Interview Interrupted

July 20, 2018:

Caitlin Fairchild interviews for a job posting with Stark Industries R&D.

Stark Tower

Characters

NPCs: JARVIS, FRIDAY

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The resume at Stark Industries had been … well, a joke.

It was completed dutifully, of course. Every 't' crossed, 'i's dotted. Neat, professional, and surprisingly dense. Only four years out of college and C. Fairchild (no first names on a resume in the tech world resume), and there was an impressive string of achievements. Internships with Howard Stark at THINK. Robotics design with Dr. Richards at the Baxter Institute. Patents on a mobile makerspace project from Starr Labs. And a glowing letter of reference from … Diana of Themyscira, among others.

But Caitlin didn't seriously expect she stood a chance.

So a few emails had turned into a callback and a meeting was set for an actual, sit-down interview. Despite things in the tech world levelling out a bit, it's still unusual to see a woman engineer, and Caitlin doubly stands out as she heads into Stark Towers wearing a deep purple skirtsuit and white silk blouse. Her shoes are perhaps a little stylish, but the modest heels and very subtle jewelry keeps her looking like the professional she is.

Still, her head surfs above everyone else's, and she gets to the secretarial section and approaches one of the desks. "Excuse me," she inquires, very politely. "I'm Caitlin Fairchild— I was told to come here for a job interview, but the email didn't really specify who I was meeting…?" she says, tentatively. She brushes a strand of red hair back from her face, two tendrils stubbornly evading the otherwise neat bun at the base of her neck.


The receptionist that Caitlin approaches looks up and greets her in a sincere and friendly manner before checking the computer at her desk. If she's in any way surprised by what the screen tells her, she's good enough to not show it. "Ah, yes. Ms. Fairchild. If you'll take the last elevator on the left, your interview will be in the office at the end of the hall." No floor number or name given.

The elevator in question also lacks a button to call it, but despite this the doors open precisely as Caitlin approaches.

The elevator ride itself is equally surreal. The elevator is clearly VERY high end, again lacking any buttons to control it, and yet it moves smoothly the moment the doors close after the redhead. Also, instead of the usual yawn-inspiring elevator music, this car is playing Black Sabbath.

The song is not quite over when the elevator car stops smoothly and the doors open again to reveal an intimidatingly executive-looking hallway. The carpet underfoot is dense and plush, the doors along the somewhat short hallway each floor to ceiling and real wood. At the end of the hall is a receptionist's desk that is completey empty, not even a piece of paper left on its surface.

The door to that last office is the only one that is open, and voices are very faintly audible.


Caitlin hesitates at the elevator, but once she's in motion, she steps out smartly. And she doesn't wobble (much) on that dense carpet! Her long stride chews up the ground quickly, speeding up when she hears voices from the open door and surmises that must be where she's intended to go. It's a very /nice/ office for Human Resources, which are typically dungeons (and often filled with trolls!)

She rounds the entryway, slowing to peek a head in, then walks fully into the doorway and knocks twice. Balanced on the threshhold, half in and out, she knocks twice on the door with a sharp sound to announce herself. "Good afternoon," she says, flashing a friendly smile to go with a cheerful note in her voice. "I'm Caitlin Fairchild. I was told to come down here— for a job interview? I'm sorry, the receptionist didn't tell me where my resume landed. This is your engineering section, isn't it?"


Inside what is clearly a top level executive office, two women sit at a small round conference table to the right of the doorway with a teapot and cups and tablet computers on the table. Behind them on the right wall of the room is what looks like it was supposed to be a wet bar but it instead holds several dozen metal tins, all neatly labelled, as well as a handful of teapots (and one vacant spot), a wide variety of cups, and a fancy modern electric water boiler parked alongside a traditional-looking Russian tea samovar. In the back right corner of the room is an executive desk and chair set so that the floor to ceiling windows illuminate the workspace with natural sunlight. The entire left half of the huge office is taken up by a glass door leading to a balcony and a set of sofa and easy chairs in front of a flatscreen mounted on the wall.

Of the two women, the younger — a strawberry blonde in a deep forest green skirt suit with a peach silk blouse and towering designer heels — stands and approaches Caitlin with a smile. If Caitlin keeps up with business, Pepper Potts would be instantly recognizable. "Ms. Fairchild, thank you for joining us. Please, come in and have a seat. Would you care for some tea?" She offers the taller redhead (even counting the heels) a handshake and gestures toward the small table.

