Intake

January 04, 2018:

Pepper Potts and the titular partners at Nelson & Murdock arrive at an arrangement.

Law Offices of Nelson & Murdock

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The first visit of Pepper Potts to the law offices of Nelson & Murdock found the area in a state of… well, let's be frank: Disarray. The Murdock-half of N&M was away on an extended leave following the conclusion of the trial of James Buchanan Barnes, leaving Foggy Nelson all by his lonesome with an ever-accumulating mountain of mail and sticky-note reminders. And while the firm is unlikely to ever enjoy the polished shine of white-shoe law firms several avenues over — or even the sleek and menacing professionalism of Hogarth, Chao and Benowitz — her subsequent visit will finds this scrappy operation much better prepared. The front office is clean, for one, and slightly better furnished. It even enjoys a few flourishes like potted plants, legal periodicals scattered on the foyer desk, and framed news clippings of the firm's signature success — winning what's come to be known as the 'Trial of Two Centuries.'

Just beyond the foyer, inside the small space that passes for the office's conference room, a bespectacled and, for once, clean-shaven Matt Murdock is donning his grey suit jacket — both in preparation for Pepper's arrival and because the radiators are struggling to combat the draft from the freezing-cold weather outside. He reaches for the knot at his skinny tie and looks in his partner's direction. "Hey, Fog, is this thing on straight?" he asks, and probably not for the first time.

Mirrors have, after all, never been much use.

Outside of the offices of Nelson & Murdock, an understated but still high end car pulls to a stop at the curb. Inside the car, Pepper tucks her phone away into her shoulder bag and moves to climb out, thanking the driver and stepping out onto the sidewalk without waiting for him to open the door for her. This part of town that kind of 'fancified' behavior might draw undue attention. Just having a driver is bad enough, but as she suspected, there is less than zero parking available.

She approaches the door to the building that houses the aforementioned office — knowing where she's going from the last time she stopped by — and pauses just outside to resettle the chocolate brown lace stole wrapped around her neck over her coat like a scarf.

The front lobby was organized as only the over-achieving near-perfectist Stephanie Brown can manage was mostly due to the fact that this was day one of her internship in New York before she was set out to be the 'look out' for Ms. Potts. The ginger spotted, Stephanie lets the sleek black phone she had been playing on fall into the depths of the inner pocket of her business jacket while rising to her feet. The blonde moves over and pushes open the door.

"Ms. Potts? I'm Miss Brown, Mr. Murdock and Mr. Nelson's new intern. I've been asked to show you in," says Stephanie, voice making her seem far too young for the attire. It's professional, and high end enough to be more at home in those white-collar offices, and yet, here she is, holding the door for Pepper and leading her into the depths of the building, toward the law offices she now works in.

"Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee?" she's offering as she walks down the hall, voice clear and loud enough to hopefully be heard as the pair approach the door to Matt's office, a door that Stephine opens for Pepper upon reaching.

"Thanks, man," Matt says to his partner with a slight smile and a clap on the shoulder. It's safe to say their yin-yang effect on each other is mutual, and has been really since freshman year of college. And especially given Matt's rocky return from… wherever he was off to for those six weeks… it's a double-relief to feel like the pair are slipping back into their old, comfortable rhythms.

Then the blind lawyer's head tilts, the way it sometimes will, like a cat that hears a far off sound. "Hey, Fog, I think I hear Stephanie bringing up Ms. Potts." A beat, a breath, and then a quick flash of a smile. "Let's do this, partner. Lead on."

"Remember… I'm the handsome one," Foggy tells Matt. "Be my wingman here." Which only is further hint that Foggy Nelson has a small crush on Pepper Potts — and is definitely not a crush he's going to pursue because her boyfriend is Iron Man and ain't no way he's going to even daydream about the possibilities because who knows what Tony Stark as invented lately, but it might involve mind reading.

Anywhoooo…

Foggy steps up to Pepper as she is shown in, and he smiles toward Pepper with a wry twist to his grin. "Nice to see you again, Ms. Potts." He gestures. "This is my partner, Matt Murdock… Matt, this is Ms. Potts." Introduction, check.

"Tea would be splendid, thank you," Pepper tells Miss Brown politely. She pulls the gloves off of her hands as she follows Stephanie, tucking them into her bag that — for ears good enough to pick up on it — makes a very faint hum almost identical to that of Iron Man's arc reactor.

Upon seeing Foggy and the man next to him who is presumably Matt, she steps forward and offers a handshake. "Mr. Nelson, a pleasure to see you again. And Mr. Murdock, wonderful to meet you." Her perfume is a very light citrusy scent, applied far more sparingly than most people tend to do. And the ticking of her wristwatch is … unusual.

