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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2012, 1:14 am 
Rider of Rohan
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The playboy clenched his jaw, all but shoving Steve away without having actually meant to. There were suddenly too many people around him at once. Crowds, attention, he was used to it, usually reveled in it provided that they were only watching when he was up to putting on a show; but not right now, and not from these people.

He allowed Thor to help him to his feet before dropping the borrowed cloak back into the god’s hands. He could tell that, yet again, they were all staring at him but as before he ignored them. Bruce reached out once with the intention of making sure that he was alright, but Tony just brushed him off and ran a hand through his hair. He pulled his own cloak off, wringing it out and grimacing at the mud that now covered most of him.

“So,” he finally said, glad to find that he sounded at least semi-normal. “Where are we going next?”

“Tony-”

“I do not think that it is wise to-”

“Look, it was just a swim in an - admittedly freaky - lake,” he said, shaking his head and giving them all his best ‘you’re making a big deal out of nothing’ look. The only ones he avoided were Clint and Steve. “Which reminds me - your future telling mermaid is a fraud. All she showed me was the bottom of the lake and some very strange fish.”

“Even so, Tony, I think we should head back,” Bruce insisted, using that rare, serious tone that he usually reserved for whenever Tony or Steve were being stubborn about injuries. “We still have plenty of time to explore Asgard when you’re not soaking wet.” And possibly on the verge of a mild case of shock.

“Banner is correct,” Thor nodded.

“Yeah, come on, Tony,” Clint added in. He still looked a little freaked out, keeping well away from the water’s edge. Natasha alone had been silent the whole time, subjecting Tony to that calculating stare that she was master of.

“Come on, Stark,” she suddenly said, nodding her head towards the cliffs before turning and walking away, leaving everyone else with no choice but to follow or be left behind.

Bruce walked along beside him and Clint shadowed him on the other side, though both stayed far enough away to at least make it look like they weren’t hovering. Tony knew better but raised no protests. Of all of them Thor seemed the most concerned, and also a bit upset. Natasha patted his bicep as she past to mount her horse. “Don’t worry about it, Thor. It wasn’t your fault.”

The god nodded but still looked crestfallen. He would feel much better once Banner declared that Stark was in fact unharmed. “Come, my friends, let us return.”

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2012, 11:58 am 
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Natasha wandered off first in the general direction of the palace while Thor mounted his horse and turned to wait for the others. Steve, who hadn't quite exactly been as subtle as Clint and Bruce in his concern over the playboy, hovered over Tony and put a hand over his arm. He whistled low to Viruccolo, who trotted over and lowered his head.

"Come on, I'll help you up--"

"--thanks, but no thanks." Tony snapped, recoiling away from the soldier. Steve looked a little hurt, but he masked his expression quickly. He tossed the reins at the playboy and shrugged a shoulder.

"Have it your way then."

As he swiveled around to mount Roan, there was a sudden, alarming neigh in the distance. At the same moment, four dozen or so birds shot up from the treetops and swarmed the air, crying and escaping their nests. Thor's head jerked up. His expression darkened.

"Bilgesnipe."

"Bilge... what?" Bruce looked uneasy. "Wha-"

But he was cut off as Clint shot past him on his mount, charging towards the direction where the birds had scattered. Steve, catching the pale expression on the archer's face, exchanged looks with Thor.

"Natasha." And with that, the soldier sped off to catch up to Clint with the god at his heels.


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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2012, 3:12 pm 
Rider of Rohan
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Tony took only a second longer to realize what was happening, mostly wrapped up in his own head as he’d been. With a look of intense alarm he swung up onto Virocullo, hanging back only to make sure that Bruce was able to do the same. Fortunately Atalia seemed to have sensed the urgency because for once she allowed the physicist to mount without incident. As soon as they were both seated they shot off after the others.

--

Clint rode hard, the sleek animal beneath him sensing his alarm and nearly flying. Thankfully Natasha had not had time to ride too far ahead. Calamus - the archer’s horse - reared to a halt as he rounded a bend in the road, the scene before him more than even the brave beast of Asgard was willing to ride into without prompting. Clint’s eyes hardened and he swung free of the saddle before the animal had even settled, bow flipping off of his back and snapping open in his hands in less time than to took to blink.