The other woman — a thin, wizened, and stern-looking salt-and-pepper-haired Japanese matron — stays seated, her more basic slacks and button-up shirt nearly obscured by a navy blue cardigan. She watches the two redheads with eyes as sharp as a hawk.


Caitlin focuses on Pepper, a bit distracted by the office, and it's not until the other woman's in her personal space that she cues to her and recognizes her face. "O-oh. Oh! Miss— you're Pepper Potts," she says, looking a little shocked. "I saw you on the cover of Wired a few months back, the… they did that bit about Women to Watch in the tech world," she says, surprise turning warmly enthusiastic. She shakes Pepper's hand (very) gently, as if afraid to apply more than fingertip pressure, and follows along at the invitation. She takes a seat at the table when invited, ducking her head and venturing a smile at the iron-featured woman in the seat opposite. "Hello," she murmurs, and looks back to Pepper. "Some… some tea would be lovely, thank you. Earl grey, with cream and sugar, if you have it," she adds, seeing the service laid out and anticipating Pepper's next questions.

She makes sure her little leather attache case is set next to her chair and out of the way, and sits rather properly at the table. Back ramrod straight, one ankle hooked behind the other, fingers interlaced and wrists on the table's edge, and waits patiently for Pepper to return.


Pepper follows Caitlin back to the table but doesn't sit, instead stepping past to the credenza of tea. She chuckles softly at the request for tea, and then explains why she's amused. "I have about, um, nine varieties of Earl Grey, not including decaf or Lady Grey. Do you have a particular preference?" She pulls a small teapot from its place and waits for the taller redhead to reply.

The hawk-eyed little woman watches Caitlin settle at the table over her own cup of tea, the aroma on the distinctly flowery-green side. "Your resume is very impressive, Ms. Fairchild." The woman's English is clear and precise with a tiny hint of an accent. A Brooklyn-esque accent.


Caitlin blinks at Pepper's question, and nervously shakes her head. "N-no, whatever you like best," she tells Pepper, turning the uncertain statement into a suggestion. She marshals her nerves, watching Pepper work until the lady across from her suddenly speaks. She turns to the other woman, eyes widening in surprise, then nods hesitantly.

"I— thank you," she tells her. "I've been really lucky. I met the right people at the right times and they helped me out. Miss Starr in particular was tremendous, she loved my designs for the Factory portable makerspace. She let me run the whole thing, from development through to testing and production and distribution. That's when she asked me to move out of the engineering labs and into the corporate offices— she wanted an assistant with some engineering expertise, so I helped her out. Y'know, small things," she says, glancing back at Pepper, then back to the other woman. "Prototyping, cost projections, logistics, shipping and distribution to the vendors and so on," she continues, rolling one shoulder in a negligent gesture. "Pretty basic stuff, I mean— just what an assistant does."


Pepper plucks a tin from amongst many others and deftly measures out the teapot's worth and fills it from the small water boiler. The now full and steeping teapot and a matching cup are set in front of Caitlin, and the tablet closest to Caitlin lights up, showing a timer in the corner. Small containers of milk and sugar are also set on the table along with a saucer and spoon, and Pepper finally returns to the chair she'd vacated.

"That's not exactly 'basic stuff', Ms. Fairchild. Small scale, perhaps, but by no means basic. And, if this helps put things into perspective for you, my job with Stark Industries was originally 'assistant' as well." She picks up her own cup which is the same tea as the older woman is drinking. "You are aware that the position you've applied for doesn't cover that broad a scope, correct? You'll be far more familiar with the entire process than most of the people you'll be working with."

At that, the older woman interjects, her tone acerbic but not aimed at anyone in particular. "An understanding of the bigger picture is a rarity. Name one of the products you saw from conceptualization to retail shelves."


Caitlin blinks. The thought that she was doing anything more than just being a dutiful assistant clearly had not remotely dawned on her— let alone that Karen was grooming her for something more than just engineering and design work.

"I… well, you had an opening in your engineering labs for a team manager," Caitlin says, accepting the tea with a weak voice. "My last job was doing about the same, so it seemed like… I mean, you get applications from all over the world," she remarks, looking from Pepper to the other lady. "I thought it was a long shot, but I might as well try."

