|The Iron ... Pepper?|
|What: Natasha stops by Pepper's office for tea and a chat, and by the end all of the Avengers plus Coulson are on hand to spectate and possibly participate.|
Yes, Saturdays are work days just like any other for Pepper Potts. With the added bonus that she can dress more casually. Yesterday, she sent Natasha an email offering an invitation for tea and a chat at her earliest convenience, knowing the agent's availability is far less reliable than her own. So, she's sitting in her office getting some paperwork taken care of and debating whether or not to try the new Assam tea she got.
Natasha isn't quite the fashion plate that Pepper is: certainly she has the budget and the taste, but when she's Just Tasha, she tends toward a somewhat more muted look these days. Today she's in a grey angora sweater and a green wool pencil skirt, looking very much like any other professional in these halls. She rather enjoys Pepper's presence: the woman is competent and intelligent, and that's surprisingly hard to find. She knocks before stepping inside, a smile -- possibly even a genuine one -- crossing her face when she sees the other woman. She raises a small bakery box: "I brought some refreshments."
Pepper Potts looks up at the knock and smiles. She's actually not at all surprised that JARVIS didn't give any kind of warning -- the AI has learned to not announce Natasha's presence either through not being able to track her reliably or because the assassin threatened his circuit boards. Whatever the case, it's kind of refreshing. "Hi." Her eyes track the bakery box. "Will those go good with tea? I got a new variety yesterday I've been wanting to sample."
"Does your tea go well with ginger scones?" Natasha inquires, tilting the box backward and forward to let them bump each other. "They're surprisingly good. Very bitey, very flavorful." She occasionally brings small nibbles, little trifles. Usually appropriate ones. As far as JARVIS goes, she did once have a quiet, pointed conversation on the subject of assassins and how they can get to more than just people. "What do you have, then?" she inquires with evident interest. "The tea. The day requires something strong or complex."
Pepper Potts abandons her computer, standing and going to the sideboard/wet bar in the corner of her office. "Well, the new one is Mangalam Estate Assam, but I also have..." She opens one cupboard of the bar and reveals no less than a dozen different tins of teas. Looks like Bruce might have created a monster here with his love of darjeeling.
"I also have some juices and sparkling waters if you'd prefer. Pretty much every beverage Tony turns his nose up at." Peeking past the corner of her desk is a hint of teal, and maybe a partial 'C' embossed in the fabric.
"That's actually a new one for me." And indeed, she sounds quite pleased about the fact. "I'm willing to try it," she adds, though she does approach the cupboard to peer inside at the selection. Her eyebrows perk slightly, but: "Ah. He did spend all that time in India," she muses. Straightening, she glances back over with a faint smile: "The tea will be more than fine. So what have you been getting yourself up to?"
Pepper Potts smiles, letting Natasha peruse the tea collection which includes no less than two varieties of Earl Grey and several blends. Looks like Pepper's a fan of black tea. As she starts a kettle of water to boil and pulls a chromed glass teapot from another cupboard, she relates her week. "Well, I don't know if you heard about last week? A ... visitor from Gotham stopped by to leave a message for Tony." She pauses for a moment so a momentary tremble in her hands doesn't make the glass teapot rattle. "He thought it was a good idea to leave the message with me directly. Needless to say," she takes a breath. "Tony wasn't overly impressed."
Two red eyebrows raise. Natasha pulls out a pair of plates, giving each a ginger scone. "That's an... interesting approach from Gotham. Just now friendly was the message?" She reaches down to pluck up one of the tins, opening it and breathing in the aroma of the blend there. Some of the Assams are marvelous, but she joins Banner in favoring the Darjeelings.
"Not at all friendly. But, I think the worst part of it was having to find way to get back off of the rooftop he left me on." She sets out two cups then offers Natsha a single-cup filter basket in case she opts for a tea other than the Assam. "Honestly, it was Tony's reaction to it that's had me worried since then. I just... I had a nightmare the other night that I had to go bail him out of jail in Gotham because he picked a fight with the Batman."
Natasha makes a low and annoyed sound in the back of her throat. She's going for the assam, though, and waves off the basket in favor of the contents of the teapot. "So he comes out of Gotham, picks you up, talks to you on a rooftop -- and I'm going to assume it's the general 'tell Tony to stay off my turf' message -- and then just leaves you there? I think someone might need to put the vigilante in his place." She settles in the chair opposite Pepper's, lacing her fingers and resting her elbows on the chair's arms.
Pepper Potts carries the teapot (now in its cozy) to the small conference table where Natasha has settled down, then returns to the bar for the cups and sugar and milk. She drinks her own tea straight, but isn't yet familiar with the other redhead's preferences. "Please don't. Just, let it be. I think Tony's already done quite enough." On her way back, she detours to scoop up the rather large teal bag that had been mostly hiding behind her desk and sets it on the floor near her chair at the table.
Which Natasha had noticed and was eying with some interest, but she just smiles up at Pepper. "We'll see," is all she says. But the spires of Gotham may have a new shadow skulking in them before too very long. She indicates the bag instead of continuing along that line of conversation: "New additions to the collection?" she inquires, all innocence.
Pepper Potts looks at the bag for a moment before sighing, and not in that happy, 'my new bestest friend' way. "That. Is a gift from Tony." And yet, it is so very clearly a Coach bag of a style that has not been seen before. ( http://tinyurl.com/bf2b6jv )
"I knew I was looking at Coach," Natasha replies, leaning forward to give the bag a closer look. "But I knew I hadn't seen it before. I've always liked them for making an attractive, simple, classic, high-quality product. There's flashier designers, but Coach is /reliable/."
"Well, this is more of a ... joint effort?" Pepper hefts the bag up onto her lap for Natasha to look at, making it seem fairly subtantially heavy. Then she lightly touches the edge of the round Coach medallion (which has both the Coach and Stark names on it), and it glows with a yellower version of Tony's arc reactor. "This one is a one of a kind so far as I know, but he did say that Coach will be selling a full line of this style. Just without the, well, customizations."