Opening up beside the path was a shallow drop, blocked off on one side by the cliffs that hid the lake from sight. Natasha was currently scrambling her way up the rocky cliffside. The archer’s sharp eyes took in a sliver of crimson that ran down her temple and disappeared into her collar and his jaw tightened in anger. Below the female assassin the single most hideous animal that Clint had ever seen reared up, clawing at the rocks while it’s long, snake-like neck reached up to snap at her. Natasha kicked it away once, nearly slipping before regaining her grip and continuing to climb.

Clint drew an arrow back, eyes cold and hard as he aimed straight for the beasts throat.

“Barton, wait!”

Thor appeared behind him, knocking the bow aside before the archer could act. Swearing in anger Clint leapt up, his face set in kill-mode. “What the hell-”

“Arrows cannot penetrate the hide of the Bilgesnipe,” the god informed him. “You would only anger if further.”

“Then what the hell are we supposed to do?!”

“We must distract it, draw it to us. It’s hide is thick and hard as stone, but it has one weakness, a very small place just above it’s heart where the hide is always thin. We much pierce its flesh in that place if it is to be killed.”

Natasha nearly slipped again, having reached a point in the cliff where even she could go no higher. The monster beneath her hissed, rearing it’s body back and slamming into the wall in an attempt to shake her down. Tony jogged up behind the others along with Bruce, each looking at the beast with wide eyes. Thor raised his hammer, eyes hard and bright with the light of battle. “Stand back, my friends, I shall draw the beast away. Rogers, you and I must keep its focus. Barton, when it rears you must find the unarmored area and strike with your arrow before it has the chance to fall and protect itself again.”

“Should I... you know, let the Other Guy out?” Bruce put in, looking at the monster and then back to his team mates in concern.

“Nay, Banner,” Thor shook his head. “Not unless we find ourselves in need.” No one ever wanted Bruce to have to do that unless it was necessary.

They all moved back as Thor began to swing Mjolnir - the only weapon any of them had aside from Clint’s ever present bow and quiver of arrows. The hammer whistled through the air and when Thor released it, shot off like a star. It struck hard and true, snapping the Bilbesnipe’s head aside with a blow that would have killed any normal beast.

“Beware it’s antlers,” Thor added as the creature turned to face them with an angry scream. “They have no venom, but they are sharp. I have known many to fall from the wounds they can inflict.”

“Great,” Clint muttered.

The hammer swung back and struck the beast again as it returned to the hands of its master.

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2012, 11:28 pm 
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The bilgesnipe, as predicted, was less than amused by the god's antics. With a blood-curdling screech it lunged forward, forcing the avengers to scatter on either side of the beast. Natasha had somehow disappeared during Thor's distraction. Clint swore under his breath as he scrambled up one of the trees to get a better view.

The creature seemed to be well aware of the archer's intentions, because it recoiled backwards to protect the vulnerable spot. Without warning, the beast swung its head ruthlessly towards the tree, forcing Clint to cling to one of the branches. His bow slipped out of his hand and fell to the grass. With the snarl, the bilgesnipe continued to harass the archer, swinging its spiny tail to and fro.

Unable to sit still, Steve jumped off of Roan and sped towards the beast.

"HEY!" He felt helpless without his shield, but he made do with a large rock instead. With an impressive amount of force, he hurled the stone at the creature's head. The bilgesnipe made an irritated sound, but paid no attention to the soldier. Steve wrapped his arms around the tail, careful not to jab his face on one of the spines, and dug his heels into the mud as he yanked it away from Clint. The bilgesnipe screeched and spun its long neck around when it realized that it was slowly moving backwards. Teeth bared, it raised one massive claw and made a swipe at the struggling soldier.

