Stark Realities

February 19, 2018:

Obadiah and Tony discuss the future.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

In the aftermath of recent destruction, rebuilding. Or at least, most would have rebuilt. While Obadiah's office did not suffer the brunt of the various attacks on Stark Tower as of late, it did not go untouched. The ceiling had collapsed, paneling had fallen off of the wall, and Obadiah had not returned it to his pristine glory. Instead, he had turned his office, once a quiet, warm place into a bustling nexus of activity. Hallowed out of the amenities he once took pride in, this place looks more like a command center, though one yet to be staffed. Workers are moving more computer stations in, while Obadiah himself is in a glass office in the corner, maybe a quarter of the old, expansive room, with a simple but high tech desk. Tony will of course have no trouble making it inside, and Obadiah sits with his back to Tony, his jacket slung over a tiny couch in the corner, his eyes on the displays that now cover the one-way glass looking out over Manhattan Island.

"…well Senator, I understand your point of view, but that isn't to say I can agree with it. Turning this into a matter of genes is a red herring to garner votes, to appeal to the most base instincts of fear and tribalism. What about Inhumans? What about Kryptonians or Amazonians or Asgardians or even Hydra for that matter? Any and all of them can be threats to the safety of the entire world. This isn't about how someone is born, this is about what they do with that gift. For every Tony Stark, we get a Masked Menace. For every X-Man, we get Pietro and Wanda Maximoff. Our job should be organizing the former against the latter, not playing politics with the safety of the world. Now, in case you were thinking about shrugging your shoulders at me because this is just two old men who have known each other for thirty years having a frank conversation, I've recorded it. The gloves are off, Harvey. I'll expect your support on the accords."

"You know, old man. You are pretty damn vicious when you put your mind to it." Comes the voice from the door of the offer. That familiar drawl of Tony Stark, Obi would know that expression before he even turns. That smirk, almost lazy in nature but with such a contained and driven energy concealed there. Eyes that never stop moving, mind that never stops tearing though all the data that it can accumleate.

Still the stress shows.

Damage newly healing, the subtle hitch of a limp from his leg that is mostly healed but still tender at this point. The lines under his eyes to show he's not sleeping, the faint twitch in one corner of his eye. He's pushing himself. He's not sleeping. He's…

…well he's causing problems of course. But thats what he does.

"He's a United States Senator, what I just did to him was downright pleasant. I have no patience for do-nothings." When Obadiah turns it's to give Tony a once over, a certain displeasure showing in his eyes as he rounds the table and pulls the chair on the other side of his desk out for him. It's the impatience of a father who has to tell his child to not fuss with his bandaid, and in doing so, he makes it clear he's more angry that Tony is not taking care of himself than anything he might be doing.

"Well. I assume all this is from your little Genosha trip. What was it, exactly? Sightseeing? Hear they had beautiful waterfall tours, something like that." Yes, he wants to smack Tony upside the back of his head. Instead, he turns, moving back around his desk and retrieving a bottle of water for Tony, and a cigar for himself, though he does leave the box on the desk if Tony wants one.

There's really no condemnation there, just a kind of jest in the lift of his eyebrows and the way he regards Tony as he lights his cigar. This, is his courtesy. He'll let Tony lead the way on catching up, and whatever else he might need from his office.

"Then how the hell have you put up with me for so long." Comes the irreverent quip from the inventor as he strolls into the room like he owns the place. Because well. He sorta does. Not that it stops him from acting like that /everywhere/ but still.

The man take the water with a smirk. "I'm not sure which is worse. An X-man yelling at me about that, or what you just said. But it was actually the food trucks. They have great little ones in the refugee areas." The man replies with a shake of his head as he twists the top off the bottle and turns to look at the older man.

There is a flash of anger in his eyes though, not directed at Obi but there. Caught for just a second as he turns away. "You know what I went anyway, they had my things. I went to get them back. Thats what I do isn't it? Well its what I'm supposed to do. When I'm aware of it at all."

"That's what I'm supposed to do." The reply is flat, fixing Tony with a look that pushes back against the personal responsibility of it all, even as the smoke pours from his mouth and nose and the scent of the cigar fills the air. It might remind Tony of something, from when he might have fond memories of his dad. Not the end, not when they clashed, but when Howard used to give him some small amount of attention. These are the same cigars Howard smoked.

