Cindy Reads the Hardy Boys!

April 04, 2017:

Silk and Spider-Man meet to discuss the Iron Monger. Underneath Stark Towers. Why not?

Underneath Stark Towers

You know. Stark Towers. But underneath.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Jessica Jones, Spider-Woman, Iron Monger

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

There's some things that are immutable in life, or at least close enough that they might as well be. The sun always rises in the east and sets in the west. Humans always need to breathe to live.

Spider-Man always picks the worst spots for secret superhero meetings.

The text comes in from Peter's 'work number' — the one he gave to Cindy after she (accidentally (maybe)) barged in to his personal life and uncovered his secret identity with such a lack of ceremony that it'd make any self-respecting superhero faint in shame. While things had been quiet on that front on his end, aside from the occasional offer to join her on patrols through the city, the message comes in like some half-forgotten kneejerk response — a request to meet. A date, a time, and a location —

NOW
STARK TOWER

Spider-Man is currently hanging out at Stark Tower, home of (one of) the wealthiest men in the world. His mentor-father-not-father-that's-gross-figure. Who probably doesn't need the bad press of having Spider-Man trolling around his properties. It's okay, though, because he's doing it really stealthily.

… by hanging out underneath the massive balcony-slash-landing-pad that juts out the side of the tower. It'd probably be a good hiding spot for anyone but Stark, who probably has a roaming cloud of nanocameras scoping out every inch of his tower like a man who has no value for personal space. It probably would be. If Spider-Man wasn't also dancing. And singing.

"You're dripping like a saturated sunrise~
"You're spilling like an overflowing sink
"You're ripped at every edge but you're a masterpiece
"And now I'm tearing through the pages and the inkkk~"

So. There be Spider-Man. Standing upside down, kind of bobbing his head and working his feet a little. As he sings along to Halsey songs.

If this ends up reflecting badly on Tony somehow, well.

… he's okay with that.

"Everything is blue!!"


Completely intentionally. But she won't let Peter know that— what's the point of them having this odd link if she can't use it to track him down and get some answers?! Not that she actually wanted to barge into his personal life…

In the middle of doing some research on her parents and their disappearance, Cindy gets the call. Within a few minutes of closing things down, logging out, and putting away the office laptop to go suit up, she's out the window and scrambling up walls, cutting across Hell's Kitchen's rooftops before the big ramp-up run-and-dive to web-swing through the streets of New York.

Cindy knows the way to Stark Tower very well— she's met the owner, as well as Skynet, kind of. It doesn't take super long for her to arrive, though her timing is likely a few steps slower than that of the Spider-Man… but to be fair, she's only been at this for a few weeks!

Building momentum, swinging up, up, and up, Silk vaults off the line and is flung at the balcony, coming up from below to tuck, twist, and flip so she lands in the good ol' superhero landing pose. Just… you know, upside-down.

"Tony was probably recording like, /all of that/, I just want you to realize."


"Then maybe he'll finally find out what good dancing looks like."

Doesn't even miss a beat. Yeah. -He went there.-

"… And like, I dunno, learn about songs other than Frank Sinatra's greatest hits. Does he look Sinatra old? He kinda looks Sinatra old."

If he's digging a grave for himself, he might as well go all the way.

"… I swear he looks like he belongs on the cast of Mad Men sometimes…"

Yep.

Still. The young man - fortunately - stops his singing as soon as Silk makes her appearance, turning just in the nick of time to face her right when she lands. Upside-down. In the superhero pose. He gives a subtle thumbs up of approval, even through his bravado vis a vis Iron Man.

"Anyway, uh. Thanks for coming. I didn't — you weren't doing anything important, were you? This isn't like… life or death… well I mean, it could be, but y'know, not like — immediate catastrophic levels, or something. Maybe I should put in some kinda color code for text urgency. Like… 'OH GOD GET OVER HERE' could be something like, I dunno — blackwatch plaid?"

He settles into silence for a brief, sublime moment. And then clears his throat.

"Uhhh we'll circle back around to that later. Anyway — I was just like… you know. You mentioned something? About some kind of angry, douchier ripoff of the Iron Giant?"

He cups a cheek, looks aside to where he assumes there's cameras, and whispers a, "(Err — not you, Mr. Stark.)"

He's good at this.


Landing stuck, approval gained. Cindy rocks from toes to heels, letting her feet become comfortable on the surface of the balcony's underside, standing straight and letting her hair fall.

She can't quite help herself— her lips curl back into her mouth, and Silk tries to unsuccessfully suppress the laugh behind her red half-mask. Was she doing anything important, though? "Just doing some research. … er… about my family. Miss Jones has a lot of resources, so… I'm probably making a lot more headway than I would otherwise. The office has been slow."

A beat, then her shoulder lifts in a half-shrug, arms crossing. "— uh— that is, they hired me to be a secretary, for now, so I can get some money in my checking account. So I get access to stuff. And have to read so much godawful stuff I have to make sure gets filed right," she adds, eyes listing off into the thousand yard stare.

