Up From A Nap

September 07, 2015:

Howard is cured (repaired?) and wakes up from his long nap.

Howard Stark's Penthouse

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's taken several days of slow recovery, but the treatment devised by the Sokovian doctor is taking effect. It involves programming a line of code into Howard's nanobots that instructs them to release a certain compound that neutralizes the toxin. It was very long and involved and even with help, it took Tony days to get it working.
He's yet to regain consciousness, but his vital signs have been steadily improving to the point that they're approaching normal. He's still in his apartment. His facial wounds have healed, but he's still lying prone on a cot in his lab, machines monitoring his progress.

It's been a long few days. Peggy has stayed with Howard, often trading places with Tony and Jarvis in order to ensure the pair of them manage to get some sort of rest. Other times they remain in varying forms of company and silence as they wait to see if the treatment will actually hold. It seems to be working, his facial wounds having healed, but Peggy still remains cautious.

Seated in a chair nearby his cot, a thick book is open on her lap. Her eyes drift up toward her unconscious friend every once in awhile as she turns a page. Worry lines are evident on her face, though she's remained silent and mostly stoic during their wait.

"I am in serious need of a drink," croaks Howard. There's no warning that he was about to wake up. The machines beeped away as they have been. When Peggy turns, she'll see him sitting upright in bed. Thanks to the wonders of LMDs, he's in need of a shave. But also thanks to the wonder of LMDs…he doesn't stink after lying prone for days. Blessings and curses. His hair is tousled and he's wearing just a white tank top and boxers under a thin sheet. "All right. Who undressed me and was she cute?"

At Howard's voice, Peggy sits upright, leaning forward. "Howard!" The book thumps to a close as she shuts it, quickly tossing it to the side as she stands and moves toward him. "How are you feeling? You've been out of it for quite some time. We were all worried about you." Then, with a soft laugh and a smirk, she shakes her head. "I believe it was Mr. Jarvis who undressed you after we found you collapsed in the lab. Do you remember anything that happened before that?"

"Of course it was Jarvis," murmurs Howard as he stretches up. He winces as he works out various kinks, both imagined and real. He blinks and rubs his eyes. "You know that feeling when you go out for a night of drinking and oversleep by waaaay too much? Sort of like that. But also like I got in a barfight towards the end of the night with a 6'4" bouncer." He's speaking from experience from that, truly.
As for memories. He has to think about that for a minute. "Mhmm. It's fuzzy. But my memories are fuzzy at the best of times."

"Disappointed?" Peggy asks Howard with an amused shake of her head. It's good to see him talking and moving about, though she's worried he's taking things far too fast. "You should stay in bed," she warns him. "Whatever it is that scientist in Sokovia gave us to help you took awhile to actually start working. You should make sure it's got you entirely up and running again before pushing yourself."

At his explanation, she sighs and gives a bit of a shake of her head. "I'm sure I don't actually know that feeling as well as you do, Howard." She frowns, head tilting. "Well, what is the last thing you do remember?"

"Oh, I think you do, Peg. How many times have you gotten into a brawl and improvised a weapon with a piece of office equipment or a chair leg?" Howard ignores her comment about staying in bed, because…well, he's Howard. He lowers himself off the examination bed and winces as he shakes out the kinks. "Goddamn, why did I design this body to feel so human?" He shuffles over to the readouts and starts to check them. "So what happened, anyway? Did you take back the factory?"

"That is rarely due to drinking too much, however," Peggy replies with a smirk, reaching a hand out to help Howard should he stumble. She doesn't care if he doesn't want it. That's not up for him to decide. He's been abed for far too long and it's quite possible that he may fall.

"Yes, blame your own ingenuity," she replies with a laugh. "It's just good to see you moving about. We did take back the factory after a fashion. We found out that it was an Obadiah Stane that had started up the place again. He also made use of an LMD and needed help repairing it."

Howard turns from the monitor over to Peggy. His brows arch up and up. He says nothing for a moment, then, "Son of a bitch. He was watching me. All those years. I knew it. I could feel it. I thought it was SHIELD or the Russians. Obie always had an eye for talent. He must've recruited some brilliant minds who he could pay or threaten not to talk."

"I didn't know him," Peggy replies, as Obadiah was from a time further in history than the time Peggy comes from. "He seemed to hold quite a grudge against you and Tony." He also knew her, though if they were close at a certain point in time, that makes sense. "His LMD was badly damaged, however, and he wanted to be fixed. Perhaps. I attacked him with the chameleon mask before he could finish his evil speech as to why he is the way he is."

In spite of everything, Howard cracks a smile. "Of course. That man always did love to hear himself talk." He checks a few more of the results, then limps stiffly out to the main part of the apartment. Where? To the bar of course. "Drink? My fingers are a little stiff but I can probably still mix a Manhattan the way you like 'em."

