Periodically Creating Elements

Summary:
August 22, 2014: Tony Stark is in real bad shape. Fortunately, he has a plan, because it's Stark and he always has a plan. Unfortunately, that plan involves something from SHIELD's toybox. (Some language.)

The Triskelion, NYC and Stark Towers, NYC

Two large buildings each crammed full of some very expensive equipment.


Characters

NPCs

  • JARVIS

Mood Music:
None


It's been several days since the last message came across the new secure line Stark has established with SHIELD through JARVIS, one way or the other. Certainly there's people watching him, agents infultrated into the echelon of Stark Industries, routines put in place to keep tabs… He's systematically found them. Not all, that will take months, maybe even years, but enough of them that it's quite clear he's shutting down all unauthorized investigation into his business and life.

That being said, he's not off the reservation.

Now he just knows where that reservation is. As a matter of fact, sensors would probably inform those who need informing of such things that Iron Man has been picked up headed in the direction of the Triskelion. One of the higher access points near the roof to keep from having to deal with receptionists… he knows how difficult it's been for 'Becca over the last few days, so no sense sharing the misery with SHIELDs.

Before actually landing, he even knocks on the door… all be it through that secure line, "Tony Stark to Triskelion. I come in peace… take me to your Assistant Leader."

*

"Miss Hill, it's-"

"For me. Of course it is. Which yahoo is it this time and what meeting room's free?"

"It's Mister Stark."

So much for keeping people out of her office… Hill slowly rubs her forehead as she comms back "Seeend him in…" She's barely had a chance to catch her breath after having to deal with some mutant politics. There's always room for -politics!-

(Kill me now.)

A few taps of her fingertips clears up the smartglass table and windows until it looks like nothing more than dark tinted panes. Some days it feels like a matter of 'sure, let me drop everything and work on -your- problem.' That's probably why she's got the job, after all. Like Fury wants to be the one to deal with all of this! Someone has to.

She'll just sit and wait, watching the door for the guy she knows is incoming. "Where's the industrial fire today, Stark?"

*

When the armor touches down on the roof it is without a doubt that he's met with an escort. The armor pulls away at otherwise hidden access junctions and slides back enough for Tony to jump down out of the piloting node. "JARVIS, I'll only be a couple minutes." Said as the armor closes up behind him.

For what it's worth, Tony looks a lot like hell might. His eyes are sunken, his skin is pale enough that it's nearly translucent, and there's a constant sheen of sweat built across his brow. That being said, he's not letting them know it… smiling and chit chatting with one of the female agents escorting him to the office.

Probably with varying degrees of success. He is pretty charming when he wants to be.

"Oh hey, Deputy Director." Said with a grin, wearing an old AC/DC t-shirt and a pair of jeans over converse all-star tennis shoes. "No industrial fire this time… Actually, I want to borrow something.." Grin going a little bigger.

*

That female agent does mention "You might want to swing by medical so long as you're here…" at one point.

There's barely any time for the DepDir to say hello when-Waitwait. He wants to -borrow- something. No part of this sounds like a good thing. "When's the last time you had any sleep..?" Hill asks with an expression which is ninety percent puzzlement and, at max, ten percent concern. There may be a few other slivers to this pie chart lurking about somewhere in there.

"If by 'borrow something' you mean 'fall into a coma in one of our exam rooms' then I'll just go right ahead and phone it in. Jeezus Stark, you look horrible."

*

Tony waits for the door to close behind him and glances back to make sure they're, at the very least somewhat, alone. It's SHIELD HQ, he'll get what he can take. "Listen." Turning to regard Maria, dropping the smile in favor of appearing a lot more like he probably feels. "I don't have a whole lot of screwing around time left in me."

While he does the polite thing and nods at one of the chairs in her office, he doesn't wait for her to give him permission before sinking down into it and rubbing at his face. "I've figured it out. I've found a replacement element… If I had.. three weeks, maybe two.. I could duplicate what I need and I wouldn't be sitting here."

Blue eyes turn up to Maria, "You promised to help me, if I helped SHIELD… I've done that. Both times I've been asked, I've come.. and it cost me time. Time I didn't have, but I gave it to you anyways. Now I need something from you." His phone is pulled out of his pocket and a holographic data display is brought up above it. The smartglass table is fed information on… well.. a metal. At least molecularly similar to one anyways, but there's no database recognition anywhere in any chart. "I'm calling it Trinillium. I think it's what Captain America's shield is made of. Completely nontoxic alternative to Palladium."

Now the hard part, "I need a particle accelerator… which I have. I just don't have a strong enough energy source to polarize the element.. Now the good news. You fished an energy booster out of the water after Loki's attack… I need it."

*

Hill can tell this is a dire situation. Tony's getting straight to the point, and looking very serious about the matter. No jokes, no quips, no sarcasm. This..cannot be good.

Her concerns are soon confirmed.

It's a lot of information to digest in a sliver of time but she gets the picture. He's gone to some serious effort to get this far, a new -element- is a big deal in its own right! Her expression remains fairly blank as she reaches out to the desk and manipulates the fresh data currently being processed though a scientific mind is not something she had been blessed with. This is all so very foreign to her.

The part that isn't foreign is the request. The energy booster. Yes, they still have it. Of course they still have it! But…

It's one of the first times she's looked serious without also looking angry. "I'm afraid there's some more bad news on that front. We still have it, on site, and all of its components. I'm not sure exactly what happened when you people found it in the convoy but it's slightly out of commission." In other words: Semi-fubar.

"We can try to get it up and running, though you probably know more about this tech than we're familiar with."

*

Tony doesn't even stand up to flick around on Maria's smartglass table. He just tosses the information over in, while not entirety, at least completeness. He has never been confused with a man who gives up, no matter what any other bad descriptions are used to define him. Quitting just isn't in the Stark family vocabulary. Of course he created an element.

Because nothing else on earth would work.

Then the bad news hits him and he doesn't even try to hide the fact that it's a big monkey wrench.. but not a situation ender. "Let me have what's left. Worst case scenario, I have to build another one, but at least with the design in mind it won't take me as long." His teeth close around the right inside of his cheek. Eyes on Maria.

"I bet the files on me don't say I come asking people for help very often.. In fact, I know they.. because I do not come asking for help very often. In a day or two I'll be laid up in a hospital bed.. a few after that, on machines keeping me alive."

Now he stands up, but only so he can lean against the corner of her desk and stare down at what most scientists would most pointedly say was a pipe dream. Creating an element isn't just unlikely. Many people would say it's impossible. "So how about it, Deputy Director?" Grinning, despite himself, as he looks up at her. "Can I have a hall pass?"

