2019-04-09 - In A Bar In Brooklyn


Tony Stark meets Bucky Barnes in a dive bar, and they actually click.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Apr 9 07:28:33 2019
Location: RP Room 1

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Theme Song



There are old, old bars in Brooklyn. Bars that were there before he sailed off to England and then Africa…..bars not gentrified into hipster hangouts. Buck's found one of them, one you can even still smoke in. So he's nursing a Four Horsemen with one hand, quadruple-strength, basically a big glass of mixed whiskys, and an unfiltered Lucky with the other. Sometimes even living with Captain Sunbeam isn't enough to keep the old demons away, and they have to be propitiated with offerings of booze and tobacco.

He's dressed casually - grey henley, old jeans, hair pulled back in a neat ponytail, gazing at the motion of the bubbles on the old fashioned jukebox a little off to the side. Not pleasant daydreams, by the somber lines of his face.

Tony Stark has gone incognito tonight in jeans and an AC/DC shirt with a hoodie thrown over it. The hood is up, pulled over a cap whose brim helps cast his eyes in shadow. No body guard tonight, much to the consternation of said body guard. Hell, not even a suit tonight, though he is carrying. He's not going to go out without having at least a handgun on him. Too much has happened for him to fool himself into thinking it might not come in handy.

He steps in off the street and looks around before keeping his head down. The scent of cigarette smoke causes him to sigh quietly. He misses cigarettes. Terrible for one's public image these days, though. He approaches the bar, settling not far from Bucky. "Give me something brown and lower shelf," he tells the bartender. He's not looking to get fancy drunk, he's looking to get nasty drunk.

The profile by him at the bar might be familiar. Ish. It's Steve's….friend, room-mate, former nemesis. Who doesn't scruple to first give him a sidelong glance, and then turn his head for a more direct, open scrutinizing. There's a deep drag from the cigarette, and he blows smoke off to the side, before rasping, "You're way, way, way downmarket for you." No using Tony's name - no calling attention, since presumably it's anonymity Stark is after.

A small, crooked smile tugs at the corner of Tony's lips as he's made. Bucky's cool about it though, so he just gives him a sheepish shrug and says, "Sometimes you just gotta get a look at that greener grass." His quick gaze passes over Bucky's features, and there's a glint of recognition. "Visiting the old neighborhood?" He looks around. "I bet this place was still around in your day."

"Matter of fact, it was," he agrees, amiably. "I used to come here after Blondie was in bed - he could never abide smoke, when he was a sickly kid. And he couldn't stay up all night." A reminiscent smile on that face. "Well, you gotta go where nobody knows your name," Buck adds, philosophically. Which used to be everywhere, and then nowhere.

Tony Stark huffs a quiet laugh and says, "Hard to imagine him sickly. I swear he'll outlive us all." He nods to the bartender when the glass of cheap bourbon is placed before him. "I tell myself I come out to places like this to punish myself with cheap booze, but the truth is it's one of the few places I can just be without being alone. That's the problem with being known, isn't it? You're always 'on' when there's people around. It's exhausting."

"It was the bane of my childhood," Buck says, quietly. "He was this runty, ricketty little thing who just….couldn't deal with the limitations the body he had placed on him. I usedto be sure he'd die before he finished high school." He flicks ash into the ashtray. "But now you're right - if he doesn't get himself killed."

A nod of sympathy. "I understand. You always gotta be someone, be performing. It makes Steve tired as hell, too. Only….he and I can't really drink. So he just comes home and reads. Or I get him to go out of town for a little bit." Housekeeper and minder and, if rumors are true, lover.

Tony Stark is quiet a moment, then says, "I mean, you can drink. A lot, from what I hear." He smiles crookedly. There's sympathy in the look, though. God knows where he'd be without the sweet oblivon of alcohol. "Man, I can't imagine being him. I'd never be that squeaky clean, to begin with. But, just… man. The pressure to be Captain America all the time." He shakes his head. "At least my public expects me to be a jackass. I'm just good at it."

"I can drink, but generally, it might as well be soda pop," There's no particular self-pity in his voice. "Same for him. Same for drugs for both of us. I….don't know how he does it. I don't know what illumination he has that the rest of us can't see, and I been tryin'a figure it out for decades. He really is that good." An eye cocked at Tony. "More room to run. You could be better, though. If you wanted to."

