Logs:Five Hot Dog Situation

From X-Men: rEvolution
Five Hot Dog Situation

CN: Gun Violence

Dramatis Personae

Steve, Tony

2020-05-21


"Hardly anyone alive had expectations of me when I came back, other than being buff and American."

Location

<HFC> Ballroom - Hfc Ground Floor


Perhaps the most visually striking space in the club, this vast room looks lifted straight out of the pages of a Regency novel. The main entryway is a wide arched door onto a long, curved balcony from which a staircase leads, widening with each descending step, carpeted in rich, velvety red. The bandstand sits in the left front corner, while a long, sweeping bar occupies the right, each paired with its own staff entrance. Partially shielded from view by the sweep of the grand staircase and further concealed by privacy partitions are the restrooms, each with its own small but comfortable sitting lounge.

The dance floor is a polished checkerboard of dark and light wood, the walls trimmed to match with caryatids styled after chess pieces (though pawns are notably absent). In between these baroque columns, tall, arched windows look out onto the street on one side, while on the other matching doors lead out onto scallop-shaped balconies over the club's own gardens. Great crystal chandeliers hang from the vaulted ceiling, while the balconies are lit with gaslights.

A few notable NYC celebrities and heads-of-industry are slated to make an appearance at tonight's COVID-19 charity ball. There's a rumor floating around that Elon Musk refused to come on account of Tony Stark attending (specifically after a journalist claims Stark referred to 'Tesla, Inc' as "a really shitty Stark Industries cover band"), but this (along with the comment) remains uncorroborated. Either way, the gala is packed tonight with numerous faces of the rich and famous -- most of whom are dressed elegantly. Security at the event is tight, of course -- but with NYC's recent emergence from the COVID-19 epidemic, there's a sense of palpable relief.

Which might be why, among the various guests, three figures -- dressed in sharp suits, small ear-pieces, and unbuttoned jackets -- manage to make their way through the security checkpoints without difficulty. One by one, they each vanish into one of the bathrooms, retrieving the gear stowed by a member of staff. Once they're ready, the three make their way toward the central dais where Tony Stark is expected to be one of tonight's speakers.

#2 and #3 take positions off to the side amidst the crowd, observing the exits to ensure security hasn't caught on to their presence. #1 is closer to the dias -- a smiling, tall, generically handsome white man with dark hair and a slightly crooked smile. Arms folded, looking eager to hear Mr. Stark's speech once he gets up on stage.

Under that unbuttoned jacket, he's carrying his personal retort -- a fully loaded pistol.

Tony's public appearances in the weeks since his pseudo-resurrection and precipitous announcement about Stark Industries have been few. As such there's as much gawking curiosity as anything else driving the knots of people that have clustered around the Stark CEO. A month out from his ordeal he looks not too much the worse for wear. Perhaps a hint more silver salting his neatly trimmed beard, perhaps a touch thinner than he once was, still, but the trim lines of his sharply tailored suit do a lot to mask the worst of any damage.

If he's about to give a speech he doesn't look like it; just at the moment he's out on a balcony, leaning up against the railing with a Scotch sitting on the small table beside him and -- apparently a thick greasy hot dog in hand. It probably did not come from the Hellfire Club; the fancy hors d'oeuvres circling the room are not in cheap cardboard cartons. Still, he looks plenty satisfied with both it and his relative -- brief -- island of peace.

Steve Rogers has been circulating the floor, looking as elegant as the other guests despite his drastically different -- and very publicly known socioeconomic situation. But no trace of the friendly barista or the valorous soldier can be seen in his fine navy suit, sleek and modern with /just/ a few classical details here and there. His silver tie is subtly tessellated with five-pointed stars and cinched with a small, round tie pin styled after his iconic shield. He spots Tony up in his perch and, excusing himself from the conversation he'd been in, makes his own way up.

"Good evening," he says, with a polite dip of his head. His eyes look over the other man quickly, though his expression betrays nothing more than mild, pleasant interest. "I see you've found your own way around their meager offerings. Mind if I join you?"

Meanwhile: The three gentlemen lingering in the crowd -- including #1, standing near that dias -- are growing increasingly impatient. #1 has checked his expensive wristwatch several times now, that crooked smile melting into an indignant frown. #2 is politely asking one of the gala's managers regarding when the speech is to be given (and being politely informed that 'Mr. Stark is currently indisposed by a very important matter'). All in all, the team's finding it quite annoying how Mr. Stark is obstinately refusing to abide by the itinerary re: his own murder.

"I know Chicago has its rep but sometimes nothing really hits the spot like a New York hot dog." Tony takes another large bite, leaning a little more heavily against the rail and looking down at the crowd below as he chews it over. Swallows, glances over at Steve. "Could get you one if you want. Or three. Whatever. How long would it take you to fill up on those uh --" His fingers rub absently together. "Little doll foods they're serving?" He seems very unbothered by the itineraries he's holding up -- both on the schedule and otherwise. Speeches can wait, this hot dog is vital.

Steve chuckles lightly. "I won't argue with you there, and I'd wrong if I tried." He looks out over the milling knots of beautiful people. "Knowing how these things go, I had supper before coming here, but if I'm honest --" Flash of a rueful sidelong smile. "-- I would love a hot dog or three. Appreciate your generosity." He pauses. Opens his mouth. Closes it again. "I am glad to see you returned."

#2's discussion with the manager grows increasingly agitated. #1 checks his wristwatch again. While they maintain position, #3 is now scanning the crowd, looking for signs of where their very rude (and very tardy) target may have gone.

Tony turns aside -- hovering somewhere in his peripheral orbit, a solidly built man also in sleek black suit and small earpiece has been alternating between trying to make a meal from the tiny appetizers and keeping a weather eye on Tony. Happy does not look best pleased when Tony indicates the hot dog -- lifts three fingers -- turns back to the balcony. Very likely he has already been dealing with many impatient queries as to Tony's status.

