The Letter

March 31, 2018:

Stark Tower

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Phil Coulson

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Tony Stark is not good at 'spy stuff'. He has never been good at Spy Stuff. He knows he isn't good at Spy Stuff. However is /is/ a damn smart man. So when a Spy hands you a letter that screams Spy Stuff and then tells you to give it to Emma Frost in 20 days if you don't hear from him again.

…you get worried.

Actually you get curious.

Which is why you then call Emma Frost over to your house. Open said letter. And start to try to decode just what the hell it all means.

…because its been jumbled all to hell and back.

So when Emma Frost comes waltzing in the first things she might hear isn't 'Hi.' or 'Hello.' or 'Emma! Let's distract each other with booze!'

"Oh my god. What the hell did he use on this thing?! Google Translate?!"

His exclamation echoes across his lab as Tony Stark stares at a holographic image of a piece of paper with writing all over it. None of the letters seem to be in the right order either.

One flaxen eyebrow arches as Emma Frost makes her arrival into the room, announced probably before she waltzes into Stark's domain with all of apparent ease of one who owns the place.

She's dressed in a white georgette dress that is so tight it might as well be painted on, although it pretend some modesty with two layers of generously cut ruffles that drip off of her shoulders. The clack of her stiletto heels—which sends her up to an imposing height of six feet and claim her own dominion as she moves along—stops just inside the doorway of those labs.

Emma crosses her arms over her large clutch purse as she inquires from her place there. "Who?"

Seated not too far from Tony at a much better organized table with her tablet and a wireless keyboard, Pepper doesn't even look up from her typing. "Tony, I told you not to open that. Asking Ms. Frost to drop by is perfectly fine, but you've basically just violated her privacy by opening that letter without her express permission."

Why is she here in Tony's lab in the first place? Likely, she's here to make sure he doesn't completely take that letter apart trying to make sense of it. Though, in her secretly nerdy little heart, she's fairly certain it's been written in a manner that only someone who knows how to decode and/or decipher it would have any chance at doing so.

Oh, and speaking of… She straightens in her chair and turns to look at Emma with a welcoming smile at the first stiletto footfall—her own heels currently on the floor beneath her. She promptly moves to stand and slips back into said shoes, though despite their proportions really only bring her about on par with Tony height-wise.

"Ms. Frost. Hello."

Oh it is defiantly written in a manner that requires someone who knows how to decode to even look at it. It looks like someone crossed a sudouku puzzle with a crossword and then ran half of it though a Japanese translation. The letters and numbers jumble and rearrarange as JARVIS works to try to untangle it enough for even some kind of rudimentry read on it.

"Oh Phil," Stark replies towards Emma. "He gave me a letter for you." A beatpause. "So I opened it." He pauses again to flash a grin at Pepper. "And if he didn't want it opened he wouldn't have given it to me, specifically."

That pale eyebrow arches a degree higher, and Emma's neutral set of lips descends into an unimpressed frown. "Or, it would seem, he knew precisely who he was giving it to and created a contingency when his messenger inevitably forgot that his name wasn't Emma Frost. Or that at least waiting for her to agree to terms for anyone else reading it was polite."

Frost's agitation is deep and abiding, although its heat is lessened when the woman casts her crystalline gaze in Pepper's direction. "Miss Potts. You must tell me sometime how it feels to play the part of Cassandra, foretelling doom to the boundlessly obstinate Tony Stark."

Pepper does a bit of clacking of her own as she walks over to Emma and offers her a handshake before heading across the way to the honestly sorry excuse for a beverage station. It looks, though, like Pepper put a bit of effort into making bit closer to habitable, with a simple electric kettle, a teapot, and some waiting mugs that appear to have never been sullied by coffee.

"Mostly, I take a lot of childish glee in telling him 'I told you so'. Somehow I doubt that that's something that Cassandra ever did. Would you care for some tea or coffee?"

"She does love to say I told you so," Tony agrees with a smirk towards Pepper. "Almost as much as you do, Emma." He adds as he looks back towards the White Queen. "But look, he totally gave it to me. He totally knew I was going to do this." Stark adds with a smirk as he flips a page, looking at the jumble of letter again.

"…but yeah. It wasn't polite. But whatever this is about worried me. So I kinda jumped. I'll apologize if I have to." The man adds with a smirk. "…he told me if he didn't come back in 20 days to open it. Soooo…I decided not to wait."

"If the first words aren't 'Dear Tony', I'll want an apology," Emma replies simply as she moves more deeply into the room with her assured sway, cutting a path towards a place to sit. She looks past the mass of soft curls presently pulled over her bare shoulder in a side ponytail in order to regard Pepper once more. Once again, the annoyed tone recedes so that she can offer the other woman a small, if forced, smile and a nod. "Tea would be divine, thank you."

Apparently, Pepper had been waiting for Emma's arrival. She pours water from the kettle into the teapot straight away and carries it and the mugs over to where Emma has chosen to sit, silently really hoping to herself that the woman is okay with a mild yunnan.

"Tony, for pete's sake, quit playing with that letter and bring it to Ms. Frost already." If she has to go over there and take it from him…

"Well, its only one word, and that word starts with a 'T'. So it totally could be my name," Stark replies with a smirk as he turns back towards the two women. He glances between the pair of them and then shakes his head. "You two are terrifying." He finally says as he pulls the note itself out of its holoprojector.

This ilicits a responce of "Ah sir, I wasn't finished yet!" from JARVIS which Tony ignores entirely as he hands the note towards Emma.

The note itself? Seems just as jumbled as the images were.