"BARTON!" Bruce had somehow managed to maneuver around the bilgesnipe. He tossed the bow up. Clint swung down and snatched it deftly in midair. Natasha's fiery head suddenly appeared in between the leaves several feet below her partner. As the bilgesnipe managed to shake Steve off of its tail, sending the soldier through the air and into the side of the mountain, she held onto one of the branches and swung forward, her feet catching the beast squarely in the jaw. The creature snapped at its attacker, but she was too quick for him. In a blink of an eye, she disappeared into the greenery again.

Thor stepped forward, spinning his hammer in one hand and raising his face towards the sky. The pink and gold clouds darkened.

"Take shelter, my friends, for I believe the storm is yet to come."

Thunder rumbled in reply to the god's warning.


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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2012, 12:51 am 
Rider of Rohan
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Tony slid down the low embankment that dropped off from the path and scrambled to where the super soldier had fallen after the bilgesnipe had sent him flying. He skidded to a stop beside the downed man, relieved to see that he appeared to be fine, aside from being a little dazed. Regardless, and for the moment forcing aside all of his reasons for staying as far away from the Steve as possible, he dropped to one knee and helped the other man to sit up. “You alright?”

Whatever answer Steve might have given was drown out by a deafening crash of thunder. Lightning split the sky, rocketing towards the ground and converging into one massive surge of electricity. It struck the raging monster full square in the back, causing the beast to scream in agony and rage. The force of it sent both the playboy and the soldier flying back against the rock again and Tony held his hand up to block the light as he tried to see what was happening.

As the lighting faded away Thor didn’t pause but instead ran directly at the beast, which lay still and smoldering upon the ground. Natasha dropped from the tree as well, while Clint stayed above with his bow drawn back and ready. Giving a loud battle cry the god of thunder leapt, hammer raised to deal a final blow.

The tail came out of nowhere, moving with a speed that mimicked Thor’s lightning as it struck the god full in the chest. The bilgesnipe rolled to it’s feet, hissing and snarling at Natasha as she attempted to find a way to get behind it. She rolled beneath the massive body as the creature staggered to its feet, sliding in the dirt and just barely avoiding the razor sharp antlers that swung for her.

Thor cast his hammer again and Clint shot a few arrows as a distraction so that Natasha could get away from the trampling feet that threatened to crush her. Tony, meanwhile, knelt by the cliffside, one hand unconsciously and protectivly on Steve’s shoulder as he looked around, trying to work out a way to end this. Brute force obviously wasn’t working, as the dragon/horse/snake creature was far too wise to give Barton a shot. With every blow delivered by Thor it only curled in more, defending itself while turning to threaten the assassins in the tree again.

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2012, 1:40 am 
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"We need to create a diversion!" Steve shouted to them, but no one was listening. He placed a hand over to Tony's briefly to confirm that he was ok, and then darted back out to help the rest of the group. As Natasha escaped from the bilgesnipe, Steve caught her in his arms and pulled her away from the beast.

Suddenly, without warning, the creature reared upwards on its hind legs, pawing at the air with its claws. Its shriek came as a battle cry. Suddenly, it lunged forward and collided with Clint's tree. The sheer force of its weight caused the trunk to splinter and break cleanly in half. The archer was swallowed beneath the ugly mass. Natasha broke free from Steve's grip and shot forward. With her red hair clinging to her forehead, she gave a cry and rolled into the gap between the monster and the tree as the bilgesnipe howled and scrambled to its feet. Both of the agents had vanished in the debris.

"BARTON! ROMANOVA!" For once, Steve looked as though he was losing his control. Bruce's gaze darted from the soldier and god to the bilgesnipe.

"You guys--" He spluttered. The captain looked up just in time to see the doctor struggling and doubling over.

"No! NO!" Steve hurled himself on top of the physicist and pinned him to the ground. "Bruce. Bruce, it's going to be ok. Look at me. It's fine. Breathe. Breathe, Banner--"


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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2012, 2:21 am 
Rider of Rohan
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While Steve tried to help Banner and Natasha looked for Clint among the shattered remains of the tree, Thor was left to deal with the bilgesnipe alone. The god brought his hammer down hard upon the beast’s neck, drawing its attention away from the others. A snarling scream was the reply and the Asgardian monster leapt at the god, flinging the full force and weight of it’s body against him and all but crushing him into the ground.

