A Match Made In Hellfire

April 09, 2017:

Emma Frost comes to Stark Tower to have lunch with Obadiah Stane and discuss the Hellfire Club

Stark Tower - Obadiah's Office


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Iron Man, Lucky Yin


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Stark Tower.

A blight upon the New York Skyline for some. A bastion of hope for others.

For Obadiah it is his home away from home. Or perhaps just his home. The amount of time he spends here is excessive to say the least, and Tony has made certain that he had full autonomy in his space concerns. One half of this floor, situated just below the R&D levels of Stark Tower, is devoted to space for Stane to run Tony’s anti-proliferation initiative. It is a meeting place, a command center, and an office proper, but really it almost feels like neither.

The elevators open into a small courseway with sliding glass doors that will part as soon as Emma approaches. Inside is a long, well lit room dressed in cool greys and warm lighting, a juxtaposition that casts the room in a homely feel. A few feet inside, and a few steps will lead to an area with couches and a few chairs, along with a table. Monitors and holo-displays dominate the wall across from this area, showing readouts and news reports from across the world. One can easily walk around it - there’s a pathway that leads straight across to the office proper, where a desk faces the door leading in, and floor to ceiling windows allow Obadiah a view to kill for.

There are other doors in the office, but they are closed, and a small area behind the living area where a wet bar is present.

Obadiah, for his part, is in the middle of arranging an elaborate dining arrangement in the little living area, which includes an actual basket - as in a picnic basket - paper plates and all. It’s clear that Obadiah isn’t used to setting up lunch dates himself, and he fusses over the details, making sure the table is raised, and the chairs set just so. Out comes potato salad and wrapped up sandwiches, the latter placed on a central platter, while the former snags his tie.

It’s in this precarious position that Emma Frost will find him, his jacket tossed on the couch to the side, and a napkin working at his tie as if it were salvageable.

It’s almost endearing, a man doing the work himself.

When Emma Frost is shown in, announced and following behind whatever assistant must surely be on duty, the most sure sign of her presence is the militaristic clack of her towering stiletto heels. She’s all official-looking, in her well-tailored pants suit and her hair pulled up in a no-nonsense French twist.

“My, my,” is the first thing spoken, her lips curling upwards in a mark of quiet amusement as she lifts a bottle of a prized chardonnay from her cellar and tilts it to one side. “I didn’t even think to ask if it would go. You’ll have to forgive me.”

There’s a pause as she draws closer, her mind inevitably going to the places that it so often goes: to the man’s own. She dances around its perimeter for surface thoughts, and to make certain that she has all of the nearby bodies accounted for.

Her chin tucks and, as the assistant leaves, the green curves of the wine bottle with its parchment hued label is held up for inspection. “And now it must serve as host gift and apology for the high price our meeting has already exacted from your poor tie.”

Oddly enough, there are no assistants on staff today. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a station for one anywhere. Access to his office seems to be controlled via the elevator, and perhaps by Obi himself. Then again, it might be the duty of JARVIS or another AI program. Emma will know about his work, and how sensitive it is. Maybe that's why he can't have an assistant. At least not one outside his office. As she delves into his surface thoughts, she will find a man befuddled with himself, lamenting a time when he was smooth as silk. When he could run a business meeting and look like a God by the time he was finished. Now, he's dipping his tie in their lunch. There's an exasperation to it, the way his hands come out to the side, his tie given up on, and then they slap back to his sides.

"There's nothing for it. I have information streaming from across the globe, three tactical teams in position to take down a major arms deal, and a surveillance op on a dirty German hotel owner who's been running guns through his lobby. And yet, the potato salad defeats me." It takes him all of ten seconds to pull his tie off, and on his way to the bar to get a pair of glasses he drops it in a trash can. It isn't until he returns that he sizes her up, narrowing his eyes on her hair before he reaches for her bottle of wine.

