Before Things Went Boom

June 29, 2018:

Tony tries to talk to Emma. Ends up bribing her with an impromptu getaway instead.

Frost International

The Tower of Terror: aka Emma Frost's domain.


NPCs: Tasha Beaumont, George from Marketing

Mentions: Kitty Pryde, Piotr Rasputin


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

“M…mister Stark! Please…now isn’t a good time for you to—”

“Tasha right?” Tony Stark’s words are an easy drawl as he slips into the outer office of one Miss Emma Frost. The smile on his face is bright and relaxed. Confidence radiates from every mote of his being. He is Tony Stark after all. His suit is perfectly cut, dark and cut cross with grey hatch designs. The cut the latest fashion, the man looks about as much as he’s worth as he starts to stroll across the floor of the outer office with a easy gait.

“Tasha, it's fine. I mean, come on, I do this all the time. I’m sure she won’t blame you for letting me in.” After all, it's not like poor Tasha could stop him even if she tried.

He is pretty sure he’s tempting fate here. After all Tasha actually looks worried, which isn’t the best of signs. However he knows that Emma finding out things all on her own just makes her more angry. So talking it out is the better way to go.

Even if he has to take her to Spain or something afterwards.

But…anticipating this would be a difficult talk. Tony Stark planned ahead. He brought a secret weapon. A weapon that is tucked under his arm as he walks. A weapon that he deploys even as the door to Emma’s office is slowly pulled open…

A bottle of Domaine Leroy Musigny Pinot Noir ‘94.

Which is the first thing that would be seen as the door opens, slipped into the crack to hang like a white flag from Tony’s fingers.

“I come bearing gifts!” Comes Stark’s cheerful and familiar call.

The look that turns towards the office door could boil colossal squid in the frigid depths of the ocean, so hellaciously hot is the fury in it. Blue eyes behind gold-rimmed reading glasses are narrowed slits turned towards the door, ready to decimate.

Except that it’s the good wine.

And that would be a waste.

“Miss Beaumont,” Emma growls after shoving her finger down on the intercom of her telephone roughly. “I was reasonably assured when I hired you that you could count. At least as far as one. One is not zero, and zero visitors is what I specified.”

The blonde behind her desk is dressed in her own office finery, a white McQueen suit featuring two single-breasted shawl collars in white wool grain du poudre matched against the deadly stilettos that she so very rarely wears in Stark’s presence. They are nothing but sharp points that echo the equally sharp points of her dangling earrings that look like golden daggerblades bunched up like bananas if you tilt your head the right way.

Her finger lifts from the box, and then her growl is directed at the door. “Leave the wine when you go, and I promise to not kill you for not calling ahead.”

Tony takes a moment to peer at Miss Beaumont behind the dubious safety of the door. ‘I think she’s angry.’ He mouths towards the beleaguered woman behind the desk before he pushes on pass the portal and into the sanctum of the local lioness.

Who seems to be on the warpath.

There is a moment that he pauses by the doorway to drink in the sight of an angry Emma Frost. Because it is a sight. Most sane men would leave the bottle and turn right round when faced with the look she levels at him. Most people with a modicum of preservation would take the thousands of subtle hints and flee the premises.

Tony Stark does neither, mostly because his sense of self preservation fled long long ago.

“What? You don’t want to share it? I’m told it’s good.” He says as he strolls over towards the door, settling the bottle on her desk before flashing a grin towards her. “I mean it better be, I’m pretty sure you can put a down payment on a car for the price of that bottle.” A beat pause. “Not that it guarantees it to be good that way, but it does make it better if it is good.”

Now he came in here to deliver news. But now the force of her anger makes him curious. I mean she is a telepath, but the news he brought is more the ‘exasperated sigh’ kind of news and not the ‘filet your secretary’ kind.

“Soooo…any specific reason you’re wanting to give Tasha out there a math lesson?” He asks curiously. Conspicuously today without his drone buddies as he lazily sits in the chair across from her. Eyes that most people would think are lazy half-closed as he examines her. And not only because she’s even more attractive when she’s being murderous.

“No! Don’t!” Tony Stark’s other suit isn’t precisely a secret. Perhaps it should speak to the dire nature of Tony’s predicament that the dark haired woman with her impeccably styled asymmetrical bob is shoving herself bravely to her feet to physically pull him back and spare him a brutal end, only to be interrupted in her life-saving mission by her employer’s voice buzzing through her phone. A frustrated cry follows, but Tasha inevitably turns back towards the call of her boss. “I can, Miss Frost,” she tries to explain. “I did, But he—” is Tony Stark and already through the door.

