|The New Order Changeth|
|What: The announcement of a new member, and some sidebar conversations to set up future plots.|
"... and THIS, my dear surly Viking princess, is your Avengers Identicard. You're gonna want to keep this somewhere safe, probably in one of the pockets that... you... don't seem to have."
Walking down the hall toward the Avengers Break Room, Tony shines the newly-stamped ID card on the sleeve of his blazer (after breathing on it to produce a nice fog, of course). "It's very expensive, and it grants full access to the Avengers HQ and most other SHIELD facilities. So... treat it the way you'd treat your sword, if your sword was made of plastic. And highly classified. And gave you a ten percent discount at Starbucks."
He hands the card over, continuing to walk as the doors to the break room whoosh open for him. "By the way, the Avengers get a ten percent discount at Starbucks."
"So, you wanted to talk to me?" The voice of the Sentinel of Liberty, but quiet and conversational, learly talking to somebody he's walking with. He's starting to emerge around the corner. Uniform, shield, but the cowl pushed back to reveal the Captain's face. He seems quite relaxed right now, unconcerned with any of the world's problems. Yeah. That's going to last a long time.
No, the one known as Brunnhilde has no pockets, nor a wallet, purse or anything else to put the ID card into but if she's anything it is resourcesful and she'll figure out how to keep the ever-important item safe. The same item she's been handed. Lips held in a faint, tight line, the Valkyrie gives it as much of a thorough inspection as she can while they're moving. "Worry not, Lord Stark. I shall keep this safe."
The doors opening suddenly has her stopping and looking around, uncertain as to what this matter of witchcraft is, it causing her to hesitate in passing through them 'less she risk being cursed, it only being Tony continuing to speak to her and other voices catching her attention that she eventually braves entering. Lo and behold, nothin bad happens and she can sigh a breath of relief.
Looking around, she reaches out and grabs for Tony's arm, tugging him close so she can whisper, "What is this... Starbuck's you speak of," uneducated in the ways of over-priced, poorly-roasted coffee and the shops they're sold out of.
"Yeah. You heard about my run in with some HYRDA goons?" The Black Widow is businesslike as usual when she wears her uniform. She crosses her arms. "Well, I ran into a friend of Bruce's - detective named Jack Hawksmoor. Good man. He helped recover Agent Morrigan and then did some digging."
Happy Hogan walks along behind Stark and Brunn as they goto the break room. There is a bandage wrapped around his left forearm so he is in a short sleeved dress shirt. In his right hand is a small paper bag looking to be from a bakery of some kind. In the room he places it down and opens it up taking out a chcolate cupcake with white frosting and a black widow spider on it. He places a red candle in the middle. Its a special one Tony told him to use and pulling out a lighter its lit. "Miss Romanov, from Stark Industries. Happy Birthday!" he lays a wrapped box on the table. Clearing his throat he starts to sing hoping others will join in, "Happy birthday to you...." etc.
"Well...I take it..." And then the surprise party arrives. "I guess it will have to wait. Unless it's really urgent." He's offering her an escape...he knows how she's likely to react to what Happy's up to. Yeah. He knows the Widow pretty well at this point.
"I'm contractually obligated under the terms of our sponsorship deal to say that Starbucks is a wonderfully enchanting place to enjoy a cup of freshly-brewed coffee with friends. Always hot, and served just the way you like it. Now with liquor licenses in select locations."
Tony doesn't whisper, but he keeps his voice at mostly conversational levels, rather than loudly announcing his presence as is his custom.
That is until someone starts singing.
"Wait... it's Natasha's birthday? JARVIS, why didn't you tell us? Play 'In Da Club' immediately."
Poor Happy's voice is quickly drowned out by the loudspeakers that Tony has installed in each and every room. Rather than the traditional birthday song, they're all forced to listen to the following:
"Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, shawty It's your birthday We gon' party like it's yo birthday We gon' sip Bacardi like it's your birthday And you know we don't give a fuck It's not your birthday!"
The one who seems to be forced to celebrate their day of birth is almost greeted and given some sort of greeting but then the music starts and Brunnehilde comes up short, her mouth left open as if she were about to say something only to be frozen in place. Uh... right. She'll just be here, waiting for the horrible sound to end.
Natasha Romanov nods at Steve. "It rather is, Patain. I-" And then Happy is pulling out a cupcake. She smiles at the man, looking geniunely surprised. "You didn;t have to-" She seems almoist embarrassed. And then Tony decides to be Tony, and ruin the quiet sweet moment. With loud music, typical Tony. Her eyes narrow, and she sighs. "...Tony. That's quite... much." she manages, trying not to look murderous. She gives Steve a 'save me please' glance.
Happy Hogan grins stopping the singing as Tony turns on the music. He begins dancing awkwardly to it for a moment. Offering Natasha the box, "Here open it." he tells her happily. "And enjoy your cupcake."
"Tony! We were trying to discuss a mission!" Maybe he'll listen to that where he wouldn't listen to Natasha's, well, thoroughly embarrassed feelings. And they actually were, too. He's hoping it wasn't *that* urgent, like, immediate life and death urgent.
