15167/It's My Party

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It's My Party
Date of Scene: 31 May 2023
Location: The Grand Ballroom, Ritz Carlton Manhattan
Synopsis: A reflective birthday party in which Jess gives Tony some insight. Tony repays her with a cigarette.
Cast of Characters: Iron Man, Spider-Woman (Drew)

Iron Man has posed:
Buddy you're a boy make a big noise
Playin' in the street gonna be a big man some day
You got mud on yo' face
You big disgrace
Kickin' your ass all over the place
Singin'! ;

The music thumps loud as the cover band sings, jolting beat kicking through the venue as the crowd at this late hour is still into it in the depths of the Ritz Carlton's Grand Ballroom. Not as many as there had been earlier in the night, and not quite as energetic, but the party had been an active vibrant one with Pepper having delivered on the preparations, the bookings, and making sure to circulate amongst the crowd. Tony, though. He was only partially seen through the night.
Oh he had put in an appearance here or there, stood on the stage at the end of the ballroom, made a small speech at the beginning of the night. But he wasn't quite flowing through the crowd as he often does, wasn't quite mixing and mingling.
Not to say the party wasn't a success. It was hard for a Stark party to fail. Though in the years past there had been more... intensity.
Though near the end of the night he was seen circulating. Moving from crowd to crowd, grinning, smiling, pointing at people. Though at this point most of the crowd... had spent themselves in the wild excess of what they'd endured already.
Until finally Tony flopped down heavily in the conversation nook near the stage, the music still somewhat heavy, his drink in his hand.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
There are things Jessica Drew knows how to do without thinking too much about them. Dressing for the occasion is one of those things. Sure, she's been literally bumming around the mansion in clothing unfit to pass the zoom work meeting test, but she's been on holidays, as she's been repeatedly insisting. She can't help but to have heard about the big to-do for Tony's birthday at the Ritz -- she's been hearing about it all week. Not that she reads the gossip magazines. (She totally does read them though. A guilty pleasure.)

Up until about two hours after the party begins, she's /sure/ she's not going. It's not her sort of thing, unless she's on a mission. It's her actual birthday today and she wants to spend it doing nothing at all. It's really a simple thing that decides her: there's just nothing she wants to eat in the mansion, and if nothing else these swanky to-do's serve the best hor d'oeuvres. Ten minutes in the shower, the first dress she finds in her closet -- a simple, but elegant red silk dress -- matching heels and she's ready to go, fingers raking through her hair. No fancy jewelry, which means those looking for rich prospects will avoid her. It's the perfect set up.

It also lets Jessica raid the food with abandon, given by the time she arrives most of the party goers are well into being drunk and past eating. She has to fend off a couple of drunken passes made her way, but it barely slows her as she carries her plate, as well as a glass of champagne, triumphantly and settles in a quiet corner.

Jessica lifts the first item, salmon-and-something-fancy, to her lips, when Tony flops down. She freezes a second. "...happy birthday?" she was totally here all along.
Iron Man has posed:
She has a good vibe for the flow of these things, is able to navigate it rather well. People notice her, of course. Likely they even remark. Only a few of the party-goers know her. Yet she does leave a mark upon the goings on as she makes her way to the food provided. Which is a nice gathering of courses. One might almost imagine Thor had a hand in the crafts services table, for the spread is almost like a medieval feast.
She makes free with a salmon crudite, and that is the moment that Tony had dropped into the seat nearby. She offers her greeting and he returns it by pointing at her. "Happy birthday?" The last syllable rising up higher than normal as he holds that finger forward. "That's right, it's yours too. Totally copying me, I understand. Envious of you. But I'm feeling magnanimous. I'll allow it. For now."
"Agent Drew!" He then says loudly, as if starting the whole conversation over. As if he could just back out of it and reload an earlier save. "Nice of you to join us here. Did you see the Cirque D'Soleil people? Is that how you say it? Cirque Du'Soleil? The circus people." He takes a drink, something caramel in color.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
The problem with having one's memories is, well, remembering. Jessica knows well how to fake it though; looks and smiles that seem to be tied to familiarity get an easy wave in return, but she doesn't stop, giving that /totally have somewhere else to be but we'll catch up later/ vibe. She knows how to navigate a crowd to get through it, to blend in, not so how much to work them in the way Tony excels at.

Her mouth opens, then shuts. Of course Tony would've seen her SHIELD file, and her birthday. She totally intends to brush it off: "...totally not here to steal the spotlight. Not that I could. Do you pay someone to follow you around with one? I've always wanted to know." A little big of an exaggeration, but it's a deflection that allows her to stuff that salmon in her mouth and crunch before she's expected any kind of polite answer. It's good. She makes a noise of approval. Thor needs to start a craft services business for sure.

