Late Night Tea With the Boss

April 27, 2017:

Rusalka Stojespal gets a chance to meet Pepper Potts, finding a new tea-snob friend.

Stark Industries

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Phil Coulson

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's almost Friday. It's almost Friday. Maybe if she keeps repeating that to herself, it'll make Friday get here faster. Pepper is in her office on Thursday evening, getting a few last tasks done before calling it a night. "FRIDAY, what happened to the brief from R&D that I requested an hour ago?"

"The brief is still sitting on Dr. Nakamura's desk, Miss Potts."

Pepper leans back in her chair and sighs. "Great. Can you have /someone/ grab it for me?"

"I'll see what I can do, Miss Potts."

Thursday night, late. Normally she'd be killing time going over textbooks, spending time with new friends, or getting ready for morning classes. Fortunately for Rusalka, the last part has effectively ended, at least as far as college is concerned. Instead, her Thursday night has wound down a long day of studying a lot of wild concepts in science and things that were way past what a typical eighteen year old thought about.

Of course, most of the engineers are out of the office by now, Tony Stark himself off…somewhere, doing Starkian things that only he knows, and she's studying the latest pile of screens he wants her to.. At least until there's a pinged note from FRIDAY - and it's time to play errand girl. Well, such is the life of the intern.

It doesn't take long for a certain Sokovian girl, expensive grey business suit fitted well to her frame, to find her way to Pepper Pott's office. FRIDAY helps, of course. A small knock at the door, waiting for the command to enter, before she'll stride in with the metal-foldered documents in hand. "Ma'am? I was told to bring you these."

Pepper glances up from her rapid-fire typing at the knock on the already open door to her office. "Oh, thank you." She resumes typing for two seconds then stops again and looks at Rusalka more directly. "I'm sorry, have we met before?"

The folder, full of whatever secret information that's way above Rusalka's entirely nonexistent paygrade, is held out to the other woman. If she doesn't take it, it'll settle in whatever might pass for an open space on the desk, or else an appropriate folder. Hands free, the girl steps back just a little when Pepper addresses her.

Bright blue eyes meet the other woman's gaze. "I don't…believe so, ma'am. Miss Potts, yes?" Dear god she hopes so, or else FRIDAY has a terrible sense of either direction or humor. Pranking the new girl wouldn't be unheard of, after all. Oh dear. "I was just brought in two days ago, by Mr. Stark. The internship program." She nods in greeting, not wanting to disturb the other woman too much - she is busy typing after all.

"Sally Stojespal, ma'am. Was there anything else you needed besides the files, then?" She looks down to the folder, certainly curious as to what's in it but wouldn't dare to peek. The movement gets a glint across the little lapel pin she wears, a family coat of arms - a Sokovian thing, probably.

It probably wouldn't be too hard to remember her if Pepper had been following the latest hirings - she'd come in at the same time Isa had demonstrated for Tony her own flight qualifications, and the pair had practically been taken on the spot. Though Sally must be a nickname, since all the documents had been signed with her full given name, in a fancy script in both English and Russian.

Pepper accepts the folder and sets it on one corner of her mostly organized desk. "Ms. Stojespal." She seems, suspicious perhaps? Glancing to one side, she looks at a holographic image no doubt being projected helpfully by one of the AIs in the building. It's the paperwork from her being hired as an intern, and Pepper's eyes skim the infomation at a pace most would consider too fast to read properly.

"Shockingly, your employment paperwork looks to be all in order. I'm guessing either JARVIS or FRIDAY helped Tony. Well." She looks at the intern again. "Do you prefer Sally, or Rusalka?" She pronounces the Sokovian name as if it were Spanish.

'Mostly Organized' tends to be a condition common to folks like them. Everything is ordered, stacked up neatly, just…easily at hand, in the last place it was put. Otherwise it's a rather nice desk, and someday Sally finds herself hoping for one like it. Maybe someday in twenty years.

