1964-06-01 - Disappearance rumors were highly exaggerated!
Summary: Tony comes across a former colleague and a sort of mentor in the form of Dr. Stephen Strange at a black tie affair. Needless to say, they end up ignoring the other guests for a time just so they can catch up and hint one to the other about their current 'projects'.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
tony strange 

Admittedly, this isn't his scene. Well…it hasn't been his scene in some years, but — an invitation was sent, likely due to past connections within this particular niche of society. Biotechnology: a rapidly-growing sector of the technology world and always expanding due to medical discoveries and their needs. As former world-class neurosurgeon, he was invited. Most of the attendees will know him as Doctor and…most certainly not Sorcerer.

Dressed in tuxedo finery and with bowtie tied to perfection, he's obsidian traced with a vein of silver to be found at his temples. That'll be new to a few people he hasn't seen in some time. Strange isn't to be found in the center of things, not these days. He's circumspect, full of a gravitas from plucky confidence worn down by a duty that stretches beyond what the mundane public can see. In his hand, a crystal highball glass with a finger of fine whiskey, one large round ice cube gracing its liquid. He talks quietly nearest to the sliding glass door that leads to the balcony with a fellow doctor, one of his former understudies come recently to success. A small smile takes away the perception of coolness that might turn most from interacting with him.

The entrance of one Tony Stark is a spectacle in itself. As he walks in, he's tugging at his cufflinks, pulling his sleeves down just a little so they sit right and comfortably. He is dressed impeccably in a tux; not a bit is set awry. Bowtie is straight, jacket starched with clean, crisp lines, pants don't have a wrinkle in them, and the shoes? Polished and elegant. It's only the muss that is his untamed tangle of hair that gives him his slightly wild look. That and his reputation which preceeds him wherever he goes.

As he enters the room itself, there are those that are looking back in order to greet him, and it's with a carefully orchestrated 'affable' wave that he responds in kind as he makes his way towards the bar for his poison of choice. Scotch, four fingers, neat. It's only once he's got that tumbler in hand that he's turning around to get a better look around, free hand dropped easily into his tux pocket. Now that casual stance is attained, Tony can easily mingle, though he more does it with those coming towards him and not the other way around. He's used to being 'the king', after all. It's always been Pepper that made the rounds, not him. His job, tonight, is to find someone that won't bore him to pieces.

The glass is lifted to his lips and the first sips of the scotch are taken as he looks over the rim. Dawson, hack. Porter, forget it. He probably cheated on his entrance exams. Simonson? Please. Strange? Tony's brows rise at the inclusion of the man, and should he look towards the bar, he lifts his glass in silent greeting.

Strange nods in agreement with an old woe of the surgical suite shared by the doctor and as he sips, he looks up. Never one to pay much attention beyond himself as an old habit (and those die hard, let's face it), it does take the whole-room scan to include the bar and…well. Wait a second.

"Gods be damned," he murmurs, lips rising in a wry quirk. The young doctor looks over at Stark and sighs.

"Yeah, that's Tony Stark, of Stark Industries. What, you know 'im?"

"It's been a few years, but yes, I do." He returns the lift of the glass with a silent toast of his own and a little nod that while likely seen as old-fashioned, works nonethless given the Doctor's air of dignified professionalism.

The young doctor sips at his Manhattan before jerking his head towards Stark. "Go on and rub elbows, Doctor Strange. He won't let you live it down otherwise." Said with a resigned knowledge. Strange smirks, just a little, and shakes his compatriot's hand before making his way over.

"Tony Stark." The name is said knowingly, quietly, and effortlessly, the good Doctor inserts himself into whatever conversation is at hand. Speaking of hands — one outstretched, scarred but hale, towards the other man. "What's it been, seven years?"

Tony's watching, and there may be some that would swear under oath that he is a telepath, or at least a lip reader, the way he can divine conversations around him without being part of any of them at any depth or length. This gathering is no different. As Tony 'pushes' off the bar, he offers to one small group in a sotto voice, "That's because it wasn't made to withstand the pressures. Take it down to 2 moles and check your reactions then."

Tony passes them quickly and extends a hand to Stephen, his smile rising without showing teeth. "Dr. Strange, a pleasure. Yes, I do believe it's been that long. How are you? I've been looking for articles with your name on them and I haven't found them. So, did your trips actually bury you for awhile?"

