In the Room

November 11, 2017:

Emma Frost and Tony Stark step into a medical center where Obadiah Stane is recovering, post Gala. And no, that's definitely not the lead-up to a great punchline.

Stark Medical Research Center

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Pepper Potts, Wanda Maximoff, Pietro Maximoff

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Perhaps they were expecting something less of Obadiah, but just a week after the terrorist attack on the gala he had helped meticulously plan, he was up and about. That is, he could get up. He could get about. At least to and from the bathroom. The surgery required to save his life also required replacing one of his ribs with a piece of Stark-grade stainless steel. Even from here, in a recovery room on the thirtieth floor of the Stark Building, Obi was still a force to be reckoned with - even during visiting hours.

In front of him is a holographic display that shows some tactical readout or another, and to his right is a small table stand that swings over the bed, with what should be horrible hospital food. Instead, it has the gourmet ice cream he so loves, taking this opportunity of pity to dodge Pepper's usual glare over his diet.

Now if only they'd let him have a cigar.

He's got his own robe at least, and a remote lead that sends his vitals to a computer screen behind him. It all looks like a normal hospital room, except that it's Tony's medical research center, and a secondary emergency medical facility only Avengers usually use. Maybe Obi can claim to be part of the team now? Not likely.

It isn't that he summoned them, but he did mention it was the first real bit of visiting hours they'd given him since he woke up just thirty six hours earlier. To say it was touch and go before then would be a lie. It was dire. But now, things are looking up.

When things are dire? That's when Tony Stark avoids everything. He sits and he plots and he plans and he works on what have you in his lab because going to actually visit someone who is just that damn hurt is…just…awkward.

It causes a feel.

He doesn't like it.

But now? Now that he's better. Now that he's having ice cream and complaining about the food. Now is the best time for the world's best billionaire to visit.

And he does.

Like a whirlwind of personality, he bursts into the room. Dressed in roughly a million dollars or more of cloth and electronics. Cloth and electronics that look like denim and a t-shirt of course but never the less, the one and only Tony Stark smirks as he pushes the door open.

"Well. I guess this will teach you to duck, huh, old man?"

Yup. Those are the first words out of his mouth.

…did Obi really expect any less?

Emma Frost is not part of the big ol', cobbled together, dysfunctional Stark family. She did, however, do her best to keep apprised of things… setting her assistant to the task of harassing the medical center staff for any bit of information when the poor girl wasn't otherwise engaged in the firefight with the PR professionals in Frost International's employ and their present triage efforts.

As soon as flowers were allowed, there was a bouquet of white ranunculus and lilies delivered. It precedes its sender by hours.

Frost eventually appears at the facility, looking to be granted access to visit. But she's not part of that illustrious Avengers club, either. And she's never donated here, so that's another muscle she cannot flex.

Wearing a white gauzy shirt-like dress featuring a low v-neck, a short length, and puffed sleeves that are reined in at the wrist with buttoned cuffs, and having paired said dress with a pair of open-toed stiletto boots, Emma hides the signs of fatigue with an artist's stoke of cosmetics. She's all blonde curls and maroon lip-gloss, with her fur coat hung behind one shoulder by a pair of fingers with navy-lacquered fingernails.

And a whole lot of nasty attitude if no one lets her upstairs. Because that's helpful!

So, of course, they will. …Eventually, they will, right? When they're sure that her presence isn't going to overpopulate the room. The click of her sharp, pointed heels is coming down the hall sometime briefly after Stark shoves his way into Obadiah's room. She doesn't move or speak to interrupt, however. Not quite yet, anyway.

"Something like that." Comes Obadiah's reply to Tony, and while the words are dry he does manage a smile past his grizzled beard before waving a hand to shift the hologram in front of him to the faces of the attackers. Blurry, partially reconstructed, but not wholly.

Wanda and Pietro Maximoff showing in 3D profile, under the words 'Ragnarok Protocol'.

"Any leads out there on these two? When I activated my dead man's camera, I imagined I would never get to see the results." It might explain his last words before blacking out, words that, apparently, made his wristwatch scan holographically scan faces.

