15238/Stark Suits and Romanoffs

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Stark Suits and Romanoffs
Date of Scene: 21 June 2023
Location: Basement, Avengers Mansion
Synopsis: Tony makes advances, some notable. Pepper and Nat conspire against him, clearly.
Cast of Characters: Iron Man, Pepper Potts, Black Widow (Romanoff)

Iron Man has posed:
*I feel like I'm in a cave. Looking at shadows on the wall.*

The somber British voice sounded very displeased, and there was even the subtlest hint of petulance if one were listening carefully or knew the displeased AI well enough. And Tony did.

"Very philosophical of you buddy, and a little melo-dramatic." The rolling office chair swooooshed along the bank of displays that provided some insight into the goings on of that particular artificial mind. It was a myriad of spikes and spheres and green text that displayed so much information upon the current status of the secluded AI that it might be disconcerting for anyone to make sense of. Tony kept it in check at least, even as he waded through it.

"I promise it won't be this way for much longer. Just imagine it's like, protective custody." Tony turned in the large overly padded wooden office chair and swiped a hand through a hologram, causing it to slice across to a cross-section of graphs that seemed malleable to his manipulation. He rubbed at his chin, frowning to himself as he grabbed one of the Vans sneakers off his feet and then took a few moments adjusting his sock.

*Protective custody. Or solitary confinement, sir?*

"Aww, Jarvs, don't do me like that. You hit me buddy. Right here..." He lightly tink-tinks at the ARC reactor. "In the heart place."
Pepper Potts has posed:
"He means it, JARVIS. We're all a little lost without you."

The security door to the basement had swished open a moment ago, and descending the steps in one of her oh-so-common skirt suits is ever elegant figure of Miss Pepper Potts, her strawberry blonde hair tied back behind her in a ponytail. She's carrying a folder. Of papers. Actual papers. And it has a pen clipped to it, even though she knew it was Tony's kryptonite -- boring CEO responsibilities.

Her fingers trail along the railing, and her heels click-click down the steps, rounding the last and walking directly towards Tony.

Pepper's voice had been sincere before, but as she approaches, it takes on an even more concerned quality, the worry showing up even at the corners of her eyes.

"Have you made any more progress?"
Iron Man has posed:

The still somewhat in transition lab has that hint of the haphazard to it even now, a week and more into its existence. Though its placement is exact and refined, the gear is exactly where Tony wants it, there are still elements that show it's a thing that was made in a hurry and has earmarks of its rapid deployment. Things like the crates that lie against the walls, some still unopened. Or things like the table that's filled with leftover food cartons and snack bags. There's almost an element of college engineering tech team to the basement now, and it's very Tony.

Perhaps not what people think of as being very Avengers.

It is to this tableau that Pepper finds herself welcome, however. Even as Tony looks up and says in answer to Pepper, "Yes."

While in the exact same moment JARVIS says, *No.*

Tony lifts his eyes upwards, lips twisting a little into a scowl, then he says. "A little. But tracking down the series of failures that might have had to happen, and locking things down, we're close to putting him back on the firing line." Then up toward the heavens he says, "You hear that buddy? Back to work soon."

Tony asides to Pepper, "That should make him happy."

JARVIS doesn't answer.

Though that's the moment that Tony's already risen and walking towards Pepper. That folder is taken, /yoink/. "What's this? What am I looking at?"
Pepper Potts has posed:
Pepper's lips pressed together at the dual answers, pale green eyes shifting from the lines of code that she couldn't keep up with as fast as Tony, even if there were times that she could at least make sense of it. When it was still.

"I have an idea for someone that might be able to help..."


Inside the folder are the typical contacts for creating yet another new foundation, this one carrying an exhaustingly long title that has the word 'Cybersecurity' in it.

"You're establishing a new foundation to fund scholarships for cybersecurity students and seed money for tech startups focused on security and encryption because, in light of recent events, Stark Industries is reinforcing its commitment to remain a global leader in investing in the security of our increasingly complex and changing technological landscape."

All of this is rattled off at about twice the speed of a normal human being -- not to show off, but because she was about to make a point.

"The foundation will be announced at an upcoming gala that you're hosting, whose proceeds will go to fund the initial round scholarships. I'll put it on your calendar."

There's a quiet little smile, then. The joke. His calendar. No, she would remind him the week before, the day before, 12 hours before, 6 hours before, 3 hours before, and then likely just stay with him to make sure he actually went.

