Not for the first time did Obadiah Stane consider how easily he could kill Tony Stark.
Tony, a man famous for ritzy action and fleeting words, was laying across from him in the streamlined limousine, wine glass dangerously close to toppling over the leather upholstery in his weak grip. Obadiah could ever so faintly hear the whirr of his arc reactor, burning warm and blue beneath a silk dress shirt. He was completely asleep, phone at his side, watch powered down.
But if Tony Stark without technology was a startling sight, even more unnerving was the second slumbering figure half-held against his right side. Long, dark hair cascaded over the child's face, a streetlamp every so often illuminating the single line of gems woven into her dress. She was completely unreserved in her actions-- one hand was curled into the billionaire's jacket-- and she snuffled quietly, deep in an R.E.M. cycle.
It was this girl-- Cara, they called her-- that was causing Obadiah the most trouble. He had never counted on a child. Tony Stark, a father? The idea of it was ludicrous, and frankly, an insult to any half-decent parent out there. Nevertheless, Cara had arrived four months back, carted straight into a meeting in by that lumbering idiot, Happy. Whether she was his or not, it didn't matter: Obadiah had tried to convince Tony to send her away. God, how he'd tried, but in doing so, he'd made a dire misstep. The businessman remembered his words, that simple inquiry that had thrown another monkey wrench into his future plans.
'Would your father have kept her, Tony?'
Obadiah had watched the light flicker and die in the inventor's eyes before he walked away. And later, when he caught Tony showing the five year old those piece-of-junk robots he'd made in his twenties (Dumm-E, honestly) he'd had to bite back the urge to go in and smash the man's head to pieces right there.
Of course Howard would never have kept a child like Cara. Howard had plans, plans more important than stubborn children with wide, dark eyes. Obadiah had plans of his own. It would seem, looking at the state of things, that Tony had few plans of his own.
Snowflakes began to stick to the windows. They went around a curve and a splash of wine sloshed over Tony's Armani suit. Obadiah grimaced.
No, Tony was not a good father. Obadiah could not fully count his number of patenting blunders on both hands (but knew Pepper kept a running list). He'd done everything from having her make him lunch (unsupervised) to showing her how to create a homemade smoke bomb. Still, anyone who had been around them long enough could tell that the two had fully secured each other's interest. Whether or not that would continue to develop into genuine care was an ongoing investigation.
What was evident was that Cara was staying. And that meant that Obadiah was going to have to improvise.
Cara shifted in her sleep, a little huff of breath escaping her as she pressed into her adoptive guardian's side. Obadiah carefully withdrew his gun from inside his jacket, clicking the safety. He held it between the girl's eyes. Then, reconsidering, he shifted it left, to the true source of the problem.
Tony Stark slept on, unaware that the man he'd once publicly referred to as his 'perpetually hard-assed uncle' now held the power to end his life. Obadiah held his weapon steady, fiddling with the trigger but ultimately and frustratingly knew that he would do nothing. His eyes alit on the blue-flamed glow at Tony's chest. Despite it all, he still seemed to have some use.
The gun moved back to Cara, but Obadiah knew his hands were tied. If the girl died, who knew how Tony would react? He needed the inventor clear-headed, just for a bit longer. Just until he held the power of the gods.
Obadiah Stane would control Stark Industries. But, he reasoned, as the limousine rolled into the car park, just not tonight.
The lights brightened from gold to white. Obadiah tucked the gun away and reached a calloused hand over, shaking Tony's shoulder. A gush of wine soaked the upholstery.
"Tony." Obadiah offered, warmly, "We're here."
Stark blinked, drowsily, glancing down and grimacing at the small puddle of wine. Slowly, he placed the glass aside and sat up with a long stretch. His eyes slid down to the slumbering child, and Obadiah watched a myriad of muzzy thoughts through his gaze.
"Get Cara..." Tony muttered, gently detaching the girl from his jacket and climbing from the car, "Don't like carrying... y'know..."
Without her support, Obadiah watched the little girl slump over, her messy dark hair sopping up Pinot Noir. He scoffed and hauled her up, ducking out of the car and striding towards the elevator. The group rode in silence, tiny snowflakes powdering the open glass like shredded paper. Finally, they entered the darkened penthouse. Obadiah carried Cara into her garishly pink room and immediately deposited her like a barrel of toxins.
He walked back out to see Tony slumped against the wall, with a look somewhere between fully enlightened and blackout drunk. Just like always, Obadiah took his elbow, and led him to his room. Just like always, Tony nearly walked straight into the door. And, once the obstruction was removed, he paused in the doorframe. Just like always.
Obadiah buttoned his suit, feeling cold metal dig into his side. He smiled, eyes as cold as the snow around them.
The click of the door ricocheted behind him as the businessman turned and exited into the night.