557/Eyes To See

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Eyes To See
Date of Scene: 16 March 2020
Location: Avengers Mansion - Labs
Synopsis: Tony gives Natasha a new piece of equipment, she gives him a mild heart attack.
Cast of Characters: Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff

Tony Stark has posed:
JARVIS had sent Natasha the unobtrusive alert, asking that she make her way to the Mansion labs when she had the opportunity. It was politely worded, but it was Tony asking to see her and coupling Tony with 'whenever you're free' undoubtedly seems like the height of largesse for the busy, busy, busy billionaire.

In the lab, Tony is seated on one of the stools. He's wearing a t-shirt and jeans along with a pair of sunglasses nestled just about his hairline. Once again, he's sporting the Black Widow t-shirt, and he's sitting with his elbows on the stainless-steel workspace and his phone in one hand. The holographic display projects a speech being made by Lex Luthor, which he rolls his eyes and turns off in favour of a cat walking bizarrely on two back legs.

By his elbow, on the workbench, is a black case with stainless steel clasps. On the front of it is a backlit symbol in the stylized image of Black Widow, glowing baleful red against the black plastic.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha regarded this message with raised eyebrows and suspicious eyes for several seconds. She feels like she only just regained her equilibrium from indulging in both impressive amounts of alcohol AND Tom Cruise in the same night, so it feels like there's a bit of a risk factor in this invitation.
    She shouldn't encourage this. The man has a presidential campaign to run that he should probably be taking more seriously.
    Natasha sighs, closes her laptop, and gets out of her chair. A few minutes later she paces into the lab wearing a black sweater and sweatpants, giving a curious glance around a room that she usually only visits when something goes wrong. "The answer's no," she says by way of greeting, "I can not frame Luthor for hunting endangered wildcats."

Tony Stark has posed:
"Damn," Tony says, slapping a palm down on the workbench, "Though I'd guess the answer is more you won't than you can't - if I know a fraction of the tricks you keep hidden up those fashionable sleeves, I imagine making Luthor look like the psycho he is wouldn't be that difficult."

He shakes his head, turning his phone over and sliding it away so as to not be distracted by it. Rising to his feet, he puts a hand on either side of the case and pointedly slides it across the workbench in Natasha's direction.

"But, no," he says with a faint, lopsided smile, "It's not about that. I actually - well, I got you something. Not got so much as made, actually. Figured it might be something you could make us of and I'm pretty sure you don't have anything like them."

Inside the case, should she open it, is a headset of sorts. A sleek black surface that rests against the top of the head that can be slid down over the eyes where eight red lenses function as night vision goggles along with a host of other features.

"Seemed better than a bottle of Screaming Eagle and a card saying 'thanks for letting me mope around you.'"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha begins to clarify "Ca-" and then stops, her eyes drifting to the side thoughtfully. "Hm." She hums as a few idea occur to her, and she silently concedes the point. She'd say 'Luthor doesn't seem that much worse than the next billionaire, but Tony *is* the next Billionaire, so...
    "Oh?" She asks curiously on 'got you something' and then gives a slightly more surprised: "... Oh." when he says he made it. She stops the box with both hands, regarding it curiously before she begins to lift the top. She pauses and dryly says, "If it's a framed photo of me drunk, I'm going to be very upset."
    She reaches inside and removes the contents, her eyes fluttering a bit as she initially tries to get a handle on what she's looking at before asking, "You... made me a mask?" She asks, her voice curious rather than incredulous.

Tony Stark has posed:
"You're making it sound like I'm telling you to cover your face," Tony says, brow furrowing, "They're - I don't know, maybe it is a mask. All this talk about you not wanting your likeness out there, and given how much of a spotlight the team already has on it when I'm not running for president I figured maybe it'd be useful. If nothing else, you can put them in a drawer and bust them out if you need a Halloween costume, huh?"

As Natasha examines the contents of the case, he moves to stand alongside her and looks down into it well. His hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans; body canted slightly to the side so he can half-look over her shoulder at the flashy piece of tech.

