“Move, people!” I ordered, shoving people out of the way so I could get through. AC/DC blasted in my ears, and I managed to get through the door and backstage. Some stage manager took me by the arm and dragged me to a dressing room, throwing a bright red dress at me with black heels.
“You’re on in ten.” Was all she said to me before she shut the door. I rolled my eyes, but dressed quickly, and slipped my heels on, just as someone threw open the door again. This guy was clearly a gay man, and he had come in to get my makeup done, and yet again, I was led somewhere by the same stage manager from before. The dancers on stage were in the middle of the routine. Dad was flying, about to come in, making fireworks explode even further in the sky. I was pushed slightly, and so I went on stage as some more AC/DC played.
I had taken the guitar from the stage manager, and was rocking the guitar part like it was a lullaby. I was completely oblivious to the fact that Dad had just landed on the panel, and the fireworks that were set off mere feet behind me. I got lost in the music, in the feel of the strings under my fingers. I loved it, way too much. And I continued to play, even after the song ended, and the dancers went off stage. Someone set a hand on my shoulder, making me finally stop, and look around. A blush creeped on my cheeks, but I fought it away, smiling brightly at Dad, who was smirking and laughing.
“Welcome back to planet Earth, princess.” He muttered, covering up his microphone. I laughed, handing the instrument off to that damn stage manager, bowing as the crowd cheered. Dad turned to the crowd. “Well, now that she’s done, why don’t we move along?” The crowd laughed. Dad wrapped an arm around my shoulder, holding me to his side. “I’m not saying that the world is enjoying its longest period of uninterrupted peace because of me.” Dad paused, letting the crowd cheer for a moment, before he continued. “I’m not saying, that from the ashes of captivity, never has a greater phoenix metaphor been personified in human history.” I laughed slightly, but then bit my lip and stopped myself. Dad raised an eyebrow at me, but I shook my head, so he continued. “I’m not saying that Uncle Sam can kick back on a lawn chair, sipping on an iced tea, because I haven’t come across anyone who’s man enough to go toe-to-toe with me on my best day!” The crowd went crazy. I rolled my eyes.
I’d grown used to this in the past six months. The whole Dad/Iron Man thing. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it. I was proud of him, actually. My dad was saving lives, and protecting the country, and as he’d said, he established world peace. The man was on top of the world. And the cheers of the crowd proved it.
Dad held up a hand, trying to silence the crowd. “Please, it’s not about us.” I raised an eyebrow, turning to him. He frowned. “What?”
“You say that like I’ve been your partner in crime the entire time, but I haven’t said a word.” Dad frowned further.
“Really?” I nodded. “Huh. Either way, it’s not about them, or you, or me, it’s not about any of us.” He paused, looking me in the eyes as he spoke. And the look in his eyes...it irked me. “It’s about legacy. About what we choose to leave behind for future generations.” He paused again, letting the words sink in. I searched his face, and saw the fear in his eyes.
He was worried. He was scared. And whatever had him scared, it was bad. Nothing scares Dad. Not even that one scary movie with the clowns, and that one even terrified me.
Dad was in trouble, we were in trouble. I could feel it.
He turned back to the crowd, tightening his grip on me. “And that’s why for the next year, and for the first time since 1974, the best and brightest men and women of nations and corporations the world over will pull their resources, share their collective vision to leave behind a brighter future...” The crowd cheered even more loudly, “...that’s not about us. Therefore, what I am saying, if I’m saying anything, is welcome back.”
“Welcome back to the Stark Expo!” I yelled, pumping a fist in the air, grinning brightly for show. The crowd went nuts, and I shared a smile with Dad as he let go of me, and walked out of the spotlight. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, making a special guest appearance from the great beyond to tell you what this is all about, my grandfather, Howard Stark.” I gestured to the screen, and took Dad’s offered elbow, walking off stage with him. I turned to him, as soon as we were out of the crowd’s sight, biting my lip, trying to think of how to word this. “Is something wrong? With you, I mean?” Dad frowned, looking me in the eyes, as he reached into his jacket. I frowned as well.
