Ron Stoppable had more than enough reason to consider himself the luckiest man alive.
He had barely survived a lethal corporate takeover by one of his most trusted friends, Wade Load, had his lifeline, the crucial arc reactor stolen, which prevented slivers of metal from tearing his heart tissue apart. And he'd fought back against a five-ton steel behemoth, piloted by said former friend. All in the same night.
But he'd recovered quickly, barely spending a week in the hospital, under the caring watch of his best friend and once ex, but once again his girlfriend. Girlfriend... Ron mused thoughtfully as he sat in the corporate board room of Stoppable Enterprises. Leaning back in his high backed, simply designed leather executive chair, he felt a strange tinge of regret at the way his life had turned out.
"Hey, Ron," a cross voice called, interrupting his thoughts, "Quit spacing out here. You have a press conference in ten minutes, and this is the first time the public would get the 'official' account of what happened last week."
"Right, right," he muttered with an almost dismissive wave of his hand. "Accident with a drone, Drew and I got hurt when a lab assistant accidentally input the wrong power level and caused the drone to go nuts. And on an unrelated note, Wade's plane was found earlier this week after it crashed when he was coming back from his vacation…"
"Ronald Stoppable!" Monique Potts yelled out from her seat across the boardroom table from him, her tone sharp and biting. Ron winced and glanced over at her before flashing her an apologetic smile. Shaking her head with annoyance and a hint of disgust at the last time he had used that smile on her, she hardened her voice, "Nuh, uh, I'm not some floozy that's gonna break down and forgive you with that boyish charm of yours, Ron. And you really should pay more attention to what Kim's saying, it's important!"
The brown-skinned beauty glanced at the red-head who was sitting in another of the chair that angled towards Ron. Kim had left her GJ issue combat boots settled under her chair, her simple cotton socks stuffed absently into the shafts of her boots while her feet were propped up across Ron's lap. The blond, despite his flippant air, was massaging the proffered feet with an indulgent air. "I don't know how you put up with him!"
"I don't," Kim remarked with a coy smile. "That's why he listens to me."
"Right," Monique rolled her eyes. "Kim, could you convince him to give me two months of paid vacation? I need some time off to go off to Greece and look for a significant other that's not going to up and leave 'cause I have to watch after this big eared buffoon of yours."
Kim let out a little laugh. "Feeling lonely, are we, Mo?"
"Hey, now that my last two friends have finally hooked up," Monique shook her head sadly. "That just leaves poor ol' single me." Turning her head to glare angrily at her boss, she bit out, "It's all your fault anyway, Ron! Being your personal assistant is more than a full time job! And you, Kim," she turned her attention to her best friend. "Now that you two are a couple again, you'd better pull your share of weight and make sure that boy eats right. He's been eating nothing but Nacos for the past week."
"Hey… It helps me think, alright?" Ron protested with a laugh. "It's just been a busy week with all that's been going on."
"Yeah, but now that you've got Dr. Lipsky as your CEO, you should have more time to yourself." Monique cocked her head to the side as she remarked. "You know, I'm just surprised that you're going to appoint Dr. Lipsky as the new CEO now that Wade's gone."
"He's the logical choice," Ron replied with a nonchalant shrug. "Besides, he did save our butts…"
"Yeah... But I would have thought you would have wanted to become CEO of your company again."
"Nah, I just have better things to do," Ron smiled as he turned his gaze towards Kim. "Like catch up with old friends and make up for lost time."
"Right," Kim blushed at the comment. "Anyway, let's go Ron. The press conference is waiting; the media is itching to know what happened last week. Speculation has run rife for the past week about a the rumored experiment gone wrong at the lab complex, after all, and everyone seemed to want to know who the guy in the suit of armor is."
"Iron Man," Ron quipped without hesitation.
"What?" Kim asked.
"That's what the media is calling him," Ron replied smoothly. "Well, technically, it's not iron, rather an alloy of titanium, aluminum, vanadium and…"
"Right, Iron Man," Kim groaned. "Just read the cards. And we do have an addendum here. The reason for this delay in information has been that, quote, '...Stoppable Enterprises was not only waiting for me to recover, but informing Dr. Load's family of their loss... And we've determined that Dr. Drew Lipsky will be taking over as CEO of Stoppable Enterprises'… Got it?"