Jessica can't help a little wince when Tony says her name loudly. "Uh. No. I've been busy off... over... there?" she waves vaguely towards the crowd dancing -- jumping -- near the stage. There's absolutely no way she was in that mess of people. Not with how clean and neat she looks. It's a terrible lie, and she knows it, expression apologetic. "I didn't get you a present. I don't know what one buys a billionaire. I could get you a house plant maybe?" Big surprise the former Hydra agent sucks at this kind of interaction.
Iron Man has posed:
"Heck no, start hiring people all willy-nilly for vanity projects and where would that leave me fiscally? Shocking misuse of funds." Tony lifts his glass in her direction, "By the bye did you enjoy the cascading chocolate fountain? Fresh cherries too, tasty. Though you bring cherries to one of these gigs and you get a half dozen chuckleheads trying to do that trick with their tongue."
The billionaire shakes his head, affecting a most disappointed look. "Glad to see you could make it though!" He raises his voice to the last bit, "Don't worry about a present, or lack thereof." He stops and recites a few words as if they were given to him by an elder.
"Your presence is present enough."
Then he half-smiles, "You're lucky I recognized you, by the way. Used to you wearing just your PJs as you lounge around my mansion." A beat. "Our mansion. The Team's. Mansion."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
"I am definitely going to write to Rolling Stone and correct that, then." Jessica's joking, although given enough boredom, it's something she might actually be tempted to do. "Then again they said you had someone to just follow you around all day and give you compliments." Judging by the surprised, intrigued flash of interest in Jess's eyes, no, she definitely did /not/ encounter the chocolate fountain. "Damnit," she mutters. "By now it's probably totally fouled. Uh. Maybe next year?" Hopefully. She'll have to settle for another of those appetizers. Something with caviar. Not her usual palate, really -- she seems to prefer really simple sugar-laden foods.

That most disappointed look has a surprising effect on the dark-haired woman. She actually looks guilty. "I was- it was-" but then he's blowing forward with a louder statement, and she just falters into silence, flushing faintly and she swallows hastily enough at the champagne to give her an excuse not to answer for a moment. "Uh. Thanks," she finally says.

The grimace Jessica gives totally implies /guilty/. "I figured coming to this thing in my unicorn pants would probably get more attention," she says, with a rueful smile. "But, uh. Thanks. For just letting me lounge around your mansion." The team's, or whatever. "How's your, uh, project coming along?" The one in the basement.
Iron Man has posed:
"Mmm," Tony says in lieu of actually committing words to the conversation. His nose crinkles as the music continues to flow around them, but the acoustics are such that they can at least talk without having to scream at each other. Perhaps because the speakers are pointed further into the hall while they're on the edge of it.
"Mmm, I'm not supposed to say but I've been ducking away dealing with it. Sometimes." His lips part as if he was about to say something else. But then he stops himself. "I learned long ago, Agent Drew, that talking about business during a soiree tends to foul the chi flow, the rhythm of the event. You want in on a secret?"
He says conspiratorially as he leans forward in his chair, his voice dropping slightly yet they're still talking at full volume, such is the nature of loud parties. "Sometimes I don't actually enjoy my parties." As he says that last bit his eyes rise with a hint of incredulity, as if expecting such a response from her.
"I know, it's true!" Then he turns his head and drinks the last of his bourbon, the ice clinking in the glass. He then proceeds to tilt it back and chomps on some of the granules of frozen water, "But I'm distracted. My thoughts are elsewhere."
A beat, then he looks at her, "And I'm kinda mad."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Tony's admission that he's ducking responsibilities gets a full-throated laugh from Jessica. "You're talking to the queen of avoiding responsibilities," she notes readily. "So I'm not going to judge." While she's aware he self-censors, there's no pressure from her to finish the thought: instead she picks another of the delicacies and chews quickly. She doesn't seem bothered either that he refuses to talk business at a party. It's only when he suggests sharing a secret that her brows go upwards, and she leans forward to complete the sense of secret-sharing.

It's a surprise to her, honestly. Maybe the Jessica who remembers the years she spent building camaraderie with the Avengers wouldn't be surprised by that secret, but /she/ is. It takes her a moment to process, while he says those final words, and then she stands, abruptly. There's a passing server, carrying a bottle of champagne and glasses, and she flags him down, taking the bottle, and two fresh glasses with a grateful smile, before she turns back to the nook.

