A Helping Hand 1.4Mature

The three completed their work ahead of time to Tony’s delight. He was so impressed with their work, he invited them to stay for his birthday party. Had James not told the story of how Tony came to be, Tabitha would’ve declined, as Ramil and Ashley did. However, she was even more curious about the arc reactor… as well as her theory about the extra armors; she wanted to get a chance to talk about both to him.

She was slightly disappointed as James and herself sat away from the crowd that begged for Tony’s undivided attention; he had given her the run-around and never wanted to talk about anything that she found was important. She sighed and shook her head as she watched him; he insisted on enjoying himself in one of his modified armors sans his helmet. She wasn’t used to seeing anyone drink as heavily as he did; her forehead wrinkled at the fact that he was on his eighth stiff drink.

“That ain’t healthy… or safe, is it?” she noted. James shook his head.

“That’s Tony for you! By the way… you look nice tonight.” he surprised her. She blushed as she sipped her champagne. She hadn’t packed for a night on the town; her wardrobe was work-related: t-shirts and jeans. She couldn’t imagine what James was seeing that was different about her, aside from the t-shirt head wrap.

“Um… thanks?”

“… Anyone in space missing you?” she smirked at his boldness. The thought made her blush even more.

“Uh… yeah, actually.”

“So, Tony was right! He said that he’s an alien…”

“Martian!” Tabitha rolled her eyes and laughed. James chuckled slightly but then gave her a look.

“Wait… Martian? As in…”

“Yes; the one who rehabbed me…” she slightly sighed out.

“How did that happen?”

“I don’t know; it just… did.”

“Hmm. He’s lucky…”

“He’s also a mind reader so watch what you think!” her words made him straighten up and stare at her.

“Wait… he doesn’t have to be here to read minds?!” his shocked expression made her laugh aloud.

“Nope. He don’t have to know you or have ever even seen you before to do it. Oh… and he could be here; he’s a shape shifter, too!”

“Holy… makes it hard to cheat!” he laughed and shook his head, “So, I’m getting you in trouble by just talking to you!”

“What? No! He’s… not like that… I don’t think…” she wanted to giggle thinking that J’onn would ever get jealous, “Anyway; I wouldn’t think of cheating…”

“Is it serious, then?” his question made her think back to her time-traveling adventure. According to that scenario, it definitely was serious between the two. She remembered her words about the Martian being able to read minds and immediately stopped thinking about the secret mission, smiling down at her glass.

“I would think so…”

“You ‘think’ so?”

“I mean, if you’re asking if he proposed or something like that, no. But, that ain’t on my mind right now. We’re still tryna figure out how to tell the others about us…”

“Wow; no one knows?!”

“Only my best friend, the two that were with me this whole week, Mr. Stark and you. Oh, and one Justice League member. Being a superhero has its disadvantages…” she realized sadly.

“Why do it, then, if you have to keep it secret?” he asked. She leaned back in her seat and thought about his question.

“Is Mr. Stark and Pepper seeing each other?”

“It’s… kind of hard to say. You see it wanting to happen but then… Tony will be Tony…”

“Since he’s told everyone that he’s Iron Man, how many times has she been kidnapped or threatened?” she wanted to know. It was James’ turn to lean back in his chair to think. He slowly nodded and looked at her.

“Good point…”

“The worst thing a villain can do is hurt the one you care about…” her words made her think back to two instances. When Joker took Ethan hostage and called her out; he knew what to do to attempt to grab her attention. Had Bruce told her, she knew that she wouldn’t have thought twice about saving him, herself. The other instance was when she was terrorized briefly by J’onn’s twin brother. She knew that the Martian was going to do anything to get her out of harm’s way; if that meant succumbing to the very virus that killed off his race, he was willing to do it. Another thought had crossed her mind; she knew that Ma’alefa’ak had terrified her… she couldn’t put her finger on exactly why she was too afraid to continue her attack on him…

Her thoughts were interrupted by a series of drunken cheering. Both put their attention towards the front of the room, where Tony was standing beside the deejay’s booth, grabbing a microphone.