"And a gift greatfully accepted to help me salvage my wardrobe catastrophe. But enough about how very bad I am at serving lunch. I promise, my tie adding a little flavor not withstanding, the sandwiches and potato salad are excellent. They have this place downstairs, at the base of the tower. Open air, they make these picnic baskets to try and make the office feel a little less stuffy. I've always thought it was a little.. absurd?" His brows lift he plucks his little multitool in his pocket produces a corkscrew, and he opens the bottle in a practiced move. "..but what do I know? It's got me out of my jacket and tie already." He's all smiles now, his exasperation faded, though she'll notice how surprised he is at her office wear. He's seen her dress exactly as she likes at certain functions, and while he was never one to stare, oddly, her current outfit reminds him of something. Someone. It's a brief image, a a blond woman, perhaps in her mid twenties.

"You're looking well. I take it the world is turning at just the right pace and everyone at the Club, other than one too-ambition hacker, is in their place?" Well, he seems to know already. No doubt, Tony does too.

No doubt. There’s a twitch at the corner of Emma’s mouth, subtle and hopefully missed, as she holds her smile. “I always look well,” she tells him, her tone amused. …Most likely, amused. “Despite the very best efforts of would-be men of ambition.”

Delicately, the woman alights herself on one of the chairs—set out just so—and crosses her legs with the same awareness for perfect artistic line and angle. The suit wraps a woman who remains just as keenly focused on outward appearances as ever. It really speaks more of a board meeting than anything else. Another day, another mask, another costume.

“As for the lunch? As long as the conversation remains engaging, a great many forgivenesses can be made for a little absurdity. And the wine will be good.”

Leaning forward, a movement that draws a momentary emphasis to the just-barely-within-the-constraints-of-conservative plunge of her jacket and silk shell’s cut, she lifts both glasses and tilts them so that her host can pour, and the wine can set itself to the very important task of breathing.

“Was there something in particular that we should be discussing today, Mister Stane?”

The task before him, he pours the wine, his smile diminished just a little as he gets over his tie mishap and figures out how to be a proper host again. The topic of conversation comes up, and his surface thoughts do a dance, one part errant hacker. One part ambition. But neither holds malice. However he feels about the eager-to-please operative that broke into their systems, he must not have taken it personally. "Just some catching up. Tony doesn't pay all that much attention to what happens at the Hellfire club. Though the recent incident, I'm sure, is on his radar. It caught my eye but I don't usually intervene unless Tony or Pepper are busy. We're share holders, not corporate security. Still, audacity has it's limits." With the wine left to breath he indicates her seat, and then takes his own. The table is small enough that they can both reach anything they like, and Obi goes for a still-paper wrapped sandwich, and some of his menacing potato salad.

"Beyond that, the organization itself. More and more of the business here is automated. I'm was never much of a golfer. And so my attention turns and turns. I do often wonder who's helping you these days." He leaves her comment about male ambition alone, though he does wonder how much of that is aimed at the Inner Circle. It isn't for him to glance that high, or that far, but certainly he has some of the attributes for someone willing to ascend.

Maybe that's what this is really about. Emma could always look deeper. But then, Obi might notice.

"Of course if you find these topics tedious, we could talk about business here and I could lul you into a pleasant, dreamless sleep." He smiles at his little joke about how boring it all is, and then he peels back the paper on his sandwich.


And she very well might look deeper, but it’s a slow process. Her own mind is like the lapping tide of the ocean, gently finding the lay of the coast. Emma Frost can be, when the mood suits her, excruciatingly patient.

“Helping me where, Mister Stane? At Frost? No,” she continues playfully, even as she sets the glasses down to aerate. One in front of herself and one in front of him “You mean the Club.”

She takes a deep breath, and then offers her thoughts plainly on the matter as she too begins to arrange the meal just so in front of herself and visually dissects the contents. “Not nearly enough bodies, that’s who. Particularly since I’m looking to throw something of a soiree in the next few weeks. Charitable thing. Dreadfully dull to most. More dull, some would say, than your business affairs.”


His thoughts turn to that woman again. The one that Emma will have seen only ever so briefly. Whitney. That's her name. It'll click then, the love he feels for her, the pride. Whitney is his daughter. Wits, he used to call her. As bright as Tony and then some. But his divorce was messy, and he was never around. Not like he should have been. Her voice. Her face. Before the patient, lapping wave of her mind will know it, it's being pulled down the drain of that despair, crushing and heart wrenching. Never knowing what it is until it's gone. An ocean away. He wasn't at her graduation, years ahead of the class. He wasn't there for her when she began her own endeavors in business and technology. It isn't until all of her achievements have run out that she'll see his son.