Dazed and scraped but otherwise alive, Natasha and Clint broke free of the debris. The archer immediately drew his bow back again but there was no clear shot. Flinging Thor across the dirt with a blow from it’s tail, the bilgesnipe snarled, it’s head oscillating towards the battered assassins, the soldier, and the physicist. Hissing in challenge it turned fully towards them intending to charge.

The rock came out of nowhere, thwacking the beast just beneath the eye in a pitiful attempt at distraction. The body that followed was equally surprising and much more effective as somehow Tony dove off of the nearby rocks and landed hard on the monster’s neck, just missing the antlers.

Time to see what good I am without the suit.

Startled by the unexpected attack the creature shrieked, tossing its head around in an effort to shake the playboy off. Tony held on with all he was worth, grunting as he was tossed mercilessly around. “BARTON!”

Growing increasingly angry and enraged the serpent-headed animal dropped to the ground, rolling and thrashing. Tony kept his grip as best he could, gasping or grinding his teeth whenever he hit the ground. He had to hold on long enough for Barton to get a shot.

When the creature resorted to slamming Tony against the cliffside, the playboy felt his grip finally begin to slip. At long last, and just as the he finally let go and slid to the ground, the bilgesnipe reared, its rage and desperation causing it to abandon all caution. Clint had been waiting for just such a moment, and as the bare patch of skin shimmered in the afternoon sun he shot, arrow speeding swift until it sunk deep into the monster’s chest.

The air stilled as the beast halted, shock glazing its ice cold eyes. Then, with an agonized roar more painful and ear-splitting than any it had uttered before it staggered, falling back against the cliff and to the ground. Dark blood oozed from the wound and with a final shudder the hate-filled eyes dimmed and closed.

The Avengers all stood still, panting and staring at the finally dead monster. Bruce was the first to move, still shaking but seeming in control as he shoved up from the ground with a look of alarm.

“Tony!”

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2012, 2:58 am 
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"Jesus, Tony--" Clint snapped his bow shut and started towards the playboy, but Steve was quicker. Thor hovered over the men as the soldier slipped his arms around Tony, one under his neck and the other behind his knees. With a grunt, he stood up and turned. Bruce was already beside them.

"He needs medical attention." The doctor pressed his fingers against the playboy's wrist to take his pulse, then checked his pupils. "My supplies are back at home." Bruce looked distressed. He dragged his fingers through his dark hair, clearly feeling helpless in the situation.

"Do not worry yourself, Banner, for the palace apothecary may know what to do if we hurry back." Thor said calmly, though his eyes spoke otherwise. He was clearly feeling worried over the playboy's behalf.

"Well what are we waiting for?" Clint climbed on top of his mount and yanked at the reins.

"Rogers..." Thor looked uncertain as Steve gently placed Tony upon Roan and mounted.

"I've got him," Steve said gruffly, helping Tony sit up while still keeping his arms around his waist. "It's gonna be all right, Stark. Hang on. You're not dying on my watch." The soldier sped off towards the palace without looking back at the group.


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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2012, 8:30 pm 
Rider of Rohan
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Tony had experienced more alarming returns to consciousness. The first time he awoke to find a car battery strapped to his chest was by far the worst in memory. That had been painful, disorienting, and truthfully one of the most terrifying moments of his life. This return to awareness was painful and disorienting, but the soft cushions of the surface beneath him went a long way to immediately convincing his brain that he was, for the moment at least, somewhere safe. Dangerous places never involved comfortable beds, after all, at least not in his experience. A quick survey confirmed this, though it took him a moment to recall why he was in a room that looked like it belonged in a mythology book.

Darkness crept in through the windows, leaving the only illumination to come from a fair sized fire crackling in the hearth. Along with the darkness he immediately noticed that he was alone, though judging from the state of the room and the partially open door he hadn’t been that way for long.

