2010-06-11: Never Know Who You'll Run Into


Caleb_icon.jpg Tony_icon.jpg

Summary: Caleb runs into Tony in Times Square, and they get to talking about Barnes Academy.

Date: June 11, 2010

Never know who'll you run into

Rating: PG

NYC Times Square

In the center of Manhattan is Times Square. Many stores, theaters, and restaurants are brightly lit in the area. The big screens at the center of Times Square constantly flashes the latest commercials, and the latest stock prices revolve around the buildings. It's one of the busier areas of New York City, especially during New Years, where the infamous ball is dropped here. If you're lucky you might even see the Naked Cowboy.

The streets are crowed nicely at this time of day. It is a typical NY weekend full of people ignoring each other as they walk to their destinations or speak on cell phones completely oblivious to their surroundings. There is a small crowd gathered of screaming people outside of the MTV studios trying to garner some screen time.

Amongst the throngs dodging in and out of gawking tourists is Tony Stark. After last nights bizarre attack in Central Park he needed to think. Trying to think with the constant bombardment of phone calls at his office was near impossible so he had opted to come out amongst the people. Wearing his jeans, thick black t-shirt and his designer shades he is hoping to go unidentified.

It's the weekend and as usual Caleb is wandering the city, he's dressed in blue denim cargos, a black superman t-shirt, black airwalk trainers and his violet eyes are glowing faintly as is the yellow stone on the silver wristband on his right wrist, he's walking though times square trying not to be knocked around by the crowd.

Tony is lost in his thoughts. From thinking about a redesign for a machined part, or that he hasn't eaten a thing since his half a hot dog over 12 hours ago, and there's the woman standing at the corner with the very nice legs. Tony glances up at the sign in the middle of Times Square to catch the rolling stock ticker. He pulls out his cell to text his broker, not paying any attention to where he is walking.

As Caleb dodges out of the way of a rather large man talking angerly on the phone, he accidentally bumps into Tony, which leads him to bump into someone else knocking into another large man, knocking both him and the man to the floor.

Staggering sideways Tony blindly reaches out to the nearest object to regain his balance. He watches as two people fall to the ground. Others around them simply shuffle off a step and keep going on their way. With a mild full body shiver he tucks his cell into his pants pocket. "Like a herd of cattle, one tips over and the rest keep shuffling along." Tony recognizes one of them as a recent local news celebrity. "Hey, I hope that wasn't intentional. I bruise easily you know."

"Watch where you're going you fucking idiot!", the large man shoves Caleb to one side pretty hard, then gets up and starts forcing himself though the crowd, "Sorry", he calls after the man, then looks at Tony, "Sorry, i didn't mean to, theres a lot of people here", he gets up and goes to continue walking.

"Hey kid, don't worry about it." Tony remarks as he regards the young man who's starting to walk away. "You didn't get trampled by the herd so I assume you're all right, no worse for wear. I'm fine by the way." Tony rambles on as he's prone to do when thrown a bit off kilter suddenly."

Caleb turns back round to look at Tony again, "Sorry, are you ok?", his mam used to say "No one is too busy to show some manners", he's gotta remember that, not everyone has to be like some of the jerks you see in New York city.

Tony seems amused by Caleb's question. "Whether I'm ok or not is always up for debate. Never mind that, I'm no worse for wear." Tony reaches Caleb's side and regards him with a genuine 100-watt grin. "Nice to know you've not joined the ranks of those succumbed to the cities less than stellar attitude."

Ok…, was looking for a simple yes or no answer there but whatever, Caleb shrugs, "I'm from Ireland, not used to so many crowds there, and the people tend to be more polite, i was raised that way and I'm sticking with it".

"Good, good. That's the right way to be." Tony has to admit that this kid doesn't remotely seem like an instigator. Looks can be deceiving, but he's willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. "Ireland hmm? Good heritage there. Rather like the country but I don't often get to pay a visit." Tony breathes in deeply to try and slow down his continuing diatribe. He becomes distracted by his cell vibrating in his pocket."

