Stark Truths

January 13, 2015:

Howard and Tony actually talk to each other.

A Stark Industries Carrier en route to Metropolis




Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Nothing but first class.

Tony contacted his dad who he had set up in one of the auxiliary labs spread out across the country and told him that a transport would be coming by to pick him up along with some generators that Tony had in storage. What landed is half helicopter and half hover craft, descending down onto the small tarmac in front of the warehouse/lab and depositing Tony and a group of military engineers along with a few SHIELD agents. "The generators are right this way."

Said as he pulls his coat closed and buttons it at his abdomen once he's away from the whirling wind kicked up by the hover jets.


Howard is standing on the roof, clad in a brown three piece suit and wearing a pair of horn rimmed sunglasses. He's also wearing a long wool jacket with a silk scarf. One might think he was dressing to impress, but he dressed like that even when he was alone by himself in the lab (with a few exceptions.) "No such thing as small scale for you, is there, son?" says Stark Sr. when Tony gets within earshot.


Tony pulls of his shades and tucks them into the pocket of his suit jacket, "Seriously? They asked 'me' to do this, not the other way around…" Hands in his pockets, walking backwards a few steps and spinning towards one of the warehouses to point it out to the group of engineers, "It's right through there. I had them marked by sector where they'll be deployed."

Because there's so many of them, about a dozen actually, two more smaller carriers have landed to take the 'luggage'.

Tony spins back to his dad, "So are you coming? I hope you packed something warm."


"The world's premiere spy organization asked you for help. You're allowed to enjoy that. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." Howard's tone is wry, but sincere. He understands that sensation, more than most. He clears his throat at the question and looks around. "I'm on the roof, aren't I?" He doesn't have a bag. Someone is probably taking care of it for him.


"Well come on then. These guys get paid to carry heavy things." Tony motions over at the group of SHIELD agents and military personale cracking into the warehouse. "Our ride is right over here." Thumbing back at the bigger of the trio of carriers. "It's still military, but they're Stark design… your's I think. Real comfortable, as far as a military transport goes."


"Anything that isn't yours is mine. Or built on my design." Which might sound arrogant, but it's also true. Howard eyes the carrier and hesitates a moment. That's strange. Here's a man who piloted planes over enemy airspace in WWII. The hesitation is only momentary though, and then he's striding towards the carrier purposefully. "I hope you're going to put me to good use once we get there." Which says two things - I'm not going to sit on the sidelines, and I'm not going to fight you for control of the project.


Tony accepts that with a shrug, "I mean, technically speaking, all of it is mine…" Grinning at his father's back as the other Stark heads for the carrier, "I still own the company." Adding the little extra teasing barb as he follows along with both hands in his pockets.

The hesitation was certainly noted, but it would be easy to imagine that 'new fangled' aerospace planes are a little off putting to the newly returned Howard. "Don't worry, I'm giving you project supervisor. Most of what I'm doing is going to be down in the tunnels rewiring fiberoptic cables for the new energy matrix." That's if the explosion destroyed the entire grid, which Tony is pretty sure it did if his numbers are right.

And they're always right.


Howard shakes his head and chuckles. "There's yours in the sense of your property," he lingers on that word a moment, "…and then there's the sense of it being your creation." He pauses just outside the carrier, seems to steel himself, then boards. He hasn't been quite on his game since the Tower attack, which is understandable. But this seems somehow different than a man just reacting to a stressful encounter.


By comparison, Tony seems to have completely forgotten the Tower attack all together. Sure, the first few hours afterwards were weird, when he wouldn't leave Howard or Eve for even a few seconds and almost seemed to be overly compensating for something. Then there's the fact that he's closed himself off at the Maria Stark Foundation and pretended the world didn't exist.

But as soon as there was a Project?

Tony seems perfectly fine as he boards the carrier behind his father and drops down onto one of the stuffed benches. "What's the problem." It's really not a question, so much as a declaration that there ''is'' a problem. Feet stretched out and arms laying lazily across his chest, "You look like you're going to get sick… If you want I can suit up and carry you on my back?"


Howard arches an eyebrow and scoffs at that. "Yeah. Because that would make my stomach settle right down." He breathes deep and settles himself down on the bench. He leans forward, hands clasped together, shoulders rolled forward. He looks a little pale. There's a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead despite the chill. He's hiding it well, but he's taking deep, controlling breaths. Tony might recognize a technique for controlling anxiety attacks when he sees one. He really does mimic a human being quite perfectly.

