Fancy Seeing You Here

December 04, 2014:

Steve stops by Stark Tower to visit an old friend.

Howard Stark's Apartment

A swanky apartment in Stark Tower.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

If someone were to say Howard Stark was becoming a regular Howard Hughes, they might not be too far off. Howard has been 'awake' for a few weeks now, and he hasn't spent any time at all outside of either the Triskelion or Stark Tower. There are practical reasons for this, of course. There are questions about who exactly he's going to tell people he is.A certain hare-brained scheme of his son's that needs to be diffused, for one. Part of it smells of delaying the inevitable, delaying a re-emergence into a changed world. Something that Steve can probably relate to.

At least Howard's been keeping busy. It helps that Pepper has set him up with a near mirror-image of Tony's penthouse. It's not the top floor and it's not as expansive, but the layout and equipment are similar. He's been making use of it. There's a sleek chamber-like device sitting on the workbench. The area surrounding it is a bit more…cluttered than is usual for him. He was always known as neat and meticulous, even at the height of his creative bursts. There's also a suspiciously large dent in the end of one of the stainless steel tables.

That's not where Howard is now, though. He's out on the balcony, a cigar in his fingers. He's staring out over the city. It's cold, but once he told himself that the cold is just sensory data, it's been easier to bear.

Steve doesn't work for Stark, but he's worked with him in the past. He knew enough to know that Howard was here and security seemed to be alright with buzzing him up. He steps out of the elevator, looking around the room for a moment. He passes by the conspicuous dent, his brow furrowing. He says nothing of it, though, and instead heads out towards the balcony as he announces himself.

"Good to see they're making you at home. Did you know they tried to trick me into thinking it was 1945 when they thawed me out? Played a baseball game I was at on the radio and pretended it was live."

Howard recognizes that voice. He's smiling before he turns around. "If it isn't Captain America. How are you, Steve?" He steps inside and offers his hand out to the other man. "I understand you were there during my little jailbreak. Sorry about the turrets. That was meant for Hydra." He puts out the cigar and sets it aside. "I looked you up on the computer. I'm glad someone finally found you. Wish it was me, and in 1951, but."

"It's been a bit of an adjustment," Steve admits, "But nothing I can't deal with. You spend a good chunk of your life dealing with strange Hydra tech every second day and being transported to the future doesn't seem so bad." He shakes the offered hand, "Don't worry about it. Gave Superman something to fry with those eye lasers of his."

That mental image makes Howard chuckle and shake his head. "Superman. The world seems a lot more colourful these days." He motions inward. "Can I offer you a drink? Doesn't do a damn thing to me, either. But I still like the taste."

"I'm still not much for drinking," Steve admits with a shake of his head. "You're right about things being more colorful. I remember when it was just a handful of folks like Namor and the Human Torch. Apparently Namors gone off the deep end and the Human Torch is a kid now. Strange."

"I am not even attempting to keep up. Trying to figure out my own kid and my own company is hard enough." Howard pours himself a splash of brandy. "Well, not tehcnically /my/ company, but." He doesn't seem too broken up about that. "How is he, anyway? Tony? I take it if you walked in here, he knows you and trusts you."

"I guess," Steve answers, "we worked together on a SHIELD op not so long ago. He's a good kid, though I'm not gonna say there aren't a whole lot of things you two've swept under the rug. Not my place to judge, but I think figuring that stuff out is a good priority to have."

"Well, he stopped calling me 'it' and he's letting me stay here. He even called me dad. Once. I'm not expecting too many repeat performances." Howard swallows a mouthful of the brandy and swirls it thoughtfully. "I made a lot of mistakes. I don't deny that. And he's got a lot of anger towards me. A lot of resentment. And he's had a lot of time to let that build up." He sips again, swallows. "We're working on it."

"Best you can do." Steve shrugs his shoulders, leaning back against the railing and crossing his arms. "I actually wanted to talk to you about something. I know how you feel about SHIELD and I wanted to get your opinion on something."

Howard lifts an eyebrow. "Oh? By all means." He lifts a hand and lets it drop. "I welcome the chance to be useful rather than a curiosity." There's a wryness to that statement and a tinge of self-depreciation. There's also an edge of bitterness, too.

"SHIELD are working on a team of sorts," Steve begins, "Sort of like the Invaders except backed by them rather than a specific government. I think the popular opinion is that I'll be joining them but … I don't think I will. I like what SHIELD does but there are too many if's and but's when it comes to deciding who to help and when. I'm thinking of going to the President and putting an offer on the table. I form my own team with legislative backing. Small. Just me and some other people who can do things normal folks can't. The condition is we do what's right, not just what's right for one organization."

Howard considers what Steve is telling him. He rubs the side of his neck and then drops a hand into his pocket. "I can't say with any confidence what SHIELD is now. I don't have the security clearance anymore." Something amuses him a little about that. When one of your founders doesn't know all the secrets… "But I know how you work. And I trust your judgment. What I don't trust is SHIELD to give you the full story, or to not lie to you if they think it'll serve their mission. They're spies. You're not."