"Gee, Kim," Ron furrowed his brow. "That's a rather wild story…"
"Not as wild as you being Iron Man," Kim remarked with enough snark in her voice to have made Shego proud.
"Err… Yeah…" Ron grinned sheepishly at her reprimand. "Right… So let's get this show on the road."
Kim and Monique flanked Ron as the trio walked out of his office and waited by the elevators to head down towards the lobby where Stoppable Enterprises was hosting their biggest press conference ever. Stepping in, the trio relaxed slightly, and Ron reached out to grab Kim's hand, his nervousness obvious with the tight squeeze he gave her. She leaned in and whispered into his ear while returning the squeeze, and slowly, the considerable tension in the blond's frame eased.
Monique caught the surreptitious gesture and smiled softly, sighing and shaking her head, giving the two lovebirds a cough as the floor indicator quickly counted down towards the lobby, where the press had gathered. Letting go of Kim's hand, Ron shrugged his suit straight and waited, a serious, professional calm washing over his face.
The moment the elevator doors opened, Ron was immediately showered by bright flashes of light as the ravenous press surged against security and shouted questions at him.
Ignoring the masses before him, he pushed his way through the crowd and made it to the podium where he was to make his announcements. Ron slowly scanned the anticipating crowd. He glanced down at the cue cards in his hands, and then at Kim and Monique standing a little off to the side.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began. Squinting down at the cue cards again, Ron immediately thought again of his past few months.
He'd been captured and tortured, only having to escape by the skin of his teeth using his first prototype Iron Man suit. Then he'd tried to make everything right, by shutting down his weapons division, only to face opposition from his long-time friend and partner, Wade Load, who had decided to betray him. Glancing back at his red-headed friend and girlfriend, Ron allowed himself a little smile. Kim had always managed to do the right thing, and still look damn good doing so.
She was an inspiration to him. She'd saved the world many times over while he watched on. And she was just a regular high school teenager. No fancy gadgets, no superhuman strength. Just the strong desire to help people.
She still is my hero... My everything... No secret identities, no white lies. Just the genuine article.
No, Ron was going to give up pretending to be who he wasn't anymore. Drawing in a deep breath, he allowed a small smile curl to his lips. "Ladies and gentlemen," he announced again with flourish, as he crumpled up the cue cards in his hands and dropped them on the floor next to the podium. Kim, who had seen the change in his demeanor, as well as the look in his eyes, groaned softly and put her hand over her eyes, knowing Ron was going to do something completely against all common sense.
"I am Iron Man."
The preceding has been a work of fanfiction, and as such, the events depicted herein are fictitious; any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. However, any resemblance to existing movies and series has been intentional and used without permission for non-profit entertainment purposes only.
MMIIX, NFKGS Fanfiction Productions
The grin on Ron's face seemed to split his face in twain as he walked from his bedroom towards his expansive den. He still had trouble believing it even after a week: he and Kim were back together! Even after his stunt earlier today at the press conference she'd forgiven him, and after a good dinner, dancing, a few light drinks and a very generous back rub…
We're more than back together! We're back where they were supposed to be: with each other!
With an unconscious flourish, he opened the refrigerator to his den's wet bar, pulling out two bottles, humming that song he hasn't heard since their junior prom. He poured two glasses two thirds full of orange juice and stood with a considering look at the other bottle, seven hundred and fifty milliliter bottle of Grey Goose vodka.
He turned suddenly as he felt a prickling along the nape of his neck. Though he saw nothing, he called out in a quiet, urgent voice. "Security comp, status?"
The unresponding silence of the state-of-the-art security system immediately set him on edge, as he placed his drink slowly down on the countertop. He slowly scanned the room, unconsciously using the area of his vision between his peripheral and direct lines of sight to take in everything with a slow, smooth turn of his body.
Then he saw what he was looking for, in a darkened, but still somewhat lit area of his living room; the perfect hiding spot, the last place someone would look for an intruder. "C'mon out, I know you're there..." he called out a good natured manner.
