Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Summary: The rouge Avengers are pardoned under the influence of King T’Challa and it is up to Tony to ‘welcome’ them back. But as he and his new team are at the private airport, an unexpected fight breaks loose and the fate of the whole universe is changed when a wizard places himself as Tony Stark’s protector.
“Thank you for coming, Mr Stark.” T’Challa said with a polite, not at all sincere smile as he shook hands with the genius a week later at the Avengers Compound. He was dressed to the nines, as though trying to compete with Stark’s three piece suit that seemed to define every part of his body just right. Steve found it exasperating but still endearing how Tony was trying to play the upper hand by throwing around his wealth and making a power-play. It’s not as if it’s working. The team had seen Tony in nothing but the drags he wears in his workshop, covered in grease and who knows what else, old and worn. He’s not going to impress anyone with that suit, no matter how good it made him look.
“It was no problem, King T’Challa. I just cut short a lunch with the president when he started getting calls from the UN about giving you guys pardons and it looked like he was starting to consider just giving the phone to me. That’s a bag of cat’s I don’t want to touch with a ten foot pole.” Steve frowned at the casual tone Tony was using when dismissing the president with his ever present paparazzi smirk in place. “Although, I was under the impression this was Accords-Avengers business.”
Tony didn’t even look at them and yet his words were pointed enough to get his point across as to whom he was referring. Clint and Wanda bristled while Nat and Sam frowned, one in thought and displeasure, the other in slight confusion. Scott and Bucky remained fidgety and silent both, just watching what was going on. Steve knew he was scowling at Tony but he wondered what T’Challa’s and Princess Shuri’s faces showed, as their backs were turned to the so called rouges. The Dora Milaje, though, seemed approving of Stark’s behavior so far. Then again, they’ve never been fond of Steve and his group.
“It is Accords-Avengers business, I assure you. But first, let me introduce you to my sister, Princess Shuri.” The teen smiled pleasantly at the billionaire and extended her hand. Tony shook it instead of kissing it but that didn’t seem to bother the princess, no matter how impolite. Steve just scoffed at the genius. They knew not to do that because Shuri had told them it wasn’t the Wakandan way. Stark didn’t know that and was just being rude. T’Challa sent him a warning look over his shoulder before turning back to Tony. “She is one of our scientists and technology developers back in Wakanda. I thought this might be a good experience for her, to see the outside world.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, your highness.” Huh. Tony’s smile seemed a bit warmer when he smiled at the girl. “I hope your stay is a success. And as lovely as this is, I have a meeting in an hour so if we can just move on to business?” It was worded as a question but Steve recognized a baseline order any day and he glared, disappointed, at the genius. Well, no matter. This meeting’s conversation wasn’t the main point of them being here. Shuri will soon show him up. Steve can’t wait to see Tony’s reaction when he realizes that he’s no longer the smartest in the room, or the one with the best toys. After seeing Wakanda, Tony’s things looked like child’s play.
“Of course,” T’Challa said as the king he was and gestured for Tony to take a seat. The billionaire, just to be difficult, grabbed a spare chair and sat at the far end of the circular table, away from both the Wakandans and the Avengers instead of sitting with his team like he should have. “Now, I wished to discuss the changes I have heard you made in the Accords.”
“It is all quite transparently stated in the Accords, your majesty.” Tony cut in before the king could get a word in regarding what he was going to ask. “I don’t mean to be rude, but there is a staff of lawyers right in this building that could help you go through them if you haven’t already done so with your own. The Accords are an ever changing contract, fluid as the people who sign it, but its core remains the same as it had always been: protection and accountability for superpowered, mutated, inhuman and all other heroic individuals. If that was all that you wished to discuss, I’m afraid you wasted your time in coming here today.”
“There is no need for such an aggressive approach, Mr Stark. I was referring to something else.” T’Challa said calmly but his eyes were narrowed. The Dora Milaje now actually looked torn between impressed and pissed with Tony. Not that Steve can blame them. He himself was not indifferent.
“It is not aggressive and I wish to express my sincerest-” Tony expertly ignored Wanda’s snorted comment about him knowing nothing about sincerity. “Apologies if I came across as such. I would simply not wish to waste either of our valuable times that we could spend leading our people. The SI R&D department doesn’t exactly run itself and I am sure Wakanda always needs its king. I know from experience that getting a meeting with King T’Chaka was an exercise in acrobatics, both of us being very busy men. I would not waste your time with something that has been stated clearly. If you have any other issues regarding the Accords, then I am all ears.”
