1965-03-11 - Reporting For Duty
Summary: Tony finally checks in after months of checking out.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
tony steve-rogers 

When he's not attending to his own business, Tony lives in the Avengers Manor's basement lab. He helped put it together and paid for it, so he should be familiar with it. He spends hours down there, forgetting to eat and sleep. He keeps all hours, and it's a rare sighting to see him coming or going. Except today, wherein he emerges from the basement, rubbing bloodshot eyes and squinting at the daylight pouring in through windows. He's in the suit he wore last night, the jacket still draped over a chair somewhere, his shirtsleeves rolled to his elbows.

The rattle of a newspaper announces the presence of one Captain Steve Rogers, specifically in how he bends down the first two inches of the latest edition of the New York Times. Always researching these days, the soldier-sans-icebox is attempting to keep up with current affairs in the confines of America proper. He sits on a nearby couch with one ankle crossed to rest on his knee, in the simplicity of a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt beneath a leather jacket; seems almost aviator by nature, with the lambswool-lined lapels.

"Tony," he says by way of greeting, a neutral expression on his face. "Another late night?"

"Late night, early morning," Tony says with a grimace. He peers up from the heels of his hands and says, "Cap." There's an awkward pause as he just looks at the man for awhile. The king of pith actually doesn't seem to know what to say. "Uh, I was going to make coffee. You want some?" He goes to do just that, filling up the pot with water. "Haven't seen you around."

"Coffee sounds good." More crinkling resounds around the structurally-open living room as Steve folds up the paper again and then places it down on the nearby table. With a grunt, he's on his feet and walking over.

"I've been out of the country. You know the government. …you probably know more than most of us here, whether they told you these things or not." He leans a hip against one of the granite counters of the kitchen, his arms loosely folded. "Working on another project downstairs?"

"Always," Tony says. "Poking at that future tech Little Red brought with her. Haven't quite gotten to where I could reverse engineer the really cool stuff, but I'm getting a better understanding of it." This talk comes easily. What he's working on, what's going on in the tech world. That's his comfort zone.

Once the coffee starts brewing, he turns to lean against the counter, folding his arms over his chest. "We should get the team together again," he says. "Especially now, with what's going on in the world." He chews his lip, then admits, "I haven't been on board lately, but I could be."

Steve drops his gaze first, indulging in a wry twist of a smile before he looks back up at Tony.

"The order hasn't come down from above to re-group. SHIELD has other concerns besides bringing us all in one place again. I haven't found a thing that I can't handle yet." Mind, he did say 'yet'. The sound of the coffee maker kicking on interrupts and the Captain watches the consistent stream of dark brew before looking back to Tony again. "Little Red?"

"We don't have to listen to them," Tony says. And this is why no one tells him anything. "It's not about what you can or can't handle on your own. It's about an idea. The idea of a team that looks out for the little guy. Why are we taking orders from SHIELD anyway?" Suddenly he wants to be a team again.

With a distracted wave of his hand, he says, "I think her name is Hope. She came from a pretty grim future and we're trying to make sure it doesn't come to pass."

Steve shifts his weight and his folded arms cross the tighter. His spine is ramrod straight, still a soldier even when at ease.

"Right now, the world keeps on spinning regardless of whether or not the team is together. If the need comes up to protect the little people, then we'll figure something out. For now," and he lifts a hand, palm outwards in a suppressing sort of gesture, " — it's not necessary."

Tony frowns. His posture shows not one day of military in his life (save for making the bombs they use). It's relaxed and mindlessly poised. He's used to being in the public eye where a camera can capture an unflattering angle that can ruin a man. "What about training?" he asks. "What about finding out who's even on the roster? You know if we just call a bunch of people and throw them together after months of not even seeing one another it'll fall apart."

He turns to take down two mugs from the cupboard. "Just because it's not necessary right now doesn't mean we don't need to be ready." He knows how Steve takes his coffee, and he delivers it that way. His own is black and bitter.

"Who says we're not ready?" Steve sips at his coffee, finds it precisely as black as can be managed (no creamer or sugar when the Nazis are shooting at you on the Ardenne Forests), and sets the mug aside. "There's a roster. There's training, for those who want it. Have faith in the concept of civility, Tony." The blond frowns for the first time, the neutral set of his expression failing.

"Why start now?" Tony says. His quick eye catches the frown, and he tilts his head. "What's the matter? Have you started taking cream and sugar? We haven't talked in awhile and things change so quickly." The words roll off his tongue with a swift cadence. "Maybe it's just that I don't know who's on the roster. I don't know the last time anyone trained. I leave for a couple months and everything changes."

Steve shakes his head slowly.

"That's what happens when you suddenly drop from the radar, Tony. Things change. I'd know a thing or two about that." He takes up the steaming mug of coffee and blows on its surface before taking another sip. "The roster hasn't changed much. Training happened recently." These tidbits he shares freely.

