Say Again?

October 01, 2017:

Pepper Potts presents a puzzling proposition that has Foggy fumbling.

Nelson and Murdock Law Offices

It's Nelson and Murdock's law offices. And it's a total mess.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Matthew Murdock


Mood Music: [* None.]

Fade In…

The offices of Nelson and Murdock are tucked up above a busy Hell's Kitchen street. There is a certain degree of peace at the moment despite the constant ebb and flow of traffic below, though this peace is punctuated by the soft snoring sound of Foggy Nelson, slumped over the receptionist desk on his folded arms. There's quite a few sticky notes all over the desk, and the phone blinks with several missed messages. It does look as though the offices have been mostly left to their own disorder while the Murdock half of the firm is gone.

Pepper had called a few days before and scheduled an appointment for this time with either of the two attorneys, so was a bit surprised to see a man asleep at the receptionist desk when she steps quietly inside.

A bit of data mining via FRIDAY beforehand allows her to recognize Mr. Nelson, and she can't help but amusedly feel that this is just a bit familiar. While debating whether or not to wake the man — she'll have to eventually — she takes a moment to glance through then step ever so delicately past the sleeping man and toward where she sees a simple coffeemaker.

It's the work of just a few moments to have two mugs washed, the carafe rinsed, fresh (if nowhere near the grade she's used to) coffee and filter in the machine, and the aroma of coffee starting to fill the office as she gently pours a bit of water into the wilting plant on the corner of the sleeping man's desk.

"Mr. Nelson?" she finally says.

Immediately, Foggy's head jolts up off the table with a pink sticky note stuck to his forehead. It reads don't forget milk. He at least does not mutter something absurd like I object or some other terrible dream-induced statement. He instead scrambles to remove the note, crumpling it up as he does, and blinks around to spot a redhead in his office. He fumbles for words for a moment, and then manages a rather unimpressively, "That's me."

He detects coffee, blinking over his shoulder to the pot brewing, and then looks back at Pepper quite perplexed. "Um. You're not from the temp agency, are you?"

Pepper chuckles softly. "Should I be? It does look like you could use a hand here." She's already thinking that Becca from the front desk of Stark Tower might enjoy a change of scenery. It'd be like a vacation for her, having to deal with just a few rooms and one doorway. She makes a mental note to mention it to the woman.

"But really, though, I had an appointment at two thirty?" It's currently 2:40 by the clock on the desk.

"Oh, well… to be fair, last week, this place was in exceptional state. But… we never got a call this week." He rambles a bit, obviously still recovering from being startled awake. Foggy pulls himself out of his chair, and it squeaks almost in protest. He takes quick stock of himself, quickly brushing his mane of disheveled hair back out of his eyes, and rubbing his hands at the sides of his pants, all before he starts digging through the desk for the appointment book. "Two-thirty," he repeats, pulling out the book and setting it on top of his mountain of sticky notes. He blinks. "Huh." He looks up at Pepper, and then down to his appointment book. "Mrs… Potts?" There's a hopeful lilt to his voice.

With a smile and an outstretched hand, Pepper says, "Ms. Potts. Please call me Pepper." Definitely calling Becca the moment she's done here. If she won't come over herself, she'll know who from the admin pool would be an ideal fit for this office. "I was hoping to speak with both partners in your firm about setting up a retainer?"

That's about when the coffeemaker burbles loudly to indicate the brewing cycle is complete.

"Pepper," Foggy repeats dubiously, but then he falls into that easy smile — a boyish grin that sends dimples to his cheeks. "Well, I'm Franklin Nelson, but you can call me Foggy." There's almost a relaxed humor there. Obviously Foggy is in good company with a woman named Pepper. He looks around his mess of a front office, and then looks casually toward his office. He tries to remember what the state of that room was when he was last in it, and the sudden vision of giant lawyering books stacked on his desk and an unfinished meatball sub flashes across his mind, and he gestures to the seat across from the receptionist desk. "Please, have a seat." The burbling is like a gentle hint, and the man is quickly moving to pour two cups of coffee.

"I'm sorry, Pepper… whoever took your appointment didn't leave any indication on what we're meeting for." He offers out one mug to Pepper, choosing the one that does not say 'World's Greatest Dungeon Master' for his guest. He'll keep that one.

Well, considering that that's one of the two mugs she washed just minutes ago, it likely wouldn't offend her either way. Especially as the other one has a cartoony watermelon with a face and a bite taken out of it and the caption 'FRESH!' on it.

Pepper settles into the chair indicated and waits patiently as Foggy hustles to get the coffee, smiling to herself. She's honestly never been fond of coffee — she's a tea drinker — but she's not about to admit that here and now. Once he returns, though, she accepts the 'FRESH!' mug and explains. "I was hoping to set up a retainer with your firm, or I should probably say multiple retainers. One for me personally, one for my boss, and one for our corporation." If the man hasn't figured out yet who she is, she's going to let him stew just a little bit longer. Because it's funny.