A soft huff of laughter: "Nothing but the best for Pepper Potts," Natasha agrees. She leans forward and looks more closely, eyes running across the lines and the weight of the article. "All right. I'll bite. Customizations? And was this designed before or after our Gotham tourist paid you a visit?"
Pepper Potts smiles a bit, letting Natasha study the bag as closely as she wants. "After, of course. And yes, customizations means exactly what you think it means." She figures the tea has steeped enough and pulls the filter out to rest in a spare bowl, then pours cups for both of them. "He didn't even tell me what it was going to do. Just said, "press on that circle there". I didn't know if it was going shock me or squirt water in my face or something."
Natasha's giving the bag a long and dubious look as she picks up her teacup, raising it to have a brief sip before setting it aside. "So," she says, drawing a fingertip across one of the corners before she squints at the circle. "Are you going to tell me, or do I get to guess?"
Clint isn't so much running late as he is really early for tea /tomorrow/. But he's here, anyway, because he said he would be, even though he's nursing a bloody nose as he knocks on Pepper's door and pokes his head in. "Uh, hi, sorry, there was a thing," he says, but doesn't step inside because he may or may not still be invited. A plate of battered but mostly intact cookies does make its appearance, though, and he waggles it enticingly. From the nice old lady that lives downstairs from him.
Pepper Potts lifts her own cup to take a sip, but then puts it back down untouched. Too hot. "Well, it's kind of diff... no, it's not. You've seen that tacky red and gold oxbox of a suitcase Tony sometimes carries, right? The one that's actually ... " She looks over as Clint knocks then pokes his head in, and then is plopping her bag in Natasha's lap and hurrying over to let him in, pack of tissues already in hand that magically emerged from her bag. "Come in and sit down. What happened?"
She runs her hand across it first, though she definitely doesn't touch the circle. Natasha's eyebrows perk, though, as Pepper starts describing Tony's briefcase-suit. "He didn't. Did he? Did he /really/?" She hefts the bag and shakes her head in disbelief: "It's featherlight for a suit. How much is his, sixty pounds? At least? It can't be -- " She turns finally to look at Clint and the wafting aroma of cookies. A smile breaks across her face when she sees her old friend/sparring partner/occasional enemy/occasional... well. Clint's in a league of his own, and though he does have a bloody nose, she's seen him far worse. "A thing?" she inquires, cocking an eyebrow and nudging a chair out. She has a handkerchief, too, because she's acquainted with Clint's 'things'.
"It's nothing, don't wo-" And there's Pepper with tissues. Clint can't really wave his hand dismissively, anyway, because... y'know, blood. But hey, tissues. Those get held to his face, cookies are held out to Pepper (oh man do they smell good... if Clint could still smell) and then woo, a hand free! So he finally gets to wave it dismissively. "Just a thing. Some asshole getting handsy on the subway." There's more of a story there, obviously, but it's just another day in The Life for Clint. Even though he's /supposed/ to be retired. "Sorry I'm late," he adds. Or repeats. Because he might've said that already.
Pepper Potts takes the plate of cookies -- wow, they DO smell good -- and steers Clint toward the chair that Natasha pushed out a bit, then goes back to the bar in the corner of her office to get a small stack of napkins and a chilled bottle of water. You know, in case Clint's not the tea-drinking type. At least, she's never thought of him as such. And if he is a tea drinker, he can use the bottle as a cold compress should that be necessary.
To Natasha, she replies as she's bustling about, "He did. Really. And I have NO idea how he managed it." But that's rather typical. She suspects, though, that it has something to do with the amount of weaponry Tony's suits usually carry and hers lacks. She's trying to remember what of all of that HUD data that inundated her indicated weapons, and nothing really comes to mind. But then, she was still struggling with not getting disoriented by all of the display information constantly in her line of sight.
"Carbon nanotubes," Natasha muses. "Other advanced technologies. Spider silk." She looks back up to Pepper with a light smile: "So. Iron... Woman? I hope you get to pick your own name. I'm guessing the same repulsor technology, so you can pop it on, smack someone, and get away." She raises an eyebrow at Clint's story, setting the handkerchief next to his place -- just in case he wants to clean himself off a bit more -- and snags a cookie to replace it. "Well, if someone tries to touch you again, Clint, tell him no means no. And tap him on the nose like a bad cat." That. That has got to be a joke.
Clint sits down heavily, with muffled thanks to both Pepper and Natasha. He takes a few moments to clean himself off, wetting a few napkins with water from the bottle Pepper so helpfully supplied to wipe his face, and then takes a testing breath in through his nose. Wince, but not bad. Natasha has definitely seen his "it's broken" face, and that wasn't it. "Carbon whats?" he asks, only now cueing into the conversation.
Pepper Potts reclaims her chair and one of those snickerdoodles and finally takes a sip of her tea. "Okay, I've heard the term 'carbon nanotubes' before, but I have no idea what they are or what they'd do. And honestly, Natasha, I didn't ask." She takes a bite of the cookie and her eyebrows go up for a moment. "Wow. These are good."
The snickerdoodles are indeed fantastic, and even Natasha goes 'mmph' when she has one. "Your neighbor?" she inquires, holding up the remains of her cookie. "Carbon nanotubes. You haven't heard of these? Lighter than steel but something like a hundred times as strong. Incredibly and unreasonably expensive, but someone like Tony doesn't tend to care about that sort of thing. This is surprisingly... I don't know if 'thoughtful' is the right word. How about 'attractive and useful'?"
The fancy tech talk has Clint's eyes glazing over a bit. "Oh yeah, sure," he says, in a way that implies it went in one ear and out the other. He picks up a cookie and tastes a bite. Mm. Blood. "Mmhmm, she's great," which sounds more like "Mmhmm, sher's gert," but he at least has the decency to cover his mouth with one hand as he talks with it full.
