December 23, 2017:

Tony and Emma's wonderful Maui vacation is off to a great start! He asks the wrong question, but (after many years of saying the wrong thing) he's learned a thing or two about recovering.

Maui, Hawaii


NPCs: None.

Mentions: John Constantine


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Let it never be said that Tony Stark fails to thrive under a deadline.

When Emma Frost came to his office and proposed a Yuletide getaway, Tony Stark had not only agreed to the mad plan (again) and provided a destination. He had his private jet ready and a beachside bungalow booked in under twelve hours. Or had someone else do it. She wasn’t really sure of the details. She just knows that it probably shouldn’t have been possible, and her drafted Christmas companion made it so.

She just knew that all she had to do was go home, pack her vintage Louis Vuitton trunk with a pair of swimsuits and clothes for balmy weather, squeeze in an emergency appointment with her esthetician and explain for what must have been the seventh time that she wasn’t planning to get that stupid “witch bite” (or whatever the hell John Doomsday Constantine had called it) removed, and get some beauty sleep before the plane left at the very reasonable hour of one in the afternoon.

After a lovely flight filled with drinking, dining, and the ongoing game of flirting, they’d landed and gotten right back to drinking to toast the start of a beautiful vacation. Away from everything and everyone else.

It was a perfect Day 1. By her assessment anyway.

The morning of Day 2 sees Emma quietly extricating herself from the tangle of bedsheets while her host is still sleeping, shrugging on his shirt after picking it up from the floor, and moving to the kitchen to set coffee to brewing. She fumbles with the complimentary packets and unfamiliar pot, out of practice with making her own coffee and still groggy. Then she moves to the bathroom in the other bedroom to set herself to rights before he wakes up. Her daily routine is an art of the sacred variety. No mortal man needs to see it, or her face without the masterful application of cosmetics.

She doesn’t need the makeup, perhaps, but it has become a daily meditation for a woman with seemingly no spirituality within her at all.

But first? A shower.

The soft whisper of her footsteps is deceiving; she’s little more than half-awake and the world a confusing and muddled fog of whispered thoughts and the things physically around her. So she ends up just shutting the thoughts out. Yes. That’s better.

She curses inwardly, however, as the shower spout sputters loudly upon starting up, the cottage’s pipes betraying her presence among the waking world.

The flight was on one of Stark’s personal jets. Which means the flight was nowhere near as long as most planes and contained all the amenities of a five star hotel. Including full service wet bar and personal chef for the flight.

The beach house itself has a glorious view of the ocean. Parked midway up a cliff near the edge of the Hana Forest reserve on an outcropping of stone with the shining view of the Seven Sacred Pools of Ohe’o though a pair of bay windows. People are no more than tiny ants in the distance and the sounds of Christmas are sure far away. The noise of the surf though is still heard as water crashes against the waves and the sun shimmers on white sand below.

Perhaps he chose a spot away from people on purpose knowing his company.

Or maybe he just told JARVIS to pick a spot. It’s always hard to tell with Tony.

The sputtering pipes though cut though the morning noises and from the bedroom there is a muffled voice followed by a thump of someone falling out of bed and onto the cold stone floor.

A few more moments of her wincing before there is a shuffling sound from the bedroom. Slowly coming towards the bathroom. There is an aborted yawn that can be heard and then a sleepy voice. “Emma?” A beatpause. “S’cold floor.”

The glower that Emma levels upon the shower head should be enough to melt it. Alas, it remains solid, but it knows her displeasure. It knows. Traitorous pot metal. Still groggy enough to not want to yell back at him, she sighs instead.

«Then get back into the warm bed, Tony,» she instructs him from across the property, her thoughts carrying a note of exasperation as she slips out of his shirt and into the stream of hot water. «The coffee will be ready soon.»

Then, after a moment, it dawns that he’s drawing closer. The showerhead gets angry glowers anew through its spray. “I hate you,” she whispers to it, voice full of venom and threat. “And you are on my list.

She can already feel it, even as she reaches across the building to speak into his mind. That mind is already awake, thoughts beginning to sprint through his brain in that same unending stream of consciousness that there always is. The man’s thoughts spin though equations that are nearly alien to most people. Thoughts of new suits and just what to do next chase each other though his brain as it swims back into wakefulness.

“Hot shower better than coffee.” He replies with a yawn as he sets hand against the door to the bathroom and starts to push it open. Just in time to see her slip into the shower.