A nod to Pepper, Stephanie looks between her two employers to make sure they'd like their usual drinks before going to the 'kitchen' area to start making things. …and to check her black phone again too. Her Twitter feeds have been too quiet and she doesn't like it.

Matt throws his head back for a brief, silent laugh when Foggy makes his quip about which of them is 'the handsome one.' And as he allows his partner to literally lead them into the office foyer, he quips back: "I'll take your word for it."

The two men that greet Pepper Potts are different as proverbial night and day. Foggy: a genial, shaggy-haired ginger, with a face like an open and delightful book. The dark-haired, crimson-shaded Murdock is by contrast nearly inscrutable, though the smile he flashes Pepper leavens his sober mien a little. "Ms. Potts, its a pleasure to finally meet you," he says as he takes and shakes a hand surely adorned by what's surely the latest in tech and fashion alike. "And thanks for taking the time. Please, come this way," the blind man says, tone slightly arch, as he gestures towards the doorway with commendable accuracy. "We've got the conference room set up.."

Stephanie goes off to prepare their drinks — some of that gourmet coffee Jessica Jones sent them as a Christmas present for him — and Matt calls out a, "Thanks, Stephanie."

Life lesson: Always thank the interns when they're making you coffee.

Foggy just offers his friend a doggish smile before he sets his focus smartly on Pepper. He's all smiles as he lets the pair shake hands and do the 'nice to meet you' dance that is so popular these days. He lets Matt lead the way this time, and he nods toward Stephanie in agreement with Matt's thanks. He brushes his hands back through his shaggy hair, securing it back as he best he can as they enter the conference room. Foggy lets Pepper sit first, being all gentlemanly about it.

After shaking hands, Pepper steps toward the indicated doorway, removing the lace scarf as she does. It smells of silk and an unusual animal fiber that isn't one of the more commonly used ones like wool or cashmere or alpaca.

Settling into one of the chairs to one side of the table, Pepper sets her bag on the floor at her side and it settles with a decidedly non-leather whisper of sound. She pulls her tablet from her bag to set on the table and waits for the two lawyers to settle themselves as well.

In the break room, Stephanie makes the three drinks, having replied to Matt's thanks with a soft but more than audible, "You're welcome, Mr. Murdock." Black phone slipped into her jacket pocket, her bedazzled Hello Kitty phone resting 'loudly' in her other pocket, Stephanie collects the drinks with some practiced hand. She makes her way into the conference room and sets the drinks down in front of every body.

Matt has a harder time with the chivalric move of waiting for to see the lady sit; he'll claim his own chair in his own time with his own careful, deliberative movements. His lips quirk and his head nods when Stephanie rounds and puts the coffee back in front of him, while his hand searches fumblingly for the handle of the cup. Once found, it'll linger there as he turns his attention to Ms. Potts.

"Well, again, thanks for taking the time to meet with us," Matt says with another flicker of a smile. "Foggy was able to bring me up to speed on your earlier conversation, but we both thought it was best to have a fuller discussion about your needs, and whether and how our firm could best meet them. From what Foggy tells me, you had three separate retainers in mind, is that correct?"

Foggy takes a seat next to Matt, and he draws in his yellow pad of paper and his pen. He doodles in the corner to make sure the ink is working — he's been in pen-scavenging mode! Once he gets the pen going, he takes a few opening notes on the first three lines and then he looks back up toward Matt as he lays the groundwork for the conversation.

He nods his head slightly. "I think our biggest concern is that we are just two… three… people, and Stark Industries is a big company to look after." Plus all the other pet projects that Matt and Foggy are looking after… like the cool zombie head chia pet he got for Christmas.

Pepper thanks Stephanie and takes a small sip of the tea to check how hot it is as well as to determine what kind it is. Once Matt is settled and asks about the three retainers she had in mind, she nods. "That is correct, yes. One for myself, one for Mr. Stark, and one more generalized one for Stark Industries employees. These would not be for corporate level legal matters, but exclusively for personal legal matters that some of our employees might not feel comfortable taking to Legal." She taps at her tablet a few times, and a holographic display appears over the screen. She glances at Matt and makes a mental note to see if Tony can figure out a way to create a tactile holographic display. But for now, back to the matter at hand.

The display is showing a simple draft of a legal document, citing that the 'general' retainer is reserved for the SI employees that might not be able to afford legal counsel on their own.

"I can't imagine you in legal trouble, Ms. Potts." But apparently Tony Stark is a reasonable assumption, according to Foggy's subtle omission. He does does sit forward, looking at the display. He offer his usual over-explanation that Nelson gives his blind friend when presented with non-tactile information. "Documentation for general retainer purposes… specific to anything that they cannot afford on their own." He looks up to Pepper. "If it sounds like a case that we shouldn't be responsible for, we can refer them to the SI legal department?"

