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Definitely NOT Tony Stark
Rplog-icon Who: Justin Hammer, Bethany Cabe
Where: New York City
When: Monday Night
Tone: Social, Comedic
What: Introducing the one and only Mr. Justin Hammer: Justin drops by CMS after a trip to Madrid under the care of Yael Max and takes Bethany out to dinner. Warning for innuendo and honest assessments of Tony Stark.


If there's one thing that can be said for Cabe-McPherson, it's that they're good. The second thing that can be said about them, if you've got room for it, is that their agents are usually hot. The kind of hot that makes other people hate the person they're guarding, so it's a good thing they're doing the guarding.

This trip to Madrid, Justin Hammer got to have the delectable Yael Max on his arm. Not only did she make him look amazing, but she took out some ridiculous protestors in fine fashion. Nothing like getting your money's worth. There was blood involved. And crunching bones.

Now, they're back in New York, comfortably protected from the dingy, mundane world by tinted limo windows. Rock star treatment. The limo slides in to the HQ in Hell's Kitchen--very butch--and comes to a halt.

Justin Hammer enjoyed the actual business he'd gone to Madrid to handle, but not nearly half as much as he'd enjoyed watching Yael work. He'd been an utter gentleman and completely professional, even though he did have eyes and a functioning brain. ...all right, maybe he'd flirted a little. A /little/! But nothing beyond a little friendly playfulness.

Once the limo's come to a stop, Hammer waits just long enough for someone to open his door before he slips out with a friendly "Thank you very much," and slides 'round the back to return the favor for Yael. See? Gentleman. He's even wearing a nice suit. He offers her a hand out of the car. "We really should do that again sometime, Miss Max. It was a pleasure."

"It was indeed, sir." Yael gives him a charming smile and shakes his hand. "Welcome back to New York, it was a pleasure to accompany you to Madrid." That's the other thing, the Cabe-McPherson agents treat Hammer like the king of the world. Not in some sticky, fawning way, but just like it's a fact. Hammer rules and anyone who gets in his way gets crushed.

The inside of CMS HQ is pretty grim, but it's a tough, gritty grim, like they mean business. The little guy who does all the footwork is right there to welcome Hammer back as well.

"Mr. Hammer, welcome! I'm Salah Sundara, I've spoken to your assistant on the phone," the little guy says. "Such a surprise to see you here. Director Cabe is just coming in from a training session, can I show you to her office?"

There are reasons that Justin Hammer keeps on hiring them. They treat him nicer than most of his actual company security -- probably because the people who work for him more frequently actually get to know him a little. Eh. Whatchagunnado.

Justin brightens when Salah introduces himself, and he seems genuinely happy to see him. "Mr. Sundara! It's lovely to finally meet you. I'd love to drop in if it wouldn't be a bother," he says with a smile, inclining his head politely. "I don't want to interrupt her day just to say hello."

"She'd have my head if I let you out of here without seeing her." Sal gestures toward the elevator. "Come on up. Can I get you a drink, sir? Coffee, water, something stronger?"

"Coffee would be great. It was a long flight," Justin replies. He makes his way towards the elevator once Salah has gestured him ahead, absently adjusting his cuffs as he walks. Must look his best for a meeting with Miss Cabe, after all.

Hammer is shown to an office that's pretty utilitarian--looks like an Army officer's office, actually. All kinds of books on war and weapons and a big weapons locker. The chairs are big and comfortable, though, and the desk stacked with more stuff--even a couple weapon prototypes--is big. Sal brings Hammer a tray with coffee a plate of donuts that look like they were made in heaven or something.

"Director Cabe will be right in," Sal says. Now that Hammer thinks about it's, that's a helicopter going somewhere up on the roof.

"Thank you, Salah." To his credit, the only things that Hammer touches while he waits are the coffee and donuts. He really does need a little jolt of caffeine, and the donuts... did you /see/ them? Come on! He's having one. You would too.

This is not to say that Hammer doesn't /look/ at the prototypes. They're just sitting there, looking so lonely all by themselves. But he stays on the correct side of the desk and patiently waits for Bethany to make it down. Chopper? NBD, he's got one of those too.

The door swings open. "Mr. Hammer." The dulcet tones of one Bethany Cabe. "If I'd known to expect you, I'd have been back earlier." The woman coming in the door is not the one in the brochures. She's dressed in black body armour, with a flame thrower-slash-grenade launcher across her chest and what looks like a semi-automatic rifle slung over one shoulder. Goggles are pushed up on top of her head and she's flushed, glowing with sweat.

