The Art of Stubborn

February 02, 2018:

Tony Stark comes to tell Emma about his latest vacation plans. She does not approve.

Emma's Office, Frost International

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Wanda Maximoff, Pietro Maximoff, Magneto

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It’s crawling near the end of the day on a Friday afternoon, and Emma Frost is glad for it.

Not because it’s the end of the workweek, although there is that perk. It’s because what the end of a workweek means: a nearly empty tower beneath her. A tower of glass and steel, impenetrable. A sanctum of sorts. A fortress.

…or it had been, anyway. Until it had been compromised by a speedster and his reality-weaving sister.

The damage they left in their wake is now mostly repaired, the glass “mysteriously” repaired… although the telepath simply leaves it unsaid that the repairs were made by one Nate Grey. The desk, the furniture… most of it undamaged by Pietro Maximoff’s temper.

The tea set is new, to replace what was beyond repair. She has yet to find a table to replace the Singaporean antique that he ruined.

But unseen is the reality that her peace is still shattered, leaving jagged shards to slice at those around her.

Which is why her assistant, Tasha, is waved off for an early day. It’s best for all involved. Frost’s temper has been impossibly hot and short, and Miss Beaumont was only too glad to run for the hills and leave her employer in the care of the administrative pool downstairs and the security team on the ground floor.

And it leaves a blonde to bask in the glow of a late afternoon sun over the winter skyline of New York from behind windowpanes, in her lovely cowl cashmere sweater and pencil skirt. She stands tall in her stiletto heels that set her at an intimidating six feet, and the reading glasses sit on the tip of her nose glare in the ever-reddening light.

Eventually, she simply turns back to go and sit at her desk to brood and consider who she hates. Well, who she feels inspired enough to actually go through the effort to steal their struggling company out from under them—there must be a good candidate nestled in the list of prospective acquisitions that her team has prepared.

It will feel good to hobble someone. It will restore the balance. Restore her peace and control.

Just when she thought it was safe to go back inside…

It starts with a buzzing from downstairs. Security, it seems. But when she answers…

“Pardon me, Miss Frost, but he insisted he see you now. I think he’s already on the way up, there…well we tried to stop him, ma’am…” The man on the other end doesn’t sound panicked, obviously he’s not paid to be panicked. Internally? He is entirely panicked. I mean she’s in a bad mood! You don’t want to know what she does to people when she’s in a bad mood! But he tried to stop him he really did…

Precisely fifty six seconds of the guards explaining himself go by before the door to the office receives a jaunty, cheerful knock. A knock that waits around fifteen seconds before whoever it is that has the temerity to visit opens the door.

Thankfully it's not a pair of twins.

What it is, is one Tony Stark. Dressed in a tailored pinstripe suit in classic colors. Sun catching on the lenses of his sunglasses the inventor has a razored smile and an intensity that very seldom seems to grace the easily distracted Stark. That smile eases into something more amused as he looks towards the woman behind the desk and jerks his thumb towards the security team that is pounding up the stairs behind them.

“Don’t be too hard on them, beautiful. They tried, but I threatened em.” He’s nearly a foot shorter than some of them but that threat of ‘wanna see what this suit can do?’ is not one to be ignored.

When the litany of apologies begins over the intercom of her phone, Emma’s eyebrow pricks upwards.

Who is?” It doesn’t matter, she decides before the words are even out of her mouth. “I don’t care. Get whoever the hell it is out of my building!” But she’s already up onto her feet, bracing for the arrival of the intruder. She sorts through the minds below her, already starting to thin in number for the weekend, but it’s not until the intruder finds his way to her floor - past Tasha’s empty desk, to her office door - that Emma’s expression flattens from a thinly veiled concern to something more safely in the neighborhood of ‘irritated.’

By the time those fifteen seconds are up, the long-legged blonde is leaning against the door-facing edge of her desk with her arms crossed and that unhappy eyebrow lifted once more.