"But I'm glad I did. I'm glad you're okay too. I…" There's a moment there where he looks down at his bed, at the foot of it. Where his face grows long, and emotion spills out. Did Tony ever see his father cry? Ever see him reach a breaking point. Here it is, on the man who stood in for Howard, after Howard was gone. He lifts a hand, eager for Tony to take it, and if he does he'll give it a squeeze.

Just that touch, and seeing striking white in the doorway will bring him back to Earth, a bright smile of joy and relief stretching to the corners of his mouth. "Emma! Come in. Come here. Better not be a scratch on you or I.."

Couldn't ever forgive himself.

Of course, Emma's trek up will have been far easier than she might have imagined. Doors open for her at her mere presence, and any guard who might think to stop her will immediately find his security pad with her face on it. All because Obi thought it easier to give her VIP access long ago.

"..I don't think I'd be able to live with myself."

"I'm fine, old man," Stark waves away the worry as he walks over to let Obadiah take his hand. Returning the gesture with a slightly awkward pause. "You worry about your own self. And the fact that Pepper might kill you for sneaking ice cream in bed." He adds with a smirk as he steps back.

"As for those two…" A shake of his head. "Mutants with a chip on their shoulders. Speedster, which is how they likely got explosives in without people noting it, and the other some strange finger wiggling stuff. Mind stuff. Didn't effect electronics, though, so I just had JARVIS filter as best he could."

Then someone else is here and Tony's smirk returns. Wider and more appreciative. "Emma! You didn't have to burn anyone down to their boots on the way here, I hope? People around here can be such sticklers."

B-but if there's no one to incinerate with her nasty attitude for being caught up, where will Emma's pent up frustrations go?! She was expecting a fight. And now… Now she'll have to find a new target after she's done here. World at large, beware.

"I left the ashes in the broom closet a few turns back," Emma retorts without missing a beat, but only coming into the room far enough to get just inside the door. She's more than willing to play along with the game with her false show of apology, to help dispel all of that unpleasant emotion. Her features crinkle up a little as she points out the door and down the hall to that made up pile of dust. "Hope you don't mind, Tony, darling?"

"And as for you, Mister Stane… I think you could have found a less dramatic way to let me down easy about the afterparty you didn't want to come to. That was a lot of trouble when a simple 'I don't think I'll be able to make it' would have sufficed." She doesn't talk about scrapes or broken nails. She just tilts her head, and asks: "I'm not interrupting, am I? I can come back."

There's almost a wince at the emotion he showed for a brief moment, happy to pat Tony's hand once with his free one, and then let him go so that he might not be caught in a more emotional web than he wants. He nods to the information about the attackers, staring a hole through his little hologram, and then he waves it away. There's a little smile at Emma's quip, at the natural way she has to lighten a mood, to bring air into the cold abyss so that drowning men might breath again.

This could turn ugly, Emma. A lot of powerful people with powerful friends in that room died, and for some children's version of Mutant Pride. We're going to have to change the tune before everyone starts to dance.

The thought comes naturally now, where before talking in his head with such purpose was a little jarring. "No, no. Not interrupting at all, Emma. I'm glad you're both here. I wanted to tell you something. I was going to tell you alone, Tony, but this matters to Emma, too. We've grown close. Working on this party, and some other initiatives. You would not believe her generous spirit, and how much she cares about the world. Projects she refuses to put her name on. Drinking water initiatives, security personnel for the refugee crossing in Iberia. The Sokovian Children's fund. All her, all without even wanting a thank you. She's just like you Tony. Just like me. Wants to make the world better."