She sets her tea down, flickering at the annoying hair on the edgde of her face, and leans sideways to dig in her satchel. She comes up with a tablet computer (a big one, that looks almost normal size against her scale) and turns it around so the other two can see it. "I invented this," she says, with a shy pride. A 3D image of a rendered cargo container rotates on screen, and components drop out of it to be digitall rendered as well. It's called 'The Factory' and was quite recently the cover story for Popular Mechanics. "It's a mobile makerspace for developing nations. Inconel laser 3D printer, expandable five-axis CNC machinery, mobile engravers, and robotic welding assistants. We've sold about a thousand of them so far," she explains. "They're hugely helpful for projects in remote areas or developing nations. All that's needed is a power supply and occassional shipments of powdered titanium for the laser array. Print… tools, machine parts, engrave components, weld bolts— there isnt' much it can't make. Even just dropping one on a job site temporarily gives a huge boost to productivity and reduces downtime. I came up with the concept and used some of my bearing motor designs from Baxter to make the machinery modular and more expandable without losing precision. Then, logistics planning, development, and R&D while we did the marketing campaign— I actually showed it at the Stark Expo a while back," she tells Pepper, nodding. "Once we got a dozen prototypes up and running, we were selling them faster than we could make them. That's why Ka— Miss Starr shut down for a while to do a corporate restructure. She gave everyone a massive six month bonus and told them to go on vacation while she sorts out the new tax tables and the new equipment."

"Um… what do you think?" she asks. Despite her size and clear experience, there's a little nervous girl inside of Caitlin and worried about what the response will be.


The Asian woman is apparently very difficult to impress, as she merely watches the 'demo' of the mobile makerspace on the large tablet. For Pepper's part, she watches for a moment, then stares at Caitlin for a solid three seconds. "You're the one that designed that. Do you realizes how many WEEKS I spent having to hear Tony wax rhapsodic over that portable factory setup after the Expo ended?" There's an amused twitch to her smile to soften the words a bit.

"You are overqualified," is the older woman's assessment. She then finishes her tea and moves to stand, collecting her tablet. "Miss Potts, depending on your decision, we will have words." And then she departs briskly.


"I— sorry. Wait, what?" Caitlin says, flicking a hand horizontally through the air. "Ton— Mr. Stark said that? About the Factory?" She looks a little thunderstruck, and then falls back in her chair as her good posture is overwhelmed by the effusive praise from the other redhead. She lets the table slip from her fingers to drop flat on the table, the little tooling animation still running happily with tinny, corporate 'theme music' accompanying it.

The iron-haired woman gets a dazed look and a 'kay, bye' with a weak wave, and she's gone before Caitlin can get her feet back under her verbally. She looks at her tea, then decides now's the time to take a good, long sip with both hands wrapped around the tiny mug to try and calm her nerves.

"Dr. Nakamura is correct, you know," Pepper offers gently, seeing how gobsmacked Caitlin is. "You are vastly overqualified for the position you cited on your application." She pokes at her own tablet, a slim thing that looks like a piece of clear glass in a minimal frame. "FRIDAY, show me the job posting again, please."

Appearing in the air over the glass-like tablet, a holoimage of the job's description appears. "Miss Potts," a female voice with a faintly Irish lilt and the tiniest amount of synthesized distortion says from… well, everywhere. "Dr. Nakamura has sent you a message."

Tapping at the tablet again, Pepper reads the message there, the holoimage floating above staying on the job posting text. She huffs faintly in amusement.


Caitlin 'meeps!' softly when she hears the all-encompassing voice, looking around the room for its source. Realizing it's Friday, she exhales a little and touches her breastbone with one hand while taking a steadying breath. "Sorry, I'm… a little jumpy," she admits to Pepper, quickly tidying up a little spilled tea. "I— I figured Mr. Stark was just being nice to me when he told me to drop my application off, y'know? We were doing League stuff and I mentioned I was job hunting, and he said 'Well, send in a resume', so…" She shrugs, unbuttoning her jacket's single button and flapping one lapel to cool herself down a bit.

Her eyes widen. "I-I didn't mean to just drop his name like that," she says hastily. "I try to keep my League stuff and work stuff very segregated. I just— oh, shoot," she mutters, realizing she's probably sticking her foot in her mouth. "I'm sorry," she exhales. "I'm just a little rattled. This is all… kinda more than I expected," she clarifies. "I was thinking it'd be a quick talk with… like, Human Resources to verify my references. Not taking tea with Pepper Potts —" she puts some praise behind her emphasis — "on the top floors of Stark Tower."


