The Hubris of Tony Stark

February 26, 2014:

In the aftermath of the midtown fire, several of the Avengers settle in to discuss the event… with surprising results.

Avengers Headquarters

High tech and yet comfortable. Everything a paramilitary superteam could want in one place.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

This log is considered retconned. It never happened.

The scent of shawarma, freshly delivered, fills at least one corner of the Avenger's headquarters. Natasha Romanoff has a hand wrapped around one foil-wrapped pita, though there are plenty of others piled on a tray on a counter near by. A coffee pot perks as well, though she largely ignores that in favour of flipping through the channels on a large screen television, going from news channel to news channel.

The big news? A man associated with OsCorp, Michael Lehman, was killed by a bullet to the head while building in which he and his family lived burned down around him and threatened to set fire to the entire block. Spider-Man is already catching blame for it.

Several others whose status is largely unknown are also mentioned in those reports. And there's an interview with a guy who's bike commandeered by SHIELD in the midst of all this. Regardless, those same reports indicate a remarkable number of people were saved.

All to the good, that. But, that doesn't prevent a frown from knotting the former Russian spy's otherwise unlined forehead.

Pepper Potts walks into HQ with her tablet and only minor armload of folders, pausing at both the smell of Shawarma and the news being played on the TV. She watches for a moment, then looks at Natasha. "Were you there, Agent Romanoff?"

"…not alone, by any means. Nor yet was the greatest measure of the glory mine. No foe to fight, no enemy to vanquish. And yet I led many to safety and carried many more, as many as I could find 'ere the fire was extinguished. There were those who did not escape in time, and to them, I would raise a glass in memory."

Sif's story ties in quite neatly with the story on the news, and as she accompanies the Thunderer into the Avengers' headquarters, she inclines her head toward both Pepper and Natasha. "I had not seen you! But that is no surprise; you are a subtle one. But who is this Michael Lehman? I am sorry to hear that he was killed."

"Aye, battlesister!" Thor booms as Sif flaunts her deeds of victory- as is her right. He seizes her effortlessly by the waist and elevates her into the air, hoisting her aloft as if she rides on a parade float, carrying her a few steps. "Hail to the Warrior Sif, Shieldmaiden of Asgard! I could but stand by and bring the rain and storm, but you dared the peril of flame and hazard to rescue the lost and dangerous. Hail, to Lady Sif!" he booms, seizing a beer car in each hand. With his thumbs, he stoves in the mouths of the 40oz cans, sending foam everywhere, and passes one to Sif. "And Hail, the victorious dead! Valkyriad, wing them safely to the gardens of the next life!" He toasts Sif and, eying her, starts chugging the beer as fast as possible, crushing the can in his grasp to try and out-drink the Shieldmaiden.

"Michael Lehman. AKA Pete Rasmussen. AKA Mitch Long. AKA A professional corporate espionage agent for hire."

Tony walks in, neither in a good mood nor bad. He just is. He grabs one of the schwarma. "OsCorp hired him so he could be hired by Stark Industries so he could steal as much many secrets as he could get his hands on. He went through orientation last week when JARVIS flagged him. We scrubbed his background and it came up light, so I did a little digging of my own. He's done similar stunts in the past for LexCorp, Wayne Enterprises, and…survey says - DING - Hammer Industries."

He sits down, and starts opening the foil wrapped delight, "Anyway, he won't be stealing anyone's secrets any more."

"I was, Miss Potts," Natasha admits to Pepper, turning as Sif and Thor enter shortly thereafter. Still glancing at them, she adds for Pepper's sake, "I just don't quite know what the point of it all was, yet." Killing Lehman? It doesn't add up.

"Lady Sif," she greets. "Good job with those rescues." Then, still greeting, "Thor."

But, then, Tony enters and drops the missing piece of information in her lap. "No, I guess not," she replies, red brows arching. She moves now, stepping around the celebrating Asgardians and giving them a lopsided smile that actually more says 'omgwtf' than anything else before she clears it from her features and settles into one end of a nearby sofa. "Still doesn't tell us who decided he was a problem." A beat. "Unless you're implying it was Hammer."

There's a great whoop of delight (and of mock-outrage) when Thor lifts her off the ground. Sif laughs, extending her arms as if to carry on the image of herself being paraded down a street of worshipful admirers. "All hail to their souls!" she cries, alighting back on the ground. And it's immediate competition once more — she has no lack of love for that, working to drain the beer Thor gives her. She tips her head back and sucks it down, crushing the can slowly in one hand to hasten the flow of the alcohol. Finishing the last of the beer in record time, she crushes the can completely and raises it above her head, only then looking to her battle-brother to see who was triumphant in this new challenge.

Pepper Potts flinches and shies away from the sheer volume of Thor's voice and then his rather … exuberant way of drinking beer. But then Tony enters and adds more detail to whatever seems to be brewing. She never met this Lehman person — there are simply too many employees at Stark Industries for her to keep up with them all. "Wait, but they just said that he was killed by a gunshot. Are you saying that someone …?" She shakes her head. "Tony, should I contact HR in the morning and get Mr. Lehman's employment history? Maybe knowing why he left all of those previous companies will help us figure out which one might be holding a grudge."

Thor shakes his head and snorts disparagingly, crushing his beer can into a tiny platter and flinging it with casual ease into a trash can as Sif beats him by a half second. "Fah! Thou cheat, I should strike thee across thy thigh to chasten thee," Thor declares, sounding almost half sincere.