*

It's true, here's a man that really doesn't ask for assistance. Hearing how little time he has left only puts additional pressure on Hill. Fortunately for them both, she can handle it. So far. Normally, of course, the answer would be something akin to 'take a hike and don't come back.' But, she had agreed, and she can tell when the situation really is that dire. Even though Stark isn't on the team proper…

Never leave a man behind.

There's not much of a decision to make which hasn't already been handled. Either it's yes, or she sentences this guy to a most unpleasant death. She's on her feet and ready to move before bothering to say "Let's go." A hall pass from the second in command, lucky him.

She'll lead the way to the nearest elevator, deal with the retinal scanner, then send them descending into the deep dark depths of SHIELD HQ. Not completely unannounced, however. "This is Deputy Director Hill, code yellow on S-12. We're coming for Big Ben."

Rooms will be sealed and secured. Armed detail will be prepped. They'll have a linear path straight to the power amplifier. It's protocol, nothing more.

Turning toward Stark, she says between the two of them "I hope you aren't planning to go about this alone. We're a lot more than what's in our toybox."

*

The answer was a pretty obvious one. Tony had taken a lot of risk coming and directly asking for the device, but it was a calculated one. Nothing he does isn't calculated, he can't afford to live any other way. Almost everything about his entire life is a series of ones and zeroes crunched in a mental computer that is worth its weight in data stores.

As they head through the hallways, Tony keeps pace. Sure he's glancing around and peeking in through the occasional window, but seriously who could blame him? It's like getting to see how Charle makes his ever so delicious chocolate. Now where is that bubble room, amirite?

In the elevator, with all the series of codes, he's grinning and shaking his head while leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, "I can't help thinking how much like a video game we sound sometimes… I don't know if you're into the Mass Effect stuff Bioware puts out…" Sucking his teeth a little and making the OK hand gesture.

"Choice."

Temporary slip aside, the serious expression returns when he's directly addressed. "No offense, Deputy Director. I'm sure you have a lot of smart people working for you, but until one of them can take apart a missile and build an arc reactor with a car battery strapped to their chest, I'm going to have to assume I'm the only person who can do this, right now." Though, his head tilts just a bit.

"Unless you know something you're not sharing? Which I know you do… so it's kind of rhetorical…"

*

"I don't have time for that sort of stuff," Hill replies in a low but level tone, keeping her arms folded together with impatience as she waits for the elevator.

Reaching Sub-level 12, the Triskelion turns from modern office building environment to something more familiar in a fallout shelter. Lots of concrete, no windows, letters and numbers stenciled in thick black paint marking the way, it's a giant covert warehouse mixed together with an artificially lit maze. "Choice isn't something which we have in abundance lately, is it."

Releasing a slow breath, she admits "I'm not a techie mastermind, no. But we can -help.-" At least let them be a part of the process, darnit! It's in their building and using their materials, maybe they can learn a thing or two just by watching him at work! "Sooner or later you're going to need help plugging something in, I just know it."

And that's something which she is qualified to do.

"Hey..you -are- planning on doing this here… Right?" As opposed to trying to take the entire power amplifier all the way out to Stark Tower?

*

Tony bobs his head from side to side and glances around the elevator, "Got to make time for things, Deputy Director." Hands down, crossed in front of him, "Don't ever want to be riding in an elevator hoping that you don't have a heart attack before you can do the impossible and unable to think of the last time you had fun."

With a grin, he glances over her way, "At least I can say with one hundred percent certainty that I most assuredly had fun last night." He wont elaborate, but then he doesn't have to does he? Reputation and all.

The reality might be different, maybe he was up all night in his lab.

Who even knows.

"Well, I didn't bring my particle accelerator with me…" Said, admittedly a little taken aback by the extensive amount of space in the sublevels of the Triskelion, but not so much that he's speechless about it.

After a second he shrugs, "I can fix it here and move it to my workshop? Hell, it might not even work… I'd hate to think I deprived the next generation of SHIELD tech wizards the chance to work with Tony Stark, just once…"

*

"I have some time for what I enjoy," Hill admits. "If I feel the need to shoot something I've got a taxpayer-backed armory and a state of the art range for that sort of thing. But by all means, let's get your ticker back in synch so you can geek out on the couch all you'd like."

Last night, huh. Here she arches a brow and glances sidelong to the Tinker. "I'm happy for you."

Alright, so maybe she doesn't have time for -all- of the things she'd like to do. What's a personal life again?

Oh dear. Yes, he -does- mean to try and haul the amp out of the place. She can see where this is going… "I'm going to have to drop a disclaimer on you here," she starts in while coming to stop in front of one of the secured doors. "Since you -are- about to check out a piece of tech from our library it's also protocol that the object in question remain secure, for obvious reasons. There are some devices around here which we really do not want making it out into the open as so much as a distorted picture on the net. Now, I already know where this is going so I'm going to cut to the chase."

Another eye scan, another door unbolted and moved aside. There, laid out in very thorough detail with every single scrap of hardware, broken or not, labeled, numbered, and described in its entirety, is what remains of Loki's amplifier device.

"I agreed to all of this. Therefore, the Director's going to write it off as my mess. Layman's terms, wherever this thing goes?" she says while thumbing toward the bulk of the damaged machine.

"So do I."

*

Those doors peel open and it might as well be the gates to heaven as far as Tony is concerned. He had no way of knowing that Maria would hold to their bargain and he certainly was second guessing whether they would be trustworthy. Never mind whether they would actually still have the device at all. Government agencies have a tendency towards burying things like this.

Especially if a god wanted it.

His expression, however, remains as steadfastly amused as if someone had just told him American Olympic Gold Medalist Makayla Marooney was there to see him. Even after she drops her counter offer, he just sort of shrugs initially and goes about doing a catalog of his own.

"JARVIS, do a scan and let me know how much work it will need to be operational." His phone emits a soft blue light that goes across each small piece of equipment and catalogs it into a database of their own. Against calculations from the original scan before dropping it into the harbor.

"Extensive damage to the subparticle coolant system. Axium cables are melted. External power coupling assembly damaged."

"Cut the pillow talk and give me some figures." Tony interrupts with a sigh, motioning to his phone with a look at Maria. 'AI right?' written all over his face.

"With materials on hand at Stark Industries the device will be operational in two hours at thirty five percent power output. Well within the necessary parameters for our needs, sir."

To that, Tony click turns to face Maria, "Alright. You have yourself a deal."

*

Oh, it's buried, alright. Though SHIELD never truly gets rid of anything. In the case of this device they weren't done picking it over before it was set to get bundled together and relocated to another secure facility where it would likely never see the light of day again. It's good timing that this is happening now and not a month down the road.

