Pepper drove the car down the highway, trying not to focus too much on everything that had happened and instead on somewhere safe to be. Maya Hansen was sitting in the passenger seat, seeking somewhere to stay just like Pepper since she was now at risk also. Pepper was too smart to overlook the convenience that Maya had turned up exactly when they were attacked, but she didn't understand why she would have stayed there when they were hit or with Pepper after it all.
''Why were you at the house tonight?'' she asked, getting straight to the point. ''What was so important that you had to speak to Tony?''
Maya looked over to Pepper hesitantly, wondering if she could trust this woman she had just met.
''I think that my boss is working for the Mandarin,'' she told her truthfully. ''so if you still want to talk about it, I suggest we get ourselves some place safe.''
''Your...boss works for the Mandarin, you think? But Tony says you're a botanist-''
''Oh that figures, what I actually am is a biological DNA coder running a team of 40 out of a privately funded think-tank, but sure you can call me a botanist.'' Maya shook her head, annoyed at Tony.
''This boss of yours, does he have a name?'' Pepper asked.
''Yeah, Aldrich Killian,''
Pepper's looked over to Maya with wide eyes, wondering if she was telling the truth. Aldrich Killian was an old friend of Pepper's, there was no way he could have been working for the man who wanted Tony dead, but then again, this man was completely different to the person Pepper knew all those years ago, it was incredibly possible.
They both jolted in surprise when Pepper's cell began ringing in her pocket.
''You shouldn't answer that, it could be-''
''It's okay,'' Pepper smiled at the caller I.D, answering the phone. ''Bec! Oh my god, please tell me you're alright!''
Rebecca was also driving down the highway, but in a completely different direction to Pepper. She didn't know where she was going yet, but she had to get somewhere out of town so she could think of a plan, hack into something, anything.
''I'm fine Pepper, where are you?''
''Headed to a hotel, you can meet me there-''
''No, it's not safe for both of us to be there,'' Rebecca cut her off. ''Don't tell me where you are, just tell me that you're safe.''
''I'm safe, it's okay,'' Pepper assured her. ''Where are you? We've been calling you all day.''
''I know I'm sorry, I was uh, I was with Ben somewhere, didn't have my phone most of the day. Right now I'm out of town at a motel, I'll be safe.''
''By yourself? No, no I don't like it, you're coming to stay with me-''
''Pepper I can't. Whoever the Mandarin is, he isn't finished. We both need to be careful, and we'll be more at risk if we're together, it'll be too easy for him,'' she explained. ''I'll move again in the morning.''
''I don't like the idea of you being out there alone.''
''I know, but it's okay, I promise, I'm safe.''
''Don't stay on the phone too long, it could be bugged,'' Maya warned Pepper.
''Who's that?'' Rebecca asked, worried.
''It's okay, it's one of your dad's old friends, Maya Hansen,'' Pepper told her. ''We're finding a hotel, we're gonna be safe.''
''Good, but she's right, we can't talk for long. I'll call you tomorrow, and you call me if anything goes wrong.''
''Wait Bec, I heard from your dad. He was safe, he sent a recorded message to the suit, he's alive, but he can't come home yet, he's...he said he has to find this guy.''
Rebecca gripped the steering wheel tight, trying not to melt it or become worked up. She was glad her dad was safe, but this man was going to kill him and she couldn't sit back and let it happen.
''Where is he?''
''He didn't say, it's not safe-''
Rebecca listened in, but the line had gone silent.
The battery on the phone had died and cut out their conversation, and Rebecca swore as she threw it out the window, knowing she wouldn't be able to call Pepper again from another phone. One call to Pepper's cell was risky, but another was just stupid. She got what she needed from the conversation though. Pepper was safe and her dad was alive, somewhere. Now she just had to find him.