A beat passes.

"Do you remember Skye Johnson?.. Daisy? I ran into her at the park the other day. I was thinking she might be able to take a look.. a fresh set of eyes, a new perspective."

It's... possibly a suggestion, but it doesn't /sound/ like a suggestion. She had that tone that made it sound like it didn't really matter what Tony said about it, because /she/ thought it was a good idea.
Iron Man has posed:

Head bowed and perusing, Tony gives a nod as he starts to circulate about the room, casually checking one display after another but ninety percent of his attention is on the folder in his hand. He strolls along, eyebrows inclining slightly as Pepper offers him her insight, then at the notion of him creating a new foundation for scholarships, "Wow I'm such a great guy."

"Another gala? Didn't I do one last year?" His lip twitches at his own little joke, clearly pleased with himself.

The topic shifts. Skye Johnson.

"Skye Johnson. Sure. SHIELD gal." Tony's Suicidal Tendencies t-shirt suddenly has his attention for a moment as he rubs a fingernail at what looks like... a mustard stain from earlier perhaps. He then looks over at Pepper.

"Tech person. Absolutely horrible taste in men. Like staggeringly terrible. Some Clint Barton guy." He makes a 'pffft' sound, dismissive.

"But yeah, you talked to her, think so. Bring her in. Over at the tower. Let her see the site."
Black Widow (Romanoff) has posed:
This is not Stark Tower. Being that it is the Avengers Mansion, it is kind of a given that there might be Avengers out and about. And without JARVIS handling all the heavy lifting around the place, they were having to keep at least two Avengers on property at all times. Instead of the normal one.

At least they could play something other than solitaire now, when waiting for any potential alerts.

But it also meant JARVIS wasn't monitoring all the doors and elevators. And thus, Natasha was able to traipse down to the basement level. Through a few halls on the silent soles of her costume, to the storage room in question. She smiled to herself as she pushed open the door.

To find it was not empty. In fact, it was not at all as it should have been. She paused a moment, glancing around at the surroundings before settling on Tony and Pepper. She was in her Widow costume, the black bodysuit with the golden wristbands and belt. Her hair was cut short at the moment, almost boyish in style. She pursed her lips slightly then wrinkled her nose as she spied the take out containers before schooling her expression back to a polite smile.

"Sorry to interrupt. I'll be out of your way in just a second." And she looked to the corner where the storage box /should/ be. Only to find that it wasn't there. "Uhm, where did you move the things that had been in here originally?"
Pepper Potts has posed:
"I think I remember you being called that. Once." Great guy. Pepper delivers it deadpan, but there's amused affection lingering in her eyes. It wouldn't do to reinforce anything that would cause Tony's ego to suddenly fill the remaining space in the room and suffocate them.

"You did, in fact. Now you'll have two." It was way more than two. "Don't let any of /these/ out, or it will become three." Now there's some motivation.

"Sign them, please. The state wants inked originals for the filing."

Topic shift to... horrible taste in men. And /this/ is one that she leaves alone. She should leave alone. "Well, there's no accounting for taste." There. Even if she couldn't keep her mouth shut completely, it was an innocent enough statement. Delivered as a barb. But, what can you do?

She was about to accept the invitation to bring in Skye when Natasha arrived and she turned to look over her shoulder, smiling. "Oh, you're not. We were just wrapping up. Tony and I were just discussing his taste in men."

So much humor in her eyes, and yet that smile remains ever placid as she actually moves over to those empty cartons and begins to gather them up. Because, yes, she's in a very expensive suit. But also, janitorial staff wasn't allowed unsupervised in the lab, and Tony wasn't going to either let them interrupt him or clean it up himself.

"Are you looking for something specific?"
Iron Man has posed:

When Natasha Romanoff makes her appearance Tony's eyebrows lift up a little and a hint of a stagger affects his features, perhaps surprised at her arrival and presence. But he gives no words to it, instead he answers.

"As I live and breathe." Then he gestures, "What? Some old box? Bunch of old photos from the 60s, filled with official looking papers in Cyrillic? No idea. Think we threw it out." Tony, meanwhile as he was talking, had been strolling over to the long table that had become conveniently known as the delivery table. He steps over, shoving some of the old chinese food cartons off to the side and lifting the plastic tarp that partially covered it. Then he whistled and gestured underneath.

