1965-04-21 - Hug It Out
Summary: Steve and Tony manage a civil conversation.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
steve-rogers tony johnny-storm 

Tony occasionally makes appearances at the manor, and even more occasionally in the non-lab parts of it. He's in a sitting room, reading the paper. On the end table to one side is an everpresent glass of scotch, though it looks so far untouched. Whatever Mr. Stark has found in the paper, it has managed to take his attention away from alcohol. He's in his usual impeccable suit, even here under the pretense of relaxation.

Footsteps travel up the hallway outside, the tread suggesting a hint of weariness to be found by the traveler. Turns out that it's Steve, coming upstairs from the expansive work-out room found a floor down. He's dressed in a white t-shirt and grey sweatpants, barefoot, and as he passes by the double-wide doorway of the sitting room, he's wiping off the back of his neck with a white hand-towel.

A figure catches his eye and he pauses in plain sight, expression flickering to neutral. "Stark. Didn't figure I'd see you here," he says by way of greeting, lingering in the hallway.

"Cap," Tony says. As an afterthought, he looks up from his newspaper. "Once in awhile I like to see how the old place is holding up. I've invested enough in it." He looks around the room. "So far, so good." He folds the newspaper then and looks at Steve, sizing him up. "Did you have a good workout?" God knows how Tony stays in such good shape, especially with the everpresent scotch.

Steve considers the other man, in his fine suit, before shrugging.

"Any chance I get to punch the bag is one to take. Helps me think." He continues lingering in the hallway. The white hand-towel is slung with ease about his neck and his hands lazily grip each end in turn. "You've made a solid investment. We haven't had to patch up any holes in the walls for…what, two weeks now. The garbage disposal still runs." He grins, a crooked little curve of lips, before becoming more solemn again.

"Punching things is one way to focus," Tony says. "I focus in the lab, to each his own." With a wry smile to answer Steve's grin, he says, "Yeah, about the holes in the walls, remind me to get the walls reinforced." He then gestures to a chair. "Take a load off. I'll get a crick in my neck looking up to you."

Looking down the hallway at a faint sound — likely one of the other Avengers moving about in their own section of the mansion — Steve then pads into the sitting room. Not the chair motioned to, but a couch he sits down upon with a sigh. He remains on the edge of the seat-cushion, as if ready to respond to any call to arms.

"I don't think the walls need to be reinforced. More like people need to be more careful in the hallways. No more shoving matches or using strength without prior consideration," he comments.

"Good luck getting them to tone it down," Tony says. "Self-control isn't one of our strong suits, is it." He gestures between the two of them, adding, "Except us. You're a paragon of self-control, and I, despite what you might think, have a pretty good handle on when not to act on something just because you know how to do it." Oh yes, he's still sore about their last conversation. Tony Stark holding a grudge? Surely not. Say it isn't so.

That's a Steve special, right there, how his expression goes studiously blank save for the dimple between his pale brows.

"What are you trying to prove, Tony?" he asks quietly after a moment, slipping the towel from around his neck and letting it hang between his legs as he rests elbows on his knees. "I have nothing to prove to you. What, are you looking for gratitude for your actions? Thank you — thank you for keeping Buck's arm running smoothly. I appreciate that. He does too, I know it."

Tony considers, and he continues to study Steve as he does. As per usual, there are at least a dozen things going on behind those warm brown eyes. Even when he's tipsy, he's thinking. There's clarity in his regard, though, and his alcohol untouched. "Maybe I'm trying to prove I'm not the bad guy just because I think like the bad guys think. It's not betrayal, it's what keeps us ready to act."

"We're on the same team then, Tony. No one outright said that you playing for the Russians, or anyone else threatening America." Steve sits more upright now, his spine nearly straight. "It's a matter of responsibility, if you're looking to rehash our previous conversation. Keeping the technology out of the wrong hands."

And there's still a giant concern with any property of Bucky's going beyond his friend's immediate reach, but that's not something Steve intends to discuss at this point in time. No, he's attempting to be civil, especially given that he's not glowering. Yet.

Tony rattles his paper and says, "You haven't been reading the rumor pages." Where they have in fact speculated as to whether Tony is for Russia after all. He tosses the paper aside with a sharp, disgusted breath exhaled through his nose. "It's a responsibility I don't take lightly, you know. My research on the technology that went into making Bucky's arm I'm using for prosthetics and only prosthetics. I can't be blind to the fact that, in the wrong hands, it could be used to do terrible things. So how would you have me play this? Not help veterans who've lost limbs because the tech could be misused, or do what I can to help them and hope for the best?"