The suspicious tone catches her attention, and brown eyebrows furrow slightly wondering. Did she do something wrong? Pepper skims…something; she can't see the holographic display. There's a momentary sense of doom coming, at the almost taciturn bearing. Maybe she's just overly nervous, Sally thinks.

Still, straightening up a little bit can't hurt things, even if she is in flats - all five foot seven of the girl is on display as if for parade review. Spasiba, mama… And then those blue eyes blink in surprise. "I believe he was speaking to FRIDAY, when we interviewed, ma'am, but. I was quite…thorough on the paperwork, though." Her voice is firm, actually, with a soft fluid Russian accent that speaks of her homeland.

"Sally, please. I ah…I'm not much of a mermaid or anything, I'm afraid. Family tradition." The last two words are said with a little tinge of distaste, before an apologetic smirk spreads on her face. In her defense she's not really to be blamed for her parents desire and obligations of an ancient lineage!

She gestures gently to the holograph, supposing that it's the employment paperwork in question. "I've had a little experience with paperwork and details, and as a foreign citizen. I had to go through the same with Agent Coulson, so it wasn't that bad a thing, really. My apologies, I'm babbling…"

Pepper actually smiles at the mention of Agent Coulson, then stands to step around her desk. She's not wearing any shoes. Presumably, they're still under her desk. And because of that, she's a few inches shorter than Sally. "Welcome to Stark Industries, Sally. And please, don't worry about babbling. We both work for Tony." She offers the younger woman a handshake, reaching with her other hand to pluck a handmade tea cup from her desk. "Would you care for some tea?"

There's a moment of surprise, but a little admission of agreement from the younger girl. She hates heels, triply damning the things when they're worn by anyone behidn the wheel. That Pepper's comfortable enough to walk around barefoot in her office…well, it isn't quite on the level of Tony Stark wearing flipflops in an interview. But it certainly says something about the less strait-laced, slightly more comfortable work environment.

That, or else it's a perk only for senior executives.

The handshake gets a gentle response, a formal style of a member of the Sokovian nobility. "Yes ma'am. I uh…I understand you've been with him for some time, as part of Stark Industries. Has he always…" She searches for the word for a moment. "Had that same sort of energy in what he does?" The manic college-student-destressing-after-exams style.

The mention of tea, however, gets eyebrows raised. "I absolutely would, ma'am. Ah…you…wouldn't happen to have any blackberry jam, by chance?" It's how she prefers it, but anything goes - the request is polite, but not too hopeful. And then remembering that /she/ is the intern, Sally starts a moment. "Ah, I suppose…where's your pot, I'll get it started for you…"

Flipflops are nothing. Pepper has on multiple occasions seen Tony go to board meetings wearing house slippers — one of those times it was bunny slippers ala Val Kilmer from Real Genius — and she would only emphasize proper footwear when it's for safety reasons. Maybe that means other members of the Board of Directors frown on occasion, but she always wears her full armor around them anyway. This is her office, and she'll relax as she pleases here.

"Sorry to say, yes, Tony is always that way. Especially if he gets too much caffeine. If you're sharing lab space with him, don't take anything caffeinated from him. He figured out a way to replicate Jolt cola but in iced tea form." She steps past Rusalka toward a credenza (the floor to ceiling piece of furniture resembling something someone would keep booze in) against the wall of her office behind a small, four-chair conference type table. "Hm, I don't have any blackberry jam here, but… JARVIS?"

"I shall inquire with the chef, Miss Potts." This is why Pepper loves the AIs.

"And my tea is a bit of a system, I'm not going to make you learn it." As if to prove this, she opens the upper cabinet doors of the credenza to reveal several rows of tea tins all neatly labelled, a couple dozen tea cups with no more than any two matching, and six teapots not including the one already sitting on the counter surface of the credenza.

"Do you have a preference?"

Her office, absolutely. Also a rather long day, Sally supposes, if she's still here working. She can entirely picture Tony showing up to work dressed in virtually anything, just like Val Kilmer - whatever helps him /think./ She can sympathize with that need for comfort, as well as a sense of humor to keep from going overboard and losing it behind the numbers. A mere engineering student may not quite be on his level…but she has her outlets, she admits.

