Pepperoni Overtime

May 07, 2016:

Pepper and Tony talk about SI matters (and more) over a pizza.

Tony's Workshop, Stark Tower


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Noemi Nogueira


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It's one of those rare days when both Tony and Pepper are in the Tower at the same time and neither is elbows deep in some project or other. Knowing that getting Tony to leave his workshop will be difficult at best, Pepper doesn't even try. Instead she has pizza delivered and shows up at the workshop door, tapping in her access code. And for just one irrational moment hoping that Tony hasn't locked her out.

In fact, Tony has not locked her out. The access code remains what it was, and the door doesn't have a second, wackier door behind it. For the past… virtually four months, Tony has been hanging out in the lab. It's the same old story: he gets an idea to tweak one thing on the armor, then that turns into tweaking another thing, and next thing you know it's a top-down redesign.
Still, he's at least started making public appearances again in the last couple weeks. There was that TED Talk at ESU, various other little things. But right now? Back in the workshop.

The schematics he has projected in the air look like Life Model Decoy stuff — or at least, that can be surmised. "Hey, Pep," he says, not actually looking back from the numbers he's crunching.

Pepper Potts studies the projected schematics as she walks into the lab, absently patting one of the 'bots hello as she passes by. She doesn't mention that she's carrying a pizza, she figures the smell will catch up quickly enough. "I have just a couple of work things for you," she starts.

"Pizza work — my favorite," he says. "I hope there's pepperoni overtime. Hey. Has anyone ever called you 'Pepperoni?' Seems like kids would have. I was 'Tony Macaroni,' which I always thought was kind of insulting, I mean, not to me, but to Italians."

Tony turns around. His arc reactor glows faintly through his shirt. "So what's up?" he asks. He looks… possibly surprisingly rested, for Tony Stark.

Pepper Potts smiles as she looks for a clear spot to set the pizza on. "No, but I got 'Peppermint Patty' all through junior high school. I've told you about it before." She seemingly magically brandishes napkins from her shoulder bag and then waits until they both have slices in their hands before starting the work talk.

"The arc generators that we donated to Metropolis during that ice storm winter before last. The Maria Stark Foundation has finally managed to finalize that, but I'm starting to get increased interest in the units for municipal emergency use as well as for retail applications. Did you see the email from Nakamura in R&D about designing retail level generators?"

"I did," Tony says. "It was marked high priority with one of those little flags, so I made sure to ignore it for six hours to turn the screws." Tony has a slice of pizza and doesn't seem too concerned about plates so much as not dripping grease onto the glass-top holoprojector console. So instead, he just sits on it, because rubbing your butt on it is fine as long as it doesn't leave a greasy print.

"I'm… thinking about it," Tony says, in the tone of voice that indicates he's unsure. "Hey. Similar topic. Do I come off to people like a rich asshole? I mean, understand that we're talking 'rich asshole' as a separate concept from being rich, which I am, and an asshole, which, you know, maybe SOME-times. But am I one of THOSE rich assholes?"

Pepper Potts smiles in amusement at the 'ignore it' comment, somehow managing to keep her own pizza slice perfectly tidy. After all, pizza grease on her very expensive skirt simply will not do. When he asks whether he comes across to people as one of 'those' rich assholes, she can only consider for a quiet moment. "I might not be best person to answer that. I know you too well. To me, no. You don't. You're incredibly aggravating sometimes, especially when you do things that affect SI's stock index and I have to go explain it to the Board. But for the most part I understand why you make the choices you do and, well, I've met assholes. You're not an asshole." She pauses for a moment. "Most of the time."

"I asked you BECAUSE you know me," Tony points out dryly, with a little bit of a smile of his own. "And also because I know you'd tell me the truth either way." Tony huffs out. "Retail arc generators. I mean, it's tempting, just because if it was a chess move, it'd be the equivalent of drop kicking the entire board. But… I don't know."

Tony, of course, declines to offer Pepper the obvious solution to not getting grease on her skirt, which is to take it off. He's already tried that one and knows where it ends. "The arc generator is… a part of me, Pep. I mean literally, a part of me, you can see it right there." Tony wags a finger at his chest. He doesn't eat the crust on his pizza, placing it back in the box like it might be preserved for future generations. "It's my legacy to the world. Even more than Iron Man. People will remember me in the short term as the guy who put a big red and gold chromed bucket on his head and flew around punching aliens in the craw, but that's short term. Long term… like, hundreds, thousands of years from now… I mean, no one talks about Alexander the Great's Iron Man armor."

Pepper Potts nods, accepting his reasons easily. "I'll tell Nakamura to keep going with the technology we've been using, then. Though I suspect her team might need a bit of help with the miniaturization aspect. That's been their limiting factor so far." No, the solution for them both would have been to sit at a table and use plates. Like normal people.

