If or how and when?

Characters: Steve Tony
Rated: PG
Summary: Tony goes to visit one of his best friends, Steve Rogers. Tony's not much for social calls, and Steve knows it.
OOC Date: March 4, 2018
IC Date: March 4, 2018
Where: Steve's apartment, Brooklyn, NYC

Steve's finally settling into something like a routine after a year of being topside from his icy rest. An apartment in Brooklyn, a billet down in Maryland for those odd trips to DC to visit the Triskelion in person. Working out of a SHIELD office at the nearest Army base.

It's not bad, really— though Steve still struggles a bit with New York's traffic and population, and still being a little disconnected from the modern world.

To wit, as the early evening comes on, he's reading a book and listening to the news on the radio. There isn't really much entertainment on the radio anymore— no one doing gag routines and the comedy is all pretty crude. But the droning newscaster is a familiar voice, and it creates a little background while he continues his efforts to catch up on modern history in the interim between the end of the Second World War and being decanted from an iceberg.

~

Maybe Tony Stark took Pepper's advice and had a shower, cleaned up, or.. maybe not. He looks his 'usual' when dressed down; jeans, high top sneakers, t-shirt with a jacket covering it with a 6 pack of what one would call 'expensive' beer tucked under an arm. The first hint of his arrival would be the loud supercar engine noise outside the building, complete with the double *chirp* of the security system engaging.

It's an easy walk up the sidewalk, the stoop, and a rap on the correct apartment door.

"Hey.. I know you're in there. The Titanic wants its iceberg back."

~

It's hard to miss the sound of a supercar cooling off. It's a note as distinctive as a delivery truck rolling up outdoors. Steve sets a bookmark in place and rises, dusting his hands, and tidies a few things up nearby. Wearing a button-up blue shirt tucked into casual but well-mended jeans, he looks like a lot of other young professionals who live nearby.

At the knock from the door, he waits a beat, then pulls the door open. "Hey Tony. Thought that might be you," he says, a little wryly. "Looks like it's not an emergency, since you're not flying in my window. C'mon in," he invites. He cocks a brow at the beer in Tony's hands. "Are you just here to do some social drinking?" he inquires, in a good humor.

~

Tony hands over the beer as a present before crossing the threshold. "I gave Pep the night off, and I've gotten to a spot in my work where I can actually take a breather." He chuckles, the sound quiet, and he runs fingers through his hair. "Getting lazy. Only at it for 36 hours. At this rate, I might start taking time off. Then where would I be?"

Closing the door behind him, Tony looks around at the cozy bit of home Steve's got, and takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Drinking with Jarvis is boring. He's always telling me I've had enough. I swear, if my parents were still alive, he's <this> close to telling my mother." He nods towards the living room, "Wouldn't say 'no' to a drink, though."

~

"C'mon in, then. Have a seat." Steve strips off one beer and cracks it with his index finger, offering it to Tony, then pops one for himself out of politeness. The remainder is carried into the living room and put in the coffee table.

The apartment's big by New York standards, at least large enough for a sofa and an easy chair. It's relatively spartan, with most of Steve's personal possessions taking up one corner and a few shelves. They're largely old photographs in black and white, a few war trophies, some personal correspondance. The radio and his books look clear and recently used, but there's a thin layer of dust on his computer and the television in the corner (which is not set at an easily viewable angle).

"Jarvis means well," Steve says, in good humor. "I mean, you programmed him to mean well. Right? Maybe he's secretly your conscience," he remarks. It's a little strange to anthropomorphize a machine, but Jarvis sure does sound like a tidily efficient butler, sitting right out of view. "How's Pepper doing, then?" he inquires, taking an available seat and half-relaxing into it with a posture that speaks to his attention to Tony.

~

Tony takes the beer and follows the trail into the small living room. It's cozy, well kept from the looks of it, but would it be anything but?

"Nah.. when I was a kid, we had a butler named Edwin Jarvis. He.. uh.. well, there are some things I'm not all that original about. Like.. like naming things." Tony takes a swallow of the beer, finishing it with a sharp exhale. It's not scotch, or bourbon. "Maybe it's my conscience." He shrugs away the memory before he gets too deep into it. Instead, he reaches out to pull some of the dust off the computer. Twisting around to look at his friend, he rubs his fingers to get the light film off his fingers. "We gotta get you using this thing. Or, I could rewire the place so you can have holographics if it's easier."

Taking the couple of steps back, Tony finds a free spot on the couch and lowers himself, a free arm draping across the back. "Pep? She's good. Trying to keep me out of trouble, telling me I don't pay her enough. She's right, but I'm not sure what the going rate is for 'keeping me out of trouble'." Beat. "She says 'hi', by the way."

