Chapter One: The Beginning
A wish, any wish of my choice from every single realm of possibility and I had made my choice on what to do with it. A brand new life fill with uncertainty and the wonders of possibility, a single choice and careful wording is what it took to begin the life in which I had chosen to be reborn into. This is my story…
A young red-haired girl was cursing as she ran from her pursuers. The assassination of the Afghan Warlord had gone as planned but her escape route had been compromised, the same could be said for her second and third contingency plans as well. It was as if someone had found out all of her plans and let kill her target but removed any and all avenues of escape. Coming to think of it, that was probably what had happened.
“Hey” whispered a voice and immediately she turned around and pointed both of her guns at the person who spoke. Said person, who did didn’t even look fearful despite being at gunpoint continued to speak without missing a beat “If you want to get out of here alive, follow me.”
He then quickly dashed into an alleyway and the girl considered her choices, either she keep running from her pursuers until she gets caught and killed or follow this stranger who might lead her to sanctuary or an ambush. Neither choice was great, though for some reason all of her senses were screaming that she could trust this boy and so she did and followed him straight into the alley, the boy quickly opened a door and gestured for her to go in and without a moment’s hesitation. Then he starts yelling in the native language and usually at this point she would think that she was betrayed and would get the hell out of there, but all of her senses were screaming for her to keep calm and stay put and against her better judgment she did. She watched as her pursuers run right up to the boy who started speaking to them and knowing the native language she started to translate.
“Please you have got to help me” screamed the boy “My belongings were stolen by that red-haired girl”
“Where did she go” the leader of the men asked roughly as he only knew of one red-haired girl in this region and she was the one they were chasing.
“That way” said the boy pointing at a narrow alleyway and the man shouted for his men to follow him as he ran in that direction. The boy waited until a minute had passed after they were all gone and then went back inside and said in English “Hey there, are you all right?”
The girl blinked unlike when he was speaking to those men his voice almost sounded like…
“I like think so” said the boy as he moved his hand to the back of his head and removed the hood on his head and the cloth from his face and said “I think so, I mean I kind of look American and I naturally kind of sound American so I like to think that I am an American.”
The girl now got a chance to take a good look at the person who had saved her. He looked around ten to twelve years old and was wearing an extremely dusty t-shirt, long dusty browned pants, black gloves and sandals. The boy who was now smiling offered her, his hand and said “I’m Rafael.”
The girl was thinking that this boy could someday be an asset to her, a very good asset if she played her cards right and besides she owed him. So, with these thoughts in mind she took is hand and shook it saying “I’m Natasha.”
I smiled; it had been 6 years since then. I had seen Natasha several times (at least twice every 6 months) in the years that had followed our meeting and I liked to think that we had become fast friends. As for who I was, well I am and was even back then Dr. Yinsen Ho’s adoptive son and truthfully my life in this world could not be better, though I know of many people who could see my life and argue with that statement.
My adoptive family and I lead a simple life and the considerable amount of money that my adoptive father earns is used to improve the life in our small village of Gulmira, something that has been improving in leaps and bounds since Natasha assassinated the Afghan Warlord that was terrorizing it. Of course he made sure to keep enough of enough of it in order to get us everything we needed (notice how I said needed, not wanted.)
I remember when I had watched Iron-Man in what seemed like a lifetime ago and remembered when he had said that Tony Stark was a man that had everything and yet nothing. My adoptive father however could be described as a man on the opposite side of the spectrum, a man who had nothing, yet everything. My adoptive family was simple in its ways and it reminded of my true family, in my original life. The strong yet caring presence of my father and the loving touch of my mother, I never considered how much I would miss them when I had entered this world, but it would not have mattered anyway, they had long full lives ahead of them, where as I…
“It’s better not to go down that path, it will only lead to madness” I said to myself out loud as I listened to my surroundings. It had gone quiet, too quiet.
