15332/The Punctilious Party Planning Potts

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The Punctilious Party Planning Potts
Date of Scene: 12 July 2023
Location: Basement, Avengers Mansion
Synopsis: Pepper goes to check on Tony and cooks a meal after their takeout is 'reappropriated.'
Cast of Characters: Iron Man, Pepper Potts

Iron Man has posed:

"Shift it fourteen degrees coreward."

Not many people get to see Tony Stark when he's working. Even when people drop in he shifts, he stops, his manner changes ever so slightly. His guard comes up and he shifts his focus from entirely on what he's doing to considering those that join him, giving them more of his attention than he often wishes. Currently there are only a handful of people that get to be around when he's fiddling and fuddling around with something before him. When he keeps his focus on the task and trusts them...

To not touch his stuff.

Pepper Potts is one such person.

"No, no. That's all wrong. Brings the resonance into the next tier, goes all higgledy-piggledy. We need it to lock onto the signature, and not accept deviation." The billionaire's voice is distracted, and a touch annoyed. Likely with himself as he sits underneath the large central holographic display that shows a myriad of displays and simulations. Not of armor, or weapons, or even something directly mechanical. For now it was a set of wave signs and energy signatures. And apparently they were annoying him.

<< Perhaps a break is in order, sir. You've been working for five hours and your caloric intake has been insufficient. >> JARVIS' voice is calm as he offers that insight.

Which is not met entirely positively, "So you're saying I'm cranky. Yeah, no. I understand JARVIS. Just we need something fool proof."

<< You had some success with the quantum connection, sir. >>

"Yeah, but then there's the transference issue. Impossible under those circumstances. Which, hey, is not entirely a deal-breaker. Just I could envision a scenario where that could come back to bite us."

Tony shook his head and tossed the tablet he had been holding onto the nearby table. "Alright, lunch break, and then back at it."

<< It's five PM, sir. >>

"Alright, dinner break, and then back at it." He pushes himself slooowly to his feet.
Pepper Potts has posed:
/Alright, dinner break, and then back at it./

"Thank you."

Pepper Potts has been standing nearby, watching and inspecting his latest inventions without looming or imposing. She'd come down a little bit ago without her purse, tablet, or phone to suggest a meal might be in order. But, as was often the case, Tony had been in the middle of something. "I can wait," she'd said stubbornly.

The move of the lab from Stark Tower to the Avenger's Mansion meant Pepper was transitioning back and forth from her office to the mansion every time she needed to lay eyes on Tony. Sometimes that meant that she needed to make sure he was looking her in the eyes when she said something important. Sometimes that simply meant she needed to make sure he was actually doing all of the human things.. like eating and sleeping. Thankfully, JARVIS was helping with that, too.

"And thank you, JARVIS." Who had been the one to bring Tony's focus back to dinner, after all. "I brought takeout for us... if it's still there."

The metabolism of some of the Avengers was insane, and though a hopeful little smile touches her lips when she steps off of the bottom stair, she definitely trusted her purse alone on the counter more than she did the bags of food. Still, she didn't bring it down. So it was bait, then, to lure him out of his cave.
Iron Man has posed:

As he finishes gaining his feet, Tony turns toward Pepper and points at her with one finger, his right eye scrunching up a little. "When..."

He says that at first, then pauses as he emphasizes that pointing finger. Then the next few words roll out in a rapid-fire cadence, "Did you get here and how long have I been so rudely keeping you waiting?" Then he turns his head slightly to the side, that finger pointing upward.s "Don't answer that JARVIS."

He starts to walk along the raised dais of the tech display area, black sneakered feet clanking upon the metal surface until he reaches the edge of it and hops down off the somewhat raised area. Today he was wearing... the same pair of jeans he wore yesterday, one could tell by the torn right knee that some people would call 'artisanal weathering'. Thankfully he had a new black t-shirt, though this one was a double B logo with one facing left and the other facing right. He stuffed his hands into his pockets.

"You have a terrible boss, you know that?"
Pepper Potts has posed:
The question about when she got there provokes a muted grin of amusement mixed with impatience. Of course he hadn't even remembered their conversation from... how long ago /had/ it been? Well, it didn't matter. He was up, now.

"Well, for better or worse, I'm actually fond of him," Pepper says, allowing a little roll of her eyes towards the ceiling and a small shake of her head, her smile slipping into a playful grin. "Most of the time."

She waited until Tony got closer so they could make their way out of the lab and up the stairs together. Either she just wanted to be within a conversational distance or she was escorting him to making sure he didn't get sidetracked on another project along the way. Maybe both.