"They basically function like any sort of military grade optics," he explains, "With a few more bells and whistles. They'll switch between night, heat, and EMF vision with a command. They also link up with JARVIS provided you're within signal range, so you can talk to him and get a data layover if you need it. The HUDs customizable, so you can mess with that if you want to know what time it is in Cupertino whenever you use them."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha gives Tony a bit of a wry look at his response to her reaction, saying, "I didn't mean *that.*" She says, then watches him until he steps beside her, then looks back at the device as he explains it, her interest piqued. She hadn't really seriously considered wearing a mask before. ... Not like a super hero. Avengers business saw her operating openly as a peace keeping agent, and her OTHER work, well... it either relied on her pretty face, or required a balaclava.
    "Oh..." She says thoughtfully as he explains the functions, then gingerly places the device over her eyes. "Oh!" She gasps softly with surprise as it whires softly to life, and the numerous 'eyes' spread out and liight up subtly, with the two lenses over her actual eyes glowing brightest. The relatively compact 'mask' reaches out to cover her ears, yet nontheless subtly enhancing her earing by feeding audio to her ears rather than blocking it.
    "... Oh wow." She says forgetting to 'perform' facially or vocally so she just sounds a bit distant. Technically it's flattering, she's impressed enough that she forgot to act impressed, for a second. She does remember to smile a little, though, looking around slowly and watching the various elements in the UI drift along with her. "This is..." She trails off and says, "Infrared." And watches her vision change. "Back to normal." And she grins a little as her vision returns to normal. She... doesn't quite dare try night vision in the bright lab. She reaches one hand up to touch the side of her head, and accidentally presses a portion on the side that causes the 'mask' to extend further downward, hooking under her chin and covering her face. "Whoahwhoahwhoah!" She yelps, surprised, though it seems air is being fed to her, now, so no risk of suffocation, and her voice is now coming through a louder filter. She tries to touch it again, and draws in a sharp hiss of breath as it spreads UP and over her to enclose her entire head.

    She stands there for a moment, hands up and fingers spread, before she touches that *first* part again, and it goes back to being a pair of very snazzy goggles.
    "Hoof. Okay." She sighs softly as she takes it off, smiling a little sheepishly as she looks down at it. "... Wow."

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony tilts his head forward a little, as though trying to see under the mask to meet Natasha's eyes even if he knows damn well that he can't. He just contents himself with admiring her in it, watching her go through the various functions and the different modes it can take. He can't help but grin a little to himself, proud of his own handiwork. It's rare that he makes things for others, even the Avengers. He wasn't even all that sure how well this little gadget would be received.

"I was hammering out a few bugs in the new suit," he explains as he watches her cycle through the mask's capabilities, "And I started thinking about Mission Impossible." And you, he thinks, though he can't quite bring himself to say it.

"Anyway, if you - " he reaches out to try and touch the button at the side, only for Natasha to beat him to it and turn the thing into a full helmet. Her reaction causes him to break out into a grin all over again, raising his hands with fingers splayed as though surrendering to the Widow's own abilities at adequately stress-testing new technology.

"You like it?" he asks, voice sounding more hopeful to trained ears than might be usual for the unflappable Tony Stark.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha looks down at the mask in her hands thoughtfully, subtly treating it with a bit more care than when she first looked it over. "Well, it's got that new car smell." She says with a flicker of a smirk, "... The UI feels like kind of a lot at first, but I think I can get past it..." she smiles slowly, "... It'll let me work in public without undermining my cover, *and* it's practical."
    Natasha's silent for a moment, slowly tilting her head. It's the strangest thing. She knows exactly how to perfectly communicate deep heartfelt gratitude with zero actual sincerity in her heart, but when she actually *wants* to tell someone she really likes something, it feels a little rude to do that. So her voice is very soft as she just says, in her default gentle tone - lacking the monotone of a completely forgotten cover - "... I like it very much. ... Thank you, Tony."

Tony Stark has posed:
There's a moment of silence when Natasha thanks him that Tony doesn't say anything. His eyes are downcast, looking at the surface of the workbench as though it has suddenly become very interesting. After a second they flick back up, meeting Natasha's own. He remains quiet, the look on his face conveying more than his words likely could.

He's not quite used to having scattered thoughts. He's a man with the ability to focus like a laser on a problem until its solved. Sure, the way he talks makes him sound flighty - like he can't concentrate on any one thing for more than a few moments - but the truth of it is that his mind will often center on something and orbit about it for hours on end. Sometimes to the detriment of anything and everything else.

That's where he is now.

He's not even really thinking when he leans towards her, head tilting slightly to the side. His eyes closed ...

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha's smile falters slowly when Tony doesn't respond after a moment, turning to slight concern as she prompts, "Tony?"
    When Tony begins to lean forward, Natasha's brow furrows with confusion, then raise with alarm... and then settle in the middle as her heart leaps into her throat when it occurs to her what this *might* be.
    She doesn't... move out of the way as quickly as she could. On review she'll feel a bit concerned about that. And she will mentally review this a few times.
    But she does eventually turn her head away and shoulder-check him slightly, putting a hand to his chest as if to steady him. "Whoah there...!" She half teases, playing it off relatively casually, though there's a slight coloration in her cheeks. "... Long night, Stark?" she asks, playing it off as though Tony were just drowsing in his chair, and... hoping a little bit that that's what it was, for both their sakes.

