2019-07-14 - Bad News and Good News


Bucky visits Avengers Mansion to catch up with Tony about his arm and shares a conversation with Tony and Pepper. Good news and bad news is shared, and Tony finally agrees to take it easy — or easier than he has been.

Log Info:

Storyteller: Pepper Potts
Date: July 14, 2019
Location: Kitchen, Avengers Tower

Related Logs


Theme Song



Steve is far more of a public figure than Buck. Buck's content to do his work for SHIELD, mostly unknown, and otherwise confine himself to their apartment and its rooftop garden. Who'd've thought the cyborg would be such a homebody?

But Stark's work he trusts to maintain and research the arm, and it's been one of those days. Finished, he's sitting in the kitchen, drinking some kind of iced coffee concoction, looking a little sleepy.

Spending the occasional afternoon at the mansion is something Pepper tries to do consistently, and today is no exception. Dressed in an ankle-length summer dress with little white coral shapes printed on melon-pink gossamer-light cotton fabric, she pads barefoot across and into the kitchen to get a glass of water. Her attention is mostly on the tablet in her hand, so she doesn't actually notice that there's anyone else in the room, not until after she's filled her water glass and is turning to leave again. Then, she gasps in surprise and clutches her tablet close… and yet somehow manages to not even come close to spilling the water from her glass.

"Oh my gosh, I did not see you there," she says a bit apologetically.

He smiles that funny, close-mouthed smile at her. "I'm stealthy," he informs her, nodding. And somehow, despite being a fairly big guy with a metal arm, he is. Quiet and unobtrusive, somehow, without that glowing charisma of Steve's. "You look nice," he adds.

"Well, I can't exactly argue that," Pepper concedes, then moves to also sit at the table with her water glass. "And thank you. I take full advantage of the summer time to dress as lazily as I can get away with." That might be more evident in her lack of makeup and simple ponytail than her chosen dress.

"So, are you here to talk with Tony, or something else? Last I checked, he was elbows deep in something in his workshop, but I can likely go drag him out by his ear if you need me to."

No need to drag. Tony comes up from the lab downstairs, dressed in well-worn jeans and an AC/DC tour t-shirt over a grey Henley. He looks like hell, to tell the truth. His skin tone is sallow. There are dark circles under his eyes, and there's a sheen of sweat on his brow. He comes into the kitchen and makes for the coffee maker. "Ms. Potts," he says, "Sergeant."

"Just to do more scans of the arm," he says, waggling the fingers, making them gleam like water rippling. "I know he's got some interns working on a side project to replicate it in cheaper and less rare materials so it can be mass produced for veterans." The idea seems to please him.

Tony's appearance has him grinning, but the grin fades. He glances at Tony, looks to Pepper, brow furrowed, looks back. "Stark," he says, gently. "You don't look so good." The change is, pun intended, Stark. Buck and Steve were out of town for a bit, for Steve's birthday.

And Pepper has every intention of asking about how that vacation went, but that thought evaporates instantly when Tony enters the kitchen area and looks, if possible, worse than the last time she really got a good look at him.

She shares that concerned look with Bucky before turning back to the inventor, but doesn't speak up. Barnes already said what she's thinking, and Tony knows she's been thinking it. She's also debating getting up and making him sit while she prepares the coffee for him, but she hesitates, thinking he'd accept that just as gracefully as expressions of worry and concern.

In other words, not at all.

Tony Stark has been a bit of a cagey bastard lately. More than usual. "You should see the other guy," he tells Bucky. "How was your birthday thing?" He loads up the coffee maker to make a strong pot of rocket fuel. As it begins dripping, he leans against the counter and faces the other two, arms folded loosely over his chest. "Just a touch of the flu," he says. That's been his excuse for a few weeks now.

That dopy little smile reappears. "It was really nice, thanks to the both of you. Y'know, neither Steve or me'd ever seen the Pacific coast before? We went from Seattle down to northern California. Got a lot of nice pictures."