As far as her word goes, it's one of the redeeming qualities of Hill. When she says something, she means it. Whether it's 'you can use the car tonight' or 'surrender or I'm going to disassemble your face on the atomic level.'

It's probably a piece of the coolant system which she's now picking up from the table to look over. Like a small chrome-lined piece of pipe. On its own it looks as harmless as a ballpoint pen. "I recall us having a discussion about trust a while ago, Stark. Looks like you get to put your money where your mouth is." Because damned if -she- knows what any of this junk is for.

The motion is met with a blank look. No, she really doesn't know about AI like he seems to. "Do you two need a moment alone?"

"Only thirty-five percent, and that's enough to amp your accelerator? Oh god, I'm sounding like one of the R and D goons," she mutters while hanging, and lightly shaking, her head. Guh, back to business. "Very well, Stark. The stage is yours." She just has to make another call, reaching up to tap her comm once. "Hill. Prep Big Ben for extraction, ETA two hours. Overwatch accounted for. Get me Simon on a secure line, I've got some pre-trip shopping to do."

If she's security detail, she's -going- to be better armed.

*

Tony winces when Maria handles the primary coolant tubing and reaches out for it like a biologist protecting some long dead cellular structure, "Do you have any idea what this thing does?" He asks her with a sigh. Now using the pipe to scratch his brow as if it were a pencil and not a multi-billion dollar piece of high tech machinery.

While he explains, which is a good way to cover up the fact that JARVIS is probably drooling over what is likely going to be his intellectual counterpart once Tony has reassembled it, he shakes his head and puts things into positions that will be easier to transport it.

"The short version is that it boosts any power source exponentially. So, like if you put a lamp on top of it, it would produce more light… in my case, I'm going to be running about thirty six gigajoules of energy from a twelve by twelve foot arc reactor… through sixty seven high powered focusing lasers into a megawatt electromagnet."

Is it going over her head yet?

"That's enough power to change the molecular structure of one element so that it has a completely different polaris…" Glancing her way, seeing she's having a stockpile of weapons brought rather than, most likely, listening to him. So he just grumbles and shakes his head, "And she wanted me to do this here… I'm surprised they can find the light switch."

"Sir, she can still hear you."

"I'm freakin' serious, JARVIS… have you seen the size of this place?"

*

"Nope," Hill openly admits as she rests her hands upon her hips, looking back to Tony. "Do you?"

"So you're either going to jump-start yourself with one of the most powerful energy beams the planet has ever seen or you're going to find a Delorean to shove down a big enough ramp to hit eighty-eight miles per hour and prove that you don't need a flux capacitor."

Gees, what -is- it with her dealing with cybernetically altered people these days? Or straight-up robots. She's starting to feel like the only person that -isn't- augmented. Well, herself and Barton. Barton would be the equivalent of a cybernetic blue screen of death.

When the requested delivery is made she starts to focus on those components which she -does- understand, where 'high yield' translates into something she can properly appreciate. "You should probably listen to your artificial companion more," she off-handedly suggests while a bulky sidearm hums to life post-palm slap within her hand.

"When you have a large closet you have to develop more efficient sorting procedures. I'm sure you can appreciate that much. You probably sort Iron Man armors like most women sort their shoes."

*

"I get that reference." Tony points to Maria's Delorean jab, "The application of a flux capacitor being used in that way is absolutely ridiculous… and why did they need speed? We're talking about quantum physics here. Truth be told, the source material I think got time travel… well nobody's figured it out even creatively, but the closest.. would probably be Bill and Ted."

All Joking aside, he's glancing at the weapons and shaking his head. "You know what I find mildly amusing?" Tucking parts into little places along the base of the machine. Whether or not they go there, which most of them don't, he's making sure every little part has a location so that nothing is forgotten. "You're bringing handguns to protect something where Iron Man is going to be…"

"And when exactly did you find the time to watch Back to the Future? Be honest… you use tax payer money to put it on the smartglass…" Grinning. "Come on, you can tell me the truth."

*

"Now you're starting to sound like Rogers," Hill warns. "They needed speed because it's Hollywood, and it's eighty-eight because a Delorean couldn't go any faster. In case you haven't noticed, people go to the movies to be entertained. If they signed up for a lesson in quantum physics they wouldn't have the extra twelve bucks to throw toward popcorn." Blink. "Bill and Ted, are you serious..? God help us all."

"Correction," she starts in while holstering a pair of what could well be experimental sidearms. "I'm bringing handguns to protect something where Iron Man is currently out of commission." She's not going to share the part about how, in playing the part of security for this device, she also needs to make sure that it is safe -from- Iron Man. Thus, a couple of energy slingers capable of punching through some very heavy armor. Just in case. She'd rather have it and not need it yadda yadda.

"Let's just jump to the 'Great Scott' and do what needs to be done. I don't know which is going to give out first, your heart or my patience in dealing with your charming personality."

*

"I was trying to share a commonality with you, Deputy Director." Tony motions between them with the flick of his four fingers in a back and forth direction, but ultimately ends up shrugging. He can kind of see the stuff in that crate, some of it might even well be weapons he's designed.

He's also pretty smart and she was adamant about coming along.

"Well, you better hope I'm not out of commission enough for my calculations to be accurate." Still grinning, if only a little, "If I'm off by even a decimal, this thing…" Tapping his finger against the top of the device, "Is going to be producing enough energy to level most of downtown New York."

Boom hands, with his mouth puckering and puffing out with a silent boom. Then he shrugs and goes about finishing packing, "I'm never wrong in my calculations, though." Seriousness returning, even if his grin doesn't go away. It just sort of hangs there on his haggard face, "I just thought you should know, in the interest of trust."

More of that Tony charming personality? "And yes, Bill and Ted. The idea that time is more of a predefined tapestry of events following a very specific sequence. At least as far as any calculations I've ever done… See… if time travel is going to exist, it already exists. Because time exists in a static state. I mean, time would rewrite itself around the traveler. So whatever event that was going to be changed, has already been changed, since you and I already know about it. It would be pretty weird if I was holding up a rock and some guy from three thousand years from now came back and destroyed the rock before I picked it up, right?"

Shrugging, he looks down at the booster, "Or not. I'm not a quantum theorist yet." Pause, "Maybe tomorrow."

*

"You'll understand if my priorities are focused elsewhere at the moment," the DepDir counters. Passing a glance back his way, Hill adds "Correct me if I'm wrong but your 'not dying' is kind of critical at this moment." Sigh. "Yeah - okay, I might have caught a couple minutes here and there on my coffee break."

