Friend for a Friend

February 12, 2017:

Obadiah Stane invites Hikari Hataori over to measure him for a new suit, while he concludes she measures up for a far different job.

Stark Tower

Obadiah's office and dressed down command center.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Pepper Potts

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

High class clients often ask for house calls of a sort. This one has asked for something altogether different: An office visit. Obadiah Stane stands waiting in what could be described as one of the few magical castles on Earth, towering high against the New York skyline, it is the ever-present symbol of something, someone, watching over the city. Perhaps even the world.

Stark Tower is a marvel of modern science and engineering, and every step through the place is a wonder to behold. Even the elevator is nice enough to answer questions: A test run of a new AI program, and eventually, it will let Hikari Hataori off at the appropriate floor.

One might expect an office, and it is. Mostly. Consuming this entire side of the building, it is a stately space that is big enough to live in, and Obadiah often does some days. At the far end of the room is a desk that faces the elevator entrance, finished to look older than it is, but having all the modern conveniences that Stark Super-Technology can provide.

To Hikari's left is an area with half a dozen televisions, all muted, with various news feeds and other information, and in front of it is a couch, two chairs, and a small coffee table, all set two steps into the floor.

Obadiah is standing at his desk, looking at a holographic representation of something or other, his cigar billowing the sweet, haughty scent of something exotic, from half a world away. Even when he's at this best, Obadiah is still breaking the law, his foot tapping on the floor and his knuckles rapping on his desk as he leans in to stare at some important detail or other. He's dressed much as he usually is, though his jacket is currently slung over the arm of one of the chairs in the 'living' area, his back to Hikari, oblivious, it would seem, to her approach.

Indeed, Hikari is no stranger to the phenomenon of house calls. Not everybody is able (or willing) to come to her studio in M-Town! But the district does have a reputation for cutting-edge design and a sort of 80s East Village street cred.

She doesn't wear a business suit to the meeting with this 'Mister Stane' because A) they make her look forty years old and B) they're not comfortable, and she needs to be able to move to take measurements the old-fashioned way. Instead she wears something a bit more anachronistic, easier to move around in (and, she thinks, absolutely adorable on her).

A pair of loose painter's slacks (in a bright, gentle floral print) held up by suspenders, the pockets hiding some of the tools of her trade. A pale, pale lavender button-up shirt a size too large with the sleeves rolled up halfway. Dansko clogs in a subdued rose pink. Her hair (pink today) tied back in a loose ponytail, held back with a scarf. The messenger bag she's brought holds her sketchbooks, a tablet, several kinds of pencil, and her lunch (tuna salad on wheat).

She'd left her house feeling pretty confident, and though Stark Tower is a monolith against the New York skyline, she somehow doesn't feel cowed by it. This appointment could change her life. She hopes Steve Rogers said nice things about her!

The office is bigger than her parent's living room and her attic bedroom combined, and she could probably still find a space to cram her M-Town studio into a corner or something. Hikari takes a moment, while Stane's back is turned, to ogle it a bit before schooling her features into something a hair more professional. She takes a single step into the room and knocks gently on the doorframe. "Excuse me, Mister Stane? I'm Hikari Hataori. You made an appointment?"

There's a straightening to his posture when he hears the knock over the din of his music. Something modern, it seems. Borrowed from one of the interns. It's almost as if he hears the knock, but not quite, and when he presses a button to turn off his music and turns to glance over his shoulder he brightens the room with his easy manner and inviting, fatherly smile.

"Ms. Hataori! Welcome, come on in…" One hand emphatically waves her closer while the other puts out his cigar in a recessed ashtray, which closes over it. He even waves some of the smoke away. "You'll have to forgive me one of my few vices, I lost track of the time. This new watch…"

He shakes his head, staring down at it, giving it a tap. "Tony's always fiddling with it, and every time he seems to turn off my notifications." A hand claps over the watch fully as he regards her, his expression caught between some transition or another. "Can I get you anything? A drink or something?"

