An Obsessive Inventory

August 14, 2018:

Emma Frost finally tips her hand a little to let Tony Stark know what his toys have been up to.

The Metropolitan Opera

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Emery Papsworth, Rachel Summers

Mood Music: Judgment Scene from Aida


Fade In…

There are certain advantages that come with money. And certain responsibilities. It is not enough to build wealth; one must also build up the communities that make one wealthy. It's expected to invest, to help guide.

For Emma Frost, her particular brand of public philanthropy has also leaned towards the cultural. She supports local artists in the NYC art community, attends their events and sits on gallery boards. She also enjoys more traditional investments with a more tangible ROI, like the Metropolitan Opera.

Her investment there means that she's gotten a lovely mid-day invitation to a working rehearsal for an upcoming production of Aida. Very private and she has access to the comfort of her parterre box. It also means that she's got a lovely opportunity to make Tony Stark suffer, since she can't outright murder him.

She leaves a message for him at work. Gives him the time and place. Tells him that she has a few sensitive things to discuss.

And she leaves it there.

Now, she sits in that parterre box and enjoys the wine that she's dragged along for the taboo nip before 5:00. She's in a raw silk sheath dress of white, and she wears a pair of kitten heeled mules that have an envelope-style vamp and a clear acrylic heel. Her blonde hair spills over her shoulders, leaving her to drink with her alabaster features mostly obscured by shadow.

"You know, Emma." Comes a familiar drawl from the door to the box. "I thought you were kidding when I saw this address. You do realize these put me to sleep right?" A beatpause from Tony Stark. "Or I just build things though them. Either way I tend to annoy everyone around me. Fair warning."

The man though /is/ dressed to the nines. The suit is tailored as always. The sunglasses undoubtedly cost more than the GOP of some small countries. The black leather shoes handmade somewhere important.

He doesn't know where. He just buys them.

He does slip into the box though, letting his eyes slide down the length of her body for a moment before he sighs slightly. "But. For the company. I'll give it a chance."

"Oh, pish," Emma chides, looking mildly irritated as she looks up from her place upon one of the high seat at the box's edge. "This isn't even the full three hours. It's a new soprano, and she's stuck in the second act."

Turning back to the small table beside her, she hefts up the bottle of pinot grigio that she's been working on and starts to pour a second measure. "Besides that, I have wine. So stop grousing about it, sit down, and admire the view." Emma's hand unfolds towards the stage where the conductor is once again striking up the ensemble under his care. "She's a pretty little thing." Not her, of course, but pretty.

"Three hours?" Stark has just a edge of despair in his voice. Then a sigh comes. "Well, I guess you do have wine." He adds as he starts to stroll over, slipping into the chair next to her as he reaches towards the second glass. "Though I do agree about the view,"

He isn't looking at the stage either.

But at his box companion.

"But…you don't usually drag me out for culture for no reason. What is this sensitive information."

The compliment comes, and - despite her better instincts - Emma feels the urge in the corner of her traitorous mouth to smile. But, as the telepath has no inclination to tolerate a traitor today, she quashes that urge mercilessly.

She sips to cover the near slip, and hands off her extra portion into Tony's care. And then her gaze falls forward. "Practice makes perfect," she says, off-topic.

Then, as soft as silk, there will be Emma's voice murmuring among Tony's surface thoughts. «I had an investor come knocking.»

«Oh? Anyone I should know?»

There isn't any worry there. There isn't anything beyond concentrating more on Emma than on the actual opera down there. The thought that the company makes the culture better. Though his eyes seem to at least have turned to the stage.

So he takes the wine from her though, pouring himself a generous glass before sipping slowly. "As always, perfect taste."

There's a thrum in Emma's psychic presence that Tony might be able to feel. A pulse that presses against his thoughts that perfectly corresponds with a crinkle of her nose. « Mm, » her thought purrs along a moment later, the awareness of the telepath's rumination effortlessly perceived despite the fullness of the mezzo-soprano's voice below that contrasts against the brightness of a flute and the sobriety of the chorus.

The bareness of the stage brings a certain focus to the rehearsal, and Emma sips from her glass. "Thank you. I wish I could say that it was my doing, but this was a Papsworth find. The man missed his calling as a sommelier."

Her head tilts, and she seems to consider the stage with greater depth. Her consideration is a lie. What she is actually considering is the running pulse of Tony’s general demeanor as she asks of him, « I don't know. Does the name Aldrich Killian mean anything to you? »

"Do you loan him out?" Stark asks with a smirk as he glances towards her. "I'm going to guess no, but there is usually only a tiny bit of harm in asking." The inventor replies as he relaxes back in his chair, idly looking towards the stage.

If he is aware of Emma's increased awareness of his own person he doesn't show it at all.

«Aldrich Killian? Sounds like a science nerd.» Comes the response with a smirk. «Not that I have room to talk, but no it doesn't ring a bell. Should it?»

Either he is very good at lying, or he really has no idea what she's talking about.

Only idle curiosity and appreciation of his current company and her choice of attire color his thoughts.

