August 13, 1991
"Mr. Stane, my name is Eileen Ratchet and I'm a doctor from Doubletree Asylum," a middle aged woman with auburn hair tied tightly in a bun said as Obidiah granted her access into the Stark Manor.
"Yes, of course," Obidiah gestured awkwardly into the empty entrance, "would you like something to drink?"
"No, thank you. I would actually like to speak with Mr. Stark as soon as I can." Dr. Ratchet said as she walked with clipped, precise steps into the manor.
"Yes, yes of course," Obidiah sighed, "I should warn you, though, Tony's in his workshop right now and his workshop is ... well, and I hate to say this about him, demented."
Dr. Ratchet frowned as she regarded him, "I imagine that such things would be prevelant considering my presence. I assure you, it's nothing I haven't seen before."
"You say that now," Obidiah said dryly. Nonetheless he started leading her to Tony's makeshift workshop.
---~--- July 24, 1991
"You're not listening, Ho Yinsen, okay? He's the guy who saved my life and I want him commemerated!" Tony gestured angrily at Obidiah, "Hence, the Ho Yinsen Scholarship for Underprivileged Children and Refugees!"
"Tony ..." Obidiah took a deep breath, "JARVIS, Ms. Potts, Colonel Rhodes, and I have done extensive research-"
"Not so easy actually having to use your brain, is it? Imagine what it's like to have to think like me-"
"My boy, we're worried because-"
"Saved my life, Obie! And then he sacrificed himself for me and I couldn't save-"
"THERE WAS NEVER A HO YINSEN, TONY!" The air tremored with the sudden silence.
Obie didn't know what to say, he hadn't meant to blurt out the truth so harshly, but there were times (all the time) that Tony just refused to listen. Gritting his teeth, "Tony, I'm sorry, but like I was trying to say earlier, JARVIS, Ms. Potts, Colonel Rhodes and I have done extensive research and we could find no evidence of a Ho Yinsen ever existing. The only bodies present when we searched the cave you were being held in were the bodies of the terrorists you killed, Tony."
Tony gripped his desk tightly, he'd been standing, as he tended to do around Obie, beside it and now it seemed like he couldn't stand without it. Deep breaths, like Yinsen said, deep breaths in and out of his stomach because his lungs weren't strong anymore...
No Yinsen, dear god, no Yinsen... Nonononono Yinsen was there and he was caring and he was wise and he saved me it's not true not true why are you lying Obie? Nono Obie only does what's best for me...
"Tony," Obie placed his hand gently at Tony's back, Tony was shaking, "You were scared and alone, just ... Just go home and rest for a bit, okay my boy?"
Sleep? He couldn't sleep they were outside the door and Yinsen was hurting because he wasn't helping them he was helping Tony and Tony couldn't sleep because that left Yinsen vulnerable and the nightmares were too much
"Tony?" Obie gripped Tony's shoulder worriedly.
There was no way he was going to make them the weapon and Yinsen was teaching him how to breathe again he wasn't going to make anymore weapons his dad would be so disappointed they were going to pull at the car battery again and he hated it he couldn't breathe he couldn't breathe he couldn't BREATHE
"POTTS!" Obie yelled as Tony crumpled to the floor.
No nonono they were going to get Pepper because he was taking too long not Pepper not Pepper I'm so sorry Pepper
--~-- August 10, 1991
Tony carefully soldered JARVIS' latest hardware upgrade into place, DUM-E, trying to be helpful, was cheerfully holding a flashlight onto the microprocessor. Neither Tony nor JARVIS had it in them to tell DUM-E that a flashlight was useless in the brightly lit laboratory.
"Okay, that should do it," Tony pulled away and stood up as his back cracked into place, "JARVIS, how you feeling?"
"Very good, sir. I detect a significant imrovement in my processing speed and a distinct upgrade in my storage space."
Tony smiled sweetly, "Record this, JARVIS, baby's a year old now! Daddy's so proud!"
"Indeed, as of ten minutes ago, my system has been fully functional for precisely a year according to the Roman mark of a full turn of Earth's revoluton around the sun."
"Don't be a smartass" Tony smiled again, he loved his children. DUM-E whirred and held up a filthy rag for Tony to clean the oil off he hands, "Good boy," Tony gently patted DUM-E's arm. DUM-E whirred in pleasure.
"Sir, Mr. Stane is approaching."
"Obie!" Tony turned to the door as Obie entered.
He smiled, "Hey, Obie, any more happy pills for me?"
Obie shook his head, "You've been off the painkillers for a week now, boy."
"... Yeah, I was talking about painkillers." Obie smiled, which was what Tony had been aiming for, and pulled Tony in for a hug,
"Tony, my boy, in a few days, we're having a visitor."
Tony frowned, "Investor?"
Obie smiled, suddenly brittle, "Not quite, Tony, but important. Best behavior?"
Tony smiled, still feeling guilty for his little outburst last month, "Best behavior."
He sealed the deal by tapping his nose. Obie smiled weakly and tapped Tony's nose.