"I knew exactly where those weapons were, you know. I helped your dad sell them to just about everyone. Genosha, back then? Everyone thought it was some kind of paradise. Even we didn't know what they were up to. Of course, people barely knew what mutants were back then. Still, it wasn't a great idea to go there. You might have turned that whole place into… look, there's already chatter about Iron Man being there, taking sides, all that. You have to be really careful here. This is United Nations territory. Which is why I left those outdated weapons right where they were since they were not a giant threat. Not my first choice."
Here, Obadiah is the one who looks angry, staring down at his desk. "I'm saying, because of the way the world is, even though what you did was right, Tony, it could have caused a terrible uproar. I'm working on changing that. Trying to get this idea of a worldwide registry of heroes and documenting all the idiots who'd like to think themselves villains. Make sure we have the authority, and the right tool for the job."

He waves a hand, clearly having recognized he's going on, and that Tony was likely here for something else. "What'd you come to see me about?"

"You knew, and you didn't tell me for my own good." Stark frowns at that, looking away for a moment. "You know I hate that. Do you know what they were doing with my weapons? They were obsoltete yeah, now. But they used them to springboard their tech ahead decades. Mine and dozens of others, and in the meantime they used /my/ designs to kill people. Innoncent people that didn't deserve it. I…" He laughs then, turning a way and running a hand though his hair in a way that shows just how fragile his hold on things are.

Its been a bad few months for Tony Stark. The stress is there.

"Just one more place where I'm hated and didn't know about it. Sometimes information sucks." He says as he looks back towards Obadiah.

"And yes, it was stupid. I've already gotten visited by an X-man. And the amount of hatemail I receive just about tripled. Magneto is using is as some kind of recruiting tool and I don't know what to do about that. I mean I can't go /back/ because I'll either start an international incident…or…I'll punch Magneto in his goddamn nose /then/ start an international incident."

He glances towards the older man though, breathing in that smell of his past. Of a better past, something that doesn't help his stability that much.

Not that he's ever really stable.

"I've seen what they did in Genosha with a registry like that, I don't think you'll ever get everyone to agree to something like that. Espicially them."

"Oh, I see. So what you're saying, really, is, I was right. That you finding out almost certainly going to cost more lives than it saved, right? I told you I'd help you, and so I am. Sometimes that means prioritizing. They killed with your weapons back when you were still selling weapons Tony. Or did you forget you weren't born in that cave, with a conscience? Because I sure didn't. I'm reminded every day when one of my teams fails to take out a target. Not just our weapons, your dad's weapons. My legacy. And we hunt down any weapons that are in the wrong hands for exactly the reason you thought it was a good idea to go there - your technology has inspired the world. It's beyond a Stark label now. It's what I'm going to keep doing, right up until we get some sense knocked into…"

But Tony says that thing there, about the registry, and Obadiah's gaze runs flat. He has not looked at Tony like this in a long time. Not since right after Howard's funeral, when Tony took out his frustrations int he worst of ways.

"You know, it is tiresome enough to listen to that kind of assessment from the uninformed, from bottom feeding politicians or reactionaries who don't care about nuance, but to hear it from you is just beyond painful. You're a genius. You're my friend. I wish every day my own son was like you. To hear you suggest that this is like that…"

His cigar finds his ashtray, because he smokes to relax. There's no hope of that now. "But honestly? I'm not asking for your permission or your approval. Because what they had in Genosha wasn't a registry of heroes who volunteered to work together for a common good. What they had was a racist doctrine of hate and subjugation, exactly what I meant to stamp out around the world. Because, if you haven't noticed Tony, you aren't doing that. You aren't. The Avengers aren't doing that. The X-Men? Aren't doing that. They try. They do something here, and there, but there's no coordination. They cause as much trouble as they stop, and worse? There's no force large enough to say, if you dare, if you dare we will come and stop you. Not to a whole country. Not until I help make it."

Tony Stark isn't used to people talking to him like this. I mean more to the point he's not used to people he actually /listens/ to talking to him like this. It causes him to pull up short. To refocus his own whirling spinning screaming train of thought on the older man as he snubs out his cigar in the ashtry.

"Woah, woah. I'm not…" There is a sigh. "…look old man, I'm just…" He pauses frowns. "…alright. Maybe I was being an asshole. But…look. I'm not saying thats what you're trying to do. I mean I know you're not doing it for the same reasons, but you know people are going to read more into it. The knee jerk reaction is going to be to freak out when they hear the word 'list'."