“Wow,” Clint commented with a disbelieving shake of his head and a sneer in his voice. “Really laying in on it thick, Stark? I’ve never heard so much ass-kissing bullshit in my life.”
“Unlike you, Barton, I can be genuine and professional when at these meetings.”
“That was a low blow, Tony.” Natasha cut in before Tony could verbally decapitate Clint. She had a scolding tone to her voice and yet Tony only looked at her with a very not impressed expression on his face. “Pulling King T’Chaka into your mess? Emotional manipulation? Really?”
“I don’t know, you tell me. You are the so called expert in this field, aren’t you Agent Romanova.” It was interesting, Steve would admit, to see Natasha close off so quickly. He’d never seen her flinch like that. Clint was glaring daggers at Tony, who seemed completely unphased by it all. “And I wouldn’t pull out the murdered-parent cared because I actually know what King T’Challa and Princess Shuri must be going through. It’s never easy to lose a father or a father figure in your life, especially not so young and especially if it was because of murder. I am actually glad that they have the support they need to get through this. King T’Chaka has left a big footprint in our history and I am sure that together, his brilliant kids can continue on his legacy and make it greater. It’s a theme, these last few decades. I’m sure he’ll fit right in.” He waved it all off with a motion of his hand as though he were the king before completely ignoring them and turning back to T’Challa. “You were saying something else has interested you?”
“Yes,” T’Challa recovered pretty damn fast, Steve will admit. Faster than Steve would have, especially with the subtle bomb Tony had just dropped and no one seemed to have picked up on. But it was there and it was ticking. Steve worried when and how the others will find out about what happened in Siberia. It wasn’t his brightest moment but he had to protect Bucky! He was innocent! It was all HYDRA and yet Stark hadn’t cared and had attacked him anyway. “I noticed that there is a section specifically left for your first team-”
“Former,” Tony corrected casually, his eyes sliding to Shuri, who was currently on a pretty damn impressive phone that she had developed herself. He dismissed her before turning back to the now heavily frowning Black Panter. “As I have stated in our previous meeting while Director Fury was trying to play mediator, the UN has decided that there will no longer be a single Avengers team. There’s you lot and then there are the actually Avengers-”
“We are the actual Avengers, Stark.” Sam protested and found himself on the receiving end of a deadpan look.
“The actual Avengers are all accepted individuals who have signed the Accords contract. Last I heard from your liaison, he found all of the Accords contracts littering the floor of the Compound outside your rooms. Ergo, you are far from the actual Avengers.”
“I’ve already signed the Accords. Does that make me an official Avenger?” Natasha challenged and the smile Stark sent her way was chilling. This was businessman Stark. This was not the Tony Steve was used to.
“Actually, your contract has been terminated and the Russians want your head on a silver plater. Better yet, on a Vibranium plater but they know that’s not happening so they’ll settle for silver. The UN has put you under investigation and how you react to the current Accords will be part of your final evaluation, along with a personality and physic file you will all be tested for by the end of the month. Your liaison was supposed to tell you this later today, when he returns from the UN meeting in Paris, but I guess I just saved the poor bastard a headache. I wish you luck, Romanova. You’ll need it.”
“Are you threatening her?” Hissed Wanda, red flickering in her eyes and around her fingers. Tony ignored her, however, and sent another glance at Shuri, this time a frown briefly settling on his face before he shook it off and faced the now fuming Scarlet Witch. For a man who’d nearly been thrown into a wall the last time Wanda was this angry, Stark didn’t seem all that concerned. If anything, he had a bored look on his face, which only served to rail Wanda up more. Steve sent him disapproving looks that had always worked in the past but Tony didn’t even notice it, much to his surprise.
“When I’m threatening someone, believe me, they will know. I am simply stating a fact. Agent Romanova has a sea of red in her ledger that almost matches the one you have, Ms Maximoff. You better be on your best behavior because willing HYDRA agents don’t get good treatment. By any government.”