The attire (and armaments) don't seem to bother him at all. Justin Hammer is quick with an easy smile and sets his coffee down long to free up a hand -- it's rude to return a half-eaten donut to the tray. "I apologize. As silly as it sounds, I wanted to be sure that Miss Max made it back here in one piece," he admits with a self-depreciating smile. "I hope I'm not keeping you from anything?"

"Chivalry is not dead," Bethany says with a smile, as she shakes his hand. "You certainly are not, Mr. Hammer. I'm delighted to see you." The goggles and the bandana come off with a flourish and she shakes loose her long, red hair. "If you'll give me a moment to disarm myself..." She winks at him.

Justin beams and gives a firm, confident shake before reaching for his coffee again. "Well, if you insist. I'll wait right here?" he asks, gesturing to the chair with a questioning quirk of his eyebrows.

"You might be safest there." Bethany laughs as she takes off the weapons. Sal appears as if from nowhere to collect them as they come off. Yep, those big guns are what Hammer thought they were, and there's a side arm, a knife, a knife, a big knife, a heavy stun gun, a bandolier of grenades, and... another knife. "That's better," Bethany says, as Sal scurries off. "How did Agent Max do for you this trip?"

That is a lot of knives. Justin's not bothered, though -- he's happy to sit tight and finish his donut. The little sprinkles are the best part. "Oh, she was exemplary," he replies earnestly, inclining his head to her. "She handled everything the trip could think to throw at her with the utmost professionalism. Couldn't be happier."

"Lovely. I don't think I'd have gotten her if this economy weren't so lousy." Bethany breezes around to her side of the desk. "Damn clutter." She pushes a prototype gun out of the way. "It's a new less-than-lethal sidearm out of Sweden, but I'm not impressed. I can't saddle my people with something that can't kill. Sorry if that sounds harsh." She checks something on her computer. "I think the world may be ending. I have a few unscheduled hours."

"I completely understand," Justin replies, leaning forward to give the prototype a more openly curious look. "In your line of work -- if I may be so bold, Miss Cabe -- in your line of work, it's important that the bad guys do not get back up. Most avenues for non-lethal force come with precious few guarantees in that department," he notes with a solemn shake of his head. Of course, at the last note, all that 'solemn' is gone. "Oh, well, then I should get out of your hair," he smiles, setting his now empty cup back down. "I don't want to ruin your free time with anything even remotely work-related. That would just be greedy."

"Not at all." Bethany knows how to keep a client happy and Justin Hammer is not the only one at his work who goes on business trips. Also, she knows his head of security and the guy's a class-A jerk. Yes, so is Hammer, but this guy is in his own class. Greasy Man-Pig Class of '82, to be precise. It's hypocritical of Bethany, she knows, but the guy has never even seen action. He's like a mall cop who happens to have good connections.

"If you'll wait for me to shower off this sweat and make myself presentable, I'd love it if you came to dinner with me," she offers.

Justin pauses. He had not anticipated such an invitation. "You and me," he muses, giving her a thoughtful look. "Some music, some candlelight, and... guns. Hmm. Certainly, Miss Cabe," he says with a broad smile. "I would be delighted. A man can't survive on donuts alone, after all."

"I'll be no time at all," Bethany promises. "Sal's at your disposal if there's anything you need. You pick the place, I'll pick up the bill." She closes up her computer and whisks around the desk again. Sal's there at the door, like a little butler.

"I'll be no time at all," Bethany promises. "Sal's at your disposal if there's anything you need. You pick the place, I'll pick up the bill." She closes up her computer and whisks around the desk again. Sal's there at the door, like a little butler.

"Don't rush on my account!" Justin is in no hurry. He gives the Swedish prototype one last look before he turns to make his way towards Sal and the door, offering him a warm smile. "Does Miss Cabe like Italian food?" he asks lightly. He knows a very good place.

"Absolutely," Sal says, ushering Hammer out. Mr. Hammer may have a tour or go admire the weapons collection.

Bethany zips off and showers, drying her hair super fast while Farah helps her get ready. Contract, contract, contract.

"You're just doing this because you hate Man-Pig," Farah accuses. "Are you sure he still works there?"

"Far as I know. Besides, I do have other motives. Like money." Bethany wriggles into a very tight navy bandage dress and steps into a pair of gold snakeskin heels. Hair up, lipstick, jewelry, sparkly clutch... and she's good to go. She heads downstairs to find Mr. Hammer again.

Weapons collection? Don't mind if he do -- besides, the more Justin knows about their current armory, the more effectively he can try to score a contract to supply CMS with more. What? They're both adults, they're both running a business. They both know the score.