“You could have called.” Would she have picked up? Maybe. Maybe not.

…The uncertainty’s part of the charm, right?

Either way, she glowers at the flabbergasted security team that is crowding behind him and the defense from Stark may be what spares them from a psychic evisceration. They get only a short bark of a command. “Out.”

And they get out.

That is the smartest thing they can do. The security teams know better than to risk further wrath from their golden haired mistress. They even close the door behind them, don’t make eye contact, move slowly. Maybe they can get out of this alive.

Stark on the other hand seems amused as he watches the security team retreats, one hand in his pocket. Then his attention turns back towards the woman herself, a twitch of a smile. “I did.” Comes the answer. “Three times.”

“But!” He shrugs slightly, one shoulder arching up and back down as he starts strolling over towards a chair. He leans one hand against the back of the chair. “You also know me, I would have come over without calling. I don’t make actual plans. Usually.” A quirked eyebrow towards her, a twitch of a smile.

“Let me guess, redecorating?” New windows. Missing tea sets. He isn’t a detective but he’s not blind either.

With her eyes firmly locked on the deceptive ease that is Tony Stark, the ice queen waits for the security team to leave. Where her guest can’t see, in the recesses of neural processes, she exacerbates their concerns. They must learn, after all, from this shortcoming today. Failure cannot be tolerated.

Not even her own. Especially, perhaps, her own.

He tried calling three times, and she doesn’t apologize for not picking p. Emma apologized once already for a prior mistake, for maybe a tenth of what she should have been apologizing for, and she hasn’t yet forgotten the excruciating discomfort of it. She won’t rush into a new iteration. She’ll avoid it entirely if she can.

Like she’s been avoiding his calls.

Pale eyes lift to take in the sight of the vaulted, angled glass ceiling overhead and the enormous panes of steel-set glass that support it. They are set to glowing by the late sun, but there is no visible flaw. Her upper lip twitches as she fights a sneer at a thought. “The middle of winter is the best time for it. Didn’t you know?”

A pause, and then she softens just the smallest bit. Just enough for her shoulders to relax a slim degree beneath the fuzzy softness of her finely knit sweater. “There was some damage that needed to be seen to.”

After that confession, her head tilts to one side and she reaches up to remove the glasses from her face and set them on the desk. “Did you get the gift basket?”

Because she knows she told her assistant to send one. Something with Kona coffee in it and something to eat. Macadamia nut biscotti. Scones? She doesn’t remember the details. Maybe a Feel Better Soon balloon or something equally trite? When nothing is sufficient, you see, anything will do.

Then, at long last, the woman turns her attention back to Stark. There is an open appraisal, considering his condition without the intrusion of her telepathic gifts.

“I was glad to see you made it back onto the news alive the other day.” Her gift note said so.

…she had been watching for it. She just won’t tell him that part.

“I have no idea, I usually just redecorate when everything explodes.” Stark’s reply comes with a flash of a grin. The man still is walking wounded, but he is at least walking better. “Which means usually every few months…” The man’s leg is still in a brace, but its not completely obvious at the moment. Just perhaps in the slight limp, the soft whirr when he moves it.

Even without her considerable powers, it’s obvious something is off with Stark. There is a hard and brittle edge to the man’s expression. An intensity to his gaze and his manner that he usually lacks. He’s /angry/ about something, but it's not directed at her. It's not directed at anyone, it simply exists and sometime seems to turn back against himself. It’s there though, which is at odds to the usually irrepressible inventor. He gets mad, but never really. Truly angry. Slow burning and dangerous.

He seems to at least hide /that/ well, better than he does the hot flashes of emotions he usually wears on his sleeve. Instead of just smirks slightly. “Yeah I got it I’m sure, Pepper left it out for me and I likely ate everything in there while working on something the past few days.”