“Oh, hell…” James sighed. Tabitha shook her head but laughed a little.

“It’s his birthday; let ‘em have some fun!”

“Thank you for coming to celebrate with me. I know most of you are wondering how I go to the bathroom in the suit…” he drunkenly announced. Tabitha raised an eyebrow and had to admit that she wondered the same. He closed his eyes for a moment, slightly wobbled and a sign of relief flushed across his face, “Like that!”[1] he continued and the crowd roared with laughter. Tabitha widened her eyes.

“Oh… my… God… did he just really…”

“I really don’t want to know right about now!” James rushed, shaking his head. Tony’s antics prompted Pepper to appear and attempt to scold him.

“They act like my mom and dad…” she didn’t know why it warmed her slightly, “You know; without all the drinking!”

“Your dad embarrasses your mom a lot?”

“No… he just does shit that makes her fuss at him!” she smiled. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard a blast; her instincts made her dive towards James and cover him on the ground.

“What the hell…” was his muffled response. She quickly looked around and noticed that Tony’s arm was extended out towards what used to be the door.

“Sorry; you alright?”

“I’m fine. You would’ve made one hell of a combat buddy…” he smirked at her.

“Oops…” Tony drunkenly smirked. Instead of the partygoers becoming intimidated, they began to cheer.

“Blast this!” one drunken woman yelled and threw a vase in the air. Tony shrugged and extended his arm out once more, exposing the proton blaster in his suited glove. A light blue repulsor ray shot out and hit the vase, shattering it into pieces above the partygoers’ heads.

“Okay; that definitely ain’t safe!” Tabitha got up from the floor. James followed her as they approached Tony.

“I think that’s enough!” James threatened.

“He’s right, Mr. Stark; you’re gonna seriously hurt someone…”

“Dawling! You know, I really love your accent; get up here and show them what you can do!” he tried to pull Tabitha beside him.

“Mr. Stark!” she snatched away from his grasp.

“Oh, don’t be shy; hit me with that lightning of yours!”

“You’ve had enough fun for tonight; don’t drag her into this!” James gently pushed Tabitha out of the way so the two men were nearly face-to-face.

“I really think you’re out of your league, ‘soldier boy’!” Tony actually laughed, pointing his proton blaster towards James.

“Stop it!!” Tabitha was beyond shocked that he would threaten the lieutenant colonel like he did. However, James didn’t flinch, narrowing his eyes at his friend. His lips formed a thin line before he slowly backed away and stormed off. Her concerned stare for James switched to irate as soon as she laid eyes on Tony laughing. Without thinking, she placed her hands on his chest plate, charged up and gave him a powerful shock, knocking him off his feet. The crowd continued to cheer even as she went after James, following him to the lower level of the home, “James…” she tried however he was too busy fuming to listen to her. He put the access code in to continue beyond the glass shield and continued his aggravated pace towards the back, “James! What you gonna do…?”

“Even the odds…” he finally responded. He suddenly turned to her, “You know… you’re the only one that calls me James… it’s nice to hear that instead of ‘Rhodey’ all the damn time!” he slightly smiled. James approached the grey and black Iron Man prototype armor, “Help me into this…” he ordered. She simply stared at him.

“Do you think it’s worth it…?”

“He said I was out of my league. I want to see what he’ll say after this!”

“… I don’t think you’d know how to operate it…”

“I’m a pilot, Tabitha; how hard can it be?”

“James… don’t do this. Let’s just… leave and let ‘em be. He’ll pass out sooner or later…”

“He is going to hurt someone! Do you want that to happen?”

“… No…”

“Then, help me… please? You said it the other day; this is my suit.” he slightly pleaded. She sighed and started to help him into the armor.

Don’t kill him!”

“You think I’m reckless?”

“No but… things can get outta hand quick. I’m coming with you.”

“Fine.” he said as the suit immediately enclosed on him. Moments later, his limbs moved, “Hmm… sensors… they respond to my every move.” he noticed. Tabitha grabbed the helmet and put it over his head. The front shield immediately covered his face and the eye plates lit up white, “Alright; let’s clear the party out!”