Besides. She's married. Justin Hammer is many things, but he is /not/ Tony Stark.

Bethany comes out of the lift just as Sal is bringing Hammer back to the main floor where a big white limo, freshly stocked, is waiting.

"Mr. Hammer," Bethany calls. "Did you enjoy looking at my assets?"

"You know, I /did/," Justin replies with his most charming smile, letting his eyes wander /just/ the appropriate amount to take in her ensemble. He glances down at his blue striped tie and pocket square. How nice. They match.

Still in Gentleman Mode, he sees if he can't beat poor ol' Sal to the limo to open and hold the door for Bethany. "You're going to love this place," he assures her. "They use paper for the table cloths and give you a little cup of crayons -- it's amazing." He is, of course, lying. He wouldn't take her to somewhere so mundane as the Macaroni Grill. Come on.

"Colouring paper and crayons?" Bethany asks as Hammer opens the door for her. Of course he got there first, Sal has perfect timing. She puts her hand in Hammer's and lets him help her in. "Please, Mr. Hammer," she says, looking up at him from under her lashes. "You're having dinner with me, not Tony Stark."

Justin's smile is positively /radiant/. "Oh, you're good," he murmurs approvingly, waggling a finger at her. "You're very, very good." He's going to enjoy this. Once Bethany's in and settled, he sees about getting himself in as well so the very nice driver can do their job. Not that he knows who the driver is, or if they're even nice. He just assumes. With CMS, it's pretty safe to.

"I'm good, yes," Bethany says. "Also, annoyed, and I share this with you only as a friend. I'm sure you heard about the little kerfuffle in Manhattan the other day. Zombies, gates of Hel, screaming innocents. I'm fighting off the undead in my running clothes after a two-hour run, bleeding no less, and he comes swooping in--in full Iron Man gear--and tells me to call him as he whips past." She rolls her eyes, then leans forward to pour them both a glass of champagne as the limo rolls out. "Any man with that attitude, I wouldn't call if he had a firetruck suit and my beloved grandmother was on fire. I'd take his money, of course, but that's business."

Justin appears genuinely flabbergasted. "You were there, in that state... and he hit on you?" he asks incredulously, slowly shaking his head. "I'm so sorry, Bethany. That's horrible. And depressingly typical of him, I'm sorry to say," he adds in a low voice, getting his seatbelt buckled. "I just don't understand it. You -- I mean, honestly -- you create the suit. You position yourself as a hero. The potential to do some real good is, frankly, staggering," he says, spreading his hands. "And what does he spend most of his time doing with it?"

"Crashing into modelling agencies and never coming out, if the evidence tells us anything." Bethany laughs wearily and shakes her head. "I'm used to a degree of disrespect--and I've got no trouble with a little well-meaning ogling--but, honestly... that took the cake. I used to work in Saudi, Mr. Hammer, and -that- was the most offended I've been in years. But. Enough about him. Let me tell you what saved the day for me--the Hammer Titan, the 2.5mil volt stun gun with the flash blinder? I carry it whenever I go running and it was brilliant."

"If my little Titan was able to help you out in your time of need, I couldn't be happier," Justin smiles, and he really, genuinely does mean it. He likes it when his stuff works. (All things considered... it's always a cause for celebration.) He raises his glass in a salute before having a sip. "I should tell marketing. They'd love to know that it did well in a zombie invasion. That's a good niche."

"My hero. You didn't even have to be there to save lives." Bethany says with a wink--she's laying it on but they both know it's all in fun, and it's true. "I recommend it to the clients I train privately. A lot of women are afraid to handle something so big--they're afraid it'll be too brutal--but the truth is that big is exactly what you need sometimes."

"Size does occasionally matter," Justin replies without missing a beat, and without sacrificing a straight face. "Seeing something like that hanging from someone's belt can be an effective deterrent, don't even need to actually use it."

"But using it is the best part." Bethany gives him a dazzlingly sweet smile. She's having fun but she's also being honest. Shooting things, tazing them, stun-gunning them, it's all pretty much awesome. "So, do I get to know where we're going or is it a surprise?"

"Del Posto out in Chelsea," Justin replies promptly, with a sunny smile. "I just love Mario's cooking. We have a table reserved and should be getting there just in time, if traffic holds."

"Oh, now you really are my hero," Beth says delightedly, reaching over to pat Hammer on the knee. Good boy. "I've hardly gotten to go anywhere good since I got to America and I miss Europe like mad. I used to drop in to Italy on my way back to Germany from the M.E., wallow in some authentic cooking." She sinks back into the white leather seat with a sigh. "I'm selfishly glad you dropped in now."

