An Iron Man story.
Notches On The Tin Man's Bedpost.
This can be considered an Iron Man/The Soloist story, but I won't take the time to explain it. If you've seen both movies you'll understand.
Disclaimer: I do not and have not owned or stated I've owned anything involving Iron Man, and it shall stay that way. Even though I wish it didn't. This includes The Soloist. Anything you recognize is not mine.
"Riley, where's your column draft?" Russ Stanton asked, the biese mustache quivering like a ferret above his lip and the graying receating hairline taunting my self-control to make a sarcastic comment to the man.
"I'll have it to you soon, Stanton," I told him, hoping—no, praying the man leave my personal bubble soon or I'll give him a personal welcome to The Times. He's new, doesn't know the ropes very well, doesn't know how everyone works, nor I.
"If it's the day before publishing again, I'm docking your pay." He threatened. I didn't feel threatened, but he threatened nonetheless. He walked away, back to his newly furnished office. That used to be Mary, the old editor's office, but after she got fired, even the air felt different.
Once Stanton was out of ear and eye-shot, I turned to Steve sitting in the cubicle across the isle next to mine. "I hate him," I said, angst running through my veins and I bit into a Twizzler I'd found on my desk, probably three plus days old.
Steve laughed, a chuckle more so. "He's been here for two weeks, Ri, don't be so quick to judge."
I rolled my eyes, "You may be like that, but I am not. I judge people on how they treat others, and he treats us like we're children and therefore I really dislike the man. It's simple logic, Lopez, google it." He laughs, Steve always gets a kick out me. I remember the article Steve wrote about me when I first joined the staff. 'A woman young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines and words written bespoke repression and even a certain strength. A quirky red-head with a knack for opinions and expression. A gal named Riley McDermott.' I still have that article, cut out, and taped to my area wall.
"Despite your reputation, you're young and that's all he sees."
I nodded, "Yeah, I guess you're right, but I still don't like him. I don't like people who won't let me work at my own pace, I've certainly earned that privilage, right?"
And Steve nodded, "What's the thesis of this week's column, then?"
I sighed and leaned back in my old 90s, worn-out, office chair, mind you worn-out by my ass and my ass only. I looked up at the water stained tiles, imagining that sixty gallons of water would come bursting through and drenching the entire office and I'd finally get a day off. So, obviously, I sadly had no thesis for this week's column. I mean, I could do my normal bullshit; write about conspiracies with the government, or a column about how oblivious people are to the truth. But Steve took onto my lack of answering as a 'I have no thesis.'
"Ah, I see..." His phone started to ring, and he turned to answer it. "Steve Lopez." Damn his popularity.
I turned my chair around to the small TV that was bolted to the wall, in turn sending my full attention to the press conference taking place. Cameras flashed like strobe-lights and helpless reporters held out tape recorders to the podium that held a man of who's identity was unknown to me. But the fifty mile-per-hour text streaming across the bottom of the screen read something concerning Stark Industries and the future plans of the company.
Boring. Blad. Not worth my time. I don't care.
But as I rolled back over to Steve who had just gotten off the phone, I swung out my hand and stopped myself. The camera focused on a man who had just walked up to the podium. A man with his arm in a sling, a few cuts on his face. I felt Steve walk up behind me.
"That's Tony Stark."
"Mm-hmm." I mumbled and turned the volume up.
"I had my eyes opened. I came to realize I had more to offer this world than just making things that blow up. And that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries." And the crowd goes manic. Completely bonkers.
"Shiiiit." I said, that's a shocker, "I really wouldn't have guessed that the largest weapons manufacturing company in the world to stop making weapons. But that's the world, one surprise after another. Take Obama for example."
"This press-conference is dated, two months old actually. Yesterday a conference was held and Stark stated he was was Iron Man. The guys a total prick though, uses women. Playboy." Steve informed me and I perked up. Not the playboy part, but the Iron Man part. Okay, and the playboy part, but for a different reason.
He nodded, looking at me intently but I hardly noticed, my mind was racing. What if...
"Ah, ah. I know that face. I know that face, Riley, what's going on in that brilliant head of yours?" Steve asked in anticipation.