Oh, fantastic. "That's why you have JARVIS, isn't it? So you don't do something stupid and level half of the country's most populated city? I can go wrangle up a spare egghead if you need someone to check your work," she offers while hooking a thumb back to the hallway.

"I've always believed in that infinite probabilities thing. If that rock was destroyed then it wouldn't rewrite history so much as shift all of the variables around until they coincided with a parallel alternative." Right outta left field, there.

"No boom today, boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. Hopefully not the city."

*

Tony, leaning against the accelerator, shrugs one shoulder and smirks. "Hey, we're waiting on your people to come by and pack us up here… Might as well be social or this is just a weird episode of tales from the crypt."

With cellphone out, Tony regards Maria with his mouth twisting slowly into a frown, "Don't cheapen what I have with JARVIS.." All joking aside, "Well, he does tell me when I'm likely about to explode the city or something equally unpleasant." His thumb brushes across the top of the phone to snap it closed and then it's back in his pocket. "Then again, I'm never wrong in my calculations. So I just ignore him."

Snap pointing, right there. "That's not time travel. That's not even time theory. That's parallel dimensions. Completely different theory." Grinning a bit more, "Also more believable. See, a person would travel within there own time, they would travel within one that was the 'past' to another dimensions time, creating the pathway that was already established. Like I said, nothing can happen in our past that hasn't happened already."

*

Hill looks just slightly surprised here. Or maybe 'concerned' is more appropriate. "You aren't putting it back together -here?-" Sigh. Back to comms she goes. "Hill, update. We're ready to roll -now.-"

"Understood, Ma'am. Sub-hangar four's almost ready for you."

"Copy, sending Big Ben your way." Off comms, she flatly replies "It's nice when they can anticipate my needs." Returning her attention to Stark, she asks "Did that sound condescending? It was more meant to be underlining sarcasm." Then she bows her head slightly toward the man as he pretty well confirms her original question, the AI -does- help keep him informed before he goes thermonuclear in the middle of a metropolis.

Never wrong, him? "Certainly not," she dismisses while walking back to the keypad by the door. It serves another function as she punches in a different code then settles against the wall as the door closes. "You may wish to brace yourself."

Big, heavy objects buried beneath the city need a means of being moved around without too much care. The room itself acts as a contained storage unit, one which is now being unlocked from the foundation so that it can be retrieved and relocated. It's like a giant cargo elevator that learned how to escape vertical travel alone.

"And you don't think that time travel and parallel dimensions share similar ground? Everyone's so quick to compartmentalize everything. Way I see it, there's synergy. Everything works in tandem with everything else. So, are you saying we couldn't go back ten years and mess about with major global events?"

The things people do to pass a little time these days…

*

"I was going to put it together here, but since you're coming along anyways I might as well do it where my tools are?" Tony reasons with a glance at all the various little parts. When she instructs him to brace he does so by holding onto the multi-billion dollar bundle of broken parts like it's the edge of a kid slide.

"I wouldn't say it sounded condescending, so much as they're aware I'm involved and probably realize that I'm a diva?" Shrugging, Tony has absolutely no problem sounding self centered.

"No, I think they are intimately related, I just don't think what we would consider 'time travel' is in essence the same as how it is usually defined. Like I said, if I were to go back in time, it would be an event that has already happened in our own past. Since I do not believe that someone can change our history… contrary to popular belief, I am not so self centered to believe that when I walk away, everyone else stops existing."

He waves his hand a little, finding the conversation as refreshing as… well anything. They're being carried in a giant crane room crate, one that was buried under the HQ of a super secret spy organization. This conversation is small potatoes.

"But I do believe I can travel back in time and affect change to what our future would perceive as different. In reality, we've just moved laterally to another dimension and created the past that that dimensions future already knew. So… I think the study of time travel as an elemental force of change, is the exact same as extradimensional travel."

*

"Well I guess we're all just following -your- lead right now, seeing as you're the one about to die and potentially single-handedly cause the biggest disaster of the century," Hill's quick to snipe back with. She might be a tad bit nervous about the whole situation. Nervous makes her grumpy. Really, just about everything makes her grumpy.

Hearing the whole story on chronological displacement laid out renews her slight frown, though in the end all she can do is nod. "You know what, I think we're approaching the same page from opposite directions. I'm also thinking that I should update my profile as I actually understood the majority of what you just said."

With one final lurch and the heavy clacking report of stationary locks being set a light beside the door decides that it's time to illuminate itself, prompting her to give the controls a light open-handed slap to open the door. Sure enough, there's the hangar. There's a jet parked not six feet away with the cargo ramp lowered and uniformed personnel waiting to get the power amplifier loaded.

"Our chariot awaits." Another glance back to Stark has her pausing for a second. "Are you going to be able to let go of the device long enough for them to get it loaded? You two can have some quality alone time once we're sitting comfy at your place."

*

"Kind of like alternate dimensions…." Tony reasons, grinning sardonically as he looks over to Maria. "Never mind, I think that ship has sailed." Since they are just now clinking down in front of the transport that will ultimately take them back to Stark Tower and the waiting arms of one of the most high tech workshops in the country.

Tony separates himself from the accelerator and waves for the Agents to take it away, "As you were gentlemen." Then he's rubbing at his chest and doing a fine job of hiding the fact that his reactor just fluttered a bit. She's already nervous, might as well not reminder that he's two or three steps shy of dying right in the middle of their little science project. Certainly wouldn't be good for morale.

-A FEW HOURS LATER!-

The box was moved to the lab from the landing ramp built into the side of the Tower that leads right into his penthouse suite, then transferred down into his workshop. Tony adjourns just long enough to change into a pair of sweat pants, t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops, then he returns to regard their handy work with a little puckery frown.

All around the area tubing has been run. At each junction, there's little windows built into the titanium tubing so that the directional mirrors are visible and power cables have been strung up right into the junction boxes in the wall. Dummy, is already snooping at the newest piece of equipment… "Stay away from that. You remember the last time you accidentally broke my blender? Well that could tear a ho- I don't have time to explain it to you. Back away slowly or I'll tear you down for spare parts…" The assistant arm lowers its head with a little whine.

"Sorry, good help is hard to build." Side long glance at Maria. "JARVIS, bring the building to a orange alert. I don't think it will be necessary, but if something goes wrong I'd rather everyone was already in position to evacuate."

*

It's one thing to see pictures of the Stark Tower and another to set foot into it. Hill could feel slightly out of place in dress alone, though the sweats and sandals look that Tony starts rocking shortly after their arrival just as easily places him within the other side of the 'does not fit' spectrum. After their recent side conversation, it's a cute analogy in her mind.

