A Stark Family Reunion

November 12, 2014: Howard and Tony Stark reunite. It goes about as well as you'd expect.

The Triskelion

The Headquarters, Armory and Fortress of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics division is, for the most part, an unassailable tower in the midst of the diplomatic sprawl that is Midtown East. The primary intelligence clearing houses and most of SHIELD's senior leadership are all housed here, along with a veritable army of agents and staff to keep the place running, the world spinning and the weirdness at bay.



Mood Music:

Howard Stark has been very cooperative. He understands why SHIELD considers him a potential security risk. And anyway, they've made him relatively comfortable. They've even given him some proper clothes to wear. Black slacks, white shirt. No tie, though. He feels a bit naked without one.

He's currently housed in a secure lab. SHIELD gave him an internet connection, and he's spent the last several hours trying his best to get up to speed with the world outside. He's also tried to sneak in to SHIELD files, which…probably won't help with the trust thing. But you don't give a man like Howard a tool and expect him not to use it.

Since Tony never comes to the Triskelion, this cannot be considered a routine visit. Further, the fact that 'his father' is being held in the building has him ready to go on a rampage. His father who is suppose to be dead. When Tony received the news, he spent a good day ignoring the fact. Told them he was too busy for it and went back to whatever project he'd been working on.
By day two people were probably getting a little concerned. Was he really 'disinterested' in the rebirth of his long dead dad?
It was day three before anyone saw him again for longer than it took to get something to eat or pass on a bit of information that was absolutely vital. Wearing one of his trademark low cut suits and clean shaven he made his way to the medical wing of Stark Tower and rounded up Wilson.

"No, don't tell Pepper." He'd said because that is OBVIOUSLY the first question anyone would ask. "I need to do this on my own."
Now they're on the way over, pulling up in front of the unassuming building that is actually a fortress. Tony sitting in the back of his car, tugging at his bottom lip, not having said another word the entire trip over.


Sam Wilson stops tapping his fingers restlessly on the seat next to his leg. He's never played his feelings close to his chest, and the tension is making him nervous. "We're here," he informs Tony, as though that's not obvious. After a pause, he adds, "I know this is weird for you, but… it's a really amazing machine. I've never seen anything like it." He's hoping that depersonalizing Howard might help Tony relax a little. "The tech, at least, is going to blow your mind."


Meanwhile, Howard has no warning that he's about to have a family reunion. He does have Tony on his mind, however. The dual monitors he's working on are covered in articles about his son, or the state of Stark Industries. It's a lot to absorb.


It's a good two minutes before Tony looks away from the window and over at Falcon. No smile, just a nod of acknowledgement and the billionaire crawls out of the backseat and starts towards the entrance of SHIELD HQ. Anyone who thought that he'd have a problem getting it is probably surprised to find that he actually has clearance…

It isn't top level, but even the spy organization probably knows better than to get in the way of this reunion. They're already tap dancing on thin ice keeping his 'father' here in the first place.

Hands in his pocket, Tony is escorted, along with Falcon, to the wing of the building where they're keeping Howard and stops short when he can make out the man through one of the windows. "I can't do this." Turning on his heels instantly, panic in his voice.


"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Sam objects, deftly stepping between Tony and the exit with his hands held up in front of him. He was kind of expecting the billionaire to bolt. "Yes, you can do this. It's weird and it's hard and it's scary, but at the end of the day, that's just a really awesome robot. He's not someone you have to impress or live up to or anything. It's like a time capsule or something." He reaches out to clap one hand on Tony's shoulder. "Besides, you're Tony Fucking Stark. You've been showing up your old man for decades now. You're up to this."


Howard catches movement out of the corner of his eye. He looks up and over his shoulder towards the window, but Tony has already backed out of view. He watches for a moment before returning to browsing. The internet is amazing.


How much of Tony's image is bravado? How much of who he is to the public eye is a construct to hide the fact that he feels inferior to the 'man' in that room? His fingers slide back through his hair when Sam steps in the way of his retreat and turns just enough that he can see the room where Howard is browsing the internet like something out of a movie.
It isn't even the man he remembers. His Father was older the last time Tony had seen him and this was a young man, younger than Tony is now even.

"That's easy for you to say…" Presumably to Wilson, but some of the bravado is coming back now. A smirk forming at one corner of his mouth as he heads into the room to face… his father.

Arguably the most terrifying enemy he's ever met.

"Leave it to my dad to find porn within hours of coming back from the dead…" Pushing into the room like he owns the place. "So, they tell me you're some sort of modern miracle to engineering… You're gonna have to forgive me if I call bullshit until I've taken you apart and seen it for myself."


Sam follows Tony into the room, stopping next to him and a pace behind as he launches into one of the least conventional openings to a family reunion in history. Then again, the reunion itself isn't exactly conventional, is it? He glances sidelong at Stark the younger, then gives Howard an apologetic glance. "Tony, this is your dad's robot duplicate. Howard, Tony."


