Quality Over-Control

July 04, 2016:

After all the fireworks are over, Pepper meets Tony on the roof of Stark Tower for a talk. Only mostly about work.

Stark Tower, NYC



Mentions: Corvinus


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It's nearly midnight. The rest of the tower has been pretty much empty all day, and normally on a holiday like this Pepper would have been home, or visiting family. But this year she had work to catch up on, so she spent most of the day in her office doing just that. Of course, when the sun set, she turned to watch the fireworks through her window (not the best view, but she caught parts of it), and was about to pack up to go home when Friday mentioned that 'the Boss' was on the roof.

Having come up here to see what's up with Tony, she's opted to sit against the retaining wall of the roof where she's not dangling her feet over open air. What? She likes these flats and she doesn't want to lose one. "Tomorrow promises to be hectic, will I be able to expect you at the operations meeting?"

Normally on a holiday like this Tony would be… right here, or in one of several other trendy and picturesque locations around the globe. After several days of somewhat obsessive development work on a couple choice subsystems for Iron Man— which is to say, himself, but hey, it's to save the world— Tony's taking a moment to kick his feet up. When the fireworks started, he was already on the rooftop terrace atop his Stark Tower penthouse, lounging by the rail with a tall glass of… sparkling grape juice, don't worry Pepper. Only the finest. He smoked a celebratory cigar, he watched the lightshow from a vantage point that was almost -too- good, and as of a few minutes ago, he's smoking another.

Pepper's welcomed with a quiet familiarity that few really get to see. He doesn't pop up, posture, grandstand, or snark; at least not right away. She's invited to partake of the gathered refreshments (and the one vice) as she pleases, with a smile and a gesturing nod, then he returns to the view until she's settled in to join him. Tony's stolen more than a couple glances since Pepper arrived, but the one that follows her words is substantially more dubious, "Wait. You -want- me at the meeting?" Beat. "Are you buying me out? This is a hostile takeover, isn't it. TRINE got to you. I knew it." No one promised he wouldn't get to snarking; he has to make up some of the dryness that's lacking in this year's bubbly.

Pepper Potts gives Tony that unimpressed look that she uses pretty much with him and no one else. "Don't even mention that thing. No, I want you there to sign off on the latest round of QC data to come back about the StarkPhone OS upgrade that Software's been working on. They're grumbling right and left about how quickly the bug list filled up."

"So pay the overtime or push the release until it works." Tony concedes easily enough, "Or do they need daddy to debug their code?" He clearly thinks he has far, far better things to do. Like smoke his cigar, and waggle a brow at Pepper. She -did- tell him to rest. There's a pensive, overt squint as he searches Pepper's face, "You came up here after working til like, what is it, midnight? … to ask me to sign off on some glitches? You okay, Pep?" He rises from the chair and leans one hip into the rail facing her, unsurprisingly barely even noticing the elevation.

Pepper Potts shakes her head no. "It's not the bugs themselves that are causing the complaints, it's who is finding them. Have you met Mr. Reha yet? He's… I hired him to fill a vacancy in QC a little over a year ago and he's, well, I think it would be best if you tried to meet with him. Did you happen to notice the bandwidth hogging that we had going on a couple of weeks ago? That was a, um, a program that Mr. Reha was working on."

"Doesn't ring a bell." Tony's not going to take a stand on whether he actually hasn't met the guy; that's a tall order for certitude, in his life. Bandwidth bottlenecks, though, that jogs his memory. "Jarvis was whinging about that, I think." "— Sir, I was merely seeking to inform you of a poten —" "We're good Jarvis, go do something constructive so I can tell people I'm working." The momentary distraction fades dutifully, and Stark's attention settles fully on Pepper once more, as he weighs what she's telling him. "So you're saying he's good. Better than good — uncanny. Tell me the truth, Pepper." Deadly serious. Vulnerable, wide eyes. Total bullshit. "Is he better than me?"

Pepper Potts considers how to answer for a moment. "Jim himself, no. But he's a, a symbiote. His other half, Corvinus, is an alien artificial intelligence. He and JARVIS have spoken before." She doesn't yet reveal that Jim and Corvinus have pulled their own little version of Freaky Friday, that might be more than she should toss at him at one time.

"Do you think he wants a new host?" Tony seems utterly not shocked that Pepper doesn't take the bait. "I bet I could build him a better house. With only minor probing and modulation." Stark has several merrily on staff already, in fact! "Wearing a work-a-day meatsuit is just so inefficient, isn't it? What does a higher alien intelligence get out of a 9-5 debugging my software? Is this one trying to mastermind my ultimate undoing too, Ms. Potts?" He'd seem more worried about that sadly realistic possibility if she weren't presenting it as a meeting he should have. Pepper may have had her complaints, but he's pretty trusting that she's not trying to kill him. Unless she's an android doppelganger. There's a moment's cant of the head and peer to consider that possibility, "Why -is- he.. why are they working at SI, Pepper?"

"I can promise you that he has no intention of taking over anything. Corvinus' entire goal is to bring enlightenment to people." She's seen what that means for his hosts, though, and she finds herself worrying about Jim. "Also, I really don't think that Corvinus really had a choice in his symbiote. They're kind of stuck with each other now." Especially after they got Freaky Friday swapped. "The main reason I hired Jim was to fill a gap in our QC department. We have all of the sharpest minds in the world, but Jim noticed a flaw in a new tablet design almost immediately. A layperson's flaw. He's there to give things a look from an everyman perspective. And, having access to Corvinus' mental processing power as well sure doesn't hurt."

"And the meeting's really the best way to get to know these wonderful souls?" Tony grins wryly from one corner of his mouth. After all, he's basically agreeing. "I'll talk to him— them. And get Jarvis to bring me up to speed on what they've been conspiring— I know, Jarvis, I know. Just let me know when, and I'll hit within an hour or so of that target." At least he's honest.

Pepper Potts smiles and nods. "Yes. Also, so you know, Jim's the one doing the bug-finding. I tasked him with it when I found out he was using up so much bandwidth." She moves to stand, dusting her hands off on her jeans. "And the meeting is scheduled for ten am, so I think we both need to get to sleep. Talk to you again then? And please don't make me ask Friday to encourage you to be on time."

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