As Caitlin tries valiantly to recover her nerves and the unflappable miss Potts smiles at a joke other things are happening in the midst of the Stark Tower.

A floor or three above.

"…ok JARVIS," The irredeamable Tony Stark says as he looks up from a work bench. "That should do it. Perfect holographic fireworks. No mess. No fuss. No waste. It'll be great."

"Yes, sir." JARVIS sounds…well…cautiously optimistic. As he usually does. "Shouldn't you have told Miss Potts about this project? After what happened with Doctor Banner didn't she asked you to stop."

Tony isn't listening again of course. Like he usually doesn't.

Instead he's imputting the final few calculations as he fires it off to the local emitter system to see what happens.

…what happens three floors up is fireworks.

…what he didn't calculate is the fact that fireworks can shoot off at random directions. And that he didn't quite take into account the fact that he was in the middle of a building.

So one 'bottle rocket' made of light whistles right off though the floor of his lab. Carried on holoemitters fitted though most of the building.

"…huh. That's new."

Pepper will at this point get a message from JARVIS. "Miss Potts? I don't know how to put this but…incoming?"

Which is when a fake bottle rocket made of light and technology screams though the roof of Pepper's office and explodes in a brilliant shades of red, gold, and blue.

Moments later? There is the sound of rushed footsteps as Tony Stark himself comes dashing up towards the door. "…hey, Pep. Did a holographic firework come this way? I'm pretty sure I—Oh! Hey Red," This towards Caitlin. "You hired yet?"


Caitlin's the opposite of petite by a pretty significant margin. In fact, it's hard to find another woman on Earth who can tip the scale at her end of things.

Designer heels or not, expensive suit or not, *interview nerves* or not— there is clearly nothing wrong with Caitlin's reflexes.

"Down!" she shouts, and she's out of her chair in a literal eyeblink. She flings herself about twelve linear feet in one long lunge, wraps her arms around Pepper, and dives to the floor with the slender redhead underneath her. Caitlin's sturdy arms form something like a roll cage and she absorbs the brunt of the impact on her elbows, refraining from (mostly) crushing Pepper. At least she's got some padding in key locations to mitigate the impact.

She blinks and looks up at Tony's entrance, a little twitchy from the adrenaline of the fireworks and the shock at his sudden arrival.

"Uh… Hi, Mister Stark. Not yet?" she says, trying for a cheery tone of voice.


Pepper doesn't even have time to react beyond her eyes lifting toward the nearest ceiling-set sensor and holoprojector array when something sounds like an explosion and she's bodily tackled away from the conference table. And then, of course, there's Tony, right on cue.

Somehow managing to not completely lose her composure while being protected by Caitlin, she says with BLATANT calmness, "Tony, what have I told you about setting off explosions in the building?" By all that's holy, if he's broken ANOTHER of her teapots…


"Look at that Pep, I told you she was fast!" Stark calls out cheeirly as he strolls into the office. "And don't worry, it wasn't really the explosion. It was all lights and holograms. No actual explosions at all. /Now/ I can have fireworks when I feel like having fireworks."

See. No danger to teapots!


Caitlin starts blushing, for multiple reasons— including having tackled the woman who clearly has a pretty significant say in the hiring process, misreading a fireworks, and her first professional encounter with Tony Stark involving her splatting Pepper on the floor.

"Ohhh…. gosh, I'm sorry," she mutters, scrambling to her feet. She reaches down without any particular effort and picks Pepper up by the waist, with no more effort that someone would stand up a small child, and fitfully tries to help straighten out her office attire. "Golly. I thought that was… y'know, incoming explosives," she says, face turning several shades of crimson. She spots Pepper's tablet and scoops it up off the ground, but the naturally inquisitive redhead flickers her eyes to the screen and hands it back slowly, her eyes widening a little at the note therein. "Um…. yeah. Super, super sorry," she says, both worried and embarassed. She reaches for the nape of her neck in a nervous gesture. Not finding whatever she's reached for, she settles curled fingers into another at her stomach level, trying to calm her flustered emotional state.


Pepper siiighs at Tony as she accepts Caitlin's help to stand up from the floor. She's perhaps surprisingly dignified about it. Maybe from repeated practice?

