Palm Springs, Spring Break, 1987.
It was a day destined to alter history, but at that point no one knew it. It was Spring Break and with it comes another set of raucous teens looking to party. The previous year had seen riots, so tensions were high, to the point where several hotels had banned under 21's from staying there and we join our story where one such argument is brewing.
"I have a reservation...what do you mean I can't check in".
The desk clerk, trying not to appear snotty but clearly failing retorted...
"I'm sorry Sir but we have an over 21 policy".
"No, you have a no black policy." he snorted back, trying desperately to keep his cool but his anger rising as thoughts raced through his mind.
"All my life I have had to deal with this crap, I got out of Philly, got to College and I'm a goddamned ROTC Lieutenant and I can't even check into my booked hotel?"
Just as his blood was about to boil the roar of a loud engine caused all heads to turn into the lobby and to everyone's shock a small, unassuming kid in a Metallica T-shirt steps out of the '67 Shelby that has parked right outside the door, tossing the keys to the valet and carrying a green bag.
"I'm sorry Sir but I can't help you, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
The younger kid ambled to the desk, shot a few glances at the various "babes" in bikinis who were clearly lowering their Ray-Bans at him.
"Are you talking to me?" the kid mentioned.
"Sirs, out hotel has a strict Over.."
"My name's Stark... you might want to speak to a Mr. Leiber, I believe he's your boss... you see I bought this hotel an hour ago, the paperwork is done... I have a room here and so do ALL my friends... "
He turned to the older kid and shot out a hand.
"Tony Stark, you're with me in the penthouse, what's your name?"
"Rhodes, James Rhodes".
"So you're trying for the James Bond thing? or you gotta be military right?"
Rhodey was taken aback and not sure how to take the comment, but he recognized the name and knew immediately who and what was happening.
"You could say that, and I am guessing you're not...but you're kind of able to pick us military guys out huh?"
Tony nodded and fired a glance at the clerk who was just putting the phone down and looking visibly shaken reached for a key.
"Do you mind, I have a thing...erm I don't like being handed things..."
Rhodes took the key and the two made their way towards the lifts.
"Barbara, hope you don't mind I call you that as I am now kinda your boss, a delivery will be coming for me in about 20 minutes. Make sure it gets up to me without any problems, a guy call Jarvis will also stop by at some point in the next few weeks. He gets the penthouse when I've gone... permanently, waited on hand and foot... understand?"
Barbara nodded, still in shock.
"Congratulations, you're the new hotel manager... now make sure all of my friends are taken care of, especially our future hero Mr. Rhodes here...and I want strawberry's...and can someone run down to the store, I'm gonna need whats on this list... let me know when it's here... thanks..."
The two teenagers ambled over to the penthouse lift and as the doors closed, the stunned Barbara looked at the list, and promptly fainted.
Rhodes crashed as soon as he got into the room, the drive had been killer and he knew once his fellow frat brothers arrived he was expecting trouble, after all he was gonna have to get them into THIS hotel now, or they'd tear the others apart. But he had to work this guy Stark out, guy, hell he was a kid, gotta be 17 if he's a day.
After 2 hours he awoke and was stunned by what he saw.
"Welcome back, you might notice a few changes."
"You did this in two hours? and didn't wake me up?"
"Hey money talks, but it don't have to shout..."
The room was transformed, a grand piano now took centre stage, along with the biggest rear projection screen Rhodey had ever seen, what looked like a full club level sound system and a strange suitcase.
"This is the future... it's a computer, but I can tap into everything from here, plane reservations, news, banking, communications... I could probably run the country through this thing...and I think within a few years, if I am right, it'll think for itself too...just a toy really."
"A toy? Who the hell are you man?"
"The short version? Son of a genius billionaire who got into MIT already and is killing it and is gonna take over the biggest weapons tech country in the world in a few short...years... but I'm also a fun guy so I think we need to get this party started. Beer? Tequila?, Jack? Take your pick."
Rhodes shook his head and laughed as one of the trunks opened and a fully stocked bar appeared.
"It's Spring Break, partner, we got work to do."
The rest of that day was spent meeting hot women, drinking and Rhodes trying to get a bead on this kid. He was the most obnoxious guy he'd ever met, but he was also the funniest. As the sun began to set and the music around the pool became louder, the girls a little drunker and the fun a little more raucous something began to happen in the lobby.
"Sir, you are not welcome here...you and your friends need to leave or I'll call..."
"Oh S***", Rhodey ran and saw 3 of his fraternity brothers, Mike, Spork and Glen drunkenly abusing Barbara.
"Guys, what's the problem? Wanna calm it down?"
"Rhodey, you're here... what the f*** man? They don't wanna let us in to stay?"
"It's complicated guys, I can't get you in here, it's kind of a new owner and he's..."
"Complicated?...agreed" quipped Tony as he walked in.
"Look guys you're friends of Rhodey, I get that... but you can't talk to my staff that way either."
Mike was near passed out by this stage, Spork looked a little stunned but Glen... veins bulged in his neck as he bristled at being admonished by a child in his eyes.
"Look kid, I don't care if mommy and daddy own this place..." he snarled, his flat top adding 3 inches to his considerable height.
"No... I own it..." Stark sneered back.
" I'm gonna make this simple Mr. Owner... find us a room, or I'll smash the place out from under you... "
"Glen, don't do this pal, we can work something out..." Rhodes had seen how this guy operates... it wasn't going to end well, he really didn't want to have to use the knee injury he knew about to take him down.
"Rhodes, shut up... you think you're hot s*** cos you got some Scholarship from some Stark guy... Army beats Air Force... don't ever forget it..."
"Talbot, I'm warning you..."
"Oh you're warning me? come on then 'Lieutenant' make me leave..."
Mike was now wide awake, as if the raised voices and tension had snapped him out of his stupor. Rhodes was just about to move when Tony put his arm across.
"Hey Barb, I hear that room 234 is free?"
"Erm that is off..
"Yes, I know... it's perfect for our friends don't you think?"
"Yes Sir...I think it is..."
A few minutes later after the obligatory staredowns, Rhodes turned to Stark... "Whats with Room 234..."
"We'll probably find out in a few hours time... apparently the sewage system needs work... the complimentary beers they're gonna be sent in about 20 minutes will make sure they find that out... let's just say their stay is gonna end on a brown note..."
"Nice...well gross... but I like your style"
"You gonna have trouble from that?" Stark asked.
"Nah, Talbot is all talk, he's got some General that thinks he's the next big thing... and he thinks he has a shot at his daughter... might teach him some humility and it'll keep that poor girl safe."
"Do I detect the big green eyed monster?"
" Nah, cute as she is she's into some grad student by all accounts, anyway, this is what I'd call a target rich environment."
"Maverick and Goose then?"
"I'm the one who flies the plane, you can fiddle with your weapons behind me..."
"I meant whose gonna sing "You Lost That Loving Feeling?"
"You... definitely you..."
"Well I am the next big thing, even if Talbot thinks he is... stick with me son, and you can be a big thing too hey if that's true and you got a Howard Stark scholarship it means someone in the military thinks you are gonna be huge... unless..."
A sly downward glance from Stark and Rhodes almost snapped to attention.
"Hey, that's none of your damned business... "
"That's ok, I'll find out tomorrow anyway from whoever's business it is tonight... enjoy the party Rhodey, welcome to my world!"