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony's eyes open suddenly when Natasha nudges him away, glancing down at the hand against his chest. He steps - jumps, more accurately - back as though she might have burned him with her touch. For someone so calm and collected, it is like seeing the sky turn green and rats perform opera to see him flustered. His eyes search to look anywhere else but Natasha, shifting from the floor, to the ceiling, to the workbench, to a piece of equipment humming along with one of Doctor Pym's many and varied experiments.

"I - uh - I - yes. Yeah. A long one," he begins, he's vamped a million times before and it always sounds a lot more rehearsed than this, "The - hm - the campaign. Trying to get the - the PACs to put their money in the Foundation instead of trying to - to, uh - to donate to me."

"That, and the, uh, the - " Tony gestures a little at the mask, "The mask - I mean, goggles! Mask. Thing."

He exhales, closes his eyes, and tilts his head up to face the ceiling before muttering: "I've - I'll see you around, Nat. Agent. Agent Romanoff."

His phone still where he left it on the workbench, he begins to move towards the door.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha's smile slowly widens in growing outward bemusement, though inside she's a bit concerned. She can see why he'd be emberrassed if he realized how that might have looked. She can also see him being this embarrassed if he himself just realized he'd done this. ... She suspects if he'd been making some kind of move on purpose his reaction would be a little more composed.
    Or maybe he was really just tired! That's a nice thought.
    Natasha's smile returns to a softer, more natural state, and she gently says, "... Nat's fine." giving his shoulder a bit of a squeeze before she says, "Get some rest, Tony. ... And thanks, again." And begins to walk away. Though she does pause in the doorway and look back at him with an amused, faux suspicious look on her face and says, "... This wasn't just to make me more toyetic for the figure line, was it?"

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony manages to steel himself enough to make eye contact, the flustered look on his face forced away and replaced with a tight sort of smile. There's something off about him. Embarrassed, certainly, but also a deeper sort of discomfort. It's not like he hasn't been turned down before - not everyone falls for the old Stark charm, after all - but it doesn't usually feel this way.

It doesn't usually sting.

He turns slightly as Natasha meets him on the way to the door. Eyes flicking down to look at her hand as she squeezes his shoulder, his own forced down into the pockets of his jeans. He keeps that tight smile on his face, though someone as trained in observing people as Natasha would have no trouble seeing right through it. If she wanted to, of course.

"What can I say?" he tells her, voice thicker than normal, "I'm always gonna be courting the collectors of tiny plastic."

He steps to the side, making a stilted sort of gentlemanly gesture by stretching out one arm and allowing her to step out the door before him.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha's smile at his response is immaculate, but inside, this is a little hard to see. Tony Stark not brimming with confidence is like watching a fish flopping around out of water. It's just not right.
    She nods graciously at Tony's gesture and walks past him and into the entryway as the automatic door opens.
    She pauses and lingers there for a moment.
    She should just go. She should just walk away and let this be an embarrassing moment everyone's in a rush to forget. Professional distance has been the lifelong policy. No one has ever gotten that close to her and not regretted it. Tony can be an ass, anyway.
    She should leave it.
    Natasha turns around. "Hey, there's like... twenty of those movies, right? We should try the others sometime. See how they hide that guy's age." She shrugs a little, "Or something else. I don't know. ... It was fun."
    Literally what are you doing, Natasha?

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony is already planning out the rest of his day and evening in his head. Cancel his appointments, find a bottle of scotch, curl up inside that, maybe work on the new embedded logic sensor he'd been toying with. Things feel a lot better when he's put structure to them, even if he doesn't so much share that structure with others. Externally, he watches Natasha go in silence while keeping that confident smile plastered thinly over a less than confident sub-surface.

When she speaks, his eyebrows raise. He listens. He doesn't really say anything for a second or two, as though processing just what it is she's asked. But then, realising he's staring, he blinks and clears his throat.

"Huh - yeah - sure," he fumbles a little, before smoothing out his way of speaking a little more, "That sounds like a great idea. My place again? Or do you want to try and wrestle the remote away from Thor while he's watching Two Broke Girls?"

The smile on his face now is genuine. Not that confident, self-assured grin but a real smile with actual warmth behind it.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha's going to regret this. He's going to regret this. Literally everybody is going to regret this.
    She feels kinda happy to see him cheer up, though.
    Maybe this doesn't have to be a big deal. She's overthinking this. She just hasn't really been 'close' to anybody but Clint, and that only started because when you get shot up saving each other's lives while trying to kill each other, you gain a certain understanding with them. It won't endanger anyone's life to just... 'hang out.'
    So it's with a bit of a smile that Natasha gives a considering nod and says, "... You know what it's like around here. Two people spend more than a minute in a room, and it turns into a block party." She grins a little and says, "... You have a better bar, anyway."

