Beatpause

August 10, 2018:

Rachel cashes in her free dinner voucher with Stark after the Brotherhood almost botches her mission. She talks Tony into doing something dumb.

Around 24th and Madison

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Pietro Maximoff, Wanda Maximoff, Emma Frost

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's past midnight, a mere few hours from the start of the operations window that Tony received from the X-Men concerning when they would attempt to plant his malware. In true clandestine fashion, Tony receives a mysterious text from his contact.

<phoenix_EX> fucking brotherhood again
<phoenix_EX> you're taking me out to dinner
<phoenix_EX> someplace expensive
<phoenix_EX> one of those places where the menus don't have prices
<phoenix_EX> and i'm gonna order blind
<phoenix_EX> but i'll wear heels
<phoenix_EX> that's my deal. take it or leave it, stark.

Maybe not that mysterious.


Tony? Tony was working. He was always working. Its only been a few hours but already his malware is hard at work and him and JARVIS are sorting through all the information that is being dumped. Most of it encrypted. Most of it useless. However he is sure there has to be some kind of jewel in the mess somewhere…

Seriously. The man doesn't sleep.

Which is when his phone goes off.

He looks at the screen as the bings of incoming texts keep coming. Eyebrow arching up at the words printing out. Then there is a smirk.

<Iron_Man(Yes he is fucking subtle)> Will they be spiked heels?
<Iron_Man> But seriously. Fine. Expensive restaurant.
<Iron_Man> And this is where I'm not supposed to say anything about things exploding right?
<Iron_Man> 7 work for you?


<phoenix_EX> you could bring up explosions if you want
<phoenix_EX> but then i might feel like exploding something myself
<phoenix_EX> 7 is fine. i'll tell you where to pick me up. it won't be the mansion.

AT 7 PM, WHICH IS FINE

Tony gets a map link sent to him later that evening. It's in NYC, near a public library. Rachel is sitting on a bench just inside Bryant Park, close enough to the street where she can be seen by, say, someone driving up to give her a ride.

There's one problem: she's not wearing heels. She's not even wearing a dress. She's wearing tight jeans, red cowboy boots, and black knit halter top, but none of these things are heels. Not a single spike.

Rachel plays on her phone while she waits because she's a… wait, does she qualify as an honorary millennial? How does time travel work with generational smacktalk?

Okay, maybe there's a little bit of mystery.


Most of the cars that drive by are your standard fare for NYC. Cabs and the inner city traffic being what they are. However the scream of a high performance engine cuts though all the background noise quickly enough. A familiar bright red McLaren weaving expertly though traffic before pulling up on the curb nearby. Smoke raises from the tires as the window whirrs down to reveal the smirking face of one Tony Stark lit by the holographic systems of his car.

"No heels." Of course that is the first thing he says of course. It /is/ him. The door clicks open on the passanger side. "…but I think I'll survive. Come on then, get in. I know where we're going."

A smirk.

"You know I almost came here in my suit. I figured that wouldn't be right for a first date."


Improbably, Rachel isn't looking up when Tony's car comes screeching in. Everyone else nearby is looking up. (And, in many cases, taking pictures.) Rachel is still finishing whatever she's reading on her phone. It's only after Tony rates his survival chances that she looks up with a melodramatic roll of her eyes.

Rachel stands and saunters toward Tony's car. She nears the rear of it, leisurely walking forward toward the passenger door as she surveys the length of the thing. She chews her lower lip, though in carefully-neutral thoughtfulness rather than any kind of visible pleasure.

"Decent," she says, eventually. She looks up to Tony. "And you should know I keep my promises."

Rachel reaches up to run her hand through her hair, shaking her head to tousle it further. A peculiar shimmering envelops her body, and when it's gone she's not wearing the same thing at all: a red bandage dress with an off-the-shoulder neckline with a classy touch of decolletage, with a matching clutch and a brace of warm-toned statement rings on her left hand bearing different spike designs. Her makeup's changed as well: glossy red lipstick and enough eyeliner to establish edgy cred without disharmoniously competing for attention.

She's also four inches taller. When she opens the passenger door and gets in, the culprit is a pair of black closed-toe heels covered from heel to toe in matte black spikes.

"You're not the only one who can lean into a gimmick," she says, shutting the door. She gestures with her pointer finger and her seatbelt buckles itself.