He’s not one to ask for help, he’s not ever really been one to ask for anything. One figures taps nervously against his leg before he turns to look towards her again. “Yeah well, you know me. Gotta make a splash. Won’t be the last time either, I can guarantee you that. Oh yeah, gonna be plenty of me in the news soon enough.”

…oh yeah. That's not ominous.

Not ominous at all.

His casual ‘may have gotten it’ is the pitch perfect response for her ‘I think I sent it’, with two right hands in between, and Stark and Frost move past it easily.

Emma watches him with a subdued curiosity, the sort of muted interest that drinks in the details of his movements and expression without betraying itself.

It should be easy to look him in the eye when he turns that dark gaze of his in her direction. It’s not the heat of his anger, scorching coals in his demeanor, felt but largely unseen. She can handle those, and more outward temper still.

It’s the damning guilt. The one that twists her gut like a wet dishrag and shallows her breathing. Threatens to consume. Compels her to look somewhere—anywhere—else. It may look like uncertainty for a moment on her alabaster-fair features. Sympathy or concern, if she’s lucky. Not that she doesn’t feel those things, but rather they are buried under the weight of failures past.

But Emma Frost is nothing if not stubborn. She swallows it down before it devours her instead, and she is simply quiet for a moment before both perfectly shaped flaxen eyebrows arch. “Oh?”

“Yeaaaah,” Stark pauses a moment as he tilts his head towards the tea set that is new. A quirked eyebrow. Its out of place here among the rest of the place. Not an antique, not quite perfect, but he only pauses to regard it a moment before he looks back towards Emma.

“Yeah.” There is a smirk. “And it's not going to make you more happy. Which. I’m kinda sorry for, but you know I thought it was better I actually tell you about it myself than you find out about it on the evening news.”

Again his finger taps against his leg, the battered man turns his own eyes towards her once again. Noting that look from her, that break in the composure that she usually holds. She might be glad that he’s not good with people at this point since the thought of guilt isn’t one that crosses his mind at the moment.

“Yeah I know, not the kind of news you want from me. I mean hell I’d rather go back to maui for a month with you at this point but…” But something is driving him somewhere else. Some new bit of information, some new goal, something that he feels strong enough about to actually have a feeling about.

Something that makes him angry.

“I’m going to Genosha, tomorrow if not before. And I’m going to cause problems.” There is a smirk at that. “Well that last part was obvious wasn’t it?”

What.

What?

The words that come before… Remembrances of a good, low key escape from reality…

It’s a warm breeze before it feels like someone fills her veins with ice.

Before Stark fills her veins with ice. Emma’s expression flattens, and she stares blankly at him for a long moment. Aside from her setting jaw and ragged breath, she stands motionless.

And then her brow creases and her eyes narrow. When those eyes open wide, incredulous, she finally pries her rear end off the desk so that she can take one solitary step in Tony’s direction. Her shoulders stoop as she leans in, her voice conspiratorially low. “Have you gone raving mad?”

“Years ago,” Tony’s reply is flippant as he shrugs his shoulders. Rage, annoyance, disbelief, most people have the good sense to shy away from Emma Frost as she manifests those emotions. Emotions that have the potential to play with his mind if she lets them. Anyone with a sense of self preservation would know to back off.

He lost that years ago too.

Instead he meets that narrowed gaze with his own, not wavering, burning liquid hot. Anger, guilt, it's all there as he watches her advance. “They have my things, Emma. They have my tech and they have been killing people with it for years.” The anger flares, his voice thickens as he adds. “I don’t know what they have done with it. How far its gotten, how much the’ve learned from what I built. They killed people there for years now. And someone has kept it secret from me.”

His eyes snap towards her again. “And that is going to stop. I’m going to make sure of it.”

“Do you think it matters, Tony? Do you think you’ll plead ignorance, and they will let it go?” Her hands come up, raised towards the heavens in inquiry, as Emma lays into Stark.

Because she knows all too well what lies in Genosha.