He glances to Matt, perhaps suggesting he is presenting this idea for Matt's own soul security.

Matt is an active, engaged listener. His whole body leans slightly forward in his chair, arms resting on the table so that both hands can clasp the cup of coffee set in front of him. Aside from a faint nod at one point to something Foggy says, his features betray little of what thoughts are running behind sightless eyes. When she's done, he offers her another flicker of a smile — and then his attention turns to Foggy as he outlines the document.

Finally, he speaks, his tone quiet and deliberate: "Well, first of all, it's commendable that your company is willing to cover employee legal fees," Murdock offers. "That's above and beyond what we see from a lot of employers. And it's obviously an exciting opportunity. I'd like to echo Foggy's question, actually. The cases involving your employees all sound fairly straightforward, and well within Nelson & Murdock's wheelhouse. I'm more interested in the types of legal matters you expect we might conduct on Mr. Stark's behalf, as well as yours."

"Of course, Mr. Nelson," Pepper replies. "Unless they wish to keep the matter confidential. Then, I'll make sure you have the contact information for the legal group in the Maria Stark Foundation. As to myself or Mr. Stark, I was envisioning our retainers more likely covering confidential legal documentation. Though, I am also preparing in case there is ever an occasion to need court counsel that is completely unaffiliated with Stark Industries."

Considering Tony Stark's past, it's entirely possible to imagine what sort of cases those might be. Not that Pepper would ever expect these two gentlemen to deal with any of Tony's less savory infractions — he has a high-roller law firm already on retainer for that — but still. The one example she can bring to mind readily is if Tony ends up having to defend one of his smaller patents.

These are the times that Foggy wished Matt was able to read side-eye. So, he instead breathes out a slow breath and gives his pen a slight tap. "Documentation?" He frowns a bit. "I know that we're not on retainer, so the confidential part kicks in, but could you give us a fictional example? Maybe just something to help give me an idea of what you mean…" That is to say, he's probably a bit disappointed about the court counsel bit, but is shrugging it off, too. Not every case involves standing on the stage that is the U.S. Court System.

He gestures a bit off-handedly. "Is there some concern that some of the confidential documentation around for you and Mr. Stark might need more than the company's legal counsel?"

Matt can't read side-eye, but he's an expert at picking out tone in even the most diplomatically couched words — especially when they come from someone he knows as well as he knows Foggy Nelson. His lips press together before he brings his cup of coffee up to meet them. No further questions from this attorney for the moment — either because he believes Foggy is handling it ably enough, or because he doesn't want to barrage a potential client with interrogatories, or most likely some combination of the two. Matt sits still, and listens with care.

Pepper takes a moment to consider, though her breathing and heart rate don't point to her being unduly stressed by the question. "Honestly, probably not, but it's still a precaution I'd like to take. Say, for example, I needed to file for power of attorney for a family member, but I didn't want to do that through SI Legal to protect the identity of said family member."

She takes another sip of her tea, and while she's doing so, the document seems to update itself, clarifying the definition of 'legal documents' using entirely appropriate legal jargon.

Foggy muses around Pepper's offer, and then he nods slightly. "Alright, I'm starting to get a better picture of this… it helps… to know what the client is expecting." He glances to Matt and then back to Pepper. He blinks when he finally notices that the document is updating itself, and he makes a soft 'whoa' noise under his breath. Then he clears his throat.

"Alright, so… it sounds like you're looking for us to basically be a family attorney… if I can couch this a bit… no criminal representation, and mostly housekeeping." He glances to Matt for that confirmation, speaking toward him as he does. "Matt?"

Pepper elaborates and clarifies, and Matt's lips quirk into an apologetic smile. "We're sorry about the twenty questions, Ms. Potts," the lawyer explains ruefully. "Despite the Barnes case, we're still a small shop and we're just getting our start. Taking on a client as large as Stark Industries or as prominent as Mr. Stark is a big step for us, and we just want to make sure we aren't over-promising."

Matt angles a 'glance' back at Foggy when his name is called, and he nods a little at that summation. His expressions are often — almost always — subtle, but to someone who knows him as well as Foggy Nelson does?

It reads like acceptance; assent. Assuming Foggy's characterization is in fact accurate.

After a moment of considering Foggy's summation of why she's seeking their services, Pepper nods, her hair brushing against the collar of her jacket as she does so. "Yes, that about sums it up. Other than the general SI retainer, I honestly don't anticipate bothering you gentlemen much at all. Well, not any time soon at least." Since Foggy seemed surprised by the document updating but not in any negative manner, she allows FRIDAY to continue editing it, tiny changes only.