"For the record, I like your gimmick." Stark drawls as he takes a long look towards the woman sliding into the car with him. The engine revs as she buckles up before he shrugs. "And I'm glad you like that car. Just a little something I had tucked away."

The interior of the vehicle is even more tricked out than one might think for a supercar. First off a surprise being the seats are actually…comfortable. The bells and whistles of the teched out dash board are all Stark's own designs.

There are enough controls that is almost seems like it /should/ be able to fly.

It /is/ Stark, so it might just be.

He waits at least until she's buckled in before pulling back into traffic. At speed. The drive to the resturant reminds some people that Stark…before he went into the heroing thing…used to race Formula One for 'fun'.

He's good at it but still slightly harrowing.

"So…any idea how the Boom Boom Twins got there at the /same/ time you did?" He adds with a quirked eyebrow as he whips around a slow group of cars, splitting his attention between her and the road itself as he scythes though traffic towards the corner of 24th Street and Madison Avenue.


Rachel appraises the dashboard (and, as an afterthought, the rest of the interior before her) with silent interest. If anything there is intimidating to her, she doesn't show it. This little game of impressing and unimpressed continues when the car starts off.

The first burst of speed gets nothing from Rachel. She leans smoothly into every turn, affected by the shifts in momentum but not deeply or violently. It's only when Tony starts the real cornering and weaving through traffic that Rachel is unable to repress a smile. If Tony keeps it up, he might manage an outright grin before the night is over.

"Gut feeling?" says Rachel. "We're compromised. Scarlet Witch did something or we otherwise have an info leak in the mansion. But that might just be my mistrust of big, impersonal teams talking."

The topic dampens Rachel's mood. She purses her lips, momentarily lost in thought. Then: "The Purifiers had some serious hardware there. Personnel. If they hadn't bombed the place, who knows what we would have found? All for what, some instant gratification and a threatening video?"

Rachel glances over to Tony, even if this means taking her eyes off the ludicrous display on the other side of the windshield. "I want evidence. I want to take it to the government. I want to prove to people that killing everyone who threatens you until you feel safe doesn't make for a better future."


"JARVIS," The inventor calls out to thin air as they eel though the city, taking corners at a reckless speed. "Call Daniel. Make sure there is a table ready. Tell him…soon."

"Of course, sir." JARVIS voice sounds somewhere between amused and exasperated. Silence for a long moment before the voice comes back. "Chef Humm said he would be delighted to have you for dinner tonight, and any guests. At least he said that /after/ he stopped cursing your name."

A smirk at that. "He loves me," He aside towards Rachel after a moment, his own moon seeming almost impossible to dampen. At least via normal talks like this. "Yeah that sounds like ol' antenna hair to me." A beatpause. "I sware I thought he had bug powers not speed first time I met him." A shake of his head. "More interested in blowing everything up and being /right/ than actually getting anything done."

A glance out of the side of his eyes towards her. "…and yes, I've met the Lannister Twins. They tried to blow up a party I held and it just went downhill from there."

The talk shifts though, even as Tony whips the car into a valet parking a short distance from the resturant. In the area of Madison Square Park. "…someone with really deep pockets is trying to make sure that message doens't get heard." He adds wryly. "I've been leveraging every lobbyist I can get my hands on and its tooth and nail every inch I get." A beatpause. "And also for the record. I do prefer more personal partnerships. Much more fun and entertaining."


Rachel curls her lips back in mild yikes as the conversation between JARVIS and Tony unfolds. Does JARVIS need to be taken aside later and told he's doing a great job? Do Stark robots need pep talks? Rachel consigns such considerations to be future Rachel's problem.

Especially once Tony drops a dramatic bit of banter. When Rachel hears the Lannister namedrop, she actually turns her head to look at Tony this time, eyes widening. "No. Really?"

She looks out the windshield, settling back into her chair. The car screeches to a halt. "Wow," she says, and not at the drive.

One of the valets opens the door for her and offers his hand to help her up. Rachel takes it because it's less of a hassle than giving him a talk about being a powerful independent woman. She steps out of the pavement and onto the walkway before turning around to give Tony an insouciant look.

"You, prioritizing entertainment? A little unexpected, but I'll mark it down."


