Gifts and Favors

November 23, 2014:

Jericho needs some financials analyzed… K'nert overhears and takes him somewhere that can happen.

Midtown Manhattan Street

A shopping area in midtown Manhattan, upscale and pleasant.

Characters

NPCs: K'nert

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It's evening now and the shadows are growing longer. And something is following Pepper. It skitters through the shadows, always out of sight, always a flicker of motion out of the corner of the eye, never staying in one place or in good light enough for one to get a really good look at it. And this has been going on for a solid ten minutes now.

-

Pepper Potts noticed the skittering thing about eight minutes ago, but as she had errands to run — with Cricket off elsewhere doing similar errands — she can't stop and act like a co-ed from a horror movie. But, it's been more than long enough that she's getting fed up with it. Her first thought about the skittterer: it's one of the Fae, following her for some reason she has yet to discern. She's wearing her iron-soled heels, though, so doesn't feel too uneasy about it. Besides, if this Fae meant her ill, she figures the being would have been impatient enough to act by now. Still, as a precaution she reached into her purse a few minutes ago and now has her iron hairstick clutched in her hand.

Another two minutes of being followed go by, and Pepper's long since had enough. She purposely steps into a shopping center courtyard with all of the shops closed for the evening and stops by a bench under a streetlamp. "All right, enough already." She turns and looks back the way she came instead of trying to visually catch her follower. "Either come here," she points to a spot directly in front of her feet, "and tell me directly what you want, or go away and stop annoying me." Full-force authoritative voice in action, yo.

-

The skittering stops and from under the bench crawls a lizard like imp with slitted eyes. It doesn't go to the spot but it does come into the light and stares up at her making a vaguely unpleasant hissing sound. It's certainly demonic. And… probably not Fae. Fae things are not often this ugly.

Pepper Potts looks at the ugly little creature that would almost fit in with the puppet characters from the Dark Crystal and settles onto the bench at her back, having intentionally picked one of the old-school ones with wooden slats supported by iron framework. "Well. You're not what I was expecting. Now. What do you want?"

-

"K'nert!" Comes a familiar voice, albeit one Pepper hasn't heard in some time. Jericho comes running around the corner and sighs with relief. "There you a- er… Miss Potts…" What's K'nert doing bothering Pepper? Jericho hasn't the faintest though she can probably see the wheels turning as his eyes glimmer. "Are you okay Miss Potts?"

-

Pepper Potts is looking at the little demon like she's expecting something from it when Jericho arrives. She looks up and offers the hacker a smile. "Hello. And I'm fine. I was just asking… K'Nert, you said? I was just asking K'Nert here why he was following me, but I'm a bit rusty at speaking Cat." At least, that's the closest she can guess to what that hiss earlier might have been. "How have you been?"

-

"Busy… and… er… long story." K'nert looks back at Jericho and then stares at Pepper. "What? Why are you…" He pauses and frowns. "Hrm. I was just saying that I needed a financial expert… and then he ran off." Looks like he knows that Pepper knows about things.

-

Pepper Potts turns a look on the little creature again. "Is that so." Now that she knows K'Nert isn't a threat (for now, anyway), she puts her hairstick back into her purse and at the same time pulls out one of the little hard candies she keeps instead of cough drops, offering the small treat to the small creature. "What sort of financial help are you needing? Bear in mind, I've not done any actual accounting work in… gosh. A while."

-

K'nert cranes his neck up to get the candy… and is close to Pepper's hand before Jericho yanks him back. "None of that now you." He actually growls, eyes flashing. "Sorry Pepper. K'nert here is an actual demon. He likely won't respond kindly. To anything." The hacker sighs and shakes his head.

"I need to make sense of a mass of financial information that I pulled from… er… you might not believe me if I told you where."

-

Pepper Potts snatches her hand back in surprise when Jericho corrects K'Nert so harshly, but then compromises and sets the wrapped candy on the edge of the park bench's seat before standing and stepping away. "I see. Well, does this have anything to do with your friend with the bad smoking habit?"

-

"Partisan?" Jericho chuckles. "No. At least, not yet. This has to do with something I've been investigating on the side. It's kind of sprawled in some odd directions and I'm having trouble making sense of it all." He runs a hand through his hair. "Got some time to walk and talk?

-

Pepper Potts nods. "I do. I was just on my way to run an errand.

-

"Alright…" Jericho starts to walk. K'nert glares up at him, snatches the candy off the bench and then perches on Jerichos shoulder. "I've been investigating some odd tech that's been turning up. It seems to be able to alter people's minds in various fashions. Recently, working on some of it, I pulled a bunch of raw financials off of a few of the units and I'm trying to figure out what it is so I can figure out why it was there."

-

Pepper Potts ahs and nods. "I can certainly give it a try. And if I can't figure it out, I might know someone who can." If not Cricket, JARVIS for sure. "I take it the reasons for this data collection is something I'm best not knowing about?"

