15230/I Wouldn't Call it a Scene

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I Wouldn't Call it a Scene
Date of Scene: 19 June 2023
Location: Pepper's Office!
Synopsis: Advancements are made. Some notable.
Cast of Characters: Pepper Potts, Iron Man, Oracle

Pepper Potts has posed:
It's dark outside. The 'work day' ended hours ago.

Pepper Potts sits at her desk in her immaculate, white Bellucci Couture skirt suit, one peep-toe Mary Jane heel dangling and the other planted firmly on the floor as she leans in and swipes across her touch screen, green eyes tracking the movement of screens that seem to flick past faster than most mortals could comprehend -- she knew what she was looking for, and she was digging.

She's so focused on her latest deep-dive into the company's financials that she only half-splits her attention when her phone rings and she reaches over to hit button to answer it on speaker.

"This is Pepper."

The sound from the speaker is a loud party, and that immediately breaks her concentration on work. Her entire world zeroes in on what she can hear.

"Pepper, it's Jerry at Skylounge. Listen, Tony's down here causing a scene..."

Pepper's head falls incrementally forward and her fingers rise to her temple.

"What exactly do you mean by a /scene/ ?"

The noise continues in the background, but Jerry's voice carries over it. "I... think you should come down here."

Pepper sighs. She already locked her computer, snagged her purse, and had her cell phone in her hand as she rose from her desk. "I'll be there as soon as I can. Try not to let him... never mind. I'll handle it when I get there." It's just a tap to end the call, and then she's stalking across her office, heels clicking mercilessly across the floor.

"Damn it, Happy, pick up..."

She was already speed-dialing him, but there was no answer. It was still ringing in her hand when she drug her office open the door and...

There's Tony Stark, standing there with a grin like the cat that ate the canary.
Iron Man has posed:

The smile was definitely a thing akin to the feline variety. Though as to the fate of the canary one could argue with sufficiently suitable lawyers that its fate is at the moment unresolved. Though bleak. Yet in the gleam of Tony's eyes the older man seems to indeed be guilty. Which is the moment he sweeps in and past.

"Not so much a scene. Really." Stark's voice has that enthused pacing to it, words delivered with that casual rapid fire and his manner rather at ease considering around her. "You say something like, 'a scene' and that creates expectations. Production value. Motivation. Resolution."

He walks in and takes a look at the surroundings, still carrying a styrofoam drink container and with a straw jutting out of it. He's wearing his usual 'casual' ensemble which includes jeans, signed autographed Chuck Taylor sneakers, a t-shirt declaring an enthusiasm for Pittsburgh for some reason, and a blue overshirt as he makes his way over to her desk.

"I think it's a generational thing really. Zoomers can't handle confrontation. Disagreement. Really it's more something like that." He stops and leans back upon the desk, taking a loud sip from his cup, one of those sips where it's clear the thing is empty but he's trying to get the last little bit out of it.

"So," he sets the cup down. "I've been thinking."
Pepper Potts has posed:
"No, Happy. False alarm. I found him. Go back to sleep."

Apparently Happy /had/ answered, and while Tony's delivery was enthused, Pepper's was not. She was standing, deer-in-headlights, with the door held open as if she was fully prepared to invite him in.

She was not, in fact, inviting him in. And yet, there he was, anyway. She makes a show of hanging up the phone and lets it hang at her side as she stands and watches him walk past, apparently fully prepared (at least for the first few seconds) to continue holding the door so that he could show himself out, too.

"You do realize I was working?" Her tone has softened a bit, become more motherly, as if he was her teenage son that had just barged in and interrupted something he couldn't possibly understand.

But then Tony was settling in, and she closes the door in resignation. Why? Because the rest of the office floor was empty, and it somehow felt safer that she was enclosed in her own little space. Even if that space now included Tony.

Heels click in an aggravated staccato as she makes her way back to her desk as well, but she's moving around it, back towards her chair, where she presumably intended to go back to whatever she was doing.

"What were you thinking?" That patient, motherly tone remains, even as she slips back into her chair and crosses her legs, looking up at her boss expectantly.
Iron Man has posed:

"Oh yeah?" Tony says as his eyebrows rise, expression mildly... surprised? Curious? Perhaps neither. He points at her, "You. Should give yourself a raise." As he says that he leeeeans back as if to steal a peek at her display, but then gives a small reflexive double smile as if to assure her he wasn't going to do exactly that.

"Or a less cruel boss, driving you. Slave-like. Hours and hours." He slides the straw up a little inside its container, causing it to make a small squeaking sound. Then he sets the cup fully aside in that way that it's clear he's likely never going to touch it again. Much like some of his dates in the past that she's had the 'honor' of making sure they leave the domicile in the morning.

