Ascension to the Throne

Ascension to the Throne

By Elizabeth Bathory

It was a brilliantly sunny day in southern California as hundreds of mourners dressed in black filed into the church. Among the crowd were CEOs, heads of state, business people, socialites and even a celebrity or two. Anyone passing by this funeral would know it was for someone high up there in society. Limos and other high priced cars drove up and past for the better part of two hours. The service was scheduled to start at eleven in the morning and the hour was fast approaching and many were starting to whisper. Where were all the family members to remember those who were in the two coffins at the front of the church?

Many people had noted that Obadiah Stane was seated right in the front row, a place of honor. But one person whose face was plastered on as many magazines as his father was distinctly absent. Where was their son?

At a few minutes before eleven, one last limo pulled up and a seventeen year old boy, flanked by three body guards, stepped out. The prince of Stark Industries was in a very expensive black suit and was wearing possibly the darkest sunglasses he could find. As he walked down the aisle of the church, he could hear the whispers as he walked by. The sounds of 'poor thing' and 'how sad' were intermingled with remarks of his genius and recent graduation with a Masters' in electrical engineering from MIT and he heard every word, though he pretended not to notice.

He took his seat in the front row as Obadiah whispered to take off his sunglasses. It could be seen, even from the back, the seventeen year old had refused. When he was told a second time, presumably with a little more force from the man who was his father's business partner, he acquiesced. Only those who were facing Anthony Stark could see his bloodshot eyes.

Lord knows that this week had to be hard on the kid; starting off with having to identify his parents in a hospital with lawyers to back him up since he was still a few more weeks away from his eighteenth birthday and then having to have services in New York before flying back to California for another wake and the grand funeral and burial. No seventeen year old should have to do this alone and be forced to step away from childhood so abruptly.

Once the young Mr. Stark was seated, the priest began his service. "We are gathered here today to bid farewell to Howard and Maria Stark. These two fine people were taken from us far too soon and from their son, Anthony. When such a tragedy falls upon us, we find ourselves asking the question why? Why did this have to happen to two people who were in the prime of their life? Why did this come to a loving couple who had everything? How can we who are left go on with out them? We have no answers to these questions we just must hold together and find away. At the request of their son, it is requested that anyone who would like to say anything about Howard and Maria to come forward."

Tony said in the front row with tears welling in his eyes that he was fighting not to let fall but he was losing. As Obadiah stood up, Tony let out a shuddering breath that he could not hold back as tears rolled down his cheeks.

"There is so much I can say about Howard and Maria." Obadiah started as if he was addressing stock holders rather than mourners. "I was with Howard since the beginning of Stark Industries and helped him to bring it to the company it is today. Not only was he my business partner, but my friend. I am happy to say I was able to share nearly every joy with him as well as some losses. He was unique and will never be replaced. His spirit will always be in the halls of the company that he helped bring rise to and with everything that his company produces."

As Obadiah was sitting down, he gave a nudge to Tony to say something. He hesitated first and wiped the tears away from his eyes before standing up.

"You'll have to forgive me. I'm not very good at this. My father was always better at this sort of thing." Tony said with a shaky voice. "Everyone always thinks of my parents from only the business perspective but they forget that there was another side to them. Despite how many hours my father worked, he always made time to be with my mother and me. I always liked the time that I got to spend with him…working on our hot rod, going to Yankee games and building many of the robots that are in Stark Industries. My mother always tried to keep me grounded and that is hard when you're an eleven year old in MIT. She gave me piano lessons and tried to get me to appreciate things beyond machines and electronics. I am glad that they got to see me graduate but they weren't there long enough to help me celebrate it. All I can do now is hope that I made them proud and I can live up to the legacy that they laid down."

The room was all hushed as they listened to the boy speak as tears rolled down his cheeks. After that, who could say more?

The processional then started to the cemetery. Tony walked just behind the two caskets, with his body guards behind him and then Obadiah followed. With his sunglasses back on, Tony watched as the two caskets were put into the hearses and then he slid into the back seat of his limo alone, giving a silent gesture to the driver that he was ready.

The long and winding roads from the church to the cemetery seemed never ending. Tony did not want to have to say goodbye but he did not want to have to go through this any longer than he needed to. At the gravesite, he could not hear the words said. Tony was lost in his own grief at the moment, a grief that had to be played out for three days straight on the front of every newspaper across the country and beyond. He just wanted to be left alone and in peace but he knew well enough that it was not bound to happen.

After the funeral, Obadiah had arranged, much to Tony's displeasure, a reception at the Stark mansion in Beverly Hills. Hundreds of people milled about, offering Tony empty condolences and using the reception to start glad handing.

Tony sat alone, away from all the people there. He had found a spot on a window seat overlooking the estate and actually tried to hide from everyone. Only one person noticed him, the family's butler Edwin. He looked sadly at his young master. Tony had already taken off the jacket and gotten rid of the tie as quick as most seventeen year olds would. He had ditched the expensive dress shoes for sneakers and was now trying to be as small as possible to avoid unwanted attention.

"Sir, can I get you anything?" he asked the boy gently, breaking Tony out of his revelry.

"I am a little hungry." He admitted as he looked around at the spread. "Is there anything normal here? Half of this stuff I can't even pronounce."

Edwin made a quick glance at the food and saw that there was really nothing suited to the seventeen year old's taste that tended to prefer pizza and cheeseburgers. "I'll see what I can do, sir." He said with a smile.

"Edwin, wait." Tony called out. "Make sure everyone else is okay. There's a whole lot more of them than me and they're more important."

"As you wish, sir. But if I may say, you are the most important one here." Edwin replied before ducking into the kitchen to find the last few slices of pizza that his young master had not finished off the night before.

As Tony was finishing the last of three slices, Obadiah finally found his hiding spot. "Tony, you really need to be social here. I want you out of this spot here and mixing with your guests.

"I really don't want to be social right now, Obie." Tony snapped back. "You didn't ask me about all of this. You just went ahead and did it. I just want all of these people to leave me alone right now."

"Enough of that. I am not going to deal with this spoiled prince routine that your parents dealt with. Get out there and put on a good face." Obadiah said as he pushed Tony off of his seat.

"I already said no. This is my house now and I have a right to say what goes on in it." Tony spat as he right himself.

"Until you are eighteen, everything is held in trust, so you will do as I say, Anthony." Obadiah fired back as he had a hand on Tony's shoulder.

"You are not my father so don't presume that you can tell me what to do." Tony countered as he shoved Obadiah's hand off. "I will be eighteen in two weeks and we'll see what happens then. As far as I'm concerned, this party is over and I'm out of here." He added as he pushed by Obadiah, grabbing his leather jacket and heading down to the garage where he had means of escape.

Obadiah watched from the windows as one very pissed off teenager sped off down the road on a motorcycle. This kid was a live wire and would never grow up. As Edwin came over, Obadiah pulled him aside. "Keep an eye on Tony for me. Keep me informed on how he is doing."

"Yes sir." The butler dutifully answered but was hesitant about betraying the trust of a boy he had known since he was born.