He pauses again to refocus on the look on Obi's face before offering the older man a smirk. "I stuck my foot right in it didn't I?"

A pause again.

"And….yeah. I mean I can see the problems of lack of communicaion. I mean the X-men went in, removed the government, and thenn just…left…like they thought everything would be fine after that."

A shake of his head.

"I mean I know nothing about politics and I know thats not going to happen. A vaccum gets filled, thats the nature of the thing."

A glance again at the man. "What you're talking about is something equal for everyone. A way to coordinate the teams around the world to do something…good right?"

That contrition on the part of Tony, that small thing, the way he frowns and lets go of his matter of fact tone clearly has an effect. Once again, Obadiah is the old man who maybe didn't raise him, but certainly helped him get through the death of his parents. The man who took care of the books, who kept the deals going and the company singing, while Tony focused on the engineering. They are business partners, friends, but more than that.

"Tony, we're family. My daughter won't speak to me. My son is in a mental institution after frying his own brain. My wife passed a long time ago, and my two best friends in this whole world are gone. Howard and Maria were all I had, until i had you. So, of course, I didn't mean to say you thought I was some kind of monster, bent on putting a serial number on people's arms. When they took that shrapnel out of my chest, I won't pretend it's like what you went through over there."

His gaze dips again, and finally he runs a hand over the smooth skin of his head, and back again, to massage his temples. Clearly, Tony is not the only one burning the candle at both ends. "..but it was enough. What you're talking about? That situation in Genosha? Imagine if the X-Men hadn't just gone in alone. Imagine if Captain America had been there. Afterward he tells the whole world that it was mutants who put down a hateful government, and that the World Security Council would help stand up a new one. That we wouldn't just abandon that place to the wolves. Because, frankly, that's who's shown up. All the worst elements of those who came before."

He raises a hand over one section of the desk. It shows known teams. Unknown quantities. Known villain sorts. "This is a start. Get the Justice League, the Avengers, and the X-Men all on the same page. SHIELD provides baseline logistics, but you and I run it. You and me, like always. Tony you've been through hell the last few weeks, but through it all you've stayed strong. The world needs someone who knows what it's like to be on the front lines to make this thing work. It also needs someone with the connections around the world to get these countries to sign on. Together, we put together an advisory council. Emma, myself, you, a few others. Keep things close to the chest so no one untrustworthy can abuse this enormous power. But look. I understand what you're getting at. That's why I need people like you and Captain Rogers to get in on this early. To be proponents of something grand. It's hard to say we're going to do something bad with this if I have all the good in the world standing there saying otherwise."

He can see the logic in it.

Damn him if he can't.

There is a frown, but the frown is thoughtful instead of angry. Not disbelief. Not denial. Its just thought. He doesn't /like/ the idea of a list. But…when he puts it that way. Its easier to see just the good it has the potentional to do.

A touch of a smile. A touch of warmth to his lips. "You actually convinced Emma of all this mess? You have more a silver tongue than I thought, old man."

He sighs with a shake of his head. "I don't know if I'm the right one to run something like that. Or even help you run something like that. I mean I screw up, and screwing up with something like this means screwing up /big/."

He pauses though before he sighs and nods. "I think I see what you're meaning to do though, this is less…a registry and more a way to coordinate all the moving parts."

That…makes it better.

In a way at least.

"I can try talking to Steve about it."

"It's voluntary. We'll record anyone who pops up on our radar. Hell, SHIELD already does that. But we want to pull everyone in on this. I'd appreciate it if you talk to Steve, and well.. as far as Emma. Not so much. Not yet. Like you, she reacted with a rather obtuse sort of.. I just let it alone. I didn't want to do anything that might keep her away from this place. I know you're fond of her. But we'll get there."

He leans in here, his gaze turning to a kind of scrutiny that certainly pushes everything else aside. He hadn't planned on having this conversation now, and his temper got the best of him. That's what one part of his psyche tells him. The other revels in opportunity.

"So what's going on with you? I didn't expect to see you here, honestly. I know what you like to do when you get bothered. I expected you'd be working on the latest and greatest suit. Something else weighing on your mind, Tony?"

It's there in his eyes, another opportunity. A person Tony can be honest with. The most trustworthy face in the world, a voice that was always kinder than his own father's, and away about him that says he'll make it better, if he can. Just tell him what's bothering you, that's all that look says.