He doesn't move from the desk, because Hikari is here for business, and that's where he conducts most of it. Though it looks like he'll stay on the side closest to her, since she needs to take measurements. It's an almost absent gesture that brings his hand behind him, waving the hologram away. Did one of the holographic documents have an Avengers symbol on it? Maybe Steve /did/ mention her!

She doesn't know the song in question, but her tastes are a little unusual compared to most girls her age. Huh, she hadn't known what to think about him based on his invitation alone - just that Obadiah Stane is a businessman that works with Tony Stark, whom she also knows little about - but he projects an air of such easy hospitality that it's hard to not like him!

"No need to worry! Everybody's got at least /one/ vice." Hikari waits until she's beckoned closer, stepping down into the recessed area of the floor on light feet despite the clunky look of her shoes. The watch is given a curious look - she'll have to remember to include it in her designs and account for its aesthetic. "If it's not too much trouble a glass of water would be really great."

Her head tilts at the sudden vanishing hologram act. Wow… she really /is/ inside Stark Tower…!

She unslings the messenger bag from around her shoulders, holding it easily by the wide strap. "I know you must be very busy, so I'll do my best to not take up too much of your time so you can get on with your day. Would you like to tell me a little bit about what you'd like to have done?" She assumes she is here for clothing. She is usually in place for clothing.

When Hikari asks for water, Obadiah moves to a small place just off of the living area, producing a bottle from cooler set into the counter there, and then he even gets a glass, careful to drop a few ice cubes without cracking them. He gives them a swirl before he moves back to where they'll be working, carefully setting her glass down - a glass usually used for hard liquor - and pouring about a third of the bottle into it.

"Thankfully you asked for the only drink I really know how to make. Other than dry Scotch or the occasional White Russian, I'm mostly useless as a bartender."

He'll hand over the glass then, a napkin laid out on his desk to use as a makeshift coaster.

A finger comes up then, to scratch at the side of his face through his beard, and then he reaches down to his middle, which has become a bit soggy as of late, giving it a pat. "I sat there this morning, staring into the mirror, thinking about this meeting. I'd heard you do great pattern work from a colleague of mine in Gotham, and I had my mind set on a small run of ties. Some for me, some for Tony, a few to give out as gifts. But honestly, Ms. Hataori.. I think I need a new suit. Something a little more up to date than I'm used to. But there's a little catch." He raises a hand and then brings up another hologram from his desk. "You see, Tony lines all of our clothing with a bullet resistant micro-polymer. It's incredibly thin but whatever we get made, we have to make sure it can stand up to the process. Unless, of course, you yourself have the ability to make.. sturdier garments."

The way he looks at her then, the lift of his brows, an undercurrent of mystery. Is that hope? Is this more than a meeting about a few ties or a new suit jacket?

Somehow, he makes pouring a glass of water seem like an act of culture. The steps taken, the care given to the ice cubes. You can learn a lot from observing the simplest of acts…

She supposes that some people must ask for drinks other than water, but liquor? Huh… It… hadn't really occurred to her! Besides, she's not quite twenty yet, and if she's going to experiment with drinking it's darn well not going to be 'in a high rise office with one of the most prestigious clients she may ever meet'.

"Thank you," she beams at him before taking a long sip. Fuwaaaaa, it's clean and cold! Hikari does not look at his middle, because he is a man of a certain age. Knowing that she came recommended brings a faint pink glow to her cheeks, somewhere between pride and pleasure. "I'd be very happy to work with you on the ties as well as a new suit, if you'd like," she nods, because ties are pretty fun! "They were one of the first things I learned to sew, because I wanted to make one for my father." She wonders briefly if he's aware of the Hataoris as a whole. They're hardly a household name for anybody but those in love with cloth… or those who do a little research, because she made sure to have a 'History of Hataori' section on her website. What, she's a Hataori in fine standing! She's allowed.