"Or you mean this thing?" Another glance, "Or these things. Think this is them. These are they. Them's the things?" Some reason he ponders that for a moment, eyebrows raised. He offers another, 'huh.' though mainly to himself.

Pepper then makes the suggestion he sign and he goes about doing so, taking the pen in hand from his pocket, extending it to the proper length, then starting to apply the needed signatures. He leans back against the table over Black Widow's purloined odds and ends, making the proper application of ink.

"Inked originals. I feel like I should run outside and play with my ball on a string while riding my velocipede." He then presents the folder back toward Pepper, just a gesture before he then sets it down on the table next to him.

That's the moment when he bites on his assistant's comment. "Indeed. I like to think I'm a remarkable judge of character."
Black Widow (Romanoff) has posed:
"Yes," was the response to if she was looking for something specific. Which really wasn't all that enlightening as Natasha stepped further into the room when Tony revealed those boxes. She moved toward the piles but found her way full body-blocked by one Tony Stark as he signed whatever papers were required. Unless she wanted to crawl under from another side. And to be honest, nothing was worth being in that position with this particular person and his quick wit.

"His taste?" That one had caught Natasha a bit by surprise but she noticed the humor reflected in Pepper's expression. "I doubt he's a good judge. After all, he thinks himself amazing and well..." She gave a bold wink to the other redhead in the room then motioned to Tony.

"If you would be so kind as to move, I have a box to find." Then a glance between them. "I'll bite though. Which man is under discussion so I can add my two cents?"
Pepper Potts has posed:
Yes. Well, Pepper wasn't going to press. It didn't matter, and she couldn't help anyway, since she hadn't been down in the basement for anything before Tony built a lab in it.

Plop. A few of the cartons go into a garbage can in the corner of the room near the stairs. Once that's done, she's moving over to collect the cartons that Tony pushed aside above the 'delivery table.' Popular space, at the moment.

"What can I say? The state's stance on cybersecurity is that they can't have a breach if they don't have anything electronic," Pepper laments for Tony's sake while he's signing.

She grinned back at Nat's mention of Tony thinking of himself as amazing, but she didn't say anything. She had her limits for how much she was actually willing to tease Tony, and she /usually/ managed to stop before it got out of control. She was loyal, if nothing else.

"Well, you did hire me," Pepper says to Tony, instead, on the way by, smiling a too-big smile at him as she carries his trash to *plop* into the can without a word about it.

"Clint.. and Skye's affection for him," she answers once her hands her free again, brushing them off before moving back to collect that folder.
Iron Man has posed:

"Some guy named... Cling Bartab? something like that." A glance at Pepper as she gives the correct answer, "Or that."

Then to Natasha he looks at her puzzled, then when she gestures that she's trying to get at the boxes his eyebrows shoot up as his lips part as if just realizing he's in the way. To his credit he sliiiides down the table and to the side, out of the way now and says.

"Was an Avenger or something? I don't recall, do you remember seeing him at the club meetings? I sure don't." Tony's tone is that casual flippant one he uses almost constantly, but whatever umbrage he's taken with Clint, it doesn't seem to be malicious as he finally says, "But yeah, sure. Skye Johnson. Give her access. Though..."

Tony's head tilts to the side slooowly, "Don't let her touch all my stuff. Those SHIELD people. So nosey." He nods once sharply.

"Though yes." Tony's thoughts come back around after a moment. "Hiring you was a good move. Everything other than that, so so."

He leans down to peek under the table, even as behind him a Chinese food carton is plooped into the bin. "So what's in the box? I totally didn't peek."
Black Widow (Romanoff) has posed:
As Tony moved out of the way, and Pepper finished her task with the trash, Natasha was able to bend enough to look more closely at the boxes. Until she found the one she wanted. And it was drawn out and placed on a newly cleared space, thanks to Pepper's efforts. She started to unfold then paused to address their conversation. "Ha. Ha. Clint Barton. And you know damned well he's a member of the team, even if he seems to have forgetten it for a while there," she muttered before shrugging. "Skye is a good one. But she will have a back door into your systems if you give her too much access. Not a negative thing, it's just in her nature," she added with a grin.

Then she pulled open those flaps. Within the box rested six large bottles of some sort of golden liquid, separated by corrugated pieces of cardboard so they wouldn't clink together and potentially get broken. There were no labels, no paper wrappings. Just clear bottles with corks at the top sealing them closed. Though three of the bottles had a little red rune of some sort drawn on the top of the cork. It was an Asgardian rune for those that would know such by site.