Magneto is in Genosha, with a merry band of mutant supremacists dancing in his wake.

“I know that you live the rarified existence of a rich white human male in a meritocracy built by rich white human males,” she continues, unrelenting, “but have you any idea what it will be like to go in a country filled with enraged mutants—mutates— who have only just started to fight for their own dignity? You are precisely what they are presently overthrowing and sending racing for every flight they can find to get out.

“It matters to me.”

Once again he doesn’t know when to retreat. He doesn’t give an inch, his force of personality just as stubborn as hers when it comes to specific matters. This is apparently one of the matters that he thinks warrants that stubbornness. That bullheadedishness that usually he directs towards other people.

“And I’m not doing it for forgiveness. Hell, Emma,” A smirk at that. “I’m Tony Stark. I’m the most hated man in the world. My designs have killed more people than most wars, and they are still doing it. Designs I made to protect people. To defend people they…” His eyes close as guilt and fury simmer there, directed towards himself. Not at the people that hate him. No, that hate he accepts. It's his due with all the blood on his hands.

He takes a breath, turning away for a moment. Discontent to stand still, finding it entirely impossible to stand still as he starts to pace, even as she glowers at him.

“I’ve known about what’s there for too long. Now my stuff is involved, /has/ been involved. I sat here and did nothing. Well I can’t do nothing anymore. I’m fed up with doing nothing. So now I’m going to do something. It might be the wrong something, it might be a stupid something, but it's something.”

She lectures him what it's like there. Advises that he doesn’t know what he’s getting into. There is a touch of a smile there. “Actually I do.” He says quietly as he touches the ring of metal unconsciously. The ARC reactor keeping him alive in the center of his chest. The blazing star of super-science that he built in a cave in the desert. Under constant threat of death from a people that hated him.

Hated him, but loved his weapons.

“They'll hate me. Hell, you might hate me, that’s fine. They can do that, but I’m still taking my stuff back. And whatever they built out of my designs.”

“It is precisely because I don’t hate you that I’m willing to tell you this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard!” Emma cries in exasperation, her finger stabbing in Tony’s direction emphatically. He cannot go. He cannot go. For a hundred reasons.

Which, of course, is when one of the administrative pool tries to stick her head in with a folder clutched defensively to her chest. “Miss Frost, I know it’s late, but…”

The look that Emma levels in that direction as she turns is one that possibly could fry the meat off of the brunette’s bones were the CEO’s genetics just a little different. She might be trying, anyway. “Get. Out." It’s a growl of vexation and rage threatening to become a roar; Emma really hates being ignored and she’s already told one lot to vacate her office. ‘If you want to live’ is the unspoken addition.

The message is clearly received, and there is a concerned murmur of “Yes, ma’am,” as the older woman skitters backwards for the exit with little more than a pity-filled glance when she spies Tony—the poor soul who does not get so merciful a release from her employer’s wrath.

As soon as the door shuts behind that fleeing underling’s form, Emma turns her furious and bewildered gaze back to Tony. So rarely is her expression this animated and her demeanor unvarnished, and it only adds to the frustration she is presently hurling in Tony’s direction. “You can’t just daytrip to Genosha, tralalalala! On the spot, I can think of at least half a dozen ways that this goes terribly wrong and makes matters worse, without even trying. Three of them end with you crushed in your suit like a soup can. Give me ten minutes after I’m done wanting to bloody throttle you, and I’m certain I could fill a couple steno pages for you to peruse at your leisure.”

A pause to breathe, and then—more quietly, but no less intensely—she inquires, “Would it help you process the reasons? To have it in writing?”

“Ok, first off do you really think I’d go into a place like that ruled by a crazy man that control metal with a suit that couldn’t de-magnetize itself?” Stark shoots back, not sparing even a glance from the poor woman at the door that Emma Frost turns her full and impressive glare at. There is a frustrated smile, one Tony gets when he can’t help but laugh because if not he’d start shouting. And both of them shouting is likely to end with someone's memory wiped or the top of the building exploding. Possibly both.