Dropping his face into the pillow again he took a moment to sort through the fuzzy images in his brain. It didn’t take long for him to remember. The mermaid, the vision, everyone hovering over him while he sat in the mud. That had been followed by the bilge-whatever, with a cornered Natasha, Steve hitting the cliffside, and himself just standing on the sidelines being completely useless while the others tried to fight off the Asgardian beast. The memories ended with him jumping on top of a scaly neck and being throw about like a rag doll.

He stared at the ceiling for a long while, taking stock of what hurt and finding that nearly everything did. Not surprising, since he seemed to remember smashing into the ground three or four times. He decided that he had obviously blacked out and the others had brought him back to the palace, where he’d been wrapped up tighter than a mummy and left to sleep. That was the only explanation for the bed and the bandages that wrapped his chest and entire right shoulder.

Eventually he threw the coverings back and sat up, cradling his injured arm with his undamaged one as he dropped his legs over the side and slowly rose to his feet. His knees wobbled a little, threatening to buckle beneath him at first, but he eventually managed to stand without having to cling to the bed frame. Common sense said that he should probably lie back down, especially since his stomach now churned with an angry vengeance and his head throbbed along to the beat of his heart - sure signs of a concussion - but he ignored the instinct to curl up and go back to sleep and instead headed for the door. He pulled it open silently, limping out into the dark common room and looking around.

Everyone was there; Natasha lay one of the couches near the fire, one arm tucked beneath her head while she stared calmly into the dancing flames. Clint was out on the balcony, perched up on the railings with one knee pulled up beneath his chin. Thor was with him, each talking quietly about something that Tony couldn’t quite make out. In the corner near Tony’s room Steve and Bruce were also talking, each half turned away from him. The entire team looked a little worse for the wear, everyone but Bruce sporting cuts and scrapes from the fight.

Tired but unwilling to duck back into his room just yet the playboy leaned against the doorframe, careful not to jar his shoulder as he settled against the smooth surface of the wall. A one-sided smile pulled at his face as he shook his head and looked around. “Someone please tell me that this isn’t supposed to be a party,” he said suddenly. “Because this,” he motioned to the room, “is sad.”

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2012, 1:00 am 
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Bruce swiveled around at the sound of Tony's voice. A look of relief broke across his features as he crossed the room with the others following close behind. Steve, however, lingered back awkwardly. He watched quietly as the doctor perched on the edge of the bed and placed a hand over the playboy's forehead.

"How are you feeling, buddy?"

"You took quite a hit out there." Natasha raised her eyebrow. "Most would say it was borderline idiotic."

"I have been informed that you are not to leave this bed chamber for the remainder of your stay here." The god looked apologetic, but his voice was firm. "Your body is still weak, Stark, and you will need much time to recover."

"No buts." Bruce interjected before Tony could reply. "It's your fault for nearly killing yourself. You can thank Steve for ensuring that you didn't." The physicist adjusted the blankets over the playboy like a true mother hen as he continued. "He got back to the palace ten minutes before any of us did. From what I've been told, he carried you up to the healing room himself and ordered all possible hands to work on you immediately. He refused to leave until you were stable."

"Where is he, anyway?" Clint asked suddenly.

The rest of the group looked bewildered when they realized the soldier had left. Natasha was the only one who remained expressionless, for she had seen the captain slip away just before Bruce had told Tony that he had saved his life. She briefly glanced at the door where Steve had left, but remained silent.


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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2012, 1:39 am 
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Tony’s look went from amused, to annoyed, to downright stubborn as he was hovered over. He raised a few paltry objections and outright refused to stay in bed once, but for the most part he left it alone. He would just get up as soon as they weren’t around anyway.

While everyone else shared looks of bewilderment when they noticed that Steve was missing Tony looked straight to Natasha. Her eyes met his and she arched one brow, part in question and part in challenge.

“You should get some sleep,” Bruce instructed finally, obviously troubled by Cap’s disappearance but also being somewhat used to the soldier wandering off by now. They were all used to it by now.

Tony looked about to object but the physicist shook his head. “No, Tony.” The concern in the other man’s eyes was enough to keep the playboy from arguing, at least for the moment.