I ducked my head and rolled off the chair I was sitting on to avoid the round house kick was aimed where my head was barely a few moments ago. Not wasting a single moment of time my assailant quickly closed the gap between us and let loose a deathly combination of kicks and punches, I dodged and blocked as I danced around the oncoming assault quickly analyzing what I knew of my assailant as Natasha had thought me to do all those years ago.
Her basic figure was enough for me to identify that she was female and the type of assault that she was using signified that she was probably a master at mixed martial arts (something that was extremely clear as I was to busy blocking and dodging to even begin a counterattack) and most of them deathly, I could also see that she was moving to disable, not kill and that she was holding back. That alone clued me onto her identity.
Still I was getting tired and knew that I had to end this soon. I could see that unlike me, she was showing absolutely no signs of fatigue. Reaching into my pocket I grabbed a gift that an old friend had given me (And something that was constantly present with me as I never knew when I would need it) and waited of another opening. When it came I quickly launched a back kick while at the same time I threw the gift at my assailant’s feet. However instead of blocking like I had expected her to she instead used my kick to launch herself back and away from the harmful electric effects of the gift, which I suspected that she herself had given me.
Sure enough my suspicions were confirmed when she pulled off the hood she had been wearing and the cloth from her face, her curly red hair fell out and she looked at me with a critical eye and said “You have improved I see.”
“Considering that you are the one who trained me, did you really that I would allow myself to go rusty Natasha?” I asked as I took some time to take in her features. She was wearing black jeans and a black leather jacket whose hood was now pulled back to expose her beautiful curly red hair. She was wearing a small smile though I could see that her eyes contained sadness, something that I was expecting as a news report had just shown that Tony Stark had been found and was currently on his way back home.
“I trust that you know that Mr. Stark has been found” she said and I nodded “What you don’t know is that…”
“How many are dead?” I asked interrupting her and seeing her surprised look I said “From what I was able to gather from the news Mr. Stark’s convoy was attacked on his way back from a successful meeting with the Armed forces stationed there. But the question remains how did they know as considering whom the convoy was guarding the security would have been prepared for all eventualities and route would have been extremely secure. Furthermore the amount of people that would have been aware of all the specifics would be higher up’s in either the army and in Stark Enterprises. In order for the attack to be successful one of those people would have had to have given the info to the Ten Rings. Something which doesn’t make sense to me as why on earth would those people want to help that organization capture Stark. Then I realized my mistake, they didn’t want to capture him, they wanted him dead and it was the organization itself that decided they wanted the man alive, which meant that they would have to alter their plans as from what I gather the plan was to wipe the convoy out wholesale…”
“And it would have been optimistic to the point of foolishness to think that Mr. Stark would escape without any injury.” said Natasha, her face betraying nothing thought considering how long I had known her and how close I liked to think that we had become, I could make out that she was feeling surprised, as well as a bit impressed with that insight.
“And even if he did, two engineers would have been better than one, and my father can lay clam to being one of the best engineers as well as one of the best doctors to have come out of Afghanistan. Not to mention the fact that he has worked for Stark Enterprises in the past and has even met Mr. Stark at a conference in 1999” I continued, wincing at the last part. I had been there with him at the conference and I could honestly say that Tony made Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter look absolutely humble. “I suspect that he is dead, along with mom and sis and the fact that I have not been able to get in touch with them for the last month, and your presence here just solidifies that fact. I want to know how many others died in that needless fight.”
“Everyone” she says softly, slowly closing that gap between us “The entire village was razed to the ground.”
I could honestly say that I had been expecting that answer as the movie portrayed that they had an ‘either you are with us or against us’ attitude, but still, I had hoped, deep down in my heart that I had been wrong. I slammed my fist into the wall putting all my anger and anguish into that punch, my had hurt a lot but I didn’t care. Natasha simply stood there as she waited to compose myself and truth be told I was glad that she was there, because I knew that regardless of whether it was the best part of my life or my worst, if she had the chance and the time to stand by my side she would.
“Natasha” I said after a few moments “Is there anything else that you would want to tell me.”