Steve pulls his mouth to one side. "Keep it simple then. Don't let your aptitude get away with itself. I'm not saying stop working, Stark. There will be grateful people. Just…curb your genius for once." He throws up his hands in a shrug before sitting back finally into the couch, allowing them to slap down on his thighs. "Don't listen to the rumor mill. Be above it all."

Tony's brows lift. "Curb my genius? I don't know how. I might as well ask you to curb your…" He gestures vaguely. "Boy-scout-ness. It's intrinsic to who you are. Anyway, curb it to what end?" He sits up and leans forward. "What is it about my mind you find so disquieting, Cap?"

Steve mimics the lift of brows and then breaks gazes to consider one of the paintings hung on the wall. It's a soothing piece, done in watercolor hues of blush and warmth, the capture of a summer sunset in a dozy dreamscape.

He sniffs and looks back to Tony. "That you can't separate it from this need to prove yourself. You care too much about what people say. Words are worthless, Tony. The actions matter, in the end."

Tony leans back, and he glances at the scotch, but he doesn't pick it up. Not yet. "In the circles I move in, reputation is everything. If I'm not proving myself, the guy with the next big thing knocks me off my spot, and let me tell you, you don't just fall one notch down. It's all the way to the bottom. If I come up with the next big thing, I can control it. I decide how it's used and in what capacity, and yeah, I know I make weapons for a living, but you should see all the stuff I don't design."

A sigh and the Captains slouches a little in the couch, shaking his head the slighest. He looks vaguely unimpressed despite his attempt to avoid it.

"I should see? There you go again, Tony, trying to prove someting to yourself. …wait." Steve squints slightly. "You need my approval?" Now he's giving the other man a truly scrutinous look, as if the conclusion has rocked him.

Tony gives Steve a flat look. "Are you telling me you don't know you're the moral center of this group?" Deflect it from his personal feelings, one of his specialties. He glances aside to his scotch, not quite able to maintain eye contact. "I don't know why I should give a damn what you think of me. You're so worried about what I could do, you don't notice the lines I'm drawing all over the place."

"I see your lines, Tony, they just tend to cross over what I consider to be common sense," Steve replies a little more sharply. "And think — if the 'moral center' of the group has concerns about your actions, then your conscience might be trying to tell you something. But you're not listening." He crosses his arms, the hand-towel discarded off to one side on the couch. Never mind the sweat lingering at his temples, there's a discussion to be had.

Tony spreads his hands and says, "What have I done? If we're talking actions, not words, I'm researching prosthetics for veterans who have lost limbs. The weapons I make, believe it or not, make warfare safer for our guys. Advanced targeting means less friendly fire. More of our guys coming home. What about that is bad?"

Steve sighs.

"Show me your research then, Tony. I'll stop by the lab sometime, bring some suggestions and requests from soldiers I knew in the war. It'll help you in your quest to stay on top of everyone else." He gathers up the hand-towel again and blots at the back of his neck. "Maybe it'll even stop the tabloids."

Tony's brows lift. "You want to know what I'm doing?" It's the last thing he thought Steve would say. "I had no idea who took an interest in my work. Sure, I'll show you what I'm doing." As for the tabloids, he waves a hand at the paper. "I care less about their opinion than I do yours. You could do a Russian dance in Red Square and people would assume you had a patriotic reason. I don't need their stamp of approval, I just need yours."

Steve frowns faintly and replies, seeming to take no glee in it, "I thought you just said that you don't know why you should give a damn about what I think of you. I'll ask again, Tony. Why do you need my approval?" Those true-blues remain zeroed in on the suited man, their intensity softened by honest and benevolent curiosity. He's truly perplexed, it seems.

"You're just so hard to please," Tony says sweetly. He eyes his scotch again, this time with serious consideration. Then he looks away from it with a shake of his head. "I don't know." He shrugs. "I don't know. You're impossible, you accuse me things I haven't even dreamt of yet, just being around you, I'm reminded of every shortcoming I have. But you're a good guy, and I guess I want to be sure I'm one of the good guys too."

"I don't need tell you that you're one of the good guys, Stark. You should realize that by now. If you weren't, you wouldn't be here." Steve draws a small circle with his pointer finger to include the entire mansion. "And how am I impossible? Go on. I might not have heard one of the reasons before," he adds wryly.

