Ms. Potts' School of Basic Business

September 10, 2017:

Jessica Jones' crappy financial skills cause her to wind up broke in a foreign country days before payday. Fortunately, Obadiah Stane's foresight and Pepper Potts' overall kindness are there to save the day.

Wakanda/NYC

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Obadiah Stane, Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Jessica has been steadfastly avoiding looking at her bank balance while here in Wakanda. Trish helped with the flight, but that's all Jess would accept help on. She's got the retainer from the Avengers which she feels guilty using because she's produced zero results, just a bunch of advice. She had a few thousand in her bank account when all this started from the very small cases she allowed herself to take during the trial. She has the retainer May slipped her, in cash, which is useful when she gets home but not useful here.

Meanwhile, she has bills back home.

And travel is expensive. Hotels. Meals. Cabs all over Wakanda.

It's not much of a wonder she eventually gets a very polite call from the front desk that says, "Your credit card has been declined, Miss Jones."

"Shit! Ok. Just…" Shit, she's got no choice. "Just let me see what I can do."

Maybe she can take out a payday loan or something, or a business loan, or…

It occurs to her to check the balance on the 'operational fund' Obidiah Stane set up ages ago. She hasn't touched it, save to reimburse Sally Stojespal for the taser gloves, which she thoughtfully pulls on now to go with the armor. Now she's all superhero'd up. Sort of. And stranded in Wakanda with no money, apparently, if she doesn't get her shit together. Her next retainer from the Avengers comes in another 4 days. That business valuation professional really hadn't been kidding when she'd tried to see if she could help with Bucky's bail. She really is worth -$4.13 when one gets right down to it.

Now she slowly puts in the call to Stark Industries. She tries to get Obi; they route her, instead, to Pepper Potts.

Sitting in her office in Stark Tower, Pepper is busily typing away on an email in between conference calls. When FRIDAY informs her that there's a caller on the line that had wanted to speak with Stane, she doesn't even stop typing. "I'll take the call, FRIDAY. Thank you."

Upon hearing the faint click over the speaker system built into her office that the AIs use to work with Pepper, she 'answers' the call.

"This is Pepper. Talk to me."

Pepper Potts. Okay. Sure. Jess will just. Jaw with an important CEO now that she doesn't know.

"My name is Jessica Jones," she says slowly. "Um. Tony hired me to find a murderer for you guys, and plug the leak of some stolen tech. And um. Then Obidiah Stane set up this thing called an operational fund for me cause when I closed the case I discovered this monster machine god that eats dimensions may be coming after our whole reality. Um. Because he thinks I'm a hero or something and that it may be important to have me around to punch that thing in the face. Later. Jesus Christ, I sound like— anyway look, I haven't touched it? But I was just wondering what is an operational fund and when is it legal to dip into it and do I have to do any paperwork on it? I'm not doing anything for Stark Industries now, in fact I asked Tony a favor and he totally went to do it and he took the Hulkbuster to do it but that's kind of a good thing cause he's going to go punch a goddess— that is a different diety— in the face since I can't be there and anyway I just want to make sure that I don't like, get busted for SEC violations or something if I need a little cash and it's fine if it's not okay to use it but I just wanted to check and I thought maybe Obi could tell me and also hi nice to meet you I'm not sure if I was supposed to tell you about me or not but um. Hi?"

Pepper stops typing when Jessica introduces herself, and her eyebrows draw together as the woman on the phone rambles out a very … unusual story. Sadly, since she mentioned Tony and Obadiah both, Pepper's inclined to believe her. When Jessica finally peters out, she offers a simple "Hi." in reply, her smile evident in her voice. "So you need help with accessing this operational account that Obadiah set up for you?"

With a few deft taps at her computer's screen, she moves the email out of the way and quickly types at FRIDAY, asking her to pull up information on one Jessica Jones. The data that appears is… fascinating. And now she sees no reason why she can't do what the woman has requested, especially considering the flag that FRIDAY just noted on the woman's personal bank account. A few quick taps and swipes later and the woman's personal account has a new little $1000 buffer in it, the deposit listed as 'consultation fee' so it doesn't make anyone unduly suspicious.

"FRIDAY, please link Ms. Jones' operational fund to her Starkphone, and let me know what the current balance is."

It's whatever people think of as a reasonable balance when they set up things like that, which is…probably way more money than Jones has ever handled in her life ever.

"Oh my god, you're a lifesaver," Jess says, seeing that $1K buffer pop up right away. "That'll get me to Friday. Not the AI FRIDAY, of course." Indeed, Pepper will realize Jess has access to pretty much everything in Stark Industries; she demanded it to work the case…but hasn't used it since the case closed, save for 3 20-minute visits to the lower basements. And the money is indeed largely untouched save for 'equipment - Stojespal'.