Caleb smiles, "Yeah it's a nice place, i miss it, this place is a bit…, you know", this is odd, people in New York rarely stop to talk here, it's odd and kinda refreshing.

Tony pulls out his cell to check who was bugging him at present. Turns out to be his broker informing him of the purchases having been made. "Sorry if this is being rude. Give me a second." His fingers fly on the keypad to send a reply then he turns his attention back to Caleb. "I prefer open areas myself but the city does have its advantages." Tony knows he should be heading back toward where his driver is waiting and perhaps having someone with him would help him keep his low profile. "I don't want to seem weird but you mind walking with me a couple blocks? Our Tete`-a-tete might help me get out of this area unscathed."

Caleb waits while the stranger sends his message, and is then asked to walk with him, ok…, thats a little creepy, but still if this guy did try and take him somewhere, it's not like he'd be able to contain him, "Errm, ok i guess", he has no idea what a Tete`-a-tete is.

Straightening up to appear taller and more put together, Tony keeps his cell palmed and points in the generally direction he needs to head in. "Thanks for the assist. Seeing as you're going out of your way to help me out I should tell you that if people figure out who I am and it turns into a circus feel free to leave me to the mob." He faces Caleb then in a rather abrupt turn at the waist he introduces himself in a voice meant only to be heard by them, "Tony Stark."

Caleb raises an eyebrow when Tony says "Figure out who i am", until he tells him he's Iron Man, "Oh…, gotcha, nice to meet you, i guess it's ok to tell you, i go to Barnes", maybe an Avenger will tell him what the school is up to, their the good guys right?

"Oh? How do you like it over there?" The fact that Caleb doesn't draw attention to them with this new understanding is a blessing that Tony is very thankful for. Even tho he feels his ego take a hit at not causing a overzealous reaction he shakes it off. He has to admit that his knowledge of Barnes is very superficial and that is far more interesting to ponder. Tony knows what the aims of the school are but he and several others of the Avengers are not convinced that the school has the best interest of those it 'teaches' in mind."

Caleb looks down, whats he supposed to say?, the place freaks him out, he thinks they have the students followed, he thinks they're looking into how to control the students, "It's…, unsettling, can you keep a secret, sir?"

"Of course," Tony replies as he ushers them toward a less populated part of the walkway. "I take it, its not all roses over there?" He regards Caleb with interest and a smidgen of concern. Not only for the teen before him but others that attend that school. If things over at the Academy weren't on the up-n-up, he'd have to have some strong words With Fury.

Caleb sighs, "I'm gonna sound like a paranoid freak but…, i think they have us followed, if anything happens, they turn up instantly and i recently found out a weakness i have and a few days later, two agents showed up with that weakness to stop me fighting with another student, i'm not sure if me and the other students should even be there, or what would happen if i tried to leave".

Tony feels a tick in his jaw. All of the above that Caleb mentioned sounds right up their alley. Disturbing as it may be, Tony starts to puzzle out what he should do, particularly the nasty conversation he's going to have with S.H.I.E.L.D. "You still live there I take it? Even with it possibly being Big Brothered?"

Caleb nods, "Yeah i do, my home is back in Ireland, as is my family, so i haven't got anywhere else to go, also again, would Barnes let me leave?", at the moment he's just been trying to spend as little time as he can at Barnes.

"Hmm," Tony stops walking at a corner to wait for the crosswalk to allow walkers. The fact that Barnes is clearly 'spying' on its students is not something he is taking lightly, especially the bit about them turning their knowledge of these students against them. It was all sorts of wrong. "To your knowledge has anyone ever attempted to withdraw?" He doesn't want to voice the thought that he thinks Barnes might adopt a mob mentality. Once your in, you're in for life.

Caleb stops next to Tony, "Not that i know of, but i've only been there a couple of months", thats the same question that Bruce asked him, he's should ask some of the other students, "Do you know if anyone has ever left, you guys work with Barnes right?"