He will hear the frantic scuffle and shuffle of Tasha’s black pumps as she races in behind him. Her look of abject horror mingles with utter exasperation as she glances between the two titans currently plaguing her existence. “…Do you want me to call security?” she asks, expression uncertain. …Her tone makes it abundantly clear that she really doesn't want to call security.

“‘Tasha in here’ apparently,” Emma corrects as her furious gaze shifts towards her typically unflappable assistant. And then she points out the door as she rises slowly out of her chair to lean over her desk. “Get. Out. And don’t bother with security. It will just be another set of bodies who can’t do what I bloody well tell them to do.”

She waits until the other woman is gone, mild acknowledgments being made all the while, to rest her pointing hand down on the desk as she considers the wine. And the man now sitting in one of her chairs in lazy, full defiance.

Still bent over the desk, she lifts a golden eyebrow and pointedly ignores the question leveled at her. “What did you do now?”

Lazy defiance is basically par for the course when dealing with someone like Tony Stark. Its what he lives and breathes. It's how he survives in the world. Especially when faced with something very much like a force of nature. A force of nature is what an angry Emma Frost is. Elemental in form and nature. An unstoppable force of rage ready to snap at a moment’s notice.

“Why does it have to be that I did something?” Stark asks with a quirked eyebrow. “I mean. I’ve done a lot of stuff in the past week. Helped people. Talked to ghosts. Built a tracker. Passed out in a bathroom. I suppose this is kinda a normal week for me. Though I don’t think I’d like to cap it off by getting on your bad side.”

He smiles towards her though, that same lazy unhurried smile she’s seen hundreds of times. Behind that smile there is some concern here. He’s seen Emma angry and this is a bit beyond that. She’s furious.

One misstep could make him have the honor of barking like a dog for the rest of the week.

Still he persists. For some strange reason he doesn’t flee as good sense demands.

“But I did have a few visitors, I was going to ask what you thought about it. But…why don’t you tell me what got you ready to burn down your entire house?”

“Not my house,” Frost mutters darkly, straightening and crossing her arms beneath her breasts. “But still, it’s nothing.” And it’s a ‘nothing’ with all of the inherent danger that a woman can say ‘nothing’ with it clearly not being ‘nothing’. With all of the ‘leave it alone’ without coming out and destroying what is laid out before her like the ancient dragons of old.

And then?

Then she promptly changes subject, following one of Stark’s trails instead in what should be an indication that she will at least tolerate his absolute disregard for her preference for privacy. For now.

“But it sounds like you’ve had a week.”

She looks to the bottle of wine, sighs, and then sits down at her desk to pull open one of the lower drawers where a small rosewood box has been hidden away. Her manicured fingers gently extract the box, and then set it on the table. Upon opening it, a full corkscrew set is revealed. A couple of glasses follow, once they’re unwrapped from the microfiber cloths she has protecting them.

…This is apparently not her first time drinking in the office.

The open corkscrew box is turned to face Tony, with Emma’s eyebrows lifting in question to match his. “And it sounds like you’d like to discuss it.” The unspoken question and challenge is there. ‘I don’t. Will you leave my stuff alone?’

“Uh huh.” That response comes with a touch of a smile he tries to hide. She knows though and he knows she knows he’s smiling. It isn’t quite mocking, just…amused. He has heard that /nothing/ from many different people. From /her/ more than once. He knows when it’s not nothing.

“It sounds like something.” He drawls and for a moment it looks like he might push the issue. Barrel full bore into that dangerous red blinking zone of destruction that she has so nicely set up for him.

But then he looks away, leaning forward to pluck the corkscrew from its place in the box without a word. Skirting dangerously close to Emma’s danger zone but not quite barreling through. If she takes even a tiny look at his thoughts she can feel the curiosity pulsing there. Something /did/ go wrong. Something he might can help with. …something that if he knows he pushes she’ll just get more stubborn about until throwing him out. Or worse.

So instead of pushing for now he turns his attention to the bottle of wine. There is a smirk again as he spins the corkscrew in his fingers. “You know usually I have someone do this for me. You’re already getting special treatment.” HIs comment coming as he drags the bottle over and stands. An expert twist and the cork comes free with a pop. Then he stops a moment and pulls a small pen-like device out of his pocket. A button is depressed, a bright blue light bathes the bottle a moment and then he starts to pour.