"Another thing. SHIELD has been asking again about the body armor fabric we discussed a while back. Chem division seems to be stuck on getting their polymer to behave like fabric and not like carbon fiber. I even gave the okay to consult with a nanofiber specialist out of India, and I still haven't heard any more progress."

"Keep me posted," Tony says. "Though we're not calling Reed Richards until we've really run out of options. Not because he's a bad guy, but because I don't want to show weakness in front of the other geniuses."

Tony paces in an absent circle. "And I'm not saying no forever, on the arc generators. I just have to be… sure." Tony runs a hand back through his hair. "Plus I think it'd ruin a date I have coming up, so."

Pepper Potts hehs faintly. She knows ALLLLLLL about Tony's dislike of Richards. "I will. We're nowhere near dire enough circumstances to go groveling." She nods again as Tony mentions the arc generatos again. "I know better than to try to pressure you. And if anyone else tries, send them my way." She doesn't ask about the date. It's so much better to just not know. Really.

"Oh. Not work related. We have a new tenant in the residental floors. He's…" she knows better than to say he's a sorcerer in front of Tony. "…a literary historian. Kind of eccentric. Don't panic if you happen to see him in the lobby, okay?"

Tony's dislike of Reed Richards is centered entirely around Tony knowing that if anyone is going to be smarter than him, it's the man who can literally stretch his brain to operate in ways Tony can't even conceive of.

"Do I ever panic? And we're not counting that body waxing thing, because I didn't know full body meant FULL body." Tony sits back down on his console and rubs his forehead. "What's his name? So I just don't say 'oh, hey, literary historian, hello.' Then HE might panic."

Pepper Potts winces. She remembers that only too well. "His name is Ryden. And — I cleared it with building management first — he has a pet gander. Surprisingly polite bird, though kind of protective of his human." She also sets aside her pizza crust, though she'll eat them as often as not.

Tony squints for a second. "I want to judge him for that, I really really do, but I know I can't throw stones because I'm the guy who has pet robots in his giant science lab." One of the robots beeps in some indeterminate response.

"Oh, hey, Pep, can I ask you to take care of a big favor for me? This is kind of a hush-hush thing, as few people on it as possible. It's pretty small, though." Tony looks back to the LMD schematics, and then almost has to physically pry his own vision back towards the redhead.

Pepper Potts wipes off her hands and steps closer to the schematics. It's not like she's never kept a secret for Tony before. "Sure. What's going on?" She studies the schematics again, and can't help but idly wonder if they belong to anyone she's met. Because she's met … two? LMDs already. Maybe three.

The schematics are just for LMD interiors — generic male. Could be anyone. It seems like Tony is really studying what they're made of and how they're powered more than anything else. "So there's this Portuguese national, Noemi Nogueira. Could you have one of the team who's light on things to do comb the net and if she has any, you know, revenge nudes or any of that crap floating around, make sure they're gone and never come back?" Tony straightens his t-shirt. "And of course, then no one speaks of it ever again. Just trying to be gentlemanly."

"Noemi Nogueira. I can probably call in a favor from someone I know." She makes a mental note to get a pint of that hand-churned ice cream as 'payment'. "I'm guessing that I'm not supposed to ask why you're feeling gentlemanly toward Ms. Nogueira?"

"Oh. She's the date. But she's one of those… how you put it… people who say my name when what they really want to say is 'Mister Blood Money Arms Profiteer Scumbag.' Which, I know, moth to flame. But I figure I should do something quietly to maybe make her life a little easier, if there IS anything out there. Show her I'm only mostly a scumbag, not a hundred percent." Tony shrugs, as if to say the jury might still be out on that. "I'd do the same for you."

Well. That sets the gears turning in Pepper's brain. It's just like Tony to go out on a date with a young lady who is technically calling him a scumbag to his face. If Tony hadn't preemptively asked her to offer Noemi a gesture of non-assholeishness, she might have been tempted to dig up all the dirt on the girl to use as leverage in case she becomes … problematic. And she might still do that. "I know. But Tony, please don't set yourself up to get hurt by this." She's seen that before as well. "Or I might have to step in and intercede on your behalf."

Tony laughs. "It's dinner, Pep. I'm not going to propose marriage until the second date." He waves a hand as if to brush away concerns. "I mean, you're welcome to come along and spy on us with binoculars. Just don't tell me if you do. I like the mystery." Tony winks.

Pepper rolls her eyes. She has a MUCH better way of tracking Tony if she really wants. It's called JARVIS. "Pass. Thanks." She looks at the schematics again seemingly idly. "Is there anything else going on with you lately? It feels like we haven't had a chance to catch up in forever."

"Well, we still have most of a pizza left over which to fix that," Tony says, reaching over to go back for seconds. He'll do his best not to bore Pepper to death with the sheer solipsism of what he's been working on with the armor. But it's only his best, and nothing truly foolproof.

Pepper Potts smiles and claims her pizza bone back instead of reaching for an entirely new slice. "Works for me." She will also try to not go off on any work-related rants.

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