Tony Stark shrugs a shoulder and says, "Yeah, but how is that fair to the rest of the world?" He takes a drink and grimaces as the foul liquid goes down. He grins, then. That's exactly what he wants right now. "Here's the thing, champ, and I'll tell you this for free: the closer you are to perfect, the more people want to tear you down. Not everyone can be as beloved as America's favorite boy scout. The key is to have entertaining flaws. Be a fun kind of fucked up. People still admire you, but not too much."

There's that skeptical cant to his brows, as he eyes Tony. Nursing his drink in gulps, if that isn't a contradiction in terms. "How drunk are you looking to get, tonight?" he wonders, voice low. "You gonna need a ride home? And people do admire you. They're just aware that you're flawed."

Tony Stark winks and says, "Bingo." He takes another drink, then says with a little rasp in his voice, "I haven't decided yet. I might need poured into a cab. Just finished a project, and there's that lull where there's nothing going on. Seems a waste to spend it sober." He glances down at his glass. "Don't worry about me, though. I always come out on top. Even if I wake up in a gutter, I'll be the king of that gutter by the time I finish coming to."

"You really hate being alone with yourself that much?" It bewilders Bucky, that's readily clear. "Why?" he asks. God knows Barnes himself travels with his troop of ghosts, but very few things madeon earth can banish them. At least booze isn't a temptation. "You could just rest. What're you running from?"

Tony Stark peers into the middle distance, still more sober than he'd like to be. There are circles under his eyes, though. Lack of sleep, most likely, if he was finishing up a project. After a moment, he says, "I remember every mistake I've made with photographic clarity. That's the problem with having a brain like mine. It doesn't let things go easily. Sometimes it needs a little liquid assistance. "Not just mistakes, either. Everything. Sometimes I close my eyes, and I'm back in that cave."

Bucky purses his lips, clearly weighing his reponse. A last, long drag turns the remains of the Lucky into a column of ash, which he deposits in the ashtray with care. "It's not," he says, slowly, "A matter of forgetting. It 's a matter of making peace with who you are and what you've done and what you had to do to get to where you are…." There's something dreamlike about his monotone. The last thing he expected on the rare night out without Steven was for Tony to play Sorcerer's Apprentice and raise up all his attendant demons to jeer Bucky….but now that it's there, he's at least not turning the anger or pain on Stark.

Tony Stark glances to Bucky, and he nods slowly. "Yeah," he says quietly. He takes another drink, then says, "Yeah. I guess some of us find peace easier than others. A lot of people have died, innocent people, and the last thing they saw was my name on the side of a missile. Sins of the father, because God knows I don't sin enough on my own." He shakes his head. "I'm going to be a hypocrite and tell you you can't beat yourself up forever."

"Bullshit," Ooh, Steven isn't there to hear a swear, but Buck looks around for a moment, as if Steve might manifest out of nowhere like a censorious genie to scold him. "You made the tools, but other people used them. No one made them do it. And if you hadn't made 'em, someone elsewoulda. Handing off contracts to Lockheed or Boeing or Teradyne or whomever…..less money for you, but people'd still be dead. You're not the guy pulling the trigger, you're the man making the gun." He shakes his head. "And I was the guy pulling the trigger. So if you're gonna get drunk over that, then you gotta buy me enough to drink to get really drunk, too. Fair's fair, Tinkertoys."

Tony Stark glances around, too. Ooh, Bucky's gonna get in trouble. "My company funneled those weapons into the wrong hands," he says. "It wasn't an oops, it was…" He shakes his head. "People get greedy. They get resentful. They do stupid things." And they end up dead. More regret in Tony's eyes as he glances away. "Yeah, sometimes I think we have enough guns." He laughs a little, without mirth, at his nickname. "Line them up. I'll do you one better. I'll distill something for you that would kill a lesser man. We'll get you intoxicated yet."

"We have more than enough guns. The catch-22 being that even if we stop, the other guys keep building," Barnes's tone is flat, remote. "All right." He raises a hand to the bartender, whose brows climb up towards his hairline as he takes that order. "Challenge accepted," he says, solemnly.

