I've been trying to write an IM fic forever and haven't been able to apparently until tonight, and then this just poured out. So that was kind of cool. Hope it turned out ok, I think it's decent. Please review. Hopefully it will be a gateway to writing more IM fics. (and little Tony is adorable, by the way)
Things A Father Does With A Son
At first, he thought that the rocketing engines of the jets would be too much for the child's ears. But Tony begged to go. He promised impossible things if he could just go to the base and watch what amounted to a private air show. He promised to eat all his vegetables, to clean his room, and not to track mud into the house.
Obadiah only replied that it was all good, but that was really the concern of his mother. And going to the air show was a concern for his father. However, when Tony stuck his lower lip out in an insufferable pout, Obi sighed and reluctantly agreed.
There was only a line of rope that separated the spectators and the planes at Edwards. It was a hot day and they stood in their suits and uniforms baking in the sun. Obi mopped his brow for the eighth time and watched another set of jets roar overhead. They sounded as if they were ripping the air into pieces and he would be surprised if no one ended up with bleeding ears. It made him a little more concerned about Tony, but Howard had ultimately agreed to it, and the boy was too excited…
Where was he?
"Tony?" Obadiah said, looking around the sunburnt crowd of businessmen and military officers. If there was ever a place for a four year old to stand out, this would be it. "Tony!"
A colonel with a wrinkled brow nodded to Obadiah. "He's up here at the line."
With a mildly frustrated sigh, Obi pushed through the crowd to get to the boy, and he crouched down next to him, putting large hands on small shoulders. "Tony, I told you to stay with me, you can't get lost here, it's really dangerous."
Tony looked back at him with wide eyes. "But.. I can't see back there!" he said in protest, and folded his arms heavily in emphasis. "I'm too short."
Obi resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Howard should really be the one doing this, not him. If the man wasn't so busy trying to pitch a sale to the top brass then Obi wouldn't be in this situation…
"Would it help if you sat on my shoulders?" he offered a little reluctantly.
Tony's face lit up brighter than the sun, and Obi thought that maybe the kid was capable of giving him sunburn too. "Yes!" he cried and lifted his arms up triumphantly.
Standing back up, Obi bent down and lifted the boy up, settling him behind his neck with his legs dangling down. At least the kid was light. "Better?" he asked, sort of looking up at him.
Tony nodded enthusiastically and held onto Obi's head with tiny hands, pleased to have the best seat in the house. Or.. tarmac. Another jet ripped by and Obi fought the urge to flinch. Instead, Tony only pointed at it and started talking over the backrush of the engine. As much as Obi could make out, the kid was spouting out the technical specks of the plane. Certainly, he didn't learn that from his father.
There were various cases of "bring your child to work" day where the child in question seemed to be dropped off in Obadiah's office to be supervised. Tony was usually quiet. Sometimes. He had things to do, at least Maria would make sure to send him with something. But it was the concept that got to Obi. He never mentioned it. It would exactly be the best thing to refuse the boss's kid, long time friend or not.
Today actually was different. Tony came by earlier, but then for once Howard had the time in his office to watch the boy instead of dropping him off at Stane Daycare. Because going to board meetings with a five year old in tow, no matter how brilliant he was, just didn't work.
There was of course still evidence of Tony's presence. A half finished coloring book and small box of compulsively sharpened crayons was laying on the leather couch in Obi's office, along with a stuffed lion and half an airplane. Obi didn't question. Not his kid. (Tony said it was a submarine. Obi didn't question that either, though he did tease him about going to get a fishtank to demonstrate it).
Obi didn't expect that it would be too long before Tony was back. He didn't expect the door to burst open with a crying and slightly hysterical Anthony Stark, holding up his newly skinned and carpet burned hand. He blinked, and stood up quickly to intercept him, crouching down in front of the boy as Tony threatened to cling to his neck.
"Tony, what happened?" he asked earnestly, and gently took hold of the boy's wrist to examine the wound. "Where's your father?"
Tony sniffled and held onto Obadiah's neck with his other arm anyway. "I fell!" he cried, and another pair of tears streaked down his face at record speed. "I fell and got an owie!"
"Yes.. I see." Obi grabbed onto the boy and hoisted him up to rest on his hip as Tony buried his face in his shoulder. "Let's go get it fixed, ok?"
Tony only nodded and buried his face more as Obadiah carried him out to the desk occupied by his secretary. Suzanne looked up at the two of them in concern, having obviously seen the boy racing past earlier. In fact, she already had the tin box of bandaids out.
There was some sort of unwritten law that secretaries all carried bandaids. Sometimes they also carried an entire EMT kit. Obi didn't question the secretary bandaid law, he was just grateful that it was in place and Suzanne was able to apply a neon green bandaid to the hand of the son of the CEO.
"Thank you Suzie," Obi said with a small smile.
Tony looked out at her with one red eye as she gentle placed the bandaid securely on his hand. Suzanne gave him a warm smile. "Look at you, such a brave little boy. It's all fixed now."
"You can even hold out your hand and people will notice that bright green bandaid on you," Obi added.
Tony only sniffled a little and held onto a handful of Obi's shirt. "Thanks.." he murmured, pressing his face back into Obi's shoulder.