Her biggest outlet come in tires, instead of slippers, and unfortunately cost quite a lot more.

"I see. It's…actually a little comforting, I think. In a strange way; I've gotten used to the, ah…eccentric life of being in college. It's a lot different from secondary school back home, a lot more…chaotic, perhaps. Creative." She's half trying to speak the right words about her boss, and admittedly half trying to simply speak /any/ words. Her English is good, accented but solid enough to function in a technical environment.

There's simply a nod when Pepper mentions her tea system, though Sally's eyebrows lift in impressed surprise when the credenza shows off its contents. A whole collection, detailed and fancy, and quite beautiful. "There are noble families back home, even with our culture, that would be envious of a tea service like this." Hm…though, she might have to help Pepper improve things with a proper samovar. It /is/ the right way, after all.

She shakes her head at the question, and gets a little bit of an impish smile as well as a slightly regal tone in her voice - a practiced joke, not terribly serious. "I am here to learn, Miss Potts. Many things, I suppose." Instead she'll watch from a respectfully close distance to see how Pepper does her service. She's curious, certainly!

"Miss Potts, Miss Stojespal, blackberry jam will be arriving shortly," JARVIS offers.

"Thank you, JARVIS." Pepper apparently fixes her tea in the British manner, plucking a tin from the collection and using a silver scoop to measure the loose leaf contents into a teapot that looks to have been handmade on a pottery wheel before using an eletric water boiler perched at one end of the credenza to fill the teapot.

"Please, have a seat anywhere you like." The teapot is set gently on the center of the little conference table and then promptly cozied in what resembles a teapot-sized aran sweater. There's even a little sleeve for the spout. Two mismatched teacups are also set on the table, and the already used items are set into the small sink set into the credenza's counter surface. "Tea is… hopefully, my one vice. I have greens, white, blacks, herbals, tisanes, and blends. The one I just used is a custom hand-blended tea from a friend of mine."

"Spasiba, JARVIS," she echoes. Of course, only now it hits her that she probably shouldn't have asked, but it's a hard habit to shake - both culturally and in social position. She's…frankly not quite /used/ to being junior girl on the totem pole, and is probably going to have a lot to learn.

Cobalt blue eyes watch as Pepper starts making things, the careful measure, the loose leaf, and the electric boiler. In some ways, it's familiar - heating in the teapot, and carefully scooped tea leaves. In others, it's quite a bit different - there's no separate water heater connected to the pot, and it's a much much lighter brew than she'd make normally. There's no small splash of tea and then dilution to taste, simply going with whatever's made in the pot.

Sally decides to take it like an experiment, then. To try out a new configuration, something that Miss Potts approves of, and see how it tastes. The offer of a seat lets her glance around, and find an office chair. "Yes ma'am." There's a smile as she settles in, finding the chair much more comfortable than expected.

"I understand, I think. There's many even in my family who could talk with you for many hours about tea, though I prefer Russian Caravan, or else some of the Chinese red and black teas. Although, it is a bit different when made at home." There's a slight difference in the way she says the last word, speaking of her current dorm apartment. "A custom blend?"

She gives Pepper a glance, then smirks. "Then, I hope I do not find it palatable. Otherwise it will be extremely hard to come by," she adds with a smile.

An almost sly smile spreads across Pepper's face when Rusalka mentions Russian Caravan. "Well, I can ask my friend to see if she has time to blend some more for me if it comes down to that." She moves toward the table to take a seat there as well just as a security guard appears at the door.

"Miss Potts, this was sent up from the kitchen?" It's … a lot more than a jar of blackberry jam. Looks like a particular AI was being sneaky. Again.

The smile gets a nod, and Sally is sure to check all the boxes for being polite. "Yes ma'am. I would certainly not turn down the chance, myself; the touch of smoke is really very special." Ever so slightly formal, her english, but that's simply the touch of someone born to the blue blood. Maybe she's not outright royalty, and is no fan of being buried in tradition…but she does take her social position seriously.