With arms folded together, the Deputy Director slowly takes in the full sight of the workshop as she points out "Pretending to be out of your mind doesn't seem like much of a stretch." Yeah..definitely a good thing that they're on positive terms rather than at odds. He may only be one man compared to an entire Division, buuut… Everyone stands to gain here, right?

Everyone except Dummy, the robotic arm which quickly earns one of Hill's Death Glares. 'Mess with my amplifier and I'll turn you into slag, you malfunctioning heap of hydraulics.'

"Tell me about it," she mutters. Why is it that Evelyn is what immediately comes to mind..? Now there's a damn expensive science project on the Division's payroll. With the orange alert she looks back to Stark, asking "Are we going to have -time- to evacuate if you botch something?"

If keeping an eye over the proceedings hadn't been her main priority before, it sure is now. She would have already told NYPD to section off the entire area if she thought it would make a difference.

*

Tony jumps right to work because time isn't something he's got in great supply these days. Pulling the small bits of tubing and wire that he carefully tucked away in the curves and crannies of the accelerator to lay them back out in a very precise order that will make finding them easier by leaps and bounds. Whatever anyone might say about him personally, the workshop is meticulous. Everything is in a very specific place. If it weren't for the makeshift particle accelerator running around the open space like a titanium snake… it would be absolutely spotless.

Dummy pushes one of the tool chests closer to the inventor, possibly hoping to get back in Tony's good graces and earns only a squinty eyed stare and a quiet… "That's a start.." Muttered as he grabs one of the soldering torches and a pair of goggles to slip over his eyes. Busy at reassembling the accelerator while JARVIS brings up a schematic in digital wireframe to follow in putting the thing back together.

It's a partnership down here in the workshop. Tony provides the man-power and the technological understanding, JARVIS gives him the particulars to keep the man's mind free for alternatives or changes. It works.

"Well…" While reattaching the tubing to the main coolant system, "No, probably not. I wouldn't have said anything at all if I didn't think you would feel better. You're really taking this whole 'blow up New York' thing entirely too seriously." Glancing her way, "I don't make calculation mistakes… and it's not like I put this plan together overnight…" He did. He really did.

*

Aren't bad guys usually a bit OCD in their operations, too? There's such a fine line between genius and insanity. Hill's current trick is to keep a close eye on everything without getting in the way, or messing with anything in here, or generally doing anything at all to hinder progress. As far as jobs go, it kinda stinks. Having nervous energy and nowhere to go with it never helps anything.

Well, watching as closely as she can without having eye protection when the torch comes into play. She won't look quite so intently during these parts.

"-Someone- has to take it seriously," she promptly counters. "Not only are there a hell of a lot of lives at stake, -it's my job- to take things seriously. For everyone's sake I hope that you're right."

Darnit. She -also- would have had some medical specialists on hand if she thought they would have been of any use. She knows how these things play out, they try to do their jobs and they get in the way of what needs to get done. It's down to just the two, all cards on the table. She may have made several very foolish mistakes, already. Then again, if they fail here that's extra living agents to help piece the city back together.

"I don't think you understand what kind of risks I'm taking for you today," she states in a somewhat less intense tone. There's no note of regret, merely observation. "Make this work, Stark."

*

With the coolant system reconnected, Tony slides his stool over to hook the device to an external power supply that he had brought in specifically to run the accelerator. "I built a high powered arc reactor in a cave using spare parts, a mac computer, and a couple craft torches." He's only bragging a 'little', "I'm pretty sure I've got this."

He's also lined the entire workshop in some of the strongest anti-radiation materials known to man and the structure of the Tower is designed specifically to accommodate the intricacies of what he does for a living: Most of which has the very real possibility of rendering the population of a small area to zero. Up til a few years ago, he designed and produced weapons in this workshop.

To be fair, none of them used particle accelerators, but still…

"JARVIS, two percent power to the accelerator, I want to make sure the coolant system is functioning at each junction." The machine hums quietly as power is run. It is by no stretch ready to actually boost any power, but the coolant system does kick on with a hiss. Tony rolls back over to make small corrections to the line now that he can see where the problems actually exist.

"It will work. It has to work. This isn't a science fair project… If it fails, never mind New York, I'm going to die. I don't have room to goof off here. I'm just messing with you about it… because there's always room for teasing."

*

"You're grossly underestimating what it is I'm doing here." Tony says in a partially distracted tone of voice as he attaches a few wires, replacing the burnt out set of cables with some he fishes out of one of the tool-chest drawers. "I've never built a power accelerator before. I've only theorized one…" Pointing at the wiring matrix, the network of blackened connection wires that snake into the interior of the device. "I really am MacGuyvering here. Could you pass me that paper clip?" Jutting his chin out towards the desk.

Then turning back to his work. Dummy has grabbed hole of a piece of wiring and moved it into a position near the small connection, "Hold it still…" Said to the assistant hydraulic arm as he applies the smallest bit of soldering to connect it. "Good work. Now back away slowly…"

"JARVIS, bring the power up to twenty five percent." That's quite a jump. He need not say another word, the machine does all the talking for him. It sounds mildly like someone kick starting a motorcycle that has a loose chain and there's a metal on metal grinding somewhere. "Ah ha!"

Tony leans in and turns on the lamp he's wearing like a stretchy headband. "Turn it off before the Deputy Director has a heart attack.. I found the problem." For everyone's benefit, he doesn't explain it.

Rather, he just goes about fixing it. Though not without some banter, "Sure, but even at two percent increasing, those jumper cables would have enough energy to set me on fire… actually, stay away from the jumper cables."

*

A paper clip? Serious? He can't be seriou- he's serious. Whether it's going into the machine or he's going to use it for something menial like keeping a couple of wires out of the way has yet to be seen, though Hill does deliver the clip in question. "Your ability to inspire confidence is destined to become a matter of legend," she bitterly replies.

One paper clip to rule them all.

"Next time we take away one of Loki's toys I'll be sure to ask him for the instruction manual, it loses its collector value if the two aren't kept together."

The jump in percentage isn't lost to the DepDir, either. "That's kind of a significant leap, Stark. Are you sure that's a good-Oh, hell!" Judging by the way she's about to dive for cover and shield her head with her arms, a heart attack isn't out of the question. "Well thank God for that!" (Walk it off, Hill…)

Stay away from the cables. "No wonder you're single, you won't let anyone else have fun. If you need me I'll be over here glaring and grinding my teeth to dust. It's not as easy as it sounds. There may even be a nervous breakdown or two for good measure." (God, how does Barton manage to sit still for so long?)

*

Tony turns enough to accept the paper clip and hoists it in thanks like it's a pint of the finest on tap. Then slides it into his teeth to chew as most people would a toothpick. Something to keep his mouth busy, something other than talking. (You're all welcome).