With a sigh, Obadiah carried the boy back into his office and set him down on the couch. "Why don't you stay here for awhile. I don't want you running in the halls and getting hurt again, ok?"
Nodding and squishing his lips together, Tony looked down at his feet with one shoe untied, and he reached up to wipe away the remainder of the tears. As Obadiah went back to his desk, he noted that the coloring book certainly didn't hold the boy's interest. Neither did the submara-plane. Half a submara-plane. (Obi still didn't ask).
So when Tony padded over gripping the stuffed lion to his chest like a liferaft, Obadiah only pushed his chair a little back from his desk to let the boy climb up into his lap and curl up. Occasionally there was still a sniffle, and when it finally stopped, Obi knew that Tony had just fallen asleep.
Tony spent an entire hour and a half on the phone three days before making sure, double checking, verbally verifying and convincing his father to come to graduation. Because it obviously didn't happen every day that a 17 year old genius graduated from MIT. In the top 5 of his class too. When the time came, he still had his hopes up.
He waited in line, tugging at the edges of the black robe. The hat was driving him crazy. It itched. Right at the top of his hairline and he couldn't just stand there and scratch his head under the stupid hat… Tony wondered if Howard was even there.
Howard had to be there, right? He agreed. Several times. And then he'd just be there and that would be it. So would Maria. They'd both be there, like a normal family with a kid graduating from college and starting out in the real world. Not like the sort of weird and screwed up family life that they really had. They'd be there.
When they called his name, Tony almost flinched in surprise. His focus could be so strong as to drowned out the rest of the world, and at least he wasn't that focused today. He had the stupid hat itch to thank for that. He walked up onto the stage, deaf to anything they were saying about him, and shook the random important person's hand… took the piece of paper that wasn't actually a diploma, and he looked down into the first few rows.
Naturally when Howard Stark comes to see his genius son graduate, it's a big deal. They had seats in the front row. When he saw Maria sitting there with a proud smile and tears in her eyes, his heart hammered with hope. But next to her was Obadiah. Tony felt like his heart just stopped.
The rest of the ceremony was just filler. He didn't listen to anything. Not until it was over and Obadiah came over to him and draped an arm across his shoulders.
"He wanted to come, Tony. But something came up, and he couldn't make it. I'm sorry kid," he said in a soothing voice that seemed like it belonged in a television commercial. Obadiah could sell a lot of cars that way. "But you know what.. I'm proud of you. And so is he, we're all so proud of you Tony."
Obi smiled warmly and hugged him tightly, giving him a manly pat on the back. Tony closed his eyes and tried to imagine that it was Howard there instead. But considering Howard had never hugged him, Tony didn't know what his father's arms felt like. He only knew Obi's.
Obadiah sat down heavily across from him with a deep sigh. He placed one of two sweating glasses of scotch on the table and slid it across to the pale-faced boy.
Tony's fingers ghosted around the edges of the glass. "I'm going back to LA," he stated. "After the funeral.. I'm not coming back here."
"Are you going to keep the house?" Obi asked softly.
There was an ancient clock that filled in the silence between them and made them both very aware of the time that was ticking by. Sort of like mortality, Tony thought briefly.
"No." He hesitantly picked up the glass and brought it to his lips. But then he paused and placed the glass back down on the table. "I.. don't know."
"It's too soon to say," Obi filled in for him, and he leaned on the table to look across at him. "Let me handle it. For now.. don't do anything with the house. I'll have a housekeeper come and make sure that it stays clean. Then.. when you're ready.. you can decide."
Tony was barely 18. There was a Christmas tree resting in the corner of the house, looking a little slumped, sort of like the boy at the table. This.. between them, this drinking was a sort of mutual agreement. It was man time. Because when he was here with Obi, he was an equal, and they talked over a glass or two.
He brought the glass up to his lips a second time, closed his eyes, and let the numbing agent begin. After a moment, he set the empty glass down on the table and blinked back a few more tears. "So um.. yeah. That's good. Thanks Obi."
The man stood up and walked around to clap a hand on Tony's shoulder, squeezing just a little in reassurance. "I think you're going to be ok."
The first day Tony took over the company, he drove a red corvette to the building. When he got in his office, he found three phonecalls, a stack of files and a set of expensive crystal and expensive booze sitting on a table nearby. The latter being a gift from Obi. Tony headed for the table.
Obadiah smiled a little as he stood in the doorway. "Priorities, huh? You've got a busy day ahead of you."
Tony glanced over his shoulder at him. "You want a glass?"
"Too early for me. But you'll need it before you meet the board officially as CEO. I think your father used to call them wolves in hyena's clothing."
Tony's hand tightened around the glass at the mention of his father. Obadiah didn't miss the motion, but he said nothing. Drawing in a deep breath, Tony looked up at him. "It's really not as hard as it looks though, I mean.. you'll be in there with me, right?"
"I can't let the wolves eat you this early," Obi said with a small laugh. "I'll be there."
He walked over, and draped his arm around Tony's shoulders in a pose that felt so familiar and was echoed in old pictures of Obadiah and Howard. "You know, your father and I did this together. Now you and me, we're going to be unstoppable. We could rule the world if we wanted to."
Tony looked up at him a little and smiled briefly. "Yeah. I mean, we already own it, right?"