It's certainly been rewarding.

And then Pepper sits, as the guard appears - time to do her job. Sally stands, the grey suit falling cleanly right back into place on her body. "If you don't mind." It's said once, but has two meanings - a servitude to Pepper, to let the other woman stay comfortable in her seat, and a dismissal to the guard that she'll take it; he isn't needed after this. And then she looks over the tray as she finds a spot to settle it in at.

Eyes widen at the unexpected selection of jams, as well as the breads. And maybe she /is/ just a little hungry; it's late and it's been a while since lunch. "Ma'am." There's more than just blackberry; there's a number of different fruit preseves there. Quite the unexpected surprise, but she is in the executive floors after all.

Settling back in her chair, she glances over it one more time. Sally supposes that perhaps the Americans understand royalty better than they pretend, after all.

Or perhaps a particular British-sounding AI is just eerily observant and already knew that neither woman had had a proper meal for several hours.

Pepper smiles and nods her thanks to Rusalka for accepting the items from the security guard — it does frequently seem to be Dmitri when Pepper's here after hours — then gets up again as the younger woman settles the breads and jams on the table. The bottom cupboards of the credenza contain good quality dishes and flatware and, really, that shouldn't be surprising by this point.

Pulling plates and a handful of spoons from the credenza, Pepper adds them to the table along with a pair of honest to goodness fabric napkins. "JARVIS, thank you."

"Gladly, Miss Potts." Well, the AI has been Tony-sitting for more than a decade by this point, so maybe it makes sense that he's able to anticipate things like this.

Always watching, always present, always helping. There's been a moment or two when Sally's mumbled some errant rhetorical question in Russian about something she's working on, and gotten an answer in the same language from an empty room. It takes a little getting used to, having your own Magic Voice like that.

Part of her wants to step in and help, but Pepper's already made it clear this is her show - so she gets comfortable in that office chair, watching and learning. Learning, in this case, where the redhead keeps her good china, but there's lots to discover. Preferences, how she goes about things, all sorts of bits that it would behoove the eighteen year old to pick up on.

One hand reaches up and brushes an errant brown hair away, Sally wishing for her typical hairband to keep her bangs clear. Well, it doesn't quite fit corporate style, so it stays in the car. Instead, she'll glance up at the ceiling, adding a "Thank you" of her own to Pepper's words. And then she realizes just how much they're anticipated.

Hot bread? Warm, and actually giving off a good scent? It's not something that bakes instantly, and yet isn't the kind you find left under a hot-lamp at the local coffee shop. Maybe this is just a normal time for Pepper to have a late snack, Sally wonders. "Is there anything I can help with, Miss Potts?" She could at least offer to make herself useful…

Pepper notices Sally trying to deal with her bangs and steps around to her desk, or more accurately her bag sitting on the floor behind her desk. "Actually, yes. Could you pour the tea? It should be done steeping by now." She rummages in her bag for a moment, then returns to sit again before offering one of those stretchy fabric headbands. "There are some times when I cannot stand my bangs a second longer and if I'm not prepared, I completely lose my composure and do something bad, like putting a Pebbles Flintstone ponytail on the top of my head with a rubberband that I have to cut to get back out of my hair later."

Sally stands quickly, nodding. "Yes ma'am." She steps around the redhead, looking at the credenza and taking in everything once more to be sure. The fine porcelain teacups catch Sally's eye, and getting a closer look at them gives her a moment to pause. They're eclectic, but beautiful and almost unique in their own ways.

One hand carries the kettle, the other holds the lid, as Sally pours slowly and carefully. And, momentarily, has to remind herself to pour a full glass and not a small splash of tea; she'll get more used to a British tea service later. She's about to ask what Pepper wants, but then remembers the redhead's words - hrm. "Shall I add anything for you, or would you prefer to yourself, ma'am?" It's asked politely, the gentle question acknowledging that Pepper has her own very specific preferences.