It's a good tactic. Start the interaction with something unexpected, and it throws the other party off their footing. It works. Howard stands slowly, slipping off the stool. He uses the edge of the table to support, as he turns. He's got pictures of Tony up on his monitor, but that's not quite the same of seeing his flesh and blood, well, in the flesh.

"I'm not actually a duplicate, in point of fact," he drawls. Tony would recognize that tone of voice. It's the Teaching Tone. "My body is a duplicate, but my consciousness is the original. With a few holes, but not even /my/ prototypes work on the first go. Hello, son."


"Don't call me that." Tony says flatly, almost pointedly. With way more venom than he intended, "You don't get to call me that…" Bravado who? Even Stark.. the older-younger Stark rather… isn't immune to revelatory inconvenience of staring at a man who, by all accounts, is dead.

When has that ever stopped a Stark, though? Honestly, this shouldn't surprise anyone. Tony has been doing it for years now.
"You're not the first body life duplicate I've seen. Someone tried to infiltrate my company by replacing the top levels of security. How do I know you're not another one? Just another clever attempt to knock me off my game and get me second guessing…" Flicking his hands around expressively. It's unlikely anyone has ever seen Tony Stark this worked up… even when he was dying, he handled it like it was just a walk in the park.


"I think that's what SHIELD has been trying to figure out here," Sam says, not exactly interposing himself between the Starks, but certainly trying to defuse the situation. He glances at Howard, then continues, "But we already know he's a robot. He's not trying to fool anybody about that." He doesn't seem to take nearly as much interest in the semantics of Howard's existence than he does in Tony's state of mind, but he's at least trying to smooth things over on both sides.


Howard lifts his eyebrows and shrugs. "I suppose it is possible that I'm just an elaborate, /elaborate/ ruse to throw you off." He looks back to the monitors, then over to his son. "You're certainly high-profile enough to warrant that kind of attack. I'm sure there are other ways to do it that aren't quite so convoluted, or hard to swallow."

He nods towards Falcon. "You should listen to your friend, here." He straightens himself up and stands in front of Tony. "SHIELD has my brain map on file. It matches the neural activity present in my LMD brain. I will be able to tell you things that only Howard Stark would know. But…none of that will mean anything to you if you don't want to believe it's me." His tone softens a bit on the end of that. He lifts his chin. "I'd be skeptical in your shoes. I don't blame you. But tell me. How did you find me? Miss Potts. She found my diaries, didn't she? If this is a ruse, it's a ruse that started more than twenty years ago, back before you were a threat to anyone."


Tony's hand closes around the cellphone in his pocket. A conscious link to something he can control, something that can give him a little strength to face a challenge he's tried for three to days to prepare himself for. Didn't work, though. No way was it going to work, he'd known that.

So now, instead of sitting back being a passenger, Tony decides he'll take control of the bus. The phone comes out of his pocket and is slid open with a flick of his thumb, "JARVIS, biometric scans against Stark systems computers for Howard Stark."

No sooner does he request it that the blue light envelopes Howard to get a full systems scan of his young father. "Sir." The AI begins, Tony never taking his eyes off the other Stark, "Synthetic fiber weave, advanced cybernetic augmented bone structur-"

"I don't need an anatomy lesson, JARVIS… brain waves."

"Sir, they are a one hundred percent match to Howard Stark." How can an AI sound… sympathetic? It does, somehow.
Tony sucks at his teeth and flips the phone closed, then hops up on the edge of a table and leans forward towards his father, tongue clicking against the roof of his mouth.


Sam crosses his arms and stays well back. "I can take you to the warehouse where we found him, too," he offers Tony. "Let you take a look around, see whether the setup fits with what you would expect." There are some really sweet vintage jumpsuits that might fit, too, but Sam mysteriously neglects to mention those. "We should stay careful, but this whole thing could be legit."


"JARVIS? I didn't know you had that much affection for him." Howard looks up into the ether and grins as the blue light envelops him. "He'd be pleased. And flattered. And ever so slightly perturbed." He chuckles softly. When Tony gives him the stink eye, he stands with his shoulders relaxed, hands loose in his trouser pockets. "I didn't plan this, Tony. The failsafe that downloaded my consciousness at the moment of my death was a prototype. It wasn't supposed to trigger." He looks towards Sam, then back to Tony. "Take him to the lab if you like. Scan me. Go over every inch of me. I have nothing to hide." He holds his arms out.