"I don't know of anyone personally," Tony begins and steps into the crosswalk when the light changes. As they casually stroll through the crosswalk and onto the next sidewalk the conversation thickens. "The Avengers do not work with Barnes. We have ties to S.H.I.E.L.D but Barnes is its own entity. I tell you this, I'll be looking into it."

Caleb actually grins, an Avenger is going to help find out what is going on, great!, "Thanks, i can try and get information from inside if you need me to, but i try not to spend too much time there if i don't have to".

Tony is concerned about having Caleb wanting to adopt the role of master spy on top of it being a possibly threatening environment. "Don't go out of your way, kid. Its best you keep your head down. If you hear something, see something out of line, you can contact me. Remind me to give you a number to call when I get to my car."

Caleb nods, "I'm good at keeping my head down and going unnoticed when i want to, i'd show you how, but people would notice", yeah disappearing teenagers are very noticeable, "Yes sir, i will".

"Oy, enough with the sir, make me feel old and I'm clinging to my prime for as long as I can," Tony jokes. This brief time out of the mansion has turned out better than his previous trip and he's gained a possible connection on the inside of Barnes Academy. Also his stock profile just climbed positively making him even richer than before. He sees that his car is within sight about a block ahead. "You know, I never got your name."

Caleb grins again, Tony sounds a bit like his dad moaning about his age, "Ok i'll stop calling you sir", oh yeah, he didn't give his name, "My name's Caleb, Caleb O'Callahan, i also go by the codename Phantom".

"Of the Opera?" Tony teases and holds up his hands in mock defense in case Caleb throws a shot at him. "You don't strike me as the type. Then again, I haven't heard you sing yet.""

Caleb laughs, "No not of the opera, but i am a singer actually, but i don't sing opera", he's not gonna hit the man, it was a fair joke, "The reason i go by Phantom is…", he pulls up his t-shirt slightly and you'll see nothing underneath.

Caleb is unable to tell but Tony's eyes have gone wide behind his shades. "Now I see what you mean about being able to keep your head down." Tony wishes he had the ability to turn invisible without the use of his toys. There were so many things he could get away with if it were possible to vanish at the drop of a hat. "If you don't mind me asking, and you can refuse to tell me, I won't take it personal. What kind of vulnerability got turned on you?"

Caleb shrugs, Tony is one of the good guys and he offered to help, he recons he can trust him, "Salt, if salt makes contact with my skin it burns me, it's really very painful", he has other weaknesses, but he doesn't want to sat them out loud, in case Barnes is listening.

"Ouch," Tony reacts to what Caleb has said. "Can you touch salt at all? Salt water, salt in foods?" He sees that they are nearing the car. When they reach the passenger side Tony taps on the glass with the back of his hand. Hogan lowers the window. "Hey look alive, hand me your pen and a tear me off a piece of paper."

"Well, i can touch salt water and i can eat food, i think dissolved salt doesn't effect me", Caleb is just guessing here, he's not really sure how it works,he stops along with Tony when they reach to car.

"Well, at least that's a blessing. I don't think you'd have much of a life if you couldn't be around salt at all." Tony snatches up the offered paper and pen from Happy. "No, it's not an autograph!" With an exasperated sigh he sets the paper down on the hood of the car, then scrawls down a phone number and an email address. "The email goes directly to me. Don't go waving that around. The phone number is to a line that only myself and my assistant will answer. If she gets all blustery on you tell her that I'll be a pain in her lovely ass if she doesn't put your call thru." He then hands over the piece of paper to Caleb.

Caleb takes the piece of paper from Tony and puts it in his pocket, "Will do and thanks very much", he smiles and takes a step back to let Tony get into his car.

Tony glances around the car then reaches to open the passenger door. "Thanks for walking with me. I was getting a bit paranoid about being caught out that close to the MTV studios." He leans up against the open door for a moment, "Take it easy, Caleb."

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