His gaze snaps up from his sandwich, eyes ticking over her own. Then past her, as if looking for someone at the elevator. "I was just thinking."

There's a beat, a beat where she can't hear anything from his mind but a song. Something modern. Something up beat. The tactic of someone who knows their mind is being watched. But then, the hole of regret that the memory of his daughter tried to pull her into never should have happened. Another tactic, perhaps? Something conditioned to let him know when he's being watched? Still. He must not be sure of the source.

If he knows of her power, he does not accuse.

"I have a few favors that need calling in before they, or their owners, expire. Pockets deep enough for what you're planning, I think. Perhaps even a few prospects for membership. Diverse enough that the conversation won't be fixated on pharma or textiles or market futures alone." A recruiter he is not. Not really. At least, not until now. Before he had so much on his plate, helping run the company that occupies a large portion of this building. Now he seems as if he has the time, and perhaps the opportunity.

Just thinking? No, he’s not, and that’s a problem. But he doesn’t accuse, and she doesn’t offer an explanation.

Simply enough, Emma expertly extricates herself to the confines of her own mind. She momentarily considers the sandwich… and then picks up her wine glass instead. “Is everything alright?”

“If now isn’t the best time to speak galas, I can always come back. But you know me…” or, she hopes, he really doesn’t, “I can hardly turn down the opportunity for a good bit of networking. A few deep pockets to help with some disaster relief. And, if the blood is good enough, I suppose we could let your colleagues join you in our halls as your guests, hm? See how the ambiance suits them?”

The pale gold in her cup is swirled pensively, and her icy gaze locks upon it. “The Hellfire Club does offer, after all, the very best party in town.” Her kohl-framed eyes lift to regard the businessman before her, pointedly. “Just so long as they’re discreet.”

Her manicured hand lifts the cup in it, tilting it in Stane’s direction. “Bon santé, she coos. Start with the booze, then move to food. Best plans start that way.

"No. I mean yes." He begins in a way that helps him shake the distraction from his mind, and with a shake of his head that's slow and apologetic, he lifts a hand, and then reaches for his wine. "I just remembered something I needed to do today. Family matter. It can wait." There's still something there, radiating from him. A lingering suspicion. But unfocused. After all, if he's had training to at least notice such incursion, he has probably been under such attack before. Given the company he keeps in Tony Stark, it's really no wonder.

"I think the gala could be exactly what you want it to be. An audition from some of the most influential people in the world. A way to make sure the charity fund bursts at the seems. A way to show you just one small way I can be an asset to you and the club, if you'll let me."

It isn't until Emma's toast that his eyes regain some of their fire, that hint of a man who really doesn't get to socialize in any real way as much as he likes, and despite losing his tie to the potato salad and losing some of his concentration to a certain distraction, he seems more himself now. His glass raises, and then he takes a sip, his brows lifting as soon as Emma's offering touches his taste buds.

"Wow. This is a dangerous game you're playing, Emma Frost." His voice is almost mocking, and as his gaze rises from the glass to meet her own, it might seem like something meant to hold a double meaning. But a small smile that ticks his cheeks up and lifts his brow shows how much he enjoys the wine, and that his accusation was in fact just a joke. "Now I might expect a bottle every time you drop by."

A wink and a sip. “The best games always are a little dangerous, Mister Stane.”

The words continue in a warm murmur, Emma swaying her crossed legs playfully. “And if bringing along a bottle of wine that I enjoy is the ante, I think it’s one that I can readily afford.” She takes a breath as though to say something more, but then pauses. After biting her lip, she changes tack, leaning forward a little as she drapes herself over one arm of her seat casually.

“So let’s see who you can bring. Even if they’re not necessarily the best fit for our little social gatherings, I’m certain that they’ll at least be good company for these areas of mutual philanthropic interest. There’s a good deal to be said for attendees who won’t render you comatose if you happen to end up at their table at a banquet, hm?”

