Tony Stark, aged 8, looked around the room of shocked faces, drawing several conclusions based off his surroundings. He had been reading Sherlock Holmes recently, and the phrase that had stuck with him the most was “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In other words, he must be in the future and he must be a high-profile celebrity to have so many reporters focused on him in deadly silence. Taking the initiative, he stepped out from behind the lectern and began to address them. Craning his head, a fancy digital clock display confirmed both the date and time. Drat, he really was in the future. Breezing past that, he began.
“Good afternoon. As all of you probably know, my name is Tony Stark, the son of Howard and Maria Stark and heir to Stark Industries, which must be doing really well at the moment for so many reporters to be at this press conference. I will endeavour to answer any questions you may put forward, but please be aware, I am only 8 years old, and have no memory of the latest developments in Stark Technology, or any developments over the past 40 years.”
None of the reporters so much as raised their hand, in fact, they all looked extremely befuddled. Tony gasped and drew his hands to his mouth dramatically, like the drama queen he is at heart.
“Do you even speak English? Hmmm, probably not… Okay then. Ciao! Bonjour! Hallo! Olá! Hola! Алло! Cześć! Nǐ hǎo! Konnichiwa! Yeoboseyo! Mholweni! Hela! Merhaba! Marhabaan! No, none of those.”
With an innocent look, deliberately crafted to become front page news, Tony turned to the reporters and said, “I’m sorry, I’m not fluent in any other languages.”
Christine Everhart was the first out of the stupor (which they all really should have been used to by now – if alien invasions could be coped with, why not a simple case of deaging) and pressed forwards with a question before anyone else could get to Tony. Brandishing her Dictaphone in his face, she asked the most boring, bland question ever:
“Are you really Tony Stark?”
Drawing on the Stark charm, Tony managed to keep from rolling his eyes (although it was a close call) and leant forward slightly to answer her question. Knowing that the cameras were still rolling, probably live to several news stations, he flashed them a wink as he said,
“Yes, I really am.”
Christine laid a hand on his shoulder and attempted to guide him further into a corner, for a higher level of interrogating. Exaggerating his wince of pain, but making sure it was still believable, Tony made a faint noise similar to a whimper.
“I’m sorry Miss, I’m going to have to ask you to restrain yourself from touching me, because only a day ago, I escaped from my latest kidnappers and they left rather a mark.”
Swivelling around and lifting up his t-shirt to show off the extent of his badly damaged back and shoulders was the cherry on the cake, they were hanging off his every word now. Not like they weren’t before, but now it was in the way that had people at home on the edge of their seats, with the volume turned up to catch every word that he said. The way that would make history, would make anyone who missed it regret overlooking it. Tony Stark would be at the centre of the world’s attention, which meant people (kidnappers) wouldn’t be able to get away with taking him as easily as before, when they were taking him on a near regular basis. After the time when Aunt Peggy had been on a mission and he had been kidnapped for nearly two months (stupid no ransom policy), she had taught him how to escape. He had already known how to make bombs and missiles from working in his dad’s workshop and he had been able to disassemble, clean and reassemble a gun since the tender age of five. Howard had ‘kindly’ allowed him use of their firing range for practice, and by this point Tony could win sharpshooting competitions at the Olympics. There were always a lot of guns in the Stark household and Tony was proficient with anything from a handgun to a rifle. Of course, it wouldn’t do to let them know that he was already a killer, but an escape from evil kidnappers who tortured him would be good PR.
The room had frozen again, but this time Tony knew they were just shocked, not brain dead or separated by a language barrier. He allowed himself the privacy of a small smirk as he pulled his t-shirt over his head, ripping off recently formed scabs. Dabbing at the reopened wounds with the discarded t-shirt, he pushed one of the cameras in the direction of the exit, then walked to the door.
“I feel sorry for you people. You just lost one of the biggest scoops of your lives. How often does Tony Stark deage? I promised to answer every question truthfully and you blew it. You could have found out exactly what my childhood was like, exactly why I became ‘Tony Stark’, but no, instead I got one lousy question about my identity which should have been fairly obvious to any decent reporter, especially one who deals with me on a regular basis, which said reporter clearly does. It was a pleasure talking to you all, goodbye.”
And with that, Tony Stark walked out of the door, to the neverending shock of the reporters and the instant horror of his security team, who dashed out of the door after him. Through the clear glass of the door, the camera clearly showed a tiny Tony Stark taking down his entire security team with ease and then sending the camera a parting wink and salute before pickpocketing his security team’s clearance passes and gliding out of sight with a confident stride.
Whistling casually, he swiped the pass and climbed in to the elevator, pressing the button for ground floor.