Tony's choice

This started as a Tony-Rhodey friendship piece, but part two has a Tony/Pepper moment, so I changed the pairing. Also, while I'm indifferent to the vs. D Cheadle debate, I wrote this with in mind.


Cnel. Rhodes burst into Tony Stark's basement.

"Hey, Tony, I've got a -" He stopped on his tracks.

Tony Stark, in his Iron Man suit, was sitting on a reclining chair, a glass in one hand and a bottle of Scotch in the other. He nodded at his visitor.

"Rhodey."

"Tony. What are you doing?"

"What do you think?" Tony shook the glass, making the ice cubes tinkle.

"Shouldn't you at least take off your suit while you do that?"

"I'm on Iron Man patrol, pal."

"But you're drinking, too."

"Your point?"

Rhodey didn't reply; he merely crossed his arms and gave Tony a stern look.

Tony rolled his eyes.

"Don't give me that. There," he said, motioning Rhodey in the bar's direction. "Have a drink."

"No, thank you; I'm on duty, too."

Tony defiantly raised his glass but didn't drink from it. He hesitated, then put the glass down.

"You take the fun out of this," he muttered.

"I thought the drinking bouts were over, Tony."

"They were. They are," he said. "I'm just bored."

"Bored? How can you be bored? You're Iron Man! You've tons of things to do!"

"You'd think I would," Tony replied. "Do you know what my last mission consisted of?"

"No, Tony; I don't."

"Tell him, JARVIS."

"Mr. Stark rescued a kitten, yesterday morning, Colonel;" JARVIS said earnestly. "Fancy Paws had climbed to the farthest branch of a tree; firemen from several counties were called in, but after six hours they had to give up on their efforts to rescue him. It wasn't until a brave reporter called Mr. Stark that -"

"You make it sound more thrilling than it was, JARVIS," Tony said, and he morosely poured himself more whiskey. "All I did was fly over there and grab that damned flea-bag. That cat was so freaked out by the whole experience it was practically having a seizure by the time I handed it over to the owner."

"According to the WTC4 reporter, the owner was very grateful," JARVIS countered.

"Oh, yeah," Tony said sourly, "That toothless little old lady kept trying to plant a wet one on me." He drained his drink.

"I still don't see what the problem is," Rhodey said.

Tony sighed. "My career as a superhero has reached a crisis, Rhodey; there are no big criminals willing to face-off with me anymore. At this rate, my next mission will be to direct the traffic next time there's a power failure."

"Well, Tony, you gotta be reasonable; you can't expect to face lethal robots or evil Mandarins every day."

"But I need work! My mind rebels at stagnation."

Rhodey snorted. "What, you're channeling Sherlock Holmes, or something?"

"Sherlock Holmes? What are you talking about?"

"Sherlock Holmes, Tony. The famous detective? The literary icon?"

"I know who he is," Tony replied testily, "I just don't know what he's got to do with -"

"He was the first to say his mind rebelled at stagnation," Rhodey explained. "He said it whenever he didn't have a case to work on. Only he didn't turn to drink; he turned to cocaine. Not that I'm giving you any ideas, here," Rhodey added quickly.

"Cocaine," Tony said, voice heavy with despise. "All that does is fry your brain cells. Now, this…" he added, looking fondly into his glass, "This gives me a nice, warm feeling. Like I'm capable of doing great things if given a chance."

"You are capable of great things, Tony." Rhodey said. "That's why we need you to keep alert. In fact…"

Tony raised an eyebrow.

"What?"

"… I came to ask you a favor."

"Really?" Tony put his feet down, "You've got a mission for me?"

"A very important mission. One that will require the two of us joining forces -"

"I thought you weren't interested in wearing the suit."

"Hey, I didn't say I wasn't interested; I said I didn't wanna leave my job in the army."

"Ah, yes. You'd rather have your crummy army pension than a top job at Stark Industries."