"Apologies if you would have preferred a little more information as to why he did it," Peggy says as she follows him into the main room. She doesn't actually sound all that apologetic, honestly. With a raised eyebrow, she gives a bit of a nod. "Sure, though perhaps I should be the one fixing the drinks." He just came out of a coma, after all, he should still be resting. And, most likely, not drinking. But, she's not his mother; though she is still worried.

Howard snags his dressing gown from off a chair and ties it closed. Peggy's his oldest friend and she's seen him in more compromising positions than simply in his underwear. But still, it isn't polite. He has more decorum than his son. "Oh, this isn't the end of it. I'll find out what that bastard was up to." He picks up a bottle of bourbon, then sets it down and flexes his fingers. The stiffness seems to get better after a minute. Either that, or he's ignoring it. "Everyone okay? Hope no one got hurt because of me."

Peggy's clearly watching Howard and his movements. She's surely no stranger to Howard in his undergarments, but she does appreciate him moving to put on a robe. "I wasn't suggesting that was the end of it," she replies, moving to the opposite side of the bar. It's almost like she hovering and frowning as he picks up and puts down the bourbon. "Just that we didn't get to hear it straight from him." Though, who knows what self-righteous filters he would have gone through. As for everyone being okay, she nods. "Some of the civilians were hit in the escape," she tells him. "Our people made it out okay."

Howard pauses, then grits his teeth and sucks in a breath. "I'm going to fix up that factory. Give the people good jobs. And build a new hospital." Which might sound like self-aggrandizement, except Peggy knows him well enough to know the difference between an ego trip and genuine generosity. And those two things aren't mutually exclusive, anyway. There's lots of good that's been done in his name - with his name front and centre with big letters.
He seems to be struggling with mixing the drink. But his fine motor control improves with each passing moment. It's quite a bit slower than usual before he's pouring the drink into a glass. For himself? A double shot of Bushmills. He can afford to drink the expensive stuff, but with scotch, anything over a 16 is just bragging.

Peggy has no doubt that that is exactly what Howard will do once he's able. "they may be wary of it, though," she warns. "They were just held prisoner there and many were forced into labor. It may take awhile to build up the trust that it will be okay." She's not trying to rain on his parade, but she's usually the type to tell the truth on matters such as that.

She watches him mix the drinks, frowning every once in awhile as she does. It's not that she's actually impatient for hers, but she's noticing that it's difficult for him. However, being the stiff upper lip Brit, she doesn't crowd him. Instead, she simply waits. Should it truly become a problem, she'll step in. But, for now, she'll let him do it on his own.

Howard takes a sip of his drink and then wobbles his head thoughtfully. As usual, Peggy gives him wise counsel. "I'd give money to a local firm and let them run it, but there's too much Hydra in the area for my liking. Maybe some kind of resettlement assistance would be preferable." A pause, then, "I'll see what they think. Maybe I'll try to talk to Erben."
He pushes the drink across the bar towards her. His hand shakes a bit, enough to rattle the glass. He hesitaes a moment before asking, "How's Tony?"

At the mention of Erben, Peggy frowns, but nods her head. He attacked her friends, but proved himself at least somewhat during the attack on the factory. He's at least neutral to slightly untrustworthy in her eyes now. "Perhaps. There was a woman there named Maja. She was a quick thinker. I would get in touch with her if you could." She, at least, never tried to take a restaurant by force. Picking up her own drink, she takes a sip and leans on the bar. "He's as well as can be expected. Worried about you in his own bullheaded way. We should call him soon."

In spite of Howard's own American version of stiff upper lip (they share the war in common, after all) he sits on the barstool instead of standing, and withs ome obvious relief. "And how are you, Peg?" He looks her in the eye, eyebrows raised. "I hope you haven't been spending too much time by my bedside. That's pretty sentimental, you know." He chuckles and sips his drink. "I'm long past my time. I hope you don't take it too hard if anything does happen to me."

Peggy remains standing for the time being. She's been sitting far too long. "I'm just glad you're alright," she tells him with a smile. She looks back at him over her glass and then sets it onto the bar. Her hand remains about it, however. An amused smirk crosses her face. "I can be sentimental when I chose. We've been all taking turns, so don't attempt to pin it all on me." She won't stand for that! As for taking it too hard if anything happens to him, she raises an eyebrow. "You're not an old family pet, Howard, you're my friend. I would take it very hard should anything happen to you."
She sighs. "Perhaps from your view you've known me for so many years. However, it has not been that way for me. And…you're one of the few people here that actually knows who I am without expectations of what that means."