Isn’t she so happy that he has no sense of shame or propriety.

His thoughts pause for a moment to coalesce into appreciation of that view that slips into steam and frosted glass. And curiosity of that magical mark that mars her fine skin.

“…never took you for tattoos.”

Tony will know that, typically, neither is Emma one for “puritanically chaste and outdated” concepts of modesty. She’s a creature that thrives in the Hellfire Club, which has a certain… reputation for entertaining members of a certain appetite when they grow hungry.

She shouldn’t care that he’s there. Shouldn’t care that he watches her. She certainly didn’t care on the yacht.

But that was then.

When he starts thinking too loudly, there’s a snort. In her early twenties, she’d strung the thoughts of scientists and electrical engineers together and spurred them onward to help her develop an early telepathic amplifier. There’d been theory and application, and she was the glue to hold a team together and keep them moving forward. Not that they’d known what they were working on, birthing Mutivac.

She still regrets that stupid name, but it’s a device that still lives and finds itself used in the Hellfire Club.

The point of the story is this: Science? Doesn’t scare Emma. But those brilliant scientists — leaders in respective their fields — paled in comparison to the bright and blazing inferno of thought that is Tony Stark. And she’d never bothered dabbling in their brains first thing in the morning after a late night of drinking and revelry. His thoughts feel particularly fast and particularly sharp—a disorienting whirlwind of pins with just the surface brush against them. They don’t feel good, and so she draws back from them and shuts her mind off to him again.

Except that this means she loses track of him in short order, unable to hear him above the noisier than usual shower. She assumes he goes to do as he’s told. This… is a silly assumption, she will come to realize.

When he speaks, she actually starts. And then, once her heart calms down a little and she trusts herself enough to speak back at him, she does so in a voice still thick with sleep but possessing an edge of agitation: “Tattoos? What are you blithering on about? I don’t have a—”

She stops as realization dawns.

Oh,” she says, voice suddenly flat.

It would have to be a tattoo or its ilk, because it certainly wasn’t there on her perfectly waxed rear end the last time he saw it in daylight. But it’s so boring. A perfectly round circle, the color of a healing burn.


Many things are silly assumptions when it comes to Tony Stark. The greatest of which is that he’ll do as he is told. He’s pretty much made a career out of doing the exact opposite of what he’s told. It’s just how he operates. So the fact that he happens to be standing in the doorway to the bathroom with a grin on his face and a train of towels wrapped around his waist should be a surprise to absolutely no one.

Though there is a quirked eyebrow. The agitation, the flatness of her voice. Even in his slightly sleep-fogged state he picks up on that.

“Soooooo…not a tattoo, then.”


That would be the sound that Emma makes as she lets her head fall forward under the water, hands lifting to smash their heels against her eyes.

“No,” she growls, low, with a deep frown all of the early warning signs of a nasty temper. It’s hard to stay mad in the heat of the shower, though, so she relents a little. “If you ever meet a man named John Constantine, though, turn and walk the other way.”

That’s code for ‘it’s a long story’, and she fully expects the name to mean nothing to Stark. So she grabs her bottle of shampoo and keeps doing precisely what she’d intended to do in the first place: shower.

“Johnny English himself, eh?” Comes the voice over the shower, though it’s obvious that he’s moving away now. Letting her have some peace and quiet to shower while still carrying a conversation. Mostly though the fact that he can project very well.

“He’s kind of a dick, but so is Strange. Must be a magic thing.” The inventor replies lazily as he leaves the door to the bathroom open. “I’ll put something on for breakfast, though.” He adds over his shoulder. “He kept a otherworldly god locked in my basement for over a month.” He adds just in case she’s wondering just how he knows the wizard of England.

The kitchen of the building is very well appointed and the man does busy himself pulling out all the fixings for breakfast omelets as he hums to himself. Somehow in the process finding his pants where they were flung the previous evening.

When a woman sounds that mad, you let them have at least a little space before continuing to badger about it.

…which he entirely intends to do.

Sometimes, Tony can be a very wise man. Walking away as Emma wakes up is evidence of this.

Ugh. You actually know him? I’m sorry; he’s the worst. I can’t imagine needing to put up with him for a month.

Well, that’s a bit of exaggeration. Because Emma is intimately acquainted with a number of legitimately and far worse people on any given day of the week and must deal with them for far longer terms than a month. The point remains that the Englishman did not endear himself to her during their encounters.