The wine is miraculously the perfect temperature at this point.

If you’re a super genius inventor, what's the fun if you can’t invent completely useless things.

“So since you don’t want to talk about nothing. Let's go with the fact that I finally had a pair of X-men show up in my building last week asking about collars.”

It’s something, her guest challenges. Emma’s claret-hued lips tighten into a thin, straight line. Her guest wisely moves on.

She feels the pulse of his thoughts as they thrum through, loud and focused. She also, however, looks for all the world as though she doesn’t.

She’s getting special treatment, Stark tells her. “I deserve special treatment,” she tells him with a smug sort of smile, albeit its only surface deep. Scrape at it too hard, and it will prove false. But Tony isn’t scuttling out of her office with a wastebasket and the insatiable, driving need to use it to impersonate a hermit crab, so it’s safe to say that he’s probably getting a little bit of special treatment, too.

He’s got the bottle open and a statement out before them for consideration.

It draws the telepath’s crystal-pale eyes into narrowed slits. “Did you now? And what did the wayward little dears want, hm?”

It isn’t even a challenge. It is a statement of fact. The truth is there for all to see, it's just the specifics behind said truth that is difficult to pry out of the woman. It has always been like that though, anything else would be easy.

And Tony Stark doesn’t always like easy things.

“I’m not going to argue with that.” He adds as he pours glasses for the both of them. The wine itself? Is actually as good as he promised. He likely had JARVIS or Pepper pick it out but hey. Really it's the thought that counts isn’t it. Especially when dealing with a telepath.

“My help with their collar problem of course. It was Tin Man and Miss Untrusting.” A pause. “Piotr and Kitty. If I’m remembering names right. Tin Man was a genuine kinda nice guy. It was so /strange/ to see one in the wild.” A pause. “Kitty thought I was going to start to experiment on them then and there or something. I don’t know. But..they wanted help. I gave them some help. They offered more help. I realized how awkward that could get /really/ fast. So I was suitably vague about it.”

Oh.” A pause. “Her.

Emma lets out a barely audible “ugh” under her breath as her hand slides forward to claim one of the wine glasses by its foot and slide it back across the mahogany divide towards herself. It would have to be those two, wouldn’t it?

The sound of the woman in white’s disgust carries with it all of the subtext of history as she lifts up the glass in a silent toast to her uninvited guest before she lifts it to her lips.

“I assume,” she continues, her eyes transfixed now upon the vintage that she is gently swirling in her hand and considering at length, “that they left still not knowing that I have any part in it.”

He answers the toast, taking a sip of the fine drink he bought as a smirk works its way onto his face. “You know people have this habit of forgetting I’m /actually/ incredibly smart.” He says idily. “So they just assume I do all these dumb things…”

“So…first off I’m going to take it you and Miss Everything Is Awful have a history. But no, they don’t know you have any part in it. They don’t know the wonder twins have anything to do with it either. Which is why I came to talk to you about it.”

He quirks an eyebrow. “Because you know they'll find out. And if they find out from someone else they'll be the whole pointing and blaming and ‘I KNEW YOU WERE UP TO NO GOOD’ that always comes along with it.”

He has been through this before.

“So the question becomes how to explain things.”

Emma closes her eyes gently, and her jaw goes slightly slack as she takes a very long and very deep breath. She works her jaw a little bit after as she tries to banish the sudden tension that is forming in it.

Once she has her emotions well in hand, she she shakes her head, tilts it, and reopens her eyes to look at her fellow businessman with an expression that is nothing short of weary. “There is nothing you are going to be able to say, Tony, that will convince her that you were up to anything except a vile plot to take over the world as soon as she finds out that I’ve known about this and weighed in. I don’t know if that lovely courtesy will also be afforded to the terror twins who tried to kill us all,” and it may be telling that she assumes she ranks below them in Miss Pryde’s estimation, “but there you have it.”

Leaning back in her chair more, she settles her head against its high back and sighs more outwardly. “So does it really matter? Does it really?”

Stark is silent as he nurses his wine, watching the woman across with him with sharp eyes. There are lines under those eyes, speaking of many long nights in the recent past. The lack of sleep doesn’t seem to have dulled the intelligence though as he sits for a handful of heartbeats.

Which is about all he can sit still for. She should know that by now.

“That must be some history.” Is all the can think to comment at first. “I’m not gonna ask, because you aren’t going to tell me right now.” He adds with a smirk towards her. “But it matters. If she thinks we’re trying to take over the world instead of trying to help she could second guess way too much stuff. I mean she already thinks the worst of me. Not that I blame her, I mean I’m kinda an asshole.”