Pointing at her laden plate of food, Jessica asks Tony, "Would you grab that for me?" Her head tilts. "I've got a plan." Ooh that can't be anything but bad news with a former Hydra spy. But she's totally trustworthy now! Assuming he complies, she's going to try and lead the way through the crowd towards the nearest exit. Of course she knows where that is -- scouting those was the first thing she did when she arrived.
Iron Man has posed:
"Speaking of chi flow," Tony says as he gets to his feet, following along after the former HYDRA agent. He moves along with her, though she's witness in that moment to close proximity of how Tony handles the movement of a party. Since as they walk he has to give a few smiles, a few words, greetings, rejoinders to 'clever' remarks.
Yet he keeps pace with her, walking along, and at one point liberating one of those flutes of champagne though likely with her approval. He does as she asks, then realizes they're heading for the exit. "Uh oh, are we ditching my own party? There'll be heck to pay." He quickly tilts that champagne back, then sets the empty glass on the passing tray of another server, smiling his thanks. "Likely from Pepper, which means heck to pay. If it was Happy there'd be hell to pay."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Jessica certainly seems willing to let him claim one of the flutes, shooting him a bright smile of approval. She's aware of him working the crowd, mostly staying in the background and waiting for him to finish, once even intervening with a, "I'm so sorry, but there's urgent paperwork I need him to look over. I'll bring him right back." The lie comes effortlessly.

Once through the emergency exit it places them in a set of stairs, heading up and down. Jessica glances both ways, just a habit to check, then begins climbing. "Not ditching," she corrects, with a twitch of lips, throwing an unapologetic grin over her shoulder. "Taking a mandated break. A breather. Making sure the building is utterly secure. All of that," her hand, with the bottle, waves vaguely as she climbs. Even for all that lounging about she's been doing, the stairs don't seem to alter her breath at all.

"Besides, it's the perfect timing. The party's far along enough now that everyone's drunk, won't be able to remember when they last saw you, and you can slip back in later to do a dramatic, noticeable exit." The door to the roof has a big red warning sign marking it as for maintenance only and warning the door's alarmed. Jessica tips her head for a second, gaze tracing the electronics, and pulls a pin from her hair, reaching over to side it between a contact on the doorframe, as she nudges it open with her hip.
Iron Man has posed:
"Ah," Tony's voice echoes up and down the stairs as they climb, their footsteps louder as well though the pace of them is quick. "I don't know, this does seem to have elements of ditching. Ditching with extra steps?" The older man smirks slightly for some reason as he continues his ascent, hand gliding along the railing as they roll on up.
And, if Jess is pretty quick on her feet and unphased by the flights of stairs, Tony's decently along as well though his features become a touch flushed after a little bit, yet he'd never admit to it.
Then they've reached the heights of the stairwell. They pause before the door as she applies hairpin lockpick to the lock. "You know if we just called someone I'm sure they'd open it for us." The way he says those words, however, with a half-smirk chasing after them, it's clear he doesn't seem inclined to do so.
Only then does the door open and the brisk chill of the night greets them even as Tony steps forth after her hip bump into the door. He emerges from the crowd of the party into the quiet of the rooftop and the skyline.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
"In the spy game, we just call it 'reprioritizing of in mission objectives'," Jessica tells Tony without breaking stride, amusement in her voice. "Besides, if you go to experience the chocolate fountain at its cleanist, it's just all downhill from there, right?"

Tony suggesting they should've called someone gets an incredulous look from Jessica. "That'd ruin the fun, Tony," she says, like that should be obvious.

It's a little cool up here, but there's a great view. Most of the space just appears to be outlets for various utilities, though there's a helipad further along the roof down a small series of steps. Jessica lives dangerously and sets the glasses down on the lip of the low wall at the edge of the roof, spilling the champagne into the glasses, before claiming one for herself. The other is presumably for him to take, though she doesn't press him by offering it to him.

For a moment she just lets the silence settle, content in it. Eventually, curiosity stirs Jessica to ask, "Tell me you've at least had a birthday party you enjoyed in your life, otherwise I might be forced to hand over the Saddest Childhood award I've been keeping in my closet all these years."
Iron Man has posed:
"Oh what? No." Tony says, ever so slightly off balance as he takes the lay of the land, looking around the rooftop, hands in his pockets for a brief moment. He lets his eyes sweep from one point to the other, to the next, then finally returning to Jessica as he lifts his chin. "I've enjoyed plenty of them. At least I'm sure I have. There's a stretch of about five that I don't remember, but I'm told I definitely enjoyed them."
He walks across the gravel of the rooftop, then points idly sidelong toward one of the access panels in an industrial air conditioner. "I get the vibe this is someone's home away from home. There's a pack of butts stuffed into that utility box."
As he says that he turns to her then points at himself as he bites his lower lip. Then he pronounces himself, "Detective."
Only then does he finally sit on the edge of that roof on that small wall, scooping up the champagne flute. "And you, Agent Drew? Fond birthday memories?"
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Jessica hums faintly at that answer, tilting her head as if to examine his expression for truth. She doesn't mean for it to be intrusive, but it might feel so unintentionally. "Seems like if you did, that's something you ought to remember. The feeling, if not the memory." She grimaces a little, and then rolls her shoulders.