Yet she asks that question and his brow knits, the casual laissez-faire attitude shifts to something more serious as he folds his arms over his chest. "I wasn't just in Skylounge to make a scene. As it were. Had an angle. A small one, really. I wanted to follow it up."

Then his eyes distance slightly as he pulls his cellphone out of his backpocket, the data device brought to life just from the biometric connection as he sets it on the edge of the desk. "These four guys."

And up from the 'phone' apperas a holographic projection of four silhouettes in rotation, stern images, visages. Glowing green letters appear next to each declaring a stream of data on them which primarily focuses on their technical achievements.
Pepper Potts has posed:
"I did. It was very generous. Thank you," Pepper says, smiling her knowing little smile. A good portion of the company had gotten raises based on performance, and she'd put herself in for the lowest tier (Meets Expectations). It hadn't been some exorbitant amount that would be sending her off to buy a yacht and vacation on some tropical aisle anytime soon, but it was still a raise.

Not that she had time for vacations, anyway.

"And yes, it's grueling, but someone has to do it." Yes, that's a dig. She has that honey-sweet smile, and she's batting of her eyelashes.

But then the whole tone of their conversation changes. Suddenly, it wasn't about Tony going and being... Tony at some bar, trying to pick up more random women and pulling her away from the work she could barely stay on top of as it was.

As soon as Pepper realized Tony was 'up to something,' her whole demeanor changed. She sat up a little straighter in her chair, and her pale green eyes focused on the hologram of the four men.

"You think they're connected to your stolen suit?" Eyes shift from the projection to the man still leaning on her desk, the casual dismissiveness of their banter replaced with genuine concern.
Iron Man has posed:

"Maybe. Possibly." She can likely imagine the game of ping-pong played in Tony's head as his eyes widen slightly as that mind of his wrangles through the details again, measuring the various facets of what information he has, comparing them, considering as he ponders what _is_ his opinion on that matter right now. With what he's learned. "Probably?"

That last word lilts up a little higher than normal, unsure as it were. Then he takes a deep breath and when he exhales it she can hear that low rumble of a sound almost like a growl or a grumble.

He slides off the desk, and that is when she most likely realizes that it is indeed bad. He's obsessed over this for the last few weeks, but now? He's still pacing as he talks about it. Never a good sign.

"Those four," he makes a gesture with one hand and the images display the names; 'Winslow Schott, Jack Nimball, Paul Ebersol, Dmitri Smerdyakov.' "Were in town roughly around the time of the intrusion. Have had prior incidents. Also have the... ability to make what happened happen." That last admission a rueful one, since Tony doesn't like to admit that someone had gotten something over him.

His grumpiness manifests in a slight scrunching up of his features as he looks away, then looks back. "So I grabbed some data. Semi-legally, pulled from their cells and some of the local security cameras. All of them weirdly enough had one thing in common."

He doesn't say what that one thing is, of course. But likely Pepper knows with him going to one place tonight...
Pepper Potts has posed:
"A fascination with over-priced alcohol, loose women, and rooftop bars?"

Pepper watches him pace, the concern shifting into a pointedly tight smile, but there's only so long she can watch that before she's on her feet again. Any thought she had of going back to her work tonight dismissed, she stands from her chair and paces around the side of her desk again, hands.. not quite wringing, but certainly squeezing. It's an outlet for her concern and her instinct to keep mothering him. She wants to grab his shoulders and force him to sit -- to rest -- but she doesn't. She stays out of his space, for now.

"Tony, you can't do all of this on your own."

And is if on cue, her desk phone rings. This late, /something/ was amiss. Pale green eyes shift to it as she moves closer, the internal extension on the display showing the ground-level security desk, and from the front of her desk, she leans over to hit the speaker button.

"Sorry to disturb you, Ms. Potts. Barbara Gordon's here to see Mr. Stark," the guard says.

Then Pepper's eyes are on Tony, narrowing briefly in suspicion. No question about where Tony was or even just whether he was in her office. She knew he was here. So what, exactly, was he up to?

"Badge her and have her escorted up, please," Pepper answers.

"Yes, ma'am." And then the line goes dead.

Pepper never takes her eyes off of Tony. "This has something to do with your exploits tonight, I assume?"
Oracle has posed:
Downstairs in the lobby, Barbara Gordon was smiling politely at the security guard sitting behind the desk and eyeing her critically. When he got the okay, the phone was hung up and he gave a nod. "Give me just a moment and we'll get you escorted upstairs."