“No, El, why would you say that?” I shrugged.
“That speech set me off. I, I don’t know. I’ll see you later.”
“Okay.” He smiled at me. I smiled back, and headed outside, with Dana leading the way, warning me about the crowd as usual. I rolled my eyes, tossing her my bag as the stage manager handed it to me.
“Really? You’re gonna make me carry your laundry now?”
“Watch it, Mulan. At least I’m not making you carry Georgia.” I took my guitar case as it was handed to me. Dana rolled her eyes, muttering something Japanese under her breath as security opened the door for us. I was bombarded with press and people immediately, and I smiled politely, pushing past the press, and signed autographs as I walked past. I patted a couple of kids who stood there waiting for Dad, and signed a little girl’s notebook for her before I walked past them. I shook people’s hands as they introduced themselves, waved, smiled, said some greetings, but I didn’t stop for a second. I had to get home.
We managed to get through without a hitch, and I grinned at the sight of my car as I walked through the doors. Dana threw my bag in the trunk, and took my guitar as well as she went to it. I climbed into the driver’s seat, rubbing the wheel, looking over the beauty.
A ’67 Chevrolet Impala. My pride and joy.
“Excuse me, Miss Stark?” I frowned, leaning out the window, frowning at the woman. She smiled, and handed me a piece of paper. “You are hereby ordered to appear before the Senate Armed Service Committee tomorrow at nine am.” I sighed.
“Are you looking for my dad, because he’s still stuck back there-”
“No, Miss Stark, I was looking for both of you. Don’t be late.” She walked away. I turned to Dana, who raised her eyebrows in suspicion. I groaned, crumpling up the paper and tossing it in the backseat.
“Whataya say, Baby? Think you can make it to D.C.?” I turned the key, grinning at the rumble of the seat, the purr of the engine. “I’ll take that as a yes. Leggo.”
“Mister Stark. Mister Stark, could we please pick up where we left off? Mister Stark!” I kicked Dad’s leg under the table. He turned to me, eyes slightly wide. I rolled my eyes.
“Yes, Senator Stern?” I asked, sitting forward. Senator Stern looked at Dad, but then turned to me.
“Does your father possess a specialized weapon, Miss Stark?” I considered this, and then figured out my answer.
“He does not possess a specialized weapon.”
“He does not?” Senator Stern asked. I shook my head.
“No. My father’s device doesn’t fit that description.”
“And how would you describe it?” I paused, but Dad answered that question.
“By defining it as what it is, Senator.”
“As...?” I rolled my eyes.
“It’s a high-tech prosthesis.” The people behind me laughed at my definition. I sighed.
“That’s actually the most apt description we could make.” Dad defended me. I shared a smile with him, turning back to Senator Stern as he spoke.
“It’s a weapon, Starks’. It’s a weapon.” I spoke next, getting thoroughly pissed off with this man.
“If your priority was actually the safety of the American citizens-” Senator Stern cut me off.
“My priority is to get the Iron Man weapon turned over to the people of the United States.”
“Well then you can forget it.” Dad said. “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. The technology is ours, and only ours. My daughter has refused to build one for herself, so what does that say to you, Senator?” He went to speak, but Dad cut him off. “Hold on, wait, let me answer that for you. Ellie hasn’t built one for herself because she knows what kind of potential my device has, and she knows how dangerous having one could be. I just can’t hand this over, mostly because it could be considered tantamount to indentured servitude, or prostitution depending on what state you’re in.” I kicked him again. He turned to me, frowning. “What?” He whispered.
“Stop it.” I hissed. He sighed, but turned back around. Senator Stern tugged at his tie.
“I’m no expert in weapons. We have someone who is an expert in weapons. I’d like to call Justin Hammer, our current primary weapons contractor.” I groaned internally. Dad and I shared the same look, before we looked over to see none other than the douche himself, smiling away.