"No, you didn't plan it." Tony takes his time about finally speaking and it may well seem like he's ignored Sam. Truth is, and good luck ever getting him to admit it, Sam being there is giving him more strength than the other man could ever know. There's no way Tony could do this alone. "You didn't plan anything, did you dad? You could have told us about it, though. If we'd known about your failsafes or your secret projects? We could have found you… How much heart ache could have been saved if you'd trusted me? Anyone. Trusted ANYONE…"

Tony slides down off the table, "But you didn't. You didn't trust me then and you…" Pointing, tapping his finger into the air expressively, "Now here you are. Come back with your consciousness in a machine. For what? What's your purpose now, Dad? You.. want Stark Industries back? Tough. It's mine now.." Stand offish much? "Think you'll lay claim to the wealth of technology behind the walls of my company? You'll be lucky if I ever let you see the front doors… You wanted to be isolated?" nodding, "Let me know how that works out for you, huh?"

Glancing over at Sam, "You ready? Some of us actually have work to do."


"Uh, yeah. Sure," Falcon answers, standing up a little straighter and uncrossing his arms. He wasn't expecting the meeting here to end so quickly, but getting Tony to confront this situation at all is good enough for him. He's not going to pressure his friend to stay here any longer than he needs to; one meeting isn't going to be enough to sort through the current weirdness, much less an entire lifetime of a complicated father-son relationship. "I'll be working with SHIELD quite a bit in the next couple of weeks, so I'll keep you up to date on what he's up to, if you want," he offers. With a glance toward Howard, he adds, "And if you don't mind."


"For god's sake, Tony. I don't want the company back. I built it for /you/." Those words are out of Howard's mouth before he even realizes what he's saying. The words hang there for a moment before he speaks again. "I've just spent the last several hours looking at what you've been up to." He points to the monitors. "You did the right thing, taking the company away from weaponry. I would have done the same thing after the Cold War ended. We were only a weapons manufacturer because we had to be." He jams a finger down. "And though I think it's foolish and dangerous to be running around in that metal suit, that's your choice. You're a grown goddamn man. And you're throwing a tantrum at me right now."

He takes a deep breath and does his best to compose himself. He pinches the bridge of his nose. "I could give you all sorts of explanations for why I did what I did, but you're not going to hear them right now. I recognize this is upsetting for you. But think how I feel."

He looks to Falcon, nods once, then turns away and walks towards the edge of the room, hand to his forehead. "File regular reports on me, if you want. I have no secrets anymore."


Tony stops in his tracks and glances back at his father, "You built it for me? Did you just say that to me? Do you really have the nerve to stand there after everything and say that.. to me?" He turns and flexes his shoulders forward like he might actually pull of his jacket like this is a high school tift and he wants to take it to the playground.

"If you had been upfront with me about anything, we never would have been in the position we were in four years ago. The news paints me as a war monger, when all I ever did was follow in the footsteps of an 'American Hero'. I made weapons safer, more intelligent… but everytime our name is spoken together, people tell me how disappointed YOU would have been." Pointing at his father's duplicate.

"The Iron Man armor is my second chance dad. It's my attempt to put right the mistakes you and I are BOTH guilty of. OUR weapons in the hands of the people we both set out to 'stop'." Flicking his fingers back and forth, "And you're judging me for it? You don't know me.. you don't know who I am or why I do what I do.. don't stand there pretending that reading about me on the internet brings you insight into my end goals… I've spent my life living in the ominous shadow of what you created."
Tony puts his hands out to either side, "If there's a mistake here, I'm not the one who made it. I just made the best of it."


"Whoa. Whoa now. This is not an argument anybody is going to win." Sam's hands are up again, and now he is interposing himself between the Starks. "We saw him. We scanned him. We are done here. Y'all can hash the rest of this out by throwing side dishes at each other over Thanksgiving, like a normal family."


Howard tilts his chin up and sets his jaw. He is clearly holding things back. Sam physically placing himself between the warring Starks helps him keep control. His gaze though, stays firmly on Tony. There's almost a tic in his forehead. He chooses his words very carefully when he does speak. "I suppose…" a pause, "…I'm not one to judge getting one's hands dirty. I didn't exactly sit at home when Europe went to shit." He's holding back. Just barely. Just /barely/. "I'm sorry I didn't live long enough to fix my mistakes."


It would hard not to see the similarities between the two Starks at that moment. Both of them standing with Sam in the middle, glaring across and around the helpful Falcon, both of them clamped down on the holding back, though Tony has a bit lest tact in that regard… He's had to deal with this consciously for years. There's obviously a lot of pent up aggression.

"Yeah." He says finally, definitely even, when his father said he would have fixed his mistakes. "I guess we'll never know if that's true, huh?" Backing up a step, one hand brushing along his jaw. "So it fell on me and honestly, probably for the best. See ya around robo-dad. Let me know when you need an oil change."

He instantly regrets saying it. Instantly wishes he could go back to walking into the room and do everything differently. He's spent his entire life wishing he had a few more minutes with his dad, wish he could ask him a thousand questions and share a hundred memories. In what could be the only moment he'll ever get (if SHIELD has anything to say about it amirite?), he instead throws barbs.

That's Tony Stark, ladies and gentlemen.

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