Tony had been walking through the thick snow in Tennessee for hours now, wandering around looking for somewhere to stay. A motel wasn't safe, he had to find somewhere no one could trace or think he would be. After he had made his call to Pepper and stolen a warm poncho, he began he trek again to find somewhere to stay until he came across a shabby looking shed outside of a house. It was night and there seemed to be no one around, so he took his chances.
Inside was exactly what he was hoping for. It was a shed filled with tools and some chairs, although he knew he wouldn't need somewhere to sleep. He hadn't slept in so long and now all of this had happened, but there was no way he was getting a wink of sleep that night or any other night until he had found this man and made sure Rebecca and Pepper were okay.
Tony sat the suit down in the chair, adjusting it properly before he got to work. He sat down at the bench desk and pulled the light over his arm, picking up pliers to fix the opening of wounds from where he had implanted the devices inside him which allowed the suit to be summoned to his body. It had been torn apart in the midst of the attack, and it was becoming painful.
Tony looked up at the door where a little boy was standing, a makeshift potato gun in his hands aimed at Tony. He obviously lived here and was shocked to find this man in his shed, but Tony listened and put his hands up, showing he wasn't here to cause trouble.
''Don't move,'' the boy warned.
''You got me,'' Tony shook his head. ''Nice potato gun. Barrel's a little long.''
Tony continued telling the boy a few things wrong with his gun and he responded by shooting towards some glass on the wall, proving Tony wrong about his gun's capabilities.
''Now you're out of ammo,'' Tony put his hands down.
''What's that thing on your chest?'' the boy asked.
''It's a uh, electromagnet. You should know, you've got a box of them right here,'' Tony flicked against a small box on the desk.
''What does it power?''
Tony moved over to the side, looking back at the suit sitting in the chair comfortably.
The young boy dropped his gun, his mouth hanging open in shock with a smile on his face. It was clear he knew what it was and that he was a fan, and he couldn't help walking towards it, his eyes glued to the suit.
''Oh my god!'' he gasped. ''Is that...is that Iron Man?''
''Technically, I am,'' Tony shrugged.
''Technically, you're dead,'' the boy handed him the paper before walking over to the suit.
The headlines were unmistakable. 'Mandarin Attack: Stark Presumed Dead'. He couldn't help his heart aching at the thought of Rebecca finding this paper and realizing what happened, but he was unable to even get in contact with her to tell her he was okay. He just wanted to hear her voice, know she was okay and it would make him feel a whole lot better, but right now, that wasn't an option.
''What happened to him?'' the boy asked, climbing up to sit beside the suit.
''Life,'' Tony sighed. ''I built him, I'll take care of him.''
''Like a mechanic?'' the boy nodded his head. ''You know, if I was building Iron Man and War Machine-''
''It's Iron Patriot now,'' Tony corrected.
''No way! That's way cooler!''
''No it's not,''
''Well anyway, I would have added retro-''
''Retro reflection panels?'' Tony asked.
''Yeah, to make it stealth mode.''
''Stealth mode? That's actually a good idea,'' Tony nodded.
The young boy managed to snap off the suits finger resulting in Tony telling him to quit touching him, but the boy was consumed by the idea that Iron Man was in his shed, sitting on his couch. He had watched him on the news all the time, and now he was face to face with it all.
''So who's home?'' Tony asked.
''Well my mom already left for the diner and my dad went to the 7/11 to get scratchers but I guess he won 'cause that was six years ago,''
Tony couldn't do this personal thing with kids he had never met before. He was fine with Rebecca as she grew up because she was his, he could fix everything whenever she cried or was sick or upset, but with another kid, he had no idea, so he opted for the carefree, tough love approach.
''Which happens, dad's leave, no need to be a pussy about it,'' he shrugged, and when the boy didn't exactly get upset or mad, he immediately changed the subject. ''Here's what I need; a laptop, a digital watch, a cell phone, a pneumatic actuator from your bazooka over there, a map of the town, a big spring, and a tuna fish sandwich.''
The boy smirked. ''What's in it for me?''