She doesn’t linger long on that thought, however, before she sips—deeply and unapologetically—again from her cup.

“Are you looking to spend a little more time at the Club?”

When Emma accepts the offer, his lips pull into a thin smile, because he knows what's at stake. He told her he could solve her problem, and he can. He can probably even sweeten the pot, just a little. The way his head inclines towards his wine, that long pause after her question, his wrinkles showing in his forehead. "You sit back and think about all the things you've done. Bad things. Good things. Kids. All of it. You realize that you can still only do so much to leave a mark on the world. Painters do it, even painters who aren't famous will have their works floating out there forever. Maybe I can do some of that with the club."

There's a pause, and when he looks to his plate it's to consider his sandwich, and then decide that lunch isn't at all on his mind. Just the future. His eyes find her own again, and she can see his desire to do more. "Not just time. Effort too. The gala is just the start, as long as you'll have me. Chasing terrorists around the world is a young man's game, and I can help them. Direct them. But I've learned that all work and no play, well. We know how that goes. Besides, there's a physical limit to the amount of nonsense you can put up with on your own. Internal squabbles and little things like this Lucky fellow and Tony. I'm sure the small fires can be fun to stamp out with just the right set of heels, but no doubt you'd love to have someone who can use a boot, too, when it's needed."

He leans back a little, tilts his wine glass towards his nose, and then has a another sip, savoring Emma's gift once more. "But I don't want to be presumptuous. I'll do as much or as little as you like. And since I'll be bringing a rogue's gallery of influence to your doorstep, I can make sure security is handled too. It's the least I can do given some of the egos involved."

The blonde’s eyes narrow a little as she considers her host just a degree more closely. And then her lips tug unevenly in a half-smirk.

“Well, let’s start with the gala, shall we? See where it goes from there?”

One more sip and Emma is willing to set down her cup and finally pick up one of the sandwiches. She leans forward and bites from it with a supreme care, because insisting on wearing white in the daylight as regular wear requires a particular brand of meticulousness.

She looks at it, as if a little surprised that it’s not horrible. She then turns her attention back to the matter at hand. Talking. She was talking.

“But I’m certainly open to a wide world of possibilities,” she continues, although her tone becomes seasoned with a pinch of conspiracy. “After all, who doesn’t want to have a name that lasts for forever?”

There's a bite or two of his sandwich once he finally decides he does need to eat. It'd been a long morning before Emma got here and it was showing in some of the weary edges he carried like a badge of honor. But maybe those always showed. "Emma Frost eating picnic food, JARVIS, make sure you're recording this." He looks up and raises a finger in jest, but the AI that runs the building, even shows on displays in the elevator, does not respond. He'd asked for privacy today.

"I imagine Tony wishes his name wouldn't last forever every time he has to look at a parking violation." His quip is crisp and practiced as he makes light of the Stark name, and how it used to stand for so much more. But that was a much different time. But Obadiah will get it cleaned up. Given time. "Though in this case, Tony's name might come in handy. He's been making all sorts of new and interesting friends. I might get a few more checkbooks to open if one or two distinguished guests can attach their names to the event. Perhaps Steve Rogers? Maybe even that big fellow that Peggy Carter is dating. Thor, I think? I don't keep close tabs but I was asked to keep an eye on her. I know it's not business as usual but for a special event, why not bring on the rare exotic treasures the world has to offer." His brows lift, and he leans in for conspiracy, and his expression sets into something almost grim.

"Though, I am somewhat worried. This means I have to have my tuxedo refitted. The last time I wore it, we were still selling missiles around here, and not trying so very hard to wipe them out. And I suppose I should find a plus one, someone who won't mind a thousand introductions and my very bad jokes."

As Stane remarks upon her eating picnic food, Emma levels at him the full weight of an expression that feigns offense with a frown and an upward lift of one sculpted eyebrow. ’Don’t you dare tell anyone,’ it warns archly—if silently—as she sets the sandwich down, abandoning the traitorous thing that threatens all appearances of refinement.