Tony regards Steve blandly. He takes a tentative sip from his mug. Too hot! He lowers it, ever casual on the outside. "I had to go to Berlin," he says. "I didn't think I'd be gone that long." He shrugs a shoulder and glances down at his coffee. Berlin is generally a city Tony tries to avoid. Not his favorite. He's never said why. "So don't take it personally. Had to be done."

A shrug of those strong shoulders in the aviator jacket and Steve looks away towards one of the windows, where sunlight shines in with a vengeance on those of nocturnal ilk.

"I'd like to think I can count on you to be a member of the team. Present and accounted for, when duty calls." He glances back, blue eyes holding a modicum of frustration. "It's not me taking it personally."

"I was keeping tabs," Tony says. "If you had needed me, I would've been there. Geez, Cap. Give me some credit." There's a hitch in his voice as he says that last bit. "Things were quiet. They had you at the helm." He smiles thinly. "Admit it, you liked not butting heads with me for awhile. Contentiousness always seemed to be more my hobby"

And that…makes Steve snort and shake his head as he departs from his lean on the kitchen counter. "You could make a side-living from it, Tony." He'll give the inventor this much and a side-glare in passing as he walks over to that window he was looking out of earlier. Sunshine plays off his cheeks and hair, catches on the brass buttons of his jacket.

"Why do you want the team back?" The mug rises to his lips again and he continues observing the world beyond. "You got a personal reason or is this humanitarian?"

Tony's gaze follows Steve, and there's a million things going on behind those dark eyes at any given time. Even exhausted, he barely slows down. "The state of the world, Cap. People are worried. They don't trust the government, and you know, maybe they shouldn't, not all the way. Believe it or not, I care what happens to this world and the people in it." He glances away. the light coming in through the window is still no friend to him. "But sure, if you need a selfish reason, I've got stuff to make up for. Maybe I even have a conscience."

Tucking his chin again, the Captain indulges in dry little smile before smoothing out his expression again. His eyes, clear and light, flick to Tony once more, and he turns in place, half-spotlighted by the sunlight now. His shadow throws a long line across the flooring until it joins the more squared lines of gathered darkness.

"I wondered if you'd find something like a conscience in the end." His is a level look and equally in question. "You reporting for duty, Tony?"

Tony's features, in a ray of sunshine, are haggard after his long night. God knows what he was doing down there, but he was doing it til he was completely tapped out. The public would never see him like this, in need of a shower and about sixteen hours of sleep. It leaves him looking both vulnerable and just a little mean. "Yeah, well. You find it in the places that remind you of suffering. Hardship breeds compassion, I don't know. Call it what you want."

He glances away and takes a drink of coffee. It has cooled a little, and now it's perfect. He sighs with caffeinated contentment. Then his brow furrows. Resolution tightens his jaw, and he lifts his chin. Looking back to Steve, he says, "Yeah, Cap. I am."

The Captain considers his cup of coffee as if it had some esoteric answer in its dark depths. Apparently finding either something or nothing, he finishes off what remains of the scalding volume, uncaring of the fact that his tongue will hurt later. Bolting coffee is nothing new for him, a fact of life for a soldier interrupted.

"Well then." Walking forwards, Steve extends a hand towards the inventor, a handshake intended. He's not smiling, but that thundercloud that had lingered over his head and in the hardened cast of his eyes seems to have dissipated to some extent. "Welcome back, Tony."

Tony's tense shoulders relax, and he offers Steve one of his patented crooked smiles. There's something behind his eyes, though. Amidst the dozen thoughts of inventions and a mind distantly occupied with business, there's something of a wounded animal. Maybe Steve's seen it before. When the inventor is tired enough, masks start to slip.

All the same, he clasps Steve's hand and shakes heartily. "Thank you. It's good to be back."

With one final dip of clasped hands, Steve pulls back and gives inventor a more searching consideration.

"I know that look," he finally says, more quietly and with a touch of empathy. "You need to go sleep, Tony. The couch is pretty comfortable. Well, more than a ragged piece of tarp on rocky ground." He gives the smooth leather upholstery an appreciative little glance.

"I only have the finest pieces of tarp," Tony says. He wrinkles his nose and looks, for a moment, like this suggestion of sleep is going to be taken with mutiny. The coffee is only doing so much, though, and he grudgingly admits, "I probably shouldn't try driving home right now." He eyes the couch. People might come through. It would be just like living in a house and not alone. That… that might not be so revolting after all. "Thanks, Cap," he says quietly. "It's good to see you again."

"Good to see you too, Tony." The inventor gets a firm clap on the shoulder before Steve turns to walk away towards the living room proper. He glances back at the inventor and adds,

"Thanks for the coffee. It's better than what we used to have in the trenches, by far. I could get used to it." It seems he's going to take that newspaper with him when he leaves, given the direction of his travels.

Tony glances at the paper, and something about Steve reading it makes him smile. The man looks younger by far than Tony, but he can picture his late father reading the paper the same way, including tipping it down to look at Tony with general disapproval. It's comforting, somehow.

"Yeah, well, someone around here has to know how to make a decent cup. I'm earning my keep." He finishes his cup and drags his feet toward the couch as though he's still not entirely willing. He's asleep before he's done laying down.

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