Tony Stark has posed:
That hurt look, the wounded feeling - they all drain away. Natasha's words dismiss it all so easily, it's like they weren't even there to begin with. It doesn't seem dishonest so much as though Tony was rattled and is only just now regaining his footing. The smile seems more sincere, and he doesn't seem to be squirming to get out of the room anymore. That confidence that was so quickly dismissed has come flooding back.

"You can say that again," Tony replies, glancing around the room, "You know, I was half-expecting Pym to wander in here and critique those goggles. Guy seems to have it in for me ever since I plastered that mobile lab of his with flyers. You'd think I was the one who built the killer robot."

A roll of his shoulders, and one hand leaves his pocket to reach up and lightly brush Natasha's shoulder. Returning the gesture from earlier.

"My place it is," he tells her, "I had a heater installed on the balcony and I'll get a tv out there. The security guys'll love it. So ... when works for you, O great and secretive secret agent?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    It brightens Natasha's spirit to see Tony bounce back. It's enough to make a girl forget two years of constant exasperation! Natasha smirks a bit at the Pym line, but doesn't comment in the interest of appearing impartial; though mention of the poor secret service does draw a bit of a rueful look as she notes, "I should really get them a card or something."
    To Tony's question, Natasha answers "Well-" she deepens her voice just long enough to tease "-Mister President-" then continues, "-If you don't get pulled away by the campaign, and if duty doesn't pull me away to a redacted country, and if the sky doesn't try to fall on New York in the *meantime*..." She tilts her head, "... Friday?"
    The two of them lead very busy lives.

Tony Stark has posed:
"I can do Friday," Tony agrees with a nod of his head and a smile. Whether or not he has anything booked is, at this point, largely irrelevant. Whatever it is, he'll move it. Whoever he's meeting with will have to be content with meeting a hologram or having their meeting pushed out to the weekend. While he doesn't share any of that, he makes it very clear that Friday is locked in.

"I've got to restock the bar, anyway," he explains, moving to follow Natasha out into the hallway, "Got a drink you particularly like? If it's gonna be a party, we might as well drink like it's a party."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Not oblivious to the irresponsibility of agreeing without checking, Natasha just grins and says, "Sounds good." Before stepping out of the room. Tony's question causes her to tilt her head back in thought and cross her arms as she walks, "I like the vodka we keep around here well enough..." she says, and almost leaves it at that before admitting, "... But you know, I spend so much time liking *other* people's favorites for work? I don't think I've really paid much attention." She gives a small 'hm' and says "I might just have to start trying everything."

Tony Stark has posed:
"A little bit of everything it is," Tony agrees, nodding his head and making a mental note to send JARVIS on an internet spending spree, "I'll make sure it's a party."

Tony is about to step out of the room himself when he goes for the pocket, he keeps his phone in only to realise he's left it behind. An apologetic little smile is offered to Natasha before he turns around, jogging back to the workbench and picking it up. When he looks at the screen, JARVIS has brought up a list of burn treatment clinics and hospitals in the greater metropolitan area.

"Very funny," Tony murmurs at the wise-ass AI before dropping the phone back in his pocket and stepping back out the door to where Natasha waits in the hallway.

"So, I'll see you Friday? If we don't have another meeting about needing an ambassador for Mars or something before then?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha lingers in one spot for a moment, peering back curiously as Tony makes a dash back into the lab. What irks him, she can only guess, but it gets a bit of a smile out of her anyway. "Friday." She agrees with a nod, "Booze, Cruise, and hangover blues." She says, winking one eye shut while tapping her temple with the mask she's holding in one hand. "See you around, Stark." She says, and begins back to depart back to whatever it is super spies do to pass the time on their own.

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony watches Natasha go, tilting his head just slightly to one side as she does. He doesn't say anything more, just taking a moment to consider the rollercoaster conversation he's just had. He's in a daze watching after her, and it's only when she's most of the way down the hall does, he shakes his head a bit and lift himself out of whatever miniature daydream had currently ensnared him.

<Shall I move the meeting with your potential running mates until Monday, sir?> JARVIS asks him, the cool and calm voice emanating from his phone.

"All of it. The meetings. The discussions. The brainstorming sessions. All of them. Free up the whole night."

<Very good, sir. Might I suggest you play things a little ... cooler next time?>

"Yeah," Tony snorts, shoving the phone back into his pocket and striding off down the hall, "Everyone's a critic."