The pause is long, but it's clear he has more to say, his gaze lifting to meet Tony's in a way that's grim and determined. "After we lost your parents, I obsessed over it. The crash. Mechanical failure. Did my own reports. You didn't know - no one did - something as simple as better seatbelts might have made a difference. The car companies were either too blind or too cheap, and so I went and did it myself. I could have buried them, but it wouldn't have helped anyone, Tony. I made a better seatbelt, and got them all to agree to it. All without saying a word to anyone. A few years back, I almost made another. You were rotting in a cave overseas, and I thought you were dead. Back then the World Security Council was just forming. They wanted me, but when you came back, I wanted to stay with you. Tony, we can't just play whack-a-mole anymore with this stuff. Chasing down gunrunners while the Avengers respond like a volunteer fire company to put out a house already reduced to ashes. We need to know about these threats - those who have stepped up and attacked people, along with those who want to help. Catalog them, and get everyone who wants to help signed up to work for us. How many people almost died because Zatanna Zatara has the power to nearly level a Kryptonian? Who's going to stop her if we don't have the right tool for the job, next time.

He leans back, and he looks deadly serious. "It's time to do what your father always dreamed of doing, but what you've come closer to than he ever has. Build that armor, not around yourself. Build it around the world, and let Emma and I help you."

"Oh, I'm familiar with Emma and her talents. I mean, if she finds causes as well as she finds cooks, then she can do no wrong." The inventor replies with a smirk as he steps back from the bed with a grin.

"I'll have someone clean the closet. You should show me which one, though. Just to make sure." Then back towards Obi as he shakes his head slightly, glossing over the talk of his parents and a car crash.

Though as Obi continues on the Avenger's smile slowly looses steam, turning into something else. Not quite a frown, but that look of concern at least. "Woah, there, old man, this isn't as simple as making a new seatbelt. I mean, I like to think the Avengers are more than just a volunteer fire company. Plus you have the Justice League, the Titans, a dozen other little groups. SHIELD. Those X-whatevers." A glance over at Emma at that as he shrugs.

He can't be bothered to remember all the names.

"But, first off, that wasn't Fishnets' fault, and you know it. These two right there are the problem… I mean, I agree, knowing about threats beforehand makes 'em easier to, fix but come on, old man… That was just an idea dad had."

She wasn't spying, but the concerted effort to catch her attention? Does. Emma hears the thoughts offered up to her, and she raises an eyebrow. « Could turn ugly? Is turning. » She'd offer more, but Obadiah is talking soon after, and she doesn't want to distract him with the layered conversations that take so long to get accustomed to.

And then he takes the proverbial left turn at Albuquerque. Her generous spi— Emma doesn't like being caught off-guard. She hates it, really. There's an unsettled nature to the glance she casts between Tony and Obadiah, a nearly awkward half-hearted smile on her lips at the talk of her philanthropic work that's abandoned nearly before it's attempted in the first place. Tony helps her get past that moment with his offer of the closet, and she takes the moment of levity for all it's worth, giving one of her very best in the way of come-hither glances.

But then she doesn't have to pretend she's not uncomfortable anymore because Obadiah is talking. He's talking a lot. And then Emma doesn't give a rat's ass about layered conversation. Her thoughts are an angry hiss inside of his own. « Obadiah, what are you doing? »

But the White Queen's fury is not for just inside Stane's head. Oh, no. It spills into every part of her as she feels her blood chill to a temperature worthy of her surname. "Catalogue?" she inquires quietly with a discomforted smile, as she pulls the door quietly shut beside her. The words that follow are delivered with an equal, disturbing calm. "And it's X-Men. Really, Tony? You couldn't remember the word men?" Then she turns her gaze solidly back to Obadiah. "Anyway, back to my point: I'm not certain that cataloguing is the best solution."

A hand lifts, and so do Obi's brows. In his mind, the board is laid out like it always is. A pawn sacrificed to a knight, but only so that a bishop might swoop in for the kill. "I know that, Tony. I know it's not simple. It's why I'm asking the greatest mind of our time to help me figure it out. That's you if you haven't figured it out out yet."

Sixteen states, Emma. Mutant registration legislation is going to come to the state legislatures in sixteen states. That's just what I know is coming. The only way to stop it is to make the picture bigger. Make it not about genetics, but about proven threats. Or proven heroics. Besides, if someone's making a list, YOU might as well be the one controlling it. Set the parameters. Make sure friends are protected and enemies are targeted. Run the board, like a Queen.