"I could loan him, I suppose. Or you could just spend the night again, so long as promise not to be too much of a menace. Whichever." Emma's eyes narrow as she casts a sideways glance to the man so confidently sitting beside her, but then that momentary suspicion relents.

« You're not wrong,» she allows, the thought unrolling slowly. The downside of her telepathy is that the words carry more hesitation - a touch of something approaching dread - than is her typical wont. « More specifically, science in the key of nanotechnology and human augmentation. »

"Let's go with staying over again, I like the other benefits of that arrangement." Tony Stark has no shame, and he is strangely proud of that fact. Of course he is with fairly good company in that at the moment.

Though the specific feel of those words in his head cause him to pause, some of that frown to slip away. His eyes slip towards her again and most people would assume that he is just admiring once again the cut of her dress.

Which he is. But that isn't all he's doing.

«Ok beautiful, you have my attention. Just what is that question about? Because that isn't just a loaded question, that is a question loaded with half the US arsenal.»

Emma shrugs, leaning back in the chair she occupies and crossing her legs. Her one arm drapes across her lap, even as the other lifts to continue the mid-day drinking. Then her eyes lift to the opera house's vaulted ceilings and affix themselves there. « I might have taken a few liberties during the initial sales pitch, » she projects after a long moment.

And then, unamused, her gaze comes back down to look at Tony. « So, imagine my surprise when I'm listening to a ridiculous speech over the superiority of a human product and then - lo! and behold! - I see one of your suits in the middle of a nest full of not-for-the-public developer's notes. »

Okay, yeah, she was spying. Her eyes roll before the accusation can even come. « And before you get all high and mighty about me peeking in, I refuse to feel bad about it. So let's both save ourselves some time on the moral indignation on that particular point, hm? »

Now usually Tony would make some crack about stirring into peoples heads. He would make a snarky remark about how she might not want to look too deep into his. He might be…well…himself.

Which makes the all the more surprising when he does none of those things.

Instead he sits up, eyes suddenly sharp as they look towards her. Interest suddenly piqued. His focus sharp as she's ever seen it.

«Which suit?» Is that first question. Then…

"JARVIS? Make sure the room is secure would you." A beatpause as what looks to be a tiny done detaches itself from his watch to buzz about. «I need details, Emma. I don't have any idea just what you're talking about but if someone /else/ has hold of one of my suits and they are talking about augmentation projects…I need to know which suit.»

The flat look that Emma affixes on Tony would wither lesser men. « What do you mean which suit? I don't know. I just saw red and gold and it looked absolutely like something of yours. I know this might surprise you, but I don't obsessively inventory every new thing you go gallivanting about in. »

But the fact that he's serious means that the woman's barbs are - at the very least - short lived.

The drone that detaches gets a different sort of look, with something of disbelief. The opera house is huge, and he expects that to be at all efficient?

She swirls her wine for a moment, and then looks back down to the structure of her shoe. They're very good shoes. Expensive and exquisitely modern, wrapping her feet in soft, padded leather. « I could show you what I saw, perhaps, as best I remember it. Might be a little fuzzy. It was just a little flash. »

Emma Frost isn't well trusted in most circles. In some she was outright reviled. Especially among the X-Men. She was out for herself. Usually up to some kind of no good. A member of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle. Not a woman to be trusted.

«Show me.»

Stark doesn't even hesitate in giving her permission to plug something right into his brain. Not that she needed permission, but the fact that there is no hesitation either means he's crazy or he trusts her.

…which would mean he's crazy.

But this was important.

The little drone though hovers near the center of the box and a thin curtain of blue light flashes for a split second. Nothing that most people could even register. Then JARVIS' voice, quiet and a little tinny from the small robot kicks in.

"Secure, sir." Prim as always. "Anyone listening or watching will simply hear and see you two…" A pause. "…chatting."

As soon as JARVIS talks though Tony is out of his seat, pacing and full of energy.

"Someone is creating augmented people, Emma. And selling them to high paying bidders. I'm pretty sure what the source of this was, but I don't know who, or how…"

A vague gesture. "Show me."

A beatpause.

"And here I thought this was about me taking Rachel out to dinner." A smirk at that.

"Oh, there is certainly a price to be paid for that," Emma promises, voice outwardly scoffing. "You can wait months before you even think I'm going to be seen anywhere in public with you." There's a snort as she uncrosses her legs and sets down her wine, rising out of her seat. "You've had a terrible lapse in taste, and I'm not going to be seen as picking up that little upstart's leftovers."

The telepath's stride is long, but it carries her behind Tony and guides him to sit once more. "Fortunately, for you," she leans in to whisper in his ear, those shoes chosen to resolve her height a scant distance shorter than him. "This doesn't count. This? Is business."

Business, she says, although her hands are gentle as they move to run - if unimpeded - along the man's shoulders, up his neck, and through his dark hair before settling on either side of his head. Because it's from there that she can bring it back and gently rest it securely against her breastbone. "Now, just close your eyes, clear your thoughts, and I'll try to be gentle, darling."