-

"It's not secret though it's not something I've shared with anyone. I don't know who these devices belong to or what they want but there are an awful lot of them and they seem to be all over the tri city area. I'm just trying to make sense of it all." Jericho shrugs.

-

Pepper Potts nods again. "Fair enough." Honestly, the thought of mind control devices makes her uneasy on a level that not much has in a long time. "And I'll be happy to help if I can."

-

Jericho hands over a black bound leather folder. It's thin, at least. "I hoped you might say that. There's a lot there and I don't know how long it'll take you to get through it but I'd appreciate anything yo ucan do." He smiles a bit. "So… how have you been?"

-

Pepper Potts accepts the folder and promptly stows it in her shoulder bag. Suddenly, why she carries so large a bag makes a lot more sense. "I'll let you know as soon as I figure anything out." When he asks about how she's been, she takes a breath before replying. "Busy. Tony has been … distracted lately, so I have that to worry about on top of all of the usual things." She's reluctant to so much as breathe a word of Howard Stark lately. "But. Thanksgiving is soon. I'm kind of in the habit of cooking for whomever happens to be around, so if you and Partisan are free…" She looks at Jericho and offers aa teasing smile. "But I will have to ask that the cigarettes do not enter my house."

-

"Distracted…" Jericho chuckles. "I can only imagine what Tony distracts himself with. I'll… see if I can make it over. Partisan may well take you up on that. She likes you, y'know. I think you're the closest thing she has to a friend that isn't me. And I'm a bit odd, to be sure."

-

Pepper Potts smiles at that. "Then I'll plan to see you both there. And just keep this in mind: I really, really hate leftovers." She walks for a quiet moment, then gestures toward a shop up ahead. "I need to stop here for a moment, do you mind?" She's making a point of NOT looking at K'Nert, and not just because he's been trying to eat that hard candy through its wrapper.

-

Jericho chuckles and stops. "Not at all Pepper. Considering how kind you've been to me, and for no real reason I might add, it's really the least I can do." Honestly it is. Jericho'd offer to do more if Pepper didn't have practically everything already.

-

Pepper Potts nods. "Come inside, shouldn't take me but a couple of minutes. And I promise, it's not a horribly girly place." She steps toward the shop door and opens it for herself and Jericho, letting out a wash of warm air and the smell of many, many teas.

-

Jericho grins. He hasn't been in many horribly girly places despite most of his friends being women. Must be the people he hangs out with. He does step inside and is pleasantly surprised by the aroma. "Wow… Is this where you get your private stash?"

-

Pepper Potts says, "Yes. Most of it. Some of the more rare things I either order online or purchase when I'm in the city where I can find it." She greets the shop owner, who apparently was expecting Pepper, as she pulls an already packed parcel from behind the counter to ring up. "Would you like anything while we're here, Jericho?""

-

Jericho has been looking around and finally smiles. "Mmmmmmm… advice. Can you tell me what a good pot to brew tea in would be? Something that… mmm… really brings out the flavor. I'm told material matters."

-

Pepper Potts shares a grin and a knowing look with the teashop owner before answering Jericho. "Do you want one that can take some wear and tear, as in not easily broken? Or do you have a place where you can take care of a slightly delicate teapot?"

-

"It's for a friend. With an active life. So perhaps something that won't break too easily." He'd also consider tea but it occurs to Jericho that he has no idea at all what kinds of tea a certain SHIELD agent prefers.

-

Pepper Potts hms. "Well, in the traditional mindset, there are the ones called Tetsubin." She gestures toward a section of the shop dedicated to teapots of every shape, size, and variety imaginable. "They're typically made from cast iron, but some have bronze or silver plating." She picks one up from a shelf and offers it to Jericho to study.

-

"Tetsubin… Japanese…" Jericho takes the pot from Pepper and looks it over carefully, eyes gleaming. "Mmmmmmm… I wonder…" He wonders if May already has one of these. On the one hand she seems to like tea. On the other she seems sensible and frugal. "Can you help me pick one out for a very practical person? I shouldn't think anything too… fancy would suit."

-

Pepper Potts is one step short of being a personal shopper, so this kind of request is right up her alley. "Do you have a price limit?"

-

"Not particularly. Well, I mean, if it's several tens of thousands of dollars perhaps." A few hundred though? Or even up to perhaps a couple thousand? Shouldn't be an issue. Jericho doesn't make a whole lot and most of what he does goes to food and keeping a roof over his head. But he has untapped resources. Normally they're for emergencies but this purchase should be small enough that it'll be okay.

-

Pepper Potts chuckles softly. She's used to Tony's budget or her family's, which are WORLDS apart. Apparently, Jericho is the rare outlier that lands somewhere in between. She leans to look at the shopkeeper who nods and beckons them back to the counter. Pepper takes the teapot back from Jericho's hands to return to its spot on the shelf before stepping back over to the counter. Once they're there, the shop keeper takes a simple looking cast iron teapot from the glass-front display case behind the counter.