“Okay, Tony. That’s enough.” Steve squared his shoulders and stood up from where he was sitting, looking down at the still seated genius. “You’ve gone on with your temper tantrum long enough. It’s time to act like an adult for once in your life-” He stopped, seething, when Tony raised on finger in the air and sent a downright scowl in Shuri’s direction. Now that he looked at her, Steve could see obvious signs of frustration on her face as she worked on her phone, which surprised him. He knew she could do this, even if it was harder than they had assumed, but why was Tony glaring at her. No, never mind. That wasn’t part of his mission. That was Shuri’s to deal with. He had to corral Tony. It was his job as team leader to get the man to act like a proper, reasonable adult and realize that he was wrong to be treating them like this. “No. You are going to listen to me and you’re going to stop pretending to be busy with meetings that don’t happen with people who probably can’t stand you.” Brown eyes that were flickering under the light and for a second appeared as blue as the Arc Reactor turned to him with no emotion in them at all, which only further shocked him as Tony’s eyes always showed some emotion. The genius can never be still for long, so if no part of his body can move, his eyes come into full focus because they are always moving in some way. Flickers of emotion, dazed looks when he is planning or calculating something, the way they move around the room ...
That wasn’t what was happening now, though. Now they were still, steady and lacking all emotion. He almost thought this was someone else but the Arc Reactor still shone through underneath the waistcoat, even if only a little. But those eyes snapped away from him again just as Shuri shrieked as her phone all but exploded in her hands, giving her an electric shock. The advanced technological device - which looked like a pretty amped up version of an iPhone and a petty attempt at a StarkPhone, although it wasn’t as bad a knock off as any Hammer version; it still lacked the holographic projectors that Steve had seen on Stark’s tablets and phones, which was less impressive than how unbreakable the thing was since it was made of Vibranium; so much for that - was smoking and sparking electricity, completely roasted. The Princess’ hands were red but thankfully it didn’t look to be any serious burns. She was glaring at the device before the expression changed into shock and something a lot like wonder as she looked up at Tony.
The King was on Tony instantly, hands in the lapels of his suit and leaning threateningly close into his face. “You attacked my sister? You hacked her? Are you trying to steal Wakandan technology?” The Dora Mijale were instantly on guard, weapons at the ready and pointed at the genius. Who only gave T’Challa an unimpressed arched eyebrow.
“Please don’t pretend you don’t know what she was doing all this time. Don’t insult my intelligence like that. I gave her three fair warnings but she wouldn’t stop. The fourth time she tried to hack me, my AIs got a bit pissed. You should consider yourselves lucky that J and FRY have somepolitical decorum where these things are concerned.” He casually took hold of T’Challa’s hands and pried his fingers away with little effort, startling the dark skinned man. Tony smiled at them sarcastically as he stepped away from the flabbergasted man and turned to look at the gawking Shuri. ”Don’t try to hack me again. You’re fighting against three supper intelligences so just stop while you’re ahead and I don’t report you to the UN for trying to hack and steal my secrets.” His smile only became sharper. “Believe me when I say they will rather believe me than you. For all that you’ve managed to get out of your past fuck ups unscathed, a repeat won’t happen so easily. Especially not if Pep hears you’ve tried to hack anything filed away as SI property.”
“That doesn’t answer my question, Stark.” T’Challa growled but was wise enough not to grab Tony again. This was probably being filmed and could and would be used against them in some way. “Did you just hack my sister?”
“Nope. I have absolutely no reason to. I took one look at her tech and knew there was nothing there to learn that I didn’t already know. You just have resources I don’t and that’s never exactly been a problem for me before so, no.” The engineer waved him away with a patronizing smile. “I didn’t hack your sister’s phone.”
“Did you just say my design is inferior to yours?” The indignant princess asked and Tony shot her a look that clearly said ‘No shit, Sherlock’. “How dare you!? I’ve made that phone myself! There is nothing on Earth nearly as advanced as that phone!”
Tony snorted and reached into his breast pocket, throwing over a glass rectangle at the princess. She nearly dropped it when it lit up, showing over three dozen different apps on the very first page. She actually dropped it when a hologram jumped out of the projector that Steve didn’t know where it was hidden. Tony just arched an eyebrow at her as the room was lit up with the holographic image of what appeared to be plans for new battle armor for the US military, new radio transmitters, Starkphone designs, research in what looked like ten different fields, an unfinished paper about something ... The list went on and on around the room.