Once the document stops updating, Pepper sweeps a hand through the holoimage, her wristwatch's band making tiny non-steel, non-silver sounds as the links shift with the motion. The holoimage changes to a different form, this one looking like a different kind of legal document. "Should we discuss terms of payment now?" On the form are a handful of options including the obvious ones like 'Direct Deposit' and 'Cash or Equivalent'. There are even a few blank lines.

"Well, I hope you bother us some… I mean, it would be a real waste of your money to have Nelson and Murdock on retainer and not use us." Foggy can't help himself as he starts to smile. "We haven't screwed up anything major… yet." There's a deliberate pause there, and it only enhances his rather boyish, lopsided grin. "We are actually kinda good at what we do."

Then he glances toward Matt at the mention of payment, and the options he reads on the document does draw his interest. "Direct deposit," he says to Matt, "and cash or… equivalent." There's a pause there. "Equivalent?" He tries not to think of bagels, but he can't help thinking of bagels.

It takes all of Matt Murdock's considerable powers of composure not to let that chuckle bubbling up in his chest when Foggy Nelson comments on the relative merits of their upstart firm. Instead there's just the slight, fond twitch of his lips and a duck of his head. He nods in thanks as Foggy reads the terms from the hologram. "Direct deposit is fine," Matt answers Pepper in that cool and quiet cadence of his. "Our account's with a local credit union in the Kitchen. Foggy can give you the account and routing number."

He takes in a breath. He'd had his reservations about — well, all of this. He's been worried that taking on a corporate client would change the direction of their community-oriented firm. Worried about this corporate client in particular, with a playboy billionaire of a superhero at its head and a history of weapons manufacturing in its past. Those worries — and a few others he's keeping even closer to his chest — may or may not come to fruition later. But in this moment, with a decision made, Matt feels a lightening of his chest, and the feeling of something being unclenched.

"We're looking forward to working with you, Ms. Potts," Matt says, paired with a brief but genuine smile. "Thanks for thinking of us."

Pepper smiles more openly in amusement at Foggy's claim that they've not screwed up anything major. It's an honest claim, she can tell that much. When Foggy asks about 'equivalent' and Matt chooses direct deposit, the form again updates itself.

"Well, for Mr. Stark and myself, direct deposit will certainly be the best option." And she'll be using one of Tony's personal accounts for him and her own personal account for hers. "However, for the general corporate employee account, a sum of that size might draw the wrong sort of attention." Sure enough, the form fills in numbers on a small chart-like area with the total estimated values for each of the three retainers, the first two being comfortably in the four-digit range each, and the last hitting six digits. "I know some options we've used in the past for outside contracts have included stock options, bearer bonds, and other similar financial institution-based currencies. We can also, if you'd rather, include as part of the retainer payment other indirect currencies such as medical insurance coverage for your entire firm or donations to charitable organizations in your name."

"Damn. I was hoping to become Iron Lawyer." Foggy flashes a wry grin to Matt. "Imagine, I could become a superhero… would you be cool with your best friend becoming an Avenger like that? I mean, I couldn't be called an Avenger though… I'm more of a Defender." Oh, the irony…

Then he smiles to Pepper, nodding smartly. "Of course, Ms. Potts… I think we can figure out how to handle the size of the sum you're suggesting." Throat bobble. "It should be just letting our bank know to expect it."

At Foggy's quip something has to give. Matt finally lets out the laugh he'd earlier suppressed, though it comes paired with a slight twinge of — sadness? regret? — in his chest. But on the outside the dark-haired lawyer is all smiles. "Look, Fog, if you want to be paid in rocket boots, I won't stop you," he says to his partner wryly.

But then he hears Foggy's gulp, measures the uptick in his friend's heartrate after hearing Pepper's words and — he can surmise — seeing the numbers pop up on her holographic display. His own reaction is more muted, not just because he can't see the numbers himself, but because he is deeply ambivalent, even conflicted, about the amount of money in the offing.

Catholics. What are you going to do?

"Five percent should go to the Saint Agnes Orphanage in Hell's Kitchen," is all Matt says at first, and that quietly. Foggy would know well enough that it was said institution, maintained by Jesuits, where a nine-year-old blind boy was taken in and given an education. There's a beat, a thoughtful shift of the man's stubbled jaw. "For the rest, we'll probably end up taking a mix of options. Give us a day to talk with our own accountant about how to proceed. Fair enough, Ms. Potts?"

Pepper's chuckle at the Iron Lawyer comment reveals her reaction as well. "I don't know about rocket boots, but maybe a tie clip that doubles as a bullet-proof vest?" She's clearly joking as well. "And I completely understand about wanting to make sure you know how you want to proceed before you set anything in stone. Contact me whenever you're ready." Unless the two men have any further questions, she'll politely take her leave, the documents that had been displayed by the tablet showing up in their email before the door closes behind her.

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