screwyoumarvel: (Cap facepalm)
[personal profile] screwyoumarvel
Steve was spending a peaceful afternoon of listening to jazz and working on a painting. It had been a while since he'd gotten a chance to paint, and he was really enjoying it.

That was about to change, which he really should have seen coming.


Having met up with yet more concerned friends, Tony was at Mr. Roger's apartment with a posse. Sorry, Steve.

He knocked on the door, looking around anxiously. And then knocked again.


Steve rose from his easel and went to check the peephole...only to find Tony Stark and apparently all of his friends. Well, at least this time he hadn't snuck into Steve's apartment with a bleeding African prince while he was asleep?

He opened the door and said, "What's the matter?" and then held up one hand to forestall anyone speaking, saying, "First, everyone inside. Then explain." It would be easier if they weren't all standing in the hall, he figured.


"First of all, I didn't do anything this time," Tony felt the need to add.


Ender spared him a brief glance as he made his way in, taking off his gloves once he'd crossed the threshold.

"Something is hunting Tony," he said, and while he didn't bother to tack on the 'again' it was obviously implied. "Or rather, it was hunting him this weekend. Whoever it is seems to enjoy the rooftops," but then who didn't, these days? "Can't be seen, can't be touched. He thought coming here would be a good idea."

There. That ought to inform Steve and keep Tony from lapsing into more excuses for the time being.


Ben gave Steve a slightly sheepish wave. "So...hi. Does any of that sound familiar?"


"Possibly in more than just a general this-is-the-story-of-our-lives sense," offered Stephanie -- Robin, rather, since she'd taken a minute to change into costume along the way. (Hey, a girl had to be prepared for possible skull-cracking shenanigans.)

The lenses of her mask were down, so she could give Tony a really? again? look.


"He has a hi-tech suit and has mentioned several times that he's being paid to kill Tony and won't stop until the job is done," Matt added. "He can become completely intangible and go through walls and floors as well."

And yes Matt was feeling all sorts of awkward at the moment between all of Tony's friends knowing he wasn't truly blind and not to mention the fact that Captain America was teaching sex Ed.

He might need a moment.


Steve's brain hurt. He sighed and said, "Hang on a moment," and went into his bedroom, returning carrying a leather artist's portfolio, from which he took his shield.

"It rings a few bells," he said, "but I can't say for sure. You were right to come to me," he said, shooting the girl in a superhero costume a concerned look.


Tony offered a nervous little smile as though to distract from his girlfriend in the cape. Look, teenage heroes were all the rage nowadays!

"So, you'll help us?"


"Human shields, huh?" a dry voice came from somewhere in the corner of the room. He remained invisible for a moment longer before essentially saying 'to hell with it.'

"They say how someone goes out tells you all you need to know about someone."


Ender turned towards him, exhibiting only the most minor surprise through the twitching of his eyebrows. "'They' say a lot of things," he said, "that tend to devolve to meaningless platitudes. Tony's pursuer, I presume."

"Checking his visual markers against records from Tony's universe," Jane spoke into Ender's ear. "Keep him talking and I might even find something."


Or a weird stalker of Mr. Rogers', but even Ben wasn't Skywalker stupid enough to say that out loud.

His hand flicked toward his lightsaber hilt, but he didn't grab it just yet. "What do you want? Tony's not really into providing autographs."


Stephanie twitched a hand toward her utility belt, but flinging Batarangs in a room full of people was too much of a terrible idea to appeal to even her.

"Oh my god, that had better not be what this is about!" She wasn't so much trying to keep him talking strategically as she was talking because banter was what she did. "I mean, really? I know paparazzi go to lengths but puh-leeze, this is super-mega-extreme, innit?"


"It's not," Matt growled. And there was no hand twitching involved for him.

His billy club was already out and in a throwing position in case the assassin made a move.

"He can't attack if he's intangible," Matt called out. "If he makes a move go after him."


Steve shot a look over at Matt and advised him, "Calm down, son, we're trying not to escalate this."

Then he turned his attention to the intruder, with whom Steve was not impressed. "So you're trying to kill a teenager," he said to the stranger, "sneaking around to do it not opening yourself up to attack, and now you broke into my apartment, and you're going to criticize how we handle it? What is wrong with you?"


"Know many assassins that are picky about their targets?" he drawled, walking through a rather nice table and vase. "I don't have to fight you. Any of you. I could care less about fighting you, in fact. All I have to do is leave."

Because it was that simple.

"Stark's done for. He won't know how, he won't know when... I'm a patient man and none of you can be on guard all the time."


"Yes, let's not resort to violence," Ender agreed, with a mild look thrown Matt's way. "It doesn't hurt to talk, every now and again."

