He was in a leather motorcycle jacket and heavy black jeans. The clothes paired with his unruly black hair made him a stark figure against the white cinderblock wall. He surveyed the long room he'd just entered and counted two wives, three girlfriends, one boyfriend, a daughter and an ex-victim.
None of them looked back at him. They were busy talking to the people they'd come here to visit. Directly across from him was the person he'd come here to visit, staring through the reinforced glass with an obvious mixture of gratitude and shock.
Tony Stark lifted the receiver.
"Hello, beautiful. Miss me?"
Justin Hammer's eyebrows lowered and he glared at Tony.
"That's nice, Tony. Two and a half years I'm in here because of you and that's all you have to say to me? That's not very polite."
Tony didn't sit down. Instead, he leaned roguishly on the partition between him and the next visiting station.
"Last time I checked, Hammer, you were the one who broke a psychotic Russian physicist out of a Monacan prison and sicced him on me. I didn't have anything to do with your arrest."
Tony didn't deign it appropriate to even justify Hammer's existence with a glance. He chose instead to casually survey his surroundings.
Hammer sat the receiver down on the counter before him and wiped his forehead on his arm, sifting through the myriad insults and slurs he wanted to throw at Tony. Finally, he cleared his throat.
"I didn't call you to pick a fight with you, Tony," he said, picking the receiver back up and grimacing. No, a smile. It was a smile. It just looked like a grimace.
"I know that, Hammer, but I already checked. You're not authorized for conjugal visits," said Tony, turning to smirk down at Hammer. Hammer was too busy stifling his frustration to reply, so Tony continued, "But you're so cute, I bet you made friends the first day here."
Hammer sighed, resigned, and rubbed his eye with the heel of his hand.
"Tony," he sighed. "This is federal prison. Everyone in here is a white collar criminal. I'm in here with fucking tax dodgers. There's no rape."
"Oh, sure. Of course not," said Tony, barely keeping in check his laughter at his own wit. "It's not rape when you want it."
"Fuck it, Tony!" shouted Hammer. "Shut up!"
Heads everywhere turned to the pair. Justin held up a passive hand and smiled.
"Everything's fine here. Happy. We're all happy here," he said, pushing the rage back down. "Everybody's hunky dory."
Tony plopped down in the seat, eyeing Hammer with his scientific curiosity. In a tone that was slightly softer than the one he usually employed, he said, "Why'd you bring me all the way down here, Hammer? What's going on?"
Hammer sighed again and wiped his face.
"I need your help."
Tony's face shifted to something akin to confusion. "I already sent you that cake with the file baked into it. Didn't you get it?"
Tony bit back a laugh because the look of exasperation Hammer shot him next reminded him eerily of one Pepper frequently gave him.
"Okay, what?" said Tony, settling comfortably into the chair. "I'm listening. No more jokes."
Hammer waited a long moment to ensure Tony didn't say anything else annoying before he began.
"Believe me, Tony. You are the, heh, the last person I'd ever want to ask for help," he said, chuckling dryly.
"And you are the last person I'd ever want to help."
Another exchange of looks. Tony nodded for Hammer to continue.
"But I'm in a very, er, particular situation and I think you're the only person remotely capable of handling it," said Hammer, looking as seriously at Tony as he could muster. "I had something stolen from me."
Tony sat up in his chair. Clearly, Hammer finally had his attention.
"All your assets were frozen or confiscated. Your factories are closed."
Hammer closed his eyes and bit his tongue. "Only the ones the government knows about."
"What is it?"
"Nuclear," Hammer whispered as softly as he could.
"You son of a bitch," Tony whispered, glaring at Hammer through the glass.
"I don't need a hippie lecture from Tony Stark," spat Hammer. "Just listen."
Tony glared and held his tongue.
"I was working on something big," said Hammer, tapping his fingers nervously on the counter. "I had a team from all over the world creating a nuclear version of your Jericho missile."
He paused to let Tony process the information. Tony was impassive, but underneath the calm, he was screaming.
"You wanna explain what that means, exactly, Justin?" said Tony, scratching his chin in an effort to stifle his urge to strangle Hammer.
"I called it The Devastator. It was a single package, a single one-ton air-to-ground missile that was to be shot from a specialized plane I was designing. Plutonium implosion type. It would split into fifty smaller missiles and land in a carefully organized pattern on the ground. When they were all in place, they'd simultaneously detonate."
As he explained it, even Hammer sounded ashamed of himself. With a hangdog look, he added, "It would be about a, er, a hundred megaton blast." Hammer looked up at Tony. "It'd take out an area the size of Texas. Nothing would survive. And nothing could live there for a half a million years."
Tony's hands trembled where they were folded across his chest. His heart pounded like a caged animal. It took every fiber of strength in his body not to break through the glass and tear Justin Hammer's head off.
"What the fucking fuck did you think you were doing, Hammer?" was all he could manage without screaming.
Hammer wiped his face with his wrist and groaned into the receiver. "I had a plan, okay?"
"No, it wasn't like that. I was only going to make one. I was going to sell it to the United States government as their permanent nuclear deterrent, thus securing myself a prestigious position. Maybe Secretary of Defense."
They paused and eyed one another. Both of them knew the other was thinking back to a time Tony had jokingly said he'd consider that position if they offered it. That was him being condescending. This… this was just nuts.
"Tony, it's the most powerful weapon on the planet. It could destroy any nation in the world. And it's gone," sighed Hammer. "I am begging you to find it. You're the only person with the resources."
"Bullshit," spat Tony. "You're only asking me because you'll never see the light of day again if you go to the authorities."
"Tony, you are the authorities, man. Come on."
"Where do I start?"