Tony takes up the scotch, though he doesn't sip, he just looks over the rim of the glass at Steve. "O Moral Center, you fight me on everything. What I bring to the table is my genius, the very thing you don't want me to use. Every time we have a conversation, it feels like a battle. It's exhausting." He just holds the alcohol. Maybe he'll wait til Steve's gone to get started on it. For now, he just looks at the amber liquid in the glass. "I'm hanging by a thread, Cap," he says quietly. "Since Pepper left, I don't have anything to hang onto. Except this team."

"The team isn't going anywhere." Steve looks upon the other man with a neutral expression. "If you want help, Tony, then it's here. SHIELD has psychologists, people to talk to about…things like this. They'll tell you to stop drinking, for what that's worth," he murmurs, looking askance at the painting again. There's something about it…

Tony rolls his eyes and puts the glass down again. "I was seeing someone," he says. "It was even starting to help, but I think it's mostly because she was happy when I did. I did everything right." He waves a hand. "Didn't change anything in the end. She got a better offer somewhere else. I told her she'd be crazy not to take it." He doesn't look at Cap as he speaks. Pride won't allow him to let the man get a good look at his eyes. "The problem with the psychologists is they can't crack you if you can outthink them. I just…" He rubs at his brow. "I need to get back to work and stop crying in my scotch about how even the Manchurian Candidate has a friend. Friends don't get the job done."

The nickname is enough to earn Tony a scowl, the very first one out of the super-soldier since he entered the room. He wraps the white towel about his neck and rises to his feet.

"His name is Bucky — and he has a friend because he doesn't push people away. Friends don't hinder anyone, Tony. They help. You wanted help?" His arms go wide, showcasing the build granted to him by serum. "We're all right here."

"Fine, Bucky." Tony says. He starts to say something, then exhales sharpy and changes his mind. Steve doesn't like it when he Points Out Things. Instead, he says, "Fine, I'm reaching out. Now what happens? Are we going to hug it out?" He remains sitting, posh and polished. Outwardly, he looks like nothing's bothering him, save a line of tension along his jaw and a hardness in his eyes (a flicker beneath, sharp and wild as a wounded animal). This is sober Tony, and he's not doing so well.

"I don't know that you want a hug, Tony," the blond says in a solemn manner, allowing his arms to lightly cross. He stands in parade-rest and his air pensive and concerned, judging by the divot between his brows. "I'm no psychologist. I am, however, an Avenger. You are too." Not a hug, but with a long sigh, Steve offers instead an outstretched hand, as if intending to shake on something.

Tony arches a brow, mild surprise layered over subtle wariness. Still, it's Cap. If he doesn't trust Cap, who is there left? So he takes the offered hand, clasping firmly. He's not as strong as Cap, but for a man of his age and alcholism, he's in fantastic shape. "I don't mean to be difficult, for what it's worth." He rises to his feet for a proper handshake.

Steve returns the handshake with no more strength than necessary, since it's not a contest in crunching carpals, and a droll smile crosses his lips.

"Then prove otherwise, Tony," he replies shortly. "Actions are important." Dropping the man's hand, he then takes a step back. "I'll…be more mindful of my own thoughts. Sometimes it's hard, when the world seems to be getting more grey each day."

"You weren't made for a grey world," Tony says. "Winnig the war changed that. So did the bomb." He claps Steve on the shoulder. "The best we can do is strive to keep it a lighter shade of grey whenever it starts to slip darker." He's abandoned his scotch, untouched. He smiles crookedly at Steve. "I said I don't try to be difficult. I never claimed it wasn't my natural state of being."

The last sentiment is enough to make Steve snort and shake his head.

"That day you're content with the status quo is the day the world ends, Tony. Besides, maybe I'll come to appreciate you sticking around. You'll make me look saintly. I won't have to try so hard to keep up the image." There's a flash of a crooked smile that is certainly better worn by his brunet friend. With bare feet making little sound, the Captain walks towards the hallway once more.

"I brewed up coffee before I went downstairs. Unless someone's gotten there first, it should still be a full pot," he says over his shoulder at Tony. It seems a post-workout shower is happening after a cup of joe, with Steve still wearing his white t-shirt and the grey sweatpants. The white hand-towel will no doubt be adorning his neck for a while longer still.

Johnny heads into the sitting room, and immediately goes to the sideboard to pour himself a couple fingers of bourbon, but he glances back at the others there to give them each a nod, "Steve, Tony." he greets with a light smile. He's dressed in a pair of jeans and a dark blue t-shirt that might as well be second skin for all it conceals, but that's normal fare for Johnny Storm. "What's up, gents?" he asks, even if Captain seems to be on his way out.