“Fine.” When the others all shared skeptical looks the genius smirked. “Cross my heart.” And my fingers.

Bruce still looked distrustful, but it was late and they had all had a long day. “I’ll be in to check on you every few hours,” he warned, letting the injured man know that any shenanigans wouldn’t go undiscovered for long.

“Behave yourself, Tony,” Clint said, his mood seeming much lighter now that the playboy was awake and obviously not about to die. He ducked a swat from Natasha and slipped out of the room, followed by the others.

“Romanova,” Tony called after the female agent. Natasha turned back with a curious expression. “Why is it that when I buy him a cake you make me own up, but when he practically saves my life he’s allowed to slip away?”

The ex-Russian agent simply gave a slight smile that hinted at no answer whatsoever. “Goodnight, Stark,” she said, leaving the door cracked behind her as she left the playboy alone.

Tony watched her go with a tired half-glare.

He waited a full half hour, listening for any sound of the soldier’s return. Steve’s vanishing act annoyed him, though he had no idea why. When the other man hadn’t come back after that time the playboy came to a decision. As silently as possible he slid from the bed, grimacing as his balance was still unstable and he swayed. Again common sense demanded he get back in bed, and again he ignored it.

With awkward movements that were also painful Tony managed to get his good arm into one of the leather jackets that had been left for him. The other sleeve he just let hang across his shoulder. With aggravating slowness he made his way to the door and slipped into the common room. He nearly swore when he saw Bruce on one of the larger couches, but relaxed when he noticed that the other man was sound asleep.

By some miracle he made it out of the shared room without waking anyone. Once in the main halls he paused, leaning against the wall and thinking hard as he debated on a direction to begin his not-search-for-Steve-excursion.

Where, oh where, would a soldier go?

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2012, 2:27 am 
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Steve was on the balcony at the end of the corridor. The double doors had been left open, with the white chiffon curtains dancing gently with the breeze. The soldier tilted his face towards the incredibly lit sky, lost in thought. He had never witnessed anything so inspiring. In fact, he had never seen so many stars before. The only thing that ever came close was the night Howard Stark had finished his suit...

"How many stars d'you think there are, Stevie?" Howard hiccuped, snatching the bottle away from the soldier with a chuckle. Steve grinned and relinquished the scotch without a fight. He leaned back in the lawn chair and tilted his face towards the sky, which was framed with an arc of the tallest trees in the forest.

"I don't know. I've never been an astronomer." He replied. He laughed when the older man shot to his feet, swinging the bottle back and forth. He pointed upwards with a drunken grin.

"I would tell you, but I'm damned drunk." Howard laughed. "I will tell you something else, though. I love stars. They're so bright. See that one, there?" He jabbed his finger aimlessly. "That one is Orion. His belt to be exact." He took another swig from the bottle. "Funny how our imaginations can shape things with just a few bright dots, eh?"

"I suppose." Steve looked amused. Howard stopped, then stared at the soldier intently. Then he collapsed back into the adjacent chair, looking thoughtful.

"Think they're up there, Rogers?"

"Who?" Steve still seemed amused by Howard's drunkenness to take his words into account. The inventor turned his face and looked at the soldier for a minute.

"Your parents."

Steve's smile faded. He said nothing for a long time. His gaze fell to his hands as he cleared his throat.

"I don't know." He said finally. Howard watched him.

"Well, you know what?" The older man clapped a hand on the soldier's shoulder and nodded at the sky. "I think they are." He paused, waiting for Steve to look at him. "And if they saw you today... you know... with your suit and everything. They would be proud. Not every day a man like you comes around. Fearless and strong."

"It's all in the chemicals." Steve shrugged and looked away. Howard's grip tightened.

"No. I mean strong in here." He jabbed the soldier's chest with a hard look. "That kind of courage... it don't come easily, Rogers. I've been a scientist all my life and trust me..." He let out a low whistle. "No chemicals I know of can create something that extraordinary."

Steve continued to stare at his hands, but his mouth twisted into a small smile. Seeing this, Howard released the soldier and sat back in his chair with a happy look on his face.