"Oh, they buried me. Up to my neck in intrigue, as I always am," the good Doctor replies with a genial if not somewhat muted smile. "I'm not in the field anymore. I found my world…expanded during my travels and a new way to influence it around me. Of course, if I told you how, I'd have to kill you."

He delivers the line with the perfect amount of deprecating humor, a twinkle in his eyes, before sipping at his drink. Note the hand that shook did tremble ever so slightly and away it's gone, into the pocket of his tuxedo's jacket.

"That's where the most fun can be had. Once you're comfortable enough everywhere else. Otherwise, intrigue only gets in the way in the way and terribly annoying." Tony retrieves his hand and steps a half-step closer in order to talk with his long unseen colleague. The comment does draw a laugh from the man, and he shakes his head. "See, that only makes me want to die a happy, informed man. No better way to go. But, tell me," and here, Tony cants his head and takes another swallow of his scotch before he continues, "Have you been back to your research? Or did it all drag you away and show you bigger and better things? Or, conversely, smaller and more boring sights. Because if it's the latter, I'm going to be very disappointed."

The good Doctor's brows flick up and settle even as he shrugs.

"I can't say they're boring. Never boring," he says somewhat ruefully. That little dimpling of a smile still hangs about regardless. "Bigger, yes. Better? …in a way," Strange hedges. "Regardless, I've not been back to my research, no. My current…hobbies expand beyond it. I remember that you had some interest in it back when. Were you looking for specific information?" The light plays off the whiskey in the glass as he raises it for another sip, keen eyes upon Tony. After all, this is the man with the photographic memory who managed an MD and PhD simultaneously.

"Maybe I should have said 'different'. Still, it's a loss. I remember waiting for the journal like the way a kid waits for Santa Claus."

Tony takes another swallow of his drink and nods his head at some greeting him as they pass by, hoping, perhaps, that they'll be invited into the conversation. Not a chance in hell. None. Zero. Zip.

"I was actually, well, okay, let me start this again. There've been some personnel shake-ups at Stark Industries, if you haven't been following the financials. Pepper's gone, and in her place are two people. Natalie Rushman and someone named 'Isis'. Both are quite competent and both are extremely easy to look at. Neither of them though.. well, okay, that's not completely fair, but I haven't been able to get close enough to actually talk to them. They're fine where they are, arm's length for the moment, but ideas, the way I pursue ideas is that I'll ping something off someone, then they'll come back to me, either with a confirmation or a question. Even if the question might seem so amazingly stupid, it's not. So, what I'm working on right now, I'm trying to advance individual micro-power supplies that interface with real-time positionals, and adding gyrostabilizing techniques." Slowly, Tony grins as he adds, "I'm trying not to give everyone the finger while a glove flies through the air and lands on my hand from distance. Not until I program it to specifically do that."

"You're too kind," murmurs the good Doctor while Tony greets a passerby with dismissal. He misses said journal articles in the way one might fond memories of past summers. Nice to revisit, never can return there.

He listens, as he always does, though no high-backed red chair grants him an official status as so. Here, past research preceding him does it well enough, apparently. His nods are encouraging, interspersed with tongue-fuls of the whiskey. After all, it's a sipper and the ice is watering it down nicely. He manages to keep his amusement down at the fact that, as always, the personnel at the Industries are lovely to look at (capable at their jobs as well…most of the time), but the laugh escapes him at the programming option.

"Ah, yes, that suit. It's a piece of work." A mild compliment, probably meant to prickle just a tiny bit in the manner of old acquaintances. "Where are you running into issues? Are the real-time positionals not firing quickly enough?" Strange hazards this guess.

Strange arrives from Out <O>.

Strange has arrived.

Tony's drink is far from a 'sipper', at least in his hands, and he's only got 2 of the four fingers left. His free hand now is out of his tux pocket and gesturing as he talks, his voice canted a little lower for a show of privacy. There's none to be had in this gathering; everyone listens to everyone else. It's expected. Still, though, and it accomplishes two things. 1. He will be uninterrupted, and 2. he will be noticed.

"Piece of work?" Brows rise, which is probably exactly the response desired. Tony is about to begin that 'posturing' that he's so noted for until he stops himself and drops his voice to a more sotto tone, "I've got it's entirety able to do some hard travelling for very short distances, and I've got Jarvis decompiling himself on a secondary file in order to actually fit into the suit. What I'm looking for is pieces. I want a hand. I want legs. I want a helmet. And real time positionals… well…" Tony scratches at the back of his head, and his words are just for Stephen now. For real, "I'm working on tapping in to positional satellites. One here, one there… I've got the US covered. Cuba, by the way, is beautiful this time of year. England. France. Germany. It's a mess in Vietnam. Now the trick is to use them to code data back in a form Jarvis can use."