Stark robots totally need pep talks. JARVIS could defiantly appreciate it. I mean Stark puts him though…a lot.

A whole lot.

"I know, I'm full of suprises." The inventor replies with a smirk as he tosses the keys to the valet and circles around the car. "It's a touch of a walk from here, but the table should be ready by the time we get there." A smirk again as he just offers her his arm for said walk. Never mind that she might just be taller that him at the moment. His personality seems to make up for it.

"Oh yes, then they showed up to guilt me into an international incident." There is a faint twitch around his eyes. A flicker of that roguish smile of his. Seemed it worked. "I know I know, I actually feel guilt? Don't let the media know I'll loose my reputation as a mad billionaire playboy and I don't want that. Someone has to keep Wayne and Queen in check."

Again a flash of a grin towards her. "So. On the upside. The virus worked. I should be able to download about a quarter of their database before they realize it. So maybe we can get some answers out of things. /Maybe/ this whole working together thing actually will pay off."

Again that razored smile of his. "Of course you can still hate impersonal teams. I won't hold that against you."


Considering that Rachel's as tall as him barefoot, this is definitely a mismatch. The redhead pointedly looks down at his offered arm before making a show of sighing and taking the invitation. She keeps pace in heels like she's been wearing them for a long time, even when the situation really, really doesn't call for them.

Rachel has gone through some mildly rebellious fashion phases, okay?

Where Tony is an arsenal of manic smiles, Rachel keeps to a more languid approach. In another setting it'd be easy to read her as gloomy. She elects to not press him any harder on what the guilting incident might have been. For now. One needs a sense of timing about these things.

"That's a relief," she says on the topic of servers. "If we keep that information between us for now, we might be able to plan our next step without the Brotherhood harassing us. Quicksilver had time to grab some data before they could dump it all, but we should be working from a much larger context than them."

Rachel pauses a moment, enough to signal a shift in conversation. Then: "What's the Hellfire Club like? The level you attend, that is."


They stroll down the sidewalk towards the entrance to Eleven Madison Park, Stark watches the woman out of the corner of his eye. Gloomy is not something he would call her, at least not right now. Restrained maybe…

When you have the power of a firebird though, restrained isn't so bad.

"Be happy to keep the info between us, espicially since I'll need help going though it all and fresh eyes might catch something JARVIS and I miss." A smirk. "And yes that is totally an excuse to have you over again. I must like the spikes." The inventor adds as they walk.

And as they walk people watch. A problem with Stark in Public. He isn't really a subtle figure. There might be pictures.

That last question though draws his full attention, even as he gives silent orders towards JARVIS and the collection of scout drones along the route to look out for anything dangerous.

"Well /that/ is a loaded question. I know cause I'm usually the one asking them. Why the sudden intrest?" A beatpause. "And boring is the answer. A bunch of rich people trying to impress other rich people about how rich they are. It has its uses but…"


If Tony cared to look, there's plenty of pictures and video on the internet of Rachel in her Excalibur days a few years back. She wore her hair cropped short and had an even more particular sense of fashion than she does now (thigh-high boots made a brief fashion resurgence locally due to her influence), but it's definitely her. On fire, often. Casually on fire.

The point is, Rachel doesn't mind the cameras.

She makes an amused noise as Tony is already inviting her over again, but doesn't answer either way just yet. Tony has more to say, in any case.

"Just boring? No weird fetishy stuff or mutual blackmail pacts? That's disappointing."

Now it's Rachel's turn to beatpause. She uses such things to build dramatic tension in situations like this.

"So it wouldn't be a problem if you sponsored me for membership."


"Its rich people, there is /always/ weird fetishy stuff. That just goes without saying. Usually blackmail too, most people are smart enough not to try that on me though. Mostly because I just don't care if they post bad pictures of me in some gossip magazine." The man smirks. "I mean I have no shame. What can they get me with."

That last statement though brings a smirk to his lips. That request framed as an almost question.

"…you /really/ want Emma to have kittens don't you?"

There is a slight shake of his head.

"Why? You already know that they won't let you into the inner circle, and most of them will stay away from you like the plague since…you /are/ a public figure. Ish at least. A public meta at that."


