1964-08-18 - The New Hire
Summary: Bruce comes to see Tony about a job.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
tony bruce 


A nervous looking man enters Stark Industries. He looks more like a janitor than one of the businessmen walking around this part of Manhattan. He has found a jacket and tie for the part, but he is wearing brown pants that lost their crease in the fifties and a pair of loafers that look like they've seen many miles, which they have. Bruce approaches the desk and tells the person there, a grizzled looking man with a mustache that looks like he's trying to emulate Howard Stark, that he has an appointment with Tony Stark. Yes. Yes, he does. He's sure. He wrote a letter, and Stark replied. Check the name. Bruce Baker. He tries to look in the book. The man frowns a little, peers in the book as if the whole idea offends him and him and his mustache. "Go have a seat. I will call his secretary." And see if one, he's sober, and two, whether he cares about this guy. "What's this about, anyway?"

Bruce smiles softly, "He'll know. It was in the letter." It's true. He did write a letter asking about some Stark Industries research. He did not get a letter back.

It turns out the boss, who has been canceling most of his meetings lately, is in, sober enough to function, and interested in hearing what this guy has to say. The stars have aligned in Bruce's favor. The receptionist lets the mustache know Mr. Stark is ready for his appointment in one of the smaller conference rooms. In there is a table for about eight people, surrounded by lush leather chairs. Everything about this place screams money. Luxury even in the workplace.

Of course Tony himself is polished like a gem. His suit tailored, his shoes Italian leather, not a hair out of place. He waits for the receptionist to see his appointment in, standing by the window, looking out over the skyline with its stellar view. For once he doesn't have a tumbler of whisky in hand.

The mustache doesn't look pleased, but he sends Bruce up. Bruce rides up the elevator, specifically not thinking of the things that the other guy could do to the elevator if he wanted. The other guy is under control, though, and what he doesn't know won't hurt him. Bruce steps into the fancy conference room, vaguely wondering his his shoes are clean. Not cowed by the intellect, but by the wealth, Bruce fights the urge to check if his collar is straight. "Good afternoon, Mr. Stark," he starts to get Tony's attention.

Tony smoothly, in one unbroken motion, turns from the window, steps forward and offers his hand to shake. "Baker, was it?" he says. His smile is patently amiable, but there's something around his eyes that's a titch harder, and that handshake isn't a pissing contest, but it is a test. "Thanks for being on time."

He nods toward one end of the table where he's got two seats drawn out and a scattering of papers in front of his (at the head), including Bruce's letter. "Have a seat."

Bruce has never mastered or cared for the power handshake. Ross used to do that all the time, as though the ability to crush someone's knuckles in a handshake was a measure of the value of a man. He takes Tony's hand and gives a quick shake, firmer than a dead fish, but not a bone cruncher. He moves his eyes frm Tony's perfectly manicured hands to the man's face, then turns to take a seat. "I always try to be on time. I see you were ready for me…and yes. Baker. Thanks for seeing me." He slips into one of the chairs.

So far so good. Men with crushing handshakes were worse than the clammy ones. One had too much to prove, the other not enough. Tony takes his seat and gestures to the letter. "I read your letter," he says. Then he steeples his fingers, considers Bruce with his head tilted, and he says, "So tell me what you think Stark Industries can do for you." His demeanor is just so unconcerned. Not cold, but as if he just doesn't foresee any difficulties coming from this.

Bruce tilts his head a little to the side. "So you know who I am?" He answers a question with a question. Suspecting Tony might be onto him, Bruce wets his lips and after a beat, he says. "You're developing a treatment for radiation poisoning. Something that soldiers could use in case of accidential exposure. The work is …interesting. I could help." Bruce's worried brown eyes search Tony's face. Does he know who Bruce is? If he does, what will he do? Inside he's nervous, always nervous in unknown situations. His tone however, exudes confidence. If Bruce says he can help, he can help.

Tony smiles slowly, revealing very little at first, but then he says, "MIT, class of '39. Minds of a certain calibre tend to stand out." He would know, he was the wunderkind graduating at 17 that year. He leans back in his chairs, fingers still steepled. What he does in light of the knowledge of who sits before him is… nothing. People lie, they have their reasons. God knows he's guilty enough of that.