“Let the record reflect that I observed Mr. Hammer entering the chamber and I am wondering if and when any actual expert would also be in attendance.” I kicked him again. Dad winced this time, and the crowd started murmuring. Justin laughed.
“Absolutely. I’m no expert. I defer to you, Anthony, and Elizibeth. You’re the A-team.” I gritted my teeth. Dad and I shared another look, before I sat back, looking down at my hands. “Senator, if I may.” Senator Stern nodded. “I may not be an expert, but you know who was the expert? Howard Stark! Your father, your grandfather. Really a father to us all, and to the military-industrial age. But let’s be clear. He was no flower child. He was a lion. We all know why we’re here. In the last six months, the Starks’ have created a sword with untold possibilities. And yet Elizibeth refuses to make one for herself, and they both insist it’s a shield.” I looked up, meeting Justin’s eyes as he stood before me, picking up my microphone. “Have you not made one because of your faith in your father, or is it because of personal reasons?” I sat forward, speaking into the microphone as he put it in front of me.
“I don’t feel the need to have my own version of my dad’s device. He loves this country, he’s a true patriot. I believe that the device should stay with him. He’s the one who created it in the first place. I just helped him perfect it.” Justin nodded, seeming like he was satisfied with the answer, walking back over to his place, picking up his own microphone.
“You ask us to trust your father as we cower behind his device. I wish I was comforted by your answer, Elizibeth, I really do. I’d love to leave the door unlocked when I leave the house, but this ain’t Canada. We live in a world of grave threats, threats that Mister Stark will not always be able to foresee. Thank you. God bless Iron Man, God bless America.” Dad was shaking his head. I sighed, but when Dad caught my eye, he smiled in encouragement. I looked back at Pepper, who smiled as well.
‘It’s okay.’ She mouthed at me. I puckered my lip, but turned back around, as Senator Stern banged his gavel.
“That was well said, Mister Hammer. The committee would now like to invite Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes to the chamber.” Dad and I both frowned.
“Rhodey?” I said, turning to Dad.
“What?” Dad muttered, turning around and standing up. There was some murmuring throughout the chamber, and the paparazzi stood up, snapping pictures as soon as Senator Stern announced that. Everyone turned as Rhodey walked into the chamber. Dad went up to Rhodey to greet him. I stood up as well, taking the seat on the other side of Dad, so Rhodey could be there right in the center. They both took their seats. Rhodey smiled at me in reassurance, setting a book on the table.
“I have before me a complete report on the Iron Man weapon, complied by Colonel Rhodes. And, Colonel, for the record, can you read page 57, paragraph four?” Senator Stern asked. I raised a brow.
“You’re requesting that I read specific selections from my report?” Rhodey asked.
“Yes, sir.” The Senator confirmed.
“It was my understanding I was going to testify in a more comprehensive...” He continued talking, but Senator Stern spoke over him.
“I understand. A lot of things have changed today.”
“You do understand that reading a single paragraph out of context does not reflect...” Again, Rhodey wasn’t finished talking, but Senator Stern spoke over him.
“Just read it, Colonel, I do. Thank you.”
“Very well.” Dad sat up. I set my chin on my hands, sitting forward. “’As he does not operate within any definable branch of government,” Rhodey paused, sighing, but continued, “‘Iron Man presents a potential threat to the security of both the nation and to her interests.’ I did, however, go on to summarize that the benefits of Iron Man far outweigh the liabilities, and it would be in our interest to...” Yet again, Senator Stern spoke over Rhodey, calling for him to stop, but not loud enough. “...to fold Mister Stark into the chain of command.” My eyes went wide.
“I’m not a joiner, but I’ll consider Secretary of Defense if you ask nice. If we can amend the hours a little.” I bit the inside of my cheek, as the other people behind the swinging doors laughed.