But he shakes his head at that excuse, looks to Pepper again.

Pepper could so easily call Tony out on that flu excuse he's been using non-stop, but she knows him. It'd be worse than useless to do so, likely completely counterproductive. "Maybe you should get some rest then? I'm planning to order in for dinner," she looks to Bucky at this point in a wordless invitation to stay for the meal, "would you want anything in particular?" She's trying her damnedest to NOT suggest soup. Hm, maybe a chilled gazpacho…

Tony Stark takes a mug down from the cupboard and pours himself a cup of coffee. "Can I get one for either of you?" he says. He then tells Pepper, "I think I'm going to take the week off and catch up on sleep. Do I have anything that can't be put off?" He then tells Bucky, "That sounds fun. Malibu's gorgeous, though."

That doesn't sound like the Tony he knows. "Sounds like a good idea," Buck says, mildly. "And we'll make it there next time. Still haven't seen Florida, either. I got hopes of making Steve take regular trips now, though."

He gives Pepper a faintly hopeful look. "What're you thinkin' of getting?" he asks. "Steve's doing more of those PSA things. I don't know why he does 'em. He's so stiff in front of a camera."

At Tony's mention of taking a week off, Pepper promptly brandishes her tablet, hastily rearranging his schedule. In her opinion, there is NOTHING that can't be put off if it means Tony is actually willing to do something about his health. "No," she answers mostly honestly. "Nothing crucial. I've just cleared your schedule for the next ten days." And the few things that ARE crucial, she'll just pull up her big girl trousers and deal with them herself.

"I'm thinking something from the Spanish restaurant over on 46th street. Their paellas are usually superb." She looks from Bucky to Tony, to see if either of them seems unenthused or have a different suggestion to offer.

Tony Stark's brows lift, and he looks both surprised and impressed by Pepper's tablet-fu. After a moment's pause, he says, "Ten days it is." He makes his way toward the table. "Paella sounds good," he says. "I think I could muster up an appetite."

He sits, and he tells Bucky, "Florida Man keeps Florida safe, I don't see you or Rogers needing to go down there. Does anyone go to Florida on purpose? Except for Miami, I mean."

Bucky, that good-natured old fossil, blinks at Tony. "Who's Florida Man?" he asks, looking between them. "And I heard it was a nice place to go in winter. Warm, sunny….even when Steve and I were kids, people'd head down there. If they were rich enough…" He's frowning at Tony, still. Something isn't right.

Pepper has had that 'something's not right' vibe for far longer than she cares to admit, but Bucky's frown has proven to her that it's not just her being a worrywart. She mentally resolves to talk with Tony about it for real. And, now that he has some days off, she can maybe browbeat him into going to see a doctor about this supposed flu.

"It's called 'taking a vacation', Tony. I know, I know, a foreign concept for y—"

She very abruptly sets her glass down and reaches over to pull Tony's shirtcollar away from his neck. "Tony, what is this?" She sounds surprised, and VERY concerned.

Tony Stark laughs when Bucky asks who Florida Man is. There's nothing mocking about the laugh, either. It's one of genuine pleasure, for now he gets to explain to Bucky about Florida Man and his lesser known accomplice and sometime love interest, Florida Woman.

Except he doesn't get the chance. When Pepper pulls back his shirtcollar, he quips, "New cologne?" But his expression says it all: busted. Delicately, he tugs the shirtcollar into place. "Is it the black line? Technically, it's silver." On the inside of his skin.

Buck's got that look. It amuses the twenty first century kids to explain things to him and Steve, and he never seems to mind it. Even if they sometimes take advantage of him.

"Is that an infection?" he asks, very quietly. It conjures up dim memories from when he was first revived, when the prosthesis was a thing of blazing pain, an intruder he kept trying to tear from him.

"Silver? You have silver, /under/ your skin? I know it's not a tattoo, Tony, I know what those look like." She looks at Tony's face a bit more intently than before, and by her expression puts a few clues together. "It's related to why you've been looking ill lately, isn't it?" Her eyes flick toward Bucky for a moment before her attention is right back on the inventor. "No more lies, Tony, no more deflecting. Tell me what's going on."

