Bargaining Efforts

December 01, 2016:

A brief power meeting between Bruce Wayne and Pepper Potts

Stark Industries

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Pepper honestly hates last minute business deals. And anything new coming down the pike in December always qualifies as last minute. But in this case, she knows she has to just deal with it — arranging a mututally beneficial business agreement with Wayne Enterprises is more than worth the annoyance.

In the Stark Tower lobby, Pepper waits by the front desk for Mr. Wayne representative to arrive, tapping at her tablet's screen as she does so. FRIDAY is fielding calls for her, and IMing about the important ones. Like Tony saying he wanted ice cream. From Texas.

"Miss Potts?"

The man hailing her is not an envoy from Wayne Enterprises— it's Bruce Wayne himself. He's dressed relatively casually, in a comfortable navy suit, subtly textured white undershirt, and no tie. The navy would be a peculiar shade for a professional businessman, but it complements his eyes so well that it's hard to argue with the taste of whomever attired him.

"Nice to meet you," he says, offering a handshake. "Sorry to drop in unexpectedly but I figured I ought to handle this personally. Annual budgets, and all," he says, wryly— Pepper can surely appreciate it. "I'd hate this to get hung up over a signature. Where are we having the meeting at?"

Pepper's eyes snap up from the tablet and she covers her surprise with a smile as she steps forward to shake Bruce's hand. Her own pencil skirt and blazer over a champagne-colored silk blouse are a green so dark they are easily mistaken for black.

"Mr. Wayne. Thank you so much for meeting with me." She waits for the security guards to issue a visitor's badge, then gestures to a hall across the lobby and leads the way. "We're meeting in a conference room just down this way."

"I take it Mister Stark's occupied?" Bruce says, following Pepper. He holds one hand up to check her immediate response. "Don't get me wrong— between you and me, I'm happy you're the one handling the logistics today. I know Mr. Stark's reputation, and— well. I've heard who keeps things on an even keel." He flickers one wink at Pepper, and stands politely aside to let her precede him into the room.

Once they're in and settled, he reaches into his shirt pocket for his PDA and sets it on the table, tapping the screen twice to wake it up. "I think this is a good deal for both our organizations, Miss Potts. Wayne Technologies is a bit short on industrial goods, and your new mineral processors are going to help us tremendously. And, we can help you cover your shortages on those new run of actuators for the military's electronic suspension system."

When Wayne makes a thinly veiled jab at Tony, Pepper's expression goes cold without changing even the tiniest bit. "As Chief Operations Officer, this kind of negotiation is within my purvue, not Mr. Stark's. Though he will be giving the agreement his final refusal or approval based on my assessments and recommendations." So don't even TRY to screw her over, Bruce.

She sets her tablet on the table, then after tapping at the screen briefly, makes a motion like pulling a hair off of the device, and there's suddenly a holographic display hovering above it, showing the documented preliminary agreements. "The mineral processors are being finalized on time, and will be ready for delivery as promised. What's the time frame looking like for those actuators? Our production facilities will be ready to start using them on the first week of January, and I'd greatly prefer that they're already in place to be used the moment the assembly teams need them."

Bruce either doesn't catch the change in Pepper's tone, or elects not to notice it. He examines the display with a keen and unhurried expression, eyes flickering line by line over the agreement. "January's pushing it," Bruce says, candidly. "But my engineers have assured me that we can make it happen. I'd really rather not encourage my people to work over Christmas," he explains to Pepper. "I try to give my people at least a full week off to enjoy Christmas and have a safe and sober New Year. But," he allows, "some people don't observe the holidays, and others don't mind pulling bonus shifts for quadruple overtime pay," he adds, wryly. "So we might be shorthanded but production won't drop to a standstill. If you can give us a bit more margin on delivery date, I'll send over a crew with the delivery to help get your teams spun up," he offers. "That'll take at least two weeks off your effective production start date."

"We have a similar holiday policy." Of course they do. Pepper put it into place herself several years ago. "The latest we can push back the production run is January 16th. We'd need to have the parts in and inventoried the week before to have them ready for the assembly lines first thing Monday morning, so they'd need to be on our receiving dock by the afternoon of the tenth at the absolute latest." Pepper 'pulls' another holoimage out of the tablet, this one a small and simple calendar to show the days mentioned.

"I think we can make that happen," Bruce agrees. "That gives a comfortable margin of error if we're short handed over the holiday. Still, numbers look good, and I think projections all line up."

He skims over the calendar, nodding, then flicks a finger to return to the original document.

Scanning line by line, he finally nods and reaches for his stylus to sign his name to the agreement. "Miss Potts, I think we've got a deal," he tells the redhead, tucking the stylus away. "And I hope this helps cement a partnership between Stark Industries and Wayne Enterprises," he tells her. "I like how you deal, and I hope this is the beginning of a strong industrial relationship."