Pepper Potts is not at all affected by Clint's manners... or lack thereof. "I might have to impose on you for this neighbor's recipe." She doesn't do much cooking, but something like this would be useful to have in her potluck lunch arsenal. "Useful, definitely. Though I don't have a single pair of shoes that complement it."
"Well, that obviously needs to be remedied," Natasha replies with a dry smile. "Shoes to match that? You could go perfectly matching, but I'd go with one or other of the accent colors. Although, you /could/ probably get some custom heels to match the bag. Same color red with the taupe as an accent color. Lots of options, really." She looks over to Clint again: "So, how's retirement suiting you?"
That's another thing that makes Clint's eyes glaze over. Shoes. But there's tea, and, believe it or not, he actually drinks it, so soon enough he's nursing a cup, and the steam makes his nose feel a little better, too. At least the bleeding has stopped. "I got a dog," he says. Because he did. And that's the most exciting thing that's happened to him so far.
Pepper Potts smiles at Natasha, finally taking her bag back and setting it on the floor likely out of Clint's line of sight. "I was thinking the bronze accent color, as that's kind of neutral." She then looks over at Clint so as to not leave him feeling on the outside of the conversation. "What kind of dog? Or wait, didn't I already ask that the other day?"
"Mmm. Bronze. And it prevents you from looking like you're wearing Tony on your feet." Natasha nods her approval: Pepper does tend to go for the neutral tones. She looks with apparently polite interest at Clint as he talks about the dog: "How did that happen? And what else are you doing? Any kind of job, neighbors...?"
Clint arches up out of the chair long enough to dig his phone out of his back pocket, and then he starts flicking through photos. There are your typical pictures of food (which he posts often, yeah, he's one of those guys) and stuff, but also starring in plenty of them is Pizza Dog. He passes his phone around with one of Pizza Dog, sacked out on Clint's couch with a bunch of different things stacked on top of him. Random househould objects, some of his toys, even an arrow balanced on his nose. "I. Uh. I'm not really doing anything else, that's the point. I'm up to season four of Dog Cops, though. No spoilers."
Pepper Potts looks at Natasha a bit oddly for the 'wearing Tony on your feet' comment, but doesn't pursue it further. Instead, she looks at the phone picture of Pizza Dog and chuckles. "Why am I not surprised that you've got stuff on your dog?"
"Is that dogs who are cops, or dogs who work with cops, or cops who deal with dog-related issues? I'm actually dying to know." Natasha peers at the pictures of Pizza Dog with what looks like some amusement. Maybe some... well, not quite envy, but some appreciation. She doesn't have that kind of life. Then again, she mostly doesn't have it because she isn't looking for it. "We're going to have to do something to get you out of the house," she murmurs. "The range, maybe."
"Dogs who work with cops. It follows a bunch of K9 units. It's our favorite show." Our, in this instance, means Clint and Pizza Dog. They watch it every day. He chews on another bite of delicious cookie, and can actually taste it a little bit, this time, and man. Yes it is delicious. "Why does everyone keep saying that?" Clint protests, when Natasha implies that he needs to get a life. "I have an /awesome/ life."
Pepper Potts defends herself immediately. "I never said that. I simply offered you the chance to break-test new items in R&D whenever you want. Oh, and speaking of..." She sets down the ginger cookie she just took from the box Natasha brought, dusts her hands off, and goes to her desk to retrieve her tablet computer. A few quick taps at the screen, and she hands it to Clint along with a stylus. "The contractor paperwork so you'll have access to R&D." Not that he didn't already, but this way Security can't even think about protesting.
"I did, though," Natasha says, because apparently she's unafraid of saying so. "You spent a lot of your life being pretty active, Clint, and I know you. Settling in and having a peaceful life is going to take some getting used to. But you're enjoying it right now, and I'm glad to see it. You have a dog. And a TV. And now access to break Tony's stuff, which is the gift that keeps on giving. So are these cookies, by the way."
Well, it's not surprising that Natasha would say that. Still, Clint gives her a Look. "I've spent my /whole/ life being active. You don't get to lay around in the circus." He takes the tablet from Pepper and spends some time squinting at it, before he squints up at her, and then frowns. Dang redheads, they always get him. He signs at the appropriate places and then hands it back. "I can't say no to breaking stuff. Thanks."
Pepper Potts simply nods sagely to Clint as she takes the tablet back, taps at the screen a few more times, then as she's closing up the tablet's case and setting into her bag with the ease of much practice, JARVIS speaks up.
"Welcome to Stark Industries Research and Development, Mr. Barton."
"True. I've had a little more actual /time/ lying around, but that's only while I'm pretending to be lazy." Natasha's mouth quirks at the corner and she takes another sip of her tea, glancing back up to Pepper. "So. Bronze shoes. Where are you thinking of going?"
Pepper Potts considers Natasha's question as she takes another, bigger sip of her tea, wanting to drink it before it goes cold. "I'm not sure yet. I'm debating just touching base with all of the big names and see what appeals to me."
"Well, that sounds like an enjoyable afternoon," Natasha replies with a slight smile. She takes one of the ginger scones and dabs some jam on it: "Maybe I could take a civilian afternoon with you. Purely in my capacity as a bodyguard, of course. Can't see Pepper Potts getting injured."
Pepper Potts smiles. "Well, I know Val will insist on being there, and Tony will most likely insist that Happy do the driving, so... with you there as well and," she glances down at the bag, "I suspect there are dictators in small countries somewhere that will not be as well protected."
"And the purse from hell." Sip. Clint, Natasha knows, will actively avoid any suggestion of this sort of thing if he can. But the man does need getting out of the house. And who knows: he might even meet a lady while shopping for ladies' clothing.