Returning to the present, however, her red-and-black-clad fingers press together. "Mauve might be good for that."

"So— yeah. Uh. That guy."

Cindy turns her wrist over. She doesn't have all the same cool gizmos as Peter, but the strap around her wrist as she fidgets with her silken suit is undeniably a Stark-tech phone. It lights up with a small holographic display, and she starts flicking through some old, saved news clips from weeks past… including some cellphone footage of the Iron Monger and Silk, catching a thrown taxi and saving the occupants.

"I didn't even see where he came from. He had these… I don't know, energy wave-thing missiles, I got taken right out of the air and knocked stupid for a minute. Tony recognized that stuff, though, he said it was definitely derived from his tech. He was looking for you but ran into me instead."


"Oh, huh. Seriously? She gave you a job, too?" Spider-Man scratches the side of his head in quiet thoughtfulness. "Neat. So she's basically like. Your cool scary terrifying aunt or something, now." That might have been one negative adjective too many. "You lucked out. You coulda got a creepy uncle who stays over a week too long on Christmas and never showers."

Disturbingly specific.

"How's all… that, going, by the way?" He makes sure, at least, not to mention her parents by name. You never know who might be watching, and all the Halsey sing-alongs in the world won't ward off some people.

But still, as Silk's attention shifts to the more dangerous matter at hand, Spider-Man lifts his hands to clasp behind the back of his head, white lenses whittling down into a thoughtful squint as he looks at the holographic news feeds. "… never gave -me- a StarkPhone…"

No, he's not bitter. It's okay.

Still, that light-hearted grousing is shelved as he watches the Iron Monger in action, head tilting at a curious angle and lips pursing faintly behind the mask. "So, he knows Mr. Stark, or at least knows the company well enough to get his hands on their tech. And that suit looks kinda like Iron Man's Fat Albert enthusiast cousin." His fingers tapping at the back of his red-clad scalp, those lenses widen just a bit with a mechanical hiss.

"He was after me?" he echoes. "Does he know about me and Mr. Stark—?" Panic settles in, briefly, but it's short-lived — if they knew everything Tony knew about him, they probably wouldn't have been randomly hunting any web-slinger they could find in New York.

He's still going to check on Aunt May after this. And it's troubling to recognize how often he's been doing so, of late.

"Sorry," he says, after a moment. "That you got, like… dragged into whatever all this hot nonsense is," vague gesture at the holograms goes here, "because of me. Did he say or do anything else besides…"

Uhhh.

"… all the punchy-smashy robo-rage?"

Sure, why not.


"Something like that— she was pretty pissed when she found me after that guy beat me up. I thought I broke ribs or something, but I healed up pretty fast," Cindy says, watching the footage. She tilts her head at the Spider-Man at his envy, frowning a little behind her mask. "D— Didn't he like, give you a bunch of cool stuff? Honestly, I thought he was just feeling bad that all this happened to me."

"I don't think he does. He just mentioned you, and only you. I don't know what he wanted," she says, leaving out the other part— that 'everything that happens to her will be his fault.' Peter doesn't need that on his mind right now, considering how things have been the last few times they've met.

Did he say or do anything?

Silk's shoulders rise and fall as the phone's display clicks off. "I don't know. It was like… a'right, hang on," she says, holding her arms out to either side. She's building the scene in her head, closing her eyes and walking a few paces away from Spider-Man. "There was a water tower nearby, there were missiles. They split up into more missiles, and then those split up into /more/. It was like shockwaves when they blew up, even with my senses I couldn't escape all of 'em."

Turning, she makes a quick gesture. "He wasn't sure about how my webbing was designed— I don't think he realized it was coming out of my hands. So we fought in this building that was under construction, and luckily there was nobody there. Then I kicked him down to the streets," Silk says, pantoming things with her hands. "The taxi thing happened, then uhhh… I pounced and I kind of tried to rip him up by making claws, but he caught me and then use this like…"

Cindy's eyes open, and under better circumstances it would look like she's crumpling newspaper. "He shot me with this like, huge chest laser thing and I got shot like ten blocks into the East River. Hurt like hell."

Hands on her hips, the brown-eyed heroine tilts her head. "By the time I got back out of the river, he was gone."


"Well like — yeah, he helped me get my suit made," and here, Spider-Man looks down at him, pinching the elastic fabric and stretching it testingly between his fingers, "but like, everything else is kinda stuff I made with things I had on hand. Mostly. And it's not a StarkPhone. Maybe he'll let me build a StarkPhone into the suit-? — Butthat'snotthepoint! Ugh! Don't, like — let's focus on the evil angry robot grandpa for right now!"

It's probably for the best that Cindy ultimately doesn't expand on the man's words to her — Peter's already essentially blaming himself for what happened, and it's hard to say just what just having the confirmation might do. Right now, the webbed vigilante is already trying to figure out ways he can curtail the problem before anyone else in his orbit gets dragged in, a foot tapping against the ground, his lensed gaze redirected towards the city as he drowns in his own contemplations.

