"I'm sure you'll have /plenty/ of worse failures to come. I have faith in you."
<NYC> Tony's Penthouse - Stark Tower - Midtown East
Accessible only by private elevator, this home takes up the top four floors of Stark Tower. Three of them are residential, a luxurious sprawl of space equipped with state of the art technology and a wealth of comforts. Private gym, terraced pool room whose glass walls can be rolled back in summer to turn it into an outdoor balcony, full bar equipped with robotic-armed bartender, extensive home entertainment system. For all its opulence, the place is decorated tastefully, careful coordination through its wood-and-stone look.
The views, through many windows, terraces, balconies, might be the best part of all of it; from this perch high atop the tower, the city spreads out beneath.
The lowest floor of the home is less residential, more technologically bent; packed with a host of robotics, monitors, equipment. Where Tony does the bulk of /his/ personal work, it may well be the real heart of Stark Industries' R&D.
There are spicy-rich smells wafting around the rooftop pool terrace at Tony's penthouse. A veritable feast of Indian dishes laid out on the tables -- certainly many times over more than two people could possibly eat -- though Tony has, at the moment, neglected the food in favor of a mango lassi with a healthy dose of rum. There's a cinnamon stick tucked into the glass that he is twirling, his elbows propped against the railing of the balcony where he leans, looking out over the glittery lights of the city. "Does it -- does it feel good?"
The other man, sitting at the table, though half-turned to Tony, looks somewhat lost in his bhindi masala. He wears a light gray dress shirt, collar undone and sans tie, its sleeves rolled up--neatly--to the elbows, and charcoal slacks. Though clean and neat, his clothes do show their age, growing thin and fuzzy at the hemlines. He looks up, startled. "Beg pardon," this softly, perplexed. "Does what, now?"
Tony rolls to the side, turning against the railing to face inward towards the balcony. He twirls the cinnamon stick towards the other man, now. The pool, the food, the array of available drinks. "This. This, here, this. Breaking your fast, finally giving up your vow of poverty. You should be smiling, this is a -- we should be celebrating. We /are/ celebrating." /He/, anyway, is lifting his spiked lassi in a /toast/. "You. Actually having a paying job. /Well/-paying job. Very -- very well paying."
Bruce's expression could in complete fairness be described as poleaxed. "I--" He frowns, pushes his glasses back up onto the ridge of his nose. "Well, I appreciate it, tremendously. I don't /actually/ enjoy being homeless or going hungry, you know." He doesn't seem to know what to do with the ball of rice and okra balanced across his curled fingers. "It's just...what brought me here is effectively the abject failure of perhaps the most important project I've ever taken on. So ah..." His left hand makes a circular gesture in the air. "Mixed feelings?"
"Don't you? I always thought that was what you priest-types did for -- I mean you don't get your kicks any other ways." Tony is still holding up his glass, for a moment. He seems to take Bruce's circling gesture as a return toast, though, tipping his glass towards that and then taking a sip. "You say failure, I say /opportunity/ for bigger and better projects. I'm sure you'll have," his hand sweeps the air, a brushing dismissive gesture, "/plenty/ of worse failures to come. I have faith in you."
"I have hobbies," Bruce insists, sounding entirely too defensive. "And I happen to enjoy my work, too, even when I fail. It's just--this one was going so well, and we didn't even get a chance to /learn/ from that failure before we ran out of funds. Such a waste." He finally does eat the food in his hand, and sips from a cup of spiced tea. "Probably doesn't help that someone broke into my apartment and trashed my lab. I know, I should let it go, move on, be positive. I will. Just--" He stands up and crosses over to the balcony, leaning on it to look out over the city almost precisely as Tony had done just moments ago. "That project was three years of my life. If it were my child it'd be a toddler. I'm still recovering from that."
"Ah-ah-ah moping is not a hobby." Tony waggles the cinnamon stick at Bruce before suckling lassi off the end of it. "Where -- were you when this, break-in happened, you -- really should have better --" He waves a hand back towards his own door. "Security. Watching your -- children. Anyway as it so happens I have just the thing. Pick you right up. Help along your, ah,recovery." His brows lift to Bruce. EXPECTANT.