Tony Stark smiles as Bucky takes up the challenge. He drains his bourbon and sets the glass on the bar. "Another one of these, my good man, put it all on my tab." He asides to Bucky, "We just won't tell Cap about this. The part where I invent an alcohol that'll get you wasted. I dunno why, but he'll probably find something wrong with the idea. Of course, if we offer to share…"

Bucky notes, voice gravelly already, "There's a booze that does. It's just damn near impossible to get and it's not from Earth. Asgardian mead," His eyes gleam reminiscently at the thought. "This stuff probably isn't strong enough to hit me hard before my liver takes it out. But….it might be nice to have an Earth-based option. To get at Asgardian booze, you gotta go party with 'em, and they party hard."

"It's basic chemistry," Tony says. "Not to disparage the Asgardians. They're good at what they do, but the only thing wrong with Earth-based drinks is they're calibrated for the average human being. Take any drink you like, add more alcohol, voila. It won't even be hard to do. I can set up a still in my sleep. I mean, I have set up a still in my sleep. College was a life-changing time for me." Didn't he graduate at seventeen? Long before the drinking age. "Next time we go drinking, you'll have something worth bending your elbow for."

There's a snort for him. "All right," he says, grinning, despite himself. "Man. You really do need healthier hobbies. What do you do in your spare time, other than invent things?" Then he finishes off his drink. "I never did get to college," Buck even sounds faintly wistful about it.

"It's never too late," Tony says. "How long will you guys look young, anyway? Forever?" He smiles wryly. "I never stop inventing things. Not unless I drink enough to turn my brain off for awhile. It just runs on auto-pilot. But you've seen the papers. I'm a socialite. That's what I do for a hobby. I go out and get seen. I drink. I sleep with gorgeous women half my age. Who wouldn't love that?"

"For a long time. We'll die by violence before age catches up to us." A clinical diagnosis, by his tone. It's the future he sees, the one he fears….where he's left with near-immortality and no Steven. "You should learn to meditate. And I dunno. Depends. Not that fun if what you want is to have privacy and sleep with gorgeous men half your age."

Tony Stark is quiet for a moment. It's just a moment, a blip, but it's unique in that he's actually tripped up, if only for a second. Less than a second. He draws a sharp breath, then waggles a fingertip at Bucky and says, "I'm insulted that you'd think I would be the silver fox in that scenario. I'm still young enough to draw an old queen." Sure, shrug it off as a joke. He takes his second bourbon once it's set before him, and he has a steadying drink. "I've tried meditation. I can't quiet my brain long enough to find anything like inner peace."

"You sure are," Buck retorts. Wait. Did he just….maybe the rumors are true. "Young enough, I mean." But he makes a little moue, picks up another of his infernal concoctions of whisky in all its glory, and taps it oh so gently against Tony's. "You may need to go off into the wilderness for forty days. Sometimes I do. Steve hates it when I do, but….sometimes I need the quiet. You wouldn't think so, I'm a city boy."

Tony Stark taps his glass to Bucky's and he lifts his brows ever so slightly in an 'is that so' look. Then he drinks, and he admits, "It's never been quiet. Even in an isolation tank, shutting everything else out. There's always something. This world is a problem that needs fixed. I remember, when I was four, the blender made a rattling noise when the cook used it. I couldn't leave it alone until I'd taken it apart and put it back together. There was some buildup of gunk in the gears. It just needed cleaned. A little oil to keep everything moving, and voila. My mom used to tell the story, of how I wouldn't eat, take my nap, or play til I had that blender apart."

"That's what I mean. You may need the real wild. I bet you've never willingly spent a month away from the city. I should take you, sometime," he says, looking speculative. "Kill or cure. I'd believe it - that's sensitivity. You see what's wrong with the world and you want to fix it. You should go where there's nothing human to be wrong."

"A month? Try a day," Tony says. "I'm a city boy. Do you know what's out there in nature? Mosquitos." He eyes Bucky oddly. "You want to take me out into the cold dirty woods where the disease vectors live?" He considers this. "I suppose I could look for ways to improve the woods. Run some electricity out there, a state of the art camp trailer, maybe invent a repellent that doesn't smell like depressed oranges."

"I want to take you out away from human stuff," He's back to nursing his drink. "No. No improving. Just being. I'd kidnap you, but considering my past, that'd end badly for both of us. But there's gotta be a way to keep the greatest technical mind of this generation from self-immolating or pickling itself."

