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Fandoms: Iron Man/Marvel Movieverse, Highlander
Warnings/Notes: WIP, spoilers for Iron Man II as this is set during the events of the movie, gen friendship with background het.
Character(s): Tony Stark, Methos, Ezra Standish, Pepper Potts, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Natasha Romanoff/Natalie Rushman, James 'Rhodey' Rhodes, Justin Hammer, Original Characters.
Summary: Their whole world changed when Tony revealed he was Iron Man, but that wasn't nearly the end of it.
San Luis Obispo, California
"Faster this time," Charlotte instructed her student. Nodding, Jacob raised his sword, preparing for the next bout.
Jacob Tanimura, a former Marine, had shown up on Charlotte's doorstep a few weeks before for a job interview. The new Immortal barely knew what he was, and had no teacher, so Charlotte had not only hired him, but had taken him on as a student.
"Sorry to butt in," a voice said from the open doorway. "I know you're in the middle of something, but can I have the room, Tanimura?"
Jacob looked at his boss, who nodded, then at Tony. "Sure, sir."
"I appreciate it."
"And I appreciate the breather," Jacob replied with a laugh before returning his attention to Charlotte. "Ma'am, if you're ever looking for work, there's a Navy Seal team that needs a trainer."
"Ha ha, very funny!" Charlotte said, rolling her eyes. "I'm not that hardcore."
"You keep telling yourself that, ma'am," Jacob replied with a wink before leaving the barn that had been converted into a practice and workout space.
"I think you are that hardcore, and it's really hot," Tony said, walking farther into the barn. "I've never seen you in action before."
Stowing her sword, Charlotte replied coolly, "And you still haven't. That was practice with a novice. If you ever see the real thing, you'll know it."
"And you're still ticked at me." Her tone was not lost on him.
"If you say so, Tony. Was there something you needed, because I have a very full day ahead of me."
"Yeah, well if you could work me into your very busy schedule, I'd appreciate it. Maybe some breakfast?"
She whirled towards him at his last words. "Breakfast? Are you kidding me? Tony, you have no idea how close you are to me tossing you out on your ear, so consider your next words very carefully!"
"Think you could?" he shot back.
"Toss me, you know."
"Want to find out?"
He considered. "Actually, no."
"You may as well give in now," he advised with a smirk. "Because you always forgive me, even when I don't deserve it and it'll just save time."
Charlotte didn't respond, walking out of the barn, towards her old pickup truck. It had been two days since they'd returned home from Monaco, two days since the attack on Tony by Ivan Vanko. Charlotte had avoided Tony, even on the flight back to the States, and he'd had enough sense to see he needed to give her some space, leaving her be. But that respite was apparently over, as Tony followed her, seemingly content to just wait it out. Her hand on the driver's side door, she glared at him through the window. "You are not coming home with me, Tony. I need to take a shower and then I have actual work to do."
"A shower—" he began, only to press his lips together at the look of complete indignation on Charlotte's face. Changing tack, he pulled open the passenger side door. "I'll tag along. Not for the shower, but the stuff where you have actual clothes on."
Throwing herself into the driver's seat, she demanded, "Don't you have anything better to do?"
Getting in, he shook his head. "Nope. Greatest thing about not being CEO, my time is my own. Should've done it years ago!"
"Yay," she said sourly.
He reached over, his fingers brushing her hand on the steering wheel. "Birdie," he said softly.
Looking at him sharply, she searched his face. Then she sighed. "Tony…you make it so difficult sometimes…."
"I know I do, and I also know I shouldn't just take it for granted that you'll always give me a pass. But I do anyway, because your acceptance of, what did you call it? Oh, yeah, of me being me, it's a constant in my life, like you are."
"Not sure what that says about me, but okay, Tony."
"Does that mean you accept my apology?"
"Then there is a chance of breakfast?" he asked, eyes twinkling.
"Don't push your luck!"
"Sure thing." The turning serious, he said, "Vanko is dead."
"An explosion at the prison."
"Convenient. Was there a body?"
"Of course there was a body."
"Huh," she said to herself.