"Yeah. And that." Pepper is actually a little glad that neither of them have asked her to demonstrate the bag's 'armored suit' mode. She's still a little unsteady on her feet while wearing it. Talk about undignified. She pours the last of the tea into her cup. "Is anyone going to want more?"
Natasha, actually, is dying to see it -- but she knows she will eventually. Nodding toward the bag, she replies: "I'm good, thanks. How much practice have you had using it? I have to admit, the prospect of flying around in a self-propelled suit is appealing."
Damn. That's what she gets for thinking too loudly. Pepper takes the teapot and filter et al back to the bar to be washed out and replies as she walks. "Less than an hour, and none actually flying. I was worried I'd break something. The display set up that Tony uses takes a LOT of getting used to, and I've even asked JARVIS to whittle it back to the bare minimum." Now all she needs is Clint actually picking up on the conversation...no. Stop thinking. Just concentrate on the teapot. Nothing interesting about her bag. Really. It's just teal. Honest.
"Whoa whoa whoa whoa, waitaminute here, are you telling me that your /bag/," and he points to exactly where it is, even though it's not in his direct line of sight currently, "has /armor/ in it? And you're not going to show us?" Clint sets his tea aside so he can cross his arms over his chest and frown. Or pout, really. It's kind of a pout.
Natasha thinks better of saying 'hey, she's not a sideshow' and goes with "Well, it's up to her. But I think it'll be a good idea to get more practice in on it before you try using it. The most dangerous weapon is the one the holder doesn't know how to use."
Pepper Potts manages to NOT sigh. "Well, yes. It's apparently the equivalent of Tony's suitcase armor." She looks at Natasha for a moment, then dusts her hands off and walks back over to pick the bag up. "Promise neither of you will laugh?"
Clint shifts in his seat, sitting forward. Eager beaver here, people. "Well, I /am/ an official stress tester for Stark Industrues R&D. Who better than me to help you? I'm just sayin'." And considering the costume he used to wear in the circus? Well, suffice to say, he won't laugh.
"I can't imagine why I'd laugh," Natasha replies sweetly. "Millions of dollars worth of the best tech in the world all coming together on you? I'm not going to laugh, not if Tony did his job well." She drains her teacup and sits back, watching with interest.
Pepper Potts takes a deep breath, mentally congratulates herself for wearing slacks today, and presses her hand against the round Coach / Stark medallion on the front of the bag. Immediately, and actually faster than Tony's suitcase armor, the teal and bronze metal plates fold out of the large shoulder bag and envelop Pepper. It's easily twice as fast as Tony's suitcase armor, as less than seven seconds later the faceplate closes over her face with a more delicate version of that nearly trademarked *CLANG*. The eyes in the bronze faceplate light up with a yellower illumiation than Tony's, matching the arc reactor in the suit's chest set higher up and nearly resembling a necklace medallion.
Pepper stumbles a bit as she tries to orient herself, then manages to catch her balance enough to stand straight.
There are a few things you can always count on Clint for: one, he will always hit his mark, and, two, he will never shut up. Except now, because his mouth is hanging open, his eyes are wide and he is... yes, blessedly silent. His head starts to tilt a little bit, in awe, and then he slowly turns his head to look at Natasha. Then slowly back at Pepper. Back to Tasha. And Pepper.
Finally, after what is possible a full thirty seconds of Clint Barton being quiet: "Do they come in purple?"
It's actually kind of hard to shock Natasha, and she's been mentally preparing herself for the sight of Pepper in a suit of armor. But she's on her feet and stepping back as the pieces of armor fly onto the woman's limbs, watching with slightly widened eyes. When it's all finished, she nods her approval and lightly elbows Clint in the side. "Nice work," she says. "How's it feel? The briefcase couldn't have been more than thirty pounds, so it should just be... still probably pretty heavy."
Pepper Potts can't help it. Inside the helmet she asks quietly, "JARVIS, are you recording this for Tony?"
"Of course, Miss Potts. He would use my circuits for the toaster if I were not."
More loudly for the assassins to hear, she says, "It feels like of like..." Her helmeted head looks down at the bronze-gauntleted hands to watch the fingers move as if testing articulation. "I don't think I have a basis for comparison, honestly. Like a particularly solid cleanroom suit?" Yes, she's been in a cleanroom before. When touring a facility in Japan. The things are murder on the hair.
Clint elbows Natasha back purely out of habit. He's not quite got his brain working again, yet, give him a moment or two more. Finally, he clears his throat and stands, doing a slow circuit around Pepper. Damn. Daaaaamn. "There are probably servos and hydraulics taking the brunt of the weight. I mean, Tony's in pretty good shape, but have you seen some of his suits? They're monsters. Steve probably wouldn't even be able to walk around in one unaided and he regularly shames me on the bench."
It's not that Natasha is unaffected. She's actually impressed, which doesn't happen much with the Black Widow. She walks slowly around the suit counter to Clint's circuit, arms folded, eyebrows perked high. "I figured there had to be. And Tony would have engineered it to be light." She looks up to the helmet and chuckles at JARVIS's voice: "I'll admit it. I'm impressed. Though I have to say, if I had one of those? First thing I'd do would be to try flying it. Not my style, though, armor, not when I can avoid it. Hard to move gracefully, though I plan to have fun one day with Tony and a tennis ball machine."
Pepper Potts has to resist the urge to turn and follow Clint as he paces around her to examine the armor. She can tell where he is anyway, because JARVIS has helpfully put a little image in the corner of her line of sight with a purple dot indicating the archer's current location. She does turn her head directly to him as he moves out from directly behind her, probably giving away that she knew where he was the whole time. Might have to work on that. There's a red dot tracking Natasha as well, so she turns her head to look at her as well. Starting to feel a bit like a bug in a bell jar, here. "Well, honestly, I'm not sure what it'd do to the carpets." She lifts one foot slightly as if wanting to look at the repulsor set into the bottom, and that was a bad idea. She immediately loses her balance and starts to flail a bit in the hopes of not falling on her butt. It's still very much a possibility. But if she does fall down, she's TOTALLY blaming it on being disoriented by the HUD.
