Great Minds

OOC Date: December 21, 2013
IC Date: December 21, 2013
Characters: Tony Stark & Bruce Banner


Garage - Stark Mansion: 10880 Malibu Pt
Down a concerete staircase, one comes to an enclosed area. The walls are glass and a single glass door forbidding entry. On the glass wall by the handle is a small holographic keypad. Beyond this small enclosed area is a very large Garage style mechanic's shop. It spans most of the square footage of the estate and remains entirely underground except for the ramp that goes above ground at the far end.

One wall houses several 'cases' for the Iron Man suits, each one separately lit and has its own deployment mechanism. One is much smaller than the others, having a shelf that holds what looks like a red and gold suitcase. Not far from it is a large desk that has three large holographic screens. Back in one corner is a small kitchenette; a sink, coffee pot, blender, etc. Nothing fancy, but functional.

On the far end, having survived being removed for space for an earlier experiment, are two sports cars.

~~~

Bruce could have likely gotten Tony's location from Agent Romanoff. At least on approach, Tony's house looks much the same as it did in Malibu except there is a large forest behind it instead of an ocean. And his house has seen some.. better days. Blown out windows upstairs, holes dug in the floor where cables were once dropped.

When Banner arrives upstairs, JARVIS is quick to greet: "Dr. Banner, welcome. Mr. Stark is downstairs, I'm sure you remember where the garage is."

Garage. Tony's 'shop'.

Once he goes down the stairs, he would be greeted with a large satellite (at least large in his garage, smaller and more compact than most communications satellites. It is all put together, and Tony is standing off to one side of it, a holographic screen in front of him as he measures in/outputs as he runs a test on the satellite.

At the far end of the garage are multiple hunks of random metals that he has collected. A big debris pile.

"Thanks… JARVIS," Banner replies to the 'butler' as he walks inside what once was a mansion. He glances out the windows briefly, to check on his ride — what appears to be a vintage 1960s Charger with no wheels… and a jury-rigged Stark Industries gravitic-reversion drive — and then heads downstairs.

Banner is almost grinning.

Almost.

"You know…" he remarks as he reaches the bottom of the stairs. "I was just going to… say something about how I land here with a rennovated fallout shelter and a fake town — while you get the 'mansion from paradise'… but actually now I don't feel so bad."

He eyes the debris pile.

"Somehow I feel right at home, Tony."

"What happens when you have a near-death experience and want to live your life to the fullest." Tony responds flatly, tapping a few things on the hologram before he turns to look at the other man. "You wouldn't happen to have a cell phone on you would you?"

"Oh, let him in JARVIS. Its a bit disconcerting for people to watch outside the glass, I feel like a lab rat."

"So New York?"

As the transparent doors to Stark's workshop open, and Banner steps inside, he snorts wryly and rests his hands on his hips. "Shawarma?" he counters, answering a question with a question and grimacing faintly at the memory. There's another snort, followed by a light chuckle.

Then he pauses.

"Extremis?" he asks as he walks around the satellite, looking it over. "I'm still not that kind of doctor, you know that, right?"

"I hadn't gotten to New York, yet." Tony states off handedly, giving a small shake of his head to the rest.

"Wanted to test something." Tony taps a couple of other things on the screen before the lights on the satellite power up, going from the outside in. Gauges on the holographic screen jump up, but mostly stay within the green.

Across the room, by Banner, Tony's cell phone lights up and goes off.

He taps the screen again and the satellite powers down, and the 'call' stops. "Extremis?" He finally turns to the other man, curious. "Ever salvage that transport?"

"No Extremis yet," Banner confirms with a bob of his head. "Okay." He frowns down at the phone, then reaches to pick it up. The man frowns briefly, glances aside at the satellite and then crosses the room to Tony, holding out the device.

"You missed a call," he explains. When asked about the transport, he chuckles. "More or less. It's not exactly my field of expertise, but at least now I don't have to walk everywhere. Let me guess — communications uplink?"

Banner motions to the satellite.

"I've only managed to link my systems with SHIELD's — bypassing multiple quantum barriers simultaneously requires just a bit more power than I can generate at 'home'. I did find some mineral deposits under the Wastelands… deep under. Trace amounts of the 'good stuff' — some vibranium — and a few minerals I can't identify."

He motions to the satellite and replaces his hands on his hips once more. "How can I help?"

