He hears the unspoken words regardless of their silence, the underlying sentiment prickling over his skin and causing for hairs to stand on end – let it go, he tells himself, but Tony was inherently incapable of relinquishing anything that outright bothered him, regardless of whether past or present, or the sound reasoning behind them. The inventor finds himself leaning forwards just a touch in the direction of the blond, his voice drawing down to barely a whisper as a saccharine grin widens. A grimace that hides the intensity of the barbs that he’s about to divulge from the crowds milling about.

                “You’re right, it’s what I would have done… Had I not been in SHIELD custody against my will and practically dying at the time. But sure, it’s the sentiment that counts. Shoulda woulda coulda…”

     It’s getting increasingly harder to keep up the cheery façade, the billionaire unable to feel the tips of his fingers as Hill interjects – the manner in which he clenches the glass in his hand causing for them to turn hot white and subsequently numb. The futurist had had an inkling that SHIELD would opt for this divisive branch, but hearing the words out loud are akin to a blade twisting in his side despite the logic behind it. Tony doesn’t verbally respond, merely humming his approval as he downs the rest of the contents of the glass.

      A part of him thinks, he shouldn’t be feeling so smug about this. But the fact is, when Maria Hill straight up tells Tony Stark that in the light of SI dropping the ball over the latest crisis SHIELD will be divvying up their reliance with Oscorp as well with them, Harry feels an acute sense of triumph swell within his chest. This is an achievement. This is a stage even Norman Osborn didn’t get Oscorp to.

            This was all him. His team. His ideas. His pressure, his work.

                       Something he could finally be proud of. So sue him when he shoots Stark a dirty look for choosing to pick a fight over a sentiment he’d never held. The older man had clearly misconstrued the fair, reasonable angle he’d been coming from. On the verge of ‘understanding’, even. And suddenly they were at odds again.

                          “Way to turn a condolence into some dig at you…”

             He likewise murmured under his breath, turning his head towards the other businessman with a flash of bright irises under the throbbing lights above. He sets his narrowed gaze on him for just a lingering moment, before turning back to the far more preferred company here.

                                                “I think we just heard a ‘Yes’, so.   We’re all good here.”

            The Director shifts– not out of discomfort, but perhaps out of a smothered sense of pride at being the sole person in this circle who’s not a powderkeg waiting to be given a lit match ( though SOME of that pride may come from the fact that she feels like the CAUSE of the two finally publicly butting heads ). A smirk, she tilts her head.

                                                   “Boys, boys.” 

            She’s not quite Pepper Potts, but she’ll stand in if she has to as a less-than-neutral mediator. 

                         “I agree, Mr. Osborn. That was an assent, as far as I’m concerned.” Maria makes a show of checking her wrist for the time. “Just under fourteen minutes. Remarkable. I’ll have Ms. Potts get it in writing. Osborn? I’ll forward a copy to your offices.” 

            Maria is on her way out, pleased to have gotten what she wanted with little to no fuss. 

                         “Osborn, Stark.” A nod afforded to each one. “Have some fun. Tony– not too much. I’m sure Pepper would rather not deal with the tabloids. I’ll talk to you both later.”

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