For herself, she'll take a small bit of that blackberry jam and dissolve it with a stir, then scamper out of the way - and nod in surprise when she's offered the hairband. "Thank you. Mm…yes, it's usually not bad, but after a long day…" She shrugs, then gives a nervous giggle that clamps down into an aborted snort.

"I've never quite….ah, had anything like that, but I don't let it get longer than this." One hand raises to her neck, showing a hair length just a bit longer than it is now. She probably should get a trim sooner or later. "I imagine that can be difficult. Trying to not cut anything else, but. At least it was not an unexpected shampoo with used motor oil." she offers with a sympathetic smile.

"Thank you, and no, I don't usually add anything to my tea." That's the one thing so far that she's done to deviate from classic British tea habits. She accepts her cup and waits for Sally to settle in again before claiming a plate and a piece of warm bread for herself. She knows why the kitchen had these ready — the last cook of the day usually prepares small treats for the overnight security people as well as for Tony and whomever else is still working late.

"Oh, and whatever you do, don't mention motor oil around the bots. Dummy regularly forgets that humans can't ingest petroluem-based liquids and will add it to smoothies."

After a sip of the tea, once Pepper does, Sally then slides the hairband into place. "Much better. Thank you very much; I will return it before I leave." Mostly just a reminder to herself, really. Meanwhile, the tea is fantastic, an even better blend than she's used to. A mix of flavors old and new wash over her tongue, and she nods respectfully.

"Your source for tea is quite the connoisseur, I believe. This is strongly Caravan, but the extra tastes are, hm." She pauses, then continues in that fluid accent. "Rather good. I did not thing it would be easy to improve upon." Alas, she's going to have to figure out just what the precise blend now, and moreso how to get her hands on it. "Bol'shoye spasibo za razdeleniye chaya," she adds in a proper traditional saying. Thank you for the sharing of tea.

Hey, she can appreciate some traditions…

There's a look of surprise in her eyes when she glances up from her second sip. Bots? Oh, like…the package-drone that Tony uses? Though not if they're named like that. Her eyebrows furrow a little as she sets the teacup down, and leans forward a little bit. "Ah, please excuse my confusion, 'DUMMY?'" Not shouted, simply believing it's an acronym like the other names. She's trying not to think about a 5W30 milkshake, please don't think of such things.

Head tilted in curiosity, she continues. "I am not sure I understand, I know of JARVIS and FRIDAY, but ah. Is this something new?" Please don't think of oil milkshakes.

Sipping at her tea as Rusalka reacts in surprise about Dummy, she sets her cup down and leans back in her seat. "So you've not been to Tony's workshop yet. Well, you'll be meeting them eventually. Dummy is one of three robotic assistants that Tony built years ago. They are learning AIs like JARVIS and FRIDAY, but much simpler. Dummy actually predates JARVIS, and Butterfingers and You are only a couple of years newer. I… don't actually know when Tony programmed FRIDAY." She glances toward the ceiling. "No offense."

"None taken, Miss Potts," the faintly Irish female voice replies.

"Anyway. When you meet them, remember, they're every bit as observant and responsive as JARVIS or FRIDAY, but have personalities more like toddlers or puppies."

There's a shake of her head in response to the statement. "No ma'am, I have not yet. I've been doing a lot of catch-up work, it seems like," she adds with an apologetic smile. Not so much that she doesn't know what she's doing, or why she's hired, but even as talented with engineering as she is, there's a long jump between the beginning of a collegiate education and the level of things Stark Industries is playing with.

For example, those learning AIs.

"Not that I ever expected to, that is, it's his private workshop. I have been around some of the fabrication areas in the building, but mostly…" Smile. "Studying." There's a moment of confusion on her face when Pepper mentions the name of the third assistant, as she tries to parse - Rusalka is not younger than those robots. Probably. Come to think of it, she might just be, if Tony Stark had…

…and then she remembers who she's thinking about, and quirks a half-smile. "He is certainly very personal in his naming of his creations, I see." She nods to the advice. "I shall do that, then. If I'm ever given the chance, that is. I am only here for the summer, as I understood the program to be. The internship, that is."