“All that, and I bet he didn’t even give you so much as a ‘thank you’.” Otherworldly god, huh? That sounds about par for the course.

In her newly regained solitude in the bathroom, Frost drags a little less in her morning shower than she might if she were by herself. Were Tony not making breakfast. (And it’s a good thing he can, because she had no intention of trying for fear that Tony would think she was trying to poison him. Now they can not starve. Emma’s a fan of not starving, although admittedly with less appreciation for the fine details of starving than her impromptu chef.)

Fortunately, she doesn’t really need all that long.

Minutes later, she’s turning off the treacherous shower, and pulling her terry robe on. She slathers on a healthy dose of her moisturizer, and then walks out of the bathroom still gingerly wringing out her hair with a towel.

She should probably apologize for being cranky with the one who dropped everything to get her off the mainland and away from the things bothering her. She knows this. Instead, she simply inquires, “Is the coffee drinkable?”

The sounds and smells of cooking eggs seem to drift from the kitchen as Stark works. “You know,” He calls as she stalks her way in. “I would likely get thrown out of a whole lot more apartments if I couldn’t cook a good breakfast.” He tosses towards her as he smirks at her. Eyes drinking in the sight of her freshly showered in her robe before he just shakes his head slightly to refocus.

“I think it is… I mean, it’s not sludge.” The man replies with a shrug. “Lemme get most of this on a plate.” He adds with gesture to the southwestern style omelettes and toast he has made. “Or just grab a plate and grab what you like.”

“As for Johnny, he didn’t seem to be the thanking type. I didn’t have to deal with him for a month. I had to deal with a god trapped in the body of a teenager in my basement for a month or so. Felt a little bad for the girl but…” He shrugs. “…containment was a fun exercise. But I got declared a god of my own by a group of insect people in a Demi-plane out of it so I wasn’t complaining.” He adds with a little grin.

From anyone else, talking about containing a small g god would be nothing but hyperbole but from Stark? He talks about it as easily as he was talking about making breakfast.

“But I take it you didn’t have quite as much fun meeting him, eh?”

Leaning on the doorframe as she watches Tony about his work, Emma continues to tend to her hair. Nope. Not gonna help get breakfast on the table. He can do it for her.

She likes being appreciated, though, and her smile tugs softly to one side as she looks back at him.

But then, in his way, that playboy is barrelling on again at a hundred miles an hour. It spills out of him so easily, stories and experiences. She doesn’t need to be a telepath when he does it. It’s out of his own mouth, freely offered rather than stolen. She chuckles at the thought of insect people revering Tony as any sort of deity, thinking nearly as much of him as he lets on to think of himself.

But then he’s back again, to the sore spot. She’s in a better place to deal with the inquiry, though, when it comes around again.

“No,” she admits, walking into the room and draping the towel over the back of a stool at the breakfast counter in the kitchen. “He got into the Club, somehow, and started prattling on about blah Weird Things blah You’ll Know to Call blah-di-dah and other cryptic whatevers, and then handed me his card. I kept it; God only knows why.”

She sighs. “A few months later, had a nasty run-in on the astral plane.” She indicates the mark on her skin with a jerk of her head in its direction. “Called him, he called it a … I don’t remember. Something appropriately mystic cryptic horrible. Witch something?”

The woman moves closer, and then leans against the counter closer to where Tony’s stationed. “Anyway, told me that having a surgeon take care of it was ‘ill advised.’ Most of the time, I just try to hide it and forget it’s there. It’s uglier than sin.” A beat passes, and then a wry twist conquers her mouth as she drapes her hand over her breastbone. “Which, I suppose isn’t saying that much since I find sin rather attractive.”

“He gets into the strangest places really. Something something blah blah fate needs him there.” Tony waves a spatula lazily as he gets to plating the food. Toast, eggs, some coffee because he wouldn’t even give Emma the affront of giving her juice instead of coffee. “I mean he is a wizard.” He makes a face at that. “And I hate magic. Dealing with the Ten Rings for years will do that to a person.”

A flicker of a smirk back towards her though. “He’s a jackass, too.” He adds. “But he got a kid unpossessed so that is something, I suppose. He’s good at that. Pissing people off and the whole mystic thing, so…I guess you should listen to the professionals.” He slides her plate and mug towards her with a smirk. “And no, its not ugly as sin. You wouldn’t mind that.”

He gives her an amused look. “Because nothing can be ugly as sin when you’re wearing it. Admit it, you make everything fabulous. No, you don’t like it because it's boring.” A spatula is waved in her general direction. “And you my blonde haired beauty hate boring.”