Banner holding out the phone gets a small look from Tony. "You do know me, right?" He doesn't like to be handed things.

He swats at the holographic screen near the satellite to 'throw' it towards his desk and the displays shoot up on the three screens there. "Yup. Once I get the network up, it should work on any device with a telecommunications capability. Phones. TVs… computers. Bringing the age of technology to the dark ages."

"Vibranium?" Tony turns midstep at hearing that particular element. "Really? How deep? I'll have JARVIS setup an uplink with your systems. Once we get the communications network going, I really would like to go home. Wouldn't you?"

"Just… testing," Banner remarks in reference to the cellphone — setting it down near Stark, and then pinching the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb. His eyes go out of focus briefly, and he nods to himself. "Still good," he murmurs.

The man gives Stark another look.

"Deeper than I can manage with a lab and a retrofitted speeder. I've added it to the list of 'things I need to do to get home again. Before I die. You know, of old age.'" He produces three small, chrome-hued spheres and lays them on the nearby worktable. "That's the, uh, data I've gathered so far. Some of the minerals are emitting low levels of radiation — I can't identify it, though. Yet. JARVIS might."

"I'm offended." Tony scoffs at being 'tested' at being him. Of course he's him! No one else can be this awesome. He tilts his head, studying Banner a little closer as he talks to himself. "Well, thats clever. Bio-readings of some sort? I thought your eye tint was different. That sparkle is missing."

Yup. Same ol' Tony.

Though just as easy as flowing water, he jumps from one topic to the next, sitting at his desk as he filters through the brief test results, and goes about making a few adjustments. "I'm sure JARVIS wouldn't mind taking a look."

Though it is Tony's turn to sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose briefly. He is weary. Barely slept since he got here. Really only signs of such that good friends would really notice.

"They really threw us in grinder this time, didn't they?"

Banner chuckles.

Then he reaches up with a hand to rub at the back of his neck. "Hmph, yeah. Yeah, you could say that. Threw us in the middle of a war, and no one seems to know what side they're on — unless you count 'their own side'. Any moment now I half-expect the 'Powers That Be' to start forcing us into open conflict. This here…" and he motions with a hand at the workshop around them — and the world beyond — "This… is doing my head in. And who knows what the side-effects are of trans-dimensional 'hopping'. We're soaking in a half-dozen forms of radiation from intersecting realities — I mean, it probably won't kill me, but as for the rest of you…"

Banner lets his head fall forward in a face-palm gesture. "What you said: 'meat' — " and he motions to himself and Tony. " — 'grinder'." He gestures at the world again. "Oh! And yes to the bio-readers. Holographic interface in contact lenses. It helps. OK…" and he begins pacing. "Correct me if I'm wrong: we need a power-source — something big, I'm guessing — a computer with a quantum-oscillation subroutine to tell realities apart (the gamma-signatures of each reality are probably unique…what does JARVIS have?), and the materials to build a… uh, I don't know — 'gateway'? Portal? Something that can take us back. War be damned."

"Yeah… So far I'm not on any real side. I'm just going with familiar. There was a guy that came by on a horse the other day.. knew me. Big horns, dark hair.. Kind of reminded me of a stray cat. Sound familiar?"

"Anything would help you not go green. Please don't do that here, I really don't want to have to redecorate again."

"Power source I can help out with. Maybe." Stark taps the glowing circle in his chest. "I created this right before I showed up here. Completely reversed the palladium poisoning. Amazingly better than coffee." He pauses for a beat, considering. "I can build the gateway itself, but how do we find the string that sets everyone apart? I mean, you from me, from our own histories, our own -point- in our histories?"

Banner attempts a smile.

It is nice to talk to a friend — especially a friend who speaks the same 'language' — but the full import of their mutual predicament sours the doctor's efforts to appear especially joying, and his smile more closely resembles a grimace. His brow furrows; his eyes crinkle, and he offers Stark a mouth-shrug of helplessness.

"Welll," he says, dragging the word out a bit. "Your horny stray cat sounds like Loki — Asgardian 'god' of mischief. He's not quite the megalomaniac I remember… but not far from it. He remembers me, too — well, he remembers the Hulk. Will have to tell you about that sometime… Hmm."

Banner reaches for the three spheres he had put on the table, and rolls them across the surface like dice (with no edges). "Here…" he explains as the balls glow faintly, and a holographic image winks into view above the table; the image closely resembles the Aurora Borealis, but instead displays data on a variety of different kinds of radiation, quantum 'fault-lines' and exotic particles.