Tony Stark glances between the two, chagrined at Bucky, but genuinely pained as he regards Pepper. There might be a twinge of guilt there, too. He's not the most sensitive boss, but it doesn't give him any joy to see her so worried. He sighs, sets his coffee down, and says, "Palladium is a great metal. Rare, but so useful. Good conductor, doesn't oxidize easily, barely reactive. But it's just reactive enough."

He rubs his chest, not looking at either of them as he says, "When it's used in an arc reactor that happens to interface with a human body, it degrades into rhodium and silver compounds. Now, silver isn't great, but rhodium…" He takes a deep breath, then smiles tightly. "The good news is it's happening slowly. Bad news is I still haven't found an alternative."

Bucky's lips thin out. He glances at Pepper, like she's gonna make it all better somehow. "What about…..could you put in some kind of buffer? Something that'd keep the rhodium out of your system, something neutral like titanium or vibranium?"

Yes, if Pepper could fix this, she would. Immediately. But, this is science bordering on science fiction to her. She wouldn't even know where to begin. Bucky's offering a suggestion feels like a lifeline to her. There are others who can help. There have to be.

She looks at Bucky again, perhaps considering his words, then picks up her tablet again. "Vibranium is produced in only one nation on the planet." Sounds like she has some phone calls to make.

"Titanium will release a carcinogen into my blood," Tony says ruefully. "Vibranium… I'm not sure how it would work in the arc reactor. A lot of things that make palladium perfect make vibranium iffy. I've tried treating the heavy metal poisoning, and while I was able to stave off some of the worst of it with selenium, eventually the rhodium levels are going to get inescapably toxic, and when they do…" He spreads his hands and shrugs.

He's quick to add, "I've been working on it. I swear, I've been spending every moment I've got to spare trying to figure out a solution." He rubs his eyes. So tired. "I'm trying."

"What about help from others? And….why not ask the Wakandans?" He rubs at his forehead with his human hand. "Hell, you could take a plate or something from the arm, if that'd help. The alloy's been neutral since the forties…or even a version of the serum. Could help you fend of the problem." Volunteering himself as a lab rat.

Pepper is looking right at the name Wakanda when Bucky speaks it, and she looks at him for a moment. That's enough for her to reach out to someone but who? … wait. T'Challa. He's Wakandan.

And then Bucky's offering literal pieces of himself and all she can do is look at him with every bit of gratitude she can mentally muster. Inwardly, she REALLY hopes they don't have to go there. She might not talk with the quieter of the Rogers and Barnes pair very often, but she fully understands the extent of what he's just offered. He spent how many years being poked and prodded and treated like a lab rat and worse against his will? And here he is offering to do so again. Freely. For Tony.

"I can try to contact the Wakandans. Is there any way to see if Thor or someone he knows can do something to help?"

Tony Stark regards Bucky oddly. Ask for help? The man might as well have said something in Swahili. He shakes his head and says, "I'm not going to take apart Steve Roger's fiance," he says. He frowns, looks irritated, and adds, "I'm not going to do that to my friend." Damn Bucky for making him say it out loud.

As for the Wakandans, Tony hesitates. "We'd have to tread carefully," he says. "Our stock will plummet if word gets out I'm— I'm dying. It's a gamble to involve anyone else for that reason alone, and honestly, I don't think they know more about the arc reactor than I do. No one does."

Tony looks at Pepper for a moment, and his features soften. "I suppose if they can keep their existence a secret for generations, they can be trusted not to leak this to the press. A fresh set of eyes couldn't hurt."

"I'm not sayin' you should take me apart like an old toy," Buck says, with a hint of humor. "But….I've got plenty of this alloy in me. You can take a plate for a sample, if it'd help."