The best kind of glad. So many of the other kinds just feel so /forced/. "I try," Justin says happily, settling back in his own seat. Aside from the occasional glance out the window to keep track of where they are, he's giving Bethany all of his attention. It isn't often that he gets to enjoy such pleasant conversation.

The traffic is mercifully cooperative, and the table is ready and waiting for them when they arrive -- a small place for two, tucked back in a quiet corner for privacy, but within easy view of the door. Justin holds Bethany's chair out for her and pushes it in once she's seated, then steps around to claim his own.

"I've got to tell you, Bethany, I have never eaten anything here that I did not like," Justin admits, waving his hand. "Not a once. I'm just -- I'm just gonna tell them to send out whatever they want, I think. I feel adventurous. Do you feel adventurous?"

"Would I do what I do if I weren't adventurous? Let's throw ourselves on their mercy and see what happens to us." Bethany looks delighted at the idea. "At least we're in it together, right?"

Justin nods once, firmly. "Absolutely. It's much more fun with company." As is, he is told, misery. And if this adventure goes poorly, well, they'll be all set. When the waiter comes by, he earns a winning smile as Justin passes on their order -- surprise them, and appropriate wine to accompany it, please and thank you.

"You know, I got such a charming report back from Yael--she got to break heads, I was so jealous--that I'm tempted to accompany you myself next time you go to Europe, Justin." Bethany puts her chin in her hand and gives him a smile. "I hate to let other people have all the fun that way. I'm awful."

"Oh, I don't think that's awful," Justin replies with a dismissive wave of his hand. "...but, this is me. I'm not content to let just anybody demonstrate our products to major prospective clients, I go and do it myself. It's a good way to stay grounded, I find," he says. "It's easy to forget what the real work is like if you just stay up in your office all day."

"Well, if you're going to be all mature," Bethany says loftily, laughing. "I'm operating more on the level of -things go boom!- and getting really excited about it."

Then, she spots something over Justin's shoulder, or someone, and her expression shifts to a softer, more genuine happiness. "Alex," she says with delight. "I knew you had a dinner, but I didn't know it was here. How lovely."

The man she's addressing is tall, ridiculously German, and even more ridiculously handsome. Cropped blond hair, strong features, mesmerizing blue eyes. "I didn't know you had a dinner at all, darling," he says in a smooth, accented voice.

"Alex, this is..." Bethany starts introduce them but the man stops, still facing her, back to Justin, and puts a hand on her shoulder.

"I'm familiar with Mr. Hammer, darling," he says icily. Only then does he acknowledge Justin's presence. "You'll excuse me if I have a word with my wife. I'll be in the bar, darling."

When he leaves, there are red marks on Bethany's shoulder. Still, her smile doesn't slip. She -is- good. "If you'll excuse me, Justin. I'll be right back," she says as she rises. "Keep my place warm."

Outwardly, Justin Hammer is all politeness and good manners. Alex gets an inclination of his head and a deferential "Of course," while Bethany is given a warm smile and a nod. That doesn't mean that he is not observant. Just that he's not of a mind to cause a scene.

Yet.

"I'll be right here," Justin replies, and the words may carry just a little more gravitas than one would normally expect them to. He means them in more ways than one.

Bethany is gone only long enough for a few tense words with Alex and a mandatory appearance at his table, in which she pleasantly greets the Ambassador-at-Large, an older man she's known longer than she's known Alex, and the rest of the party of Italian-American industrialists. It gives her a chance to explain that she's here with a client, the charming and brilliant Mr. Hammer--yes, that's really him. She bids them farewell and returns to the table with her smile still in place.

"Apologies, Justin," she says, sitting down again. "It would have been rude if I didn't give the Ambassador and his party a moment of my time."

Justin rises from his seat long enough for Bethany to retake hers, then settles back down. "No apologies necessary," he promises, looking down as he lays a napkin out over his lap. "We all have demands upon our time. I hope everything is alright?" he asks lightly, letting his eyes briefly go to her shoulder.

"Everything's completely normal," Bethany says breezily. "You know, I think there are some people buzzing around the Ambassador-at-Large who might be of interest to you. Of course, Alex is his Charge d'Affairs so we get them as well. Alloys are the big thing on the go these days. How'd you like to come to my next party? I thought that titanium magnate from Florida was going to ask me to get your autograph."

Opportunity... for a few things.

As the wine arrives, Justin Hammer smiles. "I'd like that very much, Bethany," he replies, raising his glass to her. "Thank you."

Bethany raises her glass to his. Her smile reaches her eyes now. "You're very welcome, Justin. I'd love to have you there."

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