Tony Stark considers Bucky for a moment. "You know," he says, "if you did manage to kidnap me, I wouldn't press charges. I'd be too impressed, and it would point out holes in my security I'm not seeing." Like going out alone after giving his bodyguards the slip. He considers over another drink of his bourbon, then says, "Okay, I'll go away with you. I'm curious, and maybe I could stand to experience the wilderness again under less stressful circumstances." The desert cave wasn't exactly his idea of camping.

Now Tony's set it as a challenge. "That…." he breathes. "That's tempting. Like a….what's the phrase? White hat hacker? Yeah. I'll show you somewhere beautiful. And once we're gone, you can send a message to your guys to stand down, so they don't call in the FBI, or something."

Tony Stark's eyes glint with a dark, viscious glee. "I can't guarantee your safety," he feels the need to point out. "I mean, my guys are pretty good, and I might have to let JARVIS in on it just to keep things fair, but if you're willing to give it a shot, then fair's fair. I'll call my guys to stand down, and we'll spend some time somewhere beautiful. Not in a five star hotel, I'm assuming."

The pale eyes gleam with an answering light. "I'm the best there is," he retorts. And it's a long, dark record behind him - people stolen from their beds as if he were a monster in a fairytale. There are horror stories mothers use to terrify their children left over from his days in Russia. "Good for both of us - we'll shake the rust off."

Tony Stark nods a little. "Yeah," he says. There's a thrill of fear in his eyes, but even that is fascination. He's been kidnapped before, but it was different. They blew up a caravan. People died. Sure, Bucky's got blood on his hands, but he's changed, right? Tony sizes him up as he takes another drink. Then he lowers his glass and says, "I told you it'd be an older man sweeping me off my feet."

There's wheezing, silent laughter from him at that. "And throwing you over my shoulder and stealing you. Much less classy than you're accustomed to." This is Bucky - Steven's tamed him, right? Turned the wolf into a good dog. It's all good nature in his face….but that's still the Winter Soldier's body. Is the ghost still in there?

"I'm here on purpose, aren't I?" Tony says, not without a measure of warmth. Though they occasionally lock horns, Tony trusts Steve, and if Steve thinks the Winter Soldier is no longer a threat, well, Tony's liable to let his guard down. "If I want classy, I can always find a gallery opening. Or I could make one." The brag doesn't sound very pleased, alas. It's almost boring, having that kind of money.

"This'll be a little different from slumming it with the hoi polloi for an evening in Brooklyn," he says, lowly. "You don't want classy at all. That I can tell. Nothing in this sphere of the world is a challenge for you."

Tony Stark tilts his head curiously. "Yeah? What are you planning? No tents? Under the open stars in nothing but a burlap sack? Just how much are we going to rough it?" After another drink, he adds, "There are some challenges. The future isn't certain, but it will be. But in my day to day?" He shakes his head. "Nah. Too much is too easy. Downside to technology, I guess."

He's got that musing face on. "I'm honestly not sure yet. It's tempting. The less gear I bring the less tempted you'll be to over-engineer it. I'm not saying we're gonna be out there with nothing but a Swiss Army knife, but…."

Tony Stark says, "You'd think so, but the less comfortable I am, the more driven I am to change my circumstances. If I have to sleep on pine cones, I'm going to figure out how to make them feel like memory foam." His brow kits. How would one make pine cones feel like memory foam? Or at least be comfortable? "Would have to pack them pretty tightly together in a kind of matrix to smooth out the lumps, maybe fill in with pine needles…"

"No," he says, softly. "You're going to learn to be present and not change things." How did he learn that bitter lesson, frozen and bound and broken. "We're going to do some mental renovation. Some re-engineering. That's the last thing they take from you."

There's a measure of dubiousness in Tony's regard. "First you'll have to give me a compelling reason that, if something is uncomfortable, why not make it better? I'm not saying the pine cones have to feel like memory foam, but if something's digging at your back, what's wrong with digging it out?" He says it oh so innocently, as if that's what he were saying all along instead of going off on an inventive mental hike. He quiets, studying Bucky. Then he says, "What's that? The last thing they take?"

