Whirs and Whispers

October 24, 2017:

Emma Frost meets with the elusive Wilson Fisk, who has emerged in certain social circles in support of the Frost/Stark charity gala. As they wheel and deal, she shifts through his thoughts and takes her measure of the Kingpin.

A Historic Hotel in NYC

Now serving: dirty deeds and an elite brunch.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Six, Tony Stark, Daredevil, Gwen Stacy

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Emma doesn’t typically like being up before noon on the weekend.

This has much to do with the fact that she typically has a great deal going on until the wee hours of the morning the nights before, and the occasional hangovers to nurse.

She’s also spent a number of weekends in recent memory, elsewhere. Doing elsethings.

But when her assistant, the oft frigid Tasha Beaumont, states that her morning appointment has managed to secure a typically elusive reservation at a historic hotel for brunch… and that Emma has found an even more elusive place on the man’s agenda at said hotel, Emma finds she cannot refuse the hour. Tasha has been chasing the appointment for the better part of a week.

So, the telepath wakes up, dresses, makes herself up, and goes.

The place where she goes is probably one of the most expensive brunches in the city. The floors are cut Italian marble, white with black veins and then the converse, set in elaborate geometrical arrangements of diamonds and triangles. They peek out from under thick red wool rugs, luxurious and ornate in their own right with enormous laurel wreaths woven over a thin, gold diamond pattern and bordered in gold.

Overhead dozens of brass and crystal chandeliers burn brightly under medallion-encrusted ceilings, complementing the sunshine that pours into through the wall of stained glass that makes up the front of the restaurant.

The tables are swathed in faultless linen, thick and white, and each set with a low arrangement of fresh flowers in seasonally appropriate hues of rust, purple, burgundy, and gold.

The air is filled with the sounds of some rondeau or concerto from the quartet tucked in the corner for the Saturday “rush”, chatter, laughter, sizzling food from the centrally located stations that are serving up freshly carved meat, pouring out crepes at another, and hand-crafting omelettes and eggs benedict.

In short, this establishment serves the feeling of luxurious, glorious excess as but an appetizer.

When a dark sedan with its pitch black rear windows pulls up just ahead of the valet stand, its driver is swift to pop out, open the door, and offer his hand to get his employer safely onto the curb before taking the car off to wait for her.

Atop a pair of staggeringly tall stiletto-heeled knee-high leather boots, Emma Frost sways just past the six foot mark. This means she actually looks down at the meticulously attired host when she comes in, her clutch purse held over the waist of her snowy dress—a creamy white boucle-knit wool dress tailored to perfection and cut with a scandalously low square neckline under her matching bolero jacket. Her hair is pulled all to one side and pinned there, terminating in a waterfall of curls on the right side. Gold gleams on her throat in the form of a collar, sparkles on her wrist in a watch where it is set with diamonds, and drips from her ears in several flat strands that are both thin and delicate. She looks for all the world as though she were crafted uniquely with exquisite care for the decor.

She’s a reservation for two, she tells him smoothly with a cool smile that never reaches her eyes. Its curves are birthed in the chill of condescendence. “Under Fisk, I do believe?”


By contrast, Wilson Fisk is up at the same time each morning, going through a carefully calculated ritual that starts his day off just right. Perhaps it's his working class roots, implanting in his very soul the notion that people who get up earlier are more virtuous. And Wilson Fisk is nothing if not a paragon of virtue— at least, the virtues he particularly cares about: tenacity and ambition among them.

But today he skipped at least one part of that ritual in favor of merely enjoying a cup of coffee, all so he could make this brunch appointment at said hotel. They make lovely silky omelettes anyway, even better than the ones he can make at home. And besides, everything about this place sings to his soul: the sights, the smells, the unmarred perfection of crisp, white tabletops, every note from the lovely concerto a whispering reminder that he has indeed arrived, and he can continue to enjoy all of these things and more if he never lets the devil of complacency whisper sweet nothings in his ear.

Not that he is uncouth enough to have started more than another cup of coffee before his guest arrives.

When the host brings Emma back— for it is indeed under Fisk, and she is one of the few in the city to have even heard the name— he rises. With a grace that's almost strange, considering how very large he really is.