"Now…" He holds up the hand that holds the glass, two fingers splaying out. "It's not that I don't think they're necessary. Even when I backed away from an active role in SHIELD R&D, I kept a finger in the pie because I believed in the cause. The Russians were a real threat. And…" he wobbles his head back and forth. "…I wanted to stay in the loop. I'm saying, there's what they do, which is necessary, and there's what you do. Also necessary. But I think you're right in questioning whether or not it makes sense for you to do it with them. It's not like the old days. We don't have one big bad to unite us against."

"I thought the same thing," Steve shrugs his shoulders once again, "I've never much trusted them to tell me anything. Some of the agents they pair me up with spend more time glaring at me like I'm some sort of security risk. I never asked to be hero worshipped, but the way some of them seem to think that being bad people to chase down bad people is somehow okay? I can't support that."

He smirks a little: "In fact, I was actually thinking of asking your boy if he wanted to throw his hat in the ring. I don't want to go to the government for funding on this, so it'll need to be an independent contractor. I don't suppose you've still got your hands on the Stark purse strings?"

Howard shakes his head and chuckles. "Nope. I signed my rights away to Ms. Potts. Made a solemn legal promise to not try and reassert my status as CEO. It was an olive branch, a way to get them to trust me. That doesn't mean they wouldn't let me open the purse strings, though. And honestly, once I get this identity thing sorted out, I could file a couple of patents and have a healthy bankroll of my own. There's more than a few projects that never made it on to the Stark Industry books." He may not have been a SHIELD spy, but he's always known how to keep secrets. He wouldn't be standing here if he couldn't.

"Heck, maybe you could both get involved. You could call it a father-son bonding exercise." Steve grins, "But it's all up in the air right now. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do."

"Oh, I think asking us to work together on a superhero project might be a bit ambitious. We haven't even managed a conversation without Tony taking off in a huff or both of us shouting at each other. Not exactly ideal team dynamics, if you know what I mean." There's a twinkle in Howard's eye. But Steve knows him enough to know that the charm comes out under pressure. And the charm has been on 24/7 since he was discovered. Well, except for that aforementioned shouting match. And the dented table in the lab. "But you have my support. Whatever you choose to do."

"I'm glad to hear it. And you underestimate my powers of persuasion. Just let me have a few words with Tony. I think this idea is something too 'him' to pass up. Shouting matches are better than stony silences, I'd say." Steve looks out over the city for a moment, eyebrows furrowing, "It's a weird situation, truth be told. But with all these dangers out there, I think the world needs people who won't look at what flag you're flying before they save you."

Howard looks at Steve for a moment, not bothering to hide the admiration. "Well. It's good to see some things haven't changed." He clears his throat. "SHIELD won't be happy if you don't join them. I bet your asset rating is pretty damned high."

Steve shrugs again, "I'll get over it. I'm perfectly happy to work with them, but I just can't work for them. They've almost made a business out of saving the world and I can't get behind that. But I've already agreed to train one of the new recruits for their team. She's promising. I just can't be the figurehead for it."

"Well, I can't really begrudge people for making a business out of anything," says the industrialist. "But I can understand your moral objections. I've never pretended to be…well, Captain America. I'm not tall enough." Howard cracks a grin. "I think you're making the right decision. You'll always be an asset to them. You won't truly be in charge."

"I don't need to be in charge," Steve answers, "I'm happy to take orders as much as any soldier ought to be. But when I start questioning the orders, things change." He sighs and pushes off the railing, "I just stopped by to see how things were going and to run that by you, though. It's date night."

"Let me put it another way. I'd trust your orders when you're genuinely the one issuing them. I'd be a lot more wary if you were making decisions based on what SHIELD chose to tell you." Howard grins slyly. "Date night?" Steve can't dangle that carrot out there without expecting him to ask.

"Yep," Steve answers, only giving out a little bit of information, "She's a Detective with the NYPD. Been seeing her for a while now. Not exactly a secret but you're the first person I've outright spoken to about her. Consider yourself lucky, Mister Stark."

"Please, call me Howard. No need for formalities. You uh, you know me better than anyone else currently living. Which is a little disconcerting, considering I think this is one of our longer conversations. Everyone knows my reputation. Which, I might add, is not as flattering as yours." He wags a finger. "Go on then. I won't keep you. I appreciate the visit. And, don't be a stranger, hmm?"

"I'll be back," Steve answers with a grin, using some pop culture references because why not? "But I think you oughta get out and take a look around as well. It's a bit overwhelming but it's an exciting time. Granted you got to experience more of 'the future' than I have, but there's a lot to see and do out there."

"Yeah. I'm just…adjusting. And trying to figure out just who I'm going to tell people I am. They gave me a cover story, but hell, there are pictures of me looking like this in the lobby and on the company website." Howard motions to his face. "I don't want to be caught with my pants down if someone puts two and two together." Because a young Howard Stark appearing is not even the strangest thing that happened in the last hour.

"Why not just be you?" Steve asks, looking puzzled, "They accepted that I got frozen in ice and thawed out seventy years later. Why can't they accept that you're living on in one of your won inventions? Stranger things have definitely happened. Anyway, I'll leave you to think about it. But it doesn't need to be as much smoke and mirrors as you might think."

"That's what I'm advocating for. But it's more complicated than that." Howard waves a hand. "Go on. Go and show your girl a good time." He waves towards the door. "Have some fun!"

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