"I'm not certain it's the best solution either. I'm not. It's certainly the wrong word when you think about that mutant registration trash that blowhards have been using as political football for the last five years. I'm talking about taking all those threats we know about, researching them, and finding those heroes - certain Avengers, certain X-Men, certain SHIELD agents, the right counter to the problem. I know that kid up on stage wasn't in control. She was being worked, we all were. I saw…"

He can't speak about it, looking away for a brief moment. Then the chess board returns. He makes his move.

"Think about knowing the best response to the worst threat. Imagine satellites, Tony, drifting around the world. A mutant speedster and a killer robot show up. The response is a message that goes out not just to the right groups, but the right people. A telepath that can disable the speedster faster than he can think, much less move. A technokinetic, who reaches out through the airwaves to disable the AI, turning enemy to ally."

There's a slow exhale, and it's clear it's all taking a toll, and thoughts of Howard enter his mind. "Look, if it's not us—you and me and Emma, people who will do this right—it's going to be someone else. Down the line, it's going to be someone who we'll have to fight. Instead, we can protect the world with little more than a few signatures from the committed, and some technology that I know you can build."

His stare levels with a knowing look at Tony, one that says you're already halfway there. "Technology you've already built in your head. Thinking the same way I am now. Or is Veronica just the name of one of your girlfriends?"

His gaze shifts then, to Emma, looking for reaction. He doesn't really have to look, he can feel it if she wants him to, and her wrath weighs heavy on his mind. But he is not detered. His speciality is strategy. So with his eyes, and his mind, he asks for her trust.

"Men, girls, boys, whatever. The bald guy's boys and girls." Tony now seems agitated. Which means movement. And possibly eating. Which is why he pulls a bag of dried mangos out of his jacket and starts to viciously munch on them as Obi talks.

The inventor turns, paces, turns again as Obi talks. There is a slight wince as Veronica is brought up. "Yes, actually, but I don't think thats the one you're referring to." Comes the almost guilty mutter. "And I haven't built it!" He adds as he turns away again. "Just thought about it…"

A shake of his head. "You know what I do. I think." A beatpause. "And, technically, I'm one of the smartest humans on the planet. I think we all know humans aren't the only ones here." He continues to munch against the mangos as he shakes his head.

"Look, first off, I have no idea even what to do about anything magical. So that's getting kicked to specialists. As for some kind of satellite system, or information database. That's…" He frowns thoughtfully. "…well, that's more possible."

A pause as his mind races ahead at what Obidiah describes. It's plausible. Possible even. It would help the existing teams but…

"This is a lot more complicated than just a satalite link though. This is gonna get ugly. And this is gonna affect a lot more people than just us. Naturally. I mean talking about the whole world here." He waves a hand for a moment, turning to look out the window as he gnaws on a particularly tough piece of dried fruit.

Registration is a problem. He knows that. Making an enemy out of a species just makes that species more angry. More likely to fight back. Which just continues the cycle.

…some form of it, though, might work.

Maybe.

Then a shake of his head again. "I can't build for every situation." He finally says. "Yeah, I know. Admitting I can't isn't something I do a lot. But this is going to require specialists." A shake of his head again. "And I still think mutant registration is a damn idiotic idea."

As Obadiah continues, and then Tony chimes in, Emma's head is slowly shaking in disbelief. She's in the room. She is in the room! Listening to this. Feeling it resonate in stereo as they think it.. And, as the species in question, Emma can certainly testify to the getting angry in response, because all pretense of her calm is failing.

"Good!" she says, voice full of exasperation as Tony lets his final thought fall on mutant registration. Her empty, slender hand flies up in a show of her frustration. "Because it is. In no universe is any policy that requires the registration of children a good idea. And it would come to that. Because people do horrible things when they're uncomfortable, and right now they're outright terrified."

"That's why no one here is talking about mutant registration. Emma. Tony. I'm talking about asking the people who have already formed groups, already acted as heroes, and asking them to sign on to accountability, to responsibility. To say, when the call comes, they'll answer. To say, together we will counter those who have declared themselves our enemies. Not some phantom in the minds of the scared masses. Certainly not any child."