She is a vision in white. He is a massive presence in a bespoke black suit with an impeccably pressed black silk shirt and vest beneath. The first few buttons are unbuttoned; he forsakes the tie entirely, and manages to make it seem as if he's simply too powerful to bother with them. Only the cufflinks are out of place. To an untrained eye they would be fine: asymmetrical silver squares with a wedge of a triangle with slightly rounded edges set in the middle, with a plain black stone in the center of that. To the trained eye, they are a piece of costume jewelry that couldn't have cost the owner more than $15.00.

But then, the very rich are permitted their little eccentricities, aren't they?

As gorgeous as Miss Frost is, and he evaluates this with the same eye he uses to evaluate all that is beautiful or worthwhile in this world, there is no avarice for her. His beady brown eyes meet hers directly. His voice is low, deep, possessed of a seething quality; he speaks in slow, measured tones, confident and quiet. "Miss Frost," he says. "What a delight to meet you at last." He offers a hand.

“Mister Fisk,” Emma enthuses as her thoughts curl around his surface considerations, her own pale eyes setting upon his in a show of demure. She reaches her slender hand out to meet his, unapologetic and unreserved. But she is also supremely sensitive as to whether or not this unknown commodity prefers handshakes or more traditional shows of gallantry.

She’s comfortable, either way, and the approach of her hand does not demand one over the other. Rather, it assesses the tilt of its unequal match and accommodates. A delicate rest upon his, or a handshake firm enough to belong to a wealthy CEO who has earned a cutthroat reputation by her own merit.

“I am certain the pleasure is mine,” she lies, not certain at all. But they are the right words, the ones trained in finishing schools across the country. And she offers them with that melodic cadence. “And I am very grateful that you could make a little time for me. Especially on the weekend. I know that I, myself, tend to be very protective of the things that are mine. Like hours on a Saturday.”

His surface thoughts swirl between three topics. First and foremost, the opportunities this meeting and his recent donations might lead to in the future, and how he might turn them to his advantage, and where. Not in any specific sense, yet. At the moment, he merely has the awareness that this thing he is about is likely to represent a useful enterprise.

The second, a contrast of Emma Frost versus lovely Vanessa, a woman who, in his mind's eye, is given the beauty only true love can give anyone, ensuring nobody else can compare, really, ever; thus it is that he gives her a brisk, businesslike handshake with no show of gallantry whatsoever, firm, but not too firm, a match for her own. He has given true loyalty and love to very few people in this world, but when he does it is beyond unshakable, and defended almost rabidly.

Third. He's hungry. He's really hungry. The omelettes are calling his name.

But his face is all pleasantness as he says, "I hope I didn't put you out too much, choosing this day. They don't serve this glorious brunch on Mondays, after all, and I'm afraid I'm a bit of a workaholic."

As for his status versus her own, it's wealthy CEO vs…someone. Connecting him directly to any particular concern is almost impossible. The actual sponsorship check sent over to secure his place at the gala was written by a construction and development company known as Union Allied.

He is not that company's CEO, he is not on the Board of Directors, he is not listed in any official publications, but a holding company called CGI does have a 51% ownership share. CGI is a private company, not a public one, and they don't publish any information about who runs the thing. There isn't even a website, though their mergers and acquisitions appear in press releases from time to time. Nevertheless, his name was somehow attached to the 3 million dollar check, to be split evenly between the charities.

One is left, apparently, merely with Wilson Fisk, philanthropist.

And for Emma Frost, who is all show so that no one dares presume to know what lurks beneath? The opportunity wasted to be known as wonderful… is a curious choice.

A man in love, ah, a thought worthy of eye rolls and piteous sighs. It’s rare enough to be so thoroughly dedicated, but not impossible. For her to be appreciated without coveted hints that it might even be sincere.

But he has kept his name quiet in this, the latest charitable endeavor, and that is curious. She settles into her seat to consider the curiosity before her.

“Honestly, Mister Fisk, your contribution to the little soiree was most appreciated. And I very much wanted to thank you in person. It’s Stark Industries who is playing host, but… Well. I very much pride myself upon my ability to cultivate relationships. And someone who is willing to take seriously the charitable needs before us is a relationship worth cultivating.”