He catches it though, that gaze, the uncloaked emotion in the woman that lives up to her name of ‘Frost’. The actual worry, the surprise, the fact that she cares enough to try to shout him down. There are maybe three or four people in the world who actually care that much. And yes, all of them would be shouting at him right now. He knows he deserves it, he knows this is a horrible idea. It’s bound to cause problems…

…but…

“Second off,” His hand fishes a tiny chip out of his pocket as he flips it onto her desk. A brilliant burst of holographic lights turns data into visuals she can see and touch. Pages she can scroll through, receipts of sale going back years, testing results of Stark weapons against people. Pictures of bodies. All data, secret data, from Genosha. Stacks of it.

“My designs. My tech. The’ve used it for years, before I was even Iron Man. People sold to them, they redesigned, upgraded. Hell Emma, I helped /build/ the damn place without even knowing about it.” Now it’s his turn, animated, voice raising as he paces. Gesturing towards the shining and damning evidence there. “I…god Emma, I know how they died. Every one of those names. The pain index, how hard it would be to put them back together, how long it took, the goddamn shock damage. I know because I /built/ them. Oh they upgraded beyond now. Naturally, but it started with that. I’m a name that stalked kids in the goddamn dark. My ordinance, /Stark/ proudly displayed right there on the tin. Hell my weapons, my fathers weapons, they could have been used to try to kill you. I don’t know.”

Raw emotion leaks out of him as he rants. Anguish, gilt, anger at these people who took /his/ creations and abused them, anger at himself that he was blind enough to let them.

“So no, having your written objections isn’t going to help. I’m going. I have to goddamn try.”

This? This right here is why people like her and Phil wanted him far far away from Genosha.

As that tiny piece of tech lands on her desk and flares to life, there is a frigid snarl as Emma looks in its direction. But, ultimately, she turns in its direction and follows it despite feeling like something of a hunting pointer.

Picking her reading glasses up and setting them back on her nose, the blonde plants a hand on the desk and adjusts the glasses once as she leans in and begins perusing and filtering through the displays with the difficulty and hesitation that speaks of her own dispractice with the medium.

It affords Tony the space he needs to say the things he needs to say, and affords the glare of doom that might otherwise be leveled in his direction an elsewhere to focus. And it affords the telepath the time she needs to think and try to get her thoughts in order.

She’s still reading and processing by the time he’s done. It leaves an awkward silence for a moment, and then her other hand plants down and her head just falls forward as strands of blonde hair momentarily obscure her features.

When she lifts her head at last, some of her calm has returned to her. The glasses are pulled back off and held by one arm off to the side of her shoulder, even as the other hand rubs at the bridge of her nose where her eyes are squeezed shut. She turns and leans heavily back against the desk once more. “And then what?”

Those documents are real, but they are insider information. Information Tony didn’t have and wasn’t looking for. Not that it matters much now that he /does/ have it, but the question from Emma stops his rant and he turns his attention back towards her.

/And then what?/

That's always the question, the problem. Tony Stark seldom works on /plans/. He works on instinct. What feels right. What seems right at the time. He is a bundle of volatile emotion going whichever way the beat of his drum takes him. Looking for a target. However he very seldom plans much beyond that.

At least that's the image he gives.

“I don’t know.” He looks away, simply offering the simple truth instead of making something up on the spot. “The situation is too fluid there to plan too far ahead. Hell I don’t know what the hell is going on, at least not at ground level which is what I’m worried about. I’ll figure it out as I go. I figure if I can get most of the stuff out of the hands of whatever is fighting Emperor Bad Choice In Hats. Then figure out how to get the rest out as I can.” A pause. “Its older tech, but its still mine so…I at least have a reason to go get it. Then I’ll make it up as I go along from there.”

I don’t know.