"I was pretty sure I'm single because I can't ever decide on a single individual to settle down with. Why have one when you can have all of them? Amirite?" Glance back, rolling the paper clip from one side of his mouth to the other, "I'm probably misjudging my audience."

So he goes back to work. Whatever it is he's reconnecting takes about thirty minutes, give or take. Then he tries to start it again and spends another hour fixing the next link in the chain. There's probably a safer way to go about this, but even to someone who doesn't know technology the way Stark does… his way is faster. A lot faster.

He's done in a little over an hour and a half what it would take a team of usual techies several days. With all their safety measures and double and triple redundancies. "You know, this is what separates me from everyone else? I'm really as good as I brag about being."

"Of course you are sir, you're the Issac Newton of stumbling through a project blindly." JARVIS is quick to helpfully intone.

"Maybe, but I'm also finished. Bring this baby to life, huh? Forty two percent…" Which is a full twelve over what he said it would work. Clearly there hasn't been enough near misses.

The machine growls once and vibrates like someone tossed a wrench in the middle of a engine, then it goes quiet. One of the computers across the room whistles, flashes bright enough to illuminate the entire workshop in a ghostly blue-green glow, then dies when the circuit breaker pops.

*

Great, instead Hill's supporting nothing more than a bad habit. Go, her. "Thank you for making me feel like a part of this."

With the 'amirite?' she stares at the man for a nice long moment. "You think? Focus, Stark. There'll be plenty of time to talk about poor social interactions later." (And with someone more qualified.)

Thirty minutes is a long time to sit, watch, and try not to be a spaz. Somewhere along the way she ditches the gloves, perhaps giving nail biting some serious consideration. Then add another hour on top of that… She leans, she stands, she paces, she leans some more, she takes a couple of calls in less than pleased fashion, she tells people she's not in the Triskelion so if they would kindly back the heck off, she turns her comm unit off, she goes back to pacing.

The stoic wit from JARVIS very nearly has her laughing where she ends up standing, though that may be in part due to needing to let go of all of that nervous energy. "Did you program the sarcasm? That's one decision I can agree with. Once this is all over with maybe I can get you to build me a portable one of those so I can save my breath." Just let the AI snark everyone for her. Think of how much more time she could dedicate to coffee consumption!

"Didn't you tell me thirty-five percent before?" she inquires, not missing something as significant as the numbers.

There's the wind-up, and the pitch. And the lights.

In the darkness that follows the only sound to be heard is Maria Hill slowly clapping.

*

"No, I didn't program the wit…" Tony says into the darkness, JARVIS already working on getting the lights back on by redirecting power through the more secure lines dedicated to high power production necessary for the workshop. "It was organic. JARVIS isn't a robot."

Even in the dark, Tony seems to navigate his workshop with *BANG* "OH christ! What the hel-" *BANG* "What the he- oh right, the tubing. JARVIS, get the lights back on before I ca-.."

They come back on with a hum, the power running through the lines enhanced by forty five percent nearly buckles the entire grid… but clearly the inventor has considered that the second time around. He's also been bumping into the very tubing that makes up the snaking particle accelerator.

"Alright…" Taking a breath and getting relatively serious, he walks over to a stand designed specifically for holding the newly designed arc reactor housing in a tripod like set of fingers. Inside there's a length of millimeter thin metal suspended by what looks like springs. "I'm going to start the accelerator. Once this process starts, it has to run the full extent of the energy dedicated to it…"

He runs a finger along the tubes, "These are super cooled magnets. If for whatever reason I cut this thing off early, the magnets will turn off and the accelerated light is going to cut through everything its path.. or worse, create a gravitonic field through one of the magnets that has the potential to pull everything metallic in a quarter mile radius -here-." To indicate, he makes a very small point with two fingers (thumb and index finger) together in front of him.

"My point is… no take backs.. Once I turn this on, we're in it til the end…" Eyeing Maria, possibly offering her the very last 'never mind' she's like to get.

Tony glances around himself, far more observant than he's outwardly presenting about the quiet hum of his building's power network. He really is a genius, even if he acts about as intelligent as a basketball player on occasion. It's a game, it disarms people… it makes him giggle inside. Truth be told, he's probably more concerned than Maria, if that's even possible.

Never mind that if he's wrong he's going to die, but so will a couple thousand people. So will everything that is his rebuilt reputation (fragile as it may be), so will everything. There's a lot riding on this thing not destroying New York.

"Basically, I'm going to start sending a beam of light from the far end over there." Pointing to the furthest point away from the main focusing mirror where he's standing. "The booster is going to enhance the power by forty five percent, as well as strengthen the power of the electromagnets and the cooling system inside these tubes." Tracing the path through the air. "Each one of these junctions is a focusing mirror that's going to condense the light into a tighter beam until it hits this point."

He slaps his hand down on the only adjustable junction. "I'm going to point the beam at that…" The reactor held out across the room. "If my calculations are correct, the beam will have enough energy to change the molecular structure of the two metals, fusing them together, and energizing them. Effectively I'm going to reverse the protonic charge between them and infuse them with about eight thousand electrons, turning this new metal into a super conductor element capable of redirecting an electric charge without breaking down."

Looking over to Maria, shrugging, "It's not too late to call someone to come pick you up?"

*

The process is explained in full, which means Hill is listening. Intently. Point to her, she actually understands what's being said. Maybe not the process behind it, the 'how's' and 'why's' and possibly even the 'what's,' but the concept itself isn't too alien to her. She's already familiar with using high explosives in order to fuse together two types of metal which normally cannot be combined. This approach switches out explosives (hopefully!) with a seriously ramped up particle accelerator. Simple.

She's going to quit while she's ahead. It's the only safe course of action.

"If any part of this is going to go critical then I'd be doing myself a favor by standing at ground zero," she explains in a tone which clearly shows just how -thrilled- she is about the whole ordeal. "If I go back and hide in the cellar and this does anything resembling significant damage? I'd sooner take an early dirt nap than face what will be waiting for me. Now we've gotten this far so if you're serious about doing this and you're confident in your build then quit wasting time and flip the damn switch."

In the meantime she'll keep the praying to herself.

*

Tony starts to explain that if she's at ground zero there is a very real chance that their discussion earlier about time and dimensional travel could become a reality, but he figures that may be a bit too far. Likely they'll just be atomized anyways.

No reason to make things too weird.

"JARVIS, start sending power to the laser and cooling magnets." A second pair of goggles is removed from the drawer and tossed over towards Maria, while his own are pulled down over his eyes. "It's about to get very bright in here."

