1965-11-08 - Ferreting Around
Summary: Tony shows Steve what he's been working on down in the lab.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
steve-rogers tony 


Tony has been working late in the lab these days. He still hasn't given the ferret back, and anyone who has checked the lab might notice there's a long series of tubes hanging from the ceiling that are about the right size for a fuzzy catsnake to scamper through. It doesn't seem like the Elf is going to see that ferret again at this rate.

Tony is in the kitchen at the moment, in a suit, looking polished and ready for the Financial District. But here he is on the Upper East Side pouring himself a cup of coffee.

Bottomless pits, those super-soldiers. Approaching bootsteps announce Steve; in his hand, a plate bearing the crumbs of what must have been a truly monstrously-large and multi-layered sandwich. He's an empty mug in his other hand and must have been drawn by the smell of freshly-made coffee. Nothing fancy for today's dress, just a heather-grey t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

"Tony," he says by way of greeting after entering the kitchen. "Off to box with the other trade brokers? Pull your punches, they don't know you've got a mean right hook." A small smile as he puts the plate in the sink. "Thanks for making another pot, it's a three-pot kind of day." The man's broad shoulders lift in a shrug at the volume; he knows it's tending towards the shocking end of things.

Tony glances over his shoulder, and he smiles at Steve. "Nah, no mercy. It's a shark tank down there, and there's always blood in the water." He steps aside from the coffee pot so Steve can pour himself a cup. While Tony doesn't take his coffee army strong, he's an engineer who avoids sleep, so it's not weak, either.

"What about you? Up for a day of in cognito crime fighting? Going to go out and walk among the people? I'm still surprised more people don't recognize you. Then again, it's New York. Maybe they do, and they just don't mind."

"You'd be surprised how much you get accomplished when you're not dressed to the nines in a suit, spangled or metal or like that there," and he nods towards Tony's clothing. The pour of the coffee into his mug is a soft sound before he clicks the carafe back into place beneath the brewer. "Some of my best leads in the business with the advanced weaponry lately have come from me leaning against a streetpole in a coat and baseball cap."

Because everyone knows a baseball cap makes you immediately impossible to identify.

"I've got a lead to follow up that'll take me to Brooklyn, but I know it like the back of my hand. Old stomping grounds. Harder to remain anonymous there, believe it or not."

Tony nods curtly. "Good," he says. "The news I'm getting downtown is a staggering lack of news. No one through legit channels knows what's up. Even some of the hinkier leads aren't turning up much. If you ask me, if there's something rotten in the state of Denmark, it's usually Hydra. Maybe I'm paranoid, but that doesn't mean they're not out to get you."

He frowns into his coffee cup. Hydra has to be his least favorite organization. Then again, they're not overly fond of him, either. He takes a drink from his mug, then says, "I'm sure they view you as a hometown hero. If you don't want recognition, you could send a minion to follow up on those leads instead. Surely we have a few laying around."

Steve snorts, but not unkindly. "Minions. Other SHIELD agents, I know. No. I've got a vested interest in seeing where these guns are flowing from and if it's someplace in Brooklyn, well…" Another shrug as he leans against the counter. "It's my home turf. No one better to react - especially if it's HYDRA." By the man's glower, he has no love at all for the covert organization as well. "Might ask Buck, see if he has any ideas. He's always been the one to go to ground with success, better than me."

A small shake of his head. "Gotta get a lead soon. Anything in the lab that you think might help us out? A way to backtrack an energy signature or trace metals?" He glances over at Tony, brows lifted.

Tony shakes his head and says, "Nothing yet, but I'm working on it. A few more samples of these weapons wouldn't be amiss. I could narrow down what exactly it is I'm looking for, run a few more tests. Right now, I'm working on a machine that will help identify some of the harder to nail down particles, but so far it requires training a ferret to run wire through a tube." He waves a hand. "There are reasons."

He sighs, staring off in the middle distance as he drink his coffee. "What gets me is that they'll never stop trying. HYDRA, I mean. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we knock them down, they'll come back. There's got to be some way we can end them for good. Everything else is just putting band-aids on scratches."