Pepper watches Wayne sign the agreement, then says aloud, "FRIDAY, mark the agreement as signed and witnessed, then forward it to Mr. Stark for final review and approval."

Pepper's signature appears on the document by itself while a faintly Irish sounding female voice replies from seemingly the entire room, "Done, Miss Potts. I'll make sure the Boss reads it right away."

"Thank you, FRIDAY."

"Gladly, Miss Potts."

The holoimages disappear with the wave of a hand and then Pepper's standing and offering Bruce a handshake. "I don't need to hope, Mr. Wayne. I know that this agreement will be the beginning of a beneficial alliance between our corporations."

"I like your positivity, Miss Potts," Bruce says, grinning faintly at Pepper and rising as she does. He shakes her hand again— firm, polite, but not effort to crush her hand. "There's a lot of business out there and a partnership will go a long way towards keeping us ahead of LexCorp and others. And I have to say, I like how you do business," he tells Pepper. "Very few corporations are offering more benefits and more leave time anymore. I know how that can make the investors get itchy, but I want you to know that I respect your decision to run SI like a family immensely. I think in the long run it keeps the corporation more solvent, having employees who /want/ to stay here."

Nodding at Bruce's words, Pepper finally thaws a little. "I made that one of my non-negotiable requirements of accepting the promotion I got a few years back. And Tony knows knows better than to try to go over my head and change anything in a way that I'd disapprove of." After all, she's still the one that remembers his Social Security number for him. Well, FRIDAY too, but mostly Pepper.

"Don't get me wrong. Mr. Stark— brilliant inventor," Bruce says, nodding at Pepper. "Some of the insights he's had into the market have been unnervingly prescient. And my engineers tell me the concepts he comes up with is just cutting edge. If I had a time machine and could go back twenty years, I'm not sure if I'd try to poach him or just get him interested in some other pasttime," Bruce says, with a wry chuckle.

"But by all accounts, you're the one that's keeping SI up and running. Inventions and innovations can only take a company so far. Wayne Enterprises has only survived some lean times due to diversifying our portfolio… but, more important, taking care of our people. That's the sort of spirit I've seen in your leadership here, and that's the reason I came here today— to meet you in person."

Pepper Potts raises her eyebrows. Again with the digs against Tony? Doesn't this guy learn?

"You could have tried to poach him." Of course, twenty years ago, Tony was Obadiah Stane's golden goose, and would NOT have let go of him easily. "But I really don't think you would have been able to afford him. Even then."

And then, as quick as flipping a switch, every trace of friendliness drops from Pepper's expression. "The only reason I'm here to help Tony keep SI running is because he saw the potential in an accounting department newbie that wasn't afraid to respectfully stand up to someone in upper management. Every aspect of Mr. Stark's tenure as CEO of his company has been built on and defined by respect for everyone that works for SI, from Tony himself to gentleman who polishes the lobby floors. So if you choose to continue making negative insinuations, no matter how well veiled, this agreement might be the only and last one between our corporations. Have I made myself understood, Mr. Wayne?"

Bruce's smile doesn't falter. "Miss Potts, I'm trying to pay you a compliment," he tells the redhead, positively unruffled by her vituperation, one hand resting in his trouser pocket. "I'm not trying to butter you up, and I'm not trying to put down your friend and boss. I'm recognizing the same thing that Stark did— you have a talent for business leadership. Stark and I think alike in a lot of regards. I'm not the inventor Tony is," Bruce says. It's partially true. "But I hire people who are better at building things than I am. I believe a good CEO is only as strong at the people he hires. Stark sees something exceptional in you, and I'm saying— I see it, too."

"So have the writers at Fortune 500 magazine." Pepper scoops her her tablet then gestures back toward the door and the lobby. "And as much as you're trying for the flattery angle here, I'll spare you the effort and tell you now: you can't afford me, even if you're willing to try." She leads him back to the front desk. "It was good to meet you at last, Mr. Wayne. And I look forward to the progress reports on both the mineral processors and the actuators. Have a pleasant afternoon."

"You as well, Miss Potts. Take care." And with that, Bruce Wayne gives Pepper a polite nod and a smile, and without bodyguard or escort, walks back out towards his towncar, parked out in front of the building.

Pepper Potts watches Bruce leave, then as she steps into the elevator to return to her office, she says seemingly to no one, "FRIDAY, I want every physical delivery, email, instant message, text, and even paper airplane from Wayne Enterprises to anyone in this company put through a fine toothed comb for anything even remotely suspicious until I tell you otherwise."

"Yes, Miss Potts. Should I tell the Boss?"

"Yes, please. And when he asks why, remind him of the pomade fiasco of 2002."

"Consider it done, Miss Potts."

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