It doesn't even take very long. With the accelerator enhancing the wattage of the light being produced a bright white glow starts to emanate from the tube where it connects to the original source. "Increase it to thirty five gigajoules."

Tony watches as the light intensifies, then starts moving through the tubing at a dismally slow pace as the magnets pull it along, bits of frost coming up from the lengths of metal between each of the junction points as they super cool within the housing.

The inventor ducks beneath the tubing and grabs a wrench to close in around the directional wheel atop the junction where they're standing and nods to the space behind him. "You probably don't want to be in front of that beam, DeeDee."

*

Oh hey! Finally Hill gets some goggles of her own! "Why does this feel like something that would end up on the SyFy channel…" she grumbles while getting the lenses positioned. "Oh wait, this is Stark I'm talking about. It'd have a better budget. So, you're -not- expecting another fuse to go," she adds with only a little hesitation.

First, there was darkness, and Stark said 'oops.' Then, there was light… It's impressive, though not nearly as impressive as it would be if she could fully grasp what's happening all around the two. "This place needs more 'oh crap' handles in readily accessible locations." Because she's starting to get the feeling that this device is going to knock her right off of her feet. Kinda like getting flicked by the Hulk.

Oh, and apparently she's standing right in the crosshairs. "What-?" Hell! Ever see a DepDir jump? Now's your chance! As soon as the warning is understood she backs out of there in a New York Second, looking for something solid enough which she can then brace herself against. Hopefully it's out of the way, too.

"You could have told me about that -before- powering it up!"

Here we go. Either the dawning of a new element or the crippling blow of a nation. Exciting, isn't it?

*

"I fully expect those guys from Mythbusters to be knocking at my door any day now." Tony states while watching the light travel through the tubing on its slow progression towards his main focusing mirror.

At each junction the little window shows a beam of light that doesn't look terribly unlike the proton packs from Ghostbusters, but with each one it passes it grows increasingly tighter. Until it is one away from where Tony is standing with the wrench in place to move the focus laser into place. When the beam is visible there it's barely visible at all. The beam itself is so tight that it's more like a string of golden hair being extended out between two points.

By this point, the magnets have directed it through several beams creating a cascading effect that one could track as light seamlessly foils through the snake situated around his workplace.

Until it hits the final mirror.

The beam isn't nearly as small once it escapes the cooled confines of the accelerator and hits open air, but it's not like he's trying to direct a unibeam across the surface of a piece of paper either… He turns the prismatic mirror until it is centered on the twin pair of metals, grunting with the effort of twisting the huge wrench.

When it hits there's a flash of energy bright enough to take out any unshielded eyes instantly and leave them irreversibly blind.. A glow that continues like all the definitions of a nuclear reaction taking place only about twenty five feet away from them. Heat is literally radiating off the laser and the super heated metals like it's generating a volcano right in the center of the room. That everything has been cleared from that place, the place where she picked up the paper clip… one might note… that could be heated until it melted or combusted is an exercise in forethought.

"Twenty two more seconds…" He shouts and is only barely audible. It doesn't sound loud, until he tries to speak… then it's like sound itself is being sucked into the machine.

*

"Let's quietly ignore their 'failure is always an option' mantra for now."

There's beauty inherent to everything in the universe, if one knows to recognize it when they see it. Creation, transformation, annihilation, like a bolt of lightning even the most shocking of occurrences can be some of the most spectacular. Watching that impossibly thin beam of light dart across the room counts as one of these moments to Hill, it's the sort of feeling that might have come about when the first atomic reaction had been tested. In short, that dawning moment of 'holy crap.'

Despite the power and risk of catastrophe at play, it is a thing of beauty. For that short span of time which she's able to witness it. Following it is the blinding light, making such small details impossible to witness.

This is just ..what, molecular fusion? at play. Two inert substances being welded together. It is not a bomb, it is not going to explode… The device creating the power, -that's- the bomb waiting to explode.

"This is turning out to be one hell of a pacemaker!"

There's plenty of squawking happening over her comm. She just can't hear a word of it. It's forgotten, not worth her attention. Not -now.- Now is 'holding on and not dying' time. Twenty two seconds is going to feel like a heck of a lot more than twenty two seconds.

Thank God the paper clip is safe.

*

It's funny how impossibly catastrophic something as tiny as a paper clip could be into an equation like this. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that he left it there on the table. Let's say that the beam passing within a few feet of it change its molecular structure not terribly unlike it is currently doing with the two pieces of needle thin metals. Let's say that in so doing it that it gained the atomic weight of uranium.

Let's say that it was now enclosed in a lead shield casing designed to contain the raw radiation that would explode out from that atomic paper clip like a warhead.

All of Tony's calculations involved the precise molecular weight of Vibranium and Titanium. The reaction within the particle accelerator was calculated specifically to the purpose of changing their structure to a very specific atomic weight with a precise set of electrons balanced against the other's precise neutrons. It was a detailed, long, oft boring to the casual observer, problem…

None of it included calculations for a paper clip.

Whether she realizes it or not, Maria saved New York by handing him that paper clip. She was integral in the protection of hundreds of thousands of people.

Also she kept him from yammering on, quite, as much.

Twenty three seconds later, the machine turns off of it's own accord. The last of the beam hits the two metals now fused into a single element and Tony stares at it expectantly.

There's a very unpleasant 'yaaa.. yaaaa.. yaaaaaaaaa' sound coming from the original light construct. Then it lets off wisps of smoke.

Thankfully Dummy is there to spray it the hell down with a fire extinguisher.

*

Oh, if only Maria knew any of this… Knew it, and believed it. How could one tiny piece of plated metal explode so violently? It's a good thing she's not leading the science branch of the Division, atomic structures don't enjoy being bossed around quite so much.

What she -does- know is that, in less than half a minute, they're both still alive. The building's still standing. New York City is still in one piece. And something is burning.

Dummy takes an extinguisher to the problem, and yet… That's not their only problem. There's a strong scent of ozone in the air, and-

"The amplifier!"

Hill yanks the goggles off of her head and looks for another extinguisher. She'll take the one from Dummy if she has to. (It's safe now, right? The plates are all fused together and happy?) Now the problem is 'Big Ben,' Loki's destructive little gizmo. It's fried, well and truly. A previously unseen fail-safe the God of Chaos had implemented well before it had ever fallen into SHIELD's hands. Maybe it won't burn down the tower, or even singe the floor, but here's one fancy piece of peculiar technology which is never going to aid another experiment.

"God..-Dammit!- It wasn't even operating at half capacity, how could it-!" Deep breath… Turning to Stark, she asks "Did you know this would happen?" At least she's not flat-out accusing him of toasting their confiscated device.