The look that Emma gives—suddenly very tired and still altogether frustrated—is yet another rarity as far as their interactions go.

“Too far ahead? Tony, that’s… what? Step three? Three and a half if you really stretch it. Step 1, go to Genosha. Step 2, beat the snot out of something. Step 3…?” She shrugs theatrically, waiting for him to fill in the blank.

“Step three is get it out of Genosha, find out what they did with it. Who /they/ sold it to. And who the hell hid all of it from me. Then I’m going to burn them to the goddamn ground.” Now he rounds on her again, anger blazing back to the fore before it cools, the mercurial nature of the inventor never more apparent than now. He breathes deep, hands curling into white knuckled fists…

It's not her fault. It's not her fault. It flits though his mind as he lets that breath out, looking away from her and towards a middle point on the wall. Past the wall, to something only he can see. Slowly the anger dips out of him as he breathes deep.

“I know it doesn’t make any sense, Emma. I know it's stupid. But I can’t let this go. I made a promise to do better and I keep failing, but I keep trying.”

It's all he can do, least he just drown in it all. Keep slogging forwards. Keep moving. One step ahead of a full blown nervous breakdown that is nipping at his heels.

“I couldn’t stop a goddamn demon, I couldn’t fix JARVIS, have to do this.” A beatpause. “And once more. I hate magic. Just to reiterate.”

There is precisely one thing that Emma can offer Tony in that moment of fury. It’s not consolation or a pervasive peace. It is one daring and skeptical eyebrow pricking upwards. His fury does not cow her; she stands in the face of it.

To wit, she easily provides him a place to level it as she lets it effortlessly slide by her. Because no. This particular problem is not her fault.

“As do I,” she says on the matter of magic, her own scathing temper finding its way once more to cool into a more familiar glass as her spectacles are buried in the re-weaving of her arms as she crosses them under her breasts and atop the golden tassel necklace she’s chosen for the day.

“So if you aren’t looking for absolution, and you aren’t looking for me to put a stop to this idiocy… What, precisely, do you want from me? Benediction?” She could find out for herself, perhaps. But this is certainly an instance that might benefit from the man’s own speaking of it. “Nothing you do today or tomorrow will undo yesterday. If you think it will, that’s an unreasonable expectation for all involved.”

“I know it's not going to change anything.” There is acceptance there, he’s not naive enough to believe that it’ll change a point of view. No, there is a smile. “Be nice and easy if it did, but it doesn’t.” He shrugs slightly. “Maybe it’ll change something for the future though.”

The smile only grows, only Stark managing to find some humor in this situation of two people used to getting their way now frustrated with each other. “Honestly? I wanted to avoid you breaking a TV when you found it out on the evening news.” He can’t help but quip. “Which I think would have been a restrained reaction.”

The smile fades just a fraction as he slips his hands into his pockets, watching her standing there statuesque and annoyed as she glowers at him. Then he shrugs. “I just thought you deserved to know what I was gonna do. Before I actually did it. It's basically your backyard and I’m about to stick my foot right in the middle of it all. You deserved to know.”

“If you want to let me know who to talk to on the ground, or who not to talk to… Well, I’ll be happy for that. But no, Emma, I don’t want anything from you.”

As he explains, Emma’s frown holds steady and her arms cross a little tighter. “I don’t know who you talk to, Tony. I don’t know who would know why you’re down there, and then… you know. Still be open to a working relationship. Magneto is Magneto,” and that should speak for itself. “I don’t even know how many freed mutates. Magneto’s followers. My understanding is only humans that had no part in the prior oppressive regime are being afforded the opportunity to stay.”

A pause, and then the blonde finally drops her gaze to stare at the shiny pointed toes of her patent leather stilettos.

Her voice is quiet as she continues on, “I don’t know where that will leave you, but I wouldn’t trust anyone down there.”

But, then again, she is Emma Frost. Distrust would always be her first advice, wouldn’t it?