"I'm fine."

"The barrel rolls would probably work wonders on your stomach." Tony acerts with a grin, hands turning over and then reaching up to grab the loop of fabric beside his head when the carrier rises smoothly from the tarmac and starts making it's way quickly skyward and East towards Metropolis.

"You know, I never noticed before…" Wiggle pointing at his dad with a smirk, "You really do suck at lying."


Howard flexes his hands against the cushions of the seat and tenses his entire body when he carrier suddenly rises. He goes whiter. "I didn't have to lie. I hired people who listened to what I said and left me alone if I told them to." Despite his best efforts, a line of sweat snakes down his cheek and drips off his chin. He'd mop his brow, but this is a really nice wool jacket.


"I thought I had done that too." Tony reasons, furrowing his brow, "Turns out I hired someone who pretty much runs my personal life. I think it works for me though." Once they break the turbulance, Tony releases the loop of fabric and leans back against the bulkhead. This is hardly the first military flight he's taken and there's something exciting about the whole Metropolis project. The City of Tomorrow?

This is a Stark dream.

"So are you going to tell me what's wrong or do I have to start making things up? Seriously, you won't like my guesses."


"That was your mother. She never put up with my shit. I needed that, and so do you." That's the first time Howard's mentioned Maria at all since returning. He's trying to deflect from his own condition with Stern Dad Talk. He's very much not in his element. He blinks and is forced to go for a kerchief in his pocket to swab the sweat away from his forehead. "I'm not malfunctioning if that was one of your guesses."


Tony is quiet for a while after Howard mentions his mother. His smile doesn't fade, though so it isn't like he's suddenly gone to some depressive place, just seems inclined to think. At least until his dad goes for kerchief, "So mom was to you, what Pepper is to me?"

Talk about odd.

Tony shifts a bit, shakes his head, and slips his cellphone out of his pocket. The holographic screen pops up from one end and he points it in his father's direction, "JARVIS, do a diagnostic scan for me, would you?"

While the AIs mainframe still hasn't been completely reestablished, Tony has converted most of the memory to an offsite location. JARVIS is not even remotely fully functional yet, but this is a relatively small request. "Of course, sir."


"I don't know. What /is/ Pepper to you? Besides the person who pulls your ass out of the fire." Howard's a little snappish. He leans forward and puts his head in his hands and presses his palms against his temples.

Usually when he's hurtful or caustic, it's because he's not bothering to measure his words. Howard's a lot of things, but he's not usually irritable and biting. He's usually got more control than that. In fact, it's his self-control and his focus that's always been his worst qualities when it comes to dealing with other people. His positive and negative emotions are usually kept very much in check. Any charm or intimidation is unleashed deliberately.

That's why something must be wrong with him.

JARVIS chimes in with the report. "Elevated heart rate. A mild fever. Uneven breath. Tunnel vision. Small hand tremors. If Mister Stark were human, I would say he was having an anxiety attack."


Well that would have hurt. If Tony weren't a grown up… It's not like he's hanging every emotional bag on the acceptance of a newly returned father who just shot him down with one snappish remark that, more or less, painted him as a failure.

No, Tony is absolutely fine.

With JARVIS' reply, Tony snaps his phone shut with a flick of his thumb and slides it back in his pocket. "At least I'm not afraid of airplanes."

Totally not childish.


Howard sits up and presses his head back against the bulkhead. He closes his eyes and pulls in long, steadying breaths. "Son. You /are/ aware of my war record, right?" Missions flown over enemy airspace (several off-the-books.) Hundreds of hours logged in dangerous conditions. Being in a flying machine is the last thing that should make him nervous.

Tony has seen him like this once before, though he might not remember it. There was a senate hearing for one of Howard's black book projects when Tony was a teenager. A key piece of evidence that would have cleared him completely was lost at the eleventh hour, just before he was set to testify. It was a hearing that could have sunk the entire company. In the end, the evidence resurfaced just in time to save his bacon, but for awhile, he was truly scared. It was a time when he was trying to quit drinking, and Maria had cleared the house of any drop (even the really good hiding places.) It was not a good scene.

"Look," his voice has softened somewhat. That might be because of the nausea. "I haven't exactly spent a lot of time in the world since I came back, okay?" Exactly two hours not inside buildings or being transported to buildings, and that was across the street from Stark Tower. Baby steps.