Flattery, as they say, will get you everywhere. Particularly when it’s Tony Stark’s particular variety, delivered as smooth as silk and every bit as luxuriously comfortable. The last of her earlier frustration, which really wasn’t about him at all, ebbs.

“Well,” Emma says as she plucks up the coffee once its poured, her small contribution to the entire affair, and sniffs at it tentatively. A ringing endorsement of her trust in her ability if ever there was one. The sip at it, also uncertain.

It doesn’t have to be sludge to still be awful.

But this isn’t, and there’s a small sigh of relief as she searches down sugar and milk to set out with everything else. She can do the coffee, yes! Now that he’s already poured.

“It looks boring. Turns out, it’s actually an enormous annoyance when it chooses to be, and I’ll be very glad when it gets all sorted.” Because it will get sorted, or heads are going to roll.

If she can get that done, padding around barefoot in the kitchen, before he’s actually done scooping everything out, well, then she can help set. She supposes. It’s evidence that her mood is resetting.

“Oh god, its not sorted yet?” Tony replies as he nudges the cream and sugar over towards her. “That's usually bad. Especially when it comes to magic.” The technologist replies with a shake of his head. He watches her too as she moves around the kitchen, flicking glances in her direction as she goes. She might feel that gaze on her. Watching the flickering of her legs between the slits in her robe, the flash of her skin and the curve of her shoulder. Appreciating, smiling at just her.

He’s enjoying this morning, he is.

“It’ll get fixed eventually I’m sure, and then you can go back to your normal kind of annoyances instead of the magical ones. Anything I can do to help with it, though?” He asks with a quirk of that eyebrows angled at her. “Besides whisk you away to Maui on short notice of course.”

Eyes upon her don’t bother her in the least. If anything, Emma simply finds the subtle ways to encourage them. A stride, a turn… Or, as it happens, to come up right in front of her gracious host, set her coffee down, and slide her newly warmed hands carefully along the flesh of his chest if he’ll let her.

“You’re so sweet,” she practically purrs, looking up the small distance to catch his eyes. “But no, I—”

A pause. A thought.

“Actually… Maybe.

Her nose crinkles, and then: “I have some names to look into. Connected to a Club member. If it comes to it, would you care to go to a party or two?”

Her sliding up to him doesn’t matter much to Tony. Her hands on his chest doesn’t do anything but cause him to slowly smile as he slips one hand around her waist. Breakfast is looking less and less interesting in the face of a beautiful woman in his arms.

“Go to a party with you, I take it? Well, damn. Just twist my arm about that. Such a horrible thing you ask. I mean I’ll try my best to make myself do it.” He drawls as he leans forwards to place a warm kiss against the hollow of her throat.

“That’s a yes if you didn’t figure it out.”

At that kiss, Emma’s eyes close and her head falls backwards as she leans into his arm to welcome it. Her skin smells of some exotic floral. Fingers move, up and along Tony’s shoulders and into his dark hair as she makes a contented sound to express her own appreciation. “You’re the best, darling.”

But after only a scant moment, she pulls back with a sharp inhalation to catch his dark gaze with her pale own full of mischief. “So, this morning wasn’t my best start. I think we can do better. I propose we go back to bed, right now, and try again. Aim for perfection.” Her eyes narrow with false solemnity, and her lips turn down in an attempt to frown. “What say you?”

Stark’s grin only grows at the look in her eyes. The inventor seemingly to tap his spatula against his other hand in thought. “Well…” He says slowly as he comes to a decision. “I suppose…” His grin turns wicked. “…I can deal with cold omelettes.”

With that he flings that spatula over his shoulder with the same carelessness he shows…well…most things. It clatters against the floor as Stark simply goes for the expedient route of plucking Emma right off her feet in a proper princess carry.

“Perfection must be achieved after all.” He adds as he starts back towards the bedroom.

As the dirty spatula goes theatrically flying over Stark’s shoulder, Emma’s features briefly twist into one of irritation. Because, dirty spatula. Flying. Clattering onto the kitchen floor. Probably splattering a little.

If that’s where it landed. She’s… not quite certain.

Because then she’s suddenly up in arms, and there is only one course of action.

She wraps her arms about his neck, her squeak of surprise melting into her own particular brand of refined laughter as she sets another kiss upon his lips.

It’s time to go back to enjoying the Fine Art of Distraction.

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