“Indeed, Mr. Stark would like to meet with you. There is a car waiting down to take you to the airport to meet him. I have already arranged things with the collage so that you will not be missed.”
I just nodded my head in acknowledgement.
The car ride was calm. Natasha sat beside me as the car
drove through traffic, no words were exchanged because no words were really
needed, just a small smile and her reassuring squeeze of my hand which she held
in her hand. When we finally reached the airport we went straight through
security and onto a runway. Natasha handed me a folder and said “In here are
most of your documents. Your schooling records and certificates, prize
certificates, passport, adoption certificate and birth certificate, as well as
a blood test that confirms that the people listed on the certificate are
actually your parents. I suggest that you show Mr. Stark this folder and I
promise you that I will see you again Rafael, soon.”
I nodded at her and took the file from her. Then I hugged her before finally getting out and watching as the vehicle drove away before turning around and walking up the stairs and into the jet skimming through the file as I did, when I reached my birth certificate and the blood test I nearly stopped cold. The information was shocking to say the very least and yet at the same time it had explained so much. You see, throughout my school life in this life I had excelled in my academics, especially math’s and science, and I had always thought that it was due to the simple fact that I had done all of this in my previous life. Something which was a flimsy excuse at the best considering that the things that I had studied in my 10th grade were taught in the 7th grade in the world and not to mention the fact that while my interest and talents lay in medicine in my first life they bordered in computer science and advance engineering in this one. It was something which I had always wondered about before shaking my head and pushing it to the back of my mind, now though the answer lay in front of me and it turns out that it was the simple result of my genes shining through. I guess it is true what they say, fate really is a…
“Something on your mind” said a strong and firm voice, interrupting my thought process and I looked up and saw that Tony Stark, THE Tony Stark, was standing right in front of me, though at this point I really didn’t care as I shoved the folder and said “Read it!”
The man who would soon become known world wide as Iron-Man looked slightly shocked and stunned at the way in which I had addressed him, probably had never been addressed like that ever! Never the less he did not argue as he opened the folder and started to read while I used the training that Natasha had given me over the years to try and re-take control of my emotions as I tried to process what I had just read. It seems that my adoptive father had gotten a little curious as to whom my biological father was sometime ago and used my blood to find out who that man was… The result was unexpected to say the least because I would have never guessed that this man could ever have been my father in this world and there was no doubt why my mother had made sure that he was never aware. Because…
“There must be some mistake” said Tony “This… this cannot be possible.”
I looked up and met his eye (as I knew that Natasha would have never given me any information of this magnitude before making sure that it was the true beyond all doubt) and said “I am afraid that there is absolutely no mistake in that file… father.”
In a swimming pool of a S.H.I.E.L.D base in an undisclosed location a certain red haired agent wondered how a good friend of hers was dealing with the latest curveball that life had thrown him. Finding out that your biological father was Tony Stark was not going to be easy especially after you had found out that your family and the village where in you grew up in had be obliterated. Still if she knew anything, it was that her friend was resilient and certainly capable of bouncing back from anything, including this.
Natasha smiled. When she had first met Rafael she had decided to train him, and to make him an asset, and after seeing his academic capabilities she thought that he would become an extremely good asset. But, over the years unlike so many others, he had become much more than just an asset, he had become her one of her closest friends.
They had actually talked about him joining S.H.I.E.L.D after his graduation, and after his preliminary training she would try to get herself assigned as his S.O or C.O, though in hindsight she doubted that he wouldn’t even need to go to the academy in the first place considering his academic genus and the training she had put him through he could easily pass as an all round level 2 S.H.I.E.L.D agent, and would most likely being assigned as a level 3 combat specialist. And if he still wanted in, she could probably convince Fury to assign him to either her or Coulson, just as Barton had done for her. For now, all she could do was observe as events played out……
The plane ride had gone smoothly, though the atmosphere inside the plane… well lets just say that describing it as tense would be the understatement of the century. We both looked at each other, my father with shock and confusion and me with anger, though I wasn’t exactly sure who at, him for abandoning my mother (though I sincerely doubt that he knew that she was pregnant) or fate for serving up this bit of drama but I knew I was angry. Finally I just felt that enough was enough…
“Ok, I am getting tired whole tense thing, of this so lets try again” I said trying to get rid of this awkward atmosphere. “My name is Rafael Ho, adopted son of Dr. Yinsen Ho and biological son of Antony Stark, who gave me up in order to keep me safe from people who would try to use me to get to him. I was born in 1990 and I am 20 years old and have just finished my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.”
