Conversations With the Dead
[Avengers Training Facility Security Footage 07012016]
Loc: Avengers Training Facility, Upstate NY
Happy: Hey Boss, that crazy old FedEx guy was here again. He dropped a package, but the return address just says ‘Got My Good Eye On You’. Sounds like one of those weirdo stalkers. Toss it? <Holds the box over garbage can>
Tony: <smirks, shaking his head> Nah, set it on the desk. I’ll deal with whatever Fury wants later. What’s the current damage report news-wise? We still front page?
Happy: <Checking tablet> Actually, the election has pushed us to page 3. Granted it’s mostly about Don the Con, but right now any news that makes people forget about the Accords, Barnes& Cap can’t be too bad, right?
Tony: Donnie’s running? <laughs hysterically, grabbing his bruised ribs in pain> Whatever. He’s got no chance. He’s had more bankruptcies than I’ve got mansions. Let him snag all the headlines he wants. He’ll get bored eventually and drop out.
Happy: So, now what are WE doing next?
Tony: Well YOU are gonna keep an eye on the kid. <Happy groans> What? You got the easy job! Meanwhile, I’ve got to help Rhodey with his recovery. I’ve got an android moping over a girl and disappearing for days like a sulky teenager. I’ve got relationship problems of my own, and I’ve got an Avengers Facility with no Avengers. Oh and there’s that little thing about bringing my mom’s murder to justice. What do we have for leads on Barnes?
Happy: <checks tablet again> Nada, zip, zilch. It’s like he just wandered off into the Siberian wastes, Rogers too. We’ve been monitoring the UN and World Security Council for any sightings or tips. They’re coming up as empty-handed as we are.
Tony: <crushes water bottle in frustration> I’m gonna find him. He CAN’T hide forever. Sooner or later his brain will short circuit, and his Hydra programming will kick in again. And I’m gonna be there to put him down.
Happy: Revenge? That’s not gonna change anything, Tony. You just said it yourself. Hydra PROGRAMMED him. He didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to become the Winter Soldier.
Tony: <voice rising as he stands up> Next you’re gonna try and tell me that Cap did the right thing by not telling me that it wasn’t a simple car crash. Two years he knew! TWO YEARS! All that time working together. The Avengers, our friendship, we were like family. HE destroyed it all! He stood by my side and NEVER SAID A FUCKING WORD!
Happy: <puts hands up & takes a step or two back towards door> All I’m saying is, maybe take a minute to breathe before your Fitbit throws a bitfit, and try to see the other side of this. He thought he was protecting the people he cares about, sound familiar?
Tony: <anger still rising>And it got him as far as it got me. In the last few years, I’ve almost lost you, Rhodey, and Pepper, I trashed all my suits, built Ultron, Pepper’s not speaking to me, the Avengers are torn apart. <pause, waives a pointed finger back and forth between himself and Happy> You know, this is the part where you take my side and tell me it’s not my fault.
Happy: <frowns sadly, shaking his head, softly> No can do, Boss.
Tony: <throwing the crushed water bottle> Then what are you here for?! GET OUT!
<Happy backs out silently, having seen this all many times before over the years. Tony sits back down, elbows on the desk, head in hands. He turns and opens a drawer, reaching for a bottle inside, knocking the package off the desktop. Setting the bottle down, he picks the box up and tears it open. A film canister rolls out, along with a note. ‘You missed the funeral, but she left you this.’ The label on the canister simply says ‘For Anthony’>
Tony: <Pours himself the first of many drinks that night, and whispers with watery eyes> Fuck, I didn’t get to say goodbye to HER either.
Later That Night
<movie continues, Tony continues drinking>
Peggy: You’re still quite young, and I’m hoping it will be a very, very long time before you get to watch this. I know Howard isn’t the father he could be, should be. Whether it seems like it or not, he loves you as much as Maria, Ana, Edwin and I do. We are a family. You are surrounded by people who love you and always will. I hope that when you’re grown, you build that same kind of family around you. People you trust, even when they’ve hurt you or make mistakes because they will still have your back. People who will love you and trust you despite your own errors and faults. It took me a long time after losing Steve, to realize that I had people I could trust and rely upon. <laughs> Not that Howard has ever made it easy.
Tony: <scoffs, pouring another drink, mumbles at the screen> Did he ever make anything easy?