He turns back to Tony, picking up another beer can to sling to the Shieldmaiden, and cracks another one open with his thumb. "I fear I know little of this espionage, Master Stark," Thor says. He bows in broad, mock deference to Natasha and Pepper, the gesture offset by the twinkling, charming wink he offers the two women. "But it sounds as if thou has a soldier in thy ranks who spotted conspiracy and took a blade in his own hands to cut off the serpent's head. I say, well done at that," he proclaims, drinking only half the 40z this time, and taking a pita off the table and tearing into it with gusto. He flops on an empty sofa, leaving his hammer on the floor and room for Sif to find a seat if she wishes.

Tony Stark looks between Pepper and Natasha, munching his schwarma as casually as anyone might. He stops chewing long enough to say, "No, I'm saying it was me." he looks at Thor and nods, "Glad someone's down with me, here, Blondie." his tone is matter of fact and too the point. None of the snarky, sarcastic Tony at the moment.

Tasha arches a brow at that. "Don't kid about that sort of thing, Stark," she says evenly, now. The Russian has as good a pokerface as any in the room. Actually, it's probably better than most. She watches him, blue eyes sharp and attentive. "That is not something you want on record."

Pepper Potts straightens and looks at Tony wide-eyed. "You had someone assassinated and that entire building BURNED DOWN? Tony! If you're joking it's NOT funny." And if he's not, she might throw something at him. Or quit. She's not sure which.

"Is that another challenge?" Sif inquires, arching black brows and giving her long-time comrade a wicked smirk. But Tony's comment brings a frown from her, and she turns to face him. "Those skalds," she says, gesturing to the television, "those…" She screws up her face, seeking to remember. "Newsreaders. Say two hundred men, women, and children died in that blaze. I cannot think a comrade of mine, of Thor's, was behind such an act. The man's own children died. Was that just?"

Thor doesn't get scarcasm. Does not compute for the Prince of Asgard. He rises to his feet, eyes narrowed, and fists clenched at his sides. "Stark… out of my respect for your efforts in days past, I will give thee one chance to repudiate that claim, on thy honor," he says, his tone one of utter, chill warning. "And speak not lightly of the dead in such a way. Innocents may never see the valorous halls of Valhalla, for they have perished in a fire without weapon or courage in hand. If thy hand takes a life, then you bear the honor and curse of the warrior. But to murder a man denies thy claim to honor and leaves you little more than a withered husk, without virtue or honor."

He points a finger at Stark from ten feet away, and the very air around the Lord of Storms condenses slightly, as he unconsciously gathers the powers of the Stormlord to him. "Assert thy innocence in this venture, /now/," he says, his tone as cold as hoarfrost.

Tony Stark looks up, cocking an eyebrow at Thor, then Sif. He sets down the schwarma. "Of course *I* didn't do it. I was there, right along with you guys. And no, for the record," he says, looking to Pepper, then the Asgardians before looking back to Natasha "I didn't have the whole family hit or the building burned. I don't know /why/ those happened. But I intend to find out. But - I won't apologize for having Long done. It's not the first time it's happened, and it won't be the last. My money's on either Hammer or OsCorp hiring him. Lex and I have an understanding, and Wayne and I have played too nicely in the past for it to be him."

Sif doesn't seem particularly mollified. Somewhat, perhaps, but she casts a frowning glance to Tony. "I mislike the use of assassins," she replies dourly. "Sending others to slay on your behalf. If I had an argument with a betrayer, he would die by my sword. Armed and facing me. Not weeping over the murder of his family, killed by some faceless and honorless assassin. You wish us to believe that the deaths of those people were mere coincidence?" A deeper frown etches her face. "If your assassin turns his coat — as they are wont to do — and admits to your part in these dealings, it will be you who is blamed for the deaths of the innocents. I had thought you wise, Stark."

Natasha refrains from admitting to the Asgardians that she is… or at least was an assassin. It's probably not a good way to defrost the temperature in this room. "She's not wrong, Stark. Legally, if it's your money behind this? Any part of this?" There will be nothing she can do to help him.

And, really… quite possibly nothing she'll care to do to help him.

Regardless, she shoves herself from the couch, now, expression grim. "I have some calls to make."

Pepper Potts closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Even if he had not meant for the building to burn, Tony still ordered a hit on the man. And industrial spy or not, she is NOT down for that. She opens her eyes again and very carefully and deliberately sets the stack of folders in her arms on the nearest table. "Mr. Stark, I think I need a day or two. I'm not feeling very well." Yes, all of a sudden. Just like that.

Thor shakes his head. "I had thought you a warrior, Tony, not a politician who hides behind entendre and assassins. It is one matter to send a warrior to strike with cunning and skill," he says, gesturing at Natasha, "but another to employ a murderer to furthur your own ends."

"Your knife in the dark will reveal himself, and lay blame at your feet." He makes a disgusted sound and, for a moment, looks as if he's about to flip over a table. Checking his temper, he reaches for his hamer, which goes winging towards his hand. "Ladies, your pardon," he begs of Natasha and Pepper. "I suddenly find the company here ill suited for my digestion. Sif, if you care to come with me, I think we should return to the suites and find company more to our liking. You are welcome to join us, Miss Potts, Lady Romanov," he invites he women. He gives Tony another look of disgust. "Consider thy path before you call upon me for aid again, Stark," he says in a dour tone. "And consider well I consider my talents ill-employed tidying up after you. I believe quite firmly in the virtues of pro-actively solving problems." With that, he turns on his heel and heads for the elevator, pausing to hold the door open for any of the women who wish to follow him out in his Princely huff.

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