"Russians and their weird kinks," Clint says, mouth firmly in 'smirk' mode, and yeah, suffice to say, he's recovered. Still pretty damn impressed, though. He's sort of bent over to peer at one of the armor's gauntlets, doing more than a little bit of fantasizing at the prospect of shooting a repulsor beam, when Pepper starts to wobble. And she's not a weebl, so- "Whoa" and he's grabbing Pep by one arm, trying to steady her. "Yeah, we definitely need to get you into the training room."
That elicits not much more than an eyeroll from Natasha, but she'll remember it later. So will Clint when he next pours himself a cup of coffee. She herself is debating the suit's relative flashy noisiness versus raw power when Pepper suddenly starts to wobble in the air. She reaches out swiftly toward the other arm to catch it, helping stop Pepper from rocking too far backward. "Seconded," she says to Clint. "Unless you have any objections, Pepper, I think we should head on down to that training room now. No time like the present to get yourself situated."
"Uh, yeah. That's probably a good idea." Even just the tone of Pepper's voice makes it clear she's red to her hairline. Accepting the help of both friends, she lets them lead her to the training room farther up in Stark Tower than her office. Wow, this is disconcerting.
When the trio enter the training room, it's probably one of the more unusual processions this Tower has seen... and it's seen some pretty strange stuff. Clint and Natasha are each holding one arm of what is clearly a suit of armor in the Iron Man style, yet is vastly different in a few very apparent ways. First and foremost, instead of the usual ostentatious red and gold, this armor is a more subdued rich teal and bronze, secondly, it's in general smaller in stature than Iron Man, and thirdly, it's generally female in shape. And ... it's walking a bit like a newborn giraffe.
Clint is walking nearly hand-in-hand with a suit of armor and he looks pretty damn pleased about it. "Just one foot in front of the other. Y'know, like the song from that old Christmas movie." And then he starts humming it. He's in general pretty oblivious to how weird he might look (carnie, y'know) and even now, well, Clint's too busy being really stoked to help Pepper try this thing out to realize that, hey, this is may be a shock to some people? "Tash, I want a repulsor arm for my birthday. After last year, you owe me. You so owe me."
Three women and a man enter Stark Tower, using securtiy passes, the stroll through the building, going first to one of Tony's workshops, then to Pepper's office. "Something's going on," says Steve Rogers to the rest, "When Sif and I made the call for everyone to meet us at McKeowwn's and Tony was not the first one to arrive, I could chalk it up to work, and Howard. But after Jan and Greer, no one else? That's something else." He looks around for a clue to where everyone might be. "What do you ladies think?"
The office is empty, though the small conference table to one side has tea and cookies sitting on it abandoned. JARVIS offers helpfully, "Mr. Rogers, Miss Potts, Mr. Barton, and Agent Romanoff have relocated to the training room on the forty eighth floor."
Tigra walks along with the others, tail sweeping back and forth briskly as she considers the question at hand. "Dunno," she murmurs. "Don't think they're in the office, though. Smells like they passed through here? Maybe?" she says, nose wrinkling as she smells something a bit unknown to her. And then perks up at JARVIS's assistance. "Well there y'go," she says cheerfully.
On Janet's part she has been looking to talk to Pepper and Tony both, hoping to get some friends to back her latest venture into the fashion world. It's why she was hanging out with everyone at the bar, not that she actually /HAD/ to have a reason to hang out with some of her favorite people, and then followed them to Tony's pad once it seems like they're not showing up. "I hope everything is ok..." she starts to say but then JARVIS pipes up, eliminating her concern. "Oh! Well! Shall we head there, everyone?"
"I could not hazard a..." Sif pauses as JARVIS chimes in, a smirk gowing on her features. "Training, hm?" At least she's dressed for it. Leathers, armor and her sword though it's on her back at the moment instead of her hip. She makes a waving motion with her, signalling fo the others to proceed her. "By all means..."
"That was at least sixty percent your fault." No repulsor arms for you, Clint. Into the training room, then, which is a pretty majestic affair: it's a few stories in height and at least fifty or sixty feet on a side, made for exactly this purpose: to test out armor. It's mostly padded, too, and includes such things as emergency air jets (operated mostly by JARVIS) to prevent, say, someone flying thirty feet in the air from hitting the ground head first. Between the two of them, they manage to get Pepper inside. When the woman is more or less standing on her own, she judiciously lets go and dusts off her hands.
"Well, now at least you have a little time to practice before you ever have to pull it out in a crisis. Better to fall down here where no one can see you than in the city -- "
JARVIS cuts in: "Just to let you know, madam. Mr. Rogers, Ms. Nelson, Ms. van Dyne, and Agent Coulson are on their way to the training suite."
So much for privacy, then. Natasha clears her throat, looking back toward the elevators. It's possible the first person to make a crack about Pepper being clumsy in her armor is going to get a taser where they don't want one.
Pepper Potts is probably sounding rather silly at the moment, trying to get the HUD readouts to some level she can handle by discussing it with JARVIS, while his responses are piped into the teal and bronze helmet where only she can hear them. "No, pushing everything off to the side is worse, yes, I can STIL see it there, and it's like having someone lurking over my shoulder. Can you just...? Oh. Yes. There. Leave it that... I know, JARVIS, I know. But just for now. Please? I have to get used to all of this one step at a time, okay?"
Outside the armor, Pepper is trying her best to NOT grip too tightly to the hands of the archer and the assassin helping her. She'd never forgive herself if she caused them injuries. Luckily, she wasn't lying when she said JARVIS controls more of the suit than she does, and even if she were using a death grip the AI would keep the suit from actually translating that to the full crushing force of the armor's servos.