Tell Obadiah Stane how he can help make it all better.

"As fond as anyone can be of someone like Emma," Tony smirks slightly. "She's not happy with me either, but she'll get over with it. I'll buy her dinner or something." The inventor replies as he turns away to wonder though the office. The moment of stillness is past and Stark is one that must remain in motion. That energy that has driven him on his whole life just can't be contained.

He looks away, studing pictures but not really seeing them. The question calls him to frown a moment.

"Am I really doing the right thing, Obadiah?" He finally asks with a shake of his head. "Every time I make something, someone else just twists it. Breaks it. Hurts people worse than they could when all I did was make weapons. Every time it seems. There is always something that twists it out of my control and does something I didn't intend with it."

He shakes his head at that for a moment, taking a deep breath.

"Also King Magnet's kid told me I sounded like Steve when I talked to her and that hurt me to the core of my being."

"There are worse people to sound like than Steve Rogers. Maybe it just means you're growing a little. We all do, we don't stop in our twenties and thirties. My new crusade or whatever you want to call it was a reaction to something. Maybe this is you reacting to something else. And honestly, Tony, you do have a problem few others have. You can be copied, scanned, stolen from. All of it. On top of it, people could mind control you as easily as they might Superman."

Obadiah's gaze shifts a little, and thinks on what he has locked away. A little bit of information. Something left behind in the wake of the attacks, churning in a Hydra lab. Waiting for a few more pieces of the puzzle. It only takes a moment or two, but he knows where he can get those pieces. "Of course, the Man of Steel can't have his steel stolen. As much as you are always Iron Man, the solemn truth is your technology, as long as it is not fully a part of you, is vulnerable. That Iron Monger copycat is proof positive of that. Are you doing the right thing? I think so, Tony. Mostly. But there's always room for improvement. A next level to go to. When we stop growing, we die."

"Urgh growing up. The worst fate. Maybe I should just cryofreaze myself and wake up when other people have conquered having to actually be responsible." The inventor replies with a smirk towards the older man as he half turns back towards him. "Yeah don't point that out. I've already rigged half my suits to taser me unconconcious if that happens." He admits with a shake of his head. "Well half of my new suit. Since everything else went and exploded."

A shake of his head again before he gives Obi a smile. "You know me though Obi, I have a problem. I can't stop tinkering. I always have to push it to the line, and then go that much further. Its just…what makes me…me…"

A sigh before he looks back towards the other man. "Has there been any developments on that? Any more leads to find out how they got my tech, Fat Iron Man I mean. Well not how, but if they got any more than what we've seen? I mean I know he's still out there, after what happened at the Gala."

What can Obi do but laugh at that? Fat Iron Man indeed. "Well no matter how much you grow up, your nicknames don't ever get old. Fat Iron Man. Magnet King. I often wonder if you have one for me, other than Old Man…" There's a look of consideration, and then he shakes his head, pulling up the latest via holographic report. "See for yourself. Nothing since the Gala. I'm guessing whoever he or she or they are, they don't have the means of production you do. It must take a long time to put together that thing. After blowing it up like you did? Might be years before they come back. But by then I suspect you'll find a way to outgrow that sort of thing. Make a suit someone can't steal, even a little."

He waves a hand then, dismissing the hologram. "In any case, I think that's the last thing you should worry about right now. Put things back together with Emma, go see Steve Rogers, ask him what he'd do with the Genosha situation at this point. You aren't alone, Tony. There are great people out there who will help you if you let them."

Obadiah stands then, striking his jacket from the couch to pull it on with a little wince and a crack of his neck. It shows his age, but he doesn't slow down as he reaches out to give Tony a squeeze on his shoulder. "Speaking of great people helping great people, you think you could put in an order for some more ice cream downstairs? If I do it Pepper will be all over me." He pats his stomach then, indicating the diet he's supposed to be on.

"Naw, I think Old Man is descriptive enough." Tony replies with a wave of his hand as he starts to turn towards the door. "And I'll do that. Hopefully I can at least fix things with Emma before she gets mad enough." A pause. "She has the best the glares though, so maybe a /little/ mad. Its hot." A flash of a wicked grin at that before he waves back over his shoulder.

"Sure sure, I'll do that. You're living dangerously though. Make sure it doesn't come back to bite you in the ass." Adds the inventor as he starts to step out the door.

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