She stepped back instead of hovering there and tucked her hands into the pockets of her hoodie. For she was dressed casually at the moment. A pair of jeans, black boots with really quiet soles so she didn't squeak offensively each step she took across the fancy lobby floor, a green t-shirt of some sort though it was mostly hidden under the gray hoodie. The hood was hanging at the back of her neck, revealing her red hair was pulled up in a high-and-tight ponytail. She paused a moment to pull off her glasses, rub at a smudge with a microfiber cloth that came out of her pocket, then the glasses were back in place and the cloth gone as quickly as it appeared.

By that point, the pass was ready and another security guard moved out to hand it to her. "If you'll follow me, please." And he headed for the elevator bank.

Barbara clipped the Visitor Badge on to the edge of her hoodie collar and joined him in the elevator then waited as they practically flew up the many floors.
Iron Man has posed:

"Well. I mean. I _could_." Is Tony's answer, "Though I'd have to have infinite available time..." Ever the one to engage in hyperbole to attack the edge case of an argument, Stark chews his lower lip for a moment in thought as he smiles almost apologetically to Pepper.

"But yes. Or rather Skylounge. All of them had hit there. I mean..." There's a pause as Tony lifts his eyes upwards, "It's a kinda neato place for tourists and all in some ways. Not _entirely_ my cup of tea. But the likelihood of them all having an independent urge to wander there, while is not a zero sum chance, is unlikely."

That's the moment when the phone's being dealt with by Pepper. He watches as if he had nothing to do with it, and then when asked as much by Pepper he answers, "Sort of. Friend of a friend. Thought at first it was her. Turns out she's not. Works with some of the cape crowd. Found out this tidbit and was all 'come on over I'll show you my etchings.'"

A pause as he looks at his holographic display on the desk that streams from his cellphone.

"Well, holograms. Not etchings. Per se."
Pepper Potts has posed:
"I'm sure she has marvelous holograms," Pepper drones, voice as dry as the Sahara Desert, but a beat later, her attention is following Tony's back to his phone. "Wait, is she responsible for this?" A small gesture made towards the floating images before her arms fold across her stomach, fingers resting on biceps.

There's enough time for an answer to that question, but not much more before there's a knock on the door. The 50th floor of the building was deserted at this hour, but the lights were still on. Despite this, the door to Pepper's office was closed (why did it matter if the floor was otherwise empty?).

"Come in," she calls.

The guard escorting Barbara twists the handle and pushes it open for her, standing nearby until either Tony or Pepper dismisses him, and Pepper is standing in front of her desk, hands folded against the skirt of her designer suit.

"Good evening, Ms. Gordon. I'm Pepper Potts," she offers, raising a hand slightly to gesture to Tony -- a silent /Here's the man you were looking for/, which seems to serve as invitation into the room as well. "Please, come in. Make yourself at home."
Oracle has posed:
When the elevator dinged, Barbara stepped off since the security guard had waved for her to do so. She looked around the floor but didn't see the Tony so she paused to glance back. The guard had joined her and led the way down the hall to a closed door. There he knocked lightly then stepped back. When they were welcomed in, he opened the door and let Barbara step through first.

She quickly scanned the room, taking in all those little details that were important in her line of work. Then focused on the two people present. Immediately, she had on a bright and polite smile, that business-mode turned on. She crossed that distance to take the offered hand in hers. The handshake was brief, firm but not uncomfortably so. She hated when women wouldn't give a comfortable grip and it felt like she was holding onto a wet noodle.

"A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Potts. Your reputation precedes you. It's an honor to meet the person who really keeps this place going."

Then that smile was turned on Tony. She did not try to take his hand unless he offered his own. Because some people were not fans of touching. Or being handed things. And Barbara did her homework. "Mr. Stark. Good to see you again, as well." She flicked her gaze to the holograms then back to the pair before her.
Iron Man has posed:

"No, though..." Tony seems to hesitate as his head tilts left and right in Pepper's direction in answer to her question about responsibility for the intel, "Inspired maybe. Gave me ideas to search in a different... way." As he says that he turns when the elevator's arrival is marked and noted. He takes up a place back sitting on the edge of Pepper's desk, awaiting the arrival of the person who would be Batgirl.

Once the door is opened and Pepper makes the greeting, Tony adds his own. "Hey B.G., good of you to come."

When she makes her comment about Pepper being the one to keep the place running it seems to phase him not at all as his eyebrows rise, "What? Totally correct. Miss Potts handles all the things. I just sit here and look pretty."

A sweep of one hand is given, "Pep, Barbara is a talent of some skill. She helped me see a few possible flaws in my security before the whole..." He makes a splatting sound to signify the security breach. He takes a deep breath, then says formally. "Barbara."