When she's standing more easily and Natasha lets go she takes a moment to look around with the almost complete lack of HUD data. Better. "Thank...oh god, you've got to be kidding." Great. Wonderful. Well, at least Natasha is on her side. Taking a deep breath, she nods a bit, though apparently mostly to herself. "All right. Here goes."
The teal and bronze armor starts walking carefully, as if testing each step on an unstable surface. Or barefoot on glass.
Clint, too, steps back and dusts off his hands. It's kind of eerie, actually. Clearly he and Natasha have spent way too much time together. Or maybe it's a SHIELD thing. Sounds like Coulson's heading up, so maybe we'll find out! "Don't worry about falling, Pepper. You're in hi-tech powered armor, you'll be fine." He looks over at Tasha, eyebrows raised, and then shrugs, folding his arms over his chest. Too bad he didn't bring more of his gear, maybe they could- okay, walking first. It'll only be a matter of time before he has Pepper shooting projectiles out of the air with her repulsors.
Steve steps over to the tea and cookies. As he puts a hand on the pot to see how warm it is, he gives Tigra an approving look as she does her tracking. And then JARVIS gives spoilers, making all the sleuthing unnecessary. "I keep forgetting about that," he says giving the ceiling a dubious look. "Let's go," he says. His posture relaxes as they go - training isn't an emergency.
The group enters just as Clint is making his 'you'll be fine' remark. Steve stops and dramatically hangs his head. "Tony." he mutters. Turning to Sif he dryly asks, "What was saying three hours ago about age having nothing to do with being a 'rookie'?" In his head, Steve wonders how Clint and Natasha got roped into being the handlers and more importantly, where the hell is Tonny?
Tigra is happy to idly chat with the others as they head for the training room, or walk pretty much silently should that be preferred. And then they reach the room in question and see something rather unexpected. "Oh, hello there," she murmurs at the sight of the new suit of armor, one moving with a certain deliberate care that convinces her to keep her distance, rather than move in for a closer look.
Jan comes up short when they enter the room, giving her time to eye Pepper, Natasha and Clint while they work with the armor. Takes a few moments but then, with a playfully given, "That's so not fair," wailed out, Janet rushes over to where the others are, her eyes wide. "Oh. My. God! Pepper, that is so damn /cool/! Think I can get a suit that can grow and shrink as I do?" IT's debatable as to whether or not she's really serious or not. Turning towards those she arrived with, she mouths towards them, 'That is so unfair!' Again, it's hard to tell if she means it or not.
Sif follows the others silently to the training room, coming up to stand next to Steve. His comment earns him a look and her silver-blue eyes sparkle as she laughs brightly. "Aye."
She turns her attention back to Pepper, Clint and Natasha, a brow arching in silent question despite the softly spoken, "Good evening," that is offered to them along with a bow of her head. "Are we intruding?"
There's a slight blink at the wail of her teammate and she can't help but look at the others in complete confusion, uncertain of whether Jan actually means it or not.
Downstairs, Phil continues to wait for the elevator. He sets the box of cannoli on the security desk and takes off his sunglasses, and stows them in his breast pocket in a hard case. "Is Mr. Stark in?" he asks hopefully.
"Mr. Stark is not in residence, sir," drawls JARVIS. Coulson isn't convinced, JARVIS has lied to him before. "If you say so, JARVIS", he replies. The elevator indicator shows the elevator heading in his direction at any rate.
"I'm making this more difficult than it has to be, aren't I?" Pepper is either asking JARVIS or the room in general. It's difficult to tell. "I mean, Tony's had something like ten suits' worth of practice to make this right."
Turning around just in time to see Steve get that disappointed look, a cat lady getting that 'I'm wary of you' look any cat owner would know so well, and Janet RUSHING all up into her business, Pepper recoils for a moment, taking a step back away from the frenetic little Jane Weidlin-esque woman and managing to regain her balance almost immediately. "Uh, I'm not sure, Janet. But it can't hurt to ask." Yeah, that's Pandora's Box right there, with a big, cheerful, "OPEN ME!" sign on the lid.
"Right now, I'm still getting used to this. Sorry."
Hail, hail, the gang's all here. Natasha looks around as they all appear, a pleasant smile making its way to her face. "Well. You've come just in time to see very possibly the suit's maiden voyage." She steps over to stand beside Steve, giving him and Sif an amused nod: "Rookies come in all forms, and there's a first time for everything. There's things even I have never done. I'd bet there were things /you've/ never done either," she continues, nodding up to the goddess, "and I suspect you're very experienced. What brings you all?"
Before she can get an answer, though, she looks to Pepper: "You can do it. Just breathe and take it easy."
If this is about to be an Avengers party, Clint needs to scoot. Retired!!! And, conveniently, his phone starts to go ring.
o/~ Who let the dogs out
Woof, woof, woof, woof
Who let the dogs out
Woof, woof, woof, woof
"Aww hell," he says as he digs it out of his back pocket. He squints at the screen for a second before looking up. Mostly at Pepper. And with an apologetic face. "Sorry, I have to- there's a thing- Tasha, take care of her, everyone else: I was never here." He books it to the elevator at the other end of the room.
"I'll pick you up tomorrow, Pepper!"
JARVIS puts him on express down to the lobby, which means he gets there just in time to say "Hi Coulson, bye Coulson," as he jogs towards the door.
Steve sidesteps to let Clint run by. "Hi, Clint. Bye Clint." Afterward he bumps shoulders with Natasha. "Missed you at McKeown's," he says quietly. Then he juts a chin at Wasp and Pepper. He hikes his valise higher on the other shoulder and puts his hands in his jacket pockets. "Other than the obvious, do you have any idea what's going on here and why the 'retired' Avenger is running this exercise instead of my 'bromey' whose name is on the door?" Well ok, in thirty foot high lit up letters along the roof, but you know what Steve means.