"Fine. Killjoys. Guess that means you don't want Uncle Tony to make it rain in here." He snaps his fingers, and the music cuts off. "Thanks JARVIS. I'm still mad at you for not reminding me it was Natasha's birthday though. Now I have to send Pepper out to buy an Emergency Present."
Having failed to get the Avengers to party, he skirts around the breakroom table and hits up the wet bar. "But if you guys won't join me for a couple of shots, maybe I can interest you all in a glass of milk?"
Natasha Romanov accepts the box from Happy, looking grateful, especially when the music shuts off. "It's... actually not my birthday? I think?" SHe has a birthday on her legal ID, but she's never paid it much mind. "Thanks, though." She notices a new face - must be Asgardian in that outfit - but she turns her attention to Captain again. "So as I was saying... One of the HYDRA agents we ran into - He's called the Winter Soldier. I think... I think I knew him when I was in Russia."
Steve Rogers nods. "And he's a problem." Steve's not even questioning for a moment. If he wasn't a problem, Natasha would have already dealt with the problem. A problem trained to the level Black Widow herself is - yeah. That's a definite...problem.
Happy Hogan shrugs his shoulders going quiet as they talk about business. He doesn't know all about the Avengers stuff that much. "Need anything from me, boss?" a glance is given to Tony.
Valkyrie clears her throat, trying to remind Tony that she's here and awaiting being introduced to the others, or so she feels as he is the lord of Stark Tower. Natasha and Steve are given a bit of a smile, it then given to Happy but it should be easy to see that she is not in her element here.
Natasha Romanov looks touched by whatever's in the box Happy gave her. "Thanks Happy!" She turns back to Steve, her face growing grim again. "Yeah. And... your problem." Her voice is low as she pulls out a small SD card and had it to Steve. "Here. Jack got some of the Winter Soldier's files from his safe house. He's on an assassination mission..." She looks side to side, and draws close to finish. "...You're his target."
Steve Rogers nods. Slightly. He takes the card. "Thank you, Natasha." That's all he says for right now. Anything else will probably be discussed in the training room. Breathe in, breathe out. It's not the first time he's been targeted. And...very quietly, "Tynan was bait." Obvious. If he was the target, they didn't just take her for no reason. She's still in sickbay, under lockdown. He's less happy about that...now he knows he's the target, this guy's going down.
Old habits. Heading straight for the bar is a learned behavior, one so deeply ingrained in Tony's mind that it'll probably take a Christmas Miracle to break him of it. But perhaps there's progress, as he only pours himself a single of a scotch that's so old it looks like it might have been rescued from a sunken pirate ship.
"Huh? Oh, right. Sorry." He didn't forget she was there, but he clearly forgot that introductions were in order. "Hey guys, while I've got your attention..." he doesn't have their attention, but that isn't stopping him "... I'd like to make an announcement. As you all know, our marketability has been sagging lately, due primarily to not fighting any major villains on television recently. However, Thor's Q Scores are still like... off the charts with women in the 35-55 age bracket. So I figured... what better way to increase our market share than by adding a member who can bring Thor's rugged sexiness and take no prisoners attitude, but in a female package?"
He drains the scotch, swishing it around in his mouth for a few seconds to savor it. "So I'd like to present our newest recruit. She calls herself 'Brunnhilde the Valkyrie', but I'm pretty sure she'll also answer to Brunny. Basically, she's the answer to our lagging interest from the male 18-35 demographic."
Happy Hogan smiles at Natasha with a nod. "That is Captain America and Black Widow." he tells Brunn having met her earlier of course since he was following them around.
"It is a pleasure to meet those who the Man of Iron fights with. Both of them are offered a much warmer and a helluva lot less discomforted smile, it the same smile that Happy is given. "Thank you for providing me with names. Seems like Lord Stark has forgotten his manners." A not-so-subtle jab directed at Tony, there. And speaking of him, he gets addressed next, this being where her confusion returns. "Lord Stark, just what is a 'demongraphic', the word mispronounced thanks to the addition of an extra letter. "Has Hel let loose a horde for us to beat back?"
Natasha Romanov pockets the silver watch from the box Happy handed her - and tosses the now empty box at Tony's head. Not waiting for Tony's reaction, she turns to Valkyrie. "Lady Brunnhilde." she greets, very politely. As if she hadn't just chucked a box at Tony's head with a straight face. "You are of Asgard?" She glances at Steve for a moment, nodding slightly. "Captain, care for a training bout later on?"
Steve Rogers does nothing to rescue Tony from the box. He nods to Natasha. "You can beat me up any time." Because, yes, she usually wins those training bouts. Of course, that's why he agrees to them so readily. Then he turns and inclines his head to the Asgardian. "Welcome...and don't mind Tony. He isn't always like this." He's usually worse.
Happy Hogan quickly reaches out his right hand catching the thrown box before it can hit Tony's head. He then chucks it in the trash can before standing back at an parade rest type position.