A pause, and then Emma laughs. “It’s just an added bonus that the food smells divine, so…” A glance to the small lines in front of those fresh tables. “A quick scamper to get a plate, and then we’ll chitty chat and cultivate?”

Because if she doesn’t get a mimosa in front of her pronto, she might die at this very table. So sad.

He is, of course, grateful that she wants to eat as well. He has known many business associates who would come to a glorious place like this one, only to pretend the food didn't exist at all.

"I second this suggestion," he rumbles, with a little smile.

And he wastes no time following through on it. Soon he has the most glorious and lucious of omelettes in front of him: large, whipped with heavy cream, filled with pepper jack cheese, avocados, and tomatillos, served with a fresh side of pico de gallo. He partakes of other little bits of things on the line as well, opting for a glass of red wine of some incredible vintage over a mimosa, but opting for alcohol just the same.

It is only when they are back at their table, and only after he has had an opportunity to get a little bit of that food into his mouth, that he wipes said mouth and addresses the matter of relationships. "Your thanks warms my heart, Miss Frost. Helping people and communities reach their fullest potential, lifting people out of poverty and decay— these things are my life's mission, Miss Frost. And I, too, know that it all truly boils down to the relationships which make it all happen."

His thoughts, should she still be monitoring them, reflect through a looking glass darkly. He believes every word he says is true, and yet.

Beneath the surface there is a contempt and a rage for the fleabitten masses who will inevitably be too stupid, too lazy, and too worthless to ultimately take advantage of all he is trying to accomplish on their behalf. He cares not if those fools all get ground into hamburger meat, tossed into the fires, and consumed. They are prey, and if they are content to be mewling little prey animals then he is content to put them to their intended purpose in the service of those who are far more worthy. This charitable donation offers opportunities for him and for them; a hand to show he is a generous man, theirs to take advantage of or to squander.

Emma chooses to dine more lightly, fruit and a sweet crepe filled with something creamy looking. A couple rashers of bacon. And an apple cider mimosa because they had them and they looked delicious.

Granted, anything alcoholic would have looked delicious, probably. But this one, rimmed with sugar and garnished with apple peel slivers is downright decadent.

The blonde chews slowly, fighting it down in hopes of it quelling her hangover and taking up with practiced ease the hair of the dog.

She eats with her eyes either closed or focused down upon her plate, using it to hide the look of mild concentration as she sifts through and navigates her dining companion’s thoughts. Sorts them for herself. No walls against her. No blinding defenses.

Ah, it’s refreshing to have someone before her that is so uncomplicated in his way.

Even that dark recess where his philanthropy mutates into a cancerous growth has a certain straightforwardness to it.

To say that she’s familiar with him would be a lie. But she knows men enough who feel the same. Think the same. The difference is—as it always is—in the execution.

When he speaks again, breaking their dining silence, Frost returns her gaze to him with a quiet smile. “It is so wonderful to hear you say so. Honestly, I’m surprised we haven’t crossed paths before. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that you did an admirable job of burying your name. Most of the attendees will have no clue how much you gave. Are you going to be there at the event, or are you going to obscure yourself from the picture entirely?”

In truth, his thoughts whisper, he gave a lot of thought to not going. To sending one of his representatives instead— Wesley, perhaps. But even he relies on relationships, and at a certain point staying hidden hampers him. He has to be careful. There is danger in even putting himself into Union Allied's orbit, of making any appearance that links him to CGI or its holdings at all. But CGI is a little-known concern to most; the chances that one of the handful who might make a problematic connection will show their faces at this event has been deemed slim to none.

There are a number of illicit activities funding him; they weave in and out of his more legitimate efforts like worms crawling through fruit. Some meddlers are already digging, and of them only one has been safely neutralized. To her good fortune, Wilson Fisk decided Patricia Walker would be best dealt with by giving her what she wanted, rather than by harassing her, or murdering her, and poking the dangerous cadre of people who would have rushed to her protection. She is safely having the time of her life at NPR right now, unaware of who, ultimately, put her there.