"This is A.I.M.-tech, but you — 'my' you (gods this is confusing…) — refined it. You're looking at the… uh, 'quantum signature'? of my home. Here. Just getting this data took two days of almost non-stop work."

He lets out a heavy sigh.

"Telling dimensions apart is one thing… but relative times as well? I don't know, Tony. The more I learn, the more 'out of my depth' I feel." And his shoulders slump.

"Loki?" Tony muses, shrugging a shoulder. "They can claim to be gods all they want." Tony doesn't believe in all that. He believes in men. Thor, is a man, to him. Somewhat. …eh he's hard to explain.

As the balls throw up the projection, Tony rolls his chair over to the other work table, leaning to inspect the image closely. "A.I.M.?" He questions off-handedly, not fully expecting an answer.

"Tell me about it. Why do you think I'm sticking to something I know for a fact, I can do, right now?" He gestures to the satellite. "About cost me my girlfriend too. Imagine that. Going on two weeks in and she's already tiring of me working so much." He shrugs a shoulder helplessly.

"Getting us out of here isn't really the big problem… we could do that (theoretically). Getting us back to our respective worlds… That is what everyone is mostly concerned about."

He leans back in his chair, lacing his fingers before putting his hands behind his head. For a long moment, he is quiet. So many problems going through his head and not enough answers.

"Drink?"

"Ah," Banner sighs. "Sure. Whatever's strong." He waves a hand at the three spheres and the holographic image winks out. He leans against the table then, folding his arms across his chest and tucking his chin in to stare at the floor. The floor is interesting.

"We could always mount a… oh, I don't know… a 'dimension-scanner' on a transport and 'drive around' with it. That might be faster than building a satellite network… of course, there's the 'other' problem: this 'war'. Maybe we should, you know, concentrate on defenses of somekind — in case we get caught with our trousers down. So far the biggest 'threat' I've seen yet, is Loki… and he only wanted to exchange pleasantries. I've heard of another: the one who took Thor's hammer from him. Have you met anyone else you recognise?"

Tony turns back to his desk, pulling two glasses and a bottle of amber liquid, half empty, out of a drawer. The glasses are set next to the three spheres, and the liquor poured within. "Whiskey." Where his will may be strong, he just may be returning to alcoholism.

Setting the bottle down, he picks up his glass and tosses back the double-shot worth of burning jack daniels without making a face.

"The network will maybe take a month to finish. Thor is supposed to make some orbital scans for me, so I know how many units to build." He gestures to the one completely finished. "One week. Give or take about a day."

"I haven't really gotten out to chat, to be honest. I ran into you while looking for materials. Ran into Fury's helicarrier." He shrugs a shoulder. "He might have mentioned the hammer-guy."

Banner nods as more pieces fall into place, in his mind. "I think Thor — the 'hammer guy' — is a friendly. Ish. Fury… is Fury. As for the rest… At least one of the SHIELD Agents, I trust. Wait, did you say you 'ran into' the helicarrier?" He reaches for his whiskey and downs a mouthful.

"Tell me that's not 'literally', Tony." He smirks.

"I might be an ass, but I'm not -that- mean. Who do you think they would have to fix it?" Tony admonishes with a chuckle, draining another gulp of the whiskey.

"Who do you trust, in SHIELD? I'm not exactly their biggest fan, but if it works in the current situation, I'm willing to try."

Banner smirks.

A little.

"Fair point. Actually, in my reality I am a SHIELD agent — I cut a deal with Director Hill. Long story." His smirk gradually fades. "I trust Agent Romanoff… more or less. There was 'history' there, in my world. Hers too. Another long story."

He drains his whiskey and sets the glass back down on the table. His smirk comes back. "So, who's this girlfriend?"

"Your an Agent? What am I? Chopped liver?" Tony scoffs, but refills his drink. "Director Hill? Can't say I didn't see that one coming." He muses.

"Romanoff? 'Natalia'? Or is it Natasha now?" No, Tony is FAR from her biggest fan. "History?" He smirks. "You one of the many she's seduced into doing what she wants, then? Poor sucker."

Leaning back in his chair, his grin returns. "A native. Also my PA, right now. Since Pepper isn't exactly… Pepper."