It's a good thing that Happy caught it, because Tony is in the middle of refilling his glass. Spilled scotch would have made for a very cranky Tony. Possibly cranky enough to start a Civil War.
"Ooh! Nice hands, Happy. Hey guys, did you know that Happy used to play basketball or lacrosse or... something? What was it you played again, Happy?"
He sets the bottle back down, leaving the liquor in the glass for now. Plenty of time to drink it after he answers a question.
"Don't worry about it Valkyrie. It's just... marketing stuff. The important thing is that we get you in front of the television cameras as soon as possible. You know, display your warrior prowess. Let the people of Midgard know they're safer with you around. And... if we happen to gain some additional fans in the process... all the better."
"Yes, I am from Asgard. I am one of Odin's Valkyrior." Which means Thor might not be one hundred percent happy with Brunnhilde's presence here on Midgard since he and his father are in the middle of yet another... bout of unpleasantness. When given explanation as to what that word is she is no less lost than she was when she posed her question, the mention of cameras and fans not exactly able to sink in. "Ah. Yes. Cameras. Do let me know when you need me to be present and I shall avail myself to you and these... fans." Fans? What do the things women use to cool themselves during a hot spell have anything to do with all of this?
Natasha Romanov seems a bit put off that Happy intercepted the box. She didn't get many oppertunities to bean Tony with stuff. "Make yourself at home, then." The Black Widow smiles, and looks to Tony again. She wants to talk with him more, in private. "I must excuse myself." She smiles again, and slips out, disappearing quietly.
Steve Rogers nods to Natasha as she slips out. Then he turns to Tony. "Stop worrying so much about our ratings," he quips. "We aren't about to be canceled." Which will no doubt go all the way over the Asgardian woman's head. Things like that usually do.
Happy Hogan watches as Natasha takes her leave but then glances to Tony, "Actually I was a boxer, boss. And I learned to not spar with Widow."
"Boxing! I knew he played something!" And... now it's time for more scotch. Tony with a cup in his hand is becoming a more common sight, which is pretty much the exact opposite of progress. But the ever-present circles under his eyes are probably far more worrisome.
"It's my job to worry about our 'ratings', Cap. Like it or not, the Avengers is both a commercial property and a group that's very much subject to the whims of the people it represents. So we need to punch up our image if we're going to stay relevant."
With the conversation being turned away from her, Brunnhilde takes a few long-legged strides over to where the drinks can be found, the tall woman shouldering Tony out of the way if he's taking too much space in front of it. The selection is given careful consideration before she settles on a large bottle of something called 'vodka', the cap removed and the drink within it sniffed a couple times. Most anything produced on Midgard will be like water to her but at least her thirst will be quelled. "Canceled? As in... killed?" Hopefully in combat as there is truly no other way for one to achieve a death worthy of being brought to Valhalla.
"Your naive faith in the American public is always so heartwarming, Cap. But you have to realize deep down that as soon as we stop being entertaining, we'll be turned off and discarded like... like yesterday's jam. If it could happen to the Hoff, it can happen to the Avengers." Tony looks as if he's prepared to set up another round for himself, but just as he reaches for the scotch he gets a glance at what Valkyrie is doing. And he completely freezes.
Unbeknownst to Valk, she is about to become entertainment herself. The opened bottle of alcohol is hefted and brought to her lips, the clear, potent brew then downed as if it were mother's milk. It is not long, just a matter of five seconds if not less, before it is consumed and the bottle, now empty save perhaps a drop's worth, is put back on the bar. To punctuate this feat, the blonde gives a hearty belch, one that might vibrate the windows if she were closer to them. Blinking once, she glances from Steve to Tony and back, looking for the life of her like she did nothing out of the norm. "Entertainment is good. Breaks the boredom of waiting for a fight."
"Yes, but..." And then he glances at Tony. Oh dear. "How good was that?" Because good booze should be savored, not downed like that. Then again, it was vodka, so...
"Uh..." The bottle is in one hand, the glass is in the other. But Tony is too transfixed right now to pour. With his eyes locked on the rapidly lowering 'vodka line' within the bottle, he looks as if he might pop a blood vessel.
"Wow. That's... I mean... the suction required... it's..." The mind boggles. Or at least Tony's does.
As she releases a belch, Tony looks down at his own choice of drinks. Clearly he's outmatched here. With a respectful grin, he puts the glass down, and recorks the bottle.
"Like I said Cap, this girl is going to jumpstart our ratings. But speaking of 'jumpstarting', I think I just remembered something that I forgot to do in my room. JARVIS, make sure I'm not disturbed for at least twenty minutes." The bottle is placed back on the shelf, and Tony walks toward the door as quickly as he can go without being too conspicuous.
At least she's planning on stopping at just the vodka, otherwise Tony'd have to run to the high-end liquor store to replenish his stocks. "My thanks for the drink, Lord Stark." She bows to him and Cap both, her braided pigtails bobbing as she does so deeply from the waist. "Now, if you both will forgive me, I think I too shall retire." To wherever it is she's staying, not Tony's room. "Stay safe."