"It's a sudden loud noise, Tony," she scolds the inventor gently. "Did you forget who one of your lab partners is?" Does she REALLY need to explain out loud? In front of Ms. Fairchild?

"Well, I think that that's probably the end of this interview. When can you start, Ms. Fairchild?" And really, even if she'd had any hesitation about hiring Caitlin — which she didn't before and doesn't now — the fact that Tony knows her and seems to be expecting her to be hired on is proof enough that that is exactly what needs to happen. Even without taking Nakamura's version of a ringing endorsement into account.


"It didn't fly into his lab!" Stark protests. "So its fine, besides thats why I made the Holopuppies anyway." The inventor just smirks though as he leans one shoulder against the doorframe as he smirks towards the pair of them.

Does he take delight in Cait's nervousness? Eh. Only a little.

"You know where to put her better than I do, Pepper." Tony, lazy as always. "But MODOK is getting uppity at the firewall systems again. Some kind of feedback security system would be nice to develop in-house."


"I—" Caitlin glances from Pepper to Tony and back again. "I can start Monday," she says, hesitantly. "Um, but I'm not totally clear on … what we're doing? Where am I starting?" she inquires. She aims a thumb at the table behind her, then twists to point at it with her other hand.

"We— you said I'm overqualified for the tech team supervisor position. I know I asked for kind of… I mean, I got my Professional Engineer certification," she stammers. "So I just went with what the union recommended for a second-tier position. I can come down on my salary, I guess," she says, babbling a little, "if that's what it takes to get, y'know, a foot in the door?"


"Still, Tony. Even… holopuppies can't make up for a startle bad enough to upset him. You know that."

Pepper turns to Caitlin again. "You are very overqualified. There are other applicants that can fill that position."

She steps back to the table and picks up her tablet. "FRIDAY, remind me when Dr. Nakamura was planning to retire?"

"At the end of next year, Miss Potts."

"Well then, I think that is just about enough time for her to groom her replacement. What do you think, Tony?"


"She can bench press a building, that is overqualified for a lot of positions." Stark replies wryly before giving the babbling redhead an easy grin. "Lets not throw her right into the mix off the bat. After all," A glance at Cait and a smirk. "You're gonna have to have extra time off to save the world on occasion, right?"

A beatpause.

"Assistant to Nakamura. You see how you like it there. If you like it, well the choice is then up to you. Sound like a plan there?"


"I'm not being the designated forklift again," Caitlin tells Tony, rather primly— but there's a smile on her face, tempering some of the confusion.

She goes very quiet and thoughtful, looking from Pepper to Tony. "Okay, so…. Dr. Nakamura. She's… intense," Caitlin says, struggling for a polite word for the scary lady. "She's retiring, and you want her to… train me into her position."

She looks a little relieved. "Okay. I can do that, I'm sure. It won't be bad. What is she, like, one of your section managers? Systems engineer, facility maintenance…?" she inquires, looking from one to another.


Pepper glances at Tony, then offers with a smile, "She's the head of R&D for Stark Industries. Everything that that is invented by someone other than Tony goes through her." And several of Tony's ideas are filtered through her to make them feasible for public use.

"FRIDAY, if you would, please?"

After a moment, there's a holoimage over Pepper's tablet, with a new job posting displayed. "New job posting created, Miss Potts."

"There we go. I believe the hiring documents should all be waiting on your tablet already. See you on Monday, then?"


"One of the heads of R&D at least," Stark drawls as he glances back towards Pepper. "Come on, I was trying not to scare her, Pep." He says with a flash of a grin as he nods easily. "Mostly she deals with the engineering side of things, so you'll fit in fine." He adds. "So…welcome to…" He gestures all around him. "You'll get used to the AI."

He pauses as he thinks on any 'lab rules' that aren't covered by HR…

"If you find a box marked 'Magic Stuff' don't touch it its magic stuff. And if you find a box marked 'Owen's Stash' /defintally/ don't touch it."

A flash of a grin.

"Beyond that when you show up on monday you can help me articulate plates for a armor system for a flying horse."

…just one more day at Stark Tower.

"I'm gonna go make sure I didn't actually blow up anything upstairs though."


Caitlin sits down, a little heavily, on the edge of the table. It creaks alarmingly, but holds. "I…. head of R&D?" she says, weakly. "That's… that's…"

She swallows, mouth dry, and casts around for some water. Finding some, she takes a big gulp, and looks over at the display. Spittake.