Pepper's nice enough that Jessica's anxiety settles down a bit. She's linking it to her phone and she says, "I need help knowing when I'm allowed to? I don't know how to keep the comingling thing from happening. I only heard the term in that one terrible Harrison Ford movie. Where he was the real-estate agent slash cop." Okay, maybe not…totally. Over the anxiety thing.

Taking a look at the balance on the fund account, Pepper can only shake her head, and she adds another zero to the end. "Ms. Jones, an operational fund is an account available for your use at your discretion. The only stipulation being that you either submit expense reports detailing what you've used the money for, or reimburse the funds within a reasonable span of time. I'm sending you a blank copy of SI's standard expense report, and a simple one for you to see how I'd like to see it filled out. If you're going to be working for an extended amount of time, I personally prefer to see one report per week so they don't become unreasonably huge."

She has Friday pull the expenses Jessica has incurred so far during her stay in Wakanda from the woman's personal account and fill them in to the sample expense report form, with the amounts already totalled and filled in. Once it's done, she submits it and promptly transfers the appropriate amount from the fund account into Jessica's personal account, this time with a deposit notice of 'business expense reimbursement'.

Jessica watches all this on a holographic screen that she's pulled up, and she sort of falls on her ass right in the hallway, eyes bugging out of her head. "You…you don't even know what I'm doing in Wakanda," she says faintly. "It might not end up benefiting Stark Industries at all."

That's actually not true in an indirect sense, Stark Industries mostly doesn't get its Jane back if Bucky isn't saved. But Jessica doesn't really think that way. She hasn't done anything for Tony in months, and he's already showered her with blessings. "Are you— I mean— I mean thank you."

People keep giving her things she doesn't deserve to have. She can't figure out why they're doing it, but it's stupid to turn it down. Maybe they just have a policy of funding occasionally effective metadetectives? Maybe they just have more money than God and are nice people.

Pepper heard that, and she can only chuckle in amusement. "You are most welcome. And from what FRIDAY has gathered for me, it is in all of our best interest for you to have the resources you need there. Okay, so FRIDAY says that your account is all set and ready to go. And if you want, FRIDAY can also help you keep your expense reports up to date as you use the account so that all you'll have to do at the end of each week is submit it."

Closing Jessica's information and moving it back off of her computer, she hesitates to go back to the email she'd been working on when the call came in. "Is there anything else I can help you with today, Ms. Jones?"

"Uh. No. Um. That sounds great. Thank you, FRIDAY. If you're listening." Jess really does talk to all the AIs like they're people, mostly because that's how she sees them. They talk, they have personalities, they think, therefore. People.

She thinks about it a moment more and says, "But um. When I'm back you should tell me if there's other work I can do? For Stark, okay? Like I do— it's not all crazy stuff. If someone's abusing your workman's comp policy or…or…well I do things," she says lamely. "And I'm happy to do things. To earn. Things. That I get. So um. Maybe just…let me know how Alias can keep right on helping when I'm back. No need to keep me in a holding pattern. There's always stuff for a giant corporation, right?"

She really does try to pull her weight, after all. As she sits here and adjusts her paradigm of maybe not having to worry about money again for the forseeable ever, unless she finally ticks all these people off for good. Which you know, is like, not entirely outside of the realm of possibility, but so far so good.

This time, Pepper's chuckle just might sound the tiniest bit sinister. Nah, not really. "I'm sure I can find plenty of things to keep you busy." Though she'll at least try to make sure those things are kept within NYC's city limits, just in case. Oh, wait, this is an opportunity.

"Actually, one thing you could do for me while you're there — but only when you're done with work and have free time — is pick out some good fabrics for me and mail them to me. And yes, please do use your expense account for that also." After all, not just anyone can say they're wearing clothes made from Wakandan fabrics. And fabric is totally not on any trade restrictions, right? Maybe? Hopefully?

Somewhere, Someone has got to be laughing. Sending Jessica Jones fabric shopping. Fabrics come in…colors…

"Will do," says the detective, who at least has a local willing to trade money to go get stuff for her. She realizes she can just ask Rizza to pick out cool stuff.

Thus, Pepper Potts may get Wakandan fabric that is not blue, black, olive green, white, or drab grey. In all solid colors. She might get patterns. Or more vibrant colors. Because Jess has figured out she absolutely needs to outsource this out.

Still, she is relieved to be able to reciprocate somehow, and Pepper saying she can find Jess more work is met with relief. The scales are somewhat rebalancing, and the world is realigning. "I'll bring them to you and we can meet directly."

"That would be excellent, Ms. Jones. Thank you. And now, I have a conference call to get to in just a few moments. Let me know when you're back in Manhattan, and I'll treat you to lunch." Pepper reopens the email and starts typing again at nearly insane speeds. She really wants to have this done before the conference call.

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