Tigra can't help but grin at Janet's enthusiasm, and again at the thought of a suit of armor for Jan that shrinks with her. That'd be something! "Feet and elevator," she answers Natasha's question about what brought them there. She then gives Stee a sidelong glance. "Please don't use that word again," she asks him.
The enthusasm is dampened when Janet's phone rings right after Clint's. Her own ringtone's a bit less Baha Men and a bit more Spice Girls, however. Answering it, she listens intently before speaking. "Alright. I'm across town. Give me thirty to grab a cab and stuff." The phone's hung up and then the perky fashionista makes the rounds, giving people hugs and pecks on the cheek in parting. And yes. Phil gets one too! "Alright. Business just came up and bit me on the backside so I am going to hop out of here. Pepper, you so got to put that baby -" referring to the armor, "- on the catwalk. I can make it happen! Call me! We'll talk!" And just like that the petite brunette is outta here!
From the other side of Steve, Sif chuckles softly. "Aye, there are things I have not yet done." Her hand twitches and stats to rise only for he to catch the motion and drop it to her side again. Some of those things will soon be accomplished though.
As Clint runs by, Sif gives a wave. "Farwell." And then those ice-blue eyes turn to Steve and a bow is arched at him. "Your... What?" And then Jan is taking her leave as well. Another smile and a softly murmured, "Good evening," is given.
Her attention then tuns back to Pepper and a brow is arched. "Might I inquire as to what has brought this about, Lady Pepper?" Because a cuious Goddess can only not ask for so long.
"Oh, Hey Clint," he says in passing. At least the elevator is here now. He grabs his box of cannoli and tucks it under his arm. He saunters into the elevator and presses the button marked "48". Elevator music starts playing. "The Girl from Ipanma". Weird how it always plays when he's in the elevator. Probably something Stark Programmed just to annoy him. He rises above it and hums along, his toe tapping to the rhythm as the elevator doors close and he begins to rise.
"When I realized Pepper had several hundred million dollars' worth of high-tech power armor with weapon capabilities in her briefcase and hadn't actually learned how to use it yet," Natasha begins, leaning in to murmur to Steve, "I considered how it might be a good idea if she. You know. Learned how to use it." She bumps his shoulder back, adding: "I did plan to come. Time and necessity got away." Her hand drops, the back of hers knocking against his. "Afterward, I'm thinking of going to Little Italy. I could really go for a cannoli."
The phone call on Clint's phone makes a little line of text appear on the HUD in front of Pepper's eyes and she stays still as she reads the data then looks at Clint and waves after him. And then the same happens with Janet. "Um, JARVIS? I don't really need to see that every time." Without thinking about it, she starts to follow the petite brunette back toward the others, and thus is walking at an entirely normal and slightly brisk pace without a hint of the earlier balance problems she was having. She heard Sif's question, but is hoping to not have to yell is across this gigantic room.
After Janet follows Clint out, Steve turns back to watching Pepper. He nods at Natasha's assessment. The tap on his hand gets him to quirk a cornber of his mouth. "This is a sound tactical decision," he says pointing toward Pepper with the other arm, "but --" he continues, "it still soes not explain why the man with the most experience is not involved or why Pepper has one to begin with."
Steve turns to Tigra and Sif. "I'm going to stay until this session is over, you two shouldn't feel obligated."
Returning his eyes to Natasha, Steve scratches his neck, his face taking on an expression of consideration. "My hog's outside. A cannoli's doable."
Seeing Pepper walking much more naturally as she approaches the others, Tigra flashes her a quick thumbs up sign in approval. Her tail gives a slight flick at the 'hog' mentioned. Hmm. There's an idea there, she thinks to herself, but it will keep for now. "I'd love to stay and watch, but I really should step out. Keep it up, Pepper," she says with a broad grin for the armored Potts, before stepping out.
A bow arches over at Steve before she chuckles and gives a little shake of her head. "I think I will stay if it's all the same, my friend." The mention of cannoli though makes the Goddess pale slightly and a hand lift to cover her mouth as if she may become ill.
After a moment, she points towards Pepper. "I'm going over there." So, with a faint smile, she step forward to meet Pepper part way.
Phil's ride in the elevator isn't long enough for him to get to the second chorus of the tune, but he's still humming it under his breath as the elevator glides to a stop. He ceases his humming and steps out of the elevator into the capacious room. JARVIS even says, "The Training Room, Sir" as the elevator begins to open.
His cool and level gaze takes in Natasha and Captain America and Sif. Through process of elimination his gaze is drawn to Pepper in the robotic teal suit.
He reaches into his jacket and produces a .45 calibre handgun and squeezes off one round aimed at the chest plate with a loud "BANG!". He then just as swiftly holds the gun and the box of cannoli above his head, offering no threat. "Stress test: passed. Who wants cannoli?" he asks.
"You're getting a lot better at that," Natasha calls to Pepper. "Don't forget: Tony doesn't walk around in his suit an awful lot. He mostly does fly. But you're getting the hang of it fast." To Steve, she goes on: "I think it was a surprise from Tony. He thought she could use the extra protection. I don't think he thought about the fact that it would take some breaking in."
And then? Phil. And then Phil and a gun, and then BANG.
The fact is that Pepper might actually blow Phil's head off for that, and not entirely accidentally. Natasha, therefore, wends her way around to the elevator after the gunshot goes off and rests a hand on his shoulder. "Good to see you, Agent Coulson. Always a pleasure, but leave the gun. I'll take the cannolis." A slight bastardization of the quote. But Natasha wants cannoli.
Pepper Potts raises one hand to wave hello to Sif right as the elevator door opens and before she has time to react to the new data that flashes on the HUD, there's a loud pop somewhere outside the armor and something punches her in the chest. She'd only just figured out the whole balance thing, and the impact against the armor is enough to send her flailing backwards as she falls. And, yes, one hand fires off a repulsor blast. But, since JARVIS is in complete control of the armor's combat systems, it's sent harmlessly toward the ceiling.
