Stane knew he’d messed up, knew he’d gotten himself in trouble when Potts came sniffing around. Especially when she left with that fed on her arm. Still, he’d done it, he’d gotten Tony’s arc reactor, left the arrogant playboy to die in his new found pacifism. Because really, how did Tony think he’d get away with never designing weapons. It was in his blood, his bone, and his soul. Howard had done that, it was his legacy.
Therefore, it was with great pleasure that Stane stood over the terrified woman in her extremely tall, extremely impractical heels and proceeded to fire her.
It would have been a great pleasure, except that a jolt of energy, a repulsor blast, hit him in the back. Stane’s suit went haywire, flashing damage reports, and sounding alerts. Turning, Stane found himself face to face with a red and gold armored man hovering above him, utilizing what was clearly Stark’s repulsor technology. “Pepper,” a distorted, mechanical voice ground out, “run.”
Stane started to turn back to Potts as the click clack of her heels announced her retreat, but another repulsor blast made him turn. “Tony,” Stane ground out, fucking Stark, he thought. “I thought you were dead.”
The flying armor didn’t respond, verbally at least. Instead, a hand lifted and another repulsor blast hit him square in the chest. “Now that’s not sporting,” Stane said, “why don’t you come closer?”
The head on the armor turned sideways, as if considering Stane’s orders, and then blasted him again, darting to the side before Stane could respond.
The next few minutes, Stane was ashamed to admit, he was rather like an idiot trying to swat a fly. The red and gold idiot, fucking Stark, darted around him, never touching down, hitting him with repulsor blasts when he thought he could get away with it. “What are you doing, Tony?” Stane finally asks, trying not to pant.
“Old boxing technique,” the grating mechanical voice replies, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
“That isn’t going to work,” Stane told fucking Stark, as he activates his jet boots. “I can fly to.”
“Catch me if you can,” fucking Stark replied and races for the sky.
Stane accelerated, unable to hold in a laugh because he is flying and he has always enjoyed the sky. Now if only fucking Stark would come closer.
He doesn’t, of course, the fucking bastard.
The red and gold armor clad man darted around him, utilizing his more streamline armor to fly circles around Stane’s suit. They dart across the sky and back to the ground and finally, finally, Stane gets a hold of the little bastard. He threw the man onto the ground and lifted his foot to crush the annoyance. It had taken far too long already; Stane should have been on his way to a country with no extradition treaty, leaving fucking Stark dead behind him.
Instead, he is here, trying to trap the man for the death he oh so rightly deserved. Stane growled a curse as fucking Stark rolled away from him at the last moment, leaping to his feet with an agility Stane had never noticed in him before. Then the menace is in the air, darting around him. Stane tried to turn, but the heavy armor is nowhere near as agile as fucking Stark’s toy. Something slams into him from behind shortly after Stane loses sight of fucking Stark. Alarms wail as his targeting computer, then his leg controls short out. He reaches over his shoulder, but there is nothing there. “Stark,” he roars.
Fucking Stark floats around in front of him easily, and they stare at each other as Stane tried to get his suit to move. Then fucking Stark moves, curling up on himself, and there is a low level hum of something powering up.
Stane takes the blast from fucking Stark’s chest straight to the head.
Agent Phil Coulson of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, or S.H.I.E.L.D., had seen some interesting things in his day. First as an Army Ranger and then in the employ of the State Department before being poached to S.H.I.E.L.D. by Nick Fury; he’d learned more about the secrets of the world than most people could even imagine existed. One thing he never thought he would see in real life was a man-sized version of Robot Wars, fought by the ego-manic Obadiah Stane in a larger than life battle suit, and someone Stane insisted was Tony Stark in an accurate to scale suit that shot lasers and flew.
Still, when Coulson picked his way from the lab and arrived in the lobby to see the end of the battle, he was not expecting to see Stark, if that’s who it was, hit Stane in the head with an incredibly powerful blast from his chest armor. Virginia Potts is also in the parking lot, Coulson notes, staring at Stark in horror as Stane’s battle suit collapsed to the ground. Stark turned away from Stane, looking at Coulson for a long moment. “Agent Coulson,” he says simply. It is not the voice Coulson heard when he spoke to Stark before, this is a mechanical, filtered and altered voice, as if Stark were attempting to hide his identity.
“Mister Stark,” Coulson replied slowly, still not quite sure if he was talking to the man, or if there were a stranger judging him behind that gold mask.
There’s a burst of static, then, “That’s my father, Agent. If you still want that debriefing, it will be two days. A lot more happened tonight than you are aware of.” Stark turned, “Pepper,” he said finally, “I hope you don’t consider Stane’s word to be final.”
“No, of course not,” Potts replied, “Tony.”
“You’ll be needed tomorrow. Clean up, press conference, I don’t know what all will be needed.” Stark looked between then, “Until we meet again.” He repositioned his feet into a stance just off of attention, dropped his arms, flattened his hands palm down and took off with the repulsor beams he’d used as a weapon now being used as flight stabilizers. He paused for a quick, two finger salute, then shot into the sky, aimed for the shore, and his home.
“I need to go out there,” Potts said after a moment. “I can’t imagine what he’s up to with this.”
“I understand,” Coulson told her, already prepping himself with the list of forms he’d need to fill out for this. A cover story for Stark, and Stane’s death would also be necessary.
“Would you care to come with me?” Potts offered politely, startling Coulson from the mental note not to let Barton suggest said cover story. Romanoff still muttered invectives whenever Budapest came up.
“I would,” Coulson replied, drawing his mind back from his thoughts.
Stark’s mansion was mostly dark when they arrived, not lit up like the gossip rags and society magazines showed it. “That’s unusual,” Potts commented as they passed through the gates.
“Is it?” Coulson asked.
“When Tony’s up, the house is up, if he’s asleep, it’s dark. Unless someone else is here,” she trailed off as she parked in front of the house. They got out and headed up the stairs to the door, it swung open as they approached to reveal a man Coulson recognized as James Rhodes.
“Pepper?” Rhodes asked, startled.
“Hi, Rhodes,” Pepper said, “this is Agent Coulson. We came to check on Tony.”
“He’s asleep,” Rhodes replied, leaning in the door frame. “I sort of promised nobody would come in tonight. It’s been a tough night for him.”
“The fight with Stane,” Coulson began.
Rhodes blinked, “I wouldn’t say there was a fight,” he began.
“He means the fight at Stark Industry, with the suit,” a clipped, British voice announced.
“Oh,” Rhodes said, “that fight. Yeah, Tony’s exhausted. I didn’t even give him the cup of secret decaf, he just crashed. That’s why you aren’t supposed to be here, and Tony,” Rhodes hesitated, “it was a bad night, ok? He just wants to sleep, maybe bang around down stairs after he gets some shut eye.”
“If you’re sure,” Pepper began slowly.
“Positive,” Rhodes said. “I promise, Tony’s fine, he’s a bit bruised up, but fine.” The man stepped back and closed the door firmly.