Hikari takes another sip of water before carefully setting the glass down on the napkin. A special fabric, huh…? "If a needle can pierce it, I can do what you need me to," she nods at him, with all the confidence of someone who has spent half her (short) life honing a single craft. She's about to open her big mouth again when she interprets the tilt of his eyebrows, the shift of his voice.

Unseen by all but the most observant, she stiffens momentarily. What does he mean? Who has he spoken to? It's hardly a secret that she works out of Mutant Town… but that she herself is a mutant… well, Hikari's never been great at keeping secrets from anybody but her parents. "…Can you explain a little bit about what that means?" she asks, but her tone is open and unguarded. She… really just wants to know.

Obadiah gives a small smile when she mentions her father, and nods at the description of her capability. There's a moment there, at her pointed question, when he looks like he might give the lion's smile and back away. Wave it off. Maybe they'd talk another day, when he can better approach the subject. Instead he looks like he's considering, measuring the weight of the world on his shoulders, and then he leans back against the desk, his weight resting on the edge. "I get worried. The work we do here, in this building, is about saving the world. Some of that is saving it from dangerous we - Tony and I - are responsible for. Weapons. Proliferation."

His arms cross, as the subject becomes suddenly serious, one that he's forced to explain before he gets to the meat of his reason for asking about special fabrics. "Mostly I get worried for Tony. He hasn't much use for needle and thread these days. He's got a suit of armor, and that's where his mind goes.. day in, day out. Working on upgrades." A beat. "I worry about him getting carried away, that as he invents things, something Human gets lost in the translation."

Finally, he fixes her with a pointed look. "If I'm being perfectly honest, Ms. Hataori, I didn't just invite you here because of your skill. Not /just/. I'm impressed with your work, I've seen samples up close. But more impressive is your reputation as a human being. It's not been lost on the people who've had a chance to know you, the designer with a golden smile."

He lifts his arms, up and out, taking on the posture of someone who's had their measurements taken before. "I'm wondering if you might be able to spare one day a week - I can send a car for you. You'd work here, in Stark Tower. With Tony. Maybe help him add a little humanity to what he's doing. That certain something metal and gears just can't account for. I think it'd be good for him.. and you'd have a chance to help shape one of the greatest minds of our time."

She knows a little bit about Stark Industries, the way one knows about Halliburton and Monsanto and Lockheed-Martin. But so unlike the other names she can think of, Stark actually had something of a change of heart. To simply… stop producing weapons, to shift the entire focus of a company founded on that principle… it would be like the entire Hataori family deciding to give up textiles. To live only on the weight of the reputation you had built in an entirely different field, tilted one way or another by the force of a single man's public personality…

It's beyond radical. It's really, really close to being Crazy Talk. And yet somehow, this man and Tony Stark had accomplished it.

Hikari draws her messenger bag up into both arms, holding it while she listens and thinks. If there's nothing human left in Iron Man, what do you get? The robot who keeps killing guys like RIGHT NEXT TO HER AND GETTING BRAIN JUICE IN HER HAIR. Her lips twitch faintly. She can't let another of those maniacs come into existence!!

"You're looking for the human element," Hikari nods slowly, fingers gently creasing the nylon fabric of her bag. And then that gentle pink glow turns into a brilliant flush of red when he calls her /that/. OMG WHO DOES THAT? Can she put it on a business card?!
After a deep breath to clear her mind a little (and give herself .5 seconds to think about it), Hikari nods. "Y-yes. I don't know much about helping to shape a mind but they clothes make the man, so…" Great. She's babbling. "But yes, I would love that arrangement."

She will not squeal like a cheerleader. She will NOT.

Speak of the devil and…well something is bound to happen. Espicially when the devil in this case seems to be one Tony Stark. The doors to Obadiah's office fly open and in strolls the man himself. Dressed down, t-shirt. Jeans. The glowing light of the arc-reactor showing though the black fabric of his shirt.

Behind him follows an odd sight. A…well it looks like a gauntlet from his iron man suit. But its just slowly hovering though the air behind him.