*

Tony has forgotten about the amplifier and the particle accelerator. He's ducked beneath the tubing and yanked his own goggles off to head over to his newly created element to give it a critical once-overing. He designed it right into the housing bracket for his new arc reactor and did this so he would never have to actually handle a potentially dangerous element directly.

JARVIS is already doing calculations. "Sir, this is a resounding, immeasurable success." The very idea that he's just created an element is beyond anything the scientific community has ever dreamed of… Now Tony is just slack jawed staring at it while his back is turned.

Then Maria is cussing and he turns to point over his shoulder at the glowing piece of Trinillium, … but she's busy. Busy with SHIELDs little toy. "Uh… yeah? Maybe… I mean I figured it might happen. Do you know how much seventy gigajoules of energy is?" As if everyone should, dipping his head to one side towards the new reactor. Subtly directing her to compliment him.

"Aside from creating a nuclear reaction capable of destroying the world, what in the name of 'EUREKA' would you possibly need that thing for?" Pause, "Oh and creating a new element. I clearly didn't destroy the world…"

"Should I not even bother asking for a consultant fee for destroying the booster?" Licking his lips… "Kidding."

*

There's now two important points for Hill to cover. The one..is up in smoke. It can wait a few minutes. The other is a dying man. As much as she'd like to focus on -her- problem, right now it needs to wait. So, Stark once more gets her undivided attention. "It worked, then? This is what you need, it can save your life?" New element and all, she'll venture closer to get a better look at it. As with most raw elements, in its basic form it may not be a whole lot to look at. Unprocessed radioactive elements are actually pretty boring.

"We could have done a lot with the power amp. Helicarriers don't fly free of charge, you know. We also could have learned more about it so that we'd be better prepared to stop Loki the next time he tries something like this, which he probably will. That aside, I checked it out of safe SHIELD containment because you came up to me and asked to borrow it. Now I cannot simply return it. It's broke. Fried. And I'm likely going to get an earful for a solid thirty minutes on my 'irrational and impulsive decision making,' so..tell me..that we just saved your life, because that would give me something useful to come home with."

*

Tony cants his head, "Please tell me your Helicarriers aren't still running on fossil fuels?" Shaking his head, "Never mind the environment, why wouldn't you just come to me and ask me to upgrade your propulsion technology? You realize this is… like.." Waving around at the workshop, "What I do, right?"

That aside, he sighs softly, "I'm sorry, but no. It probably isn't going to save my life." Quirking his mouth at one side, "I mean, I'm not going to die from Palladium poisoning, but eventually age is going to take me as it does all things… I'll get right to work on making myself immortal, though. I really don't want you to get in trouble for borrowing a broken machine that none of your techies could have fixed…" On the plus side? "It's not more broke. I mean, can a person be more dead? No, no they can't. Believe me on this, I did a lot of research on anatomy…" Tapping his heart.

"So… yeah. I guess, for the time being, I'm okay? I mean, I still have about two days of work on the reactor itself, but…" Shrugging, "I'm out of the woods. Tell your bosses that I'll be piloting my suit around saving the world in no time."

*

Hmmh. Well, if it's going to be so easy as up and asking the guy to help them come up with a better means of propulsion then Hill's not about to complain. Too much. It's a point of interest to address at a later date, once he's stable and all.

In the meantime she's still got plenty of complaint material left to work with where he's is concerned. She'll start with the ever classic eye-roll. "Keep it up and you won't have to worry about age for much longer," she warns. Then coming to the tech division's defense, "And just because you had it slapped back together in ninety minutes doesn't mean that they -couldn't.- Their way probably wouldn't have left it half melted."

The city's safe..! Stark's got a solid extension of his life expectancy. The only unknown left to deal with is whether she's still going to have her job come tomorrow. Juuust breathe… One step at a time.

"Right," she grumbles. "Are you stable enough to keep doing what you have to here or do you need someone around to hold your hand?" It's immediately followed with hesitation on her part, turning to look off to one side with a quick sigh. She's not one to apologize or she just might have after her last question. She should probably try this over.

"If my part is done then I'll call a team in and we'll clear the amp out."

*

Well that's just ludicrous! Tony glances at the machine, then back to Maria, "Your tech people would have put that back together? You're sure? Because half the equipment I used is about twenty years ahead of…" He shakes his head and throws his hands up in the air, "Yes, I'm sure they would have totally fixed it."

He does not believe that. Not for a second. If they're still working with wind turbine propulsion technology for their Helicarriers, he's not buying that they could rebuild a hypothetical power amplifier. No sense dragging this into a fight though!

They should be celebrating. And there she is offering to hold his hand.

With a grin, the billionaire looks like he's about to say something that is probably classic Tony and absurdly crass, "I think I'll be alright. How about this…" Turning to one of the computers that weren't destroyed, Tony brings up JARVIS' scans of the device before it was dropped into the bay and puts them on a thumb drive, which he then hands over to Maria. "That's everything I had on it. Maybe your guys and gals can do something with it."

"If I can help… make an appointment." Pause. "Kidding, jeez…"

Apparently he's about as bad at saying thank you as she is at apologizing. Hopefully this is a middle ground for both of them.

*

If saying something which she didn't mean to is the only mistake Hill makes today then she'll be getting off light. Still, the damage is done. This is a monumental moment, and in classic Hill fashion she's raining all over the parade. This time without meaning to. Maybe the techs could have fixed it, maybe not. She wouldn't know enough to accurately make the call. She's just ..being over-protective.

For a time she doesn't say anything. Silence is probably for the best, up until the thumb drive is offered over. First taking the white gloves in one hand she then accepts the drive in the other, though she doesn't swipe it out of his grasp. It's the moment of contact when she offers a "Congratulations, Stark. Glad I could be here for this. If you need anything else, you know where to find me."

It's times like this why long evenings spent drinking alone have become popular. Maybe he could invent some compassion which is compatible with her system.

"Good luck with your upcoming open heart surgery."

*

Tony is pretty good at maintaining awkward silences. They just sort of come with the business of being Tony Stark, so he's not at all out of place when it comes to those moments that ultimately paint a person into the 'lonely drinker' light.

His expression remains outwardly bright despite it. Smiling to himself, where the party is raging no doubt, over his successful accomplishment of the impossible. Seriously, he should be use to this…

"Thanks." Said with a genuine nod and a glance over to the bare-bones skeleton of his new reactor. "I will. I think I'm good for now. Going to run it through a couple tests, then put it in its new housing and pop'er on into my chest for the human variable stress tests." The FDA would be furious.

Thankfully he does not have to talk to them about anything he does here. Hurrah.


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