After a moment's silence, he says, "Sure, we could use someone like you. Mind if I ask why you'd be starting at my company instead of heading a research department at some prestigious school? Seems a little below your pay grade."

Bruce looks thoughtful. It hasn't been a real long time since the accident. It WAS top secret, though. Many of the sightings of the other guy were written off to tall tales or crazy people. But the military knows. He half expects Tony knows, but he plays along. He smiles, "You have a good memory. I thought you were too busy being a whiz kid. You had great ideas even then. I always thought it would be valuable to work together…" A little lie. Then the truth, "I do't currently have a pay grade. I left my last employer. We had a falling out, and I'd just as soon work quietly somewhere doing what pleases me." The secret to lying is to always tell the truth.

"I can multi-task," Tony says lightly. If he knows about the other guy, he is indeed playing dumb. People have their secrets for reasons. Tony presses his steepled fingertips to his chin. Then he unfolds his hands and says, "Sure, we can find a spot for you. Your work on gamma radiation was positively inspiring." Not a lie. Even his ego isn't so big he can't see around it to notice someone else's talent. "I'll have Jerry downstairs deal with all the paperwork. How soon can you start?" There's a canniness in his eyes. Those cogs in his mind are turning, always turning.

Bruce practically salivates when he thinks about getting back into lab, close to where he can work on a cure. "Thanks!" He gives a heartful smile at the compliment. "I can start right away, but I need you not to tell anyone who I am…please? Baker. I have ID that will work." Bruce sucks up his ego. For this access, he will beg. Again he meets Tony's eyes with his own. "What?"

Tony waves a hand and says, "You're Dr. Baker, unfamous research scientist. However," Tony lowers his voice and leans in a little. "I'm going to need a little something from you. You know that team Captain America and I tossed together? We've been in the paper. The Avengers?" He taps the table idly with his fingertips, and he manages somehow to make it not look nervous. Just thinking. "I want you to consider helping us out. We're putting together a lab that will make your head spin."

Bruce says, "The Av..Avengers?" Bruce stutters, "What can I do? I really don't want to be doing weapon development. I enjoy working on the things that will keep the soldiers safe." A lab. Any lab would make Bruce's head spin at the moment. "Armor, maybe."

Tony holds up his hands and says, "You don't have to make weapons. Some people don't have a metal suit, you know? They need protection, safety. Armor, like you say." He shakes his head, and he glances at the letter again, considering it briefly. "I don't believe in making my best minds do work they don't believe in. They lose their edge. You've got an edge, Baker. I'd rather hone it. So when it's up and running, we'll play around with it. See what there is to see."

Bruce nods. "Great," he says, relief oozing from him. "I'm much more in the protection business. And call me Bruce." He smiles more naturally now, his eyes glinting. "I certainly do have an edge." Boy does he ever?! "This new lab isn't finished? Is it going to be here? Sure, I'd be glad to take a look and help how I can. Especially if it means meeting Captain America. Who else is on the team?"

Tony shakes his head and says, "No, it's going to be somewhere else in the city, but you'll see it." He smiles easily now, and it's even there in his eyes a bit. "We'll take a look soon, and you can tell me what kind of toys you want in it." He leans back, waving a hand vaguely as he says, "I can't keep track of all of them." And he doesn't know which ones want their identities spread around. "You'll meet them," he assures. "We'll set that up once you get settled."

Bruce finds himself nodding happily as a little voice in the back of his mind suddenly speaks up. You're a man on the run Bruce Banner, and you're going to meet the very people who could might stand a chance of capturing you? What are you, nuts? "I'll go and get settled with Jerry was it?" The normality of getting a job and getting 'settled' fills Bruce with an unfamiliar feeling. Hope? Must be hope. "I really appreciate this…can I call you Tony?"

"Yep, Jerry," Tony says. "That's the mustache's name, I'm not sure what the vestigial human is called. I guess he's Jerry too." Yeah, that's the guy Bruce gets to settle everything with. He considers for a moment. Were it anyone else, he'd say no, but he did go to school with this guy, and the guy is on his level intellectually. That's so rare. So he nods and says with a smile, "Sure, call me Tony." He gets to his feet and offers his hand to shake. "Welcome aboard."

Bruce stands and his lips quirk into a smile at the comments about Jerry. He reaches to shake Tony's hand again. "Thanks. Glad to be here." And he was!

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