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Weapons of Choice

Story Info

Title: Weapons of Choice

Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)

Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)

Genre: General

Rating: T / FRT

Characters: James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine), Tony Stark (Iron Man). (Mentioned: Howard Stark.)

Summary: From their first meeting at MIT to the re-branding of War Machine after the mess with AIM, Rhodey knows Tony chose to be his friend – just like Tony chose to stop building weapons that could have changed the face of warfare, only to give birth to Iron Man; his greatest creation.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.

Warnings: Implied underage drinking.

Disclaimer: Iron Man, and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction created to entertain likeminded fans for no profit whatsoever.

Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)

Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.

Weapons of Choice

~ ~ ~

Weapons of Choice

Rhodey meets Tony at MIT. They’re not in the same class, with Rhodey being a freshman while Tony’s in his second year, but Rhodey immediately knows who the kid is: Tony Stark, son of Howard Stark. A prodigy, ahead of his time and ahead of his class even here where the playing field should be evened out by the simple rules of maturity.

There’s nothing simple about Tony.

He’s hard at work in the engineering lab, going there after hours and missing morning classes because he probably stayed up all night working on one of his projects. Rhodey’s heard about the robots he built, the AI programming and complex learning algorithms.

At the same time, he’s almost as likely to find Tony at one of the parties he’s legally too young to attend, but who’s going to stop Howard Stark’s son from picking up a bottle if he wants it bad enough?

The first time Rhodey comes within real touching distance of him is while helping Tony out of the building hosting one of said parties and supporting him to keep his balance as he throws up in the bushes. Tony’s too young to be drinking and Rhodey feels like it’s up to him to look after the genius child.

Tony doesn’t make it easy, not feeling like gaining another babysitter after he’s obviously just lost his previous one.

They become friends, though, and Tony even attends some of Rhodey’s classes even though he’s not supposed to be there, just so that they can discuss it later.

When Tony graduates, there’s a bit of a buzz around him, but he doesn’t fail to wink at Rhodey and tell him to keep up the good work in his last year. He also promises they’ll see each other, and while Rhodey doesn’t instinctively cling to that promise, he isn’t too surprised when Tony shows up for his graduation ceremony and later crashes the party at his home.

Tony’s in a phase between school and work – a phase that lasts for four years and ends with the crash that kills his parents in December of 1991.

- - -

Rhodey stops by Tony’s a lot.

Stark Industries had big military contracts even before Howard Stark passed away, and after the brief uncertainty of whether his son will be taking over the company, the ball continues rolling.

Even when it felt like Tony was wasting time in between MIT and becoming the CEO of his father’s company, it was hardly true. Tony helms the creative work of SI with an even hand while other people handle the paper trail and logistics.

Tony designs weapons that are meant for the next generation, and Rhodey is pestered by the top brass to ask him why that is.

“Why would I build a gun to replace another gun – when I can instead create something more sophisticated, controllable, effective, and advanced?” he challenges the question the brass strong-armed Rhodey into asking. “Why would I focus on a single bullet when I can conquer the battlefield?”

Rhodey takes that answer back to his superiors, and while they frown and murmur in response, Rhodey knows there are at least a few who understand: Howard Stark helped build the atomic bomb. His son will most likely design and build something even greater. It may not look like the things they’re used to, but it will get the job done.

- - -

Tony’s weapons work until Afghanistan.

Technically, they work even after the events of Afghanistan, but they are in short supply and Tony is constantly tightening the leash on them, first in the hands of terrorists and eventually followed by the rest of the world.

Either Tony becomes blinded by his new motives or he doesn’t see that even when he refuses to partake further in the weapons industry, he is building the greatest weapon of all time in the shape of the armor he wields to right the wrongs his legacy has wrought.

Over the years, the motives waver and Tony either dismisses the conflict or learns to live with it, for he still builds weapons for the armors, smarter and more effective, many of which could be used in a different way with devastating results.

Either Tony doesn’t see it, or doesn’t think that his technology can ever fall into the wrong hands.

Then AIM happens, and when Tony spends hours molding Iron Patriot back into War Machine, Rhodey reflects on Tony’s old statement about a high-tech prosthesis and wonders how true it is, for both of them.

The suit and I are one.

In that old film reel, Howard Stark stated that Tony was his greatest creation. Not the best choice of words to leave for your estranged son to hear, but casting an odd shadow on Tony’s own obsession nonetheless.

Iron Man is, for certain, Tony’s greatest creation to date, and whether the prosthesis is physical or emotional – or a combination of both – it is impossible to say without the wisdom of hindsight.

What is certain, however, is that the only weapons Tony will ever be creating are an extension of himself, one way or another, and Rhodey knows that there’s a whole lot of luck and coincidence to thank for his share in it. He has no delusions that Tony chose him at some point, to be his friend and confidant, an ally and the only person to wear one of the suits like his own.

An extension of Tony’s greatest creation, whether it is chosen to be seen as a weapon or not.

The End