The futurist busies himself with the frame of the encasing structure, a feigned means of keeping himself preoccupied as opposed to lumbering into explanations and half truths that border on flippancy. He can meet her queries with his usual snide remarks and belittling retorts, but Stark is honestly too exhausted for the teasing games in which the two somewhat reluctant allies usually played, clarity regarding his previous actions overshadowing any sense of grandeur.
Rising from the crouched stance to look over the dormant form that lies within, a shiver runs through the engineer ( he knew Ultron had its bizarre moments but this was something else ) before he relinquishes his immediate position to make way for the sentry to approach, a silent command aimed its way to carry out a full scan and retrieve any potentially useful data. First and foremost, the readings of the presence of vibranium is off the charts, the man’s brow furrowing sharply as he begins to extrapolate the analysis, dividing his attention between the findings and the Director’s questions.
“I was following the trail of a substantial black-market deal of patented Stark Industries technology that was supposed to go down in this area. But my intel was apparently wrong. Either that, or someone was purposefully trying to flush me out…”
It’s the latter option that has him on edge, darkened gaze instinctively flashing across towards Hill and the adjacent agents, wondering if this had all been wonderfully staged regardless of logic dictating otherwise – whatever sense of subdued paranoia that he had kept at bay manifesting at its finest and most turbulent sense going into overdrive. However when Stark speaks once more, it isn’t necessarily clear if his latter comment is referring to the case between them or him entering SHIELD custody, but it’s an opening gambit regardless.
“You mean the approximately 107 headlines across the state pertaining to myself? Yeah, you could say I took a gander while J was running interference. I— I needed some time away from it all, so sue me.
But it’s your lucky day, I’m here now – how are we going to handle this, Hill?”
“Not so fast.”
Maria’s worked with Stark long enough to know when to nip things in the bud. Give an inch, he’ll take a mile, all of that, etc. She holds up an index finger, arms still decidedly folded and the quick clip of her head pauses mid-shake, brows slanted inward.
“We’re not handling anything.” There’s a pause, but not too long or else he’d interject. Arms unfold, the extended finger moves to rest against the glass, eventually joined by the other four ( a not-subtle laying of claim ). “This is S.H.I.E.L.D. property. Far as we’re concerned, this thing and everything else on the premises rests solely in our custody.” She doesn’t see how that could be less obvious, but the Director braces herself for the inevitable argument anyway.
It’s surprising, actually, that the encounter thus far has remained so calm. Maria can work with that, so long as they come out with a favorable resolution ( more for her own sake than for his ). “I gave you space, Tony,” she continues. Whether or not it was given in regards to actual concern for his wellbeing or simply a lack in resources she couldn’t spare for the billionaire-Avenger’s tantrum of the month doesn’t matter. She’s not naive enough to think he’ll take that as a benevolence, but it’s worth a shot. However it’s phrased, it’s still a point of leverage in her favor.
“Here’s how I think this should go:
We all go back to HQ together and review the charges S.H.I.E.L.D.
is prepared to bring against you. While we’re at it, we can review the
documents that the World Security Council is preparing to release.”
There’s a distinctive shift of kevlar around them while the agents await the possibility of an order. Maria pauses, the shake of her head nearly imperceptible. Her tone is decidedly lower when she continues, eyes flitting to Stark’s in an attempt to read his expression.
“Got back from Special Agent Biggs’s funeral a few days ago. But I guess you saw that in the headlines too.”