"Someday, I'm going to take my son to see the stars."

Steve looked back at the inventor and laughed quietly.

"You don't have a son."

"I know! I'm not
that drunk." Howard waved his hand, shooting Steve a slight scowl. "I'm just saying..." He cleared his throat again. "If I ever do have one... I'm taking him to see the stars. We're going to look for constellations. He's gonna know them all. The brightest in his class and in the world." Steve said nothing, only smiling as Howard continued to daydream. The inventor took another gulp from the bottle, looking thoughtful and hesitant. He turned his head to meet the soldier's gaze.

"You think I'll be a good dad, Rogers?"

Steve put his hands together and glanced up at the stars before looking back at the man beside him.

"Yeah." It was one word, but it was simple and powerful enough to make Howard grin. He tossed the bottle aside and slid his hands behind his head.

"The three of us will go stargazing someday. I think he'd like that. Little Stark."

As Howard closed his eyes and drifted off, Steve turned back to the sky again, hiding a small smile in the cover of darkness.

"Yeah..." He murmured. From where he was sitting, he could almost make out the shape of his mother's figure in the sky. But it was probably just his imagination. "... me too."


Steve exhaled and looked down at his hands, not realizing until that moment that he had been gripping the balcony. He rolled his shoulders back and turned around. He froze when he saw Tony in the corridor.

"Stark?"


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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2012, 1:16 pm 
Rider of Rohan
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Tony spotted Steve mere seconds before the soldier turned. When his name echoed down the corridor he grimaced, pushing off of the wall and out of the half-shadows to head towards the balcony doors. He walked slowly, hoping that it came across as more casual wandering and less moving at a snail’s pace so that I don’t fall over.

“I swear to god that if the next words out of your mouth are ‘you shouldn’t be out here’, I will take your suit and have it changed to Captain Canada,” the playboy warned as he moved out into the open air. It was a little chilly, but compared to the room that he was apparently set to be trapped in for the next few days it was fantastic. Propping himself up against the railing, he looked at Steve with cautious curiosity before turning his gaze to stare at the exterior of the palace. “You know, if you didn’t want to say hello you could have just stayed by the fire. It’s not like I would have come and forced you into conversation or anything.”

The irony of that statement hit him as he realized that forcing Steve into conversation was exactly what he was doing. The fact that he probably sounded like a child who had gotten his feelings hurt also occurred to him, but he brushed that feeling away quickly and shrugged his uninjured shoulder. "I mean, I'm just saying you didn’t have to actually leave."

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2012, 8:54 pm 
Ent
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Steve blinked, unsure of what to say. He cleared his throat and shrugged a little before looking back at the stars.

"Just needed some fresh air, I guess." He glanced at the playboy. He gestured back towards the bedroom, his expression guarded. "And I suppose you needed some too?"

The soldier turned his body so his back was to Tony. He leaned his arms on top of the stone balcony and gazed upwards again. A strange feeling crossed over him as he spotted the three familiar stars in the sky that made Orion's belt. Realizing the sad irony of the situation, his shoulders sagged a little, but his expression remained unreadable.

"The stars look nice from here."


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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2012, 9:48 pm 
Rider of Rohan
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Arms crossing over his chest Tony tilted his head back and looked skyward. “Yeah. You don’t really get to see them in New York. Or Malibu.”

Not that he really ever bothered to look. Stargazing wasn’t exactly the kind of night-time activity expected of a billionaire playboy. Strange, considering that at the age of eight he had begun to learn them all, spending hours pouring over star charts and memorizing constellations with childish dedication.

Looking down at the tiled floor Tony sniffed in quiet laughter. Just another achievement meant to impress dad.

“Howard, how could you? You knew how much this gala meant to me, and now you’ve gone and gotten drunk again.” The woman’s voice was tight, laced with fed-up anger that came from too many years of repeating the same conversation.

From his slumped position on the patio furniture Howard Stark didn’t so much as flinch, head in his hand as he tilted the bottle of whiskey back and took another long swallow. “Not tonight, Maria. Please. Just... not tonight.”