"Heh, you've grown some balls, Buffoon..." a vaguely familiar voice sounded, before stepping into the light. "Just a li'l over nine years ago, my voice would've sent you running around in a panic..."
The first thing Ron noticed was the mostly black uniform appeared to be Global Justice standard issue, except for a triangular fold-over flap giving it a double-breasted look, and green piping along the outer edge of the fold over collar and the chest flap. The collar button bore an emblem, a black, screaming eagle rising on a white background, its wings displayed as it looked to its right. There was also lettering around the circumference between the emblem's two outer bands that Ron couldn't quite make out in the dim light of his den. Next to the collar button was an insignia that matched that of the United States army rank of Colonel.
The second thing he noticed were the rather pronounced, perky breasts that pushed the uniform out enticingly. His gaze swept down and then back up the form, appraisingly, but nothing like his normal perusal of the female form.
With a growing sense of familiarity he took in the athletic musculature easily visible underneath the skin tight uniform, the flowing, mid-thigh length raven hair, and finally a beautiful, pale face with a subtle, but noticeable mint colored hue. The final thing he noticed was the bright, emerald green eye that stared at him with a twinkle in its depths, as if a grand cosmic joke had been played, and she was the only one that got it.
"Shego," Ron nodded his head coolly in acknowledgement. Glancing over at the eyepatch that covered her left eye, he mused with mirth. "Hmmm, a Stoppable Enterprises EP-1003, mk II CICNet eyepatch? Guess that means you don't work alone anymore, eh?"
"Glad to see that you still remember me," Shego smirked in a sardonic tone as she appeared unfazed by his observation. Walking towards the couch, she sat down and placed her boots on his coffee table as though she owned the place and picked up the day's newspaper that laid there.
Ron felt a little ire rising at her blatant disrespect. "So what are you doing here?"
Shego grunted noncommittally, as she held up the front page news which had his face plastered in bold print over the front, "Seems that you've stepped up to the big leagues, Iron Man."
"Hey, I'm always full of surprises," Ron chuckled, shaking his head as if it was nothing, "So?"
"That's a rather stupid name," Shego smirked. "Iron Man. I-Ron-Man? Ego much, Stoppable?"
"Hey, that's what the press named me," Ron replied defensively.
"So you're saying if they called you Tin-head, you would have gone with it?" Shego raised a knowing eyebrow.
"Dare to be different," Ron said flippantly as he turned his back to her. He absently grabbed an extra glass, pouring orange juice and a healthy couple of fingers into two of the glasses before stoppering the vodka and putting it and the orange juice away. "So what are you doing here, Shego?" Ron finally asked in a cool, dry tone, holding one of the drinks out to Shego.
"Oh, you wound me so," Shego laughed derisively as she waved off his remark, reaching for the screwdriver smoothly. Taking a sip of the drink to regain her composure, she looked seriously at him before speaking, "I'm here for you."
"Why, Shego," Ron's face turned into a leer, as he sat down opposite her. "I never thought you were interested in the Ronman. But too bad for you, I'm a one Kim guy now… No matter what those tabloids say…"
"You're lucky you're more useful to me alive than you are dead," Shego narrowed her eyes. "I'm not interested in what's in your pan-..." she swiveled her eye slightly with yet another surprised arch of an elegant eyebrow, glancing at the far entrance to the room as a voice called out with an exhausted, almost amused tone.
"Good, 'cause I'd have to kick your ass if you did," Kim muttered tiredly, yawning cutely as she stretched, seemingly at ease with Shego's presence in Ron's house. The luxuriant stretch caused her violet camisole to ride up slightly, showing off her toned, muscular stomach and the frilly, matching thong underneath.
"Well, I thought that you'd be worn out judging by all that screaming I heard earlier," Shego quipped, earning a shrug from Kim instead of the rise her comment would have garnered years before.
"So what do you want with Iron Man?" Ron asked cautiously as Kim made her way over and sat down next to him on the loveseat opposite the couch Shego sprawled out in.