"What if...what if," I spoke louder, "I did that cliche? What if I found out the real Tony Stark. Behind all the guns and good-looks and behind that god awful goatee was something else? Something else entirely? Imagine it, Lopez...it's perfect." I smiled, and I smiled more than I have before.
I shooed Steve back to his work place and grabbed a phone book. I placed the phone to my ear and began my endless hunt for who to call to get me into an interview with Tony Stark.
"Maybe this was a stick in the mud here, but maybe I could do this. It'd take some work, but all good things take a bit of sweat. And guess what sweetie? You have a deadline in four days and a story on the Health Care Reform being a total character steal from communism is not a story at all."
"Hello, my name is Riley McDermott, I'm a columnist for the LA Times, and I was wondering if I could possibly get an interview with Tony Stark."
"Of course." This had to be at least the twelfth person I'd been put on hold with, and it was starting to get aggravating. Very aggravating.
"Pepper Potts speaking, how may I help you?" Fucking finally, this was Mr. Stark's P.A., I finally scored someone that could help me out.
"Hey, my name is Riley McDermott, I'm the leading columnist for the LA Times, and I was wondering if I could possibly get an interview with Tony Stark for a story..."
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry Miss McDermott, but Mr. Stark is currently unavailable at the moment."
I rubbed my forehead, I could feel the oil on my skin telling me I needed to take a shower. "Well, do you know when he will be avaible for an interview, particularly within the next few days?"
"No I'm sorry but he won't be available at all this week."
You have got to be joking... "Really? But then I don't have a story."
And que the dial tone.
"Thanks for...checking." I let the phone droop to my shoulder, the dull dial tone pulsating in my ear drums like a ringing in my ear that won't go away. I sigh.
"Now what?" I said to no one in particular. And of course, there was always someone to answer my questions whether need be or not.
"You could write your column on the Health Care Reform." Steve suggested.
"You know I don't do that stuff," I slumped in my chair, "Where exactly is Stark Industries?"
"Pretty sure it's here in Los Angeles. Why?" Steve asked. He should know by now that I do anything and everything I can to get a story, and I am going to work for this one.
"I'm going there right now, and hopefully I'll get something." I said as I lifted my jacket from the back of my chair and threw it on as I quickly exited the building.
I searched on my handy dandy iPhone on the location and set off for Stark Industries. But about halfway there, that phone began to ring, an unknown number.
"Hello, is this Riley McDermott?"
"Yes, and who is this?"
"Hi, I'm sorry this is Pepper Potts we spoke on the phone just a little while ago."
"Oh, yeah, hey."
"Were you still wanting that interview?"
"Uh, uhm, y-yes. Why the sudden change in plans?"
"Mr. Stark's next meeting got canceled right after you called so I decided to call you back. Do you think you could make it to Stark Industries within the next thirty minutes?"
"I am actually on the road right now, I think I'm pretty close as well."
"Oh, good. I'll wait for you in the main lobby and we can go from there."
I hung up and smiled.
When I'd entered the building I received looks from men in three-piece suits and women in pencil skirts that were everything but friendly. So I didn't dress like a professional, that doesn't mean I'm not one. I have, in fact, been one for quite sometime now.
A tall woman approached me, orange hair and bright blue eyes. That was an odd occurrence I've never seen.
"Hello, you must be Riley, I'm Pepper." I shook her smooth hand, she had a kind smile that looked a tad forced.
"Yes, it's good to put a face to the voice. Nice to meet you." Her eyes leered at my attire, "Oh, I'm sorry I'm not dressed up of anything, my job doesn't require any sort of professionality when it comes to clothes."
"Oh no, it's perfectly fine."
"I do stick out like a sore thumb in an ocean of healthy fingers, don't I?" I chuckled.
She smirked, nodded, "Well there's nothing wrong with that. Now, if you follow me, I'll lead you to Mr. Stark's office." And she did, my old sneakers made a soft patter compared to her three and a half inch heels clicking on the almost mirrored tile floor, my ankles ached just thinking about wearing those nasty things.
"Right through that door Miss McDermott."