"I have other hobbies." Bruce breaks open a samosa and spoons chutney into each half. "The moping is incidental. It will pass. I ah--" He picks up half a samosa, then puts it back down. "I was unconscious. Maybe the serum...no." He shakes his head emphatically, thick mop of black hair swaying. "Whoever broke in must have knocked me out. Trauma--physical and otherwise--can cause retrograde amnesia. Anyway, I couldn't have afforded security even if it /had/ occurred to me that I needed it. Which. I obviously did." Finally, he picks up the samosa and bites into it, perhaps harder than necessary for a pastry made in large part of potatoes and peas.
"Yeah no I can't possibly imagine any way shooting yourself with your -- abject failure, did you call it?" The emphatic shake of Tony's head mimics Bruce's. "Couldn't have had any negative effects. Definitely the intruder. Come on." With his glass he is waving Bruce back inside, skirting around the pool towards the doors back into his home. "See this? We're moving past your trauma. Onward and upward. Well. Downward -- technically speaking."
Bruce rolls his eyes. "It absolutely could have harmed me--major organ failure was a potential side effect, if unlikely, and it certainly could have screwed up my endocrine system fifty ways to Sunday." He doesn't sound particularly /concerned/ about life-threatening complications. "But it didn't work, and I hardly see how it could have made me black out for an hour without any other negative effects." All the same, he drains his tea and follows Tony inside. "A new pet project of yours?" He can't quite pull off nonchalant anymore, a curious edge creeping into his soft baritone voice.
Tony leads the way into the elevator, leaning against the back wall as it sends them down. "Been working on some improvements of my own. A little less of the -- organ failure, though." When they step out of the elevator it is down into Tony's workshop -- well, okay, it's into Tony's /bar/, robotic bartender perking up at his presence and its mechanical arm readying to reach for a bottle. A wave of his hand has it standing down again.
Past the bar and its rows of bottles, the scattered machinery stands in fragments of various projects in stages of completion or abandonment. Along one wall, behind thick panes of clear glass, stand a pair of silvery bright -- robots? Suits of armour? -- A third one, hollow and only partially assembled, out on the workshop floor, makes it more clear that it is the latter. Tony isn't actually /stopping/ by these, though. Breezing past like No Big Thing! -- to open a different door into a second half of the workshop. Paler. BORINGER. More STERILE. Less machine. More lab.
"No, organ failure is a separate project all its own," Bruce allows as they pass the bar. "Is that a powered exoskeleton?" This with undisguised interest and a gesture toward the disassembled armor. Then, more darkly. "For a military contract? The Army's been dreaming about that for decades." He coasts to a stop in emptier half of the workshop. "So...you tidied up?" He doesn't sound /unimpressed/, exactly.
"That -- that is not for the military that is my own. Small toy. I like to think it as a full body prosthesis, it's more an extension of my --" The cinnamon stick still in Tony's hand gestures vaguely at himself. "Soul. You're right, though, the army would wet themselves. The best part is I don't even have to inject myself with anything. There may have been a /few/ -- minor -- explosions --"
Moving right along past how many explosions, though, he leans against a wall just to the inside of the emptier lab. "Yeah. Yeah -- no, well, Pepper -- but it's cleaned, that's the important part, right? Figure, you're going to need a proper place for your -- new and exciting abject failures. When you're not at work, of course."
"None of /my/ projects have exploded since..." Bruce's frown dissolves with a chuckle. "...Since the last time I collaborated with /you/. At least no explosions large enough to damage anything but glassware." He pivots on one heel and examines the lab. "Wait, really? This--" A sweep of his hand indicates the gleaming expanse of lab bench framed with a backdrop of work stations, fume hoods, spectrometers, centrifuges, and other, more arcane laboratory equipment. "--For me?" He narrows his eyes at Tony, as if expecting a punch line to drop at any moment. "I mean, not for the job?"
"This isn't for work. This is for --" A wave of hand brings many of the blank gleaming surfaces to life, holographic computer interfaces waiting to be customized. "Everything else. I took the liberty of asking JARVIS to install security already. At least this time we'll learn after any catastrophes, hmm?" He finally drains the rest of his lassi, sets the empty glass aside. Spreads his hands out to the waiting laboratory. "So tell me. We ready. Move on past the mourning?"
"Yeah...." Bruce watches the holographic displays come to life, a boyish grin spreading across his face. "This beats the daylights out of documenting manually. And security, sure, why not?" He rubs his hands together briskly, a manic gleam in his eye. "Now, this repulsor tech of yours, I think it could revolutionize particle acceleration, rendering those massive colliders all but obsolete..."