A flash of a wicked grin.

“So what about Pitor? I mean all I know is he is huge, can turn metal, and has a sister that is ruling a hell dimension or something and seems actually sincere?” A pause again. “And I’m pretty sure the terror twins and those two in the same room would be volatile. To say the least. I can keep you out of it, if you want to tell the twins to do the same.” He shrugs at that. Either way seems not to be a problem him.

“Pitor also offered to be a test subject for my anti-collar chip so…that is one less thing to worry about.”

“You’re an asshole that I happen to find enjoyable when you’re not intruding when you’re not supposed to or trying to give me aneurysms with your more exciting plans du jour. She, however, is a little bit of a drama queen,” Emma offers as a scathing yet somehow still dismissive aside on the matter of Kitty Pryde, but not much more than that. “As far as Piotr, I don’t know. Other than he’s clearly going to be listening to Miss Pryde. Because… well. They came in together, I assume.”

Sipping more of the wine, Emma crosses her legs and then drapes her arm languidly over her lap.

“I suppose a voluntary guinea pig is more ethical than finding someone we don’t like. So there’s that. If you care about that sort of thing.” Which, she doesn’t if her expression and airy flick of her wrist is any indication. For the record.

“You know,” Tony’s words are thoughtful. “I don’t know if it says more about you or I that I think you’re so goddamn attractive when you skirt that ragged edge of morality.” He seems to consider his wine for a second and then shrug. “A question for my therapist, if I had one I guess. So I’m gonna table that thought for later.”

“Right now, fine. They will find out though, they always find out.” There is a smirk at that. “So think I should go visit their house and talk to a few more of them to prepare for the worst or just let the cards fall as they may?” A pause from the inventor. “I’m not used to asking for advice here but…I’m just gonna go with it.”

Again the sip of his wine, a glance towards her and a touch of a smile on his face. “And on a totally different note. I have a little lab being set up near San Sebastian. Nothing too big, but it’ll take a day or two in order to get it all fixed up how I like it. Why don’t you come with me. I know how much you like the Spanish coast.”

Tony Stark has /never/ been above blatant bribery.

And Emma Frost really does know better than to accept this particular bribe.

It’s a terrible time to travel and be away, and it will probably make her look needy to accept it.

She says ‘no’ very promptly.

“I don’t know if spending the night in a lab is the most alluring locale,” she says, the denial a firm one.

Except… That’s… not actually a ‘no.’

She doesn’t smile, save a tiny one hidden in the corners of her mouth as she tilts her head the other way as she continues to lean it back against her chair. “But San Sebastian is a lovely place for a lab. If one were to be spending the night in it. If there’s ever a lovely place to spend the night in the lab. Which, really, there isn’t.”

She sips from her cup, and then finally lets one corner of her mouth turn upwards. “But I’m glad that my sin-soaked soul is good for something other than drawing Miss Pryde’s unsolicited opinions.”

“Now Emma,” There is an amused chiding in Stark’s tone. “Why kind of eccentric billionaire genius would I be if I just put my lab in plain sight. Especially in a place like San Sebastian.” He pauses to match her not-smile with an actual-smile of his own. He can /see/ that look on her face and he /knows/ that wasn’t a /no/.

He’s making progress.

“So I put it under a seventeenth century villa. I mean you know I have no eye for that sort of thing. I need someone to take a look at it, stay for a few days, make sure that the cover is sound. I mean…it has to look the part right?” A pause as he takes a long sip.

“Come on, just a couple days? What could it hurt? Consider it a favor?”

Ugh. It’s an offer tempting enough that Emma’s patent refusal becomes a roll of her eyes.

“You’re incorrigible,” she tells him, sipping and frowning in his direction as she continues her superficial resistance. She then lets her head languidly loll in a direction towards her computer monitor and the 347 emails still in her inbox. She looks towards her desk phone, and the three unheard voicemail messages that make it blink its dire scarlet warning.

Her eyes turn back to Stark, although the rest of her head doesn’t follow. It’s a sly sort of look. “…replica or historic? Just asking out of curiosity. Not because I’m going to go.”

“If I wasn’t would you like me half as much?” Stark shoots back as he watches her and that look of hers. At the question though he just shrugs slightly, seemingly nonchalant about the whole thing.