At his other shoulder is a little hover-drone. A bit more conventional looking, except its wearing a tiny little dunce hat.

Apparently it did something wrong.

"Hey Obi! I needed to talk to you about a thi—" Stark just starts right into whatever he was on about, right up till he gets distracted by the fact his BEST DAD FIGURE has a friend over.

Blink. Blink.

"Soooooooooo." Now distracted. "Whose your friend?"

The too-tight smile that Obadiah offers Tony when he comes barging in, those lifted brows and the slight incline of his head. It's that private way of saying 'Now now, Tony, be on your best behavior.' But it's brief, a force of habit. When not in mixed company, Obadiah and Tony work in lock step, but with someone else here, they can't exactly jump to shop talk.

Yet.

Obadiah's smile transforms into something more sincere as his arms drop and he looks back to Hikari. "He's like a homing beacon for other geniuses. Which means I can walk around this place like I were a stealth fighter. You though, well. I'd get used to this." His wink is in jest, and then he reaches out to give a guiding hand to Hikari, to bring her round to meet Tony face to face. "Someone with a better fashion sense than both of us. Because she /invents/ fashion sense. Tony Stark, meet Hikari Hataori. I sent you that information on her family when you were looking into the SHIELD collaboration on combat suits for agents."

No doubt, one of many things Obadiah has sent Tony that Tony did not read. They had eventually taken that project off the table - to much to do with world security, but now that they had a moment to breath. A moment to relax, Obadiah was going to see to it that Tony did not dive off the deep end again.

"I was just talking to her about a little bit of business. I mentioned you were a bit of a fashion designer yourself. More metal than anything else. We've had that intern spot open for awhile and I was thinking, Hikari here…"

It's the first time he's used her first name.

"I think she'd be a perfect fit. I know, I know.. you'd /tabled/ it, but /Tony/…" The slight, stern way he says it, his eyes going just a little wide as he steps in, but to the side of them, a bridge between the two. "…you were always at your best with Pepper at your side to bounce some ideas off of, and these things;" He indicates Dunce and Fingers. "are a poor substitute."

Buh? She has the grace to not jump when the doors fly open, because she is a Professional, darn it, and there's a little hoverbot and why is it wearing a—

Oh. Perhaps it did something wrong?

"Mister Stark," Hikari greets him, soon carried along on the current of Obadiah's silver tongue working its magic. "A ge—" N, no way…

This is how they do it, she realizes, watching the two men interact. Force of personality alone would do it, but Stane has the manner of water flowing around boulders. He doesn't force, he coaxes and directs. She can see it when his attention is turned onto Tony.

They must work really well with each other. No wonder Stark Industries always seems light years ahead of everybody else. Like attracts like, but the truly successful have dynamic interplay. Someone to aim the cannon, to saddle the horse. …Wait, she doesn't like that phrase. Hmmm…

Meanwhile, the compliments keep piling up; Hikari looks like her face will NEVER go back to a normal, non-pink color. "I… thank you."

She just got blown right away!
I don't see that here.

"Huh," Tony's first reaction is fairly non-comittal. His quick mind thinking it over. "She's not a SHIELD agent is she? Cause if she is you know I'll find out." A pause. "I mean I didn't find Natasha out but /comeon/ thats Natasha." A slight pause before the rapid clip of words comes flooding out again. "I mean I only ask because the last…three? Something like that assistants I had were all SHIELD agents. Might be nice to have a change. I mean that was why I nixed the intern position in the first place."

Hands slide into his pockets as he looks between Ribbon and Stane for a moment.

And for the record? This is totally him on best behavior.

"And these totally arn't a sub for Pepper. Did you tell her that? She's already mad at me for crashing into the Hudson, but I sware I had the stability systems down before I launched." He adds before turning towards Ribbon. "And pleasure to meet you, Tony Stark. I'm sure you knew that already. At least I'm guessing."