But the others: the intriguing individual who robbed a government train and who he thinks might be able to build him some weapons, the man the papers call Daredevil…they've been quiet, of late, but he doesn't think they've given up. Those types rarely do without a lot more encouragement than he has offered to date. Any number of traps have now been set to bring one or both of them into his clutches, but like any fisherman he knows the art of the catch lies in the discipline of patience.

Out loud, he smiles. "I've always believed true philanthropy doesn't call attention to itself, Miss Frost. I'm a student of the good book," not a believer, but a student, because of course 'the good book' underpins so much culture and history that to be otherwise would have been to neglect whole areas of his very Abe Lincoln-like education. "It warns against that very sin, doesn't it."

Beatific homilies delivered, he adds, "But it would also be a shame to miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. I can't be a shrinking violet forever. So I will be making an appearance. Though I wonder if it might be possible for you to put a word in the ear of whatever society reporters might be there, and make it clear that the donation should only be mentioned in any media under the corporate brand, not linked to me personally. My privacy is very important to me, Miss Frost."

A student of the Good Book. Is it in there? Emma’s expression asks the question without giving it voice before she chuckles it away behind a sip of her drink.

The slender champagne flute in her hand is considered, turning as the woman lets the coarse crystal sugar on its edge catch the light.

“I do not think that will be a problem, Mister Fisk,” she assures after a moment. “I think there will be plenty of people enough who want the attention to crow so loudly that those who sit contentedly on the sidelines should likely get by just fine. I mean, for God’s sake, Tony Stark is supposed to be there. He’ll gladly take whatever credit you don’t want, I’m sure.”

The blonde tilts her head, considering the large man across from her anew.
His bulk would be downright intimidating, were she not so sure of her own place in the world and the abilities she has. Particularly when paired with those dark thoughts, hidden away in the secret recesses. It garners him a measure of her respect, for all the ways it feels like home in ways he can’t understand.

He doesn’t feel her there, perhaps, but she is. Eavesdropping shamelessly on the whirs and whispers of Fisk’s thoughts.

“But I will do my very best to ensure your privacy in all of this. I don’t want your charity to be something that you come to regret. Especially not now that I’ve tethered my memory to the experience.”


"I've never met Mr. Stark before, but I'll be sure to stand near him if I feel the need to fade from the limelight at any point," Fisk says, with a flash of a smile that really only serves to make him look predatory, albeit in a somewhat understated way.

He has nothing in him that allows him to note the intrusion of a psychic. He is fully human. So it all unfolds before her. For example, Tony Stark was one of the people he was concerned about, when he decided Trish Walker needed to be distracted with the carrot rather than given the stick. She'd been in and out of Stark Towers multiple times since their interview, and the last thing he needs is a crazed idiot in a big metal suit lobbing lasers at his projects.

Nor can he hide his very real relief at her assurances. Even a casual name drop in a newspaper can be problematic. Even his employees aren't allowed to speak his name. He once threatened a girl barely out of her teens for daring to speak it on a public street. His power lies, at least in part, in his anonymity.

But in part, donations like this also serve as insurance. If accusations ever fly, having a shield of being a million dollar donor to a Children's Hospital serves as armor, of a sort, a deflection. Most humans are simplistic creatures. Certainly the prey sorts are; if he did something so good he could never be as bad as they say! Like children, believing they can bring the fairy back to life by clapping hard enough.

Meanwhile, he works on his omelette with the brisk efficiency of a man who takes his eating very seriously indeed, taking the occasional sip of wine. He's enjoying it, certainly, but he's not going to let it go cold in the name of savoring it too much. There's taking pleasure in good food, and then there's downright romanticizing it to the point of absurdity.

"Is this to be a one-off event, Miss Frost? Or is it to become an annual occurrence?"

“I suppose that all depends on the success of it.”

Success, in her book, is not really determined by the size of the gifts. No, it’s all of the intangibles. She, too, is pasting a beautiful veneer over a rotten structure: convincing so many bodies to contribute to a cause, all so that—should her little extracurricular club be exposed to the elements—its membership has a collective philanthropic reputation that will far outweigh any indiscretions.

For the Hellfire Club’s vices are many were anyone to tally them together. And someone has to see to their upkeep.

So, in that regard, she and Fisk are not really all that far apart at all.