A noncommital grunt from Steve, hold-over from his days in the Army where so much communication occurred without words proper. He kills his fourth cup of coffee today before twisting at the waist to set the mug in the sink. "They're like weeds. Gotta get them out at the roots. It takes some effort, some sweat and maybe a little blood, but you can get 'em if you grit your teeth and go to town. We'll do it, stop them for good." It's a bulldog-ish kind of faith from the Captain, but bone-deep nonetheless.

He gives Tony another spectulative look, this time with a faint smile. "A ferret running wire through a tube…?" he echoes. "I gotta see this."

Tony gives an upnod in response to the grunt. He's usually not so agreeable with Cap on general principle, but in this, they're united. "We'll do whatever it takes," he says. "I don't care how many mountains we have to move to bring them down. In my lifetime, they are going to become ancient history." There's just no room for doubt in his tone.

His expression lightens a little though at the mention of the ferret. "I studied the way the thing moves around," he says, "and it's actually fairly intelligent. It's also the perfect size to run through these tubes where I need to lay wire. They're too long for me to lay it by hand. The machine will already be big enough even with everything manufactured so small, so I can't make it bigger. I'm trying to see if I can get a food motivated ferret to run through the tubes for food at the other end. I could put the wiring on it with a little harness. Voila, wiring problem solved."

A gesture of Steve's hand, towards the stairway leading down to the lab proper — that bastion of Stark technology and intellect brought to life. "Show me what you mean? I've got a little spare time before I leave. I want to see the critter at work. Buck'll never believe it," and he laughs, the sound bright and twinkling in his eyes briefly.

Tony makes his way down the stairs and says, "Okay, but it's just a ferret running through tubes." He opens the door and sets his coffee mug on a work table. In a floor to ceiling cage is the white ferret that was put in Tony's suit as a prank. The creature seems no worse for wear, and is piled on a hammock. It perks up when Tony steps in.

"I've named her Snowball," Tony says. "Though she's more of a furry snake than a ball." He picks up a container labeled 'ferret biscuits' and feeds her one through the bars of her cage. She takes the biscuit in both forepaws and starts making quick work of it. He's already bought her off with the good stuff.

From the ceiling there are a series of tubes going back and forth, and at the far end of the lab, occupying at least a quarter of the huge space, is a round track that is entirely enclosed, and it's about the same size as the ceiling tubes.

Steve wanders over to the expansive vertical cage and tilts his head to one side to observe Snowball eating the snack. He's got that faint wrinkle of contemplation between his brows. "Huh. I see what you mean, about a furry snake." A glance at the tubing and he turns in place to follow its meandering with his eyes. "You've got a lot to work with. You training her with those treats? Or something better?"

If given the chance, he takes up the container of biscuits and pinches one through the cage bars at Snowball, making absurd clicking sounds. Somewhere, Buck is laughing for no reason.

Snowball's response to seeing another treat presented is to wolf down hers even faster. It's still stuffed in her mouth when she comes to grab the one Steve's offering. Tony smiles wryly and says, "She's going to get too fat to fit through those tubes." He doesn't sound terribly worried, though. Meanwhile, Snowball flops back on her hammock and works through her first treat while having the second one near at hand. Or paw, as it were.

"The biscuits are training biscuits for basic things, like coming when called and eliminating in a litter box. Cleaning up after her isn't very difficult." Not that he hasn't hired someone to do that for him, but he's made their life easier. "For the more difficult stuff, I've found that wet cat food tempts her."

"Never thought wet cat food would do. I wondered what I was smelling. Figured it wasn't a tuna sandwich," he deadpans, smirking at Tony briefly. He looks around the lab again after setting aside the ferret treats and meanders over to a nearby table. Nothing on it looks spectacularly expensive or fragile, so he reaches out to lift up what appears to be a small transmitter, maybe something to be later installed into a more complicated piece of technology.