“I’d like to show, if I may, the imagery that’s connected to your report.” Senator Stern said.
“I believe it is somewhat premature to reveal these images to the general public.”
“With all due respect, colonel, I understand. If you could just narrate those for us, we’d be very grateful.” Rhodey gestured to the television screen in the left corner.
“Let’s have the images.” He looked at the papers in front of him, reading the narration. “Intelligence suggests the devices seen in these photos are in fact attempts at making manned copies of Mister Stark’s suit.” I sat back further, frowning at what Dad had taken out. I didn’t dare argue. “This has been corroborated by our allies and local intelligence on the ground, indicating these suits are quite possibly, at this moment, operational.” Some murmuring went around, but Dad sat forward, after finding what he needed on his phone.
“Hold on one second. Let me see. There’s something here.” He tapped the something, which then commandeered the screen. “Oh! Boy, I’m good.” There was more talk, and people started to argue, or something, I don’t know. I took out my own phone, but Dad stopped me, commandeering the other screen. “I commandeered your screens. I need them. It’s time for a little transparency. Let’s see what’s really going on.”
“What’s he doing? Miss Stark, what is your father doing?” I shrugged at Senator Stern’s question.
“If you’ll direct your attention to said screens, I believe that’s North Korea.” I watched, as a moderation of Dad’s suit walked off a stage, falling off of it and shooting off a weapon as it did, and managed to hit some people.
“Can you turn that off? Take it off.” Senator Stern ordered. I forced my smirk away. Justin got up, trying to turn off the screen on the left.
“Iran.” Dad said, turning to the screen on the right. I turned to it, raising a brow. “No grave, immediate threat here.”
“Is that Justin Hammer?” I asked rather loudly, leaning over to my dad, who squinted at the screen.
“I think so, El. But how did Hammer get in the game?” Justin then went over to the other one, trying to shut it off, looking around desperately, trying to turn it off.
“Look, Justin, you’re on TV.” He shot me a glare. I raised another brow, turning to Dad, who smirked. I decided to smirk as well. Rhodey went to speak with Dad, and so I turned back to the screen, wincing as the man in the attempt of the suit turned right sharply, twisting too far. “Wow.”
“Yeah, I’d say most countries are five, ten years away. Hammer Industries, twenty.” Dad said. Rhodey kept shooting him looks, and then looked at me. I shrugged.
“I’d like to point out that test pilot survived.” Justin defended himself. I forced back a laugh.
“We’re done is the point he’s making. I don’t think there’s any reason...” Senator Stern started to argue, but Dad spoke up again.
“Point is, uh, you’re welcome.”
“For what?” Senator Stern asked.
“Because I’m-sorry, we are your nuclear deterrent.” Dad said, gesturing to the both of us. “It’s working. We’re safe. America is secure. You want our property? You can’t have it! But I did you a big favor.” Dad stood up. “I’ve successfully privatized world peace.” He held up two peace signs, and the crowd of people stood up, applauding. I smiled. “What more do you want? For now! I try to play ball with these ass-clowns!” Dad spun around, gesturing to the committee.
“Fuck you, Mister Stark. Fuck you, buddy.” Senator Stern said. I laughed. “We’re adjourned. We’re adjourned for the day.”
“Okay.” Dad agreed, turning around to pick up his sunglasses.
“You’ve been a delight. You, and your daughter.” Dad put a thumb up. I stood, blowing a kiss, waving at Senator Stern. Dad held out an elbow, which I took, strutting out the double doors like the boss I am. Dad and I shook out stretched hands as we walked out.
“Our bond is with the people.” I said.
“And we will serve this great nation at the pleasure of...ourselves.” Dad said.
“And if there’s one thing we’ve proven, it’s you can count on us to pleasure ourselves.” I walked out of the view of the camera, and Dad did a spin. I turned to him, and he started cackling. Laughing like a hyena, which only made me laugh, and accept his high-five.
Team Stark - 1
U.S. Government - None