“You also apparently skipped two grades and were one of the top most students in your class” Tony added with a bit of a smirk “And you proficient in Win Chung and …….”
“I guess I am” Harry replied, “Now why don’t you tell me about yourself? The real Tony Stark, and not the one the press portrays…”
And that was the start of the first actual father son he have ever had.
Rafael watched from the airplanes window as the USAF C-17 lands at Edward's Air Force Base in California. On the tarmac a pretty blonde haired women and a large man who he immediately recognizes as Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan waits by his fathers Rolls Royce. The plane taxis and stops, the rear doors open and Tony stands up from a wheelchair. Rafael sighs and guides him off the plane while Tony indicating the waiting ambulance says “Are you kidding me with this? Get rid of them.”
“Please, I am sure that the hospital has a place with your name on it” Rafael says with a slight smile tugging at his lips.
“Yeah… on a plaque” Tony replies as he walks down the ramp to Pepper and says “Your eyes are red. A few tears for your long-lost boss?”
“Tears of joy, I hate job hunting.” She replies.
“Among other things” Rafael says with a small smirk emerging on his face, Pepper who instantly recognized what he was saying turned to look at him but, his father in attempt to save Rafael from Pepper wrath quickly says “Yeah, vacation's over Pepper, lets get in the car.”
Pepper actually looks at her boss, this is probably the first time ever that he has prevented someone from facing her ire, usually he is glad to see it pointed at someone else. She looks at the young man closely; tall and lean, he had handsome features that seemed somehow, familiar to her, with a build that seemed more for agility and speed than strength, dressed in a blood red t-shirt and black formal pants with black formal boots. She didn’t get the chance to ask his name as Tony had quickly made his way to the car with the stranger right beside him. When they got into the back of the Rolls Royce her boss sat in the middle, separating the stranger from her as if sensing some lingering tension and putting himself in the way of it. That was another thing she added to the list of strange things. Tony sat in the middle, in the MIDDLE. The guy loves to sit beside the windows, he ALWAYS sits beside the windows. The only times that he didn’t were when he was in a military vehicle and said military force (whether it was the Air Force, Army, Navy, etc…) demanded it for safety.
Completely oblivious to her internal debate, Happy asks “Where to, Sir?”
“Take us to the hospital, please, Happy.” Pepper immediately replies pushing her current thoughts out of her mind and focusing on the matter at hand
“No!” her boss immediately says.
“No?” Pepper says surprised “Tony, you have to go to the hospital!”
“No is a complete answer.”
“The doctor has to look at you.”
“I don't have to do anything. I've been in captivity for three months. There are two things I want to do. I want an American cheeseburger, and the other...”
“That's enough of that.”
“...is not what you think. I want you to call for a press conference now.”
“ Call for a press conference?” Pepper asked, confusion clearly apparent in her voice
“Yes” Rafael immediately said “Like he said, Antony Stark has been in captivity for three months, there are things that need to be addressed before anything else. Am I right?”
“Of course you are” Tony says “Hogan, drive. Cheeseburger first.”
“I’m sorry, and you are?” Pepper asks as she had completely forgotten about the man. Which to be honest was kind of surprising as they were sitting in the same car.
“I am sorry, I seem to have forgotten my manners” he said as the car starts moving “My name is Rafael and I was raised in the town of Gulmira by Mr. Yinsen Ho, after my mother died giving birth to me.”