"I can still be your sidekick, Tony; I can still watch your back -"

"Ok, ok. So, tell me what this mission is all about."

"Well, as you know there was a massive bird invasion in Washington over the weekend -" he glared.

"Ah, yeah," Tony said, "Sorry I couldn't help," he added insincerely.

"That's what I can't understand," Rhodey said. "You had an opportunity to serve your country and flat out refused to do it."

"Iron Man doesn't pulverize birds, Rhodey. Not even for the White House. I can't risk having the folks at PETA revoke my membership, you know."

"I see."

"So? What do the birds have to do with the mission?"

"Those birds left every monument in town covered in crap, Tony."

"So?"

Rhodey merely stared back.

Tony narrowed his eyes.

"You want me -You want Iron Man to do a clean-up?"

"I'd go along and help you."

"Let me get this straight: You expect me to go to Washington and clean up the shit-covered monuments -"

"You wouldn't have to touch any of it! And I know you can do it; you've kept your roofs free of seagull crap for months now."

"Sorry, buddy; I'm not gonna go to Washington to -"

"Sir," JARVIS intervened, "I'm getting a call from the police."

"Especially when I'm about to go on a mission!" Tony practically jumped out of his seat. He was instantly sober. "Go ahead, JARVIS."

"Sir, firemen in Montecito are claiming for your help. Another kitten, sir."

"Ew."

Deflated, Tony fell back on his chair.

"Sir, that chair is going to collapse if you continue to -"

"Oh, shut up."

Rhodey tilted his head in expectation. "Well? What's it gonna be?"

Tony fidgeted.

"Sir, there's an incoming message from Miss Potts."

Tony brightened up. "Great. I count on Pepper to keep me busy. Maybe she's bringing me some contract we've got to go over -"

"No, sir. From what I gather, she's bringing some Chinese take-out -"

"Great."

"- and the blu-ray edition of Sophie's Choice, her favorite movie."

"Yikes."

"You promised to see it, sir."

Rhodey snorted.

"You promised to see a chick movie?"

"I thought I'd be on a mission by now! Shit."

"You have a mission, Tony," Rhodey said persuasively. "There's all that crap waiting for us."

Tony gulped.

"Sir, the firemen in Montecito are waiting for your response."

Tony sighed.

"Well?" Rhodey asked.

Tony rose from his seat.

"JARVIS? It's time for plan B."

"But sir, I...uh, er…"

"Plan B, JARVIS."

"What's plan B?" Rhodey frowned.

"Tell him, JARVIS."

"It involves time-traveling, Cnel. Mr. Stark wants to travel back to the sixties. He believes there were better villains back then."

"The pot was better, too," Tony said brightly. "I think," he added discreetly.

"You've gotta be kidding me!" Rhodey exploded, "Who's gonna manage your enterprises?"

"Oh, I'm not planning on staying there. I just want to recharge my batteries, so to speak. A couple of days in San Francisco... the Summer of Love..." he patted his pockets. "I've got my fake ID, I've got my wallet -"

Rhodey eyed him suspiciously.

"Wait a minute. You're not time-traveling because of the villains! You just want to have a weekend of debauchery!"

"Anonymous debauchery," Tony pointed out. "Do you know how hard it's for me to have one, now that I'm Iron Man?"

"The platform is ready, sir."

Tony started toward it, then glanced over his shoulder. "Care to come?"

Rhodey looked up with interest. "You'd take me along?" he asked, then, before Tony replied. "Nah, I can't. No way."

"Oh. Suit yourself," Tony said carelessly. "I could have dropped you at a James Brown concert, but -oh, well."

Rhodey's eyes widened.

"James Brown?"

"Yep. Of course, you can stay and watch Sophie's Choice, if you want."

"Hum..."

"Or you can go clean up Washington on your own."

Rhodey paused for a couple of seconds.

"Ok, I'll come along. But drop me at a Tina Turner concert, will ya?"


THE END