He then points at the holographic profiles of the four individuals displayed earlier. "I think them's the guys."
Pepper Potts has posed:
Pepper's grip is much the same -- firm without having any sort of testosterone-driven assertions to it, and though her smile is warm, it's less than genuine. In fact, it doesn't even rise to the level of most of her feigned PR-appearances. There's concern at the corners of her eyes and a bit wariness. Of course, it's late. Really late, at this point, and unlike Tony, she doesn't look like she's been home to change into something more comfortable.

Although, whether Tony has been home to change.. or shower recently.. isn't exactly clear, either. Not at least from a distance, and she hadn't gotten close enough for a sniff test.

"It's a pleasure to meet you as well. And, I just alleviate some of the burden so that Mr. Stark can focus his genius where it's needed."

That line comes after Tony's own dismissal of his role at the company, and she looks back to him pointedly as she's finishing it. Then her gaze is back on the guard at the door.

"Thank you, Gary. I'll call if we need you. Please close the door on your way out."

That done, with the door closing again with an ominous 'click', it leaves the three of them in the room together. She steps back a bit to make the path to Tony's four hologrammed men more visible and accessible for Barbara to inspect.

She's quiet, in that moment, nodding at Tony's explanation of why Barbara might be here -- helping him test the security systems.

"What else do we know about them, Tony?" she asks. "Are you intending to interrogate them one-by-one, or do you have any of their known associates?"
Oracle has posed:
Instead of sitting down, Barbara instead had moved to look more closely at the holographic display. For a brief moment, she allowed herself to admire the tech itself. But then she quickly read the information displayed there about the four individuals. She had recognized one by sight but it was helpful to read all the data points about their real names, codenames, and so forth. "May I?"

And once she had that permission, she manipulated the images so it flicked over to the pictures captured at the Skylounge. In those images, the four men were not only present but all sitting at the same table. A few quick swipes to go through each sheet on each man.

She let out a low whistle as she shifted the display back to the four men again as it had been upon her entry. She glanced to Pepper then to Tony. "Very talented crew. I was familiar with Schott but the others are new so I'd need to compare them against the systems I have available." Which were ...well, all of them. She had backdoors into SHIELD (with their blessing), full access to the Bat Computer, and the Justice League systems were but a few keystrokes away. Though Tony had deterred her from getting into his systems. Luthor as well.

"Each of them on their own are amazing. Together, they would be quite formidable. But, from what I am seeing you have gathered, they don't seem to have the skills needed to reprogram your JARVIS. Or am I mistaken?" Since she had only had a few moments to skim.
Iron Man has posed:

"Rap sheets, intel, last known acquaintances. Accomplices." Tony rattles that off casually in response to Pepper's question. He takes a breath and seems about to say something else, but then as Barbara speaks up and asks permission to access the cellphone he gives a nod at first.

Then he adds, "Mind, please don't look at the search history." He smiles.

As she goes through the available intel and the information gathered on the four men he flares his hands to the side, "Good conclusion. I figured that as well. Which implies..." The billionaire genius takes a deep breath, sighs a little. "A Fifth Element. So I've sent out hitman after Bruce Willis and Milla Jovavich."

There's a dramatic pause after that one, then he adds. "Sorry, small... tiny... very tiny joke. That horribly dates me. But yes, someone else behind them."

He then leeeeeans over and swipes a hand over the holo feed and causes it to scroll toward another image, this time a combined image of the four men in Skylounge. All of them at different times and dates...

Seated at one particular table. In the same chair.

He then turns to Pepper. "So that's why I went there, and I made a little smidge of a ruckus. I wanted to sit there and weirdly enough I got some guff. Me? Guff. Can you imagine that?"
Pepper Potts has posed:
"I keep forgetting how ancient you are." Said affectionately, of course. Not that Pepper had much room to talk.

While Barbara's reviewing the images, Pepper, arms folded over her stomach, moves closer to Tony. There's something familiar about the distance that stops just short of being possessive, brother and sister rather than husband and wife, and she turns her nose towards his shoulder.

And sniffs. Quietly. One can almost hear the 'How long /has/ it been since you've been home?' haunting the judgmental gaze she levels at him. Maybe the Fifth Element joke actually had her worried.

She looks back to what Barbara's doing for a moment, and when she's addressed by Tony, she doesn't bother backing up. "I was told it was a /scene/. So, what exactly did you glean by sitting in the chair?"
Oracle has posed:
"Guff? Say it isn't so," Barbara repeated, the sarcasm dripping a bit from the words that had been loosed upon him. She shook her head a little bit and considered the four images of the men at the same table.

But hearing that Tony had gone there, and caused a scene in the process, along with his getting guff seemed it might lead to something interesting.

