.’

‘Eh, she’s used to it. Where’s my fucking lighter?’

For what seemed like the hundredth time, Jarvis cringed, but he didn’t say anything. Christina Norman was the billionaire’s personal stylist and make-up artist.

‘Shall I bring you breakfast, sir?’

‘Nah, I’m good.’

‘Sir, cigarettes are not—’

‘I said I’m good! God! Will you stop treating me like a freaking child already? Oh, there it is.’

‘Then may I suggest you cease to behave like one, sir?’

Damn. Touché. Tony let out a little scoff at that, but deep down, it kind of hurt.

‘I’ll be downstairs in ten minutes. Thank you, Jarvis.’

‘Alright, sir.’

He fucking hated photoshoots involving other people than himself. He didn’t know why exactly but he did. Of course everybody would blame his flamboyant narcissism, but only he knew it was deeper than that. He was literally unable to connect emotionally with anybody—or maybe he never really cared to—and so all his smiles during those kinds of events always looked forced, because they were. He took on the habit of wearing sunglasses for that very reason, so that the fakeness of his social and very public persona wouldn’t seem jarringly obvious. Whenever he showed up to an event, he could feel the atmosphere of the place shifting, everybody changing, tensing up in anticipation and, sometimes, in pure awe. He loved it. He loved it and hated it.

(Excerpt of chapter 27 of Too Much Like Me)

Full fic on Ao3!

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