Tony looked away to think quickly. This kid was a lot more likable than all the other kids he'd met.
''Salvation. What's his name?''
''The kid who bullies you at school.''
''How did you know?''
''I got just the thing,'' Tony walked over to the suit pulling out something small. ''This is a very powerful weapon. Point it away from the face, press the button on top. It discourages bullying. Not lethal, just to cover one's ass. Deal?''
''Deal,'' the boy agreed, taking the small weapon.
''What's your name?'' Tony asked.
''Harley,'' the boy answered, looking over the weapon. ''What do I call you?'' he asked Tony.
''The mechanic, Tony.''
Rebecca had managed to ditch the stolen car she was driving in an empty parking lot on the side of the highway, walking to the nearest gas was a small car dealership down the road for second-hand, run down cars, and it was perfect. She didn't want to drive a car that anyone thought she would, she had to be able to get by under the radar.
She had managed to purchase a run down old Ford, providing the dealer with a reasonable tip and leaving before they got too familiar. She was careful to hide her face from everyone she walked past or spoke to, making sure that no one realized who she was. If the Mandarin found out she was looking for her dad, she didn't know what would happen. She also purchased a cheap cell phone from the gas station and called Ben, making sure everything was okay.
''Ben? Where are you?''
''I'm at home, I already made sure Pepper was okay,'' he told her with a sigh of relief. ''She's with a family friend, I think she'll be safe.''
''I know, I called her,'' Rebecca continued driving. ''I don't know who Maya is but I have no choice but to trust her right now, Pepper seems to be sure she'll be safe. She heard from my dad too.''
''What? Where is he?''
''I don't know, neither does Pepper, but he's alive, all I gotta do is find him.''
Rebecca could hear Ben's worry on the other side of the phone, and she knew he was anxious about her being out here on her own.
''Are you sure you know what you're doing?''
''No,'' she chuckled. ''But hey, I never do and it's worked out pretty well so far.''
''That's not exactly comforting,''
''It's all I can offer at the moment,''
''Where are you?''
''Driving out of town, I'll stop at a motel soon. I still don't know where I'm heading, but I'll map something out over the night, gives me time to think,''
''I still wish you would have let me come with you, I hate thinking of you out there by yourself, especially with what's happening with you,''
Rebecca was so lucky to have someone like Ben in her life. He genuinely cared about her, and it only made her love him more, but he couldn't come with her. She had no idea what she was doing and there was no way she could expect him to go along with this, especially since she was still understanding what Extremis was doing to her, she didn't want to hurt him accidentally.
''I couldn't stand it if you got hurt because of me,'' she told him honestly. ''It's too dangerous, it's easier if you stay safe there at home.''
''I could help you find him,'' he suggested. ''If you find anything I can hack into any computer and find more information,''
''You'd break the law for me?'' she asked jokingly.
''I'd do anything for you, you know that,''
Rebecca smiled to herself. ''I love you,'' she sighed. ''I'll call you again later when I find where I'm staying and we'll work something out, I promise.''
''Okay, be careful,''
Rebecca continued driving down the highway looking for a motel to stay at. She hoped that the Mandarin didn't have her father, wherever he was, and that she could find him before he did anything dangerous by himself. They had been through so much already together, she wasn't going to let him fight against this madman on his own when she was capable of helping. However, she didn't really know what she was capable of anymore. Extremis had taken over her whole body and it had taken her thing long to just understand how to calm herself down and stop from 'overheating', she didn't know what else was in store for her, but she wasn't going to let it get in her way. Killain said she could do anything, and she planned to put that to the test.
I hope you guys are enjoying it! It's going to get more interesting as it goes on and I'm sorry for a lot of movie-dialogue and retelling, but that's how I incorporate Rebecca into it effectively I think, it was necessary but I hope not to bore you all with too much of it. Anyway, please review with whatever you think about the story or parts you'd like to see or ideas, I love hearing from you guys. Thank you all for reading!