From where she's now lying on her back on the floor, Pepper's only reply is, "...what just happened?"
The gun goes off and in the blink of an eye Steve has swung the valise strap around. The square leather bag is now held in front of him with his left arm in it up to the elbow. He steps foward and squares his shoulders, putting it between himself, Phil, and Natasha to block any ricochet. The stance is totally Captain America despite the plainclothes and LUGGAGE. ON. HIS. FOREARM.
When the echo of the repulsor dies down, Steve relaxes again. Swingin the bag back into place, he walks ober to Pepper and astarts to help her up. "What just happened," he says, "is in seventy years, people still have crazy ideas about how to run ballistics tests."
Gun shot, repulsor... Sif immediately draws her sword, her eyes narrowing. It takes her a second to realize what happened and sheath the sword again. A smirk is given over to Phil before it turns in to a warm smile. "Phil. Good to see you again, my friend." And then there's the mention of that food again and the Goddess wrinkles her nose.
Turning her attention to Pepper, Sif starts to reach down to help Pepper up only to withdaw her hand when Steve beats her to it. "Phil shot you." She sounds... Almost amused by it all really. It's not dissimilar to the way armor is tested in her Realm.
Phil Coulson holsters his gun and clutches the cannoli closer, away from Natasha. "The Cannoli is for Pepper..." he says, in exactly the same tone as the shopkeeper used in Silverardo to Kevin Kline "The guns are for /sale/". "Natasha. Captain Rogers. Lady Sif. Good to see you all."
He frowns slightly at Cap's words. "That's not exactly what I was going for there. I was trying to boost Pepper's confidence in her defenses. Where's Tony, anyway? Shouldn't he be here?"
To Pepper, he calls over, "Sorry Pepper, I didn't mean to take you buy surprise. I, uh, brought cannoli." He presents the box to her, reconizable as straight from Anita Bella's by the little bow.
Well. /Well/. Isn't that interesting. Natasha's eyebrow perks up and she almost smiles, taking a step aside and glancing between him and Pepper. "Usually we give warning before discharging firearms, but to be fair, that /is/ how you say 'hello' in SHIELD."
She looks back to Steve, and the smile increases just a little. She doesn't say anything, but she walks back his way and looks over Pepper's armor. "Didn't even chip the paint. I am impressed."
Pepper Potts accepts Steve's help up, but is already considering calling it a day on 'breaking in' the armor. "That was a /test/? I'm still trying to get the hang of not tripping over my feet in this thing." She can't help but smile at the mention of the cannoli, though it's hidden behind the bronze mask. One hand goes to where the bullet hit the armor as if to verify Natasha's words. "Maybe I should stop for today."
"This is why Peggy had me at 'hello'," Steve retorts to Natasha. Once he's sure Pepper is steady on her feet, he nods at Phil. "Agent Coulson." He looks at the box, disbelieving. Then he gives a 'whatever' shrug. "Well, now what?"
Sif looks Pepper over carefully before nodding her head and offering the woman a smile. "Perhaps," is the murmured agreement.
A smile is given to Steve and Natasha as they make sure Pepper is alright. The idea of being anywhere near the cannoli though... She takes a step back from the group.
"It would be my suggestion that somewhere a little moe comfortable be found. Anita Bella's cannoli's are the best and should be eaten when relaxed," the Goddess provides fo Steve's question.
Phil Coulson gives Pepper a bit of a frown. "I didn't startle you too much, did I Pepper? And I think there's enough to share, but that's for you to decide. I brought them hoping to bribe you to get me on the books with Tony. He still hasn't gotten back to me about that project, and, well, superiors are getting a little impatient with me."
He starts to offer her the box, reconsiders and says, "I'll just hold these until you've de-armored." He starts to turn toward the elevator. "Oh, by the way, would you be free on Wednesday night? There's a gallery showing at the Ash Fine Art gallery, if you're free."
"Might not be your worst plan. I hope it folds back up into its own briefcase?" Natasha looks Pepper over with another thoughtful smile and turns back to Steve: "I think our original idea was sound. A drink. Maybe a cannoli. I'll even let you drive."
Pepper offers, "We can go back to my office, then... there's tea there, and the rest of those cookies." But, of course, there's still the problem of her wearing the armor. "Tony showed me how to remove this, but I think it takes a bit of help. It's ... JARVIS, where did it end up?"
"Compartment on your left side, Miss Potts."
"Oh, right. Here it is." She brandishes a small manual can opener but is startled by Coulson's mention of a gallery showing. "Wait, what?"
At the sight of the can opener, Steve laughs. "Okay, I can tell when I'm having my leg pulled - eventually. This meeting is adjourned, everyone as you were. I'm leaving before , I dunno, Batroc the Leaper shows up. Ms Romanoff, you're with me. Everyone else, have a good night." And with that the man behind Captain America's mask exits the room.
A look is given to Steve and Nastasha and then to Phil and Pepper and the Goddess smiles slowly. "I need to take my leave, I fear. It was a pleasure seeing all of you. Be well and stay safe." She gives a wave to Steve. "Drinks next time, Steve and thank you for the ride."
A bow is given to everyone else and she turns, making her way to the door. Before she every reaches it though, she's simply... gone.
Phil Coulson gives Pepper a quizzical look. "Uh, do you need help with the, uh, can opener?" He offers to assist if he can. "And yes. Lorinda Ash's gallery is doing a show Wednesday night. If you're free. I could pick you up at eight?"
Pepper Potts chuckles, an odd sound through the helmet. "Actually, no, I'm fine." She keys the sequence to return the armor to its original configuration, and within about ten seconds, the armor is completely gone and Pepper is settling the teal and bronze Coach bag back on her shoulder. "And Wednesday 8 pm sounds good."
The small can opener goes into the shoulder bag. Never know when that joke can be pulled on someone else.