She should likely be terrified by the thought.

She’s not.

The young woman instead sips and peruses through Fisk’s thoughts like a magazine, since she’s there anyway, knowing that he’d probably have done the same to her already if he’d had the opportunity. United Allied? What is that?

Trish Walker, who is that? Ah, right. The little celebrity. Huh. Why would he care for that?

And then, that’s all there, too. The ties to Tony. The concern that drives choice. So curious.

…It’s kinda fun reading, man as tabloid. And it’s hard not to enjoy the familiar rush as yet one more very powerful man’s secrets are laid bare before her. Power, after all, is more intoxicating than anything served in a glass.

The blonde sips again on her mimosa, leaning back in her seat with her plate mostly cleared. Crossing her legs, she does her part to look as though she has earned her seat at this table, all easy confidence, carefully polished. “I also suppose it is worth asking if it would be of interest to you, should it repeat itself.”

Her subtle suggestions bring answers, though he believes his mind is simply wandering, the way minds do.

Union Allied is one of dozens of companies this man owns, under a structure of holding companies which hold holding companies. As it goes, this one is a little closer to the centre of his web, primarily because that is what is required to nudge the politicians he is “collaborating” with.

This one is a construction company, and key to the plans he has for several neighborhoods, starting with his beloved Hell’s Kitchen. His head fills with gleaming condos and beautiful structures, and an end to crumbling brownstones, Section 8 projects, rent-controlled monstrosities and downright slums. Office buildings, too, places to provide jobs for those intelligent enough to take advantage of what he will provide.

He will sweep the rats into the ocean. His mind fills with fire and blood.

Why would he care about silencing Trish Walker? Because even though she’s a lifestyle reporter, she somehow managed to stumble into the home of Dr. Miriam Kelt, a woman whom his people were blackmailing into solving a problem with the pills. Kelt had to be killed on the spot, his assassin had failed to take her too, and the probability the little blonde bint would stop digging, minus some encouragement, seemed low. He had real suspicions, though no real confirmation, she’d been talking to the so-called Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, too. No need to take chances, no need to strengthen that horn-toting fool’s drive to intervene in his affairs.

Maybe Daredevil will just die in his fires. That would be okay, too.

Which brings him back to Union Allied, and real estate.

But first: “Of course,” he says. “There is never any shortage of good works to be done, Miss Frost, and I won’t turn down any worthy opportunity to do so, especially not one held in such capable hands.”

A bite of the rabbit he’d also put onto his plate, and then, “But if I might divert us from that for just one moment, Miss Frost. I believe your corporation has ownership of a property at 1427 W. 49th St. that has been vacant for some time. I wonder if you’d entertain the notion of selling it to me? The lot is ideally suited for certain projects I will be pursuing in time. I’m prepared to make a generous offer.”

As the conversation takes a sharp turn towards business, Emma tilts her head to one side and then leans forward with her companion receiving all of the outward signs of her undivided attention. The cup in her hand is set aside, and she moves to curl forward and prop her chin on one hand.

Her eyes narrow in consideration. She hums to herself for a moment.

“Well, clearly, I can’t say anything for certain without a more thorough review of the asset in question and a conversation with the accountants,” she tells him, her unsupporting hand unfurling in his direction for conversational emphasis. “What is that? One of the warehouses?”

On the heels of her own words, she is back to wading through his thoughts, though now with a far less casual interest. Why? Why does he want her things? How badly does he want it?

…And how generous is he willing to be?

“I can certainly say that I will typically entertain just about any business opportunity. Within reason, of course. But I can promise nothing about where it will lead us.”

“One of the warehouses indeed,” he agrees.

He likes that site for a gorgeous new condo concept he’s got planned. The type of place with all the little features up-and-coming professionals who have both the willingness and the ability to pay through the nose would want in a place like that.

The latest design, the smoothest lines. He can see it so clearly in his mind’s eye, this project, and he’s satisfied at every beautiful inch of it. The bottom floor will have a little built-in cafe, and that’s where the swimming pool and gym will be too. And an indoor garden.

Then, the exclusive top floors, for the living spaces.

He pictures gleaming hardwoods and massive windows; granite countertops. Maybe copper sinks in the bathroom, bowl-atop-the-counter style.