Tony laces his fingers back behind his head and fights the urge to make this a competition with his father. He even opens his mouth to say something, something probably snarky about how he's flown more in his Iron Man suit or other. Instead he closes his mouth and listens. Hears his father out and tilts his head a little when some of the truth finally surfaces.

Could his dad be going through something like withdrawal? JARVIS had given Tony some pretty startling news about what Howard was working on, but he dismissed it as some craziness in the AIs code while he worked to get him reestablished in the new mainframe.

"Hold on, you're telling me you're agoraphobic?" No smirk, no teasing, straight question.


Howard opens his mouth to answer the question, but JARVIS chimes in.

"That would to be seem an accurate diagnosis, sir."

"Tony, you need to give that thing a face so I know where to glare." He chuckles, but it's humourless and hollow. He's not admitting it but he's not denying it, either. He closes his eyes and swallows, a hand pressed to his forehead. "I'll be all right. I'll get the job done."


Tony settles back against the bucklehead and… considers. He'd shown his dad the reactor in his chest, but he had never really explained how it happened. So in some grand stroke of figuring it might 'help', he leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees.

"Eight years ago, I went to a demonstration of a new missile platform in Afghanastan." He begins with a dower expression and a quiet tone, "I was kidnapped by a terrorist organization who blew up the caravan I was travelling in and accidentally had several pieces of shrapnel embedded into my chest." Pointing at the three small slivers by tapping a finger against his white shirt beneath the suit jacket. "I spent four months held in a cave being forced to build weapons… instead I built the arc reactor and the very first Iron Man suit."

That all being said, he motions at his father, "Now, the point of me telling you this is… when I finally freed myself and got back to the states, I went into a state of shock. Pepper pretty much had to bring my food to me in the workshop. I hid in a basement trying to figure out how to put my world back together. Trying to decide how anyone could ever accept me now that I wasn't 'human'." Pause, "I know it didn't make me inhuman, but that's how I felt. I worried that everyone who looked at me could see the reactor in my chest and knew that my life was basically on a timer. That the only reason I was alive at all was a magnet. It took me three months before I left Malibu.. and another year before I would go out in public."

One of the Iron Man suits, this one a dark red and a light silver/grey is bolted to one of the walls near the front of the carrier. "I spent that time making the suit better, more versatile. I buried myself in a project and found a way to use the thing that I was most afraid of to make myself feel stronger… I don't know how you must feel, right now. But I know how I felt and if it's anywhere as bad, I'll help you find a way to get through it. If all I can do is make fun of you for being afraid of clouds." The Stark's aren't very good at these things.


This is a good time to open up to Howard. He has no lab to distract him, nowhere to escape to, and no one else to suddenly pull in to the conversation. Those are all common techniques he's used over the years to try and avoid having heart to hearts just like the one they're on the verge of. The old Howard, the one who hasn't been through this experience, wouldn't have much reason to change his ways. He did try as he got older, but that coincided with Tony's teenaged years. Not a good mix. Any efforts he made to change then weren't going to go very far.

This Howard, though, has recognized he does have a second chance. It may be one he didn't mean to give himself, but it's one nonetheless. He listens to Tony without commentary, without busying himself with something else so he can pretend to have not heard. He actually listens. Some of it he knew from reading old newspaper reports or interviews, but that of course, did not tell the whole story - and not in Tony's own words.

"That damned reactor," he says after a moment. "Never could get it working. How long did it take you? A weekend?" Tony might be forgiven for missing the note of admiration lost in the somewhat gravelly note of his father's voice. He's silent again for a moment. He takes a deep breath. He still looks quite pale. When he speaks, he's uncharacteristically quiet. "I'm sorry, son. You ended up with too many of my bad habits. That's on me. But you have your mother's patience. And her sense of humour. And you're pigheaded like her, but I did always love that about her."


Maybe that was the plan the whole time, but if it were even Tony didn't realize it. His goal has never been to have a heart to heart. He's been trying to avoid them, spreading only the small bits of truth that are inescapable from the people he cares about most. Pepper knows more than many, but even she's held at arms length and the very last person he thought he'd be telling the gritty truth is his Father.

For more reasons than he thought he was dead.

Still, burdens are a funny thing. He didn't even realize that he was carrying one and, even though he's gotten rid of it, doesn't really feel any different. Just a little relaxed about the horrible truth. "In a cave."