-

Jericho looks at it closely and then starts to smile. "Perfect." Now he has to figure out a way to get it to her… Hrmmmmmmmm… well he'll figure that one out later. Maybe he can get Kate to deliver it or something. Though… er… maybe having it delivered at her place of work would be bad. Hmmmmmm. Yeah. Might be bad. Just leave it in her car, perhaps. She'll kick his ass for breaking into her car but…

"Fits her to a tee."

-

Pepper Potts smiles and nods, then turns to the shop keeper. "We'll take it." She looks at Jericho again. "Did you want gift-wrapping service also? Or are you one of those rare creatures that actually knows how to fold paper and use scotch tape?"

-

"I've been known to wrap gifts in my time. I think I still remember how." The hacker chuckles. Granted, it's been a while since he prepared a 'gift' that wasn't explosive or otherwise lethal, but he can manage. He'll probably pop this one in a box. It'll make it easier. And less obvious. "I'm going to guess you own something in this vein yourself? You seem very… knowledgable."

-

Pepper Potts smiles. "I have a small one, yes. I don't use it nearly enough, but that's because the ceramics are so much easier to maintain while I'm at work. That, and I tend to drink mostly English or Chinese black teas." She hands the shop keeper her card, then signs the receipt slip before taking her parcel from the counter.

-

Jericho chuckles and looks at her parcel for a moment before stepping up to settle with the cashier himself. "Sometimes things are nice just to have. I know I have things I don't often use… but wouldn't trade for anything." Though his most prized possession is at the moment, hanging off his back in a leather case.

-

Pepper Potts nods her agreement with that, thinking of a few items that match that criteria. "Thank you again, Marta. Have a wonderful THanksgiving." Purchases acquired and pleasantries done, she leads Jericho back out of the shop. "I have one more stop to make, and then I'm headed home. How about you?"

-

"I've miles to go before I sleep, as the poet once said." Jericho chuckles. "And home is a somewhat fluid concept for me at the moment." Is it his apartment? Is it Limbo? There's an answer in there though at the moment he doesn't need to share it. Even though he's fairly certain he knows what it is. "I was simply attending this while folks slept on the other side of the world. I've business in Russia. So, you know, busy as usual."

-

Pepper Potts ahs and nods, leading the way out of the shop. "Do take some time to get some proper rest, all right?" She looks at Jericho a bit more seriously. "Burning the candle on both ends might seem to get things done quicker, but you run out of candle twice as fast. Believe me, I know." She pauses outside the shop. "You'll get some rest soon, all right?" It's phrased as a question, but by her expression she really really hopes he'll actually stop and rest at some point.

-

"I will… well… if I can." Jericho's smile is a bit wistful. "I'd like to take some time and just relax with people but… that's the price of living hunted, I'm afraid. Still… if I can catch a break." He trails off. "Well, would you like me to walk you back, anyway?"

-

Pepper Potts smiles a bit wistfully as well. "We'll figure out a way to make it happen." At his offer to walk her back, she nods. "All right." It's a bit later when she finally asks, "Will you tell me what your friend thinks of the teapot?"

-

"Of course." Jericho waits for Pepper to take the lead since he's not sure exactly where she's going. "I'm pretty confident she'll like it… even if I'm also confident she won't admit it. Not to me anyway." He chuckles a bit at the thought.

-

Pepper Potts chuckles at that. "One of those stoic types, huh? I'm guessing it's not Partisan." And from what little she's seen, she gets the impression that tea isn't Illyana's style either.

-

Pepper is correct about that. Illyana's style is vodka. It's not coincidence that this is now Jericho's drink of choice as well, in general. "Yeah, stoic. Been a decent friend to me though. Been meaning to do something nice for her. Holidays are coming up, after all."

-

"The most insane time of the year." Pepper says that clearly in a joking manner. "You'd think I work in retail."

-

"You work for Tony. Isn't 'insane' all times of the year? I swear if he weren't such a philanthopist the guy'd almost belong in Arkham." And wouldn't that be a scary thought. As if that place doesn't have enough problems. Jericho makes a playful face.

-

"Surprisingly, no," Pepper replies. "There's normal insane, which, really, I can't speak about, and then there's busy insane. And the last part of the year is always the busiest. This time last year I had to hire two extra assistants just to keep up with everything."

-

"What? Does the army get Stark-Tech missiles as stocking stuffers or something?" Probably best that Jericho doesn't know. Now that he thinks about it it's probably a lot of paperwork and charity balls and speaches and such.

-

Pepper Potts chuckles softly. "Not anymore, no. Beyond the usual, there are Black Friday product launches, end of year asset inventory, open enrollment for health benefits, and performance reviews."

-

"Ugh…" Jericho shakes his head. It almost sounds preferable to being shot by Hydra… almost. He's sure that if Hydra could turn retail into a torture, they would. Hell, who knows. Maybe they did?

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