Which she didn't mind so much; it just means she's going to have a very productive summer as far as learning is concerned. A much less structured system than she's used to with classes, but it's not that much of a difficulty. It's just like finding a path through traffic on the course; you simply navigate around some things and steal an inside position on others, and still come out in front.

Pepper smiles at Sally's admission. "Considering that Tony personally chose you to be an intern, I would be surprised if you didn't find yourself in his workshop at some point." She's always known that Tony has got a very good eye for spotting talent. Just.. not so much with giving them incentives to stick around.

"Well, I know at least Dummy has been around since Tony went to MIT…" Doesn't explain Dunce, though. That one, she thinks, was simply Tony being his usual self.

"We should talk again before your internship ends, "Pepper offers. "We have on occasion reserved intership spots for particularly promising individuals." Of course, some interns learn how chaotic working in Stark R&D can sometimes be, and can't leave fast enough. But, such is life.

"I think…perhaps that interview might have been a little rushed," Rusalka suggests. In fairness, he was dealing with a very touchy Isa Reichert, who does not tolerate the man's eccentricities in the first place. "I went over a number of engineering problems, and…got most of them." She frowns at the one issue she'd missed, the one black mark ticking a box in her mind that won't go away. Such is being a perfectionist.

The girl's soft accent makes the surprise a pleasant sound. "That would be a wondeful thing, I think. It's…definitely something to look forward to." Maybe later she'll realize the ways her words could be taken, but in fairness Tony Stark is the first playboy she's met. It's just not yet a consideration. The teacup is sipped, then raised in a promise. "I will do my best for such an honor."

Dummy…she considers, and decides it's probably not nearly as bad a thing as it sounds. Leaning back in her chair, she thinks of the wildly imaginative inventor and nods. "I suppose he is quite familiar with that AI, then, spending so long with them. And…perhaps a little sentimental?" She's guessing, and doesn't quite want to compare Dummy to a mere tool, but some people keep favored tools around for a long time. They work, they're well known, and…familiar. Friendly, in a way.

"I would appreciate that, Miss Potts. Although, hrm." Sally's lips purse a moment, thinking. "I was discussing my future with a SHIELD…" She trails off, wondering just what to call him. Agent? Officer? Bureaucrat? "Case worker," Sally settles on. "A Mr. Phil Coulson, and I had spoken with him about transferring my education to within SHIELD directly. After the internship, I was thinking of getting my degree and working for them as an engineer."

The personal reasons why, she doesn't go into. Not yet, though not out of any distrust of Pepper. "If I make a good enough impression, and solve the Knot…" Grin. "I might decide to remain here after all; it would still support many good things."

See, now THAT sounds like Tony. "Well, if there's anything else you'd like to know about your internship, you can pester me at any time, or in a pinch, Lexie in HR is an excellent resource as well."

"Definitely sentimental," Pepper says with a chuckle. "But he'll deny it to the grave, so don't even mention it around him. Though, do feel free to spoil the bots all you want."

At the mention of SHIELD and Coulson, Pepper actually perks up a little bit. "Agent Coulson has helped us out a time or two, he seems like a genuinely pleasant person. And transferring over to SHIELD could be an excellent decision. Just make sure you have considered all angles before you make up your mind either way."

"Ah…I suppose, other than working on the car that Tony is designing, and testing it, I am a little unsure of where to begin. I have mostly been playing catchup, but I think I'm getting a handle on the basics at least." The technology of Stark Tower, for example, is still a dream. Going from a typical high-end consumer laptop, for example, to the holographic displays and touch-controls.

"If it would be alright…could I speak to Mr. Stark again, to plan out what exactly I'm supposed to do? Everything went a little quickly, after all. Not that I mind at all, I'm happy being here!" Her hand raises to wave off the sense of any concern or slight. "I just want to be useful, and…make his choice a good one."