He wants it pretty badly, because he’s buying up everything on that block, with plans for every block around it. And he’s willing to make an offer at least 38% higher than appraised value of the property, because he expects to see such a massive return on investment when the project is complete.

Out loud, he throws out an offer 15% higher than the appraised value, adding, “I’ve done a little research into the current worth of the property.”

One more section of urban decay eliminated, one more part of the neighborhood restored, one more miserable little section of town like the one he grew up in redeemed, its ugliness erased for good.

How Wilson Fisk hates it, ugliness.

Emma’s painted lips disappear between knitting fingers as the woman considers the offer set before her, in all of the dimensions that she has set before her.

“Well,” she allows at last, hands dropping neatly to the table as she continues to hold her forward lean. “I’m afraid that I can’t say whether or not that’s a fair offer while I’m right here, buuut…”

She leans back and then down, reaching to claim the purse set against her chair’s leg. There’s something of a show as she reaches in to extract a small but very fancy magnet-sealed notepad - leather with very feminine scrollwork embossed across its surface. Upon the first blank page, she scrawls hurriedly the address: W49. And then a value, with all of its 15% higher than appraised glory intact.

“…I think that’s an offer worthy of engaging my accountants’ time.”


“Excellent, I look forward to those negotiations,” Fisk says, with another one of his genial smiles.

He knows there will be some— there is with any real estate deal— but he enjoys the back and forth. Like spilling puzzle pieces across the table, and making them all fit together into a deal that works for everyone.

A fair negotiation, in this case, with no coercion or other incentives offered. With Win-Win goals.

Emma Frost is nobody to toy with, and he knows it. Which will make it a rare and unique pleasure; dealing with someone of quality, someone he can’t simply intimidate into doing what he wants. He hasn’t done one of those deals in awhile, but he rather thinks he still remembers how.

He thinks about nudging her in the direction of Vanessa’s art gallery, knowing she is often a patron of such things, and then shies away from it. Anyone who has that much respect out of him is also registered as something of a threat; he hardly wants to bring Vanessa to the attention of anyone who might feel compelled to use it against him later.

He doesn’t truly believe anyone gets as powerful as Emma has gotten without being that dangerous, without coloring outside the lines and adopting a certain ruthless streak. It was one of the first things he figured out, in his boyhood study of business and commerce.

It’s a fair assessment.

And, unfortunately for Fisk, the damage is already done.

Emma now knows.

Not that he knows that, of course. And so he can rest easy in his cocoon of naivete, thinking that he’s done the right thing. Thinking that his lady love is protected in her anonymity. Thinking that he’s shielded her with his enormous presence, much as he might were they to stand together in the same room physically.

Not that the telepath has any particular plans ready to unfurl in the other woman’s direction, really. Frost is not typically the sort who likes collateral damage. Typically. Rather, she has come to prefer the laser-precise sort of damage. The sort that burns deep and leaves lasting scars.

Though, really, if she were to set her mind to it, she’s reasonably assured of her powers of creativity… so, Vanessa could effectively be leveraged as either, depending on need. The laser weapon or the casualty of a nuclear bomb.

Neither is called for at this particular juncture, with his noble intentions of a straight-forward deal. Frost International’s CEO intends to repay the favor in kind.

“Lovely!” The notepad is slipped back into her purse, and then Emma begins to reach for her billfold. “Now, I do hate to eat and run, but I do have something that I really should see to. Namely, getting that figure to my staff.” On a Saturday. They love her so. Also, she’s got an out of town trip excursion to begin, but he doesn’t need to know that. “I hope you don’t mind if I make a quick departure? Unless there’s something else that needs discussing right now?” She begins to deftly slip cash out of her purse, not wanting to wait even for them to run her card.


“Not at all,” Fisk says. “Thank you for taking the time, Miss Frost.” He stands to see her out, though he doesn’t take out any sort of payment method.

He intends to take another trip or two back to that buffet, for one thing, and when she’s gone he can do so without fear that he’ll look like some sort of an oaf. “It was a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to our dealings in the future.”

All and all, a productive and fruitful day, as far as the man known as the Kingpin is concerned.

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