“Historic,” He says airily. “I’m pretty sure. I mean I didn’t check entirely into it when I bought it.” A pause. “I mean when a eccentric handsome rich billionaire playboy philanthropist who totally isn’t me purchased it.” He smirks slightly. Having his own name on something is like just asking for it to be blown up.

He learned that with his tower.

“But you know me, if left to my own devices I’m just going to hang pictures of myself everywhere and put holoscreens in every room. I need someone to stop me.” A beatpause. “Besides, didn’t you just say you were worth a little special treatment?”

“I did,” Emma confirms, twisting the stem of her wine glass pensively between her fingertips.

“But since you don’t own it, we’ll just have to be very certain—you and I—to come up with enough trouble to make it worthy of squatting in some eccentric handsome rich billionaire playboy philanthropist stranger’s property.”

Slender shoulders shrug in the fitted suit with its non-traditional seams. “I mean, I’m fairly certain we’ve only scraped the surface of potential debauchery. And that seems the best way to celebrate such a crime.”

With a look of mock seriousness, Emma turns her head finally back to fully face Stark. “Don’t you agree?”

“Oh, I entirely agree. Debauchery is serious business, isn’t it?” He replies with a knowing smirk. “I can have a jet in the air in an hour or two. Just in case you’re curious about it.”

Stark was serious about going of course, but he was also serious about her coming with. The offer is a genuine enough one. Or at least a genuine as someone like Tony gets.

“So,” He says as he polishes off his glass. “Shall we go play hooky from actual responsibility for a bit? I promise you won’t be bored.”

There are a hundred reasons, easily, as to why Emma should say no. Easily.

They begin filing through her thoughts like models at a runway show as she considers the ‘94 in her hand at length. “I’m sure,” she muses, her tone betraying her consideration.

After a long moment of weighing the pros and cons of the plan, the woman turns her kohl-framed gaze back to Stark and pricks one eyebrow upwards as she pulls down her glasses and looks over the rims at him. “Can you make it six hours? I’m not quite in a ‘drop everything and run’ sort of place right now.”

But she will lean over at last to pour more of the wine for herself. Generously. And does not pour for the man who brought it to her. At least, not at first.

Instead, she teeters the wine bottle’s mouth back and forth—away and towards—Tony’s empty glass in a nearly whimsical motion. Should she, shouldn’t she? Oh, the incessant tease.

“Six hours it is,” Stark replies with a smirk as he watches her waggle the bottle back and forth. He pauses for a moment then sets his glass on her desk, laughter in his eyes. One hand reaches up to steady the bottle and slip it from her fingers. The other curls around those fingers and with a flash of a wicked grin he presses a quick kiss against them.

“I’ll see ya then,” He adds as he starts to stand. “I’ll finish all the arrangements, JARVIS can text you the flight time and location.” He adds with a wink. “Don’t have to pack too much you know. It’s only a few days after all.”

But then he’s stepping away from the desk, and the wine, and the woman there behind it.

He will totally mouth ‘You’re welcome!’ to Tasha as he steps out too.

…and then have JARVIS buy a historical villa in San Sebastian…

…look he doesn’t always think these things entirely through before he does them!

As the wine is extracted from her hand and a kiss set there instead, Emma nearly smiles. Nearly. Ultimately, she fights and prevails in keeping her lips in a neutral sort of line after the smallest flick at one of their corners.

But the quiet murmur of pleasure at the back of her throat is harder to hide.

“I know how to pack, Tony,” she tells him. And she does. And she knows precisely how little is little enough for these sorts of jaunts. “So I’ll see you at…” She twists her wrist to check the dainty bracelet watch upon it. “Eight, hm?”

But then he’s making his strategic exit, all roguish charm, and the blonde simply clucks her tongue as he does and picks up the offering of her expensive wine to make the rest of the afternoon more bearable. She’s distracted enough that she misses the thoughts of this all being a plot flown by the seat of his pants.

Tasha, for what it’s worth, seems utterly shocked that he’s walking out under his own power. She rises as soon as the door opens, turning away from the conversation she’s having with George from marketing downstairs and ready to intervene in whatever way her employer asks of her, only to stare—mouth slightly agape—as Tony coasts on by with all of his limbs very much intact and attached.

She’s still staring when the elevator door closes on him. There’s a wary glance in the direction of Miss Frost’s open door, and then she leans across the desk to whisper to George: “I’ll call you back in once I’m sure we’re safe.”

George, a wise man of fifty years, nods and quietly takes the stairs down to his own floor, hoping the boss doesn’t hear him.

It’s been that kind of a day.

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