Not that he was unused to being the calmest person in the room. He turned back towards Ghost - if that's what they were calling him. "So you don't actually have any moral imperative to kill Tony," he summarised. "You're getting paid."

Jane spoke details into his ear about rumored spottings and suspected jobs - yes, this one was a professional assassin all right.

"How much?"

Let's hope it's not anything that would bankrupt me...


Ben slanted a slightly amused look at Ender. Was he going to try to outbid the other guy?

"Who paid you?" he asked. Maybe knowing that would help them get an idea of how much was on the table?

The idea of someone paying to assassinate a teenager was, sadly, not that shocking to Ben.


Not that shocking to Stephanie, either, except she was less calm about it.

"God," she spat, closing her fingers around a Batarang although she didn't take it out of its pouch. "You're getting paid to do this, and you don't really care. People like you make me sick."

Not helping, Steph.


Matt had reluctantly lowered his club as he stood there in half-disbelief at what he was hearing.

"We're just going to pay him off?" he asked. "How can we even trust him?"


That got him to laugh, thinking the situation over. A bunch of teenagers and a teacher with replica of Captain America's shield didn't really hold much threat if you asked him.

"You can't trust me. Some assassins are honorable men who would never betray their clients," he informed the group.


Assassins were, in Steve's opinion, pretty much not honorable by definition, which was why he said, "You're right, we can't," and flung his shield at the intruder.

He'd never liked that lamp, anyway.


The shield passed straight through the man, breaking That Lamp into several pieces.

Ender sighed. "Can we please keep this civil?" he said. "What are we planning to do here? Beat him to death? Torture the information out of him? Maybe leave him tied up to a lamp post for the police to find, so whoever's hired him can either pay off the cops or have him assassinated?"

This man was a professional; it didn't take much to determine that he wouldn't be too inclined to talk about whoever employed him, unless he had a good incentive to do so - and torture was not an option.

"How much?" Ender repeated. "And who hired you? I'm sure we can figure something out."


Ben's eyes flashed. "And please don't underestimate us. I don't need to use my eyes to find you."


"I like the lamp post idea, spiced up with a few good hits for good measure, actually," Stephanie said grimly, cracking her knuckles. "Because I'm having a magnanimous sort of day. It's too good for the likes of him -- shame about that pesky intangible thing."


"I don't need my eyes either," Matt joked. "And threats aside, I'm strongly opposed to buying him off. He needs to be in jail. Sure, we're buying him off now but what about his next client or target?"


"We're not exactly voting," Steve said. "We just need to solve the problem." Ideally in the way that would result in as little of his furniture being broken as possible, although he didn't have the highest of hopes for that.


Matt did have a point - it was likely this one would go on to take more jobs. But so would many others, wouldn't they? Ender thought. There would be assassins until there was a world in which assassins were no longer necessary - like his colony, at least for a time.

But right now, Ender didn't doubt this man's claims towards Tony. The last thing they needed right now was an escalation of violence, which would certainly ensue if they went with Matt and Stephanie's suggestions.

Give me something else to work with, Jane, he thought. Please.

"We do," Ender agreed, "And right now we wouldn't have much evidence to get him convicted anyway." He glanced back to Ghost. "Though, I'm curious. You're a businessman in a dangerous profession. Why not take whatever large sum of money you'll be getting for this one way or another and retire?"


"Because really, there's nothing sadder than a really old assassin," Ben offered. "I know one who's practically ninety. He used to be much more respected than he is now. Now there are just a lot of denture jokes."

Thank you, Ben.


"Gotta hand it to you, this is the most interesting job I've had in a while," he said almost jovial in his tone. "But here are the facts: You can't even touch me or head shrink me. Three million and you have my employer's name. They're not paying me enough to be loyal."

He tossed a small electric device to let them know where to transfer the money. If they had it.


Ender caught it with both hands, and glanced down.

"We can afford it," Jane told him immediately. Which was probably a good thing - Ender didn't have the first clue as to the state of his finances. "Better yet, I can probably try and trace him as soon as he accepts the payment."

He looked back up. "Fine," he said. "But we'll have the name first - then you get the payment."


"Advanced Ideas Mechanics," he replied, glancing over at Stark. "Must have pissed them off pretty bad."


"AIM," Tony repeated, shoulders drawn into a tense line.



Ben gave Tony a sympathetic glance and Ender a questioning one.

Ben didn't have three million dollars. Ben had about three dollars and a gift card for Tim Horton's.


Ender hit a couple of keys to pass on the money - taking Jane's word that he had it, because he genuinely had no idea - and threw it back to Ghost.

He ignored Ben's glance.

((Prelayed with the lovely [ profile] hoorayimrich, [ profile] endsthegame, [ profile] momslilassassin, [ profile] batwaffles, and [ profile] childhood_taunt. To be concluded in the comments.))
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