"Huh? When did you get so paranoid anyways?"
The look she gave him spoke volumes. Eyebrows raised, she said, "I didn't survive all these years by accepting the obvious, Tony."
"Oh, right, I still forget sometimes."
"About you being so old."
"I am not that old!" she protested. "Matthew and Amanda are way older than I am."
"That's okay, Birdie, I'll still think you're hot even when you're three centuries old."
"Well now, that's a relief," she said dryly. "And speaking of paranoid, I wonder just whose hands Vanko's weaponry will end up in? The genie's out of the bottle."
Tony waved away her concern. "The genie may be out of his bottle, but it isn't that easy to get him to do what you want."
"I suppose you're right," she conceded. "Besides, there's nothing I can do about it. But there is something I can do; I've been thinking maybe breakfast is a good idea after all." She smiled at him, a smile he returned. "How about pecan pancakes?"
Tony finished off the second stack of pancakes without any lull in enthusiasm, making a start on a fresh pot of coffee while he was at it. Methos popped in briefly for a refill of coffee, kissing Charlotte on the cheek as he passed on his way back out the door.
Tony watched the Immortal leave. "What exactly does he do all day?"
"The technical term? This and that." She laughed. "He's got an experiment going on fermenting wine in clay urns—just like the old days—he reads, writes, pesters his friend Duncan at his winery, and spends the rest of his time down at the saloon pestering Joe."
"Have you ever done that? Just drifted, not doing much at all?"
"Once or twice. It's sort of like retirement, before moving on the next part of our lives."
"And what didn't you do during your retirement?" he asked curiously.
She thought back. "The first time was after Jack died. It was like the real beginning of my life as an Immortal. I guess you could say I needed to find myself. I'd spent the first seventy odd years of my life as a daughter, a wife—twice—and then, I was alone. Matthew wanted us to have a life together, but I needed to stand on my own, and he loved me enough to let me go."
"You were married a long time."
"Almost fifty years. I felt as if I'd betrayed Jack; we were supposed to grow old together. A part of me, I don't know, I felt as if I didn't deserve happiness or love after he died."
"So what did you do?"
"I ran away, to the farthest corners of the Earth. I traveled for nearly two decades before I settled down again, picking up my responsibilities once more. I found friends along the way, so I wasn't alone for long. James made sure I enjoyed my self-imposed exile."
"An old friend."
"That takes on a whole different meaning where you're concerned," Tony pointed out.
"Yes, that sort of old friend." She reached for the tea pot. "You'll probably get to meet him one day.' She didn't see the flash of sadness in Tony's eyes. Pouring more tea into her mug, she said, "I wasn't kidding earlier when I said I had a busy day, Tony. But since you're here, you can make yourself useful and help me finish my presentation for the Expo."
"Yes, ma'am," he said smartly, giving her a little salute. She stuck her tongue out at him. "But before you send me off to the salt mines, I have something for you."
She raised an eyebrow. "Backup in case I didn't forgive you?"
"You got it," he said with a cheeky smile, pulling a small flat box from his inside jacket pocket, putting it down on the table in front of her.
"What is it?"
"You usually find that out when you open it."
She sniffed, lifting the lid and removing the contents, looking at it curiously. It was the size of a smart phone, but the screen was transparent, like a single sheet of glass. "This is just like yours."
Tony nodded. "Your own little piece of Jarvis."
Her eyes narrowed. "I'm not going to let you spy on me using one of your gizmos, Tony!"
He slapped his hand against his chest dramatically. "You wound me, Birdie, you really do."
"Deal with it," she shot back.
"Jarvis, tell her you're not going to spy on her."
From the speaker in the high tech PDA in her hand, Jarvis' voice issued. "I assure you, madam, that I would never allow Mr. Stark to compromise your privacy. You have my word."
"You, I believe, Jarvis."
"Of course you do," Tony snarked.
Charlotte leaned over, kissing him on the cheek. "Okay, I believe you too." She went back to studying the device. "Is it a phone as well?"
"All in one. But—" he pointed at her "—it only works if it's turned on and the battery isn't dead."