“That’s the phone I’ve made back in 2010. Pepper wants for us to finally put it in the market since I’ve kind of made, like, ten new versions since then. That ought to keep SI ahead for the next twenty years alone and I’m still making new things each day. And that was without Vibranium, honey, so when you can do that without Vibranium, we can call your phone better.”
“My phones are unbreakable.”
“And that glass is tougher than diamonds, made with the Hulk and Point Break in mind, so, yeah.” He shrugged and held out his hand for the device. Shuri, who had picked it up and was altering between fiddling with it and gawking at Tony with each new feature she found, hesitated, obviously wanting to study the device.
“And what do you use for communication these days?” She asked in the end, coming to the engineer and offering the device back to him. “Your watch?” She looked at the state of the art smart watch on Stark’s wrist with curiosity and wonder and Steve grit his teeth. Stark had just showed up the most technologically advanced country in the world with a phone and a watch and it had to be clouding his head and inflating his ego with this victory. “Does it have similar functions? What sort of power source do you use for it? Wait, is that your gauntlet watch that I heard about? What sort of power can you generate? How strong is the blast? What core do you use? How did you pack it inside of that? Wait,” the princess suddenly stopped short to take hold of Tony’s hand and bring the watch to eye level. “Is it nanotech?”
“No, it’s not nanotech.” Tony said with a sort of ... was that fond exasperation or amusement? Why would he-? That didn’t matter. Tony had just admitted to having inferior technology. Sure he can see he is outmatched- “I just know how to make big things smaller. You should see my Arc Reactor. The thing was originally, like, the size of a common house.” He tapped his chest once and Shuri followed the movement to the glow just barely visible through his clothing. “Now, this is it’s most common size.”
“How did you cram something that big into something that can fit into your chest without losing any power it could produce? That would, quite literally, require magic. I heard about your work but I thought it was a publicity scam.”
Tony snorted and gestured for Shuri to follow him. “It’s not magic, it’s two generations of genius put to work. My father created the first Arc Reactor model and I made the Arc Reactor itself and then miniaturized and improved it. He discovered a new element and I sythesized it-”
“A new element?!” Much to T’Challa’s and the Dora Milaje’s surprise, the ingenious teen followed after Tony like an excitable duckling.
“Yeah. I thought it fitting to name it Starkenium.” The engineer said as he exited the room. “After all, it was the work of two Starks. Howard was limited by the technology of his time but he, amazingly enough, left to me his legacy. I always thought my old man hated me so you can guess how I reacted to learning all of that.”
“How do you synthesize an element? What sort is it? What type? What do you use it for? What is its durability? It’s in your Reactor, isn’t it? Is it the one generating the power? How much? How long does it take to create? How long does the power last? When did you create it? Can you replicate the procedure? Is it more like a alloy or is it really synthesized? What method do you use, laser or magnetism?”
“Can’t tell you, since I’m waiting for a Nobel prize on that one.” Stark said, their voices fading down the hall. “Hey, you wanna come to my workshop? I’m having a little science binge with some other kids your age and my AIs. Rhodey’s in D. C. so we have the tower for ourselves! No one to chase us out to get some sleep! Just glorious coffee and energy drinks.”
“You have an AI?”
“I have four active AIs, three robotic AIs and am thinking about activating another one.”
“Haven’t you learned anything after Ultron, Stark?” Clint called after the retreating geniuses but was completely ignored by both.
“Can I meet them?” They heard Shuri ask excitedly and they all looked out into the hall from the meeting room’s doorway. Steve saw Tony hand her something that he was sure was a com unit and she placed it in her ear before turning shinning excited eyes on the proud genius.
“You should meet Vision. He’s a sythezoid. Combination of lots and lots of interesting layers. Nice guy. He’s an android with a Vibranium body. I could use a consultant regarding some things.”
“Am I dreaming?”
“Wait till you see my lab!” Tony laughed as they finally rounded a corner and out of sight. The last they heard of the two was Shuri informing her brother she won’t be coming back to the hotel for dinner, leaving the young kind gaping. They all just stood there, staring after them in astonishment.
“What the hell just happened?” Sam was the first to ask but no one had the answer.