~

"Heh. Tell her I said 'hi', back," Steve remarks. He follows Tony's path to the computer. "Holographics are even worse. Makes me crosseyed," Steve chuckles, shaking his head. "I'm doing OK here. I have my phone for anything really urgent and they still print out daily intelligence briefings at the SHIELD post on base. If it's something that needs my immediate attention, I figure someone else has seen it first and already put the wheels in motion. I just need to keep in touch in case someone decides they need me around. I'm a soldier, not an intel guy," he says, good-naturedly.

He sips more beer, looking at Tony. "So— is this really just a social visit?" he inquires, again. "Not that I don't mind the company, but I haven't exactly seen a lot of you in the last few months."

~

From his position on the couch now, Tony takes a swallow from his bottle and rather than going back to the lean, he comes forward, cradling the bottle in both hands. "You know, I'd love to say it's a social visit, but we both know…" He shakes his head before tilting it slightly sideways. "I'm trying to figure out why kids are trying to be like me." A hand leaves the bottle's support, and he puts it up in the air. "Hold on.. I'm not just talking about Trick or Treat, or 'I wanna be a CEO when I grow up'. I mean, armor plating. Flight characteristics. Gyro-stabilizers.. Iron Man." A chuffed laugh that has no humor in it rises from the man. "I took the armor away.. like candy from a baby. Said something stupid like, 'You'll be hearing from my lawyers'.. and took it home. Looked at it… really looked at it."

Tony takes a deep breath through his nose and stands up, ready to start pacing. "The kid is a little girl version of me. MIT. Genius.. and I can't justify keeping the armor. Not that I was going to once I saw it. So, I'm putting on more defensive capabilities in the hope the kid gets the hint. It's dangerous out there." He shrugs, takes a swallow, and starts those few steps before pausing at the back of the sofa. "It's not my call."

~

Steve whistles, low, when Tony finishes, and watches the other fellow's agitated pacing. "Wow. I mean— that's kind of impressive," Steve remarks, finally. "And from the sound of it— you said she was young? And not a CEO. So I'm guessing she didn't just buy it from the local Macy's," he says, wryly.

He purses his lips, thinking, and looks up at Tony. "So she's got a suit. It's not as good as yours— but really, how good was your first one?" he inquires, brows lifting. "Lemme ask you this— and be honest— are you really worried about her safety? Or are you worried about there being one more person running Iron-Man level technology out in the world/"

~

"Young. As in '11 when she got her scholarship to MIT' and she's all of 18, if that." Tony chuckles at the Macy's comment, shaking his head. "No.. I'd be thrilled if I saw something like that on Halloween. But she was carrying it around in a duffel bag. Thing was 80 pounds."

Tony straightens from his forward lean only to shift sideways. "Not as good as mine, but better than mine was from the cave. It looks like she took whatever she could find, reverse engineered it, extrapolated and worked with whatever she couldn't find solid, definitive data for. The only thing she really doesn't have is a power supply that'll keep her in the air safely. So.. I'd say Mark 1.. 1.5."

There's a moment, then, when those question are asked, and he kips his head sideways as he honestly considers it. This is one of his friends here.. this is a moment when he is simply 'Tony' and not on show. "Both. I know what the world wants from me in terms of that suit. I can only imagine what sort of pressure is gonna be put on that little girl when they find out she can look at something and make a damned good working copy. But, I know if that were me? There is no way in hell I'd let anyone stop me from building it and doing what I thought was right.. which is why I'm worried enough to put a defensive system on it. One written in her handwriting so she can see what it is. Recognize it."

~

Steve listens attentively to Tony, nodding, with one ankle tossed up over his knee. He waits for Tony to work through his own logic, and at the end, lifts one brow with a half-smile and shrugs one shoulder. His fingers flex in a 'there you go' gesture.

"I know things are a little different here, Tony, but back during the war, at eighteen she would have been married already. Or a WAC," he points out. "Probably a nurse, or maybe going into intelligence services. Lots of eighteen year old have changed the world, in their own way," he says. "Calling her a 'kid' probably isn't fair."

"But like you said, you can't stop her. Take it away, she'll build a new one. Maybe even a better one. Break it, she'll fix it. You want to toss her in a convent, make her sit on her talent for ten years?" he inquires. It's a rhetorical position, obviously, and he doesn't expect a response from Tony.

"I think what's really got you scared is the idea that this young woman needs a /mentor/, Tony," he tells his friend. "And you're panicking a bit because there's exactly one person on Earth qualified to help her." He points at Tony, lets the hand hang in the air, then lets it drop.