When the two made their way back to the party, they saw that Tony was dancing around. Tabitha filled the air with her lightning, drawing the attention of the crowd.

“I’m only going to say this once… get out…”[2] James threatened.

“Yep… you ain’t gotta go home but you gotta get the hell outta here!” she continued to charge up. The partygoers left immediately, leaving only Tony, James and Tabitha.

“Two against one? You two can’t take me on…”

“You’re drunk, Mr. Stark. We don’t wanna hurt you while you’re like this…”

“Really? Oh, dawling… I don’t want to hurt you!” he retaliated. Before James could react, Tony released a repulsor ray towards Tabitha. She barely missed getting hit, doing a Lightning Cloud out of the way. She appeared behind Tony, placed her hands on his back and released her lightning, making him stumble to the ground.

“Whoa…” James couldn’t help himself; he noted that she was incredibly quick. It didn’t change the fact that his friend had attempted to hurt her; he stalked him angrily, “You don’t even deserve to wear one of these; shut it down!”[3] he growled at him. Tony wearily got up and sighed.

“Goldstein…”[4] he looked towards the deejay’s booth. The man came out of his hiding spot, peeking slightly over his laptop.

 “Yes, Mr. Stark?”[5]

“Give me a phat beat to beat my buddy’s ass to…”[6] he actually laughed. Tabitha raised her eyebrow at his cockiness however James grabbed him from behind. Without warning, Tony blasted backwards, making both go through the adjacent wall. Tabitha gave an apologetic look towards the deejay and followed the two to the other room. She didn’t know what to do besides make sure that she was careful not to get in the way; the two exchanged each other’s blows, Tony with more strength although he was intoxicated. She realized why; the two hits she delivered to him had charged his suit up… twice. Her lightning would only increase the power within the suits.

As she watched Tony get the upper hand in the fight, she immediately went to James’ side as he was knocked down.

“Tabitha…”

“Relax…” she warned and gave him a shock. With renewed energy, James grabbed Tony and threw him into the ceiling, knocking him into the level upstairs. She continued to follow the two, making sure that neither was injured badly. Another thing that she had to admit was that she did a great job on the armors; as much as they were throwing each other around, going through ceilings and walls, she couldn’t see so much as a dent in either suit.

James proved that although he was a pilot, he was inexperienced in operating the armor; Tony yet again took advantage and slammed him down on the ground, hard enough to go through the floor. Tabitha followed the two, jumping down from the hole they made. When she saw Pepper and Natalie in the corner of the room, her instincts kicked in; she pushed the two towards Tony’s bodyguard, Happy.

“Get ‘em out of here!” she yelled at him. While doing so, she noticed that the crowd that was partying were standing outside, watching the fight through the panoramic window. She went outside and glared at them, “Didn’t we say get the hell on?!” she purposely made sure that the crowd saw the waves of currents flowing around her hands and arms. They immediately ran away from the area, “Damn; do they want to get hurt?!” she shook her head in anger. She went back inside to tend to the two men, sighing a bit in relief to see Tony down, looking defeated. Before she could move, he rose his arm up towards James, prompting him to do the same; she held her breath.

“Put your hand down…”[7]

“You think you got what it takes to wear that suit…?”[8] Tony challenged.

“We don’t have to do this.”[9]

“He’s right, Mr. Stark… please…”

“You want to be the ‘war machine’, take your shot…”[10] Tony challenged as he began to charge up. She had to do something, she realized. She made her move right as the two proton beams connected; her plan was to push Tony out of the way. Tabitha hadn’t planned on the force of the beams knocking both men back; she was thrown back into the wall along with Tony.

He saw it in a split second and gathered his senses quickly.

“No… Tabitha!” he yelled. James hurried over to where the two had crashed into the wall, quickly moving Tony out of the way. Her breathing shallow and her body battered, he gently scooped her up. He took to the sky, hoping that their antics hadn’t cost her life.

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[1]-[4] Taken from Iron Man 2 motion picture.

[5] R.I.P. DJ AM

[6]-[10] Taken from Iron Man 2 motion picture.

The End

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