But in the end, something tells him this isn't even necessarily about him, either.

Wide, white lenses eventually refocus, staring at the Stark Tower's wide glass expanse beyond him with quiet thought. He's drawn back towards Cindy as she gathers her thoughts from that impeccable memory of hers and starts to lay out the event for him. Hands falling down (up?) to his sides, held against his hips. "Obviously kinda prepared to fight someone with out kinds of powers but not like… really aware of all of them," he muses to himself, lenses squinting into thoughtful slivers. "All that stuff sounds like something Mr. Stark's evil twin would use, or something. … does he…" No, Peter, Tony Stark doesn't have an evil twin. This isn't a soap opera.

"And you haven't seen him since? Like — he hasn't come after you, or anything?" He doubts it, otherwise he would have heard. But — it never hurts to be sure. Besides…

'Hurt like hell.'

"Yeah. Uh. … you'll get used to that. I'm pretty happy when it turns out I'm still breathing." A wry joke to cover up his guilt.

"But… at least we got a good idea of what this guy is like now, right? Next time if you catch sight of him, like — try to get ahold of me, if you can. I dunno. Emit danger waves, or something. Can we do that? I feel like we oughta figure that out." It's strange, having to figure out the limits and capacities of weird abilities he didn't know he had. Again. It's a strangely nostalgic feeling.

"… I guess I oughta talk to Mr. Stark about this, if he was coming after me. Ugh. He's gonna just — ugh." Not that he doesn't want to.

It's complicated.


"Danger waves would be awesome. We'll have to figure that out, though… I'm pretty sure just texting S.O.S. or something would suffice, and then you just follow, the, y'know." Cindy gestures back and forth between the two of them with one finger.

"But no, I haven't seen him since then," Cindy says, crossing her arms. "It's like he vanished right after all of that— I've been paying attention to the news, too, so… you might be right. — I mean, that he doesn't know about everything that we can do. I haven't heard anything about that Spider-Woman in the hoodie lately, either, so I guess he hasn't found her either."

"I— I honestly, uh, I think Tony knows about some of this, though, or at least more than he's probably told either one of us. He came to hire Miss Jones the same day of the fight and hired her for something. I'm not sure what-all about, because I was kind of trying to ignore the way my head was beating like a drum. He might be trying to figure out who this guy is, too. I don't know all the details of the case, but I can ask Miss Jones if there's anything she can tell us."


Spider-Woman. Right. That. Peter needs to track her down too, which has been surprisingly difficult. It does mean she doesn't have some weird ill-explained spider-tether to him, too, which is really something of a relief to him. One is tough enough to deal with.

"Yeah. Spider-…stalker ray. Whatever it is. I'll just follow that thing."

See?? It feels creepy even just talking about it!

"So maybe he was just like… trying to send a message," muses Peter, those lenses thoughtfully scrunched the all the more as he mulls over the possibilities. A moment passes, before a sigh heaves past his lips. "This is why…" But whatever he means to say, ultimately the young man shakes his head.

"So, alright. You go see Jess, and I'll go talk to Mister Stark. If he knows something more, he's kinda, like — obligated to tell us, at this point. Right?" Peter pauses here, remembering how phenomenally difficult it is to even remotely work with Tony. "… I mean. He should be obligated to. I mean — I'll make him be obligated to." … "With my words."

This'll go over well.

"We can, like… get together afterwards, and pow-wow. Exchange clues in the Mystery Van. Really Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys it. … who's the second Hardy Boy, though…?"

As Spider-Man's extended and confused metaphor gets away from him, those lenses shutter in a blink. A second passes. "-Aaaanyway, sounds like we got a gameplan. Until then, just… keep an eye out and be careful, okay?"


A message? Absolutely— but that is part of what she isn't telling Peter. 'This is why…' he starts, and she tilts her head hoping to hear the rest of the sentence. Unfortunately, it never comes.

"Good. You can hunt me down pretty easy if I'm at Alias— I'm probably working."

Fortunately, however, they now at least have a game plan: Split up, divide and conquer, and talk to their respective adult grown-up stand-in guardians-slash-parental-figures (or at least aunt-figure). Cindy bobs her head in a nod… though she gives him a pretty incredulous stare as he makes it clear /obligation/ is going to be invoked. "/Obligated/," she repeats, not quite believing it as strongly as Peter.

"Frank and Joe Hardy," Silk replies without a second thought, then stops and squints. "… I mean. Uh. Shut up. Shut. Up. Don't you dare open your mouth."

He's not going to shut his mouth, she can feel it. "Sounds good to me! Just be careful," Silk says, suddenly far too eager to get away from the Spider-Man before this invariably comes back to haunt her— she pushes off from the underside of the balcony and dives into the skies of New York, casting out a web-line to start swinging away.

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