"I hope you're in the mood for schwarma. If not, I'm sure the kitchen has something we can put together." Just so long as he was willing to eat.
Iron Man has posed:

They fell into step with that casual ease, just comfortable in each others' presence, syncing their strides together as they stroll out of that basement laboratory. They walked along the vehicle drive that led up and out of the back of the house's bay, their footsteps echoing a little in the underground way. His head tilted to the side, "If it's here and ready, I'm all for it."

Which might give her some insight into his current research state. When he begrudged every moment away from his work, that was when he was truly engaged. "If it's not maybe just throw something together."

It's not too long before they get to one of the vehicle elevators, and Tony seems to have no qualms about stepping onto the large metal platform, waiting for her to climb into place before he leans over and thumps the red up arrow that's meant for when people drive their car or other ground vehicle onto it. Sloooowly the heavy metal shelf starts to lift them upwards to the higher levels, and the mansion proper.

"I've had this hankering for corn bread for like... days now. No idea why." Then his brow furrows slightly. "You've got that look on your face. That look when you want to tell me something, but you're being polite or holding off for some reason."
Pepper Potts has posed:
It's there in the quiet of that relative quiet of that elevator that Pepper looks... tired. She was still as put together as ever, always looking like she was ready to be caught off guard by a spontaneous press conference or board meeting. But there was a heaviness to her eyes. Company-wide emails had been sent out well before business hours, and here she was at five o'clock in the evening, ensuring Tony had access to a meal instead of.. well.. whatever it was she did when she 'clocked out' for the day.

Granted, she was apparently planning to eat, too, and judging purely by the number of hours she put in at work, it wasn't exactly like Miss Potts had a very full social calendar outside of events for Stark Industries.

Speaking of which...

"It's not pressing," she says, looking over at him with a little shake of her head. "We can talk about it over dinner. Just some planning things for the fundraiser." The one that was /still/ related to the PR cleanup from the stolen suit stuff. Thankfully, the twenty-four-hour news cycle had dropped it in favor of the latest presidential faux pax, but there was still damage control to be done with investors.

"Steve's back."

Steve Rogers had been gone for a while on a walk-about. Or.. a ride-about on his motorcycle, maybe. Either way, he hadn't been at the mansion in a while.
Iron Man has posed:

She can read Tony so effortlessly. Can see that subtle micro-tell of his as she speaks. The way his irises slightly shift and his left eyebrow raises ever so faintly higher than the other. it's the sign that he doesn't recognize what she's talking about. But is trying not to let that on, and she sees it when she speaks of a fundraiser...?

Then abruptly that look is chased away as it often is by abrupt recognition and realization, his lips parting in a small silent 'oh'. Followed by a few quick nods once that ramp rises up to the stopping point, in the semi 'normal' looking garage portion of the mansion. He starts to mosey toward the door that leads into the kitchen.

"Fundraiser, right."

Then the mention of Cap. "Oh hey, that's good. Did he reveal what he's been up to the last few months?"

Once he reaches the door he casually shoulders it open, leeeaning a bit inside the kitchen and holding the door for her to precede him. "Probably heard Antiques Roadshow was in town, that sly dog, probably has a crush on that Fiona Bruce.'
Pepper Potts has posed:
The lack of recognition isn't even a surprise. She could have laid into him immediately and started pelting him with questions about guest lists and tech, but that wasn't going to be helpful and it wasn't that urgent of an issue. Her plan had obviously been to catch him up over a meal, anyway... and /then/ start pelting him with questions.

Pepper had opened her mouth to start answering about Steve, though, when that thought process was entirely derailed by a single revelation...

"How do you know about Antiques Roadshow?" she asks, incredulous. Even worse, there's a little shake of her head. "How do I not know that you know about Antiques Roadshow?"

Granted, it wasn't exactly as if every waking moment of Tony Stark's life was run past her out of obligation... it just /was/. Or, she thought it was.

It seems to be largely rhetorical, though. She's stepping out of the lift with him.

"Apparently he decided to take an Americana slice-of-life tour. We didn't get much of a chance to talk, but I saw him when I stopped by earlier -- after I realized you were on do not disturb but before I decided to barge in anyway."

She smiles faintly, slipping past him through the doorway with a quiet, "Thank you," and then letting out a soft breath just a few paces in. There sat her purse. On the counter. By itself.

"Well, it looks like I'm cooking."