Shego gave a smirk before she drew her legs back and leaned forward to eye him carefully. With a conspiratorial tone, she asked, "Do you honestly think you are the only superhero around out there?"
"What do you mean?" Ron asked, his curiosity starting to get the better of him.
"Well, doy," Shego yawned as she kicked back and propped her feet up on Ron's coffee table again. Lighting a finger up with green plasma, she swirled it around just to make her point. "Well…" Shego chuckled out, looking towards the foyer of Ron's home. She smirked and shook her head, "Looks like yet another 'interruption'..." She muttered as Ron and Kim both followed her gaze.
"I hope you don't plan on keeping these two up too late …" Monique warned in a deadpan tone. She set her purse down on a shelf in the foyer before walking towards the den, her gaze sweeping over the three of them to rest sternly on Shego.
"They both have a rather important meeting tomorrow morning , and I don't want to have to spend two hours getting them up just to make it on time!" She stood with her weight on her left leg, that hip cocked out in an almost cocky manner while she rested her arms akimbo as she tilted her head to the side slightly.
Shego stared for a moment, as did Kim and Ron. Monique looked, in a word, stunning. The dress, one she'd recently told Kim about designing for herself, was made of a green fabric that bore several shades of green depending on how the light hit it. It also bore some of satin's shimmer, but in a subdued, elegant fashion, and hung from her frame like fine silk, caressing her curves instead of clinging to her. The dress had a strap going over her left shoulder, and fell in a swooping arc to the underside of her right arm, showing an enticing, if almost coy amount of cleavage.
"What?" Monique asked innocently, drinking in the stares of her two friends and one of the deadliest, not to mention most beautiful, women in the world. She looked down at herself, continuing the coy display, brushing at some imagined blemish on the outfit, and moving her body in a seemingly unconscious, but nonetheless stimulating manner. "Did I spill something on me and miss it?"
"Wow, guess not everything was in the dossier," Shego muttered in a fluster under her breath.
Shego quickly glanced at Kim and Ron as the blond spoke to see if they'd heard, then back to Monique. The dark skinned beauty merely smiled at her, her deep chocolate eyes sharp and probing. The mint-hued woman swallowed as unobtrusively as she could and cleared her throat, tearing her emerald eyes off of Monique's to look back at Ron and Kim, attempting to exert some semblance of control of the situation.
"As your boyfriend noticed," Shego raised a curious eyebrow at Kim, before slowly swiveling over to Monique. "I don't work alone anymore. I work for S.H.I.E.L.D., an organization to counter foreign, domestic, and extraterrestrial threats. And as the sister agency to the international agency, Global Justice, it has been decided, as of tonight, to merge both entities into one, under the S.H.I.E.L.D. moniker."
"Really..." Kim said, her tone as sardonic as Shego's was amused. "And why, exactly, does that make you seem so happy?"
"Because, Kimmie!" Shego answered in a faux sweet voice, "It means that I am not only the boss of S.H.I.E.L.D., I'm in charge of GJ... That means I'm your boss and your boss' boss..."
Kim's face took on a look of controlled professionalism, and she muttered in as calm a voice as she could muster, "You will have my resignation letter the first thing tomorrow morning."
"Yes, well..." Shego sighed, her tone becoming both somber and serious at once, but her eyes still sparkled with that unspoken mischief. "Princess, you can't bullshit a bullshitter; I think you'd enjoy working for me anyway. Besides, S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't only interested in you… Or you and your, well, indescribably organizational skills, Muffin." Shego let her eyes linger on the brown-skinned beauty for a moment, before she turned and looked at Ron with an undisguised smirk on her face. "Or just you, I-Ron-man..."
"What does S.H.I.E.L.D. want with me?" Ron asked curiously, "Or us for that matter?"
"Oh you'll see," Shego said with a snigger, then looked at each of the three in turn. "Buffoon… Princess... Muffin... Have you heard of the Avengers Initiative?"
Okay, I know I said there was a last chapter, but I lied. Yes, I'm a pathological liar. It comes with the writing turf. After all, writing fiction is like lying, right? By the way, I did clue you guys in by not marking it as Complete. But now it is.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this surprise epilogue. This is the end, and that's the honest truth.