"Yeah, I can imagine how you feel, Pepper not being Pepper." Banner massages his jaw with one hand. "It's 'Natasha' — let's just say there are a lot more similarities between her world and mine. Actually, it's possible it's the same world… but I'm not the 'me' from her time. I'm from… her future."

Sighing, Banner leans his head back and stares at the ceiling. "Yeah… something like that. Yet another long story. Thanks for the sympathy." There is just a hint of sarcasm in that last comment. "More whiskey? Hmph, the 'you' I know has given up on the booze altogether — but hey, 'I was forcibly removed from my reality to fight someone else's war in another' does make for a hell of an excuse."

He frowns and arches an eyebrow at his friend. "You asked about 'New York', yet you didn't recognise Loki in his favourite get-up. What happened to your New York, then?"

"I quit too. For a while. Figured it would be a nice hobby to pick up again." Tony mentions dryly, considering the bottle. "So what happened between you two, huh?" Nope, he's not going to let it go until he gets some spicy details.

He smirks. "I was asked about New York, why I know about it. Of it, anyway. My future, your past."

"Uh-huh," Banner replies — giving Stark a look he reserves for any 'Typical Tony' moments. He reaches out with a hand to snag his refilled whiskey, and tosses back another mouthful. He smacks his lips. Good whiskey.

"There's not much to tell," he murmurs as he puts the glass back down. "We were both on the run — I had SHIELD and Ross after me; she had SHIELD and a few others after her — and we sort of ran into each other. Someone had framed her, so I helped clear her name; she had SHIELD run some interference and get Ross off my back."

He reaches for his drink again, and drains it dry.

"And that…was that," he finally remarks in a manner that suggests the exact opposite of his words. "Hey, what happened to your home?" he asks abruptly, changing topics. "Was all this… 'in transit'?"

"Uh huh. So you didn't see the tattoo on her lower back?" Tony comments off-handedly, trying to goad Bruce into admitting to a more intimate relationship with the Agent.

"Oh, that?" Tony looks upwards, to the big hole in his ceiling that once had some thick cabling coming down. "No… I was facing imminent death… had a little rebellion spree.. small fight… then created a new element."

"It was a Tuesday. I hate Tuesdays."

"I should have guessed," Banner replies with a minute grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Was that the fight where Colonel Rhodes wiped the floor with you? In front of all your party guests? Ouch. You know that's all over youtube, right?"

He pauses.

"And that tattoo isn't on her lower back. Too high for… shit." Half a second later — Banner blushes. He taps his empty glass. "I only hate the days ending in 'Y'."

"Good thing I'm not there anymore then." Tony gruffs, pouring another measure of whiskey into his glass. "He stole my suit."

As Banner gives it away, Tony grins. Broad. "HA! I knew it. JARVIS, you got that recorded, right?" He claps. "So big bad and green got lucky! Alright! How long did that stretch your little record for?"

"Thanks, Tony. Thanks a lot."

He glances up at the ceiling.

"JARVIS, if that recording leaves this house, I'm going to let the Other Guy redecorate for you." He looks back down at Stark, picks up his whiskey and says, "Cheers." Then he drinks some more. "OK, so spill: who's the girlfriend? You said she was a native — " the doctor cuts himself off and shakes his head dubiously. " — okay, we're stuck in this… reality-nexus for 'who-knows-what,' and 'who-knows-how-long', and still we end up sitting in the den, drinking whiskey and talking 'girls'."

He laughs — a rare, Bruce Banner laugh.

"Some things really never change."

"I will keep that in mind, Dr. Banner." JARVIS' voice pipes up.

"Eh, you show me yours, I guess." He swirls the whiskey in his glass for a moment. "She's blonde. Seamstress. Drives Pepper nuts because she's older, and gorgeous, and has my interest. I don't think Pepper realizes that I see that. But what can you do?"

He grins. "If it were any different, wouldn't really be right, would it?" Leaning forward, he reaches for the bottle. "So, you going for round two with her, or what?"

"It takes a… special kind of woman to put up with Tony Stark," Banner muses aloud, eyes gleaming with suppressed mirth. "And probably an even more special kind to put up with Bruce Banner. I'm the 'two for one' deal, here. I suppose, technically, anything is possible, right?"

The doctor nurses his drink for a while, not consuming anymore. "So. Communications first? I should had back to my lab sometime — set everything for the link-up on my end." He chuckles.

"Unless you've got more whiskey; then I'd probably hang round a bit more."

END TRANSMISSION.

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