"Sucks to be famous, doesn't it?" Howard chuckles. It's a deep, throaty, warm sound, despite the fact that it's covering up some difficult emotions. He swallows more of the drink and laments again that it does nothing to numb him. "I've cheated death. Accidentally, but it is a cheat. And I may be a lot of things, but I believe in fair play. Any time I have left is borrowed time. I'm glad I got to see you, young and healthy again. And Jarvis, too. I'm glad I got to see how my son has grown up. But I've had my share of life." He smiles again and refills his glass. "No one who has lived as hard as I have really deserves to be on this earth as long as I've been."

With a snort, Peggy rolls the glass between her hands, the deep amber liquid inside rippling and moving as she does so. "It's not the notoriety of being the founder of SHIELD that truly gets me," she replies. Her eyes are down now, watching the progress of her drink as it shifts about in her glass. "I had a purpose before. And I should be relieved that I achieved it. But, now, what else am I to do? It's bloody irritating to have my goals accomplished by someone else - even if that someone else is me."

She looks over to Howard and shakes her head. "Deserves is a strong word. Very few people deserve what has happened to them - good or ill. It just matters what you do with it. I am grateful you're still here with us and that you lived a good long life, but you'll never be able to convince me that it is a good thing should this body of yours fail. It will be a comfort to know you are content, but it will still be difficult."

"Not a good thing, just…on bonus rounds." Howard's smile is soft and a little bit tired. He's far more weary from his ordeal than he lets on. "Are you still glad I brought you forward, Peg? Do you think you can be happy here? Or rather, do you think you can be happy now."

If there's anyone who can tell, it's Peggy and she takes a swig from her glass and sets it back down on the bar before straightening. "I am. It was either that I would have faded into non-existance. I'm glad I was able to see what becomes of SHIELD. That Steve is still alive. That I could meet Tony. It's just a matter of finding out what I do now." She moves toward Howard now. "You should get back to bed. You're pushing yourself and I don't fancy becoming the typical English mother getting you cups of tea for your ailments."

"I need to move. I need to get all these little bots working again. A bunch of 'em were in hibernation mode while I was out." Howard does wince, though. He shifts his neck to the side and it cracks softly. He smiles at her, then reaches out to take her hand. He gives it a gentle squeeze. "You are Peggy goddamn Carter. You can do whatever the hell you set your mind to, kid." He releases her hand after a moment. "For which I'm eternally grateful, since you've set your mind to pulling my bacon out of the fire more than once."

FRIDAY might just have a backdoor that Tony doesn't use all the time. Just when it's necessary. Like when his father wakes up at last from his comatose state. Getting across town actually takes some time, given that the suit is under repair, so it's a breathless Tony Stark that comes pounding through the door. Much like a cat skidding across the floor, though, he immediately pauses, rights his clothes, rakes a hand through his hair, and strides with a little more nonchalance through the door and to Howard's bed.
"Dad," he says. "Done with your nap? Good. Glad to hear it."

FRIDAY might just have a backdoor that Tony doesn't use all the time. Just when it's necessary. Like when his father wakes up at last from his comatose state. Getting across town actually takes some time, given that the suit is under repair, so it's a breathless Tony Stark that comes pounding through the door. Much like a cat skidding across the floor, though, he immediately pauses, rights his clothes, rakes a hand through his hair, and strides with a little more nonchalance through the door and to Howard's… well, to the bar he's been propped up at, which is all kinds of appropriate.
"Dad," he says. "Done with your nap? Good. Glad to hear it."

Peggy gives Howard a squeeze back of his hand. "Yes, but you also don't want to push yourself too hard. You know how Mr. Jarvis gets." With a bit of a laugh, she shakes her head. "Kid. Is that what you'll be calling me now?" He is much older than she is now. As for what she gets her mind set to, she shakes her head. "Only on Tuesdays," she teases.

As Tony pushes his way through the door, she straightens, looking over at the man with a smile. "Tony! We were just going to call you. Howard just got up. Apparently pouring drinks is good for his dexterity."

"Can I get you a drink, son?" says Howard. Casual as you please. As if he didn't just wake up from a weeks-long coma where some kind of weird substance was eating at his face and insides. There was a day when he would have commented on Tony's breathlessness and teased him a bit. But he's learned (finally) that that can get trying. "Peggy filled me in. Goddamn Obadiah."

They both have to play it cool, don't they? Howard and Tony both. He shakes his head at Peggy: "Sure, no, it's fine. More important that he's awake; besides, you two needed to catch up. Obadiah," he confirms, grimacing and shaking his head. "Hopefully we've seen the last of him for a while. But that's something to worry about… extremely later. Yes. A Manhattan, if you'd be so kind." He props himself up on one of the stools next to Howard, glancing over at him briefly before staring off at the bottles. "You're welcome, by the way."