The good Doctor glances about to see if anyone's close enough to catch those last words about satellites in particular. The next look given to Tony is mildly concerned.

"Someone's probably already told you this, but tapping into governmental satellites is illegal, Tony." His voice is equally as quiet; he manages to keep his body language fairly neutral regardless, his glass hovering about his sternum and the ice ball swirled in an fidget on his part. It clinks against the glass once or twice. "Still…"

He lingers over that last consonant, looking about Tony's face as curiousity rears its head. "You've got a reputation for bending the rules…and sometimes they do need to be bent," Strange admits with a faint smile that quirks one side of his mouth. "What has you bending these rules…? It must be something fairly important given how you're attempting this in other countries and continents entirely."

"My entire Legal department would, if they knew. So would my secretaries. If they knew." Which they don't. Tony has the cavalier manner and mien down; the way he stands, his posture, and his expression that is part smirk and part… who ate the canary. It's no different than any other time, which really shouldn't give any 'tells' away.

"I know I do, and yes, yes they do. I don't believe in powerful men, Stephen," and it's here where Tony gets a touch more intense, "I don't believe in them in government in particular. But, I also don't believe any organization should exist without some sort of-of-of outside oversight. Those sorts of groups, they need to be watched. And my tapping into the satellites will give me a clearer indication as to whether or not some certain group is making the right decisions. Having that information will get my suit to me a whole lot sooner in order to respond to threats."

Tony looks down at his glass and pulls it up, emptying the last two fingers before he sets it on a random tray going by, attached to a waitress. "Be a doll and get me another scotch.." Once that's done, he looks at his colleague, a man whom he respects, "I can't give you particulars now, but at some point, we're going to hit the papers. Just don't believe everything you read."

"Attempting the vigilante route?" asks the good Doctor with a shadow of gravitas about words and faint frown alike. "And what keeps you in check, Tony? You're not incorrect. There needs to be a way to balance the actions, a leveling of the playing field in the physical world, absolutely." He sips at his whiskey again, rolling his lips before popping them. "You're taking this all upon your shoulders? Hmm. I'm certain that the papers will be perfectly fair in interpreting your intentions." A wry smirk curls his mouth.

Tony shakes his head, "It's not about me, or what about me, Stephen. I won't go into particulars here, but there is a very, very real threat that 'right' will lump us into the category of 'traitor'. That's a position I really, really don't want to be in. I worked too hard, too long, just like my father, to put everything on the line for a vigilante group. I've got questions and concerns, and I'm going to do everything in my power to protect myself." He smiles tightly and looks to see where that waitress is with his scotch, craning his neck for a brief moment. No sign of her, and he's back to the good doctor.

"'Levelling the playing field in the physical world,'" Tony repeats, brown eyes looking at his colleague, "Yeah.. I'm taking this on because if I don't?" He shakes his head, lifting his shoulders a touch in that hint of a shrug, "I can see beyond today's actions, tomorrow's. Right now, I can't get anyone else to see it. Maybe I'll have a better answer for myself later, maybe not. But, it all starts somewhere." It bothers him, though, and there's something tugging at his brain just in the way Stephen said 'physical world'.

"You've got a tap in somewhere else? If so, would love to know about it."

Strange nods, agreeing on some level with just about everything that the younger gentleman has to say. His gaze follows Tony's search for the erstwhile server and he considers a second glass of liquor himself. After all, he's down to about three more sips himself. It's more water than whiskey at this point.

"It does all start somewhere, yes," the good Doctor agrees quietly, " — but I wouldn't go sacrificing myself for the sake of some vigilante group without a past history of success with positive results for the sake of general humanity. I do appreciate a game of chess, but with the Fate of our world?" His 'hmph' is half-buried in the glass raised to his lips. He smacks them silently again after swallowing and holds Tony's eyes.

The technological genius is given an appraising look. Another glance around the room and he finally speaks again, for Tony's ears. "Walk with me, we'll speak outside on the balcony. I was gone for some time overseas. I wonder what the gossip is about it. What have you heard in regards to my current…hobbies?" He takes the first step towards the open sliding glass doors, gaze lingering on Tony in continued invitation.