“Oh I don’t plan on trusting anyone. Mostly because I figure like you said, everyone there will want to use me. Or just kill me. Or just hate me. There isn’t a lot of options there.” Stark replies as he looks towards her, facing her, unbowed by her frown and her stare. He takes a step towards her to lift her chin up just a touch, just enough to see his face. Where she finds something that might be surprising to the psychic in the room.

A faint smile.

Which is curious in an of itself, because it's not a mocking smile, or a sharp smile, or a frustrated smile. No it is something rare from someone like Tony Stark. It's a honest one. Oh there are twinches of anger and frustration there, but for the most part is simply what it says on the tin. A smile.

Amusement. Affection. Warm for that split second as he meets her gaze and drops his hand back to one of his pockets.

“And…thanks.” There is a beat pause. “For actually caring enough to yell at me. Most people don’t.”

She sees the tips of his well-buffed shoes just before he sets his fingers to her chin, and Emma does indeed lift her gaze to meet Tony’s own when he wordlessly asks her. When she catches the smile, there’s a suspicious twitch of her lower lids.

Because she doesn’t usually call people’s plans stupid to their faces and get thanked for it.

…Okay, she can’t recall anyone ever thanking her for it.

Calling her names behind her back, thinking worse. Oh, that she’s used to. She has come to expect it, really. Talked herself into extracting a particular sort of joy from the exercise. Waxed poetic internally about matters of philosophy: does she call them stupid first because she knew the reaction was coming, or does the reaction come because they themselves knew it was stupid first?

This is different.

“Well, it’s really just that most people lack my spectacular acumen and altogether healthy sense of ego.”

The corner of her mouth pricks upwards a fraction in pale amusement, not really knowing what else to do with what’s been set in front of her.

“But you’re welcome.”

She might can feel it, with those threats of power that she has at her command. Not an ounce of irony. Or falsehood. Or thinking things insulting. Just honest gratitude for it actually mattering to her. It matters because most people /wouldn’t/ care enough to get in his face, or to give him an good shouting at.

He’s hard to work with. He knows it. Most people wouldn’t want to deal with it. Deal with him at his most bullheaded. Most people would have thrown up their hands in frustration before he was even done with his rant. The fact that she was willing to butt heads with him over it meant something to him.

Which tells all sorts of things about Tony Stark and just how messed up he is.

“Thanks,” The inventor says again as he steps back, the smile remains there for a moment before he sighs. “And now, I think I need to get out of here. Before I press your patience anymore.”

She does feel it, for what it’s worth. The strange and uncommon resonance of simple sincerity that placates her extra sense in one regard. Placates, but does not set at ease.

It doesn’t really help the concerns she has for Tony’s wild adventure to Genosha—what he’ll find if he looks too deeply, how small a cube Magneto could make of an Iron Man with a wave of his age-weathered hand—but it is noted.

Beneath her own veneer, where Stark can’t see, is the tiny spark of her that feels just a bit worse for it. For a brief moment, madness possesses her and she decides to come clean. “Tony, darling…”

Then she aborts the plan as reason returns. Certain he’d never understand, she does loathe the idea of ruining his good feeling on this one solitary thing in this whole nasty affair. His own feelings of betrayal already there would only be exacerbated, and would it even help? Probably not.

She half-smiles as she picks up the chip and offers it back to him on an open palm. “If you don’t come back as a new exhibit for the Guggenheim, maybe we could get dinner? Order in? You can tell me how it all went?”

“It's a date,” Stark replies with a smirk as he picks up the little chip. “And it should be way more entertaining than whatever I’ll have to deal with on this little trip.” A beatpause. “Or trying to explain this to Phil. He is going to dad-face at me so hard. So hard. Possibly there will be something about disappointments, and that's the point I usually stop listening to him.” The inventor his back, some of his equilibrium restored. Some of his anger abated.

…but only some.

The rest he’s planning to take out on the people that put him in this state.