“I am sorry to hear that” said Pepper. She knew that Yinsen Ho was the name of the man who had been held in captivity with Tony and had died there. That actually explained kind of explained the presence of Rafael in the car. Tony probably felt bad after failing to protect his guardian and was trying to make it up to him.
“Thank you” Rafael replied “He was a good man and could have given a lot to the world. Still I think I have made my peace with his death and now look forward to living with my birth father.”
“And who’s that?” Happy curiously asks from the front seat
At this Tony smirks and says “Me.”
A sleek silver Sedan pulls up in front of the exterior of Stark Industries' factory, where Obadiah Stane and a crowd of people are waiting to welcome Tony home. The passenger door opens and out comes Happy who first goes and opens the driver’s side door allowing Rafael to get out. Said teen immediately tossed him the keys saying “Try not to crash it this time.”
Happy flushed. The moment he had heard who Rafael’s father was he had immediately lost control of the car and crashed into the nearest thing, which happened to be an F-44 fighter jet. The major in charge of the base along with several dozen personal immediately rushed onto the scene. Rafael, using several years of training and experience managed to slip away unnoticed and quickly moved to a place where he had seen a very familiar face, a Level 8 S.H.I.E.L.D agent by the name of Clint Barton. After a quick chat with the promise of a favor in the near future, he managed to find out that S.H.I.E.L.D had taken an interest into Mr. Stark's return and safety… at least for the moment. It also made him question why they had provided him with the information about who his father was. They knew that both the Black Widow and Hawkeye had been training him; they also knew what level he was on. Was it possible that Natasha had given him the information, not as a friend, but as an attempt to personally increase the security around Tony? Thinking about that and what he knew about S.H.I.E.L.D in general. He concluded that it was not just possible, but highly probable that it was exactly what had happened.
After a bit of heated bargaining with the man who had trained him, he managed to convince Barton to give him his Sedan and just at the exact moment Tony had gotten things cleared up with the officials he drove up right beside them and said “Hey you guys look like you need a ride…”
Tony and Pepper had snorted and into the car while Happy made his way to the driver’s seat where Rafael refused to move stating quite clearly that he had borrowed this car from a friend and he was NOT going to risk breaking it as he had no money to get it repaired. When Happy said he was perfectly qualified driver Rafael quickly retorted that a perfectly qualified driver does NOT crash his car barely two minutes after starting it. Happy flushed and Tony stated that if his son wanted to drive that he could. The emphasis the man put on the word ‘son’ had made the decision final. He was, after all their boss.
Anyway, coming back to the present Obadiah cam rushing to the car and hugged Tony saying “Look at this! Tony. We were going to meet at the hospital.”
“No, I'm fine.”
“Look at you! You had to have a burger, yeah? Well, come on. You get me one of those?”
“There's only one left. I need it.”
“Actually there are three left, one of which is for me obviously” said Rafael “Since your gonna have the other and neither Happy nor Piper want the third he can have it”
Obadiah quickly turned around and glared at him and looked ready to put him Rafael in his place, well the place that he thought the boy deserved to be, but Tony silenced him with a wave. Obadiah looked at Tony curiously before he turned to the crowd at large and pointing to Tony said “Hey, look who's here!”
It wasn’t long before they were inside of the building and in a room full of reporters. Pepper is standing at the back of the room when she's approached by a man in a suit.
“Miss Potts?” he says
“Can I speak to you for a moment?”
“I'm not part of the press conference, but it's about to begin right now.”
“And he’s not a reporter.” said Rafael emerging from out of no where “He’s Agent Phil Coulson, with the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.”
“That's quite a mouthful.” Pepper stated
“I know. We're working on it.” Coulson said
“You know, we've been approached already by the DOD, the FBI, the CIA...”
“We're a separate division with a more specific focus.” He replied “We need to debrief Mr Stark about the circumstances of his escape.”
