|The Unauthorized Spigot|
|What: A (suspiciously) romantic dinner for three.|
Chinatown my Chinatown, when the lights are low. It seems to beautiful here at night the lights of the city shining across the outdoor seating arrangement of one of the finest sushi restaurants in metropolis, maybe even all of America. The lights have been set down quiet as people move about the streets a quiet evening booked by none other the Obadiah Stane the iron monger with a heart of gold.
When the trio arrive the place seems somewhat quiet Obi having managed to book the entire place for themselves a lovely evening without worry of being bothered by the masses. No more getting assaulted by business reps trying to work out new deals, or anyone really.
Sure, Obi reserved the restaurant, but Pepper was the one that ended up having to all but bodily drag Tony out of his workshop, brow beat him into showering, and picked out the outfit he is currently wearing. Really, though, it's nothing she hasn't done a thousand times before, and it's kind of refreshing to go back to the old routines after being Chief Operations Officer for several months now.
Looking around the otherwise vacant restaurant, she offers Stane a small smile of appreciation for his discretion. She's not entirely sure how Tony is going to react to all of this. He's been allowed to go hermit for way too long this time.
"No. No. I'm cutting back on the sauce. Just give me a Rusty Nail, light on the Drambuie. Just not, you know, TOO light on it. Make it balanced. Not fifty-fifty, but balanced, if that makes sense. Actually, you know what? Tell your bartender to just make it the way he normally does."
The most important part of the order has been covered now, though Tony's idea of 'cutting back' on the alcohol might need a bit of revision if he thinks that a Rusty Nail is a weak drink.
As the waiter gets his order, Tony anticipates some less than favorable looks from his fellow diners, and waves a hand a bit defensively.
"If that cocktail was good enough for the Rat Pack, who are any of us to turn our noses up at it?"
"My thoughts exactly Tony." Obi offers with a smile sitting himself down and asking for his usual from the waiter, only after pulling out Peppers chair for her. "You know I think this is really what we all need after a long day burning oil" He chuckles loudly finally taking his seat with a grin.
Pepper Potts accepts the seat Obi pulled out for her, and very pointedly does not comment on Tony's choice of beverage. She simply asks the waiter for a glass of water. Lead by example, and all of that. "So. Obie. To what do we owe this pleasant surprise?" She fully expects this to be a working dinner, as that's how Stane usually rolls.
With his goatee freshly-groomed, and his tailored suit freshly-pressed, Tony actually looks like he belongs in a fancy establishment like this. Dapper, even. Too bad he can't actually take credit for any facet of how he looks tonight...
"I'm not sure we really want to know the answer to that question, Pepper. The man DID rent out an entire romantic restaurant just to have dinner with us, so I'm expecting either a marriage proposal or an offer of a menage a trois."
Obi puts on his false offended expression for a moment simply drinking from the glass that's brought out for him as Pepper's water has arrived. "Tony, Tony, Tony, Pepper, what's the world coming to when a man can't take two of his favorite people out to eat, without there being some ulterior motive, honestly I'm a little offended." He sits the glass down in front of him leaning one arm back over the back of his chair. "Could give a guy a complex with that kind of treatment."
Pepper Potts is luckily more than practiced enough to NOT react to Tony's words the way he was likely hoping to evoke. Inwardly, though, shudders at the thought of a menage a trois with Stane. Just, no. That is very much into creepy uncle at the family reunion territory. Outwardly, she takes a sip of her water then says with careful neutrality, "Well, there was that dinner at Jean Goerges, when you told us that the Department of Defense wanted to contract SI for the Jericho missiles." She knows she's treading on thin ice bringing that up around Tony, but she's proving a point here.
Tony's drink arrives pretty swiftly. But this isn't much of an accomplishment for the bartending staff or the waiter, as there are only three customers in the entire restaurant tonight. He takes a sip, his expression relatively neutral, as if critiquing the drink more heavily than he's critiquing the conversation around him.
"I kind of wish I'd gotten what you're having..." He doesn't specify exactly who he's talking to, but as he's looking at Obadiah's drink, it's pretty obvious. "But it's too late at this point, or people will start making Meg Ryan references."
"I know, I know, but come on Pepper we've moved past that, now we're onto friendlier times." Obi gives a rather genuine looking smile before taking another sip from his glass. "You know Tony, I wouldn't think less of you if after you finished that you switched over to a glass, only so much of it left." A slight smirk on his face.
After a second of just looking back at Pepper he lets out a bit of a sigh. "Alright, you caught me I wanted to take us out here to talk about an important issue," He pauses for a moment expression going grim, then completely deadpan he says. "We got the shanghai contract, for five billion more then our asking." Letting it sink in before cracking a bit of a smile.
Pepper Potts is going to TRY to limit how much Tony drinks this evening, but Stane of course isn't helping. She'll let him get a glass of scotch after that awful Rusty Nail thing, but there will NOT be a perpetually full glass tonight. Not if she has any say. And then Obie drops the bombshell about the Shanghai contract. "Wait, what? Obi! That's a weapons contract!" Yeah, she's clearly NOT happy about it.
"No. No. I'm cutting back. Well... maybe. No."
We've already established that ordering a Rusty Nail does NOT count as cutting back. It's basically just a double shot. Depending on who you ask.
"Speaking of 'cutting back'... I thought we were on the same page with this? Weapons production is no longer a priority at Stark International. You're supposed to be shilling our new line of products to our oldest customers. This isn't turning off the tap, this is... help me out here, Pepper. What's a good metaphor that means 'the opposite of turning off the tap?'"