Sally just presses one finger against the side of her nose and winks. "Mention what? It was just the wind." Now there's a way to drop a subject. And then her eyebrows lift a little. "Spoil them? …How?" It's an idea she'd never considered before, a feeling that's starting to get rather commonplace.

A nod at Pepper's comments on Phil. "He is. Perhaps…a little bit like Mr. Stark, in some ways." That boyish cheer he'd given in the passenger seat as she'd cornered inside a Porsche at 140mph on the race track was not something of a staid and stuffy type of mind. "Not that I would mention such a thing around either of them. You know boys and their egos." Oh yes, Pepper would know all about that. "I will consider things…and, I would like to ask your input, Miss Potts."

She settles the teacup down, and leans forward a little to rest her hands on her knees. "If I may borrow a bit more of your time, ma'am, ah…may I ask your opinion of SHIELD itself?"

Pepper nods. "It's more than alright. You really should. FRIDAY, please schedule a time for Sally to speak with Tony."

"Done, Miss Potts."

"Thank you. And the bots will tell you what they like and don't like. If they make happy noises, Tony will accuse you of spoiling them, and that means you're doing the right thing." Pepper smiles, perhaps a bit slyly.

And then for the question about SHIELD itself, she sits back in her chair as Rusalka leans forward. "Do you have about seven hours free?"

There's a smile, made with just a little bit of relief, on the brunette's face. "Thank you, Miss Potts. Ah, and thank you FRIDAY as well." If she's going to spoil the bots, she might as well get started. And, frankly, the opportunity to speak to Tony would be good to help her get her mind truly focused.

She's working for Stark Industries. She's schooling for her future. But what she wants most of all is to be sure about her path, to know what lies ahead and in more detail. And to waste noone's time - not hers, not theirs - in doing it. It's just the way she is; dedicated and determined to succeed. Perhaps burning her candle a little too brightly, but she's still only eighteen. Plenty of time to learn more caution.

Happy noises? So, not speech like JARVIS and FRIDAY. Well, she had described them as different, and Sally makes a mental note of that. Puppies indeed. Show kindness and pay attention, and lots of forgiveness. And then she can't help but giggle at the mental image of Dummy, perhaps, leaving a spare bolt behind on the carpet…oh dear.

When Pepper sits back, Sally straightens a little - she hadn't meant to seem too focused, or threatening or anything. Just curious, and deeply interested. And then Pepper's reply sends her momentary giggle earlier into a stifled laugh at the unexpected answer. "Ah…seven hours, perhaps not, but…I suppose any advice might be useful. If you have time, that is," she adds hurriedly. "Ah, I didn't mean to take up so much of your time, ma'am."

"Well, I will have to get back to work if I want to get home before midnight, but… let me see if I can sum up SHIELD for you." Pepper considers for a moment and a last sip of tea.

"Honestly, whatever you've heard about the agency is likely true, both good and bad. One thing you want to be absolutely sure you do at all times with anyone from SHIELD is to be honest. They're in the job of learning things about people, and if you withhold information they request, they'll notice and want to know why."

"I suppose so, ma'am." It's said with a nod and a polite smile; it is after sundown. Rusalka too would like the chance to get home at a decent hour, and she can definitely respect the much more overworked Pepper Potts to feel the same. There's a thoughtful pause, and a slow nod, as she listens close.

And then she stands gracefully, sliding over her empty teacup carefully, like the fine china it is. A dip of the head and a slight curtsy for the redhead, and Sally speaks in Russian for a moment. "Yeshche raz bol'shoye spasibo za chay, thank you very much for the tea." A tradition, but one she actually kind of likes. Rare enough.

"And I understand. I have nothing to hide from SHIELD, although it is good to know they are so thorough in their work." It also says a lot about their position, not at all unlike the KGB of old. A secret police to police secrets, but…not so bad a group, as that. Considering the secret that she is most concerned about…not so bad at all.

And then, Sally glances at the file she'd brought over for Pepper, who hasn't had a chance to flip through it yet, as well as the other things on her desk. "Was there anything I could do for you, ma'am, or shall I take my leave?" It never hurts to be polite!

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