"I'm not asking to be let into their inner circle," says Rachel, her tone now airy and unconcerned. There is a certain perk in her step. Something about this conversation must obscurely please her, whether it's the idea of Emma kittening or not.

"You're not even in the inner circle. It's the wrong route entirely."

Rachel turns her head to observe Tony. She gives him a long, studying look, taking in his expression and perhaps more. It doesn't feel like she's probing his mind, and she did say that she doesn't do that without asking… but, psychics are psychics.

When the moment is about to drag on for too long, Rachel looks away. "An exchange program is only fair. Frost is teaching at the school, so I'll go make friends in their clubhouse."


He's enjoying himself. She doesn't even need to be a psychic to tell that. Talk like this seems to be right up his alley. Moving with confidence though the crowd towards the door. One ear just slightly cocked for the possible warning of his spy drones.

…Stark /is/ just a touch paranoid. Rightfully so. It is just part of their charm.

Though there is a registered surprise there. "Emma is going back to teaching again? Well isn't /that/ interesting. She hates schools. I suppose I can see how share and share alike is fair…" A shake of his head. "…I wonder who managed to convince her though. Ah well. I guess it isn't /really/ my business."

A beatpause.

"Not like that has every stopped me before."


"Not my business, either," says Rachel, even as the answer pops up in her head. There really is no other explanation. It's a little sad how obvious it is.

"Wait a sec."

The two of them approach the restaurant itself. The crowd grows thick enough that talking in low voices isn't going to cut it on keeping their conversation private. Rachel's gaze shifts as she surveys her surroundings, some of which includes walls and doors. The subtle, distant look in her eyes hints that she's perhaps looking at something beyond all that.

"Alright, everything thinks we're talking about mundane things. So you'll sponsor my application?"


"Does that mean you'll come over to help me sort though reams of boring datastream?"

A smirk at that as Stark shoots it back at her even as her eyes refocus from her moment of psychic mischief. "…impressive." He's seen Emma do it before but he /always/ does find it useful. Looking down at his watch for a moment she might notices the scale like band of the watch reattaching itself. Crawling out of his sleeve as the microdrones return to their roost.

"JARVIS?"

"Building is secure, sir. No listening devices or antagonists." A beatpause. "Beyond the usual. I think three of your exs are inside. As well as at least two gossip magazine owners."

Again a shrug at that, eyes glittering with amusement.

"Sounds about normal for me." He drawls before he looks over towards his company for tonight again. "I'll warn Emma about it first, mostly because I don't want to bark like a dog for a week because she gets it into her head this is somehow my fault. But I don't see why not."

A beatpause.

"I give you a month before someone tries to assassinate you."


Rachel rolls her eyes again, but raises her hand to make an open-palmed gesture that seems like a wordless acquiescence to Tony's aggressive planning. She confirms it a moment later while watching the the thing making a little blip on her telekinetic senses reattach itself to that Starktech watch.

"Fine, datastream it is, but I'm wearing my boring pajamas."

Rachel runs her tongue over the edges of her teeth as JARVIS gives the drama rundown. Not a bad haul, she thinks.

The lull before they're to be seated is where Rachel decides to drop her last surprise of the night. The assassination segue is just too good to pass up.

"That's generous," she says, coolly assessing the decor of the place. "After all, I did sneak into the place and almost execute one of the inner circle when I was eighteen."


The table comes quickly. The owner comes out to greet him personally. A little two person affair in a cozy corner. Of course they draw the eyes of half the room. The Billionare and the Once Excalibur Agent. Who is usually on fire.

The gossip rags will have stories by the morning. Not that it seems to bother Stark.

"I'm pretty sure you don't have boring pajamas. I'm betting they have spikes."

He can't help make fun of the gimmick a bit. Since…he's sure she can take it. And dish it right back to him too.

Of course the last comment gives him a blink and a pause. Then a wicked smile crosses his face. "…you know if you had lead off with that I would have said yes right away. Just for the story."


The fire was usually in the shape of a bird. It looked aesthetic. Phoenix, get it? Very clever. Rachel, who is less on fire these days but still very clever, has smiles for the people who come to take them to their table and so on.

"Keep talking and I'll turn all your armors blue so you stop horning in on my color scheme," says Rachel. Dishing out was always a granted.