“And they must really be interested in the circumstances of his escape if you’re here” Rafael said, his voice was soft enough that I could be heard between the three of them, but no one else “Unofficially you’re considered the Commander’s second in command and possible replacement when the man decides to retire… Tell me, what the W.S.C want with my father”
“I am not at liberty to discuss that” the man said.
“Of course not” Rafael snorted. “And I presume that me finding out about the identity of my father just moments before we met, after we had both encountered a tragic loss was just luck?”
“No, it was your friend helping you finally find out something that both you and your guardian have been searching for… for a good long while too I might add” Coulson replied “Needless to say she has been put on probation for it.”
“Then I’ll tell you what; send someone to investigate who exactly hired the Ten Rings to kidnap my father and I will personally guarantee you that you will get your meeting with Mr. Stark before the end of the next month. And if I can manage it, an up and personal encounter with Mr. Stane that you will most likely not forget anytime soon.” he replied “In fact why don’t you send Natalie, she’s been itching to get back into Afghanistan.”
“I’ll take that under consideration” Coulson replied. He knew that the young man in front of him had just given them a reasonable cover in case they ever needed to assign an agent to Mr. Stark, and by the looks of his son, he knew it to. At that point Rafael leaned in close and whispered into the agent’s ear “I suggest you keep a watch on the skies, it will help Fury and you fill in a lot of gaps.”
Rafael then leaned back and offered his hand out and said “Agent Coulson.”
“Mr. Stark” he replied as shook the man’s hand before they both walked away. About a couple of minutes later, at the front of the press conference Tony walked up to the base of the podium, looked at everyone before he flopped down at the base of the podium and said “Hey, would it be all right if everyone sat down? Why don't you just sit down? That way you can see me, and I can... A little less formal and...”
Rafael, who was standing a bit to the side smirked at the absolutely befuddled identical expressions on the faces of almost everyone as they hesitantly and slowly complied with Tony’s request. He looked at the spot where he knew Piper was standing and was surprised to see Captain James Rhodes there. He smirked as he lip red what the man had just said
“What's up with the love-in?” Rhodey had asked
“Don't look at me.” Pepper replied “I don't know what he's up to.”
Of course it was at that point that Tony started to speak again so Rafael turned his attention back on the man he now called his father as he spoke.
“I never got to say goodbye to my father.” Tony said “and had I the opportunity, there are questions that I would have asked him. I would have asked him how he felt about what this company did. If he was conflicted? if he ever had doubts? Or maybe he was every inch the man we all remember from the newsreels...... I saw young Americans killed by the very weapons I created to defend them, by the very things I had made with the sole purpose to protect them. And I saw that I had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero accountability.”
“Hey, Ben.” Said Tony calmly, he was after all old friends with that reporter.
“What happened over there?”
“I had my eyes opened. I came to realize that I have more to offer this world than just making things that blow up. And that is why, effective immediately; I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division until such a time as I can decide what the future of the company will be. What direction it should take, one that I'm comfortable with and is consistent with the highest good for this country, as well.”
At his point Rafael smoothly walked forward, and Tony realizing he was going to address the crowd stepped or rather slid (as he was sitting on the ground) smoothly out of the way, before getting back to his feet as he watched his new found son step onto the podium and say “What Mr. Stark isn’t telling you is that regardless of his personal preferences the weapons manufacturing division would have been temporarily shut down anyway.”
The press started to shout some questions but Rafael simply held up his hand to silence them before he said “If you would all bear with me for a moment you will get most of your answers soon. While it is true that Stark industries in the chief weapons supplier to the United States of America, we are not the only supplier. When Mr. Stark was captured he noticed that with the exception of several guns the terrorist seemed to be in possession of Stark Weapons alone, which would not have been the case if they were raiding army supplies. Someone in this company has been supplying our weapons to the enemy and as per the protocol that has been laid down by Howard Stark, a protocol that we have had no need to use till now mind you, the weapons manufacturing division will be shut down until such time that the leak has been found and dealt with. Of course whether it will open up again is a matter entirely up to Mr. Stark himself, though by that time I am sure he will have decided what direction he wants the company to move in. Any questions?”