Obadiah lifts a hand, running it back over his head. Fatigue is there, because he's just days out of a coma, and days more out of surgery. "It's why I need you with me, Emma. Two people removed from this business of saving the world first hand, to make sure there's accountability on our side of it. And once we have this, a coalition of heroes world wide, what in the world can anyone say would threaten us again? Why would we need to register every mutant when any mutant so brazen as to make himself an enemy of the world would find his own kind, willing to stand up to him? This isn't an answer to one problem. It's the answer to all of them."

He shakes his head a little, and offers his hand to Emma, as if to show how sorry he is he upset her. "Look, I'm sorry to drag all this up now. It's just… you come this close. On the edge of a knife. You think about the ways you can keep it from happening to the people you care about. And I care about you both. More than I can put into words. Maybe I'm just wrong. I don't know. But I do know that whatever I do next, however we move forward, we should do it together."

"Woah woah there, beautiful. I'm agreeing with you." Tony replies as he raises his hands up in surrender. A single piece of mango falls from the nigh empty bag to the floor. "I'm not saying to register anyone, let alone kids. What I am saying is that this mess at the gala is just going to make it worse."

He frowns a moment in thought before glancing back towards the White Queen, a quirked eyebrow. Honest curiosity. She can feel it from him, the need for more data. The stab of shame that he even was thinking about this with her in the room. "So what do you suggest, then?" The question is honest, even if his thoughts are coming now at a rate that is truly dizzying in its intensity.

"I mean the old man," He waves his hand towards Obi. "Has his opinions. I have mine. What are yours? I don't want some wierd logbook of villians, but just something where we could communicate between all these crazy groups of people that actually know how to deal with stuff wouldn't be that bad."

A beatpause.

"And look, Emma, really. I'm against anything like that. I mean, you know that, don't ya?"

At some point during all of the assurances, Emma brought her fur coat in front of her and she's hugging it like a glorious, luxurious, PETA-reviled teddybear. She takes a long, deep breath. "Except that it's not a…" Solution to end all solutions. "Look, I need more rest and thought before I can even begin to think about this rationally, but you have to start with a general agreement that everything must begin with voluntary self-identification. If you can't start talking there, then I'm not sure I can talk about this."

Then she looks up to Tony, and she hugs her coat a little tighter as she dives into his mind just deep enough for the resonances of truth. "Because, yes. I do," she tells him at last, the words slow and low. "And I don't want to see that change."

"Look… Emma, Tony. You're both right. All options on the table, and we should certainly sleep on it. Just not too long. Other people are moving in the directions we don't want to see them move. I'd rather stop that from happening with some paper and pens. In any case. I think I'm starting to understand why my doctor said not to push it. Why don't the two of you go have some dinner on me, and let me sleep off this aching everything."

He smirks a little, and eases his bed backwards, content to let his ice cream melt away as exhaustion claims him. Of course, he doesn't need to sleep on anything. He knows the variables in his mind.

He can see them playing out already.

"Not arguing that point," This towards Emma as Tony shakes his head slightly and starts to inch towards the door. "Either of those points. But yeah, that sounds like a good starting point by me." The inventor's brain is still whirling as he shakes his head slightly.

"Anyway, get some rest, old man. We'll go off and let you rest. Emma has a closet to show me." He adds with a smirk, trying to ease them both past the more serious conversation. "And I have my favorite cooks in the city to show her." He adds as he heads towards the door, trying to recover some semblance of balance as his thoughts whirl.

"So don't die, old man. If you do, Pepper will only have me to yell at, and that would be the darkest timeline."

At the remark about the closet, there's a lift of Emma's flaxen eyebrows now and an uneven smile of her own. Like she'd really be caught dead in a broom closet? Pfft. But she'll hold onto the diversion for all that's it's worth. To prove it, she'll even hook her slender, silk-wrapped arm around Tony's once he's close enough to nab.

"Good night, Mister Stane. Sleep well. Feel better soon."

And then, quietly, to Tony, the woman all in white whispers as they slip out: "If you take me through a drive-thru after that sort of a lead-up, I'll end you, Stark."

"Not my fault they have the best burgers!" Tony really can't help it, can he?

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