"Tony, Pepper, come on I think you're both missing the big picture here, this isn't just a weapons deal we're looking at here." There's a pause from Obadiah as a rather wide selection of exotic sushi usually not on the menu is brought out for the three to enjoy. "This is a chance to kill two birds with one stone, we improve US, China relations, and we get rid of the excess weaponry we keep finding in those storage bunkers Howard was so fond of. I thought you two would be happy."
Honestly, if Tony stick to just the one Rusty Nail, Pepper will consider it a win. She looks from Tony to Stane. "That's like installing a new spigot. And, no. That's getting back into the weapons industry, Obie, and that's not what we agreed on." She doesn't even start to reach for the sushi. Tell Shanghai that we're very sorry for inconveniencing them, but that will NOT happen."
"It's like installing a new spigot! You're installing an unauthorized spigot, Stane!" If Tony's using the last name, it's a good indication that he's less happy about this than Obadiah probably anticipated. "We aren't trying to kill ANY birds. I'd rather scrap all of our old stock and turn it into bicycle frames."
His dander slightly up, Tony quickly finishes off his drink, makes eye contact from across the room with the bartender, and points at his empty cup. The bartender nods with a smile, and begins making him a fresh drink.
Obadiah looks a bit disheartened by this as he comes back up to a stand reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small disk. "Listen Tony you're like a son to me, have been ever since your father made me take care of you while balancing the books for him." He pauses pushing the surface of the disk a small monitor raising up out of it and creating a little fold out screen. It's completely impractical sure, but it's still in testing, on it is a number of charts. "That's why it hurts me so much when I have to break that little reality bubble you like to hide away in so often." He's gone into business mode.
"We need this contract Tony, truth is your little heroics group rings up a lot of bills here on the home front, and you made me CFO for a reason." He pauses for a bit of a drink. "If we don't get this contract we're looking at either letting go about four thousand employees, or cutting the health insurance coverage in half, so unless the both of you can think of a better way to cover all this spending, I'm going to have to spend the next four months explaining to children why their parents can't work for us anymore."
Pepper Potts sits back in her chair and GLARES at Obie. Low blow, old man, but two can play at that game. "The green company initiative is nearly completed, Tony." She looks at the still seated man, wisely refraining from commenting on that second Rusty Nail he just asked for. "Just by changing out the lighting fixtures to use LED where we can and CFL everywhere else, maintenance expenditures has dropped by more than thirty percent. And streamlining of the retail products manufacturing lines is showing returns as well.'
She turns her 'take no guff' expression back toward Stane. "It may not be five billion, but it's enough to keep from having to lay off four thousand people."
The fun thing about being CEO is that you get to swim in piles of money, wear fancy suits, and date supermodels. The less fun thing about being CEO is that you have an obligation to your employees and shareholders. Tony is faced with a difficult decision, which makes the prompt arrival of his second drink perhaps a bit unfortunate.
For a second, he just looks at his drink, before picking it up and swirling the contents around. He doesn't look directly at either Pepper or Obadiah, his thoughts swirling around in his head much like the Drambuie and scotch in his glass.
"Right. It can't be as simple as that. Pepper's been working on all sorts of ways to minimize our costs. And... I'm Tony Stark, I can always find a way to make more money." He doesn't sound as confident as he wishes he did.
He brings the glass up to his nose, smelling the sharp notes of the scotch and the honeyed notes of the Drambuie before downing the entire thing so quickly that for a moment it looks as if he's planning to swallow all of the ice along with it. He doesn't, but when he sets the glass down he looks a bit calmer.
"I'm sure you've done your research, Obi. But I'm going to want oversight. Accountability. These surplus weapons are going to go directly to the customer, and they'll return all of the expended munitions to Stark International. None of them are going to fall off the truck somewhere."
"But this is the last time. Try to use this deal as leverage to sell them as many of our communications satellites as you can, because I meant what I said about shutting off the tap."
Before Tony chimes in with his comments he looks about ready to get into a verbal sword-fight with Pepper on the matter, before Tony does the actually rather surprising thing of caving into his demands. Instead he places his hand back onto the small disk the whole thing folding itself back up. "Listen Tony, Pepper, I don't enjoy having to do this any more then either of you, but it's the right thing, and I promise I'll look into other ways to help the financing, we just need a way to pay for all these unused prototypes, and damages that keep being caused."
"I'm not the bad guy here, I'm just trying to look out for what's best for all of us here, not just up at the top." That warm smile of his comes back onto his face as he tries to assure Pepper more then Tony that this whole thing will turn out right, before taking another sip from his glass and taking some of the... Is it octopus, or is it jellyfish? To be honest it's hard to tell but Obi enjoys it none the less, and man oh man is there quite the spread.
Pepper Potts stares at Tony wide-eyed for a moment. He actually just LET Stane have that. But, she's going to back his decision now that it's been made. "And next time, Obi, maybe skip the pomp and circumstance when you're going to share news like this? You threw down the 'we're hemorrhaging money' card very quickly here, and I'm not going to buy it again." She is SO tempted to walk out at this point, but she's not leaving Tony here along with Obi. No way.
Although Tony hasn't ordered another one yet, the bartender has already set the bottles up next to each other to be ready when/if he does. Judging by the reaction Tony's having, it's probably a good thing he didn't drive here.
He looks at his empty glass a bit wistfully, but doesn't signal the bartender. Apparently he needs to keep his wits about him, as this has gone from being a quiet dinner to a full-on board meeting.
"It's okay, Pepper. Let's just... let's have dinner. It's what we're here for, right?" He unrolls the fancy cloth napkin, pulls out his for, and begins digging in.