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The Real Hero

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He is Tony Stark.

He’s the genius son of Howard Stark, and more. Everyone loves him; he’s a billionaire, he lives in a gorgeous mansion off the coast of Malibu, women flock to him, he takes one of them home almost every night. He has his choice of opportunities, his choice of women, his choice of everything.

He is on top of the world. 

There’s nothing he can’t do. He is told this several thousand times a day, from multiple news sites, employees, and one-night stands. He believes it. So he pushes his brain farther, faster. He does more. He creates weapons, tools to use; but he doesn't care who he's sending them against. All he knows is that they're keeping his company alive.

He pushes his brain, or so he thinks. He builds hundreds of missiles and shows them off to the world. 

Then they blow up in his face. Literally. 

He is Tony Stark, and he is in the hands of terrorists.

It all happens so fast; he should have expected it, but he was too drunk on his own influence to see it. Of course. If you demolish someone’s home, they’re going to have it out for you.

And now a car battery is keeping him alive, and he has to use the thing he loves most about himself to help the people who captured him. Who tortured him. 

Who are going to kill him. 

Two options, he’s got two options: help a group of terrorists, or die.

He doesn’t like either option. So he invents a third.

He has no plans for it; he doesn’t know if he’ll even live another day. But building it puts life back into him, makes him strong when he shouldn't have any strength left. He’s not thinking past the next day, he is only working. Working, working, day in and day out. 

Cling-clang. 

He’s beyond exhaustion. He's a celebrity, a famous billionaire; he shouldn't have the strength to be doing this, hardly sleeping, only working. It's not even hope, at this point. There's no hope left. There is only survival.

Cling-clang. 

Until finally, it’s over, and he hasn’t been killed.

Now he has hope. It’s time to play. 

But before he can even test it, the one man who’s shown pity on him, who somehow sees straight through his playboy facade, is killed. 

Don't waste your life, Stark, are his last words. Then he's gone.

Playtime is over. 

He has no thought for himself; he doesn’t even want to get out, at this point. He wishes he could. He wishes he could go back and make everything better, listen to Happy, stop making life hell for Rhodey, treat Miss Potts like she is: the only person who genuinely cares about him. 

But he can’t. 

So he torches everything in sight, the terrorists, their weapons, his weapons. All of it, especially the Jericho missiles, until the suit is spent and he’s lying half dead in the middle of the desert. 

He’s won. But he hasn’t survived…

Until, beyond all hope, a helicopter flying overhead. Looking for him, he realizes, drags himself out of his stupor to flag them down. 

Next time you ride with me, Happy tells him, but he’s not thinking about that. He’s thinking how spectacular it is that he got out of that hell. 

And if he could do that, just with his own brain...what else can he do? 

Tony flies back to America, steps off the private plane. He’s back. He survived, but he’s nowhere near finished. Everything’s changed. 

This, his return, is the first miracle. 

But it won't be the last.