Iron Man - Do the clothes make the man?
Michael Konnor

Tony Stark sat in his basement laboratory and watched the television. The giant screen framed half the wall with its picture of Iron man blasting a hole with his repulsor rays through the Carnelian ambassador at point blank range. It was Justin Hammers fault it happened but that didn't make Tony feel any less guilty. He closed his eyes as he remembered the bucking of his hand as the charge went off. He shuddered with emotion as he fought to control the gagging reflex in his throat.
Tony held up his Iron Man helmet and looked deep within the recesses as if expecting to see blame, responsibility, he didn't really know what he expected to see. He put down his ginger ale and strode to his armour.

"Diagnostic finished, Tony." The voice was hollow, yet surprisingly warm.

"Thank you Jocasta. Prep it for me, will you please."

There was no answer from her and Tony could almost here her thoughts spinning like a wheel. A few minutes later, a small bulky briefcase sized red and gold suit of armour was sitting in front of Tony. He closed his eyes and thought about everything he had done over the years.

"Have I really made that much of a difference? Enclosed in a metal coffin, playing hero while deluding myself that its for medical reasons or for the greater good. It didn't help Titanium man when he died over Siberia or Living Laser when he died behind the Iron Curtain" he chuckled silently at the thought of the Iron Curtain. He looked down at his wristwatch and activated the armour; it grew from the briefcase-sized box into almost a living thing as it enveloped him. A flashing display in his HUD told him that all systems were working within parameters.

"I almost wish something would break down," he thought bitterly.

"Tony Stark, Inventor supreme, able to fix anything, rights wrongs as Iron Man" he sighed "Ex-alcoholic, ex-bum, ex-murderer."

He shook himself out of his depressed musings and activated his boot-jets. He closed his eyes as he felt the rumble beneath his feet as he flew up out of his basement lab through the secret bunker access out into the wild blue yonder.
A hissing in his ear distracted him.

"All units please head to 4th and main, possible hostage situation in progress."

The navigation computer flashed up a map as he saw highlighted that fourth and main was only a few blocks west of Stark Solutions. He turned west and fired in his thrusters. A cordon of police cruisers awaited him as he landed in front of them. A detective walked up to him.

"Hey! Iron Britches we don't need your kind here. Take off!"

He sighed; wherever he went someone would always try to stand up to Iron Man prove himself to be one of the 'guys' by challenging an Avenger.

"Does Captain America ever get days like this?"

He walked up to the supermarket and activated his voice amplifier.

"This is Iron Man, come out with your hands up!"

A hail of automatic gunfire hosed the street; policeman threw themselves behind their cars as Iron Man extended his inertia field around himself and the civilian onlookers. Robbed of their momentum the bullets fell harmlessly to the ground or ricocheted off his armour and hit the building.

"OK stage 1 was less than a flattering success. Now for stage 2."

He confidently strode towards the supermarket, ignoring the angry look of the detective as he walked past him.

"I wonder if he saw that same special on me that I did?"
Entering the supermarket, Iron man scanned the area with his sensors, less than spectacular readings jabbed back at him.

"Canned foods, fruits and vegetables. Great! Maybe I will pick up some stuff for Pepper and Happy while I am here." He frowned, " What is wrong with me today? I cant seem to focus on my work either iron-clad or not."

Wearing a puzzled frown under the mask Tony walked around the supermarket.

"Back off, man. I'll kill her, I swear I will!"

He turned around to see a young boy of maybe 12 or 13 holding an automatic to a cashier's head.

"Jesus! They get younger."

"OK son, lets not do anything stupid here. Just put the gun down and relax."

The boy was shaking with nervous excitement or maybe it was fear Tony couldn't tell. Tony's sensors were saying the boy was terrified. Of what? Or who? Tony didn't know. Tony activated a target lock on his gun with his concussive repulsors so as not to set off an ammo explosion. A flashing red light told him that he was unable to lock.

"Jesus what else can go wrong today?"

An amplified click resonated from the boy's gun.

"Please don't shoot her, son. It is something you will regret for the rest of your life. Every day of every hour of every minute you will wonder what led you here or what act you did that caused you to be damned. This moment. This time. This is a pivotal time that will cause you to be blessed or cursed. Your choice."

The boy closed his eyes, the woman started to mutter a prayer to God, a cry echoed around the store and someone, somewhere lost their plea.