Ah… there's the drinks, just as he's invited to take that walk onto the balcony. Tony takes the scotch and nods towards Stephen's drink, "Whiskey, 2 ice." As they walk, now, he checks his watch, ostensibly looking at the time. By the time they've sauntered to the new place, he puts hand hand back into his tux pocket and smiles tightly, fleetingly at Stephen. "No devices. All clean.

"As for where you went and what you did?" Tony lifts his shoulders and smiles over the side of his drink, "Some say you had a breakdown. You know, when you've reached your peak and you simply can't handle all the overload? Some waxed a little more spiritual, saying you were going to check out the yogis that are beginning to make their presence known to those seeking enlightenment. Then, if you were to believe others, you joined a cult. And when you got back? The mixing of all three was a favorite. You not showing your face outside? It was a year in after you disappeared that only a few papers would do a remembrance on you, because most started to believe you were dead. No proof, of course, and stories came up."

My, my, the man is suspicious of about everything. Tony's watch is given a lingering glance after the announcement that no bugs exist to record their conversation. Out on the balcony, the air is just warm enough to invite such a retreat. Any cooler and Strange wouldn't have suggested it; the bones of his hands are still sensitive to the chill on bad days.

Oh, and the gossip. Of course the young genius would know it all. Strange's laugh flashes his teeth and he's well and truly appreciative of it. Oh gods below, how precious — the mundane public does enjoy lambasting the ones fallen from prestige. He finishes the remainder of the watered-down whiskey and leans on the rib-high wall that keeps tipsy patrons from plummeting X number of stories to an inebriated splat. That mostly-melted round of ice dances about the empty highball as it's tipped minutely back and forth.

"A cult. That's my favorite one, I think. Cult," he repeats, snorting a laugh again. "Still…not too far off as a whole. Western medicine failed me and this turned me to Eastern medicine. I found my answer there and…my view upon the world expanded." What a delightfully evasive answer. He lifts his glass to his lips again and sips at the finger's worth of whiskey within it.

Wait. The server hasn't shown. As he brings the glass down, those canny steel-blue eyes linger on Tony's face with the faintest light-play about their centers. You can take the steadiness out of the neurosurgeon's hands, but not the showmanship out of the Sorcerer, apparently.

"Of course, cult status did earn you a cross-eyed look, you know," Tony responds, "Some papers did cross over desks asking after you. Your journal articles were looked over to see if there were any hints of what you were doing, any coded messages to communists. You know, J Edgar games." Speaking of powerful men that Tony doesn't trust! "See, though, I wouldn't like 'cult' because that would assume your head was weak enough to toy with and reprogram. I was a 'seeking spiritual enlightenment' fan because you can't really look at a body as closely as you have and not believe there was some spark there. Call me soft, but I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and had you looking for enlightenment." He, after all, dabbles in chemistry, in biochem where that spark may very well reside.

"The mansion thing, well," Tony lifts his shoulders in a shrug, "I'm not throwing rocks in my glass Tower. If I didn't have to leave it for meetings and flights and all that nonsense, I wouldn't." At least that was the Tony from last year, two years ago, perhaps?

Dark eyes watch the man, and when the whiskey color appears in his glass, Tony's brows rise in inquiry, "Heard about those yogis. They teach you water and wine, huh?" Nothing like an appreciative audience!

"To yogis and the gossip column," jests the good Doctor with a lift of his…magically-refilled highball glass. Won't that waitress be confused as hell if she locates them again, tray and all. He takes a rather large mouthful and clears his throat before sighing. "I appreciate your support in my time of seeking said enlightenment, Tony. This isn't my normal evening," and he makes a little dismissive wave towards the murmuration of the guests inside, " — but I couldn't stay away. Curiosity and all," he murmurs thoughtfully.

Meeting Tony's eyes again, he smiles rather slyly. "Water and wine is the least of the things I learned in my travels. If you ever find yourself bored and in need of…enlightenment, you're welcome to stop by. Bleeker Street, Greenwich Village. I think you'll find my new hobbies intriguing." One last tip of the glass and he shoots the rest of his drink. "If you'll excuse me, I had other plans this evening. Enjoy yourself, Tony. Don't let them bite too hard." 'Them' being the hanger-ons and sharp-tongued knatterers that swirl about him inevitably. A formal nod, little smile, and Strange disappears back into the crowd of chriaroscuro suits and splashes of colored dresses.

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