~

There's a wry smile that comes to Tony's face, and his tones sound a light lilt, "And you wonder why I don't come over more often for a chat." He chuckles soon after, his head shaking, "I'm not that guy, Steve. What would I do with a kid? I mean.. I'm really good at throwing money at something; at a program, an after school tutoring thing. Hell, I donate to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. But this?"

Panicking.

"I couldn't stop her even if I wanted to. She's me at that age, only without the money. The backing of a famous name that'd at least give me a chance against the wolves in Washington." The company doesn't hurt either. "I'm having Jarvis find out where she is, then drop off her suit there." That's what he's decided to do, so far. "I.. I don't know what else I can do. Short of, well.. you know, taking a kid on."

~

Steve waits a few seconds, just to make Tony twist a little on his own logic. "But you know exactly what you /should/ do," Steve says, finally, a little pointedly. "You know that what she needs is a mentor, and you're the only game in town. Who else will you send her to? Where might she end up?"

"If you're hoping I'm gonna give you an out here, Tony, you should have gone to someone else. But you /knew/ I was going to tell you to mentor her," Steve says, getting to his feet. His words are hard but not unkind. "So what you really want is someone to twist your arm, and frogmarch you down to her apartment and take her on as a student. So then you can say, 'Oh, Steve,'," he says, in a tone of mocking echo. "'You never should have told me to take her on, it's all gone badly'."

He stands in front of Tony resolute but not confrontational, and the beer-holding hand extends one index finger and taps the shorter fellow in the sternum with a hollow *tink*. "You know what you -need- to do, and what scares you is that no one else can do it. Because if not you— then who?" he says. "This math isn't even hard, Tony. You get out in front, you help her, you build her up into someone better. Or you leave her twisting in the wind, throw her a bone now and then, and find out one day that someone else snapped her up and started mentoring her. Maybe we'll get lucky and it's Reed Richards. Or maybe it's some nutjob who sees a brilliant young person he can twist and mold into doing real damage."

He rolls his lip in, thinking, then taps Tony again. "What's going to haunt you more? Responsibility for mentoring someone? Or realizing that you were too late to mentor her?"

~

Tony's got his hip lean on the back of the couch, his jaw shifted as he considers, listening to his friend. Straightening when Steve comes close, he doesn't even look down at the *tink* against the arc. He's looking right into those baby blues. He was thinking about just.. keeping an eye on her. That's what he'd told Pep. 'Keep an eye on her' and nothing more. But now?

"Anyone ever tell you you suck at logic?" And Tony manages to keep a deadpanned straight face when saying that, too. He can't say Steve is wrong, though. It's just.. how far is he willing to go with this? The beer is raised to his lips after a half-step back is taken, just to give him a little room, a chance to think about this. Normally, he doesn't even think about consequences, but this?

"I should have lied and said it was a social visit. 'Cause to mix her up with my stuff? That puts a different target on her back." Tony already knows that this has become a foregone conclusion. Now, it's just a 'how' and 'when' as opposed to an 'if'. "You can keep the beer as payment."

~

"I have a feeling you could have told me you were here to fix my television, and it would have ended up here anyway," Steve points out, wryly. "You came here with something on your mind. Doesn't take a mindreader to see that."

He hesitates. "Tony, take it from me— I've seen a lot of young kids coming up wanting to make their mark. You set a standard, and they look up to it. But if you don't help them along, they'll kill themselves trying to match you. I saw good kids die doing dumb, reckless stuff because they wanted to make a name for themselves, or because they thought that's how they'd get in with the Commandos. We got to the point where we wouldn't mix with regular Army units because too many young, dumb officers and eager privates would charge into the enemy headlong trying to get a share of glory."

"You don't have to help her, but if you're not there to catch her when she stumbles…" He trails off, and clasps Tony's shoulder. "Anyway. Thanks for the beer, Tony. And the visit. Good to see you in Brooklyn."

~

"Yeah.. it kinda sucks when kids look up to you. I didn't sign on to being a role model," Tony can't help but smirk, looking for that bit of levity. "But I know that I can't leave her without any defense. She deserves that much."

Tony looks down again when his shoulder is clasped, and reaches out to clap the man's shoulder. "Don't be a stranger. We'll get take-out." Up at the Penthouse. "Bring a date if you want."

Tony starts for the door, and takes another look, "Place looks homey. Nice place to run to ground." He's out the door soon after, a backwards wave given as he takes the hall, and he's out the front, down the stoop. Only moments later, the sound of the supercar's engine revving can easily be heard, as well as the squeal of tires as he pulls out.

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