The two are seated. Rachel pauses further when the owner comes by. As soon as they're alone again, Rachel sets her clutch to her side — it hovers motionlessly midair, freeing up table space — and folds her hands in her lap.

"It's not much of a story," she says, using a neutral tone that probably means it is very much a story. "One of them found me when I first jumped space-time and decided I'd make a good protege after I'd been broken a bit. She killed some people. After I'd rested up I thought I'd return the favor. I snuck in as a maid, cornered her in her room, and was about to finish it when I was…" Rachel glances away toward the open kitchen concept to watch the cooks work, "…persuaded by a teammate that it wasn't a good idea. I left the team shortly after that."

A moment passes. Rachel looks back to Tony. There's a flareup on one of the burners in the kitchen. Her eyes briefly reflect the flame even though the angle is wrong.

"I don't suggest bringing this up around the X-Men or the Hellfire Club. I was disoriented and prone to lashing out. I came from a very violent timeline. I don't think anyone is keen to remember it, if they even do after that timequake we had a few years back. I'm telling you because if you're sponsoring me, you should know."


"Subtle," Tony drawls for a moment at the floating clutch. Like he is one to talk, but talk he does. Quite a bit.

"Not /all/ my suits are red, just my big ones. I have all colors…" A pause. "…had all colors. Before they all got demon possessed and nearly killed me." A smirk. "Downside of being me I suppose. Things like that happen sometimes. But it lets me build /more/ suits, which keeps me busy. So it isn't all bad."

The story though comes as the wine comes out and Stark waits till it is poured before claiming his glass. "…you know if I wasn't just remembering my demon suits I'd say that story is bunk. But…I'm just going to go with it…" A quirked eyebrow. "…I'm going to guess it was a violent persuasion. You don't seem the type to give up easy." He caught that flickering flame in her eyes.

He doesn't press on that though, just shrugs slightly.

"Like most people would believe that story, and most of the X-men already think the worst of me. So why make it worse. So…what I'm saying is your story is safe with me."

A shake of his head, eyes dancing with amusement.

"I'm going to regret this aren't I?"


Rachel's clutch opens and shut to clack its 'mouth' at Tony. So subtle.

Rachel holds Tony's gaze, easy and steady. For a woman once called Phoenix, she has a tremendously icy poker face when she puts her mind to it. Then again, when it comes to putting her mind to things, what's really out of her reach?

Tony expresses doubt. Rachel holds the stem of her glass as the sommelier pours her wine. She raises her glass in a wordless toast. As far as answers go, it's a very confusing one in the context of exactly how that situation ended.

The tension escapes as Tony shifts the subject. Rachel smiles back, though subtly; the gesture is mostly in her eyes.

"Probably," Rachel agrees to Tony's hypothetical regret. She is from the future, after all. "Even if they say no and we drop it there, you've shown a willingness. But from what I hear around campus, I think you're too busy chasing a woman to care."

Rachel tilts her head, swirling her wineglass gently as she puts on a faux look of bemusement. "What was the word I heard? 'Hot?' A little too on the nose, don't you think?"


"Mmmm, well if the inner circle takes offence to it I haven't had someone try to kill me in months. I have dozens of toys I'd like to test out on them." Stark replies with an unworried look to him. Is he really unworried? Well…yes…

Overconfidence is his watch word.

"I mean, I'm already marked. So might as well just add to it." He adds thoughtfully. "What is one more group that hates me in the world."

He tosses it off so casually, with a shrug. It is hard to say if it bothers him or not. But it is hard to say a lot of things with Tony Stark.

"…well I think it's an appropriate adjective. You said yourself you can be on fire. Sometimes the obvious is just the best choice." A flash of a grin. "Plus it made Scott make a dad noise and I find that hillarious."

A beatpause.

"I'd say I'm sorry about that, but you know I'd be lying."


Rachel taps her temple with her pointer finger. The secret to dealing with psychics is to never, ever lie. Simple as that.

"Now," says Rachel, setting her glass down to open the leather-bound menu in front of her. She scans the offerings for a brief, silent moment before summarily closing it and setting it aside.

"Tell the chef he should provide us with an impromptu tasting course and we'll tell him when to stop."

Rachel's wineglass floats up to expedite her plucking it from the air and taking a sip. She exhales afterward.

"Almost makes up for the explosions."

Almost.

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