It's more of a joke than a genuine brag, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. "I had to use palladium, to generator the energy levels necessary with what I had on hand. For eight years I was bleeding that crap into my body." Shaking his head slowly, brow furrowed.

"Damn near killed me last year." Irony right? But that's besides the point.

"I… I don't really remember mom. I mean, I do, but not really. She was always overshadowed.. first by you and then by both of us. I never really thought she was lonely or that she wasn't strong in her own way, but she just seemed…" Shrugging a shoulder, eyes flicking around the chamber of the carrier. "I don't know. Distant or something. Like she knew something I didn't know and was scared if she told me that she wouldn't have anything at all. I was young though.. and really damn cocky." Not much has changed, to be honest.


"Jesus Christ, Tony," Howard mutters at the revelation of palladium. But it's more of a 'that's really awful' reaction than an admonishment. He knows what it's like to be caught in a bad situation with very few options, and he understands the arc reactor inside and out (except for the bits he couldn't get working) so he understands the palladium's role in the whole apparatus. Better than most, actually. "Glad I was still in stasis for that."

He attempts to shift and steady himself. His colour is returning and he's sweating less. He smiles a sad smile at his son and takes a deep breath. "Your mother was remarkable. Fiercely, quietly strong. Independent. Resilient. Patient. Kind. And she gave up on me a long time ago."

He looks away. It's not often he avoids eye contact, even if he's in the wrong and being confronted about it. "I don't know if you ever suspected, but your mother and I had been separated for almost four years. We came back together for appearances. Conferences, parties, charity dinners…" like the one they were on their way to on the night of the accident. "And she always came back to the house when her little genius came home from school. We stayed married because I wanted to leave my playboy image behind. I was too old. She took pity on me, I think. Besides, she was committed to the company. And you."


"I tried several different elements and combinations of elements once I got back to my workshop, but palladium was the only material that could be used in such a small quantity while still conducting the same energy output." Tony turns his hands over in a shrug, "Until last year. I found some old journals… of your's… no, Steve found them and he gave them to me, but.." Chuckling quietly, he shakes his head, "You had a theory about a yet unknown element that could be used in place of palladium. Largely impossible because of the base elements requiring several more electron bonds than either of them could reasonably possess."

Tony leans onto his elbows, "So I forced them together. I changed the molecular structure of a third metal to act as a dense adherent under three thousand gigijoules of direct magnetic force." Tony opens his shirt and taps the glowing blue core, "Starlinium… yes, I named it after myself." Because he earned that shit.

Then, mother talk… and Tony sighs quietly while rebuttoning his shirt. "I got the impression something was wrong between the two of you, but I didn't ask. By then I was so buried in my own projects that 'family' seemed like something distant and abstract." His hands fall down onto his knees, "It's funny. I spent all those years trying not to be you, or who I thought you were, and ended up being just the same…"


"I do remember my own theories, Tony. My memory's not /that/ bad." For all their conversation is heavy and full of emotional landmines, it seems to be calming Howard's anxiety. Distraction works wonders. He's trying rather hard not to look impressed, but fails. He's still working on that 'praise' thing, but he's getting better at not being dismissive. Partially because, well, he wouldn't be much of a scientist if he did that.

"Technically, you named it after us. You're not the only Stark, you know." As if history would ever let Tony forget that. "Now, anthonyum. That's a catchy name." His tone is wry.

He closes his eyes for a moment and tries to calm the simmering restlessness of his stomach. "Oh, I don't know. I would never have built robotic suits to fight crime with. We're pretty different in that respect." No, he just worked on supersoldier serum, impossible chemicals and elements, flying cars and, oh yeah, a nanobot powered body able to house a human consciousness.


"To be fair, I just changed the name not to sound overly self important." Tony smirk, "I just happened to have forgot the original name because I may or may not have spent the rest of that night in a drinking binge." He shakes his head and rubs his palms on his knees, straightening just a little when he hears the little hints of praise.

"I didn't build the armor to be a crime fighter. I built it to track down the terrorist groups that had Stark weapons illegally. I saw horrible things in that cave. Pictures of villages hit by weapons I created. We did this to make war safer, right?" That's what he'd always told himself, "All I ever accomplished was making the destruction more centralized, but far more extensive in that area. I couldn't let it continue."

It's true, the first few flights of the Iron Man were in middle eastern countries destroying caches of WMDs, much to the chagrin of the US government. At least until they found out who was in the suit.