The pale eyes are depthless as ice, meeting Tony's unwaveringly for a long moment. "Your mind. Your memory. How you react." He glances down and away for a beat. "You can't run away from your own mind, Tony," Voice very low, hoarse….but oddly gentle. "You have to come to face it eventually. That'd be the ultimate point of taking you out there….because here you can find something else to try and insert between you and it. Work. Booze. Sex. Drugs. Other people's voices. I'm not trying to turn you into a special forces soldier. You're an engineer, and a good one. The best. But you're like an engine running in the red, smoking out." He looks down at where the metal gleams at his wrist, between cuff and glove. "I think I can give you something as a gift I was forcedto learn, so maybe you'll stop self-destructing."

Tony Stark glances to that gleam of metal. "Is it that obvious?" he says quietly. "Though I've got to say, you'd have to be in pretty dire straights to drink this bourbon on purpose. That must be what gives it away." Another joke, another deflection. "I'm not used to people knowing me, especially when we've only just met. I won't like, part of it makes me want to run, but where can a guy like me hide, anyway?"

"Only to one who knows what it's like to play hide and seek with himself," Bucky Barnes, Zen master. "You can run. You can refuse. But you won't. You can't lie to yourself about how bad it's gonna be, if you do." He lifts his glass again, in salute.

Tony Stark sighs and says, "No, I'll go, I already agreed, and it was for a reason. I just don't know that it'll fix what's broken. And, honestly, I have no idea who I'd be if I wasn't the guy who has to fix things. I mean, for the most part, that urge has led to good things, hasn't it? Medical breakthroughs, advances in agriculture, in the defensive side of defense. At least my neuroses is feeding people. That's what I tell myself."

Bucky gives him another look, sidelong. "You'll still have to fix things. You just won't be destroying yourself in the process. You can be creative without cannibalization. I promise you can. I don't know that I can fix anyone….but maybe I can help you stop making it worse."

"And you'd do that for me?" Tony says. "I gotta ask: why? Even if we're setting aside the personal risk to you for testing my security for me, you're giving up time out of your life to hang out with someone who is, by the way, going to complain a lot. I mean a lot. You know as well as I do that if you come close to succeeding, it's going to be rough. Why are you willing to go there?"

"Because I…because I can. Most people haven't been through what we've been through and come out of it. Not so many in this day and age. Because you need it. You got anyone else in your life that could?" He makes a little wavering gesture with the alloy hand.

Tony Stark thinks about that. As he does, he stares off at nothing in particular, and his expression grows increasingly grim. "The only person I'd trust to have the will and capacity is Cap, and he'd probably just give me a stern lecture about how I have to do what's right. You and I both know that, for some of us, it's not that easy. He doesn't have to live with the things we've done, and I pray to whatever can hear me that he never has to."

"He's more gentle and understanding than that, but you're right. The only thing he's ever been helpless against is his own body, and he won that fight. Everything since has been a cakewalk. All he's ever done is what was as right as possible by his lights." Buck nods, just as somber. Booze is not lightening things up. "He's not dragging a legion of ghosts behind him."

Tony Stark looks a touch uncertain at Bucky's assertion that Steve is gentle and understanding. "You're his friend. I'm his colleague," is all he has to say about that. He knocks back the rest of his bourbon and shudders as it burns its way down his gullet. "Ugh, that's bad," he says, then laughs a little. Two bourbons isn't enough to get him all that tipsy, alas. Still, he's feeling a bit lighter. "I think he buys the public face. Which, to be fair, there's a lot there to disapprove of."

"You look like a guy taking medicine," Buck admits, with a little laugh in his voice. "I think you could be real friends. He's got his public face, just like you do. And in both cases, there's more than you see there."

"Our Cap? Two-faced?" Tony says with a laugh, then he waves his hand and says, "I know, I know, we all have a face we wear on the outside and another one in our truer moments, even boy scouts." No judgment here, or even surprise, really. "Maybe we're getting there, maybe we'll just get on each others' nerves too often for anything to solidify. We work well together, and that's what's important. We share a common goal, even if we don't always agree on how to attain it."

He studies his empty glass, then flags the bartender down again. He'll go for a third. "Leave the bottle," he says. Then he says to Bucky, "Anyway, how do you think the Mets are going to do this year?" Even Tony Stark can rub elbows over baseball with his fellow New Yorker.

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