Pepper is given another brief, pale but grateful turn of Emma's smile once more. She feels the pulse of the thought beneath the surface and offers casual, comfortable praise. "It smells divine, thank you." And then she takes the cup and settles into a seat, crossing her legs and putting the tea beside her.

"And don't you forget it," comes Emma's prim and unbothered reply to the label applied to her, even as she takes the note in hand. The bothered crease of her brow releases as she sets fingers to it, but then her lower lids slide upwards as she looks not to the note of garbledy-gook but to Stark. "Why twenty days? Do you know?"

Pepper pours a cup of tea for herself as well and leaves it sitting while she goes back to the beverage station to pour a cup of coffee for Tony. If she doens't do that, he's entirely likely to pluck her cup out of her hands and then make all the grossed-out noises when he remembers it's tea. Pass, thanks.

Returning to where the other two are, she holds the coffee cup in her hand as if about to take a sip from it, and waits for Tony to abscond with it. "I do have to admit, it doesn't seem like Phil to be this straightforward about something. Usually, if he wants to share information, he stops by to talk, or takes someone for a drive to talk where there aren't any other ears, or something like that." No offense to JARVIS or FRIDAY or SIRIN, of course.

Pepper seems unable to think of the AIs in the building as anything other than non-corporeal living beings, though oddly, when FRIDAY crosses her mind, it's accompanied by the mental image of a young girl wearing dated clothing, as if the computer-being is entangled in her mind with a child she'd seen somewhere.

"I'm going to assume that 'something was going to happen in twenty days' and if he didn't survive you were supposed to read this," Tony replies with a shrug. "Which is of course why I broke it open to try to read it and then ran into this mess…"

He makes random grabbing motions without looking around at all and eventually wraps his fingers around the coffee cup Pepper holds to indeed. Abscond with it.

She knows him so well.

"I'm pretty sure he just said that so I'd open it and start decoding it anyway." He adds after a moment of staring at the code again before glancing back between the two of them. "Cause. Come on. Who gives me a letter for someone else and doesn't expect me to open it."

…it's only logic here.

Emma's frown returns with a vengeance at that, and then she glances down once more at the paper. There's a long and weighty pause full of her disapproval, and then - with much begrudging - she finally holds the letter back out to Tony with a roll of her eyes. "Fine, then. You might as well finish the exercise."

Assuming he takes it back, she'll pick up her tea and begin enjoying it, thank you.

Pepper lets Tony take the coffee then reclaims her own tea. Easy peasy. However, at his rhetorical question, she can only look at him. "People who, oh, I don't know, think that maybe you deserve to be treated respectfully, like an adult?" Shame he keeps failing to behave like it.

Then Emma hands him that letter back and she raises her eyebrows, clearly curious to see how he reacts now. She DID give him permission to keep trying to decode the thing, but is he going to take the bait?

Wait. Did she remember to turn the kettle off? She should probably recheck her email to Finance.

"Pffft. Like anyone actually thinks that." Stark replies as he sips at his coffee and then glances back towards Emma. A flash of a wicked grin. "See. Logic." He tells her before he takes the note and pulls it up, then back into the little hopper for the holographic reconstruction.

A bigger picture of the note itself is seen now hovering in the air as letters begin to move around in earnest as JARVIS gets to work.

On the big screen it really does look like a random assortment of characters. Some English, some Japanese, some Finnish. All thrown together on a page like alphabet soup.

"I'm hoping it won't take too long…"

Emma's lips quirk to one side in wry amusement at Pepper's quip, but she makes a great show of it dissipating quickly at Tony's smug retort. She sighs a world-weary sigh, and then casts a glance down to her delicate wristwatch. "Mm. I feel like I should incentivize a quick, correct solution. Does this need incentivizing?"

She at least pretends to look a little bored, sipping away at her tea and pulling out her smartphone to begin navigating through messages. "The tea really is lovely, Miss Potts. Just the thing."

Pepper smiles and nods to Emma. "Gladly, Ms. Frost. It's honestly a pleasure to be able to share tea with someone who truly appreciates it." She's met a good few people who do, and she's glad of every one of them.

"While JARVIS is working on that for Tony, how has everything else been? You administer a school, yes? Have things been going well with the students?"

"I like incentivizing. You can work out the payment prices with Pepper there." Tony calls back towards Emma with a grin as the letters begin to move faster and faster. Starting to sort themselves out as JARVIS really gets into the number-crunching bits of it.

A pause.

He smirks slightly, draining the coffee. A pause. "Oh! Just so you know, Pep. The interns are working out well enough. Kamala made a tea delivery robot thats powered by steam. You should love it." This towards Pepper. "And Kinsey has improved the effecency of our cybernetics division by at least ten percent." A glance at Emma. "No sniping my interns either." He says to the other CEO with a smirk.

Before long though. The letter does start becoming readable.

…and yes. The first word is Tony.

The mention of the school—of students—see Emma's baleful gaze turn in Pepper's direction. "The school is fine," she replies, tone suddenly cool and devoid of its previous amusement.

…And then the letter coalesces in some comprehensible form. And the blonde CEO reads. And reads. And then she blanches. The tea cup is set aside by those well-kept manicured hands, even as she is offering her curt command. "Get it off that screen, Tony. Get it off of there, now." It's sharp, even for her, but she offers no apology.

Because she's already onto her feet and moving towards the door with her purse back in her hands, having apparently seen more than enough. Never mind the way her nails dig into the soft, creamy leather. "Do have a wonderful evening, Miss Potts. And thank you for the lovely tea."

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