Falling into silence, Jess walks Tony walk across the gravel, curious. Maybe thinking he's going to rewire something here and now and- no. Just the packet of smokes. It makes her laugh. "I can see why. Good view."

She seems comfortable standing, shifting her weight now and then. There's no hesitation from her to answer his question. "One or two, when I was very young. But I was sick a lot, and I didn't have friends. Only my mother." A beat. "And my father, sometimes. About as opposite as you can get from," she waves a hand vaguely downwards, as she drinks generously from the champagne. At this rate, if her metabolism didn't work so fast, she'd be drunk pretty quickly. As it is everything but the taste is probably a waste on her. "I don't remember the specifics. Just feeling... content. Loved." The memory of it makes her smile.
Iron Man has posed:
"See," Tony says as he remains seated, leaning to the side just enough to support himself with one arm. He looks over the edge of the building, then looks back to her. "My parental units had their own challenges. And nobody is ever going to say I had a difficult kidness." He tilts his head back and forth a little, as if weighing the pros and cons of various facets of life.
"But we all have our challenges. Your past is..." He lifts a hand, palm open toward her as if trying to explain all the details of that wild history she has connected to her life.
"And mine is..." He points at himself, as if bringing the two into comparison. "And you have all this." He fails to go into detail, merely still gesturing with that one hand. "While I had my stuff. Yet I'm still a little envious of that. The loved part. I mean I know I was loved. But my elder tribal members of the genetic variety, they... had a tough time showing it sometimes. But listen to me. The sads. So so sads."
His lip twists as his tone casually derides himself, "So naturally I wonder what that says about me. Since, of course, it's all about me. But still I wonder."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Jessica's gaze is mostly on the view, but she occasionally glances towards Tony as he describes his experiences. An upward quirk of her brow meets his summation of her past with just that open palm, mouth quirking upwards into a small smile. That he leaves so much of his attempt to explain unspoken, she seems to follow enough. Certainly enough to understand why he might express envy of her, as ludicrous as it might seem on paper.

She understands, and that's why she asked about his feelings of the birthday memories earlier.

"Fine," Jessica concludes with a huff of breath. "I'll give you the Sad Childhood award, but it's a temporary loan," she lifts a finger. "I'll want it back."

A breath rattles out from her. "Honestly? I think it says that everyone can have bad experiences. And everyone's human, and there are people who struggle to love, or let themselves be loved, everywhere. My father was like yours. But I still loved him, and I guess -- I still do, even knowing what he did. I think that says good things about me. Just as I think it says good things about you that you wonder, and feel that envy."
Iron Man has posed:
"I don't know." Tony says to her as she gives him those kind words about himself and that envy he was feeling. He repeats them as well, "I don't know." He then lifts the champagne and takes a sip, considering the drink's depths after a moment.
His eyes lift back up and his smile is thin, one of those polite ones when one has taken aim at themselves and found the reflection not the most pleasing of imaginings.
"But see, now we'll have to make this a yearly competition. You can emerge from your cave this time of year each Summer, and then if you don't see your shadow you come to the party. Have the b-day together." A look is given to the side a she lets those words linger... then trail off.
His eyes glimmer with a slight twinkle as he points over at the utility box. "Though right now... I am totally going to steal that guy's cigarettes." And with that Tony rolls to his feet, already walking over there. "You want one?"
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
"Feelings are fucking hard," if Jessica has learned nothing useful from the mandatory SHIELD psychologist visits, it's that. "And not always logical. They just are. Like... I can throw a car across a street. But try and pin me with a fucking needle and I turn into a quivering mess. I know it's illogical, but," feelings are fucking hard. She just shrugs.

He says it's a competition, and she laughs, disbelievingly, at first, then in amusement. "Dragging myself out of cave, huh?" She turns the glass in her hand contemplatively. "Sounds... about right. Fine. But no chocolate fountain fun until I arrive. Promise?" She really wants to try that!

There's a little shiver that only has a little to do with the cold. "Yeah. I'd love one." She doesn't usually smoke, but it's one of those social things that she's always just gone with. And in this moment it seems appropriate. They'll stick around there, enjoying the view and chatting until the finish off the champagne and purloined cigarettes forces them back inside to rejoin the party.