"I suppose this isn't the machine you were talking about earlier, that'll detect those harder-to-detect particles," he comments as he puts the small transmitter down again. He knows he's not supposed to touch things. Technically.

"That's actually part of it," Tony says, "if I can find a way to get it to detect those hard to trace particles. Of course the more weapons I get to work with, the more samples of those particles, and different iterations of them, I'll get to play with." He waves a hand though and says, "Don't worry about that one. I've got dozens."

He gestures to the long track at the back of the lab. "That'll be my particle detector. We're taking normal equipment you use to detect things and making it super powerful so it can see the evasive stuff. HYDRA thinks they've stumped us, but it's only a matter of time." He nods to the feasting ferret and says, "They weren't counting on you, girl."

"'m going to laugh myself sick if HYDRA ends up defeated by the efforts of a ferret, Tony," the Captain confesses in open amusement at the idea as he looks over at the creature still chewing on a biscuit. "Who would have known that she'd be useful? A prank, turned useful. Hmmf." A short laugh and shake of his head. He gives the track at the back of the lab a once-over.

"Y'know, I was called a gerbil once." His gaze lingers at his boots for a second before rising off beyond that of the lab's interior mechanics. "Useful. HYDRA discounted a scrawny kid from Brooklyn. I bet they'll discount a ferret." He seems to come back from a thousand miles and decades in the past with a faint, wistful half-smile. "The Stark name won't let us down."

"There's a parable in this," Tony says, "somewhere, about small beings doing big things. The little ones the bad guys overlooked saving the day. It happened once. It can happen again. Who knew that damned Elf would go on to do something useful, like put a ferret in my suit? At first, I was just keeping her out of spite, but then she got out and I noticed how quickly she moved through some tubing I'd left out, and it got me to thinking."

He looks out over the vast lab, and there's so much going on behind those dark eyes. The man never stops thinking. No wonder he can barely sleep. That brain never shuts off. "Yeah," he says quietly. "Yeah, you can count on me, Cap. I got this."

"You know you're not alone, right, Tony?" Steve asks this quietly over the ambiance of electricity running through myriad wires and the soft crackling of some instrument somewhere. "We're a team. You want help, we can get you some, one way or another. Minions," and he points at the man, still wearing that half-smile. "We can get you more minions. Besides, it's a balance between man and technology, right? You get me the gear, I can run in and be better prepared for whatever HYDRA wants to deal out in return."

Tony turns slightly to look to Steve. It takes his focus a moment to shift from far away thoughts to the superhero in front of him. "Yeah," he says with inordinate gentleness. "I know. Just get me a couple more of those weapons, and I'll figure this out." He hesitates, then adds, "I hate the idea of sending you guys into danger on errands like this, but that's what we do, isn't it?"

Tony's attention wanders over to the ferret, who has fallen asleep wrapped around her second treat, half-eaten. "This team gets weirder and weirder. But everyone has a role to play, big and small. Anyway, I'd better get to the office. There's another battle to fight on that front." He claps Cap on the shoulder. "See what you can find out, and we'll puzzle it out. We always do."

"It'd be cowardly to do otherwise, given the power we have. We have to help the people. Anything less from me would be a waste." The blond nods in quiet agreement wth Tony's thoughts. "Danger's a given in this line of work."

He makes to follow the inventor after giving Snowball one last, still slightly-disbelieving glance over his shoulder. Ferrets. Who would have known. "Whatever you're working on at the office, good luck. I should be back later tonight and hopefully with another weapon if not further information on who's selling," he says as they ascend the stairs to the main floor of the manor. "Anything's progress at this point."

Tony makes his way up the stairs, snagging his coffee mug on the way out. "We're definitely not cowards. Mad, maybe, to do the things we do, but we don't tuck tail." He walks into the kitchen to put his mug in the sink. Someone will deal with it. Isn't that what house Elves are for?

"Thanks for the well-wishes. It's nothing too terrible. The usual trade-offs, negotiations, and feeding the shark tank. Anyway, call me when you've got something. Don't worry about waking me up. There are some things more important than sleep."

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