She was already on her way to the fridge.
Iron Man has posed:

"Hey, I sometimes monitor the culture. I sometimes peruse the grand avenues of the information super highway." Tony enters the kitchen while offering such a revelation. Such as it is. He closes the door behind him, then casually touches a few taps to the data display near the door, keying in a sequence and getting a green acknowledgement light from the panel. He turns back to face her.

"Okay, they once did a show from our place in New Hampshire, highlighted my dad's collection of vintage miniature cars. About... fifteen years ago. Had a mild crush on Miss Bruce. Mild." He spreads his hands, "What can I say? It's the accent." And with that revelation he strolls further into the kitchen.

Then the revelation comes. No food. He purses his lips, "It was probably Thor. That guy has no sense of personal property."
Pepper Potts has posed:
Mention of perusing the 'grand avenues' of the information super highway earns a glance over her shoulder as Pepper stands in the open door of the fridge, and though the tapping on the keypad (and especially the green light) earns a quizzical lift of one eyebrow, she doesn't ask.

"Why doesn't that surprise me?" she asks instead about the comment about having a crush, her brief smile patient and matronly before she turns her attention back to the fridge. "I didn't realize your dad was a collector." Maybe Pepper really is off of her game, this time, if she both missed the feature with Tony in it /and/ the fact that it was focused on his dad. Or... maybe she's just making small talk while she starts pulling things out of the fridge -- fresh basil and a block of Parmesan cheese.

It wasn't that there was a lack of supplies to make things. But most everyone preferred ready-made food they could grab on the run. It takes her looking through a few cabinets, but she finally finds the pantry and pulls out an onion, garlic bulb, pasta noodles.

"What about you? Do you have any antique collections I'm not aware of?"

More searching, this time for a pot, no doubt.
Iron Man has posed:

"Well." Tony strolls back into the kitchen proper, leaning against the table with one hip. "I mean. He would collect things, mainly by like... getting interested in them, then buying all of them, and then voila. Instant collection. Stamps. Cars. Trains. Firearms. Mason Jars. Velocipedes..." At that last one his eyebrows widen a little as if recalling that particular facet of his childhood.

Then he boots one of the chairs out from under the table and drops into it to sprrraawl in a comfortable slouch. She asks about his own collections and his eyebrows rise, "That you're unaware of? Don't think so. Though I suppose some things might be lurking somewhere."

There's a pause, then he says in a slightly quieter tone. "You know. You don't need to do this. Can just get something delivered."
Pepper Potts has posed:
"Aside from the fact that you've been living on take-out, it would take it nearly an hour to get here. I can have this made in twenty," Pepper says, crouching to pull out a pot. Then to the sink for water and hand-washing.

"Besides, it's not like I get very many opportunities to cook." Ah, there's the real reason. Keeping her hands busy.

"And," she adds while she's moving the pot over to the stove, turning on the heat, adding salt.

"If I order takeout, you'll just go back to work. Maybe, this way, I can keep your attention for a few minutes." She smiles a bit and grabs a knife and a cutting board.


Over to the land, she sets the cutting board down and starts in on dicing the onion.

"The foundation I had you sign the paperwork for -- to fund cybersecurity education and seed money for startups. The gala's coming up. Timing and venue I have under control. It would help a lot if we had something new to show off while we were there. You know how people will come from far and wide to see the latest Stark tech."

Chop. Chop. Chop.

"It wouldn't need to be flashy, but preferably cybersecurity related. I didn't know if you had any ideas or if I should reach out to R&D and see what they have."
Iron Man has posed:

"You're going to list this on your time sheet aren't you?" Tony says as he wanders about the kitchen, not unlike a lost soul pondering the meaning of some arcane landscape as he walks about, poking and prodding and examining. "Add it to your CV. Short order cook to the miraculous yet insufferable Tony Stark."

He leans against the counter with a slight whumpf as he peers at one of the open drawers and extracts from it a pair of metal tongs that he, of course, cannot resist click-clacking together like some alien robot claw from a mid 50s science fiction flick. "I'm onto you, Potts." He taps a finger to just under his eyeball then points at her, "I am Perspicacious."

A pause, then he adds, "That was on my word-a-day calendar, self-improvement here I come."

Of course as he says this he leans over her shoulder, then eases back as she starts to work on the onion. "Did I ever tell you about the first thing I learned to cook for myself?"