“Yes, I have one” said the reporter which he recognized from watching the news, Christina Evenheart “Well, truthfully to me it looks like your early twenties, or probably not even IN you twenties, and since you don’t seem to be a member of Stark Industries PR department, I must ask. Who are you?”
Rafael was about to answer when he felt a hand on his shoulder and felt his father lean close to his ear and whisper “I’ve got this.”
Though puzzled about what his father would say, he graciously stepped back and allowed Tony to address the crowd once more “Before I answer that Ms. Evenheart, I would like you all to look back on my early history. You see from the moment I was born I have been targeted, either to be kidnapped and used as ransom or to be killed in order to get back at my father. Obviously those attempts failed due to the simple reason that I would not be here otherwise. When I was at school a lot of people tried to befriend me because of who my parents were and the power I would wield when I got older, not because of who I was. Then there was the attention, the constant attention, the perpetual praise, yadda yadda yadda. It wasn’t long before I grew arrogant and bigheaded. Many people would still call me that and most of the time I would agreed with them. Are you with me so far?”
There were nods all around, as well as wide spread confusion on most of the faces, while some had managed to figure it out and were now staring at the young man beside Antony Stark in complete astonishment as he continued to speak
“Now I’m sure that my father didn’t have to deal with that, and I doubt that he knew anyone who had, so I don’t really blame him for the mistakes he made in raising me. And though my childhood may have sounded like a picnic to any ordinary man, trust me when I say that it was not. There was no way I was going to let anyone go through a childhood like that, especially not my own son.” Tony said putting emphasis on those last three words causing almost everyone who hadn’t figured it out to gas in shock. Tony waited a moment with a genuine smile on his face before he put his arm around Rafael dragging him closer and said “And Christina darling, I have got to say that you are right, he’s just started his twenties. Everyone this is my dear twenty year old son, Rafael Ho Stark. Who has been living in anonymity under a different name up until now... This is the man who will be the future of this company. This young man… well, he is my Legacy.”
And with that both men
smartly walked off the podium and out of the room through a side door while the
reporters all stared at the two in undisguised shock.
About a dozen minutes later a sleek silver Segway pulled up in the parking lot in another section of the factory. The Driver’s side door opened and Obadiah stepped out of the car and hands the keys to Happy Hogan, who was currently leaning on the car that Rafael borrowed from Agent Barton, and asked “Where are they?”
“Inside.” Came Happy’s simple reply.
Obadiah gives the man a curt nod in acknowledgement before he walks up the stairs and enters the building and finds Tony and his son standing together in comfortable silence watching a full sized arc reactor that powers the factory.
“Well, that...” said Obadiah as he walked up to them “That went well.”
“You know when I had planned out what I wanted to say to the press I had imagined that you would say those exact words, but sarcastically and not truthfully” Tony replied “I had actually thought that I would have painted a target on my head by the end of today and I am sure that Pepper had already began making plans to deal with it all.”
“Yeah well, she is pretty dedicated to you, Happy too.” Rafael said “But the best way to run damage control is to stop it from happening in the first place.”
“Yeah, laying the bomb of your parentage, making it seem as if shutting own the weapons division is not just the logical choice, but the only choice and giving enough hints that the media just might paint us as the good guys” Tony replied “When I brought you back into my life I didn’t think that you would have so much of an impact all at once… How did you even know about that Protocol, even I didn’t know about it.”
“Research. One way or another I was always going to end up back in Stark industries, and I thought it would be better to know about the company before that day.” Rafael said “By the way, what do you think the over-under on the stock drop was gonna be if we had walked out when you had said that you had shut the Weapons manufacturing division down?”
“Optimistically, 40 points.” Tony replied
“At minimum” added Obadiah, speaking for the first time since he had interrupted their silence. “But getting back to that, Tony what were you thinking when you said that. We're a weapons manufacturer!”
“Obie, I just don't want a body count to be our only legacy.”