"I would've done the same. Sitting in the chair, I mean." Before they thought she'd make a scene! "Did you learn anything before they took umbrage at your mere presence?"
Iron Man has posed:

Tony's response to said sniffing? It's non-verbal. Just a sound. A slight turn of his head, eyebrows rising. And then an indignant, 'Mmh?' as if declaring accusingly, 'Really? Really you're checking if I am smelly? Sheesh.' So much conveyed in a single syllable. And a single syllable that one imagines is ever so subtle as not to be noticed by the other party in the room.

But then he's brought back to the situation at hand and answers Pepper's actual spoken question though he speaks to Barbara as well, "Ah. Well I did. Had to kick out a family of three. Except... was a different table. Was a six top, not the same two top."

There's a pause as he looks at Pepper, "You hear that? That's restaurant lingo. See. I learn things."

Then he turns back to the prior line of thought, "But I used my... considerable on person means to grab what signature data I could and possible connections from that point, crossed a myriad of data streams, got a good bit of insight into what is feasible in that location, why it might be a prime spot. But..."

He leans over and grabs one of Pepper's office chairs meant for guests and then sliiiides off the desk and into it, causing it to twist a little in a half-circle until he's pulled his feet up in it to sit cross-legged. "Not all data connections were there. Or what could be there. But it was clear there was an... absence of a thing. Then they got mad and called Miss Potts."
Pepper Potts has posed:
'Yes. I'm making sure you're not so obsessed with this that you've stopped bathing.'

Exactly how much could be said just through silent, exchanged looks between two people that had spent more time together over the last /years/ than two people /should/ spend together? A lot, maybe.

"At least you have a fallback career, which is more than I can say."

Pepper's moving at the same time Tony is, giving him the space to enter his yogi-pose while she moves back around to her own office chair, leaving remaining seat next to Tony for Barbara, if she desires it.

Legs cross lazily, and she looks across at both of them.

"It's getting late, Tony. Search history aside, is there something Ms. Gordon can take with her so she can look into them for you? Maybe while she's working on it, you can use the time to rest. You've been at this for a while."

Then her gaze shifts back to Barbara, her smile softening. "Thank you, for looking at this.. for helping him."
Oracle has posed:
"Absence of..." Barbara allows herself to look at the images of the table again. "Interesting. I can do some digging from my side, see if I can dome up with anything else. I have some folks who are..." She pursed her lips as she searched for the word then shrugged and gave a little grin. "Obvious. They can blend in with the more unsavory types. The fact they changed the table has me curious though. We'll tap into their security cams to keep a continuous watch on when they change things as well, if they do so again in the future. I'll see what I can dig up in their archives, if they keep any."

She did not opt to sit however. Instead, she gave a nod as Pepper gave her appreciation even as she asked Tony if there was anything more. "I'm glad to be of assistance. It's sort of what I do."
Iron Man has posed:
"Sure, she can take the cell." He motions with it, "Though it's at this point more a wide range sensor and entirely illegal surveillance device. I'm sure she'll know how to handle it and pick it apart and deal with the possible repercussions of that."

As he says that he gives a smile as if to say, 'Hey... it's me.'

But then he hops out of the chair, answering Pepper's comment as to the time it is. "And yah, feel free to grab and go. Everything is on there, I'm going to work another angle. I tapped one of the Avengers to run a few things down. If you get contact from a tall gal with long dark hair and a particular prominent affection for Spiders then that's her."

Tony's already halfway to the door, hand on the knob and opening it to leeeeean outside precariously as if the doorknob was the only thing supporting him. "Feel free to toss me a line, but at this point the only means of communication I'm wholly trusting of would be like, smoke signals. Okay? Okay."

And with that poor Barbara is likely aimed and sent on her way out.
Pepper Potts has posed:
Pepper reaches for the phone when tony stands, tapping one of the buttons. It rings out to the room for a moment before a man picks up. "How can I help you, Ms. Potts?"

"Please send Gary up to meet Ms. Gordon at the elevator."

"Right away, ma'am."

Pepper hangs up the call and turns her attention back to Barbara, rising from her chair. "It was very nice to meet you. Please, feel free to reach out to me if there's anything I can do." Like give Tony a chance to get at least a few hours of sleep, since he seems to be running on pure caffeine and Tony-juice.

She's still standing when Barbara leaves the office. The elevator dings and Gary arrives, holding the door for her on the other side of the floor.

Once Tony's closed the door again, she levels her gaze on him. "/After/ you've gotten some sleep. Please. For me." Ordering Tony never did work, but sometimes appealing to his sympathies did. "And a shower."