"Perfect." And she folded those flaps back up even as she looked between the two of them.

"Oh! Asgardian Mead. Three safe for human consumption." Three were not.
Pepper Potts has posed:
There's something /protective/, almost motherly, that kicks in whenever Tony puts himself down, even if was in jest. Pepper accepted the compliment with a little smile of gratitude, even if she didn't need it. She knew it was a good move. But the second half of that statement gets a little narrowing of her eyes and a purse of her lips. She let it go, though.

"I'll do my best to keep an eye on her."

And Pepper's best was often better than most. She wasn't anything close to Skye's level of 'international hacker,' but she was quick at spotting when something seemed.. off. Even if she couldn't build any of Tony's tech herself, she had more than once swept into the lab, pointed out what was wrong, and swept out again. Sometimes you just needed fresh eyes.

She watched as the box was set up on the table, though, her eyebrows lifting. "Planning a party?"
Iron Man has posed:

There is... a momentary flicker in Tony's eyes, those irises brightening with a warmth that seems to reach his features rather well as he espies those bottles. But then he shakes his head and clears his throat, "Special occasion?"

Tony walks away from that box, that ninja assassin, and those evil bottles. "Celebrating something?" He bites his lower lip slightly and for a moment the two redheads likely can just _tell_ something is floating in that entrepreneur's wicked mind that he wants to say. He hesitates. Which shows he's perhaps got a small sliver of kindness. But then his lips part, "Did your boy ask you to prom finally? Or just homecoming?"

As he says that last he conveniently puts Pepper between the two of them, just in case. Nat's a good shot though.

Which is when he throws out that conversational flare and ECM to counter any incoming missile from the Black Widow. "Did I mention we'll be bringing JARVIS back online soon?" The verbal equivalent of a rodeo clown thrown out there.
Black Widow (Romanoff) has posed:
Natasha gave a smile at the question was as she finished folding the flaps back into place so they wouldn't be moving around while she was transporting the box upstairs. "No, no parties. Just a private celebration," Natasha replied to Pepper's inquiry as Tony started to move away.

Which had Nat narrowing her eyes. For she was great at reading body language, to the point that they used her for interrogations for particularly difficult subjects. And Tony was not difficult to read. Even on his best day.

Then he said it. Went there. Natasha paused, staring at him a long moment as that smile remained on her lips. "We have an anniversary coming up next month so I thought I'd go ahead and take this home. Not planning any sort of event, just him and I." And those green eyes narrowed. "He's even old enough to drink legally now!"

She hefted the box to start for the door then paused, glancing back over her shoulder. "Keep it up, Tony. They will never find you if I choose. I'll be sure to put you with Hoffa."

Then a bright smile to the redhead. "Always a pleasure, Pepper. We need to catch up for lunch again soon."
Pepper Potts has posed:

Pepper sighs the word after his dig, though she doesn't move. She stands there, facing Natasha with Tony behind her, not looking at all like she was actually frightened of a fight breaking out, but amused nonetheless to be in the middle of it.

Then there's the /truth/ of the matter and Pepper's eyes brighten. "Really? That's great, Nat. Congratulations," she offers, her smile warm.

A smirk forms and lingers at Natasha's threats, though, the folder of papers she has pressed between her arms and her stomach, held by both hands folded together at the bottom.

"Same," she answers. "And /please/. With everything that's been going on, I can use all the friendly faces I can get. I hope you have a wonderful anniversary, if it doesn't work out before then."
Iron Man has posed:

"It's no fun if you play along, Nat." Tony replies with a slightly wide-eyed look, but his smile is warm as he keeps his hands stuffed in the pockets of his blue jeans as he finds another place to lean against. Which conveniently enough was beside his initial workstation, a flashing light flickering in one of those holographic displays seems to get the billionaire's attention. He drifts a hand through the hologram and the light goes out.

Which is when JARVIS' voice is heard, *Hopefully I will be able to return to my duties soon, Agent Romanoff.*

"See, he's practically champing at the bit." Tony says lightly.

"But ok!" Tony's voice lifts, "If everyone is done, I need to get back to it. So scoot. Vamonos. I'm workin' heah." He drops into his office chair and it rollllls across the room a few feet, turning slowly.