He sighs, looking at Tony. "They're the experts on that stuff - I've heard of miracle cures, with their use of it in medical tech. And…..yeah."

Then he pauses a beat and adds, turning red, "Uh, we got married. It….was a secret. The reception's gonna be soon, that'll be the big party, y'know. I convinced Steve we should just get it done."

Bucky adds, weakly, "Surprise?"

Pepper is either even more worried about Tony than she's seemed, or she already knew Bucky's little surprise news there as she doesn't really react at all. The reception, though. If they deny her THAT… there will be SUCH a reckoning. "You and Steve and I are going to talk about that. And you can't plea some end-of-the-world crisis to get out of it." There, threat of scolding has been established.

"A fresh set of eyes. I think I know exactly who to contact." She's sorely tempted to go call T'Challa right this instant, but her worry about Tony is taking precedence, and she instead opts to pull up the menu of the restaurant she has in mind.

Tony Stark takes the surprise in stride and says, "Fine, I'm not taking apart Steve Rogers' husband." He adds a "Mazel tov," to that. He then nods toward Pepper and says, "She means business, you know." And he? He looks pleased.

He then tells Pepper, "I'll keep working on the problem with my week off. I just need to find something that's like palladium but isn't. You know, it'd be almost easier to…" His gaze goes distant. Then he nods slowly and says, "I don't have the lab we'd need for what I want to try next. The Wakandans might be useful after all. I mean I could make the lab, but by the time it's ready, it could be too late."

"What're you thinkin'?" Bucky asks, looking up at Tony. Pepper gets an apologetic little smile. It's frustrating, sometimes, to feel like the dumb one in the room. But….Tony's not generally an ass about it. Besides, he's used to it. This is the second generation of Starks he's dealt with.

Tapping at her tablet, Pepper replies to Tony with her usual forthrightness, though there's still very clear undertones of worry to her voice. "You'll keep working on this in between resting. And I mean actual resting, not sitting in your workshop in those horribly uncomfortable chairs."

She then turns her tablet and pushes it toward Bucky. "Which sounds best to you?" The screen is displaying a simple online menu for the restaurant mentioned earlier, specifically the paellas. "I'm already getting the Valenciana." Her Spanish accent is quite good, though she doesn't use the lisping affectation common in certain parts of Spain. "Tony, I'm also getting some of the black bean soup. Do you have any other preference?"

No, she's not letting the subject of the man's health slide, but making sure he's eating properly is a BIG part of that, and one she's not going to let him avoid any longer.

Tony Stark says wryly, "I'll get a recliner for the workshop." He then tells Bucky, "It'd almost be easier for me to invent a new atom. Which is perfectly doable, but since I've never needed to, I don't have a setup to throw protons and neutrons at each other until they stick. The Wakandans might."

He glances at the tablet with interest. He's still got an appetite, and that's surely good news, right? "Get me something with shrimp in it," he tells Pepper. "I'm feeling shrimp today."

Bucky peers at the menu, points mutely at something that looks likely - Chicken Andaluz. The idea of the city's sheer diversity in food kind of shocks him, at times. He was used to nickle a cup coffee and toast.

"Invent one?" he asks, tentatively. Tony does seem entirely serious.

Pepper nods to Bucky at his request, then points Tony to the garlic and paprika shrimp on the menu.

"All right, let me call this in, and until the food arrives, Tony, I want you to go lie down. I don't care if it's on the living room sofa or a pool lounger, but go lie down. Okay?"

She then turns to Bucky. "I'd appreciate it if you'd Tony-sit for a few minutes while I go place this order." And make a quick phone call to one T'Challa of Wakanda.

Tony Stark nods to Pepper's choice. "Perfect," he says. He then tells Bucky, "Sure, it'll be like trying to nail jelly to a wall, but I've done more with less. I just need to figure out… I need to figure some things out."

He gets up and tells Pepper, "I'll go lie down upstairs. Before you get any ideas, I can't fixed the problem if I'm asleep." It's his token resistance before he heads upstairs.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License