Peggy looks between Howard and Tony, already practically sighing at the sudden shift in the room. Already standing and still with half a drink in her hand, she gestures with it to Tony. "I was explaining how we interrupted his evil villain monologue, so attempting to figure out his motives will take more hands on work."

Giving Tony a look over her glass at the jab, she takes a sip.

Howard gets himself off his stool with visible effort. He rounds to the back of the bar and works on making Tony's drink. Fortunately, all the ingredients are already out because that's exactly what he made for Peggy. He is moving stiffly, but with determination. A few times, he pauses to flex his hands back into movement before he's able to open a bottle.
"I was looking at the data," he says, nodding back towards the lab he was so recently lying prone in. "Suprised it took you as long as it did for you to catch on to the recursive algorithm. That was actually a note from your own playbook. Do you remember?"
Oh, the Stark boys. Poor Peggy.

"Oh yeah. When I finally realized that you'd copied your own security algorithms, what a blast from the past. I never thought you were simple enough to use your own work /twice/, but there — "
Tony breaks off, pausing, glancing over very, very briefly at Peggy and rubbing the bridge of his nose before straightening and squaring his shoulders. "I'm glad you're back, Dad. I wasn't going to lose you like that; I wasn't — I wasn't going to let him take you away again. I've had enough of a life where you were distant. Gone. I'd like very much," he finishes, gritting the words out as if they hurt, as if they were rehearsed, "to have a life where you're… around. In it. We're both adults. I think we can both let bygones be bygones and maybe, maybe be the friends we always could've been. If you were anyone other than my dad."
Maybe not rehearsed. Rehearsed would have probably come out better.

The last thing Peggy was expecting was to be at ground zero when the Stark Family truth bombs started to explode. Again, her eyes are on Howard as he moves to open up bottles to make Tony a Manhattan. So, she's looking straight at him when he starts needling Tony about the data. Her eyes narrow at him.

This is clearly a moment between father and son and she does her very best to remain very still, as if that will help alleviate the tension she feels surround her. She, instead, just takes a very long pull of her drink.

"Or maybe I used security algorithms that I was fairly certain the only person I knew I could trust could actually break. Algorithms, that, once bypassed, could let someone virtually reprogram me," says Howard in a deadpan tone. He's settling in for another war of words (and words unsaid) when Tony spits out an olive branch. He's taken aback. The stagger has more to do with his current state of health than his son's words, but it's interesting timing.
He takes a moment to listen to his son's words in a thoughtful way that's a hallmark of him being genuine and…maybe even a little humbled. "Let's be honest, Tony. If you and I weren't father and son, we would have been rivals." Hell, there's a rivalry even with that familial connection - one that chased Tony from the supposed grave.
He finishes the Manhattan with some difficulty and pushes it across to Tony. "I'm sorry I was away so much, both…physically, and…" he doesn't say it. But it's implied. Emotional closeness has never been his strong suit.
He starts to move around the end of the bar, but his knee gives out of him. He's left grabbing at the railing. He sucks in a breath. "Oookay. Seems my little robots aren't quite finished doing their repairs. I should…" he looks pointedly at Peggy, "…listen to what your dear Aunt Peg is heavily implying from her slight looks and get my sorry old ass back to bed. My own bed, though. FRIDAY can monitor my vitals well enough for our purposes now."

Tony's mouth twitches as Howard starts in, but the man's reaction surprises even him. He looks a little awkward when Howard begins to speak again, and the first statement… well. He's speechless, but the half-smile on his face is as much confirmation as anyone probably needs: it's absolutely true.
He takes the drink, wrapping a hand around it and lifting his eyes to meet his father's. The ghost of his father, he can't help thinking. But he straightens when Howard starts stumbling, halfway to his feet by the time he's resolving to go to bed. "Peggy," he says, his eyes shifting to her. "Would you…?" There's no delicate way to say 'walk my dad upstairs and make sure he doesn't collapse on his way to his bed'. So he just leaves it unsaid, because even worse would be him offering to help his dad to his room. He knows it. They both know it. He just sits there lamely with his drink.

"Those looks had multiple meanings," Peggy replies to Howard with a raised eyebrow and a steady tone. Both that he should get to bed and stop being hard on his son. She may not actually be Aunt Peg from the past, but some things don't change. When she cares about people, she'll do what she can to help them. Though, straight out telling them is a bit beyond her boundaries.

Sliding the glass with her last sliver of Manhattan across the bar to pick up later, she moves to Howard's side and reaches out to put his arm under his. She's not about to take no for an answer. To Tony, she gives him a bit of a smile at his drifted off question and gives a nod. "Of course." Then, she's moving Howard upstairs to his own bed and making sure he's comfortable there.

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