Tony watched from behind the couch as his mother threw up her hands. “Not tonight? If not tonight then when Howard?” She sighed. “I know you’re disappointed, darling, but we all knew that nothing was going to come of this. Why can’t you just move on and accept it?”

“B’cause!” the inventor snapped, his eyes harding in cold anger before he suddenly seemed to deflate. “I just... not tonight, Maria. I can’t. Y’go on, make my apologies t’the mayor and leave me alone.”

A few more words were shared, each sentence growing colder and colder until Tony simply stopped listening. He knew he shouldn’t even be there, but Dad had been so... sad after Aunt Peggy had gone.

When Maria left, Howard remained where he was, sloshing back the whiskey as though it were water. Suddenly, when half the bottle was well on it’s way to gone, the inventor leapt from his seat and swayed, a curse slipping past his lips as he sent the drink flying. The glass shattered against the stones and Tony gasped.

As before Howard’s anger deflated and he dropped back again, face buried in his hands. “I’m sorry, kid,” he moaned in misery to the air. “I tried.”

Without being aware of his actions Tony found himself at his father’s side, a tentative hand reaching out to fall on the miserable man’s shoulder. “Dad?”

Howard jumped in alarm, eyes wide as his son startled him. He blinked a few times, trying to see past his intoxicated haze. “...Anthony? What’re you-” he looked around, “-What’re you doing up? Shouldn’t’ you be’n bed?”

“I - I’m sorry, dad,” the boy stammered quickly. “I just wanted to...”

Howard Stark took a moment to look at his son, to really look at him for the first time in years. Slowly, his disoriented gaze turned soft and heartbreakingly sad.

“S’okay, son.”

Silence fell again and Howard went back to his drunken brooding. He blinked when a young voice once again broke the stillness. “...Dad?”

“Hm?”

“I’m sorry you couldn’t find Cap. You looked hard though, and Aunt Peggy says...”

When Tony trailed off the inventor rolled his head to look at the boy, his forehead creasing in a frown of anger that had nothing to do with his son at all. “Go on, spit it out,” he ordered. “She said what?”

Tony swallowed. “She said that it isn’t your fault.”

Spikes of everything from anger, to annoyance, to soul-smothering guilt rolled through Howard. Tony flinched upon seeing the emotions and the expression caused the father to pause. His eyes softened and filled with drunken regret.

“C’mere, kid.”

When Tony had settled into a chair beside his father, tense but childishly eager, Howard leaned back and pointed at the sky.

“D’you know how many stars there are?”

Tony shook his head. “No sir.”

Howard chuckled a little. “Me either.”


Tony reached up to rub his eyes. He hadn’t thought about that night in... decades. He couldn’t remember exactly, but some part of him seemed to recollect that he and his dad had watched the stars all that night. Tony had taken astronomy classes after that in school but it hadn’t mattered. Howard had never said anything about them ever again.

Looking up again Tony pursed his lips. This isn’t what he had come out here for.

“My old man said once that they could see us - all the people we know who’ve died. Probably the most sentimental thing he ever told me,” he murmured suddenly, not even sure where the words had come from or why he was making a fool of himself by speaking them aloud. Too late now though. He rolled his head to look at the soldier, wondering whether or not the other man would even bother to reply.

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 Post subject: Re: Avengers, Assemble! (Private RP)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2012, 11:42 pm 
Ent
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Steve noticeably froze when Tony spoke of Howard. He exhaled and forced his shoulders to relax again. He rolled the tension out of them and tilted his face upwards. He remained silent for a minute, lost in thought.

"He might be right. Your father, I mean." The soldier said finally. "For all we know... they could all be watching us." He hesitated, then straightened up and slipped his hands into his pockets. "I don't know much about stars, but I guess none of us will really understand all of it." He shot a sideways glance at the playboy. "Anyway, I don't think it hurts to be sentimental about them every now and then."

He cleared his throat, looking awkward for a moment. He slowly turned his gaze back to the sky. When he spoke again, his voice was quiet, as if he were speaking more to himself than Tony.

"I wonder how many stars are up there."


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