The fact that there is a first thing he learned, and that he actually could cook for himself... on some level, might be oh so terribly surprising.
Pepper Potts has posed:
There's something about the dichotomy of one of the greatest minds of the generation clacking tongs together than brings actual, sincere laughter to Pepper's lips. Though she's careful with her dicing, she glances at him out of the corner of her eye... not unlike keeping a watchful gaze on a child digging through kitchen drawers.

"Don't tempt me," she teases about updating her CV.

The word-of-the-day earns another smile, a slight turn of her head and a 'Can I help you?' lift of her eyebrows when he looks over her shoulder, though she says nothing of it.

"You /cook/?"

Onion diced, she sets it off to the side and pulls a couple of gloves of garlic off the bulb, breaking them open and mincing.

"No, you haven't. After today, I'm beginning to think I barely know you at all. So.. what was it?"

Yes, she noticed he answered nothing about her questions. She also didn't seem particularly upset about it.
Iron Man has posed:

"I have cooked. At one time." Tony confesses as he tosses the tongs back into the drawer, then turns and starts to fiddle with the other side of the counter, partially facing away from Pepper as he does so. "Ages ago. When I was three... four?" His eyebrows lift as he pulls open another drawer, and she'll hear that distinct sound when someone is rummaging around in a 'junk drawer' or equivalent.

"I followed Jarvis off into the kitchen and watched him put together a tray of breakfast for my mom when she was feeling low. I was amazed by the concept of how you break open this organic container and poured its contents onto a sufficiently hot surface, then voila. You had actual real food."

He continues to dig around in that drawer, then there's the thump of it being closed, only for another drawer to be drawn open. "So for the next three days I made nothing but eggs. Like over and over, constantly. Morning, noon, and night. Until I got sick of them. After that didn't have them again until I was..." Tony shakes his head and then finally turns back, holding his bounty that he foraged from the drawer. "In my thirties."

He casually sets down the plastic corn holders he had found in the drawer, flicking one with an index finger to set it spinning as he says. "These, are the official corn holders of the Avengers. Did you know we had these?" He gives a nod, "There's an endorsement deal in there somewhere."
Pepper Potts has posed:
Other than the light sounds of knife blade swiftly drumming against the cutting board as she minces the garlic gloves, Pepper is... quiet. She got that way in these moments when even she wasn't faced with the walls of Tony Stark bravado or the endless, intricate mazes of his mind navigating through his latest project.

Moments when it was just Tony, talking about his childhood and playing with corn holders.

"I did not," she answers, amusement touching her eyes. "And if I had to guess, no one else knows they're here, either."

Setting the knife down on the cutting board, she turns and points to the box of spaghetti noodles. "It's not eggs, but if you'd be willing to help, the noodles need to be added to the water. I need to slice the cherry tomatoes."
Iron Man has posed:

"Sounds complicated, complex." The adding of noodles to water. He leeeeans over to the side and gives that box of spaghetti some eyeballing and casually pokes it with a fingertip. Then he starts to open the box, apparently not entirely as helpless as he likes to pretend for he handles that task without calamity. Though she might hear him murmur to himself the words, 'The Official Spaghetti Provider of the Avengers.'

Yet he turns back and says, "So if I propose breaking the noodles in half and then adding them to the water, you won't go all Italian Grandma at me for the blasphemy of such a proposition."

Though his lip curves up a little as his eyes distance for a moment, some small memory taking him off in one particular direction even as he grabs the handful of spaghetti, gripping it in the middle with one hand, then pressing down on one end and turning his hand a quarter turn clockwise...

Causing those noodles to fan out along the sides of the pot as he pushes down and slooowly... sloooooowly the boiling water accepts those noodles until they all submerge under the water. It is not the creation of a quantum theory, nor the development of a renewable energy source. Yet his smile is wry as he seems inordinately proud of that accomplishment. He grabs a piece of the cherry tomato she's slicing and pops it in his mouth.

"I am not without my talents, Miss Potts."
Pepper Potts has posed:
"Oh, you think we've fought before. Don't you dare," Pepper chides, that smile still lingering on her lips as she pulls out the basket of tomatoes, starting to slice them in half.

She keeps an eye on him, still with that mothering glint in her eye that made it clear she was more worried about him finding a way to turn the pot of boiling water into some sort of dangerous science experiment than she was about the noodles.

/I am not without my talents, Miss Potts./

Pepper's eyes lift through her lashes, not appearing all possessive of the food she was slicing, though each thing had been neatly organized into its own little pile on the wooden surface of the board, including the basil leaves. "I never doubted you for a second."

"Pardon me, Miss Potts," comes that familiar British voice from overhead.