Peggy: He and I have had our go-rounds with trust and friendship, but we always worked it out in the end, eventually. Though often at some point I’ve had to knock some sense into him. <pausing, tilting her head and rolling her eyes> And, I admit, there have been one or two times he’s had to pull me back from the edge. NEVER tell him I admitted that. It’s our secret, my boy. <winks at camera>
Tony: <drunkenly giggling at the screen> k’ Aunt Pegs
Peggy: He’s always thrown so much of himself into his work, <smiles> AND his play. He surprised us all when he settled down and married Maria. Then you came along, handsome and charming and brilliant from the start. There’s so much of him in you, and he knows it. You’d never believe me if I told you how often I go down to visit his lab, and he crows about your accomplishments. He would give you the word if he could. He’s always looking forward to the day you’ll take his place at both Stark Technologies and SHIELD. Imagining the day you surpass him. Though sometimes I almost think he’s as jealous of you as he is proud.
Tony:<scoffs> Wish he could have told me the second one.
Peggy: I know he seems cold and distant, I can’t explain to you what happened to change him, I wish I could. <suddenly sad> It’s been a long road building SHIELD, and there are many things, incidents, and people neither of us can talk about. People we lost along the way.
Tony: <softly> yeah
Peggy: A few last things for you to always remember, Anthony. Cherish the family and friends you surround yourself with. Never let pettiness, ego, or anger guide you. I never want you to be alone, my darling boy. No good will come of it. You will always be loved, so long as you love in return. <tears in her eyes> Sometimes you’ve got to run before you can walk, but oh my darling boy, someday, you’ll fly. Now turn this silly thing off, dry your eyes, and remember- do as Aunt Peggy says.
[SHIELD SURVEILLANCE FOOTAGE 02032017]
Loc: Randy’s Donuts, Inglewood CA
Tony: <flies, down. Offers Nick a doughnut>I never welcomed you back when you popped up in Sokovia. You’re pretty busy for a dead guy. Oh and for the record, I could have won the popular vote if I’d have run.
Fury: After Sokovia and that mess with the Accords? Fat chance. I helped you clean that shit up, now you owe me one.
Tony: And what could the man who keeps a helicarrier in his back pocket possibly need?
Fury: We need weapons for a new type of war.
Tony: My old man was the warmonger. That’s not my style, and you damn well know it.
Fury: Those aren’t the type of weapons we need. I’m talking about an information war, a Resistance. We need tech, information and communication tools, we need enhanced VPNs and security protocols.
Tony: You keep saying ‘we’ who all is ‘we’? Did you start another superhero boyband and not invite me?
Fury: We’ve been picking up help from some ‘out of town’ visitors, like beyond even Thor’s neck of the woods. Also, SHIELD has been re-constructed and re-staffed. Hill is back,
Tony: Hill is ‘back’? The way I see it, she never left your side. That reminds me, I’ve been pretty busy the last few years, but I still keep up on the news. SHIELD has been busy too. Dodging Talbot. Aligning with the ATCU. Going up against the Watchdogs. For a while you guys were on the terrorist watchlist, weren’t you? Some of those clips aren’t very complementary. In some of them, I’ll be damned if there wasn’t some guy who looked like Phil. Do you guys just clone them out of a cookie-cutter, are they like Agent Smith in the Matrix?
Fury: <tightlipped> Alien tech we no longer have access to.
Tony: You sonofabitch. So you ‘died’ and came back, Phil ‘died’ and came back, even backstabbing Barnes couldn’t stay dead. Anyone else I should know about who’s NOT dead? You don’t have my dad’s brain stuffed into a computer being all self-righteous and asshatish, do you?
Fury: Tony, I swear on my good eye, Howard Stark is not stuffed into a computer, cloned, resurrected, or turned into an LMD. Now, what can you do to help the Resistance?
Tony: You just want tech, you don’t need any help leading your little ragtag group? Pepper and I are back together, but she’s off running the company most of the time. So, I’m mostly just puttering around the workshop, I could spare some time to whip your newbies into shape.
Fury: Right now, it’s under control, <points at Tony> but I may hold you to that offer down the line. By the way, congratulations on the engagement- try not to fuck it up.
Tony: Gee, thanks. Ok, I’ll call up some guys I know at Electronic Frontiers Foundation, They’ve already got that democracy.io thing working. I’ve heard talk about this tech startup guy, Eric Ries, and a project he’s working on to turn texts into faxes. I’ll see what else I can brainstorm. <mumbling to self> I could power a cell phone indefinitely if I could miniaturise the arc reactor a bit more. Some of dad’s old notes mention the possibility, but I couldn’t find much more than some weird reference to ants.
Fury: <finally grabs a doughnut> Maybe you were right, these aren’t half bad.
Tony: <tosses Fury the rest of the box> Take some to Phil. <Starts to take off, turns back> Oh, and one other thing, I don’t want to see that Star-Spangled Sonofabitch anywhere near me. He shows up all Mr Patriotic, I’m out. Done.
Fury:<noncommittal> The UN and National Security Council haven’t been able to find him, what makes you think I know where he is?