Stark’s name earns forgiveness for Frost’s host, however, and her demeanor immediately and visibly brightens with a cheshire smile of amusement. Stark is a name she knows all-too-well, but the same could be said for half the civilized world. For the moment, she leaves the depths of her familiarity unknown. “All of that sounds absolutely delightful. Larger names are better anyway. I was rather hoping that the Hellfire Club could not be so much a headline sponsor as a…” A soft hand twirls loosely in the air as the young woman thinks and searches for the right phrasing.

When she does, she then unfurls that hand in Obadiah’s direction as though to present it for inspection. “As a silent partner. We do tend, after all, to frown on drawing too much attention to ourselves as a recreational organization. We know we did our part. That’s enough for us.”

Picking the wine glass back up, the White Queen then leans backwards into her chair and drapes an arm over one side of it as she continues to sip away at the dry contents.

“Of course, I’m certain you already knew that. Or else you wouldn’t have managed to get through the process and into a membership.”

It takes every ounce of self control to not look ever so amused when she discards the sandwich, and the way he smiles cuts through the gruff edges of his beard in a way that shows the shape of his cheeks. It lets his humanity over shine this talk of business, because it is business. The wheels turn on what he might be able to arrange for the Gala, and then he nods along at her description of the event. Not run by the club. Cosponsors. Arranged behind the scenes.

"Oh, I'm versed enough. I was never one to climb ranks. Far to much work, and the influence I gathered during the course of the work was enough for me to give back when I needed. It might be time to change the first part of that equation, but I won't ever change the second. In that regard, if you'd rather not use a location that the club owns, I have it on very good authority that the Stark Expo revitalization has already completed work on the gardens. Something Tony's been working on, a surprise for later this year."

Once upon a time the Stark Expo was a wonder of the world. After Howard's death, not so much. But it seems like plans are in work already to bring a grand return, and it could be that the Hellfire Club's many guests might not only get a taste of superhero company, but a preview of a grand reopening no one yet knows about.

“Oh, really?”

Now that has Emma’s attention, and her thoughts churn much more quickly than the wine that she continues to idly roll around the sides of her glass. “And you think that he might allow use of it? It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to Mister Stark. You manage to pull that off, and a god as a guest beside, that would be very impressive, Mister Stane.”

The businesswoman shrugs one shoulder non-committedly. “See what you can do? I think that would be a very interesting angle. I’ve been quietly trying to get support for a charitable endeavor to handle those families displaced by the recent Mists and… well, general disaster. Rebuild some of the poorer neighborhoods. Encouraging public buy-in on some of the clean-up efforts. I have a whole map laid out of the areas where we wish to focus our attention, if you’re interested.”

The tone of her voice betrays that she might not care so much about those families involved as the necessary appearance of caring. Her next comment might cement that impression: “All very ‘kumbaya’.”


"Quite a useful disaster. The Maria Stark Memorial Children's Hospital is already treating some of the more interesting victims. Perhaps we can add them to that map, and I can start finding specific companies with spotless records of humanitarian outreach to help fast track the money to where it needs to go. One or two for each dot on your map. And of course the heads of those companies would be in attendance. People whom you might have an interest in speaking with for other reasons, Emma." Obadiah leaves that last part open to interpretation. Really, the whole gala is a cover to expand influence. Might as well make sure she has her choice of people to push on.

There's a sip to finish off his glass of wine, and then he leans forward a little, his brows lifting and pushing up the wrinkles on his forehead again. There's a cast to his gaze that is a little more serious. A little more on point. "I know it means shifting a little more heavy lifting my way. But I'm happy to do whatever needs doing. Besides, if I get to have a bigger hand in throwing the party, it means I get to choose the music. That part's a deal breaker. I can't stand the Eagles and there's no telling what someone's funny idea of a cover might bring. Don't worry, I won't ruin the kumbaya atmosphere. send over what you have,"

He leans back in his chair, reaches for his tie (an act of habit he can't help) and finds it does not exist. At least not on his neck. His brow crinkles and he looks disappointed, even frumpy, glaring sidelong at his tie and the stain that has ruined it. "either by courier or to my secure address. I'll make sure we get the right resources in place." The conversation had edged into party planning, and now sounded like he was preparing a raid on a warehouse somewhere. In their circles, maybe those things weren't so very different.