"You need me to help you look saintly?" Tony says, "What kind of good stuff am I missing, Rogers?" He falls into step with Steve. Sure, he'll take some coffee. He pauses when Johnny steps in. Then he glances at the bourbon. Then back to Johnny. "Johnny," he says. "We were just going to get a cup of coffee. You want to join us?"

"In the kitchen," Steve clarifies further, thumbing in the direction of the center of culinary chaos. "It doesn't have any bourbon in it, but it's got a kick all its own. Apparently, I make it strong enough to float a battleship. There's sugar, and milk in the fridge, if you want."

"I can follow you and watch you get coffee, but I don't touch the stuff; it might be an oddity of my metabolism, but it doesn't keep me up. I don't need anything to keep me up." Johnny sips the bourbon, then follows the pair of them. "Though I might have to try it if you make the coffee *that* strong. For science. Reed would approve."

"Coffee to get me up, scotch to put me down," Tony says. He nods then to Johnny, approving of doing things for science. "I'll have to see how strong this coffee is," he says. "If it's as strong as you say, it might be good enough. The cafes around here serve hot water with a melted brown crayon in it."

The Captain leads the way down the hall, beyond its one turn, and then through a swinging door into the kitchen proper. It's all modern for the time; linoleum, chrome, and the shine of new appliances reflect the warm light within. The paint job, in tones of golden yellow, never truly allows the dim of a dark day to be present.

With the white towel thrown over one shoulder now, he might be a lazy waiter as he grabs up two mugs and then the pot, still steaming with heat. No one's touched it — maybe because of how darkly it's brewed.

"When we had access to coffee, we brewed it as strong as possible. No sugar, no milk. You had to take what you got," he comments as he pours out two mug-fuls. Both are set on the island countertop and then he leans against it, sipping at his own. "What brings you by, Johnny?"

"Checking in. Been a little preoccupied with business with the Four, but that seems to be calmed out now." Johnny pours himself a mug, and lifts it to take a sip straight without any milk or cream, "Plus, recruiting. I know a guy. He's strong, he's fast, bullets don't phase him. He's like Ben with speed. He's interested in using his abilities to protect the planet, join up here." Ben is, of course, the Thing from the Four. The Four, being 'out', are famous and known by everyone. There's a pause, "Caveat: he's an alien prince from a destroyed world and so is effectively a refugee here as the last of his kind, with nowhere else to go. I want you to meet him, Steve. You too, Tony. I think he'd fit into the team well."

Tony glances at Steve to get is take on this. "Refugee from an alien planet? Did he bring any neat toys with him?" He takes one of the mugs of coffee and tries a sip. "God, Rogers, did you give this to the bad guys to get them to talk?" That said, he takes another drink of it. "And you can vouch for this guy?" he asks Johnny. "He's on the up and up?"

"We weren't good about sharing things," Steve quips back quietly to Tony, in regards to the coffee. He takes a mouthful, hot enough to scald his tongue, and ignores the sting of it as his attention shifts to Johnny.

"What makes you trust him? As he said," and he nods in Tony's direction, "you're vouching for him."

"I trust him completely. He's proven himself, fought beside me and the Four. I'd trust Susan's life in his hands." Johnny is completely confident of this, and naming his sister is a big deal, but everything about his demeanor and tone says he's got no doubts. "He's invested in this world if for no other reason then its the only world that he's got. And he's, despite being a prince of his world, got no ambition to say, conquer us. He works as a bartender, quite happily. I don't think he has any tech, sorry, Tony. Whatever ship got him here, was damaged beyond repair in the process."

Tony doesn't bother hiding the faint disappointment in his regard when told he won't get alien tech to play with. "I wouldn't mind a look at the fragments," he mentions. Just putting that out there. "But if you trust him, sure, it's at least worth meeting him sometime." He takes another drink of that paint thinner masquerading as coffee. "What do you think, Cap?"

"Anyone interested in helping make the world a little less grey is worth vetting. Bring him by sometime, Johnny, when we're around." Steve has the mug against his mouth when he glances up at the kitchen clock. A little and muffled sound of surprise and he straightens from his lean against the counter.

"Lost track of the time. I've got a meeting. Johnny, good to see you. Tony, you too." A lift of his mug and the Captain exits the kitchen, headed for his own quarters and the vastly-required shower.

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