Then they were just terrified.

"I usually only put that armor on when someone needs me to." A grand total of Seven times in the last year, actually.


"I gotta ask you, kiddo," says Howard, "Why the act for the media? I know you're not the person you pretend to be when the camera's rolling and people are watching. It's like…you're playing an exaggerated version of yourself. I get a public persona. Hell, some would say I was too good at it and never figured out how to take the mask off." Like his family, for instance. Like his estranged wife.

He exhales slowly. "If Obadiah was still alive, I'd make that bastard bleed. Do you know…" his voice regains some of its strength. "…do you know how we got the reputation of being weapons dealers in the first place? Has the truth of that ever actually come out? I mean, I started out making weapons, but that was during the war. We were fighting Hitler. Hydra. I also made flying cars and invented the first home dishwasher."


Tony leans back when asked that question because nobody really ever had. Pepper had to know that most of it was for show, but she just let him do it. In a way, Tony honestly thought she enjoyed him appearing to be such a screw up. "I was eighteen years old when I became CEO of the biggest technological company on the planet. I had to set myself apart and look like it never phased me at all…" He starts and shrugs, "So I started acting like it didn't. At first it was just smirking at cameras, but the more the press put me on the cover of every magazine, the more I hated it…"

He was never big on publicity, no matter what people might think. He has a very high opinion of himself, all Starks do. He's a genius and he knows it, but he'd rather let people see what he created and be marvelled than brag about it to people who more often than not have no idea what he's even showing htem.

"So I started acting more and more ridiculous thinking it would push them away. It did, during the 90s, but…" Laughing quietly, "This decade people get off on that crap. By then, I was so firmly set in the persona, it just became who I was… I made being smart look cool.. That became a pretty big deal."

Obadiah… Tony's expression sours a little, "Not the whole story, no. I figured there was a reason, but all he ever told me is that it was your idea. Your legacy. Push, Tony, push. Be bigger than your dad. So I imagine it had something to do with him." Smirking just a hair, "It did let me work on some pretty impressive things, though. Propulsion systems for aeronautics and envirocrops. Actually, one of the projects I just pulled out of storage came from an earlier design for a missile system."


Howard nods in understanding of Tony's progression. "I ask you that question, then I think back to what I was like at that age. Your grandfather pushed me. He found the financial backing for the company, but all of it was riding on my back to deliver. I was twenty six when we made our first million. We took the company public when I was twenty eight." All of that's known. It's documented. But much the same as Tony's experience in the cave, it doesn't have quite the same effect as hearing the story from the man himself. "The war actually gave me some freedom. I was the whiz kid. Everyone wanted my help to consult on everything from energy to weapons to troop carriers. I could go wherever I wanted and ask for whatever I wanted. Within reason, that is. It was still a war." He takes another breath. His hands relax. His shoulders drop. Funny, he never imagined there'd be anything /less/ stressful than opening up to his kid. "After the war, I got robbed. Someone got their hands on the worst things my mind could come up with. I called them my bad babies." The expression of the dark part of his genius. The part that was so obsessed with whether or not he could, he didn't stop to think whether or not he /should/, to borrow a phrase.

"I had built this persona for myself that wasn't unlike yours. I didn't want people to expect things from me, so I made a career of being unpredictable. I'd show up where I pleased. I'd drop projects if they got boring. But when I did deliver…" he lets out a low whistle, "…it shut everybody up. But the downside was, people were willing to believe things about me that I would never do. Like stage the theft of my own bad babies so I could sell them to the Russians."


It's weird, in every conceivable way, that Tony is looking at a his father, but seeing a man a decade younger than him. A man who lived, almost exactly, the life Tony has been living, but in a different time and under different circumstances. His fingers lace together between his knees, forearms resting across his thighs, "I'm not entirely convinced that some of the weapons used in the attack on Metropolis aren't partly my fault." He admits with a frown.

"That's why I jumped at the opportunity to help. That's why I left the reconstruction of the Tower. I know that nobody is going to blame me… though one reporter tried not to long ago… but that guilt." Shaking his head in a slow, almost self conscious sort of way, "Hydra got my ideas too. They're producing arc reactors and using them to power duplicates. Half the reason the government hasn't clamped down on me and what we're producing is because I stood in front of them and swore that nobody would be able to duplicate my work for twenty to forty years. And it's only been eight…" Does it matter that they're light years behind what he's making?