"The keywords I take away from that is 'in public'," The inventor replies with a smirk towards the blonde haired telepath. "I much prefer private where you're concerned. I'm pretty sure you feel the same way." A beatpause. "Does this mean I'm going to have to buy an entire /town/ though. If I do it wouldn't be public right?"

Stark though, for all of his…being himself…does allow himself to be drawn back to a seat again. His eyes even half-close at her touch, though the smirk remains.

"I love it when you call me darling. You have the best way of making it sound like a threat."

"That's likely because it is," Emma retorts, her own eyes closing gently as focuses on the small little tidbit she'd extracted. "And think more along the lines of 'county' or 'small country'." She waits a moment before explaining, "I can't leave anything to chance on this particular point."

She might—if she were a little kinder—prepare a little better for the way she intends to cut across Stark's thoughts. She's not, though, and it was really a poor choice on his part to needle her right before she had to insert the image that is not his own. It's not the same as a memory, crafting those is beyond the White Queen and reserved for those of Xavier's ilk. But it is a knowledge as keen as anything he's learned for himself, brief though it is. The suit. The black on it. And, for his benefit since they don't really make a habit of this, she allows a bit of a headache to serve as a bit of a bookmark. "Now," she inquires, once the work is done. "Are there any questions?"

"We can negotiate on that point," Stark replies and before he can say more…

There is a pressure on his mind and thoughts not his own slam into his psyche. Blinding white of a headache erupts behind his eyes and even as she withdraws her hands he slumps forwards to rub at his temples.

"I guess I deserved that, didn't I?"

That is a question. Just a rhetorical one.

"Alright…that was…a Mark Twenty. Which was destroyed by that demonic virus early this year. Now everything I lost was picked up up clean up crews, at least it should have been. But.." A frown. "…obviously not." A longer pause. "…that black…"

"Shit." A longer pause. "Yeah, it's exactly what I thought it was and I don't like it at all. You pick up anything else from this guy?"

I guess I deserved that, didn't I? Emma just smiles sweetly to the point.

The woman then pulls her hands back like a showman, her head tilting just so. Then, picking up her wine glass and settling into her seat.

She lets Tony speak about his suits, and what ….failed to be picked up. An eyebrow pricks upwards. "What do you mean, 'it should have been'? You weren't keeping an obsessive inventory?"

Before she can pull her hand back entirely he reaches out to catch one of them and bring it to his lips to kiss her palm. Just gently, amusedly, with a hint of a smile there.

"Sorry?"

Somewhat sorry.

Likely because of the headache.

A sigh though as he glances down at the stage a moment but it isn't the pretty little actress he sees there.

"Of course I keep obsessive inventory. Especially over stuff like this. Everything is checked. Rechecked. Checked again. It requires three signatures to get anything done with the cleanup stuff. Mine, Peppers or the Old Man's." Obadiah Stane.

He raises his hands again, feeling a different kind of headache going on.

"Which means someone broke my system. Which means I'm going to have to spend all night revamping security. Which is /much/ less fun than the night of me trying to patch things up with you I had planned."

A smirk again at that.

"Thanks for the wine…but…looks like I have a lot of work on my hands. I might have to leave all the culture to you." A beatpause. "Besides, I'm pretty sure I'm alergic."

The kiss against her hand earns Tony a theatrical close of Emma's crystalline eyes, shake of her head, and exasperated exhale. But she doesn't insist on pulling free the wrist that smells of her costly perfume, waiting instead until she's released.

Emma then travels the small distance of the box so she can lift herself back into her seat. And she polishes the glass off, only to set it down, cross her legs and begin refilling it. "As you will, then. It's alright. I'm certain that you can work things out just fine with your flamboyant little redhead."

"I'll have a second shot at the man's brain, if all goes according to plan, so I'll just work that front when the time comes. Just go… do whatever it is that you need to do." She doesn't look up as she shoos Tony off with an airy flip of her hand.

"Why Emma Frost," Eyes dancing with mischief. Forgetting the headache for a moment that was imparted by that woman so named. "Are you jealous?"

Stark is a man that lives dangerously. And teasing a woman like her is about as dangerous as one can get. He does it anyway though, because if he didn't? He wouldn't be himself.

"I'll keep you updated," He adds, tapping his watch to recall the drone. The image of the pair of them disappearing, melding in a perfect illusion that leaves the pair of them reclining right where they are.

"And," He drawls out as he turns to go. "Medium town. On the coast. Of the country of your choice."

Then he turns, waving his own goodbye as he strolls off. Mind already working in a thousand different ways.

…and regardless of the smile on his face. The flippant words on his lips, the feel of worry. Of paranoia. Of possible betrayal. It rolls off him in waves even as he departs.

Death. Death is what Tony Stark leaves in his wake, only hinted at in the caustic turn of Emma's lips as she slowly turns her head behind her to take the man in. He might feel the dark cloud roll off of her with the accusation.

"I'll think about picking one," she allows noncommittally, settling back in to watch the rest of the rehearsal.

Jealous? Hmph. As if.

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