…or build some kind of frictionless slide to shoot Pietro off a mountain to make him feel better.

“Come on though, Emma. It's me. It’ll work out fine. Eventually. Heck I might even thank the terrorist twins after all this is over.” A pause. “…is it just me or do they like-like each other a bit too much?” A longer pause. “You know what. Better not to know. I’ll be back in a few days though, you’ll see.” A flash of that irrepressible grin as he starts to turn. “It’ll be fine.”

It’ll work out fine.

She’d ask for the definition of ‘fine’ that Tony is using, but her dubious expression as the words are coming out of his mouth is more than up to the task.

Fine is, apparently, not the word the blonde’s thinking of.

And it’s an expression that flattens even more as he talks about those damned two. “The ones who wrecked my windows? Over my dead body, you thank them.” Her hand now empty, she points at the chip. “Did they give you that? Are you seriously letting them troll you into Genosha right now?”

“Oh they did, and they are. I’m sure they are all patting themselves on the back and smirking in my direction as we speak.” Stark replies with a smirk of his own. “Which is fine, I mean I know I have some big giant glaring buttons that people can dance on. I’m just not sure they realised what they did going and getting me to come over.” The smirk only grows.

“I’m sure they think they are using me, but…” A shrug of his shoulders. “…I get to keep an old promise. They get to possibly see not /every/ person in the world is a complete asshole. And I’ll get to scan every bit of Genoshian tech I come across while I’m there. Should accelerate my designs by five or so years.”

Yeah. They really might not understand what bringing Stark into this mess was going to do, but if he couldn’t say no to it? He at least was going to use it himself.

The self-proclaimed (and externally verified) billionaire playboy philanthropist might not realize the dangerous territory he’s already in. Perhaps he might, when Emma’s brow deeply creases.

“You would be better off sinking it into the Marianas,” she tells him darkly. The blonde prickles visibly once more at the thought of Genosha technology exported, her chin lifting and rearing back with a sudden indignation. “You do know that those two are Magneto’s brats, right? That’s what I have been told. Which means that is just one more reason to let the mutants sort this out. That atrocious technology should rust and be forgotten, along with every relic of that… that global eyesore of a government.”

Then, surprisingly perhaps, she softens. “Stay here a little longer. Think this through. Talk to SHIELD. Get some decent intelligence that doesn’t come from two children kicking at anthills.”

“That would be sensible,” Tony agrees. “But then that just wouldn’t be /me/.” There is a smile there as he recognizes that uncharacteristic softness for a moment. “I’m going. And don’t worry about me. I mean I’m not /just/ Iron Man. I’m Tony Stark. And there is no way they can prepare for that.”

Which…is sadly true.

“I’ll clear my schedule when I get back. I promise. Scout’s honor and all that. Even though I was never a scout.” The man replies with a sharp edged smile. Though the fact that they are Magneto’s kids /does/ register.

Though if they are trying to help Magneto…getting Stark involved is kinda the opposite of that.

Which is probably the best indication of all that going to Genosha is a terrible idea.

So, of course, Tony Stark is hellbent on going.

Because, of course, he is.

And as Emma hears Tony recognize reason and then wholeheartedly abandon it, she shakes her head slowly with an unveiled disapproval. And it keeps shaking, even as she closes her eyes and heaves a frustrated sigh.

“I suppose there’s nothing to stop me from visiting you once you’re on display at the Guggenheim,” she tells him once her head stills and her unimpressed frown deepens to new depths. “I think I’m on the patron list. …I’ll have Tasha double check while you’re gone.”

If he was hoping for a ‘good luck’, that’s probably as good as it’s going to get. She squares her shoulders and looks down the scant distance along her nose from her lifted chin, although the variance in height is made negligible by the space she puts between them by backing towards the desk and settling against it once more.

“So, yes. Do be certain to clear your schedule. Queues can be so bothersome there.”

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