"That— that can't be my salary," she says, jabbing a finger at the holographic display. "No way. I just got my PE /last week/," she says, stunned. "You— this is one of the biggest tech companies in the world!"

She looks at Pepper and Tony as if they've gone nuts. "I— Mr. Stark, I know we work together at the League, but this is… this is too much," she says, feebly. "And Miss Potts, you're… you're swell. You're /awesome/. I just… …this is just a lot to take in." She looks a little dizzy.


Pepper can only shake her head as Tony leaves just as abruptly as he arrived. It's like she's used to it or something. "Take all the time you need to let it sink in. If you prefer, we can go sit on the couch." She sets her tablet on her desk now that the AIs are out of the bag, so to speak, and moves to clean up the tea pots and cups. Though if Caitlin decides she wants more of the Earl Grey, Pepper's pretty sure she's got one of Tony's 'gag gift' coffee cups in the credenza somewhere. Mostly because she never again wants him to try to claim he's drunk only one cup of coffee when said cup can hold up to forty four ounces of liquid.

"Other than the obvious, do you have any questions for me?" Oh, and also now that Nakamura's gone and Tony's left, she kicks off her shoes and pads around the office barefoot.


Caitlin follows Pepper a little dumbly, shaking her head. When Pepper kicks her shoes off, so does Caitlin, shaving about three inches off her height. She glances at Pepper's designer attire. "Love your shoes," she says, trying to center herself back in reality. Sensing the 'formal' part of the interview is over, she shrugs out of her aubergine jacket, leaving her in a demisleeved silk blouse and the high-waisted suit skirt.

"Questions. Right. Uh…" She seats herself on the sofa, then a half second later, gives up trying to be Miss Post Proper and leans back against the sofa behind her. "Um. Okay. Hours of work, I guess," she says, eyes on the ceiling. She looks to Pepper again. "Salaried, so… I figure you're looking for more than the nine-to-five grind?" she guesses. "And then… uh, leave policy for emergency services stuff. I /am/ registered as a Leage EMS," she assures Pepper. "And—" she holds a hand up, thinking. "Patent percentages. Like… how do you split those. Royalties, licensing…?" she asks, trying to rally herself.

In fairness, it /is/ a lot to take in.


Pepper doesn't seem to at all mind as Caitlin settles in, washing the dishes then starting a new, large pot of Earl Grey. "Thank you, one of my few vices. Let me see if I can answer those in order for you. And the ones I'm not sure about, FRIDAY or JARVIS can help you find out about later."

Moving to curl up in one of the side chairs, she tilts her head to one side as if to stretch out the muscles in her neck. "Okay. At least at first, your hours will be the same as Nakamura's." And she notes what those are. "You shouldn't have to exceed nine to five for at least the first several months, unless we hit an unexpected crunch, and then it's all hands on deck and you won't by any means be the only person here late."

She tilts her headto the other side as she continues. "Your leave policy will be the same as Tony's. You're expected to respond to emergency calls, and we only ask that you don't leave the building by the truly most direct route — our yearly window replacement budget is already ridiculous."

She then takes to stretching her shoulders by pulling one arm across her chest and holding it there for several seconds. "Patents are entirely yours, SI only reserves the opportunity to call first dibs on licensing. And royalties are offered at the standard competetive rate for the industry the patent works under."


"I can't fly, don't worry," Caitlin assures Pepper. "But I'll ask about getting a … I guess I'll need to start getting lessons on a Quinjet or a Javelin," she says. "I'll keep one on autopilot on the roof hangar so I can get to the Hall in a hurry, that's pretty standard."

She tugs her left earlobe, thinking, and accidentally dislodges her earrring. It's a pretty diamond, and not cheap, but it's held on by a clip-on. "Doggone it," she mutters, trying to fumble it back in place. "Gosh, I…. I don't know what else to ask about offhand," she says, finally. "I'm …. this is kind of a major life change for me," she confesses. "Like… Karen paid me really well for an engineer, even, at my last job. Even for New York. Now I'm… you want me to head R&D. Just… coming up with ideas. I mean, I've got some already, I just… don't know how to keep up with Tony. He's the smartest guy in the world." She fights a few stray hairs, then with an irritated sound, starts tearing her ponytail bun apart to get it out of the careful hairclips holding it in place. "This just feels like a dream, or something."

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