With names of the ilk that she’d like to see in attendance, they aren’t very different at all.

“Why, Mister Stane. I did not expect such a ready partner in the details of the event. Color me ‘pleased’.” A long draught empties her glass of wine, although Emma does attempt to at least be subtle about the swiftness of the measure. Her empty glass is set back down on the table between them, and she leans forward to lean on one upward turned fist.

“I’ll have my assistant see it safely into your hands.” And—as she considers the man for a moment, looking to lock onto his eyes with her icy own with a serpentine focus and a smile to match it—she can’t help but to let her mind stretch out just a little. She doesn’t need much, just a general assurance of sincerity. A feeling is all she needs.

“I confess that I very much look forward to seeing where this shared endeavor takes us.”

In turn, Obi leans in, and as he does she will feel his mind open. Feel around the edges for that sense that he might know she's prying. But it isn't there. There's just satisfaction in her company, and the ability to do something for someone who is an ally, with the hope that they might become a friend. Maybe he's growing soft in his old age, or maybe he's looking for someone to replace the children he displaced so long ago. Maybe he's just bored. She'd have to delve deeper to find out, but he'd probably know something was up again. He smiles as she talks about their shared endeavor, and his hands lift as if to present the table.

"If I can get you to eat a turkey sandwich on a paper plate, I'm sure I can serve you anything else you'd like on a silver platter. But don't go wishing to hard on where it takes us. Someone might ask me to dance at this thing, and then your regret will weigh heavy in your heart."

And if she's the one to do so, it'll weigh heavily on her toes too. A parting thought that breaks through his surface tension, something he thinks is a fitting end to a good lunch, with a plan well in hand and a path forward through any complications.

There’s a small tell, barely noticeable, that betrays her deeper considerations. The tiniest, most subtle lift of her lower lids. When paired with the soft and melodic laughter that follows, every bit as measured and considered as her physical appearance, it’s easy enough to miss. “Duly noted.”

She leaves the rest of her food untouched, but instead ducks down to claim her clutch purse that had been set at her feet. “Now, I do hate to this when you’ve been so kind as to set out lunch—although, not quite what I’m accustomed to for picnic fare,” because she can’t really look over the opportunity to be a snob twice when presented the open door to do so, “—and sacrifice a lovely silk tie to the myriad gods of the working luncheon, but I really should be running. I’ve another few things that require my attention before this evening, although they are certain to be less productive or pleasant.”

She rises then, sweeping a hand over her outfit and then extending it in Obadiah’s direction. “But I do hope to see you soon at the Club? Maybe after you’ve had an opportunity to look over the initial plans and have some thoughts to offer on the matter? And do make certain to enjoy the rest of the bottle of wine. It would be a shame for it to go to waste.”

There's something about watching Bob Ross work on a painting, each stroke of the brush a love note for the soul. It's the same when Yo-Yo Ma picks up the Cello and paints a picture for the human ear. When Emma comments on the food again, Obadiah can't help but smile at how very pure she is, in much the same way that Bob Ross and Yo-Yo Ma are pure at their art forms. The snob in Emma is immaculate, and Obi is in awe. He rises when she does, and finds her hand with a careful ease. "Absolutely. I'll take a look at everything and jot down my ideas. Next time it'll be dinner, and I'll make sure it's when Chef Morimoto is in town. He likes to cook for me because I can't but help laugh at all of his bad jokes. Really, Emma. Thank you for coming by. You're giving an old man hope he might still have some purpose left in him. I'll speak to Tony about the Expo, and be in touch."

There's no deception on him, nothing wafting into the mental miasma that often assaults telepaths when they aren't even trying. He's almost giddy at the chance to work on this project. Perhaps because of the power it might offer down the road, but there's something more personal there. Maybe he just wants to build something again. He'll let her hand go and see her to the door. It won't be until she's on the elevator and on her way that he turns thoughtful. Thinking back to the memory of Whitney. To the memory of.. his son, too.

"Well, Ordus. I supposed we should start a file." The AI he's been working on, that had been watching it all, responds in it's dour, tired tones. "As you wish, sir."

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