Regardless, he's putting in a call. Kind of longsuffering about it.

Tony is savoring the latter half of his hot dog. Looking up at Steve, with a soft huff of breath. Back down at the crowd below. "Well. That makes two of us." His mouth twists slightly to one side, fingers squeezing just fractionally tighter at the flimsy cardboard container. "Guess this, ah, phoenix gig is old hat for you, huh?

"Thank you." Steve leans on the railing, scanning the crowd more closely now that some below are growing more restless from the delay of Tony's speech. "Yeah, I've gotten used to it. Was rough at first, but..." A quick shake of his head. "I'm sure you have it worse than I did. Hardly anyone alive had expectations of me when I came back, other than being buff and American. Just about everyone expected things of you, and coming back from the dead -- focused that even more." His brows gather, ice blue eyes flicking from one suspicious person below to the other. "And a lot of them are angry." He straightens up, sliding his feet apart and shifting his weight.

#3 is looking right up at the balcony. His hand has lifted up to touch his ear-piece; he seems to be saying something. Then -- suddenly, briefly -- he catches eyes with Steve. His expression sharpens... and then he reaches back to scratch the base of his head, turning away -- asking a waiter for directions to the restroom.

Meanwhile... #2 and #1 have vanished from sight.

"You -- seem to have that part down. Pretty solid." Tony snags his drink off the table, lifting it to take a swallow. Tips it out toward Steve, indicating his -- general. Existence. "And even then I've seen. Article here or there, insisting you're a secret Canadian." The tap of his finger against the side of the glass is quick. Restless. "Someone's always angry."

"I can't claim the credit. You've noticed yourself, that I have a fantastically competent publicist." Steve's eyes fix on #3. Narrow. "I guess seventy-some years of legend don't hurt either, for dampening that anger." He searches the floor for #1 and #2, muttering a soft oath under his breath. "Could you do me a favor here and take a step or two...back?" He slides a step closer to Tony, scanning their surroundings with even greater vigilance than before, picking up a decorative tray from the table (sans the decorative balls it contained).

#1 has already soared up the stairs, roughly shoving a waiter out of the way. The sudden crash of a serving platter on the floor is likely enough to draw some looks his way -- 6 foot, pale skin, dark hair, vivid green eyes -- hand sliding into his coat. He's about 30 feet away from Steve and Tony; a small cluster of four party-goers are inbetween him and them. Several turn to focus on him at the sound.

Meanwhile, there's #2. Shorter, olive skin, charcoal-black hair. He's coming up from behind Tony and Steve. The pistol is already out; the barrel is aiming directly for the back of Tony's head while his partner runs interference. He's about 15 feet away and closing fast -- and has a clear shot.

#1 isn't moving forward. He's just standing there, looking right at Tony and Steve -- hand in his jacket. And he's smiling.

Steve sucks in a sharp breath at the crash. Drops his weight low. Pivots, spotting first #1 and then 2. Faster than any human can move, he flings the decorative tray in his hand at #1's face, roars "Shooters, get down!" in his loudest, most commanding tone, and tackles Tony--rotating in mid-air in a bid to cover the other man with as much of his greater bulk as possible--aiming for the cover of a pair of nearby armchairs.

Tony has not, really, had time to comply with Steve's request when the men are coming at them. He's gotten as far as half-straightening from the balcony, an eyebrow lifting quizzically when -- "umph."

The uneaten end of his hot dog flies out of his hand at the tackle. It sheds relish and mustard and sport peppers as it tumbles over the balcony, likely to splat on someone's Very Expensive Clothes below. His glass is still tightly clutched in his hand, though the actual Scotch it held has splashed across the front of Steve's nice suit as he whumps to the floor behind the chairs. "-- little too much angry."

BANG. BANG.

The pair of gunshots ring out like sharp, harsh barks of thunder -- accompanied by brief muzzle flashes, then followed by the smell of burnt metal. #2 has opened fire -- though the shots come an instant after Steve bum-rushes Stark to the floor. He reels back, briefly struggling to understand what he's seeing...

...just as the metal flying disk cracks into the smiling face of #1. The gun in his hand slips from his grip; he stumbles back, clutching at his face, nose gushing out blood. #2 is already lurching out toward confused, shocked members of the crowd.

It takes a few seconds for the screams to start -- but once they do, they spread like an infection. People rushing in a panic, every which direction. #1 is stumbling for the stairs, trying to escape while looking for his gun. #2 is darting back, aiming to take a second shot at the huddling Steve and Tony -- only for a security officer to tackle him.

#3, seeing the writing on the wall, is already making his way calmly for the exits.

Scotch isn't all that ended up on Steve's suit. It's not, perhaps, immediately obvious where he's hurt, but there is definitely a lot of red on his previously white shirt by the time he levers himself off of Tony. "Stay low," he orders, his breathing noisy and labored, his face pale -- though none of this stops him trying to spot the shooters over their cover. Then, gentler, looking Tony over, "You hurt?"

There is a fair amount of blood on Tony's shirt, as well, when Steve pulls himself up off the other man. A closer inspection suggests that it is -- probably all Steve's. Tony's eyes are wide; the glass has fallen from his hand. "Am I -- you have holes," kind of automatically he is taking off his jacket. Frowning at it as he looks from the stiff fabric to Steve's bloodied shirt, "where there shouldn't be holes. You stay low," where Steve has gentled he's sharper, curt and bristling, first at Steve and immediately thereafter at Happy, worried and hastening over as the shooters retreat. "This," he is telling his bodyguard, "may have escalated into a -- five hot dog situation."