He doesn't reach out to shake hands, but the floating gauntlet comes floating up to shake hands. Its polite like that.

…this is pretty much a crash course in working for Stark.

"You're welcome, and sure. You're hired. What can you do again?"

Dunce the drone wobbles a hello to her as well, because he's also polite like that.

There's really no use in giving Tony an answer to a specific question, because he's going and going and going, and Obadiah beams a smile as he swears off assistants, laments SHIELD Agents, and ultimately hires Ribbon.

"Don't worry about what I've told Pepper." There's a bit of chastisement there, and Obi moves away, over to his little bar. When he returns it's with two more glasses, and another bottle of water. He repeats his ritual, uncracked ice, the slow pour to make sure the ice won't melt to quickly.

He'll be at their side in a moment, and he offers Tony the water without a second thought. "She's like you, Tony. She's an engineer, and a designer. Not a mechanical one, but if she were that wouldn't be much use to you, right? Think of her as Iron Man's personal stylist. But from the ground up. Someone to bounce ideas off of. As for the specifics of what Hikari can do, now that she's family, I'll let her fill in all the details."

There's a slow sip from his glass then, the pull of water against his upper lip and the grey hairs there, distracting from the way his gaze moves between them. This work, Tony's work, was so very important. But he needed more than his work to care about.

This would be a good start.

Hikari only has three words of wisdom for a situation like this. "What's a SHIELD?"

It's interesting to note to herself just how the dynamic in the room has changed since Tony Stark arrived. Her interactions with Obadiah had been affable, designed to make her comfortable and put her at ease. Tony Stark comes in like a wrecking ball, though thankfully less naked than Miley Cyrus. "Hikari Hataori," she manages to introduce herself, because she does know who Tony Stark is. And she shakes the floating robot hand because she is a polite young woman,and you shake hands when you are supposed to!!

The ritual of pouring water eases her mind a bit, because it's another thing done with measured steps. These two are complete opposites on the outside, aren't they. But at least Obadiah seems to know exactly how to handle everything.

She's reminded, somehow, of her mother's expression about 'herding cats'…!

Thankfully, however, she gets a chance to explain herself. This is something she can do! "I design, fabricate, and repair clothing for all kinds of people. My specialty is in working with people who have unusual body types and sizes, which is why I work out of a studio in Mutant Town." Among other reasons. "Mister Stane has offered—"

And Tony Stark also hires her, just like that.

She's left standing in front of his desk, blinking like someone who doesn't understand quite how she got here. But look, the little robot with the dunce hat is saying hello!! "Oh, hi!" she beams at it, uncertainty semi-forgotten in the face of Robot Friendship.

"Big conspiricy spanning group dedicated to making my life more intresting," At least thats how Tony sees it. "I'm sure it'll be in some kind of briefing." A glance towards Obadiah. "There should be a briefthing? Right?" Then those sharp eyes go back towards Ribbon.

Tony, rushing headlong into everything. Obadiah quietly channeling the way forwards for the non-stop whirlwind that is an overactive Stark.

Its a full time job really.

"Huh, fabrication and style? Well I mean I do like my suits…all my suits…to have the best style available. Someone told me Shotty was bland looking. Maybe you can jazz him up a bit."

Dunce bobbles a bit more and then does a slow circle in responce to the greeting.

"I think he likes you." Tony remarks before he shrugs slightly. "Alright then!" There is a russle of plastic as the man pulls a bag of trail mix out of his back pocket. "Chocolate covered coffee beans?" He offers the both of them as he pops a few into his mouth. Then looks back towards the door.

"JARVIS! Draw up some credentials for H here," He gestures towards Hikari. "And I'll introduce her to the rest of the family."

There is a beatpause, and then the air itself seems to answer.

"/All/ of the 'family', sir?"

A pause from Tony. "Naw, don't want to overwhelm her on the first day. Just bring up Shotgun." He finally decides before he turns towards the door. "Come on then! I'll show ya round."

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