Pepper doesn't even look up. "Yes, JARVIS?"

"You have an e-mail marked urgent from Rachel Anderson from Insightful Living asking to reschedule the interview to today."

"At what time?"

"In an hour," JARVIS says.

"Tell her to make it two hours or we can look at our calendars for next month."

"Very good, Miss Potts."

"Thank you, JARVIS."
Iron Man has posed:

"What's that about?" Tony asks with all the grace and subtlety of a Golden Retriever meeting a new person. As he chews that first piece of tomato his eyebrows rise and he steals a second piece... and a third, then evacs over toward the table to lean against its surface while he chews.

Of course he doesn't give her time enough to answer when his thoughts have already wandered off in another direction. "I once went to my friend Swarna's house, when I was wrapping up things at MIT. His million year old grandma cooked us chicken tikka, and it was delicious." He relates this small story as he chews on the third piece of tomato, his eyes distanced. "And they had this fresh... garlic naan bread that was amazing. And while I was sitting there, I started to sort of scoop the chicken tikka onto the naan, made a sort of tikka sandwich."

He pulls a chair out and drops into it, pulling one leg up into his lap as he looks over at Pepper as she cooks, "And there I am, nom-nomming away, when I hear all the conversation stopped. I look up, and Swarna's whole family is just staring at me."

A nod is given as he smiles a little more, then shakes his head. "Some peoples' kids, I tell ya."
Pepper Potts has posed:
"'When in Rome' will never be one of your guiding tenets, Tony," Pepper replies with a gentle smile, though her voice is a little distant, her mind temporarily swept into her own thoughts... just not enough to actually stop paying attention to what he was saying.

She turns to check the noodles, grabbing a spoon and giving them a little stir. Then she's off looking for a colander.

"Rachel has been asking for an interview on work/life balance for three months, but I've been putting her off."

Because she didn't have a work/life balance to talk about. She comes out with a big metal bowl and sets it in the sink.

"She wants some pictures of my apartment." And staged pictures of Pepper 'relaxing' for the article, no doubt. "So, I'm meeting her there."

One more stir of the noodles, and she glances over her shoulder. "She /wanted/ an interview with you. I've been running interference for you. But if you ever feel like lounging on your couch for a wellness magazine, I can set it up for you."
Iron Man has posed:

"I mean, maybe? Rachel who now?" A brief moment as he holds a hand up, then snaps his fingers. "Anderson. Wellness magazine. Did she do the thing with the..." Another moment, then he shakes his head, "No, course not." As he answers his own question.

"I mean, I could do it, if needs be. just not much to say to a 'wellness magazine'." She can likely hear those air quotes around those last two words, some hint of... negativity to it. Yet he does not offer further insight. The billionaire philanthropist doesn't seem to be toooo terribly charitable for some reason as he leans back in that chair.

"So ok, some sort of party. What do you need from me?" A slight shift in the flow of the conversation as he refers to that earlier topic of conversation, apparently comfortable with getting back to that and discussing it. "Personal appearance, speech, royal wave, what am I gonna have to do? See these are the things I think a clone would really work out well for." Likely an old discussion they had before in which Pepper convinced him that no... no a clone Tony Stark is not a good idea.
Pepper Potts has posed:
"We'll see how mine turns out," Pepper replies simply, grabbing some pot holders and lifting the pot to carry over and dump out into the colander. When she returns the pot to the stove, she wipes out the bottom with a towel and adds the olive oil.

"No clones," she chides. "We've had that conversation. The world has exactly as many Tony Starks in it as it needs -- or can handle."

She fetched the cutting board and starts adding the rest, garlic first, the oil sizzling in the bottom of the pan.

"A short speech about the importance of growing the cybersecurity field. Preferably some words about a new Stark security appliance and how this funding will go to advancing similar tech." Yes, she said security appliance.

The basil gets added last, all of it stirred in the oil, really making the kitchen fragrant. It isn't long before the noodles get added back to the oil and all of it tossed together briefly before being taken off the heat. It's plated with the tongs Tony found earlier and topped with cheese.

For the rest of their 'dinner break,' the two are left alone to chat about the 'party' and the twists-and-turns of Tony's mind down that path, including at least two tales of how MIT beefed up their own cybersecurity after a couple of his... exploits.

With Tony sufficiently nourished, Pepper didn't complain about his desire to get back to work, but a few hours later JARVIS did notify him that there was a delivery driver at the gate of the Mansion with an order of fresh cornbread from Pepper Potts.