Imagine Tony's Arc Reactor, but instead of powering some machine, it's turned into a bomb. A bomb big enough to level entire cities, if not entire coastlines. Oh, the son understands quite well the terror of duels sides of genius.

"For what it's worth, I never believed that crap. No matter our differences, I never bought into the idea that you fought that hard to defend people and then sold them out to make a profit." But there's more to the story, that much is clear.


"Yeah, well, you're one of the few, according to what I've read. So many people bought Obadiah's line that what I wanted for Stark Industries was to be a weapons manufacturer." The thought of it still makes Howard angry. He clenches his jaw. "I never managed to fully clear my name. People wanted to believe I was that kind of person, so they did. And then came Obadiah. He must have seen an opportunity to capitalize on that dark part of our reputation. So he started selling weapons behind my back." He rubs his forehead and groans softly. "It makes so much sense in retrospect. Every leaked weapon, every design that ended up in the hands of mercenaries, pirates and terrorists probably came from Obadiah. And after the accident, he convinced you that was what I wanted."

He's quiet for a moment. It's a pensive silence. "I don't blame you for believing him. You were just a kid. And it's not like you knew what I wanted for the company. It's not like we ever talked about it. I thought you were too young. I wanted to let you pursue your own interests. And I didn't want to assume you even wanted to take control of the company after I retired. I thought the business side of things would bore you to tears. You were always happiest when you were making something or fixing something. Wearing a suit and shaking hands…well, that just didn't seem like you."


"I'm not going to lie to you, the first year I was on the board of directors I nearly ran the company into the ground." Tony says with a laugh, shaking his head. "At some point I found a middle ground and let my ideas sell themselves. Once I did that, the business just worked itself out." It was still weapons and the thought of it still hits pretty close to home.

"I didn't want the company." He says this flat, honestly, and matter of factly. "Not the first and, if I'm being completely honest, not now." Opening his hands in a shrug, face twisted into a hazzardous expression of self dread, "All I wanted was to build something that people would remember and see that there was more to the Stark name than weapons. I blamed a lot of that on you, and that wasn't really fair of me… I know that. But it was easier than blaming myself. I could have easily turned the company away earlier, but the money made everything so much easier. Pet projects that I thought would make up for the fact that we were merchants of death…" He shakes his head at that, "It didn't. So the more people started realizing that we were, in essence, evil, the further I distanced myself from myself. In public I could just roll with it, smirk and pretend I didn't care. Because I 'didn't', not about the company. It was the name on the building that I cared about."

"Because that was bigger than me."


"You know the first Stark Expo? That's what I wanted for the company. I wanted to make things that made people's lives better. Easier. And yeah, safer. And that meant weapons. If I thought I could build a piece of tech that would create peace, I would've done that. But instead, I made sure that our country was protected." Howard shakes his head. "Which all sounds so idealistic in retrospect. I swear to god, life was simpler when it was clear who the enemy was."

He reaches up and loosens his tie. His colour has almost completely returned, and if JARVIS is feeding any vitals to Tony's phone, he'll see that Howard's almost back to normal. Still not totally clear and calm, but he's quite a bit better than he was before they lifted off. "Funny how you made the company what I would have wanted it to be by defying what you thought was my vision. The universe has a sense of humour."


About that time the pilot comes over the intercom, "We're coming in for a landing outside the metro bus station, as you requested Mr. Stark." Tony glances in the direction of the pilot hatch and gives them a thumbs up, then looks back to his dad, hands clapping together and head canting to the side. "It all worked out in the end."

It did, strangely, and in a round about why. "Pepper is better suited for running a company than either of us and that frees us up to do what we actually both set out to do to begin with." Standing up from the bench after the carrier touches down. One of the lockers is thrown open and from it Tony pulls out a heavy winter coat, "Save the world from itself." One is tossed on the bench where Howard's sitting.

"By distracting each other when we need a distracting and accidentally talking like we should have decades ago." Smirking as he throws the coat on over his shoulders, "Seriously, I don't think I told you this, but it's good that you're back. I honestly did always want to know which one of us was smarter… now we both know it's me!" Teasing as he pulls the lever that releases the hatch down into a snow swept and unnaturally dark Metropolis. The idea of a city completely without power is actually a rather terrifying sight. "You ready to get started?" Turning just a little,

"Two Starks at work? This shit doesn't stand a chance."

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