"Very funny! That's only happened once." At the look Tony gave her, she amended, "Okay, three times….maybe four! But that's it."
"At least now I know why electricity seems to be such a hard concept for you to grasp." He ducked as she threatened to hit him. "What's that like anyway?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You were born in an age of candlelight," he explained. "From candles to nuclear power. What was it like when electricity was discovered? Not to mention when it started being used in your daily life?"
"Dr. Franklin spoke a great deal about his experiments when I was in France. I was fascinated. He even sent me a set of lightening bells after the Revolution as thanks for many evenings of diverting discussion and delightful company. So I was not totally uneducated on the subject."
"Dr. Franklin? The Benjamin Franklin? With the round glasses and the hair?" He motioned with his hands. "That one?"
She laughed delightedly at the look of consternation on Tony's face. "Yes, Tony, that one. And until I met you, the most memorable genius I had ever known."
Looking smug, he shrugged. "What can I say? I'm me." Then he leaned back in his chair. "Just how delightful was your company?"
"Not that delightful. I was a happily married woman, thank you very much!"
"But come on, Birdie, he tried, right?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"Another similarity you and he share," she said sardonically.
"My faith in the Founding Fathers is restored!" He grinned as she rolled her eyes. "I demand to see the lightening bells! We should set them up—how cool would that be?"
"I have to find them first, but sure, they're all yours."
He looked outraged. "Find them? What do you mean, find them?"
"Oh, calm down, Tony." She waved away his ire. "They're in a trunk in the attic of my house in South Carolina." She paused. "Well, at least I think they are."
Slapping his hands over his face, he shook his head, groaning. "What am I going to do with you?" he asked from between his fingers.
"Take me to dinner after my presentation next week," she replied promptly. "To that little place I like so much, just like we used to."
Dropping his hands, he smiled ruefully. "We haven't had much bestie time lately, have we?"
She shrugged a shoulder. "Not much, but there have been things."
"Yeah, things. We should do better, you and me, even with things."
"Absolutely. Best Friends Forever, remember?"
"Just promise me that two-hundred and fifty years from now, I'll still be most memorable genius, okay?"
Eyes bright, Charlotte rested her fingertips against Tony's cheek. "No one will ever replace you in my heart, Tony. I will never forget you, no matter how many centuries may pass."
Tony pulled to a stop at the end of the long drive as Methos approached from the other side of the road where he'd been walking. He got out of the car, leaning against the side.
"So all is forgiven?" Methos asked.
"Pretty much as anticipated," Tony agreed.
Shaking his head, he laughed. "I suppose I'm not one to talk, considering."
Waving a hand at him, Tony said, "She told me you let her walk away, after her husband died, even though you loved her. How do you do that?" There was an intensity to the question.
Methos sighed. "Sometimes, Stark, you need to let go, if you love someone. To protect them—from you, from themselves, maybe from both. Some things are meant to be, but not always right away."
"I don't know if I could do that." He looked down at the ground, scuffing the toe of his shoe into the dirt. "I'm a selfish bastard."
Laughing, he stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Believe me when I tell you, Stark, I'm the poster child for selfish bastard. There was a time in my life when I took what I wanted. Learning to put others ahead of my own wants was a steep learning curve, but I figured it out. You will too."
A grimace tugged at Tony's lips. "You and I both know I won't have the time to learn that."
"And yet, still, you won't tell Charlotte."
"After my birthday, I'll tell her. I will," he insisted at the look of doubt on the other man's face. "I just want one last good memory. Is that too much to ask?"
"I hope you know what you're doing."
"Me too." He flashed a smile. "I gave Birdie something today. When I'm gone, there's things I need her to know, to take care of for me, stuff I can't trust to lawyers. Jarvis will take care of it, tell her what I need done…tell her goodbye."
"For what it's worth, Stark, I hope that day never comes to pass. But if it does, I give you my word that I'll do whatever I can to help fulfill your last wishes."
Tony took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "Tell her…tell her that loving me, despite me being me, meant more than I was ever able to express to her. She'll understand."
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