“That's what we do. We're iron mongers. We make weapons.”
“It's my name on the side of the building.”
“And what we do keep’s the world from falling into chaos.”
“Not based on what I saw. We're not doing a good enough job. We can do better. We're gonna do something else.”
“Like what? You want us to make baby bottles?”
“I think we should take another look into arc reactor technology.”
“Come on… The arc reactor, that's a publicity stunt! Tony, come on. We built that thing to shut the hippies up!”
“Hey, it's works.” Rafael added before both men glared at him and he got their message loud and clear, ‘stay out of this conversation’
“Yeah, as a science project” Obadiah grudgingly agreed “The arc was never cost effective. We knew that before we built it. Arc reactor technology, that's a dead end, Am I right? I mean… We haven't had a breakthrough in that in what? Thirty years.”
“That's what they say.” Said Tony looking straight at the old mans face for a moment before he cheekily grinned and said “Could you have a lousier poker face? Just tell me, who told you? Is it Rhodey or Pepper, cause there is no way my son had either the opportunity or time to tell you.
“Well actually –” said son started to say before both men glared at him again causing the eighteen year old to raise his ands and take a few steps back in mock surrender.
“Never mind who told me. Show me” said Obadiah as he pointed to the center of Tony’s chest “I want to see it.”
“Okay, Rhodey” said Tony as he unbuttoned his shirt to show him the miniature arc reactor. Obadiah leans forward and briefly studies the reactor before straitening up and then buttoning Tony's shirt back up. The two men looked at one another and Obadiah says just one word “Okay.”
Tony looks at the man like he has never seen him before, shock written all over his face at Obadiah’s discarding the thing that is keeping him alive, like a chocolate wrapper. However before he could say a thing Rafael’s phone suddenly starts ringing, playing Greenday’s ‘American Idiot’ so loud that probably even Happy could hear it outside.
“Excuse me” He said, “But I have to take this.”
Obadiah watched the eighteen year old turn around and walk away before he started to say “Listen to me, Tony. We're a team. Do you understand? There's nothing we can't do if we stick together, like your father and I….”
But Rafael didn’t get to hear the rest of the conversation as the minute he answered the call he started to get chewed out by a very angry female “What on earth were you thinking Rafael? When I gave you that file and dropped you to that jet I expected things would be kept covert, at least until you two spent more time getting to know each other. Not something so overt. Has everything I thought you just flown out the window?”
“Natasha…?” he asked surprised because she had just almost as much emotion in this conversation as all the other times he had seen her show emotion combined. He heard the sound of her taking a breath and when she spoke again she sounded like her regular self “It’s me Rafael… and I’m worried about you.”
That if nothing else surprised him, Natasha Romanoff admitting that she actually cared for him. He knew that the feelings between them were there, and perhaps they were the stepping stones towards more despite their rather large age difference, but he’d never thought that she would be the first one to admit it, ever. “Hey there, first of all, that whole revealing thing, that was purely my father. You of all people should know I would never do something as overt as that considering that you were the first one to train me… and besides I fine Tasha”
That was another thing that signified their closeness. To everyone else she was the elusive Black Widow, Agent Romanoff, or to those that were really close to her, ‘Nat’. Rafael was the only person she allowed to call her Tasha and she herself had made sure that all her aliases, bar two which she used only when there was a good chance that they would continuously meet for extended periods of time, all had names that would prevent anyone from giving her that particular nickname.
“I know… its just that there will be a lot of people coming after you now” she said “Terrorist, Politicians Journalist and even Cops. Not to mention the amount of fame you have accumulated with that single press conference alone.”
Her breathing abruptly switched and he instantly knew that she was listening to something before she suddenly said “I’ve gotta go… just promise me that you will be careful.”
“I promise” he said and barely a moment later he heard the phone go dead.
“Rafael” Tony shouted and he looked over to see his new father looking at him and beaconing him to come closer. “Its time to go, come on… I want you to see your new home.”