Foggy is settling into his seat when she says the word 'retainer', and he seems to freeze for a moment as his mind starts whirling at a mile a minute. He looks up at her with those wide green eyes, finally lowering his tush all the way down with another squeak of tired hydraulics. He scoots the chair up against the desk, using all this shifting about to give his mind time to whirl. He even takes a sip of the coffee, and is momentarily distracted by the total lack of mudpile flavor that it has. It only reminds him that the possible client sitting across from him brewed this lovely cup, and it only makes him a touch more wary.

"Well… um. That's quite an offer, actually." He looks around the avocado firm's digs briefly before he looks back at Pepper. "Who—" Then something in his mind clicks, and his eyes widen again. "Oh shit." He just figured out who Pepper is.

Seeing Foggy's mind finally put the pieces together, Pepper merely offers him a Mona Lisa smile before sitting back on the guest chair, crossing her legs primly, and taking a sip of the coffee. Heavy on the chicory, a bit too acidic, but not the worst coffee she's ever had.

"That won't be a problem, will it?"

"No," Foggy says hastily, and then continues with a kind of awkward scoffing. "No, no. Of course not… I mean… Hell's Kitchen law firm being put on retainer for Stark Industries… I mean, totally natural. Very everyday." He sinks into a moment of silence before he leans forward, elbows on the table. "I'm not being punked am I? I mean, I can take it, really… laughed my way through many swirlies. Really threw them for a loop." There's another short pause before he asks the more critical question, "Why us?"

Setting her mug on the table delicately, Pepper looks at Foggy more seriously. "Because I have seen your firm's records. Your partner has turned down several similar offers of retainers for no good reason that was readily apparent." Of course, with JARVIS and FRIDAY doing the digging, she found out why more than quickly enough in almost every case. In some, she can only guess that the clients were not a good fit personality-wise.

"Also, it's often useful to have legal representation from independent sources. SI's legal department can't be considered truly unbiased." Odd, this is the first time she's had to try and convince someone to take a retainer instead of the other way around.

Foggy has completely ignored his coffee at this point, and his brows are deeply furrowed as he considers the woman across from him. With a deep breath, he drops back heavily into his seat, regarding her with thoughtful green eyes. "Well, we take clients based on a variety of factors." Some of those clear, some of those murky, by his tone. He rubs at his jaw slightly. "What sort of legal representation are you seeing Stark Industries needing?" He holds up his hands. "We're not really corporate lawyers. I mean, we don't really do law around things like copyrights, or anything like that." Beat pause. "And I think you would know that. So… I guess I ask again… why us? There's tons of other really formidable lawfirms. I mean… Hogarth, Chao, and Benowitz comes to mind."

"The most common cases we'd ask for your firm to handle would be on the behalf of our employees. If, for example, one of our R&D team got involved in a messy divorce. He'd representation to make sure the custody proceedings didn't put his children into the hands of a neglectful spouse, and at his request SI would refer him to your firm and help with initial costs." Not that she expects anything of that sort to actually happen. The only man in R&D currently with a marriage at risk is old enough that his children are adults themselves.

Pepper watches Foggy to gauge his reaction, knowing full well that SI's employee benefits go far beyond any other corporation in the US and most of the top countries in the world. She's worked hard to make that the case, and she intends to keep it that way.

The examples that Pepper offers seems to make Foggy relax a bit more. He doesn't know all the ins and outs of the corporation enough to question those ideas, so he seems to trust Pepper's examples. He finally takes another sip of coffee, though it is also a way to let him think a bit more. He nods after a moment. "I can't make this decision alone. I'm just one side of an equal partnership." Though, he's still not sure he would have agreed to take Bucky Barnes case if not for Matt's, um, encouragement. Bullying more like it.

Then he gestures a bit offhandedly. "I'm short a partner right now, though. He's on vacation, and hasn't been responding to many of my messages." Beat pause. "He's needed the break." Even if he didn't say a damn word to Foggy before he left. "But, if this is a serious offer, we will take it very seriously. We would be fools to turn down the opportunity to have Stark Industries on retainer."

Pepper nods. "I understand. I can wait until he's back from vacation, perhaps come meet with you both again then?" She moves to stand, figuring this meeting is probably just about done.

Odd that FRIDAY had not said where Mr. Murdock might have gone on vacation, but she figures it wasn't important enough to mention. So she won't pry. She can only hope the man returns soon, Mr. Nelson seems to be struggling to keep up here.

"Please, that would be great." Foggy is also standing up. "I'll get in touch with him." There's a worried note to his voice when he says that. "And we will arrange a meeting. I'm interested, Ms. Potts… I just want to make sure that Mr. Murdock is, too." Though part of him is tempted to agree and let Matt deal with it when he gets back. Revenge for going on vacation without him…!

He offers out a hand to Pepper, smiling slightly as he does.

"I look forward to hearing from you again, Foggy. Have a good afternoon." Shaking Foggy's hand, Pepper steps out of the office and back to the car that had been waiting for her outside. The moment she's settled into the car, she's on her phone.

"Becca, it's Pepper. I have a side job for you…"

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